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DAMO´SIA

DAMO´SIA (δαμοσία, sc. σκηνή), the tent of the Spartan kings in the field, “head-quarters,” like the Latin praetorium; usually in the phrase οἱ περὶ τὴν δαμοσίαν, the “staff” or personal suite (Xen. Hell. 4.5, § 8; 6.4.14; Rep. Lac. 13.7). this must be distinguished from the σύσκηνοι or tent-comrades, who, however, were included in it, and from the Thirty who formed the king's body-guard in action.

The σύσκηνοι, according to Xenophon (Rep. Lac. 13.1), were the six polemarchs, and three ὅμοιοι or Spartans of full civic rank: to these he adds, in a later passage of the same work (15.5), the two Πύθιοι [PYTHII] nominated by the king, who may have been included in the nine previously mentioned. The three ὅμοιοι were charged with the royal commissariat, in order that the king and polemarchs might give their whole attention to military matters. The κρεοδαίτης, or royal carver (Plut. Lys. 23, Ages. 8), was probably one of these (Gilbert; Caillemer). We must not think of an officer of state like the Erztruchsess of the German imperial court: the Spartan kings, who at home shared in the ordinary public tables (φιδίτια or φιλίτια), in the field lived on terms of simple comradeship with their σύσκηνοι, and one of the party would naturally be appointed to carve. Besides these, the damosia comprised the heads (οἱ τοῦ στρατοῦ ἄρχοντες, Xen. Rep. Lac. 13, § 7) of the diviners, army surgeons, and flute-players; not, as sometimes stated, the whole of those bodies. The surgeon-in-chief would of course be the king's medical attendant, and the chief μάντις and αὐλητὴς would take his orders in person. There is a difficulty about the ἐθελούσιοι mentioned by Xenophon in this passage: the Spartan organisation left little scope for “volunteers,” and it cannot be thought that anyone who chose could thrust himself upon the king in this capacity: we may suppose with Caillemer that they were chosen by him at his pleasure. That the two ephors who attended the king on military expeditions, the λαφυροπῶλαι and others mentioned as a matter of inference by Müller, also formed part of the damosia, is nowhere expressly stated: but he rightly insists that the Thirty about the king's person must have been a different body; they were always Spartans, which cannot be said of the μάντεις, ἰατροί, and αὐληταί. Megistias, the prophet at Thermopylae, was an Acarnanian (Hdt. 7.221). At the moment of action some of the dispositions, rather obscurely hinted at by Xenophon (l.c.), were under the orders of the senior member of the damosia: this, it must be assumed, applied to the σύσκηνοι only, not to the inferior members. (Müller, Dorians, 3.12.5; Gilbert, Staatsalterth, 1.80; Caillemer, ap. D. and S.)

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