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ATI´MIA (ἀτιμία). The undiminished possession of the rights of an Athenian citizen was expressed by the word ἐπιτιμία: its opposite, ἀτιμία, denotes with various shades of meaning every limitation to the exercise of those rights, outlawry, total or partial disfranchisement, disability, all in short that came under the Roman capitis deminutio. The atimia occurs in Attica as early as the laws (θεσμοὶ) of Draco, without the term itself being in any way defined (Demosth. c. Aristocr. p. 640.62), which shows that the [p. 1.242]idea connected with it must even at that time have been familiar to the Athenians. The most important passage relating to atimia, in any ancient writer, is that of Andocides (de Myst., § § 73-76), with the psephisma of Patrocleides following ( § § 77-79); but it is too obscure, perhaps too corrupt, to yield any clear and consistent view of the subject. The best classification appears to us to be that of Caillemer (ap. Daremberg and Saglio). Atimia might be either (i.) temporary or (ii.) perpetual, and the latter again might be either total or partial.

I. The first kind of atimia--which, though in its extent a total one, lasted only until the person subjected to it fulfilled those duties for the neglect of which it had been inflicted--was not so much a punishment for any particular crime as a means of compelling a man to submit to the laws. This was the atimia of public debtors. Any citizen of Athens who owed money to the public treasury, whether his debt arose from a fine to which he had been condemned, or from a part he had taken in any branch of the administration, or from his having pledged himself to the republic for another person, was in a state of total atimia if he refused to pay or could not pay the sum which was due. If it remained unpaid at the time of the ninth prytany, the last but one of the year, the debt was doubled, and the debtor's property taken and sold (Andoc. de Myst. § 73; Demosth. c. Nicostrat. p. 1255.27; c. Neaer. p. 1347.7). If the sum obtained by the sale was sufficient to pay the debt, the atimia appears to have ceased; but if not, the atimia not only continued to the death of the public debtor, but was inherited by his heirs, and lasted until the debt was paid off. During his lifetime, however, his children were not included in his atimia; they remained ἐπίτιμοι (Demosth. c. Androt. p. 603, §, 34; c. Timocr. p. 762, § § 200, 201; c. Theocrin. p. 1322.2; cf. Boeckh, P. E. p. 391, and HERES). This atimia for public debt was sometimes accompanied by imprisonment, as in the cases of Alcibiades and Cimon; but whether in such a case, on the death of the prisoner, his children were likewise imprisoned, is uncertain. If a person living in atimia for public debt petitioned to be released from his debt or his atimia, he became subject to ἔνδειξις: and if another person made the attempt for him, he thereby forfeited his own property: if the proedros even ventured to put the question to the vote, he himself became atimos.

II. Perpetual atimia, sometimes also hereditary, is denoted by the phrase καθάπαξ ἄτιμος (Demosth. c. Mid. p. 524.32, p. 542.87; c. Aristog. i. p. 779.30). A detailed enumeration of the rights of which an atimos was deprived is given by Aeschines (c. Timarch. § 18 ff.). He was not allowed to hold any civil or priestly office whatever, either in the city of Athens itself, or in any town within the dominion of Athens; he could not be employed as herald or as ambassador; he could not give his opinion or speak either in the public assembly or the senate; he was not even allowed to appear within the extent of the agora, he was excluded from visiting the public sanctuaries as well as from taking part in any public sacrifice; he could neither bring an action nor appear as a witness in any court of justice; nor could, on the other hand, any one bring an action against him. (Compare Demosth. c. Neaer. p. 1353.27; c. Timocrat. p. 739.123; de Rhod. Lib. p. 200.32; c. Mid. p. 542.87; Lys. c. Andoc. § 24.) In some cases he might not even be buried within the limits of Attica (Hyperid. pro Euxen. col. 31; pro Lycophr. col. 16). The right which, in point of fact, included most of those which we have here enumerated, was that of taking part in the popular assembly (λέγειν and γράφειν). Hence this one right is most frequently the only one mentioned as being forfeited by atimia (Demosth. c. Androt. p. 602.30; Aeschin. c. Timarch. § 27; Andoc. l.c.). In two laws mentioned by Demosthenes (c. Mid. p. 551.113; c. Aristocr. p. 640.62), the children and the property of an atimos are included in the atimia. As regards the children or heirs, the disabilities came to them as an inheritance which they could not avoid [HERES]. But when we read of the property of a man being included in his atimia, this can only mean that it shared the outlawry of its owner--that is, it did not enjoy the protection of the law, and could not be mortgaged. It does not follow that it was also confiscated. The question whether atimia, as such, ever involved the confiscation of a man's property (as distinguished from its legal disabilities just mentioned), is not without difficulty. Some discrepancies in the evidence have been noticed under ANAUMACHIOU GRAPHÉ. Demosthenes argues (c. Lept. p. 504.156) that it is contrary to justice to attach two penalties to the same offence. It is a probable conjecture of Naber's, approved by Westermann, that the words of Andocides (l.c. § 74, τούτους δ᾽ ἔδει καὶ τοὺς ἀπὸ τούτων ἀτίμους εἶναι) should be transposed to the end of § 73, referring to public debtors; and we are justified, on the whole, in concluding that it was only as public debtors that the atimoi were subject to confiscation.

The crimes for which total and perpetual atimia was inflicted on a person were as follow:--The giving and accepting of bribes, the embezzlement of public money, the various military offences enumerated under ASTRATEIAS GRAPHÉ, false witness (ψευδομαρτυπία, ψευδοκλητεία), false accusation, and bad conduct towards parents (Andoc l.c.): moreover, if a person either by deed or by word injured or insulted a magistrate while he was performing the duties of his office (Demosth. c. Mid. p. 524.32); if he squandered his patrimony, or was guilty of ἑταίρηδις (Aeschin. c. Timarch. § § 19, 21); if he proposed any alteration in the laws of homicide (Lex ap. Demosth. c. Aristocr. p. 640.62); if he passed off a foreign woman as a citizen and gave her in marriage to an Athenian (Lex ap. Demosth. c. Neaer. p. 1363.52; in this passage confiscation appears as an additional penalty, but the authority of these “laws” and other documents inserted in the text of the orators is very slight compared with the express statements of the orators themselves); if he condoned his wife's adultery (Lex l.c. p. 1374.87); and in the following cases of breach of duty by a public officer:--If a debtor, in person or by his friend, asked for the remission of a public debt, and if the proedros [p. 1.243]put this illegal motion to the vote (Lex ap. Demosth. c. Timocr. p. 716.50); if a herald made an unlawful proclamation in a theatre (Aeschin. c. Ctes. § 44); if a diaetetes had been guilty of partiality (Demosth. c. Mid. p. 542.87). The cases of treason (προδοσία, δήμου κατάλυσις), murder (φόνος), and robbery (κλοπή, λωποδυσία), sometimes referred to this head, scarcely come under the general conception of atimia: they were capital crimes, involving (like felonies under the old English law) forfeiture of goods, and as such the perpetrators were infamous. A species of atimia is said to have attached to the children of a man who had been put to death by the law, on the doubtful authority of the speech c. Aristog. i. p. 779.30; but the nature and duration of it are unknown.

III. A third and only partial kind of atimia deprived a man of a portion only of his rights as a citizen. It was called ἀτιμία κατὰ προστάξεις (Andoc. l.c. § 75), because it was specified in each case what particular right was forfeited by the atimos. The following cases are expressly mentioned:--If a man came forward as a public accuser, and afterwards either dropped the charge or did not obtain a fifth of the votes in favour of his accusation, he was not only liable to a fine of 1000 drachmas, but was deprived of the right to appear as a prosecutor in like cases in future (Demosth. c. Aristog. ii. p. 803.9; Harpocrat. s. v. Δώρων γραφή). If his accusation had been a γραφὴ ἀσεβείας, he also lost the right of visiting particular temples (Andoc. de Myst. § 33). The εἰσαγγελία κακώσεως, a charge brought before the chief archon respecting the ill-treatment of parents, orphans, or heiresses, was the single case in which an accuser, though he did not obtain a fifth of the votes, was not subjected to any punishment whatever (Isae. Pyrrh. § 46; Hagn. § 31; Demosth. c. Pantaen. p. 980.46). In other cases the accuser was merely subject to a fine of 1000 drachmas, without incurring any degree of atimia (Pollux, 8.52, 53). But as Boeckh remarks (P. E. p. 381 n.), the law does not appear to have always been strictly observed. Andocides mentions some other kinds of partial atimia, but they seem to have had only a temporary application at the end of the Peloponnesian war (l.c. § 75, where Dobree's conjecture, τετρακοσίων for τυράννων, is approved by Westermann: the Thirty are always οἱ τριάκοντα in classical Greek, never τύραννοι). Partial atimia, when once inflicted, lasted during the whole of a man's life.

IV. Enforcement of the penalties. If a person, under whatever kind of atimia he was labouring, continued to exercise any of the rights which he had forfeited, he might immediately be subjected to ἀπαγωγὴ or ἔνδειξις: and if his transgression was proved, he might, without any further proceedings, be punished immediately, and even with death (Andoc. l.c. § 33; Aeschin. Timarch. § 21), or imprisonment (Demosth. c. Timocr. p. 732.103).

V. Rehabilitation, or release from atimia, was not impossible, but was rendered extremely difficult. A law mentioned by Demosthenes (c. Timocr. p. 715.45) ordained that the releasing of any kind of atimoi should never be proposed in the public assembly unless permission had first been granted by not less than 6000 citizens, voting by ballot. And even then the matter could only be discussed in so far as the senate and people thought proper. It was only in times when the republic was threatened by great danger that an atimos might hope to recover his lost rights, and in such circumstances the atimoi were sometimes restored en masse to the full citizenship. (Xen. Hell. 2.2.11; Andoc. l.c. § § 70, 77, 107; Lycurg. c. Leocrat. § 41.)

The offences which were punished at Sparta with atimia are not so well known; and in many cases it does not seem to have been expressly mentioned by the law, but to have depended entirely upon public opinion, whether a person was to be considered and treated as an atimos or not. In general, it appears that everyone who refused to live according to the national institutions lost the rights of a full citizen (ὅμοιος, Xenoph. de Rep. Laced. 10.7; 3.3). It was, however, a positive law, that whoever did not give or could not give his contribution towards the syssitia, lost his rights as a citizen. (Aristot. Pol. 2.6, p. 59, ed. Göttling.) The highest degree of infamy fell upon the coward (τρέσας) who either ran away from the field of battle, or returned home without the rest of the army, as Aristodemus did after the battle of Thermopylae (Hdt. 7.231), though in this case the infamy itself, as well as its humiliating consequences, were manifestly the mere effect of public opinion, and lasted until the person labouring under it distinguished himself by some signal exploit, and thus wiped off the stain from his name. The Spartans who in Sphacteria had surrendered to the Athenians were punished with a kind of atimia which deprived them of their claims to public offices (a punishment common to all kinds of atimia), and rendered them incapable of making any lawful purchase or sale. Afterwards, however, they recovered their rights (Thuc. 5.34). Unmarried men were also subject to a certain degree of infamy, in so far as they were deprived of the customary honours of old age, were excluded from taking part in the celebration of certain festivals, and occasionally compelled to sing defamatory songs against themselves. No atimos was allowed to marry the daughter of a Spartan citizen, and was thus compelled to endure the ignominies of an old bachelor (Plut. Ages. 30; Müller, Dor. 4.4.3). Although an atimos at Sparta was subject to a great many painful restrictions, yet his condition cannot be called outlawry; it was rather a state of infamy properly so called. Even the atimia of a coward cannot be considered equivalent to the civil death of an Athenian atimos, for we find him still acting to some extent as a citizen, though always in a manner which made his infamy manifest to every one who saw him.

(Lelyveld, De Infamia ex Jure Attico, Amstelod. 1835; Wachsmuth, Hellen. Alterth. vol. ii. p. 195, &c., 2nd edit.; Meier, de Bonis Damnat. p. 101, &c.; Schömann, Assemblies, p. 73 ff.; Hermann, Polit. Ant. of Greece, § 124; Meier and Schömann, Att. Proc. p. 563. On the Spartan atimia in particular, see Wachsmuth, &c., vol. ii. p. 155, &100.2nd ed.; Müller, Dor. 3.10.3.)

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  • Cross-references from this page (5):
    • Aristotle, Politics, 2.1271a
    • Herodotus, Histories, 7.231
    • Xenophon, Hellenica, 2.2.11
    • Thucydides, Histories, 5.34
    • Plutarch, Agesilaus, 30
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