undiminished possession of the rights of an Athenian citizen was expressed
by the word ἐπιτιμία
: its opposite,
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
The atimia occurs in
Attica as early as the laws (θεσμοὶ
Draco, without the term itself being in any way defined (Demosth. c.
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.
p. 1255.27; c. Neaer.
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.
§, 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
p. 524.32, p. 542.87; c. Aristog.
779.30). A detailed enumeration of the rights of which an atimos was
deprived is given by Aeschines (c. Timarch.
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.
1353.27; c. Timocrat.
p. 739.123; de Rhod.
p. 200.32; c. Mid.
p. 542.87; Lys. c.
§ 24.) In some cases he might not even be buried
within the limits of Attica (Hyperid. pro Euxen.
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
). Hence this one right is most
frequently the only one mentioned as being forfeited by atimia (Demosth.
p. 602.30; Aeschin. c. Timarch.
§ 27; Andoc. l.c.
). In two laws mentioned
by Demosthenes (c. Mid.
p. 551.113; c.
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.
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.
τούτους δ᾽ ἔδει καὶ τοὺς ἀπὸ τούτων
) 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
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
§ § 19, 21); if he proposed
any alteration in the laws of homicide (Lex ap. Demosth. c.
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.
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
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.
if a diaetetes had been guilty of partiality (Demosth. c.
p. 542.87). The cases of treason (προδοσία, δήμου κατάλυσις
), murder (φόνος
), and robbery (κλοπή,
), 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
§ 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,
also lost the right of visiting particular temples (Andoc. de
§ 33). The εἰσαγγελία
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.
§ 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
is approved by Westermann:
the Thirty are always οἱ τριάκοντα
classical Greek, never τύραννοι
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
if his transgression was proved, he might, without any further proceedings,
be punished immediately, and even with death (Andoc. l.c.
§ 33; Aeschin. Timarch.
or imprisonment (Demosth. c. Timocr.
V. Rehabilitation, or release from atimia, was not impossible, but was
rendered extremely difficult. A law mentioned by Demosthenes (c.
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
to the full citizenship. (Xen.
; Andoc. l.c.
§ 70, 77, 107; Lycurg. c. Leocrat.
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
) 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.
), 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
). 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.
; Müller, Dor.
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,
1835; Wachsmuth, Hellen. Alterth.
vol. ii. p. 195,
&c., 2nd edit.; Meier, de Bonis Damnat.
p. 101, &c.; Schömann, Assemblies,
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.