: on the etymology
see Liddell and Scott, ed. 7), a country district, Lat. pagus.
In contrasting “town” ( πόλις
) and “country” ( περιοικίς
), the Dorians called the divisions of
the latter κῶμαι,
the Athenians δῆμοι
). Hence in the earlier Greek poets we find αῆμος
applied to the outlying country population
who tilled the lands of the inhabitants of the πόλις
( Hom. Il. 3.50
; Od. 6.3
; Hes. Op.
The Demes ( δῆμοι
), as the subdivisions of
Attica were called, had existed from a remote period, though in smaller
numbers than they subsequently attained. As in the rest of Greece, many of
them had been originally independent cities, each with its own πρυτανεῖον
: but the revolution ascribed to Theseus had consolidated
the whole of Attica under one government, all the local magistracies and
councils being made to centre in the prytaneum and senate of Athens.
Henceforward Athens was the one city in the land; the demes became
constituent portions of Athenian territory (Thuc.
). “Of the general fact there is no reason to doubt, though
the operative cause assigned by the historian, the power and sagacity of
Theseus, belongs to legend and not to history” (Grote, pt. ii.
ch. 10, vol. ii. p. 277). Traces of this former independence survived to
later times: Eleusis, alone among Attic demes, was allowed to retain the
title of πόλις,
and to coin its own money
(Strab. ix. p.395
; cf. Gilbert,
1.193; a coin of Eleusis in Dict.
s. v.). A standing feud between the demes of Pallene and
dated from the mythical wars, and they refused each other the right
of intermarriage ( ἐπιγαμία
) and the
friendly greeting ( Ἀκούετε λεῴ
) of the
herald (Plut. Thes. 13
). The ἐγκτητικὸν
moreover, or tax on the occupation
of land or houses in a different deme from that to which men belonged by
birth, shows a curious survival of the ancient exclusive spirit of
citizenship at a time when all were, in common, citizens of Athens alone. It
is from the time of Cleisthenes that the historic importance of the demes
commences. His legislation abolished the four old Ionic tribes for all but
ceremonial purposes [ PHYLOBASILEIS
], while the gentes and phratries which composed
them continued to exist as family and religious associations, but without
political privilege. The new political organisation consisted of ten tribes,
and of demes, stated to have now amounted to one hundred. The ten new tribes
were not, strictly speaking, territorial divisions of the country. The older
writers, who regarded them in this light, found a difficulty in the fact
that demes of the same tribe were situated at opposite extremities of Attica
(Thirlwall, Hist. Gr.
2.74 and App. i. to same volume). In
reality the already existing demes, probably with their numbers increased by
subdivision,, became the political units or “primitive constituent
element of the commonwealth” (Grote); and the tribes were mere
groups of demes arbitrarily arranged, and in no case all adjacent to [p. 1.615]
each other. The priority of the demes to the
tribes is implied in the account of Herodotus, that Cleisthenes
“distributed” the demes among the tribes by tens ( δέκα δὲ καὶ τοὺς δήμους κατένειμε ἐς τὰς φυλάς,
: on this, the right explanation of
in this passage, cf. Stein ad loc.;
1.365 n., E. T. ; Grote, ch. 31, 3.115 n.). The distinction drawn by
) between the earlier
Roman tribes and those of Servius, calling the former genealogical (
) and the latter local (
), applies also to the old-Ionic
and the Cleisthenean tribes at Athens; but the ten Attic tribes were only so
far local as being formed out of an aggregate of demes or parishes, not as
themselves identified with a particular part of the country. The motives of
this change are expressed by Aristotle as “the more complete fusion of
all interests and the breaking up of old ties or associations”
(ὅπως ἂν ὅτι μάλιστα ἀναμιχθῶσι πάντες
ἀλλήλοις, αἱ δὲ συνήθειαι διαζευχθῶσιν αἱ πρότερον,
vii. [vi.] 4.19). The local quarrels of
the πάραλοι, διάκριοι,
so rife during the preceding century,
now came to an end; the local predominance of the city, and the formation of
a city interest distinct from that of the country, was obviated; which could
hardly have failed to arise had the city by itself constituted either one
deme or one tribe. Cleisthenes distributed the city (or found it already
distributed, but this is less likely) into several demes, and these demes
among several tribes; while Peiraeus and Phalerum, each constituting a
separate deme, were also assigned to different tribes. On the object of this
part of the Cleisthenean legislation see further in Grote (l.c.
The demes thus constituted bore some resemblance to an English parish, a
still closer one to the German Gemeinden
Switzerland), and the French Communes,
like the latter, municipal organisation. (See these points further worked
out in Haussoullier, Vie Munic. en Attique,
pp. 207-210.) In
extent, likewise, they must have varied within much the same limits as
parishes in England: Attica with its 720 square miles being about equal in
area to one of the smaller English counties, and the number of demes or
parishes, which in both cases gradually increased, being about the same in
each. The number of demes before the time of Cleisthenes is not known; but
if those with patronymic names ( Βουτάδαι,
&c.) were all founded by
him, it may have been under seventy, as these last amount to upwards of
thirty in our lists. Schömann in his Antiquities
(1.365, E. T.) adheres to the opinion expressed in his earlier works, that
Cleisthenes raised the number to exactly 100; and so Gilbert (
1.192). K. F. Hermann, while agreeing that
this is what Herodotus meant to say, doubts whether the fact were really so
§ 111). About B.C. 200 Polemon
(ap. Strabo ix. p.396
) reckoned 174; and some have
thought that this had always been the number, and that Cleisthenes left many
of them in a subject condition, to be enfranchised in later times (Niebuhr,
2.308, E. T.). It is now
universally admitted that this number was reached by a process of
subdivision, which indeed did not stop here : 182 names of demes, or eight
more than the supposed limit, have now been recovered (Gilbert, p. 193 n.);
and Szanto thinks that they may have ultimately amounted to 190 (
p. 34: Haussoullier demurs, but gives no
reasons, p. 182). Several points connected with the legislation of
Cleisthenes are confessedly obscure; but it seems certain that he introduced
a uniform system (much as the French did, when at the Revolution they
substituted departments for the old provinces), and that his hundred demes
covered the whole soil of Attica, including the capital. If we bear in mind
the ancient contrast between πόλις
it will seem much more probable
that the city demes were now first constituted than that they existed
previously, a point which Grote leaves undetermined. There is reason to
think that these demes, with the Peiraeus and Phalerum, amounted to just
ten, one being assigned to each tribe (compare Dict. Geogr.
1.325 a, with Grote, 3.114 n.); an arrangement which must have tended to
equalise the number of citizens in each tribe. There was every reason why
the tribes, which contributed equal numbers to the senate and the
dicasteries, and perhaps to other offices as well [ARCHON
p. 167 a
should be as nearly equal as possible; no reason why they should always have
contained the same number of demes, or why the demes themselves should be of
equal extent. The growth and movement of the population in the course of
time accounts, quite naturally, for the increase in the number of the demes
and the re-arrangement of their boundaries. We know that, in fact, the demes
varied greatly in size: Acharnae was much the largest, supplying no less
than 3000 hoplites in the time of the Peloponnesian war ( οἱ Ἀχαρνῆς μέγα μέρος ὔντες τῆς πόλεως,
); Halimus, the deme of Thucydides and
of Euxitheus, the plaintiff in the speech against Eubulides, one of the
smallest (Dem. c. Eubul.
p. 1316.57; Haussoullier, p. 182).
The names of the demes were derived either from natural features (e. g.
), from neighbouring places (e. g.
Οἶον Δεκελεικόν, Οἶον
), from plants which grew there (e. g. Μαραθών, Π̔αμνοῦς, Μυρρινοῦς,
), from trades carried on in them (e. g. Κεραμεῖς
), or from inhabitants (e. g. Ἑκάλη
and the patronymics in--δαι
generally: ἢ ἀπὸ
τῶν τόπων, ἢ ἀπὸ τῶν παρακειμένων αὐτοῖς, ἢ ἀπὸ τῶν ἐν
αὐτοῖς φυτῶν, ἢ ἀπὸ τῶν ἐν αὐτοῖς χειροτεχνῶν, ἢ ἀπὸ
τῶν οἰκησάντων ἀνδρῶν καὶ γυναικῶν,
s. v. Ἑλεεῖς
Schol. Aristoph. Pl. 586
). Like the ten
tribes, the first hundred demes all had eponymous heroes, known collectively
as the ἑκατὸν ἥρωες
(Herodian, περὶ μονηροῦς λέξεως,
1.367, E. T.); a fact which lends
some plausibility to Leake's conjecture, οἰκισάντων
the passage from the Etym. M.
The demes with gentile or
patronymic names are ascribed, as we have seen, either wholly or in part to
Cleisthenes; and Schömann has pointed out that they were situated
mainly in that part of the country which has been assigned to the old--Ionic
tribe of the Γελέοντες,
accordingly the greatest number of noble families and the most important of
them lived ( l.c.
p. 366 n.). The Butadae were one
of the noblest and most exclusive of these families; [p. 1.616]
and when their name became that of a deme, the distinction of
the original stock was maintained by their calling themselves Eteobutadae or
“genuine Butadae.” Thus Lycurgus the orator was τὸν δῆμον Βουτάδης, γένους τοῦ τῶν
(Plut. Vitt. X.
Oratt. p. 841
B). If Philaïdae were really
and not the gens
of Pisistratus (Plut. Sol.
), we have an example of a patronymically named deme in the old
times. But this is most likely an oversight of Plutarch's; indeed it is
doubtful whether, in those days, Athenians were usually described by the
name of their deme at all; and in all probability the deme
Philaïdae was carved by Cleisthenes out of the territory of
Brauron, one of the ancient cities of Attica, though Schömann ( l.c.
) thinks that the reverse was the case.
The municipal organisation of the demes was very complete, both from the
civil and the religious point of view. They formed independent corporations,
and had each their several magistrates, landed and other property, with a
common treasury. They had likewise their respective assemblies convened by
the demarch, in which was transacted the public business of the deme, such
as the leasing of its estates, the annual elections of officers, the
revision of the registers or lists of Demotae
), and the admission of new members [DEMARCHI
]. Other magistrates,
besides the demarch, were ταμίαι
checking clerks, and ὁρισταί,
was religious as well as civil: they not only settled boundaries, mostly of
sacred places, but saw that the rules of exclusion were enforced (e. g. in
the Thesmophorion at Peiraeus, C. I. A.
2.573 b). Each deme
appears to have kept what was called a πίναξ
or list of those demotae who were entitled
to vote in the general assemblies of the whole people (Dem. c.
p. 1091.35). In financial matters they supplanted the
old naucraries ( ναυκραρίαι
) of the four
tribes, each deme being required to furnish to the state a certain quota of
money and contingent of troops, whenever necessary. Each had, moreover, its
peculiar temples and religious worship (δημοτικὰ
; Pollux, 8.108), with priests chosen
annually by the demotae (Dem. c. Eubul.
p. 1313.46): and
priests as well as magistrates had to submit to a δοκιμασία,
in the same way as the public officers of the
state. At Aexone we find for the religious establishment of this one deme
four ἱεροποιοὶ εἰς τὸ τῆς Ἥβης
chosen by lot, two σωφρονισταὶ
and a κῆρυξ,
this instance apparently to preserve order in a night-festival (παννυχίς
), a ἱερεὺς τῶν
a ἱέρεια τῆς Ἥβης
καὶ τῆς Ἀλκμήνης,
and an ἄρχων
attached to the service of the two goddesses ( C.
2.581). In Halimus a priest of Heracles, a favourite form
of demotic worship in Attica, is chosen by lot from among the εὐγενέστατοι
(Dem. c. Eubul.
1313.46; 1318.62). In Athmonon we have a decree in honour of six μεράρχαι,
who had shown liberality in providing
sacrifices (apparently as a local λειτουργία
) for the festival of the Amarysia ( C. I.
2.580). The scamping of public works was prevented by ἐπιτιμηταί,
as in the theatre at Peiraeus (
C. I. A.
2.573; cf. Boeckh, Sthh.
3 1.260). Further details on the ἱερὰ δημοτικὰ
will be found in the elaborate work of
Haussoullier, pp. 136-173. The δικασταὶ κατὰ
belonged to the public, not the demotic organisation [ TETTARACONTA, HOI].
Cleisthenes, like Solon before him, admitted many foreigners to the
franchise, who according to his system were necessarily enrolled among the
demes. The right explanation of the much-canvassed phrase in Aristotle
(πολλοὺς ἐφυλέτευσε ξένους καὶ δούλους
3.2 = p. 1275 b, 37) is that he made
citizens both of free-born foreigners ( ξένοι
) and slaves who by emancipation had already become
(Grote, ch. 31, 3.110 n.;
1.144). Since a son was registered in
the deme of his natural or adoptive father, non-residence must soon have
become common; but this would not cause any inconvenience, as the meetings
of each deme were not held within its limits, but at Athens (Dem. c.
p. 1302.10). The only difference it made was the payment
of the ἐγκτητικὸν
to the demotic treasury,
which however was sometimes remitted by decree [ENCTESIS
]. Those who in later times acquired the
citizenship by vote of the Athenian people (the δημοποίητοι
) were usually allowed to select at pleasure the
deme, tribe, and phratry in which they would be enrolled; see the
inscriptions quoted under CIVITAS
pp. 443 b,
Two of the most important functions of the general assemblies of the demes
were the admission of new members and the revision of the names of members
already admitted. The register of enrolment was called κοινὸν γραμματεῖον
(Dem. c. Eubul.
1317.60; Bekk. Anecd.
272, 27), or more usually ληξιαρχικὸν γραμματεῖον
7 [Apollod.], § 27; Dem. c.
p. 109<*>, § 35), because any person
whose name was inscribed on it could enter upon an inheritance and enjoy a
patrimony ( διὰ τὸ τῶν λήξεων ἄρχειν: λήξεις δ᾽
εἰσὶν ὁλ τε κλῆροι καὶ αἱ οὐσίαι,
1.187); λαγχάνειν κλῆρον
being thus equivalent to the Roman phrase
These registers were
kept by the demarchs, who, with the approbation of the members of the deme
assembled in general meeting, inserted or erased names according to
circumstances. Thus, when a youth was proposed for enrolment, it was
competent for any demote to object to his admission on the ground of
illegitimacy, or non-citizenship by the side of either parent. The demotae
decided on the validity of these objections under the sanction of an oath,
and the question was determined by a majority of votes (Dem. c.
p. 1318.61). The same process was observed when a citizen
changed his deme in consequence of adoption (Isae. Or.
[Apollod.], § § 28, 29). Sometimes however a demarch was
bribed to place, or assist in placing, on the register of a deme, persons
who had no claim to citizenship (Dem. c. Leoch.
To remedy this admission of spurious citizens ( παρέγγραπτοι
) the διαψήφισις
was instituted [ DIAPSEPHISIS
]. Lastly, as inscriptions abundantly
show, crowns and other honorary distinctions could be awarded by the demes
in the same way as by the tribes. (Grote, ch. 10, 2.272 ff.; ch. 31, 3.108
ff.; K. F. Hermann, Staatsalterth.
&c.; Schömann, Antiq.
1.336, 366 f., E. T. ;
1.142 ff., 192 ff.; Szanto,
Untersuchungen über das Attische
Vienna, [p. 1.617]
Haussoullier, La Vie Municipale en Attique,
Paris, 1884: and for the geography of the demes, Leake, Demi of
ed. 2, 1841; Ross, Die Demen von
Halle, 1846; Dict. Geogr.
. The ten
Cleisthenean tribes, like the four old-Ionic, were divided each into three
the number of demes must have
been unevenly distributed among trittyes as well as tribes ( Ἀθ. πολ.
100.21). The same passage confirms
what is stated as probable [DEMUS
p. 616 a
], that before the time of Cleisthenes,
Athenians were not described by the name of their deme.