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ECCLE´SIA (ἐκκλησία), the general assembly of the citizens at Athens, in which they met for the direct exercise of their sovereign power. Whether certain periodical meetings of the people, regularly recurring at appointed times, were ordained by the legislation of Solon, is unknown. It is however probable that the only assemblies thus fixed in early times were for the election of magistrates (ἀρχαιρεσίαι) and the confirmation (ἐπιχειροτονία) whether of magistrates or of laws; while questions of public policy were discussed at meetings summoned for the purpose. In the times about which we have fuller information there was at first a regular assembly in each prytany, and therefore ten in the year; these were called κύριαι ἐκκλησίαι. By degrees the number of these rose to four in each prytany, which, as being νόμιμοι ἐκκλησίαι, were probably held on days fixed beforehand, though we are not in a position to discover with any certainty which days these were in the individual prytanies. The name κυρία ἐκκλησία, however, remained for a long time confined to the first regular assembly in each prytany, until later on it was transferred to the three others as well (Schömann, Antiq. 1.379 f., E. T.). Some discrepancies in the accounts are probably to be explained as referring to different times. Thus Aristotle expressly states that there were four regular assemblies in each prytany, only one of which was called κυρία (ap. Harpocrat. s. v. κυρία ἐκκλησία: and so Pollux, 8.95, 96); while several grammarians declare, not less explicitly, that there were three in each month, all called κύριαι (Photius, s. v. κυρία ἐκκλησία: Schol. Aristoph. Ach. 19; Ulpian on Dem. c. Timocr. p. 706.20). These last-named authorities no doubt had in view the times after B.C. 306, when the number of tribes was raised from ten to twelve, and a prytany and a month became the same thing (BOULÉ, p. 313b; Schömann, Assemblies, p. 44); and the extension of the name κυρία to all the ordinary assemblies is probably to be referred to the same period ( “not many years after Aristotle's time,” Schömann, op. cit. p. xxxii.). These assemblies would thus be held on an average about once in ten days, whether under the earlier or later system; but the scholiast Ulpian (ad Dem. Timocr. l.c.), in fixing [p. 1.698]them to the eleventh, twentieth, and thirtieth of each month, goes decidedly too far, as Schömann has proved (Assemblies, pp. 47-49; cf. Perrot, Essai, p. 37). Extraordinary meetings were specially convened upon any sudden emergency, and were called σύγκλητοι or κατάκλητοι ἐκκλησίαι (κατακλησίαι, Poll. 8.116, Hesych.), because messengers had to be sent round to give notice to the country people; κατακαλεῖν being a technical word for summoning non-residents or out-voters. Besides these messengers (συνεκάλουν τινὲς περιιόντες, Schol. Dem. F. L. p. 100 a) we find a trumpeter (σαλπικτής, Dem. de Cor. p. 284.169) summoning to a ούγκλητος ἐκκλησία, doubtless the city voters only.

The place in which the assemblies were originally held was the Old Agora (ἀρχαία ἀγορά, Apollod. ap. Harpocrat. s. v. Πάνδημος Ἀφροδίτη). This is identified by C. Wachsmuth (Stadt Athen, 1.484 ff.) and Gilbert (1.270) as the spot afterwards occupied by the Odeum of Herodes Atticus, a smaller site than the Agora of later times, lying to the east of it and more under the shelter of the Acropolis. Afterwards they were transferred to the Pnyx, which throughout the great period of Athens in the fifth and fourth centuries B.C. was certainly the usual place of meeting (Thuc. 8.97; Aristoph. Ach. 20; Eq. 42, Δῆμος πυκνίτης: ib. 750-1; Vesp. 31; Eccles. 283; Dem. de Cor. p. 244.55, p. 285.169). For more than a century past the site of the Pnyx has been placed on the escarped eastern portion of a low hill to the west of the Areiopagus (Dict. Geogr. 1.282, 283, with plan of the hill and view of the Bema; Wordsworth, Athens and Attica, ch. x.): but quite recently the traditional view has been called in question, chiefly on the evidence of inscriptions, and the latest authorities declare that no exact determination is at present possible (E. Curtius, Att. Studien, 1.23-46; C. Wachsmuth, Stadt Athen, 1.368 ff.; Schömann, Antiq. 1.380, E. T.; Gilbert, l.c.). It was at any rate not far from the Agora (Aristoph. Ach. 21), on a height (ἀναβαίνειν εἰς τὴν ἐκκλησίαν, [Dem.] c. Aristog. i. p. 772.9; 775.20; τᾶς δῆμος ἄνω καθῆτο, Dem. de Cor. p. 285.169; cf. Aristoph. Kn. 149) commanding an extensive view of the Acropolis, city, and port (προπύλαια ταῦτα, Παρθενών, στοαί, νεώσοικοι, Dem. c. Androt. p. 617.76, copied by the author of the speech περὶ Συντάξεων, p. 174.28). The Bema, whether rightly identified or not, was a stone platform with an ascent of steps, cut out of the solid rock, whence it is sometimes called λίθος (Aristoph. Peace 680, ὅστις κρατεῖ νῦν τοῦ λίθου τοῦ ᾿ν τῇ Πυκνί); and the name Pnyx was explained by the ancients παρὰ τὴν τῶν λίθων πυκνότητα, which, as Schömann remarks, they would certainly not have done had not the substructions which make the place level led them to the derivation (cf. L. and S. s. v. Πνύξ). After the great theatre of Dionysus was built the assemblies began to be held in it; and this was the rule for the first meeting after the Dionysia and some other festivals (Dem. c. Mid. p. 517.9; Aeschin. F. L. § 61). For the discussion of naval matters they also met in the Peiraeus, or in the Dionysiac theatre at Munychia (Dem. F. L. p. 359.60=67; Lys. c. Agorat. § 55; Thuc. 8.93). They were held in the Agora, i. e. the larger Agora of later times, in cases of ostracism and, as Curtius and Gilbert think, all νόμοι ἐπ᾽ ἀνδρί, i.e. privilegia or laws affecting an individual, such as ἄδεια, voting citizenship to foreigners or restoring it to ἄτιμοι: all these requiring the votes of 6000 citizens given by ballot (cf. ADEIA; ATIMIA, p. 243 b; CIVITAS p. 443 b; and for the phrase νόμος ἐπ᾽ ἀνδρί, for which Demosthenes has also κατ̓ ἀνδρός, Dem. c. Timocr. p. 719.59). In the Macedonian period the theatre superseded the Pnyx, which was retained only for the elections (ἀρχαιρεσίαι, Hesych. sub voce Πνύξ: Poll. 8.132, 133): in late inscriptions we find traces of alternate meetings in the city and the Peiraeus (C. I. A. 2.401, 417, 459, 466).

The right of convening the people generally vested in the Prytanes [BOULÉ]; but in cases of sudden emergency, and especially during wars, the strategi also had the power of calling extraordinary meetings; that is to say, they had the power of directing the prytanes to do so. That the consent of the senate also was required, rests only on “inserted documents” of little authority (Dem. de Cor. p. 238.37; p. 250.75). The four ordinary meetings of every prytany were always convened by the prytanes, who not only gave a previous notice (προγράφειν τὴν ἐκκλησίαν) of the day of assembly, and published a programme of the subjects to be discussed, but also, as it appears, sent a crier round to collect the citizens (συνάγειν τὸν δῆμον, Pollux, 8.95; Harpocrat. s. v. Κυρία Ἐκκλησία: the πρόγραμμα, [Dem.] c. Aristog. i. p. 772.9). The mode of summons to the σύγκλητος ἐκκλησία has been already noticed in explaining its name. The case of Pericles on the first invasion of Attica by Archidamus is peculiar: Thucydides says, ἐκκλησίαν οὐκ ἐποίει αὐτῶν οὐδὲ ξύλλογον οὐδένα (2.22), i. e. he convened no assembly in his capacity of strategus (cf. 2.59). But to effect his object of stifling discussion he must further have stopped the ordinary assemblies; and it is conjectured that a majority of the strategi, which Pericles doubtless commanded, could restrain the action of the prytanes (Schömann, Assemblies, p. 62; Grote, ch. 48, 4.258). No other instance of the kind is on record; and it may have been merely a piece of unconstitutional dictation on Pericles' part. On the actual day of assembly a flag was probably hoisted as a signal, and struck when business began, as in the case of the senate (BOULÉ, p. 313 a; Suid. s. v. σημεῖον). Six magistrates called ληξίαρχοι, with thirty assistants, checked the attendance at the assembly the words of Pollux, τοὺς μὴ ἐκκλησιάζοντας ἐζημίουν καὶ τοὺς ἐκκλησιάζοντας ἐξήταζον (8.104), are explained by Schömann (p. 381) and Gilbert (p. 272) to mean that they punished by a fine those who tried to get the pay and shirk the work, while they excluded unqualined persons. The Athenians were apt to linger too long over their marketing in the Agora, and the following measures were resorted to in the time of Aristophanes (Aristoph. Ach. 22, τὸ σχοίνιον φεύγουσι τὸ μεμιλτωμένον: cf. Eccles. 378). While some of the Lexiarchi stood at the entrance of the place of assembly with lists in their hands (the so-called ἐκκλησιαστικοὶ τίνακες or ληξιαρχικὸν γραμματεῖον, whence probably the name), others [p. 1.699]directed the police (Σκύθαι or τοξόται, cf. DEMOSII) to surround the Agora with a rope coloured with red chalk, so that only the road leading to the Pnyx remained open, and into this road they drove the citizens. As a further inducement to attend to business the τοξόται were sometimes ordered to shut up the marketstalls (πρατήρια, Phot. s. v. σχοίνιον μεμιλτωμένον). Those who were “tarred” with the rope counted as late comers, and no doubt forfeited their ούμβολον, even if they actually remained in the assembly; hence there was a rush to avoid it. On the view favoured by Gilbert, that the sum paid away each day was limited, the use of the coloured rope becomes unmeaning. Any person who, having been let through and having received the σύμβολον, tried to break away, was doubtless liable to a fine several times the amount of the day's pay. This passage of Aristophanes clearly implies that, as already stated, the Pnyx must have been close to the Agora. The Lexiarchi did not themselves draw up the ληξιαρχικὸν γραμματεῖον, as stated in L. and S. (ed. 7); this was the duty of the demarchs (DEMUS p. 616 b). The place of assembly was further enclosed with hurdles (γέρρα) until the termination of the business to which it was thought advisable not to admit strangers (Dem. c. Neaer. p. 1375.90). The burning of these γέρρα as a fire-beacon rests on a false reading (ἐνεπίμπρασαν, Dem. de Cor. p. 284.169); the Agora being in a hollow, the act would have been both useless and dangerous; and ἀνεπετάννυσαν is the most probable correction (Class. Rev. 2.95 b). Here the use of the γέρρα seems to have been to exclude the people from the Agora and drive them to the Pnyx. Even when not admitted within the precincts, we (sometimes at least) find foreigners listening and expressing their sentiments (ἀνεβόησεν δῆμος καὶ ὅσοι ξένοι περιέστασαν τὴν ἐκκλησίαν, Aeschin. c. Ctes. § 224).

A quite sufficient inducement to attend the assembly, with the poorer classes, was the μισθὸς ἐκκλησιαστικὸς or pay which they received for it (Boeckh, P. E. p. 228 ff.= Sthh.3 1.290 ff.). The originator of this practice was one Callistratus, whom Boeckh proposes to identify with the son of Empedus, who perished in Sicily B.C. 413. It probably dated from the successful early years of the Peloponnesian war, and Pericles, to whom the δικαστικὸν is ascribed, had most likely nothing to do with this latest fruit of democracy. Gilbert (p. 273) places it “some years before the archonship of Eucleides” (B.C. 403); but the “some years” can hardly have been fewer than ten or twelve, considering the turn which the war had then taken. The payment itself, at first an obolus, was afterwards raised to three by a popular favourite, Agyrrhius of Collytus (Harpocrat. s. v. Ἀγύρριος: cf. Dem. c. Timocr. p. 742.134). The increase took place but a short time before the Ecclesiazusae of Aristophanes (see vv. 300 ff.), the representation of which is fixed, within a year either way, at 392 B.C. The money was paid by the Thesmothetae (Eccles. 290) at the close of the proceedings, and in exchange for a σύμβολον or ticket given to those who arrived in time; the latter may have been of more perishable materials than the dicastic or bouleutic σύμβολα, which were of metal, and had to last a year [BOULÉ, p. 313 a; DICASTES p. 627 b). This payment, however, was not made to the richer classes, who attended the assemblies gratis, and are therefore called οἰκόσιτοι ἐκκλησιασταὶ by Antiphanes (fr. 200 Meineke ap. Ath. 6.247 f). The same word οἰκόσιτος is applied generally to a person who receives no pay for his services.

The right of attending and voting was enjoyed by all citizens of full age (generally supposed to be twenty, certainly not less than eighteen: Xen. Mem. 3.6, § 1; DOKIMASIA) and not labouring under any atimia or loss of civil rights. They were either (1) natural-born (φύσει καὶ γένει) citizens, born in lawful wedlock of parents both Athenians (ἐξ ἀστῆς καὶ ἐγγυητῆς is the formula, c. Neaer. p. 1365.60; 1376.92; 1381.106: for the question of νοθεία, cf. CIVITAS p. 444 b); or (2) δημοποίητοι, presented with the freedom of the state, and enrolled in a deme, phratry, and tribe. The latter, however, were not qualified to hold the office of archon or any priesthood until the second generation (ib. 1376.92;. 1380.104). Men above sixty may have been excused (ἀφειμένοι, Aristot. Pol. iii. l=p. 1275, 15), but were certainly not excluded. The orator Aristophon of Azenia, who lived 100 years all but a month (Schol. ad Aeschin. c. Timarch. § 64), was in the thick of the political fight, impeaching and impeached, till long past eighty (Dem. c. Timocr. p. 703.11; Aeschin. c. Ctes. § 194; A. Schaefer, Demosth. u. seine Zeit, 1.162).

The commencement of the proceedings was marked by a lustration or purification of the place where the assembly was held. Sucking-pigs (χοιρίδια) were sacrificed and carried round, and the limits thus marked were called κάθαρμα, “the purified space” (Aristoph. Ach. 44). These victims were called περίστια, probably from περὶ τὴν ἑστίαν: they were preceded by a religious functionary called περιστίαρχος (id. Eccles. 128), and their blood was sprinkled about the place. We are not required to believe, with the Scholiast on the former passage, that it was sprinkled on the seats as well. Then followed an offering of incense, and a solemn prayer, repeated by a herald at the dictation of an under-secretary (ὑπογραμματεύς), and including a curse (ἀρά) on the enemies of the state, especially on evil counsellors or those who were bribed to deceive the people (Dem. F. L. p. 363.70=79; cf. de Cor. p. 319.282; c. Aristocr. p. 653.97; Aeschin. c. Timarch. § 23; a comic parody of the prayer Aristoph. Thes. 331 ff.). To these ceremonies was added, in later times, an announcement by the prytanes that the sacrifices had been duly offered, that the omens were favourable, and that there was no sign of the displeasure of the gods (Theophr. Char. 21; C. I. A. 2.417, 459). Business then began; and the first matter taken in hand was said to be πρῶτον μετὰ τὰ ἱερά (Decret. ap. Dem. c. Timocr. p. 706.21). So of persons to whom audience was given, πρώτοις μετὰ τὰ ἱερά (C. I. A. 1.36; 2.52 c; 164). The presiding officer was, in the earlier times, the Epistates of the Prytanes, afterwards the Epistates of the nine Proedri; but the function called χρηματίζειν, “bring a matter forward” (including therefore the order of the different agenda), is [p. 1.700]expressly attributed to the proedri and perhaps also to the prytanes (Dem. c. Mid. p. 517.9 (cf. the “law” in § 8]; Aeschin. c. Timarch. l.c.). For the Prytanes, the Proedri, and the Epistatae, see BOULÉ, p. 310 b; for the progress of a bill through the senate, until it reached the people in the form of a Probouleuma, pp. 311 b, 312 a. The date of the innovation by which the Second Epistates was appointed, the powers of the prytanes (i. e. of a single tribe) curtailed and those of the proedri (representing the other tribes) enlarged, was placed by Meier between 378 and 369 B.C. (p. 310 b). The latest evidence from inscriptions tends to throw it back to the beginning of the period named: the archonship of Nausinicus, B.C. 378-7, already memorable for other important reforms, was not improbably the actual year of this constitutional change (Gilbert, Staatsalterth. 1.257 n.). Under this new system the choosing by lot of the proedri, and of the epistates from among them, was also a part of the preliminary business of each sitting.

There was a law of Solon, μηδὲν ἐᾶν ἀπροβούλευτον εἰς ἐκκλησίαν εἰσφέρεσθαι (Plut. Sol. 12): as regards other matters, the motion could consist only in a demand to the senate to draw up a probouleuma and then refer it to the assembly. Hence the first step in the discussion was the reading of the probouleuma by a herald. It might so happen that the senate had come to no conclusion of its own, but had merely referred the question to the people; and in these cases an explanatory statement might also be made by the prytanes (Dem. de Cor. p. 285.170). The reading of the probouleuma was immediately followed by the προχειροτονία, a show of hands on the previous question, whether the sovereign people desired the proposed measure to be further discussed, or were prepared to accept it at once (BOULÉ, p. 312 a).

The privilege of addressing the assembly was not confined to any class or age among those who had the right to be present; all, without any distinction, were invited to do so by the proclamation (τίς ἀγορεύειν βούλεται;) which was made by the herald as soon as the προχειροτονία had shown that there was to be a debate. According to a law of Solon those persons who were above fifty years of age were called upon to speak first (Aeschin. c. Ctes. § § 2, 4; c. Timarch. § 23); but in more democratic times this regulation had become obsolete (Dem. de Cor. p. 285.170; Aristoph. Ach. 45, Thesm. 379, Eccles. 130). The person “in possession of the House” mounted the bema and put on a wreath of myrtle, as a sign that he was for the moment a representative of the people, like the bouleutae and the archons (Aristoph. Eccl. 131, 148). The law of Solon likewise required all speakers to keep to the “question,” to discuss one thing at a time, to refrain from abuse and scurrility. Aeschines twice refers to this as the law περὶ τῆς τῶν ῥητόρων εὐκοσμίας (c. Ctes. § 2; c. Timarch. § 34); and what purports to be the text of it is given in § 35 of the latter speech; but he complains (c. Ctes. § 4) that nothing could check the ἀκοσμία of the orators of his time, and in the companion passage alludes to a recent law of increased stringency on this subject, which had been impeached by Timarchus and others in the interests of disorder. The behaviour of the people does not appear to have been any better than that of the orators, if we may trust the opening speech of the Acharnians. The duty of maintaining order devolved on the prytanes (Aeschines adds the proedri, see below), assisted by the τοξόται or policemen (Aristoph. Kn. 665); in later times by the members of a tribe chosen by lot for this purpose; later still, in the Macedonian period, by the ἔφηβοι.

Each of these last two regulations suggests a few further remarks. The selection of a tribe to assist in keeping order is fixed to a date just before the speech against Timarchus, B.C. 345; it was in consequence of a “free fight” in which Timarchus himself had been particularly conspicuous (προσέθεσθε καινὸν νόμον μετὰ τὸ καλὸν παγκράτιον, οὗτος ἐπαγκρατίασεν ἐν τῇ ἐκκλησίᾳ, § 33). The new law was καθ̓ ἑκάστην ἐκκλησίαν ἀποκληροῦν φυλὴν ἐπὶ τὸ βῆμα, τις προεδρεύσει: impeached by Timarchus as μὴ ἐπιτήδειον, § 35; but though not reversed, it failed of its object; τῆς δὲ τῶν ῥητόρων ἀκοσμίας οὐκέτι κρατεῖν δύνανται οὔθ̓ οἱ νόμοι οὔθ̓ οἱ πρυτάνεις οὔθ̓ οἱ πρόεδροι οὔθ̓ προεδρεύουσα φυλή, τὸ δέκατον μέρος τῆς πόλεως (c. Ctes. § 4. fifteen years later). A. Schaefer thought that the tribe thus designated was a tribe of the senate, i. e. fifty other senators to assist the prytanes (Demosth. 2.291); but the phrase τὸ δέκατον μέρος τῆς πόλεως, and in the Timarchus (l.c.) καθῆσθαι κελεύει τοὺς φυλέτας (not βουλευτάς), makes it tolerably clear that a tribe of the Ecclesia is intended. The correctness of the word προεδρεύειν in the two passages of Aeschines has been justly doubted (Gilbert, p. 273 n.); the Ephebi, when they lent their aid, are said παρεδρεύειν (C. I. A. 2.466) or προσεδρεύειν (ib. 470). Either of these words would be more appropriate: for προσεδρεύειν, “to be in regular attendance,” cf. Dem. de Cor. p. 313.258, a well-known passage; and there is a further objection not hitherto pointed out. It seems to us very improbable that, at a time when the relative positions of the prytanes and the proedri had lately been altered in favour of the latter by the institution of the Second Epistates, a tribe discharging such humble functions should have been called by the dignified name προεδρεύουσα: whereas if προσεδρεύουσα was the word, it was sure to be altered by the copyists. The employment of the ἔφηβοι for the same purpose is proved by the inscriptions already referred to, but belongs to a later period. The ephebi, youths between eighteen and twenty, were now perhaps for the first time formally admitted to the assembly, and thus initiated into public business while charged with police duties; and their presence in earlier times, mentioned as exceptional, may really have been intrusive or on sufferance only. Among the “humours” of these turbulent meetings we find the bawling down of obnoxious speakers--against which some, however, were proof (Aeschin. c. Timarch. § 33); in extreme cases, they might be dragged down from the bema by authority (Aristoph. Kn. 665); on the other hand, the storming of the presidential chair itself is hinted at (Lex ap. Aeschin. l.c. § 35).

After the speakers had concluded, any one was at liberty to propose a decree (ψήφισμα); [p. 1.701]though usually the same speaker who had carried the probouleuma through the senate moved the psephisma before the people (expressed by δεῖνα εἶπε). There was, however, no restriction on the moving of amendments or riders; they might be drawn up in the assembly itself with the aid of the secretary (γραμματεύς); and were introduced with the formula δεῖνα εἶτε: τὰ μὲν ἄλλα καθάπερ τῇ βουλῇ, or καθάπερ δεῖνα, followed by the words of the amendment (cf. Plat. Gorg. 451 B, with Thompson's note; C. I. A. 1.38, &c.). As between the original motion and any amendment the order of proceeding does not appear; probably there was a discretionary power in the presiding officers. Before, however, the question could be put, it had to be submitted to the proper authority to determine whether it contained anything unconstitutional. This authority was, in early times, the Areiopagus, which thus exercised a very real check upon the progress of democracy; after Pericles, the νομοφύλακες till the time of the Thirty; from the archonship of Eucleides onward, the Areiopagus again, but with its powers greatly curtailed [AREIOPAGUS pp. 177b, 178a]. If there appeared to be no legal obstacle, the psephisma was next read to the people in order to allow a vote to be taken. Even at this stage the Epistates had the legal right of stopping the voting on his own unsupported authority, a right which, however, might be overborne by threats and clamours (Aeschin. de F. L. § 84). But he was of course responsible for his use of this privilege, and might be proceeded against by ἔνδειξις, or even the more summary ἀπαγωγή (Plat. Apol. 32 B). There was one case, on the other hand, in which he was absolutely forbidden to put the question to the vote under penalty of atimia: this was when a debtor asked for the remission of a public debt (Lex ap. Dem. c. Timocr. p. 716.50). Any duly qualified citizen might also object to the question being put, by engaging on oath to bring the motion, as illegal, under the cognisance of a court of law, by means of the so-called γραφὴ παρανόμων. Such a declaration, when made, necessitated a postponement of the voting; and, like every other oath involving postponement, was called ὑπωμοσία. The like declaration might, however, still be made if the vote on the matter had already been taken, and the people had approved it. It had then the effect of suspending the operation of the decree until the court had given its decision. Finally, the mover himself might withdraw his motion before it was put to the vote, if he had in any way become convinced of its unsuitability during the debate (Plut. Arist. 3). The form in which the votes were taken was in general χειροτονία, or show of hands [CHEIROTONIA]; the ballot (κρύβδην ψηφίζεσθαι) was only used where the personal interests of individuals were concerned, i. e. in cases ἐπ᾽ ἀνδρί, mentioned above as occasions on which the assembly met in the Agora instead of the Pnyx. With respect to the actual mode of voting by ballot in the ecclesia we have no certain information; but it was probably the same as in the courts of law, by means of black and white pebbles put into urns called καδίσκοι (Schol. ad Aristoph. Wasps 981; PSEPHOS). To “put the question,” it should be added, is nearly always ἐπιψηφίζειν, even when the χειροτονία and not the ψῆφος is the mode of voting; but ἐπιχειροτονεῖν occurs, though rarely, in this sense (Dem. c. Timocr. p. 712.39; 727.84). In one passage we find the chairman called simply πρόεδρος, instead of his proper title ἐπιστάτης τῶν προέδρων (τίς ταῦτα ἐπιψηφίσας πρόεδρος, Aeschin. c. Ctes. § 75).

The determination or decree of the people was called a Psephisma (ψήφισμα), and only remained in force a year, like the resolution of the senate which bore the same name; to become a νόμος, it had to pass the ordeal of the νομοθέται [NOMOTHETAE]. The form for drawing up the Psephisma varied in different ages; but, apart from unessential differences, two constant normal types may be distinguished. The more ancient dates from the time when the Epistates of the Prytanes (then the sole Epistates) put the question to the people; the latter belongs to the period when this function had passed to the Epistates of the Proedri. An example of the earlier form is as follows: Ἔδοξεν τῇ βουλῇ καὶ τῷ δήμῳ, Κεκροπὶς ἐπρυτάνευε, Μνησίθεος ἐγραμμάτευε, Εὐπείθης ἐπεστάτει, Καλλίας εἶπεν: then follows the resolution, in the infinitive dependent on εἶπεν: ἀποδοῦναι τοῖς θεοῖς τὰ χρήματα τὰ ὀφειλόμενα (C. I. A. 1.32 = Boeckh, Sthh.3 2.42 ff.). Another, dating from the Peloponnesian war, is C. I. A. 1.40 = Boeckh, Sthh.3 2.499. Sometimes the date is given more precisely: ἐπὶ τοῦ δεῖνα ἄρχοντος καὶ ἐπὶ τῆς βουλῆς πρὼτος δεῖνα ἐγραμμάτευε (on this secretary κατὰ πρυτανείαν, cf. BOULÉ, p. 311 b). The later form is this: ἐπὶ Νικοδώρου ἄρχοντος, ἐπὶ τῆς Κεκροπίδος ἕκτης πρυτανείας, Γαμηλιῶνος ἑνδεκάτῃ, ἕκτῃ καὶ εἰκοστῇ τῆς πρυτανείας, ἐκκλησία: τῶν προέδρων ἐπεψήφισεν Ἀριστοκράτης Ἀριστοδήμου Οἰναῖος καὶ συμπρόεδροι, Θρασυκλῆς Ναυσιστράτου Θριάσιος εἶπεν (Schömann, Antiq. 1.386, E. T.).

We now come to the dismissal of the assembly, the order for which was given by the prytanes through a herald (οἱ γὰρ πρυτάνεις λύουσι τὴν ἐκκλησίαν, Aristoph. Ach. 173). Meetings usually began early in the morning (ib. 20), and were not continued after sunset; if the business were then unfinished, there was an adjournment to the next day. But an assembly was broken up by a so-called διοσημία or sign from heaven, such as thunder, lightning, rain, storm, eclipse of the sun, or earthquake (Aristoph. Ach. 170-1; Nub. 579 ff:; Thuc. 5.45 extr.; Suid. s. v. διοσημία). Of course it was only in comedy that public business could be interrupted at the caprice of any individual who chose to say that he had felt a drop of rain: in Greece, as at Rome, these signs had their authorised interpreters, who at Athens were the EXEGETAE (q. v).

The four ordinary assemblies of every prytany had each their specially appropriated subjects for discussion, or “order of the day.” In the first assembly, the κυρία ἐκκλησία properly so called, the ἐπιχειροτονία τῶν ἀρχῶν or confirmation of all government officials was held; i. e. an inquiry into their conduct, according to the result of which they were either confirmed in office or deposed. On the same occasion the εἰσαγγελίαι or extraordinary informations for offences against the state were laid before the [p. 1.702]people, as well as matters relating to the corn supply (περὶ σίτου) and the defence of the country (περὶ φυλακῆς τῆς χώρας, Lex. Rhet. s. v. κυρία ἐκκλησία); the lists of confiscated property, and of the claims to succession that had been announced before the courts, were also read out: the former, that the people might see how their balance stood with regard to this branch of the revenue [DEMIOPRATA]; the latter, that state claims might not be overlooked. The second assembly was appointed for the hearing of those who came before the people as suppliants for some favour, such as the rehabilitation of ἄτιμοι, the repayment of monies due from the state ( “petitions of right” in English law), or the remission of sentences; or in general, for the class of cases involving ἄδεια, or exemption from legal penalties [ADEIA]. The third was devoted to foreign affairs, and in it ambassadors and heralds were received: we need not make a difficulty over the κυρία ἐκκλησία of the Acharnians (v. 19), and the reception of the Persian ambassadors (v. 61). In the fourth, the people decided περὶ ἱερῶν καὶ δημοσίων, on public matters whether religious or secular. These determinations rest mostly upon the authority of Pollux (8.95, 96); but when these “standing orders” had been disposed of, other business no doubt might be taken, if previously entered on the programme. (Schömann, p. 385; Gilbert, p. 282 f.)

In judicial matters the people acted only in exceptional cases, chiefly those discussed under EISANGELIA, EPANGELIA, and PROBOLÉ. Closely akin to the εἰσαγγελία, or information by a person who thereupon became himself the prosecutor of the accused, yet distinct from it, was the μήνυσις, an information by any one either disqualified (as a foreigner, a slave, or an accessory) or disinclined to make a regular impeachment. In both cases the people either itself undertook the inquiry in such a manner that the prosecution and the defence were carried on in the ecclesia, and this body pronounced the final judgment, or (more usually) the assembly, after having satisfied itself by a preliminary inquiry that there was at least a case for a jury, referred it to a court of law. The people might then specify according to what laws it should be decided, and what punishment should be awarded if a conviction ensued; and might appoint συνήγοροι, a sort of “advocates holding a government brief,” to watch the case on their behalf. Such complaints and indictments were in the first instance brought regularly before the senate, and came before the people only when the case was too serious for the former to deal with; a fine of 500 drachmas being the maximum penalty that the senate was empowered to inflict. Among the judicial acts of the people, we may also reckon the special commissions of inquiry which were sometimes issued; for instance, the periodical overhauling of the finances by the appointment of ζητηταί [ZETETAE]. Inquiries into conspiracies or secret crimes might be thus relegated to the Areiopagus or the senate, and the guilty parties, when discovered, indicted before the people: on some occasions, as in that of the mutilation of the Hermae, the senate received full powers to try and sentence the offenders ( γὰρ αὐτοκράτωρ, Andoc. de Myst. § 15). The proceedings of a revolutionary mob, like that which condemned Phocion, lie outside the ordinary methods of the Athenian constitution.

As regards the elections of magistrates (ἀρχαιρεσίαι), from the time that the majority of posts were filled by lot, only a few took place in the popular assembly. These were, naturally, for the offices in which personal or property qualifications were required; such as the Strategi, the chief financial minister (ταμίας ἐπὶ τῇ διοικήσει and his contoller (ἀντιγραφεύς), and others who had the handling of large sums of public money. The election was invariably conducted by show of hands (χειροτονία), and not by voting tablets or by ballot. Ἀρχαὶ κληρωταὶ might be filled up only a day or two before the end of the outgoing year (Lys. c. Evand. § 6); but the assemblies for the choice of ἀρχαὶ χειροτονηταὶ must have been held earlier, and they are placed, with great probability, in the first ecclesia of the ninth prytany (Schömann, p. 390 n.). The presidency of these assemblies is stated to have belonged, in the case of the election of generals, to the archons; in other elections it was probably held by the prytanes or proedri; but little is really known as to the details. Besides those who declared themselves candidates, persons might be nominated for office without their own consent; but in this case might refuse it on taking the oath called EXOMOSIA Ambassadors, who of course were appointed for their fitness, were (though not technically an ἀρχή) elected in the same way when occasion arose: Demosthenes, when first chosen to go on the embassy to Philip, renounced by ἐξωμοσία (Dem. F. L. p. 378.122 = 133).

The legislative powers of the people in assembly, so far as they were defined by the laws of Solon still in force in the time of Demosthenes, were very limited. The procedure by which new laws (in the strict sense) were made, is described under NOMOTHETAE; but the practice in later times differed widely from the theory. As democracy developed, the sovereign people became less and less inclined to bind itself strictly to these regulations. The abuse crept in of bringing forward legislative motions in the assembly no less than any other kind of proposals at any time that was found convenient, and without the regular practice of causing a jury of nomothetae, chosen from those who had taken the heliastic oath, to pass a decision upon them. Accordingly, there arose a vast mass of new laws of all kinds, in correspondence with the interest of the popular leaders (ῥήτορες) of the period. As early as 406 B.C., at the trial of the six generals, the appeal of the friends of the accused for strict legal procedure was met by the cry that “it was monstrous that the people should not be allowed to do as it pleased” (Xen. Hell. 1.7, § 12). Demosthenes complains that the orators were passing new laws almost every month in their own interest (c. Timocr. p. 744.142). The author of the speech against Neaera uses almost the same words as Xenophon in describing the “omnipotence” of the people (p. 1375.88). And Aristotle, the shrewd foreign observer, in a passage on the corruptions of democracy, without naming the Athenians mentions “government by ψηφίσματα” as a characteristic of the final stage (Pol. iv. [p. 1.703]4 = p. 1292, 5). It is superfluous to attempt to define the matters of which the Ecclesia took cognisance: it was king and parliament in one, sitting upon its lit de justice and registering its own decrees. While clinging tenaciously to these sovereign rights, it was, however, aware of its own fallibility, ready to repent of its hasty impulses, and to punish those by whom it had been led astray; and as has been remarked under AREIOPAGUS the only real restraint upon its actions during the last century of free Athens was the PARANOMON GRAPHÉ.

(Authorities under BOULÉ; Schömann, Antiq. 1.379-400, E. T.; Gilbert, Staatsalterth. 1.268-295; Perrot, Essai sur le Droit Public d' Athènes, pp. 37 ff., 220 ff.) [R.W] [W.W]

(Appendix). It has been mentioned (App. s. v. AREIOPAGUS) that the Ecclesia first took a definite shape in the legislation of Draco. The four regular assemblies in each prytany, of which only the first was called κυρία, appear in the text of the Ἀθ. πολ. in accordance with the citations from Aristotle in Harpocration and Pollux [ECCLESIA p. 697 b]. The name of Callistratus does not occur in the account of the μισθὸς ἐκκλησιαστικός [ib. p. 699 a]: it is briefly stated that Agyrrhius first gave an obol, one Heraclides raised it to a διώβολον, Agyrrhius again to a τριώβολον (100.41). A very different statement in another part of the work must be left unexplained: μισθοφοροῦσι δὲ πρῶτου [μὲν δῆμος] ταῖς μὲν ἄλλαις ἐκκλησίαις δραχμήν, τῇ δὲ κυρίᾳ ἐννέα (i. e. nine obols or a drachma and a half, 100.62). If, as Mr. Kenyon supposes, this doubling and trebling of the pay was the work of demagogues of the fourth century, we should probably have found some mention of it in the orators and grammarians. The word δἣμος, it will be seen, has been supplied from conjecture, but seems to give the sense required by the context.

As regards the business taken at each meeting, the details given by the grammarians [ECCLESIA p. 702 b] may be supplemented, but are not contradicted. In the first or κυρία ἐκκλησία of each prytany, after the “claims to succession” (λήξεις κλήρων) the words καὶ τῶν ἐπικλήρων follow, and may easily have dropped out (100.43). Then follows an account of matters reserved for the κυρία ἐκκλησία of the sixth prytany: questions of ostracism, and of the prosecution of informers (προβολαὶ συκοφαντῶν). The Ἀθ. πολ., in agreement with other authorities, assigns the second assembly of each prytany to ἱκετηρίαι: as to the third and fourth it differs somewhat from Pollux, whose account we had followed: αἱ δὲ δύο περὶ τῶν ἄλλων εἰσίν, ἐν αἷς κελεύουσιν οἱ νόμοι τρία μὲν ἱερῶν χρηματίζειν, τρία δὲ κήρυξιν καὶ πρεσβείαις, τρία δ᾽ ὁσίων: i. e. not more than three proposals or motions on each of these subjects were allowed in each prytany.

Schömann's conjecture [ib. p. 702 b] that the ἀρχαιρεσίαι took place in the ninth prytany must now give place to the definite statement that they were in the first prytany after the sixth in which the omens. were favourable (ποιοῦσι δ᾽ οἱ μετὰ τὴν ς_ πρυτανεύοντες ἐφ̓ ὧν ἂν εὐσημία γένηται, 100.44). This of course applies only to ἀρχαὶ χειροτονηταὶ such as the Strategi and other military officers: ἀρχαὶ κληρωταί, ρωταί, as we have stated l.c., might be filled up at the very end of the year.

hide References (23 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (23):
    • Aristophanes, Acharnians, 1
    • Aristophanes, Acharnians, 20
    • Aristophanes, Acharnians, 21
    • Aristophanes, Acharnians, 22
    • Aristophanes, Acharnians, 44
    • Aristophanes, Acharnians, 45
    • Aristophanes, Ecclesiazusae, 131
    • Aristophanes, Ecclesiazusae, 148
    • Aristophanes, Knights, 149
    • Aristophanes, Knights, 665
    • Aristophanes, Peace, 680
    • Aristophanes, Thesmophoriazusae, 331
    • Aristophanes, Wasps, 981
    • Plutarch, Aristeides, 3
    • Thucydides, Histories, 5.45
    • Thucydides, Histories, 8.93
    • Thucydides, Histories, 8.97
    • Xenophon, Hellenica, 1.7
    • Xenophon, Memorabilia, 3.6
    • Aristophanes, Acharnians, 170
    • Aristophanes, Acharnians, 173
    • Aristophanes, Acharnians, 19
    • Plutarch, Solon, 12
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