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GENOS (γένος). The word γένος, connected etymologically with γένω, γίγνομαι, has reference primarily to birth; and when applied to mark the connexion between a number of individuals, may equally denote the closest natural ties of a common family (αἷμά τε φαὶ γένος, Hom. Od. 8.503), or the widest natural ties of the race or nation (ἐξ Ἰθακῆς γένος εἰμί, ib. 15.267). This connotation is still retained in the word when it is applied to denote certain minor forms of association existing between citizens in the same Greek state, marked by the common performance of certain civil and religious duties, and distinct from the larger and more definitely political forms of association such as the tribe (φυλή)--since the latter may, from their purely political significance, be artificially created, and based on the arbitrary distinctions of locality or rank. It is true that it is a common characteristic of Greek civil organisation to take the family as the typical form of unity, and in the creation of new state divisions to imitate its most salient characteristics, the common eponymous hero, from which, in the family or gens, the descent was traced, and the common rites and sacrifices. But to the Greek mind, a common hero and common religious rites were the natural out-come of the narrower or the wider family bonds, those of the οἰκία or of the γένος. They might be applied artificially in such creations as the tribe or deme. But that the Greeks never merged the one conception into the other is shown by facts of history. Cleisthenes, the Athenian reformer, while he distributed his new citizens into tribes and demes, and possibly into phratries, could not enrol them in the existing γένη (Schömann, Antiq. 1.364 E. T.). Foreigners obtaining the freedom of the city were, as we know, though necessarily admitted to a tribe or deme, and for certain purposes into a phratry, never enrolled in a γένος ([Dem.]c. Neaer. p. 1380.104); and even within the Athenian γένη themselves there was a distinction between the ancient members of the gentes, the γεννῆται (Harpocrat. s. v. γεννῆται, οἱ ἐξ ἀρχῆς εἰς τὰ καλούμενα γένη κατανεμηθέντες: Hesych. sub voce γεννῆται) and the ὀργεῶνες, those standing without this circle, who shared only in some of the sacred rites of the gens (Suid., Phot. s. v. ὀργεῶνες). This distinction could only have originated with the sense that these ancient members of the gens were connected through true family ties; and if we knew as much about the gentes of the Greek world generally as about those of Attica, we should probably find the same distinction between their members: between those, that is, who had a belief that they were ultimately related and those who had no ground for such a belief: not merely between those who shared in an original distribution of the members of the state and those who shared later in such a distribution. If even we accept the statement of Pollux (8.111) that the Athenian γεννῆται were in no way related (οἱ μετέχοντες τοῦ γένους, γεννῆται καὶ ὁμογάλακτες, γένει μὲν οὐ προσήκοντες, ἐκ δὲ τῆς συνόδου οὕτω προσαγοεευόμενοι), which is merely the statement of a fact which he or his authorities believed, and does not necessarily represent the belief of the γεννῆται themselves, yet the bonds which united the gens, the transmitted sacred rites and the eponymous hero, had to the Greek mind the force of true family bonds. The hero or god of the gens became the mythical ancestor of the gens, as we see in the case of Hecataeus of Miletus, whose sixteenth ancestor was a god (Hdt. 2.143), the god no doubt of the γένος to which he belonged. Again, to get at the origines (τὰ ἀνέκαθεν) of a man, we have only to point to the god worshipped by his gens, as Herodotus points to the worship of the Carian Zeus by the (συγγενεῖς of Isagoras the Athenian, as a sign of his descent (Hdt. 5.66); while, in this passage of Herodotus, the word συγγενεῖς, which ordinarily meant “kinsmen” in Greece, is used as precisely equivalent to γεννῆται, and is distinguished from his οἰκία, the circle of his more immediate relations (for a similar use, cf. Isae. Or. 7). Peculiar rites in a Greek gens were similarly taken as a mark of some ultimate racial connexion between its members. Thus the Gephyraei at Athens, the race to which Harmodius and [p. 1.904]Aristogeiton belonged, perpetuated the tradition of.their common Phoenician descent by their peculiar .sanctuaries and rites in which no other Athenian shared (Hdt. 5.57 and 61); while the Athenians, accepting this race token, excluded the Gephyraei from certain minor privileges (Hdt. 5.61; Thuc. 6.56, 1, Arnold's note); no doubt from those religious privileges which were the mark of pure Ionian descent. The mythical head of the gens, the eponymous god or hero, who created the common race, and with it the transmitted priesthoods and the common rites, is known to us mainly in connexion with the greater γένη, those that claimed connexion with some superhuman being whose power was recognised by the whole state, or even by the whole Greek world; but it cannot be doubted that the same would be true of every γένος in Attica, and probably in Greece, and that the humbler gentes had their common rites, and their ancestral god or hero, as well as the more celebrated (Grote, Hist. of Greece, pt. ii. ch. x.). The distinctive marks of a gens were, then, this common mythical ancestry, the common rites and common assemblies (σύνοδοι, Pollux, l.c.) of its members. The reason why religious community always remained in Greece the main test of membership of a gens was that the common gentile name, which in Rome was the original test of gentilitas [GENS], was not borne along with the individual name, by the Greeks. The bond of union between the γεννῆται was thus almost exclusively the common religious ancestry, and it is to this source that the other characteristics which distinguished the more prominent gentes in Greece may be traced. Community of religious ancestry gave rise to community of worship, and the importance of the ancestry and worship determined.the importance of the gens. Thus the. position .of the kings at Sparta in historical times depended largely on their sole connexion with Zeus through Heracles his son (Hdt. 6.5.6); and through this connexion they were. regarded as the link which bound the whole state to the king of heaven (Thuc. 5.16, 2, Διὸς υἱοῦ ἡμιθέου τὸ σπέρμα). Tence, too, the importance of some of the greater Attic gentes; the Butadae, or the true Butadae (Ἐτεοβουτάδαι) as they called themselves, after Cleisthenes had applied their name to the deme in which the greater part of. their gens, was resident, who, from their hereditary connexion with the worship of Athene Polias and Poseidon Erechtheus, furnished the holders of two of the greatest priesthoods of Athens (Aeschin. de Fals. Leg. § 147; Suid. s. v. Ἐτεοβουτάδαι: Etym. Mag. s. v. id.). Community of worship. might further lead, not merely to the transmission of important priesthoods, but, to the inheritance of certain peculiar duties and privileges which the founder of the gens had learnt from his patron, deity. Thus the Eumolpidae and Ceryces at Athens were the sole exponents:of the mystic ritual of the Eleusinian Demeter (Dem. c. Androt. p. 601.27; Thuc. viii, 53, 2). The Asclepiadae of Cos with their transmitted medical skill (Steph. Byz. s. v. Κῶς), the Homeridae of Chios with the gift of poetry (Harpocrat. s. v. Ὁμηρίδαι), and the Iamidae and Tellidae of Elis with that of prophecy (Hdt. 5.44; 9.33 and 37), are all instances of similar transmitted gifts associated with transmitted cults. Some of these. gentes,. such as the Asclepiadae and Homeridae, may have developed, into schools, and lost, to. some extent, the notion . of common parentage. But in. Sparta, where such peculiarly endowed gentes are numerous, the conceptions of hereditary privilege and actual descent were indissolubly connected. The Talthybiadae at Sparta, the state--heralds, were all ἀπόγονοι Ταλθυβίου (Hdt. 7.134); and this was also the case. with the hereditary flute-players (αὐληταί and cooks (μάγειροι), who handed down their profession from father to son (κατὰ τὰ πάτρια τελέουσι, Hdt. 6.60). This was almost a caste system, although marriage without the gens was apparently not forbidden. The pure caste system: is met with in Greece in the case of a genuine δυναστεία, where the acquisition of supreme power by the gens was accompanied by a rule that all the marriages of its members should be made within it, as in the case of the Bacchiadae, the ruling gens at Corinth (Hdt. 5.92, ἐδίδοσαν δὲ καὶ ἤγουτο ἐξ ἀλλήλων). In these instances community of blood-relationship and ancestry was very strongly marked. But such cases were exceptional in Greece. As a rule the chief token of descent was community in those peculiar sacred rights which had been connected from time immemorial with the life of the gens, dated back to its foundation, and were associated in idea with its mythical founders The gens cannot be regarded, as it certainly never regarded itself, as the arbitrary formation of a legislator in founding his state. The statement of Pollux that the γεννῆται at Athens were not necessarily related does not conflict with the supposed natural origin of the-gens for in Greece, as in Rome, and in early societies generally, there are artificial modes of recruiting a gens, such as that by adoption (Maine, Ancient Law, pp. 130, 131); and by this means even the descendants of newly-created citizens might be admitted. into an Athenian gens, if they were already connected with it through marriage (Schömann, Antiq. i. pp. 364, 365); while even where blood-relationship did exist between the different οἰκίαι, it would not be clearly marked in Greece through the lapse of the common gentile name. Greek speculation, however, which aimed at analysing the complex fact of the state into its simpler component elements, recognised in the γένος a development of the common origin which created the οἰκία or original unit. Aristotle (Aristot. Pol. 1.2, 5) traces the development of the πόλις from the house through the village (κώμη). That the ideas of the κώμη and the γένος are here identical is shown by the use of the word ὁμογάλακτες, which is equivalent to γεννῆτας (Pollux, 8.111), and includes the παίδων παῖδες, and all collateral descendants, to describe the members of the κώμη. This κώμη or γένος is the widest natural unity, the extension of the family to its furthest limits (κατὰ γύσιν ἔοικεν κώμη ἀποικία οἰκίας εἶναι, Arist. l.c.: cf. Cic. de Off. 1.1. 7). This is a valuable statement, as throwing light upon the Greek conception of the gens--that is, that there was a closer unity of natural relations to be found within it than in the state; but since the method! pursued by Aristotle is analytic and not historical, it throws no light on the real historical development of the gens into the πόλις, [p. 1.905]which is a process that cannot be restored by conjecture.

Of the political significance of the γένη of Greece as a whole we can say very little. It is only in the case of the Athenian γένη that we have any full description of their relations to the other divisions of the state, and of the rights and duties of the gens. But in Greek states generally politically privileged γένη are of frequent occurrence. When such exist, the government is to a greater or less degree a δυναστεία. This was the case at Corinth under the Bacchiadae; at Sparta as regards the two kings, and possibly as regards the board of γέροντες, according to one interpretation of a passage in Aristotle (Aristot. Pol. 5.6, 11; but see Jowett in loc.); in Crete as regards the election of the Cosmi, who were chosen from certain privileged γένη (Arist. Pol. 2.10, 10); and in Thessaly, the normal government of which was a δυναστεία of certain, families, such as the Aleuadae (Thuc. 4.78, 3; Herod, 7.6; Plat. Meno, p. 70 B). These are all instances of privileged gentes, to which superiority of birth or wealth had given superiority of power. In none of these cases is the gens taken directly as the basis of government. Even in Sparta, where the γέροντες, it is supposed, were chosen from certain prominent. families in the state (I. Müller, Handb. 4.1, p. 82), the gens would have only an accidental political significance. That the γέροντες were connected with the thirty ὠβαὶ seems shown by the Rhetra of Lycurgus quoted by Plutarch (Plut. Lyc. 6). Herodotus, who does not mention the obe, says that Lycurgus divided the people into τριακάδες (Hdt. 1.65). At Athens τριακάδες meant, either the γένος, each φυλὴ being divided, into thirty of these (Pollux, 8.111), or a similar fractional subdivision of the deme (Boeckh, C. I. n. 101, p. 140). The obes at Sparta, represent divisions of the five local phylae (C. I. G. 1272, 1274). It is probable that the τριακάδες represented ultimate divisions of the people, like the γένη of Attica; but it is difficult to see how such generic divisions could have borne any relation to the local division of the obe. The significance of the gens at Sparta is quite. unknown, as. also the meaning of the twenty-seven phratries, which we are told existed there (Athen. 4.141).

In the accounts of the Athenian as in those of the Roman gentes, we find a symmetrical division and distribution of the gentes into the larger units of the state, in Athens into the phratry or trittys and the tribe. Such a.distribution could hardly have been realised in fact, when we consider the nature of the gens; while w.e are never told of any. such original distribution by an early lawgiver, nor were they interfered with by later reformers, such as Cleisthenes. They are said to have been connected with the four Ionian tribes of Attica (Arist. ap. Schol. Plat. Axioch. p. 465; Pollux, 8.111), each of these tribes being divided into three phratries, and each phratry into thirty gentes. That. they were ever connected with the trittys, as is stated in one of the above accounts (Arist. l.c.), is improbable. The trittys was a subdivision of the tribe for political, as the phratry for social and religious, purposes; it was probably local, and its lowest subdivision was the smallest political unit, the naucrary (Schimann on Grote, p. 14). The trittys disappears with the political reform of Cleisthenes . the phratries and gentes, as social units, still remained intact, for it is not probable that Cleisthenes increased the numbers of the phratries (Schömann, Antiq. of Greece, i. p. 363; cf. I. Müller, Handb. 4.1, p. 144). The gens and the phratry belong to the same category of state divisions; they.are divisions whose rights. and duties are those of private law. While the gens is:, the members of which recognised a common ancestor and cultus, the. phratry was an association of several such gentes recognising that cultus--the worship of Apollo Patroos and Zeus Herkeios--which was common to all the gentes, and the participation in which was a certain sign of citizenship (Phot. s. v. Ἕρκειος Ζεύς: μετῆν δὲ τῆς πολιτείας οἷς εἴη Ζεὺς Ἕρκειος: Harpocrat., Suid., s. v. id.; Harpocrat. s. v. Ἀπόλλων Πατρῷος: Dem. c. Eubul. p. 1315.54), as is shown by the question that was required to be answered as the δοκιμασία of the Archons, εἰ Ἀπόλλων ἐστιν αὐτοῖς καὶ Ζεὺς Ἕρκιος: (Pollux, 8.85.) It would seem then that every citizen, whether born in or admitted. to the citizenship, belonged to a phratry in so far as he shared in the worship of these gods, and he no doubt had his name enrolled as a: participator in a phratry. But probably the created citizen (δημοποίητος) did not possess those rights of the phratry which depended on the fiction of relationship,--the right, for instance,. of pursuing the murderer of one's φράτωρ (Dem. c. Macart. p. 1069.57), and this is what Aristophanes means by saying that the. new citizens had no phrators or only barbarous ones (Aristoph. Frogs 419; Aves, 765;--Niebuhr, Hist. of Rome, vol. i. p. 312). An admitted citizen, then, was a member of the phratry so far as he shared in the two universal cults, but was not, strictly speaking, a φράτωρ: while a natural citizen could name three degrees of relationship, as being member of a gens and of a phratry. He had first συγγενεῖς, kinsmen where the blood-descent could be proved; γεννῆται, where the common descent was believed, but could not be proved; and φράτορες, where the relationship was merely that of religious unity, carrying with it certain natural rights and obligations between the members called by this name (Dem. in Eubul. p. 1306.24). The συγγενεῖς as such, in the later sense of the word, had no form of association: it was a distinction within the gens, the only outward form of familyú unity. Thus the gens had a family register (γραμματεῖον) in which the names of the children of the members were enrolled; the father of the child taking an oath that it had been be--gotten in union with an Athenian wife duly wedded to him. The reception into the gens was performed at the same time as the reception into the phratry, on the Cureotis, the third day of the Apaturia; and the registers of the phratry and of the gens were apparently identical. The meeting at the Apaturia was properly a meeting for the reception of (φράτορες: but if a child admitted into the phratry satisfied all the conditions of being a member of the gens, he became, by this reception, a γεννήτης, and hence a second register for the gens was not required. Yet if we suppose, as we must, that citizens not born so were admitted for religious purposes [p. 1.906]into the phratry, there must have been members on the phratric register that were not members of a gens: and hence the φρατερικὸν γραμματεῖον and κοινὸν γραμματεῖον are identical (C. I. A. 2.841 b; Isae. Or. 7 [Apollod.], § 13, ἐμὲ ἐποίησατο υἱὸν ζῶν αὐτὸς καὶ εἰς τοὺς γεννήτας καὶ εἰς τοὺς φράτορας ἐνέγραψε), for the registration signified at the least possession of full citizen rights, although it might signify the possession of full gentile rights. The oath mentioned above as necessary for admission to the gens was the oath for admission into the phratry (Isae. 7.16, μὴν ἐξ ἀστῆς καὶ ἐγγυητῆς γυναικὸς εἰσάγειν: Dem. in Eubul. p. 1315.54, πατὴρ ὀμόσας τὸν νόμιμον τοῖς φράτορσιν ὅρκον ἀστὸν ἐξ ἀστῆς ἐγγυητῆς αὑτῷ γεγενημένον εἶναι), and the same ceremonies, the sacrifice and the voting of the phrators applied to both alike, since admission to the phratry necessarily implied admission to the gens, and rejection from the former rejection from the latter; those rejected by the phrators, and by that act declared νόθοι, were of necessity excluded from the gens. Similarly all the duties that we read of as belonging to the phrators must have applied à fortiori to the gennetes: the duty, for instance, of taking vengeance on a murderer, which attached to the phrators of the murdered man (Draco, fragm. ed. Denkenbürger, n. 45; Dem. c. Macart. p. 1069.57), must have belonged in the first place to the ἀγχιστεῖς, in the next to the γεννῆται. As the (φρατρίαρχος stood at the head of the phratry, so at the head of the gens stood the ἄρχων τοῦ γένους, who was at the same time high priest of the gens (C. I. A. 1276, ἄρχων τοῦ γένους: ib. 1278, ἀρχιερεὺς καὶ γενε-[άρχης]). During the democracy, and probably at an earlier period, there was the distinction noticed above between γεννῆται and ὁμογάλακτες, true members of the gens, and ὀργεῶνες, members of the cult. Every phrator was either one or the other of these (Phot. s. v. ὀργεῶνες: Suid. s. v. id. τοὺς δὲ φράτορας ἐπάναγκες δέχεσθαι καὶ τοὺς ὀργεῶνας καὶ τοὺς ὁμογάλακτας). Every phrator would be an ὀργεὼν so far as he shared in the rites of Apollo Patroos and Zeus Herkeios; whether he could share in other sacred rites of a particular gens, without having the family rights of the gens, is doubtful. (Dig. 47, 22, where ἱερῶν ὀργίων γεννῆται--for ναῦται, Nieb.--may imply membership of the gens so far as the rites are concerned.) The true γεννῆται, we are told, were the original members of the gens (Harpocrat. s. v. γεννῆται, supra). It is a possible supposition that the Eupatrids were the original γεννῆται, as the patricians were the original gentiles of Rome, and that membership of the gens to the other ἔθνη of the state merely consisted in participation in its rites. In any case it was the nucleus of original full citizens of Athens that constituted the gennetes; and it is probable that at Athens, as at Rome, we see an expansion of the gens ; and that consequently there would have been ὀργεῶνες participating in the rites of particular gentes, and perhaps also in the λέσχαι [LESCHE], besides those participating in the two great cults which were proof of membership of a phratry. Within the circle of the γεννῆται, who regarded themselves as connected by blood, we have the inner circle of the ἀγχιστεῖς, who were obviously so connected. The ἀγχιστεία marked the limits of direct inheritance in cases of intestacy, and extended to the children of cousins ἀνεψιῶν παῖδες (Dem. c. Macart. p. 1058.27); within this circle the Agnates took precedence over the Cognates. This is a mark of the patriarchal organisation of the Athenian gens, at least in historical times, as recognised by Solon in his laws of inheritance (Plut. Sol. 21: for their development, cf. Isae. p. 85; McLellan, Studies in Ancient Hist. p. 209). A token of the same system is the survival of the ἄρχων τοῦ γένους as a factor in the Greek gens; and as the Greek theorists regarded the father as the king of the family, so they regarded the eldest father as the natural head of the gens (Arist. Pol. 1.2, 6, πᾶσα γὰρ οἰκία βασιλεύεται ὑπὸ τοῦ πρεσβυτάτου, ὥστε καὶ αἱ ἀποικίαι--i. e. the κώμη or γένοσ--διὰ τὴν συγγένειαν): and it is shown further by the fact that the ideal patria potestas in which the Roman gens culminated, was represented in the Athenian and in the Greek gens throughout by the eponymous hero. (On the proportions of eponymi to eponymae in the earliest Greek societies, v. McLellan, id. p. 229.) On the other hand, descent through the mother has been thought to be implied in the curious law of Athens that half-brothers and sisters by the same father might marry, but not those by the same mother (ἐξεῖναι γαμεῖν τὰς ἐκ πατέρων ἀδελφάς, Leg. Attic. 6.1, ή: McLellan, id. p. 209). But the object of this law was apparently merely to keep together the property of the family. The necessity existed in the case of a common father, whose property would be divided; in the case of a common mother, where the property would be that of her two husbands, it did not exist; it tended then to keep the property within the father's gens, and thus bears out the theory of descent from the father. Athenian law had many other regulations for the purpose of keeping property together chiefly through the marriage of near relations (Schömann, Antiq. i. p. 356), and was equally careful in preserving the existence of the family (οἰκία); chiefly through the re-establishment by one of the sons of a married heiress of her father's house (Schömann, l.c.; Att. Proc. p. 469; Dem. c. Macart. arg.). By this means the property and the ἱερὰ were kept within the gens: and outside the circle of ἀγχιστεῖς the γεννῆται had the inheritance in the last resort, like the gentiles at Rome (Schömann, Antiq. 1.364).

[Grote, History of Greece, Part ii. ch. x.; Niebuhr, History of Rome, vol. i. p. 305 ff.; Philippi, Beitrag zur Gesch. des Attisch. Bürgerrechts, pp. 205-227; Iwan Muller, Handb. 4.1, pp. 144, 145; Gilbert, Staatsalterthümer, i. pp. 199-202, 302 if.; Schömann, Antiquities of Greece, i. pp. 357-365; Schömann on Grote, ad init. (on the early Attic Tribes). On the early family, v. Maine, Ancient Law, pp. 122, 123, 133, 134, 147-150; and McLellan, Studies in Ancient History, p. 195 sq. (Kinship in Ancient Greece).]


hide References (23 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (23):
    • Aristophanes, Frogs, 419
    • Aristotle, Politics, 1.1253a
    • Aristotle, Politics, 5.1306a
    • Herodotus, Histories, 1.65
    • Herodotus, Histories, 2.143
    • Herodotus, Histories, 5.61
    • Herodotus, Histories, 5.66
    • Herodotus, Histories, 5.92
    • Herodotus, Histories, 6.60
    • Herodotus, Histories, 9.33
    • Herodotus, Histories, 5.44
    • Herodotus, Histories, 5.57
    • Herodotus, Histories, 7.134
    • Homer, Odyssey, 8.503
    • Thucydides, Histories, 4.78
    • Thucydides, Histories, 5.16
    • Thucydides, Histories, 5.2
    • Thucydides, Histories, 6.1
    • Thucydides, Histories, 4.3
    • Thucydides, Histories, 6.56
    • Cicero, De Officiis, 1.1
    • Plutarch, Lycurgus, 6
    • Plutarch, Solon, 21
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