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TELOS (τέλος), a tax. In enumerating here the taxes of Athens (about which city we know most) we may take the opportunity to mention all the chief sources of Athenian revenue. They may be divided into three groups,--taxes paid at Athens, taxes paid abroad or by foreigners for the benefit of Athens, and income derived not from taxes but from the corporate property of the state.

A. The taxes imposed by the Athenians and collected at home were either ordinary or extraordinary. The former constituted a regular source of income; the latter were only raised upon emergency.

(1) The ordinary taxes were generally farmed out; see TELONES They included (i.) the customs and harbour dues; see PENTECOSTE (ii.) Duty paid on all sales in the market (ἐπωνία). The amount is unknown (though Boeckh in the 3rd edit. of his Staatshaushaltung thinks it was 1 per cent.). Xen. de Vect. 4, 49, probably alludes to the ἐπωνία; and the ἀγορᾶς τέλος of Aristoph. Ach. 896 may be identical with it. (iii.) The διαπύλιον (Hesych.) or gate-money is probably different from the above. (iv.) A τριώβολον was paid by freedmen (Harpocr. s. v. μετοίκιον). (v.) The same amount was probably paid by slaveowners for each slave (Xen. de Vect. 4, 25). This, Xenophon says, was a very productive tax before the Spartans fortified Dekeleia and encouraged the Athenian slaves to run away. (vi.) The πορνικὸν τέλος, of unknown amount. It was farmed separately (Aeschin. c. Tim. § 134). (vii.) The law-court fees (πρυτανεῖα, παράστασις, παρακαταβολή, q. v.) were a lucrative item, especially under the Athenian Empire, when the allies brought suits to be decided at Athens (Thuc. 6.91). (viii.) Δερματικόν. The value of the skin, horns, &c., of the victims slain at certain public sacrifices (cf. the usage at Sparta, Hdt. 6.56, 57). (ix.) Μετοίκιον. The poll-tax of the resident aliens [METOECI]: 12 drachmae annually, probably paid by men only. Freedmen paid this tax in addition to the τριώβολον (Harpocr. s. v. μετοίκιον). (x.) The resident aliens also paid a special entrance-fee for the sale of their goods in the market (Dem. Eubul. p. 1309.34. In this passage, however, the words ξενικὰ τελεῖν are sometimes understood of the μετοίκιον).

(2) The extraordinary taxes at Athens were (i.) the εἰσφορὰ or property-tax [EISPHORA]. [p. 2.772]This fell also on μέτοικοι (Dem. Androt. pp. 609, 612). (ii.) The compulsory services called λειτουργίαι (LEITOURGIA), an institution also found existing elsewhere (Hdt. 5.83). Some of these at least were shared by μέτοικοι (Dem. Lept. p. 462.18). (iii.) Voluntary contributions on extraordinary occasions (ἐπιδόσεις) [EPIDOSIS]: see Lysias, 30.26.

B. Of taxes paid by foreigners for the benefit of Athens. (i.) The tribute, (φόρος [PHOROS], of the allied states formed in the flourishing period of the Republic a regular and most important source of revenue. In B.C. 413 it was changed to a 5 per cent. duty on all commodities exported or imported by the subject states [EICOSTE]. (ii.) A temporary duty of 10 per cent. (δεκατὴ) on merchandise passing from or into the Euxine was established in B.C. 409. (Xen. Hell. 11.2. 2; cf. 4.8, 27, 31; Dem. Lept. p. 475.60). The charge on other articles may have really helped the Athenian revenue; but the charge on corn must have raised the price of corn at Athens. (iii.) Plunder taken in war: sale of prisoners for slaves.

C. Other sources of revenue were derived by the Athenians from (i.) certain lands of which the state held the tithes. (This however is doubtful; see DECUMAE Vol. I. p. 604.) (ii.) Rents from public lands (Aristoph. Wasps 658): from pastures, forests, mines, saltworks, rivers; also, the sum paid by the lessee of the theatre. The mines (μέταλλα) must have here constituted the largest item. The silver mines of Laurion, which also yielded other substances, afforded a considerable sum to the state, being rented by persons who worked for their own profit, paying to the state first a sum of money for the privilege of working, and secondly 1-24th of the net produce. The collection of the latter charge was itself probably farmed-out. The labour of mining was performed by slaves. Some particulars about the mining system may be found in Demosthenes' speech against Pantaenetus. The mines at Laurion were exhausted in the time of Strabo (ix. p.399); the scoriae or waste-products (σκωρία, ἐκβολὰς) were then being reworked, and they can now be again worked at a profit. The valuable gold mines of Skapte Hyle in Thrace (Hdt. 6.46) became Athenian property by the conquests of Cimon. (iii.) Fines and confiscations: see TIMEMA, DEMIOPRATA, and EPIBOLE

These various sources of revenue, of which Aristoph. Wasps 655-660 gives a rough enumeration (omitting the Leitourgiai), produced in B.C. 423, according to Aristophanes, an annual income of 2000 talents. Xen. Anab. 7.1, 27, says that the Athenians began the Peloponnesian War with 1000 talents coming in annually. Boeckh's calculations (in the 3rd edit. of the Staatshaushaltung, vol. i. p. 510) bring him nearest to Aristophanes' estimate. But during the Peloponnesian War the income fell enormously, and it is not easy again to arrive at anything like a fixed sum. (See, however, Dem. Philipp. iv. p. 141.37.) The orator Lycurgus, “almost the only statesman of ancient times who really understood finance” (Boeckh), is said to have raised the total revenue for a time to 1200 talents (Plutarch, Vit. Dec. Orat. 7.25).

A land-tax, or charge on the produce of land, seems to have been not uncommon in Herodotus' time (6.46), but we do not hear of it at Athens unless it be under the tyranny of the Peisistratidai, who took 5 per cent. (Thuc. 6.54): the charge seems to have ended with their expulsion.


hide References (12 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (12):
    • Aristophanes, Acharnians, 896
    • Aristophanes, Wasps, 655
    • Aristophanes, Wasps, 658
    • Aristophanes, Wasps, 660
    • Herodotus, Histories, 6.56
    • Herodotus, Histories, 5.83
    • Herodotus, Histories, 6.46
    • Herodotus, Histories, 6.57
    • Thucydides, Histories, 6.54
    • Thucydides, Histories, 6.91
    • Xenophon, Anabasis, 7.1
    • Xenophon, Ways and Means, 4
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