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PENESTAE (πενέσται), Thessalian serfs. The word is no doubt from the root of πένομαι, πόνος, πένης (Dionys. A. R. 2.9; Curtius, Gr. Etym. 272), and we must reject the ancient derivation quoted below. The Penestae of Thessaly were old inhabitants of the land conquered and reduced to villenage by the Thesprotians: according to Theopompus, they were Perrhaebians and Magnetes (Athen. 6.265); but Aristotle (Pol, 2.9, 3) distinguishes these tribes front the Penestae, speaking of them rather as Perioeci than as serfs. Others call them Pelasgi, or, in other words, regarded them as the primitive indigenous people of Thessaly; while Archemachus (ap. Athen. 6.264) gives the following account of them:--“The Aeolian Boeotians who did not emigrate when their country Thessaly was conquered (compare Thuc. 1.12), but from love of home surrendered themselves to serve the victors, on condition that they should not be carried out of the country (whence, he adds, they were formerly called Μενέσται, but afterwards Πενέσται), nor be put to death, but should cultivate the land for the new owners of the soil, paying by way of rent a portion of the produce of it; and many of them are richer than their masters.” It appears, then, that they occupied an intermediate position between purchased slaves and freemen, being reduced to serfdom by conquest, and they are generally conceived to have stood in the same relation to their Thessalian lords as the Helots did to the Spartiatae; but this is not exactly the case, for they were apparently not, like the Helots, serfs of the state, but belonged each to some family for whom the personal service was performed, for which reason they were sometimes called Θετταλοικέται ( Athen. 6.264 a). They were very numerous, for instance, in the families of the Aleuadae and Scopadae (Theoc. 16.35; Muller, Dor. 3.4.6), but they were not only tillers of the soil; they formed the retainers of these great families, and served under their masters as cavalry: a body of 300 Penestae under Menon of Pharsalus assisted the Athenians in the Peloponnesian war (Dem. c. Arist. p. 687,. § 199; [Dem.] περὶ Σνταξ. p. 173.23). They resembled the Helots, however, in the fact that they often rose against their masters (Arist. Pol. l.c.). (See also Grote, Hist. of Greece, ii. pp. 373-376; Gilbert, Staatsalterthümer, 2.16 f.)

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