previous next


METOECUS (μέτοικος), a resident foreigner, a permanent settler in an alien state. Resident aliens were common in nearly all Greek cities, especially centres of commerce, the sole known exceptions being Sparta, whose ξενηλασίαι were notorious (Thuc. 1.144, 2.39; Xen. Resp. Lac. 14.4), and possibly Apollonia (Ael. Var. Hist. 13.16). A list of thirty-one towns which are known to have harboured μέτοικοι is given by Schenkl (Wiener Studien, 1880, ii. p. 163 f.), the authorities being chiefly inscriptional. The name appears with the variants πάροικοι, πεδάνοικοι (Argos, C. I. G. 14, 19), and ἔνοικοι.

The μέτοικοι at Athens.

1. Institution of the class.--Mention of resident foreigners at Athens is made by Plutarch, Plut. Sol. 24 (γενέσθαι πολίταις οὐ δίδωσι [Σόλων] πλὴν τοῖς...πανεστίοις Ἀθήναζε μετοικιζομένοις ἐπὶ τέχνῃ). Yet this can hardly be taken to imply that all craftsmen who migrated to Athens in Solon's time received citizen rights, nor do we find in the fragments of Solon's laws any mention of a class intermediate between the πολι-ται and ξένοι, between whom a sharp line appears to have been drawn. It seems more probable that Cleisthenes first created the ordo. A very possible interpretation of the well-known passage Arist. Pol. iii. p. 1275 (πολλοὺς γὰρ ἐφυλέτευσε [Κλεισθένης] ξένους καὶ δούλους μετοίκους) is to take μετοίκους in a non-technical sense, either with both substantives or with the latter only (see however DEMUS Vol. I. p. 616 b). Now the most ancient inscription in which the word occurs as the designation of an ordo is in C. I. A. 1.2, the date of which is not much after Cleisthenes. A large admission to citizenship, such as Cleisthenes had carried, would necessitate the definite regulation of what constituted non-citizenship, in the case of those who did not now become enfranchised, and of new arrivals at Athens. Hence the “order” μέτοικοι, intermediate between the fully enfranchised πολῖται and the non-enfranchised ξένοι.

2. Numbers.--Thuc. 2.13, after mentioning 13,000 as the full hoplite citizen force, gives 16,000 as the number of those who manned the battlements, consisting of πρεσβύτατοι καὶ νεώτατοι καὶ μέτοικοι. In 2.31 he distinctly tells us that the full metoec hoplite force amounted to 3,000. Thus the whole number of πολῖται liable to military service between the ages of 18 [p. 2.169]and 60 (taking the πρεσβύτατοι as from 50 to 60, and the νεώτατοι as from 18 to 20) was, at that time, 13,000+(16,000-3000), i. e. 26,000. This would give, taking 1: 4 1/2 as the proportion of grown males to the rest of the citizen body, nearly 120,000. It would be rash to infer from this the number of the μέτοικοι as a whole, for we do not know that the hoplite status was the same for μέτοικοι as for πολῖται: and as they, as a rule, only manned the walls, they must have been less exposed to loss. The number of μέτοικοι is obscured by the fact that special draftings of μέτοικοι into the ranks ofπολῖται are known to have taken place, when the numbers of πολῖται had been thinned by a serious disaster. Such cases are related by Diodorus Siculus, 13.97 (later years of Peloponnesian war), and the pseudo-Plutarchian author of the life of Hyperides, p. 9 (after Chaeronea, B.C. 338, at which 1000 πολῖται fell). There is distinct testimony that in the time of Demetrius of Phalerum there were 21,000 πολῖται, 10,000 πέτοικοι, and 400,000 δοῦλοι in Attica (Athen. Deipn. 6.272 b). Some regard these numbers in the case ofπολῖται and μέτοικοι as referring only to able-bodied men. The μέτοικοι consisted of Lydians, Phrygians, Syrians, and other barbarians (Xen. Vect. 2.3), Syracusans, e. g. Lysias the speech-writer, Corinthians, e. g. Deinarchus, the orator.

3. Position.--Any stranger not a slave who remained more than a certain time at Athens was compelled to register himself as μέτοικος. During the days of grace he was termed παρεπίδημος (μέτοικός ἐστιν, ὁπόταν τις ἀπὸ ξένης ἐλθὼν ἐνοικῇ τῇ πόλει, τέλος τελῶν εἰς ἀποτεταγμένας τινὰς χρείας τῆς πόλεως : ἕως μ̀ν οὖν ποσῶν ἡμερῶν παρεπίδημος καλεῖται καὶ ἀτελής ἐστιν, ἐὰν δὲ ὑπερβῇ τὸν ὡρισμένον χρόνον, μέτοικος ἤδη γένεται καὶ ὑποτελής. Aristoph. Byz. in Herodian. Epimer. ed. Boisson. p. 287). The civic disabilities of μέτοικοι were almost proverbial. Xenophon speaks of the Corinthians after their fusion with Argos as ἐν τῇ πόλει μετοίκεν ἔλαττον δυνάμενοι (Hell. 4.4, 6). Demosthenes (Callip. p. 1243.29) expresses the same idea by the phrase μέτοικος καὶ οὐδὲν δυνάμενος.

Aristotle (Pol. iii. p. 1275 a) defines the μέτοικος as τῶν τιμῶν μὴ μετέχων. These τιμαὶ were (a) ἀρχαί, i. e. the right of serving as magistrate and dicast, and of voting in elections. (bἐπιγαμία, marriage with πολῖται. (c) γῆς καὶ οἰκίας ἔγκτησις, acquisition of land or house property. (d) ἱερωσύνη, right of performing public sacrifice.

Each μέτοικος was obliged to enrol himself (ἀπογράφεσθαι, ἐπιγράφεσθαι) under a patron (προστάτης). This custom was no doubt originally due to the fact that in the eye of Greek law and religion the stranger was of the same status as a woman or a minor. Thus the προστάτης was at once a security for the good behaviour of the μέτοικος, and his representative to the δῆμος. (See Aristoph. Peace 683; Harpocrat. s. v. προστάτης; Suidas, s. v. νέμειν προστάτην.) A μέτοικος who failed to register himself under a προστάτης incurred ἀπροστασίου δίκη: one who deserted his προστάτης incurred ἀποστασίου δίκη (Bekk. Anecd. p. 435; Dem. Lacr. p. 940.61, 48). The character of the μέτοικος might be inferred from that of his προστάτης (Isocr. de Pace, § 53). Yet it seems that a μέτοικος could plead a case in person. The speech of Demosthenes against Eubulides is spoken by a man presumed to be a μέτοικος, and no mention is made of a προστάτης in Lysias v. and xxiii., both of which speeches are made on behalf of μέτοικοι.

His civic disabilities left the μέτοικος free to engage in pursuits for which the ordinary citizen had little leisure. He was devoted to trade and could undertake long journeys on business. Hence μέτοικοι were distinctly valuable to the state and were encouraged to settle there. (See Aristoph. Lys. 579; Isocr. de Pace, § 21; [Lys.] Andoc. § 49; Xen. Vect. 4.4. 0; Grote, Greece, Part II. ch. xi. p. 336, large ed.) Their close connexion with the πολῖται is compared by Aristophanes to the relation of bran to flour, while ξένοι are but the chaff, which is winnowed away (Ach. 508). Their wealth often made them an object of envy and oppression, especially in matters of taxation (Dem. Androt. p. 609.66; Timocr. 166). A special instance of this is seen in their treatment under the Thirty (Xen. Hell. 2.3, 30; Lys. 12.6).

Each μέτοικος paid an annual tax (μετοίκιον) of twelve drachmae, widows paying six drachmae, mothers whose sins paid already being exempt (Harpocr. s. v. μετοίκιον). This tax, like all others at Athens, was farmed out ([Dem.] Aristog. i. p. 787.68; Harpocr. s. v. πωληταί).

4. Duties.--Of the public λειτουργίαι the χορηγία alone is certainly known to have been open to μέτοικοι. (See Dem. Lept. pp. 462.18, 476.70; Lys. 12.20; C. I. A. 2.86.) Μέτοικοι were liable to εἰσφοραί, which they paid on a rating of one-sixth of their property, a rating high in comparison to the πολῖται (Dem. Androt. p. 612.75). For this purpose they were formed into μετοκικαὶ συμμορίαι (Hyperid. ap. Poll. 8.144; see also Boeckh, Staatshaus. ed. 3, vol. i. p. 624 ff.). With regard to military service, Pericles (Thuc. 2.13) appears to speak of the μέτοικοι as only manning the walls. Yet they seem to have taken part in some distant expeditions, both as hoplites and oarsmen, e. g. to Megara (Thuc. 2.31), coasts of Peloponnesus (id. 3.16), Boeotia (id. 4.90). See also Thuc. 1.143, Dem. Phil. A. 36, from which it would seem that the employment of the μέτοικοι was usually regarded as a last resource. They were not allowed to serve as ἱππεῖς in any case (Xen. Vect. 2.5; Hipparch. 9.6).

The difference between μέτοικοι and πολῖται is naturally most marked in religious matters. Yet, as being an integral part of the state, they had a claim to some share in the state's religion. They took part in the Panathenaea, ἵνα ὡς εὐ_νοι ἀριθμῶνται μετέχοντες τῶν θυσιῶν, the men (σκαφηφόροι) carrying skiff-shaped bowls, the matrons (ὑδριαφόροι) pitchers, the maidens (σκιαδηφόροι) parasols (Hesych. sub voce σκάφαι: Ael. Var. Hist. 6.1; Poll. 3.55; Harpocr. s. v. μετοίκιον; Bekker, Anecd. pp. 214, 242). Others, however, think that the males alone took part in this σκαφηφορία, and that the σκιαδηφορία, ὑδριαφορία, and διφροφορία were quite distinct ceremonies.

5. Special privileges.--Individual μέτοικοι, as a reward for distinguished state services, might receive by vote of the ἐκκλησία special privileges, [p. 2.170]such as προξενία (Dem. Lept. p. 475.68; C. I. A. 2.91), ἀτέλεια (C. I. A. 2.27, 42, 91; Dem. Il. citt.), ἔγκτησις γῆς καὶ οἰκίας (C. I. A. 2.41, 70, 186, 380) πρόσοδος πρὸς τὴν βουλὴν καὶ τὸν δῆμον (C. I. A. 2.41, 91). A special class of μέτοικοι were termed ἰσοτελεῖς. These had no προστάτης, paid no μετοίκιον, enjoyed (this is disputed) ἔγκτησις γῆς καὶ οἰκίας, and were, as far as payment of taxes and service as hoplites were concerned, on an equality with πολῖται. They were excluded from office, ἐκκλησία, and δικαστήριον (Poll. 3.56; Harpocr. s. v. ἰσοτελεῖς: C. I. A. 2.54, 176).

Actions at law in which μέτοικοι were concerned, either as plaintiff or defendant, were heard before the ἄρχων πολέμαρχος δίκαι δὲ πρὸς αὐτὸν λαγχάνονται μετοίκων ἰσοτελῶν προξένων (Poll. 8.91). While liable διδόναι δίκην in all cases to which πολῖται were subject, they were only able λαμβάνελν δίκην in actions arising out of matters in which μέτοικοι were specially concerned. Thus a μέτοικος could indict a πολίτης for non-fulfilment of contract, but not for ἀσέβεια. See Aristotle in Harpocr. s. v. πολέμαρχος: Dem. Lacr. 48; Isocr. Trapez. (where Pasion the banker institutes a δίκη βλάβης before the polemarch against a nameless μέτοικος); Lys. 23.2, 3. [A.H.C]

(Appendix). Ath. Pol. 58 confirms the statements (p. 170 a) as to their actions at law before the polemarch.

hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: