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[29] But you, whenever you turn your attention to your reverses, sit in judgement on your officers, but acquit them whenever in defence they plead their necessities. Hence the outcome is strife and contention among yourselves, some taking this side and some that, while the interests of the state suffer. You conduct your party-politics, Athenians as you used to conduct your taxpaying—by syndicates.1 Each syndicate has an orator for chairman, with a general under him and three hundred to do the shouting. The rest of you are attached now to one party and now to another.

1 Since the year 378 for the payment of the war-tax (ἐισφορά), and since 357 for the trierarchy also, the citizens had been divided into a number of συμμορίαι, such that each comprised an equal fraction of the private wealth of the community. They were also divided into four classes according to property, the first class consisting of the wealthiest citizens, who prepaid the whole required sum into the exchequer and then recovered the money due from the less wealthy classes—a system which produced the abuses remedied by Demosthenes in 340. The richest man in a symmory was called the ἡγεμών or chairman and had under him an ἐπιμελητής or director. The comparison here is only a rough-and-ready one. Each political party in the Assembly has an orator (ἡγεμών) at its head, a favorite general (ἐπιμελητής) whose claims it supports, and a group of backers who applaud (=the 300 who pay).

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