D i c t i o n a r y  o f  A t h e n i a n  I n s t i t u t i o n s


Karl Maurer, kmaurer@udallas.edu, (office) Carpenter 215, (phone) 972-721-5289


See indexes at the end.  Main entries are these: Archons (= King, Polemarch, Archon; Thesmothetes), Areopagus Council; Boule of 400 (= Council); Ekklesia (= Assembly); Lawcourts (= Areopagus, Heliaia, Dicasteria, Ephetai); Strategoi (= Stragetoi, Taxiarchs, Hipparchs); Social Groups (= Tribe, Phratry, Genos).  Unidentified quotations are from the Oxford Classical Dictionary, 2nd ed. (= "OCD"). "CGS" = L. Whibley, A Companion to Greek Studies.  "Ostwald" = From Popular Sovereignty to the Sovereignty of Law (Berkeley 1986).  “AP” = Aristotle, Athenaion Politeia.  Typographical emphasis is always mine. 


            I.1]  A r c h o n s:  Originally there was only the King (Basileus, an office held for life and hereditary, belonging to the family of the Medontidae).  Later he was the  K i n g  A r c h o n  and had two colleagues, viz. the  P o l e m a r c h  (war archon) and the E p- o n y m o u s  A r c h o n.   Beginning in c. 750 (?) all three were elected ('from the wealthy', and probably still from the nobility) for 10-year terms, and beginning 683 (?), for 1-year terms.  Shortly after that were added the six  T h e s m o t h e t a e, elected for 1-year terms.  In later times "the nine archons and the secretary to the thesmothetae were each chosen from one of the ten tribes" (see VII.3).

            I.2]  The  K i n g  had duties (a) religious (e.g. presided over the Lenaea, the Mysteries at Eleusis), and (b) judicial (e.g. tried religious lawsuits; charges of impiety; charges of homicide); and (c) political (at least in the early period) in that he presided over the Areopagus Council (II below).

            I.3]  The  P o l e m a r c h  until 487/6 was military commander-in-chief; after that his duties were (a) religious (he conducted certain sacrifices; arranged the annual funeral ceremony for men killed in war) and (b) legal (like the Praetor peregrinus in Rome he either tried or arbitrated cases involving foreigners, also freedmen; see V.4).

            I.4]  "The  A r c h o n"  (later archon eponymos, so named because he gave his name to the year; the list was kept from 693) "was the most important because he had the widest range of duties".  Duties were (a) religious, e.g. he regulated the city Dionysia; (b)  judicial: he tried all cases involving family and inheritance rights, also lawsuits arising from the Dionysia; and (c) political: he was long the chief magistrate of Athens, and "political struggles in the seventh and sixth centuries centered upon the elections of this office [see esp. Arist. Ath. Pol. 13.2], till the tyranny of the Peisistratids [in 561/0 ff.], who arranged that one of themselves or their adherents should hold it...   On entry into office he took an oath that at the end of his year everyone should hold what he held at the beginning: that is, he guaranteed the citizens against disorder and arbitrary executive action".  

            I.5]  The  T h e s m o t h e t a e,  acting together as a college, had the most important legal duties, and were comparable to the praetores in Rome.  At first they had "final judgement" in a great variety of suits and could fine and punish.  Even in later times they could sometimes impose penalties without reference to a jury.  For the long list of the kinds of cases they later tried regularly see V.4.   Also, "in the fourth century they had to examine the laws for anomalies and inconsistencies, and, if necessary, ask for the appointment of nomothetai; and, after magistrates ceased to sit regularly in the same courts, it was the thesmothetai who alloted courts to magistrates and fixed the days of trials.  Finally, they drew the lots for the appointments of the archontes and other officials for the next year".

            I.6]  O v e r a l l  H i s to r y.  In the 7th century the nine Archons largely ran the city, in collaboration with the Areopagus Council (which itself consisted of ex-archons--a fact that added importance to any archonship).  Election required not only wealth but also good family.  Candidates belonged to the eupatridai ("members of named g¡nh, tracing their descent from heroic times", not unlike Roman patricii); the elections themselves required prestige; and the 4 tribes which preselected the 40 candidates (10 per tribe) were themselves dominated by clan-leaders.  

            I.7]  The archonship was first weakened by Solon (himself Archon c. 594) in that (a) he introduced the right of appeal to a jury court (see V.2; app. I); (b) he established official property-classes, and specified that the candidates must come from the first of those, thus making wealth, rather than family, the criterion for candidacy; and (c) he perhaps established their election by lot.  The latter fact is disputed, and even if true, temporary: after Solon, from perhaps 508/7, they were certainly again elected (see above, I.4 and below II.3).  The really fatal blows came in 488/7 with Cleisthenes, who effected that (a) all archons be selected by lot; (b) the lot be among 40 candidates pre-elected not by the four old, clan-dominated tribes (see "Social Groups"), but from 500 candidates pre-elected by the demes (50 from each of the 10 new tribes; later still, the preselected body was 100 chosen by lot); (c) that knights be now eligible; and (d) that the Areopagus Council--which had added importance to the archonship, since all its members were ex-archons--be partly superseded by the newly created Boule (III below).   "Therewith (the archons') political importance ended.  No influential politician held the office afterwards; before 487 Solon, Hippias, Themistocles, and Aristides had been archons".  Their political and executive power largely passed to the Strategoi (q.v.), since those officials were still elected; their legislative powers, to the Boule, the Assembly, etc. 

                I.8]  J u d i c i a l  D u t i es.  In early times the nine archons by themselves tried all cases except those involving life (then the Areopagus took the case) or citizen rights (then appeal could be made to the Assembly--see V); but in later times they merely decided if a case should be brought to court, and to what court it should be assigned, and collected the evidence, and "presided" at the trial (for all this, see V).


            II.1]  A r e o p a g u s  C o u n c i l   (ἡ ἐξ ἀρεοπάγου βουλή, its members Ἀρεοπαγῖται, so called from the Hill of Ares where it often met), originally an exclusively aristocratic council of advisors summoned by the King, later by archons.  At first its members were exclusively eupatridai (compare the early Roman Senate, dominated by patricii); but after Solon at the latest it had 200-300 members comprising all the ex-archons, nine of whom entered it every year, on expiration of their term of office (their dokimasia being conducted by the Council itself).  "With this system of recruitment, the Areopagus gradually ceased to be exclusively aristocratic; for a time it represented the wealthy element and eventually came to include citizens of all classes".

                II.2]  "The general scope of the Council's activity probably remained unchanged till the reform of Ephialtes, though the codification of the law [e.g. by Draco] probably rendered its jurisdiction less arbitrary, and Solon set down its constitutional powers in writing, and so perhaps  to some extent limited them.  That before Solon it actually chose the archons (Arist. Ath. Pol. 8.1 f.) is doubtful (cf. Arist. Pol. 1273b35-1274a2); nor would the creation of a second Council dprive it of probouleutic functions, since these were hardly necessary in the pre-Solonic state; on the other hand, its function of giving general advice must have continued as long as the archons remained the principal magistrates.  However, the functions for which we have specific evidence are wholly judicial.  The Council judged in cases of deliberate homicide, wounding [with intent to kill], [poisoning], and arson, and in a variety of other mattters, mainly of a religious character; it also exercised a 'guardianship of the laws' (νομοφυλακία), dealing, by means of the procedure called eisangelia, with attempts to subvert the constitution and with the improper use of their powers by magistrates.  The penalties it could inflict included fines, exile with loss of property, and death; and its judgements were final.

            II.3]  "Under the tyrants the Areopagus came to be composed entirely of their partisans (Thuc. 6.54.6) and must therefore have been discredited by their fall, though it may have realigned itself behind Cleisthenes.  From 508/7 to 488/7 it was recruited from archons freely elected by the people for merit, including such persons as Themistocles and Aristides, and this and the crises of 490 and 480/79 [i.e. the Persian wars] may explain the revival of influence which, according to Aristotle (Pol. 1304a17-24, Ath. Pol. 23.1, 25.1) it enjoyed for some years after 480."  But after 488/7, when Cleisthenes established that archons be chosen by lot, "the gradual disappearance of its elected members" must have weakened its prestige, and in the new naval and democratic state it slowly faded.  In 462/1 (?or slightly eariler) Ephialtes deprived the Areopagus of its 'guardianship of the laws', by giving three of its most important to the B o u l e  and the people (see Ostwald 50-55 and 527, and see below III.5.3): δοκιμασία (assessment of fitness for office), εὔθυνα (annual assessment of all outgoing magistrates), and εἰσαγγελία (charges of capital crimes against the state).  All this plainly was a drastic increase in the power of the people; for by these three devices they could keep constant, strict reign on all higher magistrates.

                II.4]  However, it remained the court for deliberate homicide, wounding, and arson; and on some other matters, on which, however, its judgements seem to have been no longer always final.  It lost political influence and became a minor, if venerated, part of the judicial system."


                III.1] B o u l e  o f  4 0 0 (later, of 500), a second, "probouleutic" council created, according to a probably accurate early tradition, by Solon to set the agendas for the Assembly, which under him had increased in importance (e.g. by the right of appeal).  (Draco's supposed boule, of 401 members chosen by lot from the body of full citizens, is doubtful.)  Solon's boule had 400 members, 100 from each of the four tribes.  Cleisthenes increased the number to 500, 50 from each of his ten new tribes, selected originally at deme level.

                III.2]  C o m p o s i t i o n.  Any full citizen (including Thetes) over the age of 30 could seek to serve on the Council.  Candidates were first elected by their own demes; from those so elected, 500 councillors were chosen by lot (along with some "reserve" councillors called ἐπιλαχόντες, in case anyone should fail the dokimasia, or later lose his office).  After passing the dokimasia, they served for one year, during which they were exempt from military service; after a certain interval they could serve again, but only once.  From the time of Pericles they were paid.  The smallness of the pay (in the late 4th century, 5 obols daily, not enough to induce poor farmers to suspend work for a year) resulted sometimes in a preponderance of richer members.  But the selection by lot and the prohibition against serving more than twice meant that many Athenians served on it; it was normally not dominated by one point of view but representative of the whole people.

                III.3]  P r o c e d  u r e.    Since there were 500 of them, they needed "some smaller body which would always be accessible.  Hence the fifty councillors of each tribe formed standing committees (πρυτανεῖαι), each acting for a tenth of the year [i.e. for a "prytany" = 34 to 39 days] in an order settled each year by lot.  The members (πρυτάνεις) met every day in the θόλος; they received foreign envoys, despatches from officials or foreign states, and informations of serious offences."  They prepared business for the Council and, by means of a written prñgramma, summoned both Council and Assembly.  A president (ἐπιστάτης τῶν πρυτάνεων) was chosen by lot every day to hold office for a single day and night, during which time he remained in the θόλος with a third of the prytaneis chosen by himself.  He kept the keys of the state treasury and archives and the state seal, and in the fifth century he was the actual president both in the Council and Assembly, the prytaneis helping to maintain order" (CGS 452).  In the 4th century there was a change: the president's helpers were not fellow prytaneis but nine proedroi [lit. 'chairmen'] whom he chose by lot from the other 9 tribes. 

                III.4] "The Council had its own secretary, later secretaries (grammateis)....   Ordinary citizens and most magistrates could communicate with the Council only through the prytaneis.  Thus the Council was carefully protected from undue influence, internal or external.  An exception to this tendency was its relation to the Strategoi, who appear to have acquired the right both to attend the meetings and to make propositions.  The council met in the bouleut®rion, on occasion elsewhere.  Meetings were normally public but could be held in secret if the Council so decided.  It was assisted in some of its tasks by committees of ten of its own members, viz. the τριηροποιοί, ἐπιμεληταὶ τοῦ νεωρίιου, λογισταί, and ἱεροποιοί." (OCD).

                III.5]  F u n c t i o n s.   "The Council had extensive powers, deliberative, executive, and administrative, but alike from its constitution and from its real subordination to the Assembly, its independent authority was not great" (CGS 453).  Its functions were:

      (1) Deliberative ("probouleutic"): its prepared agendas (προγράμματα, προβουλεύματα) determined the assembly debates; for it was unconstitutional to debate any matter on which there was no προβούλευμα (though the Assembly could require that one be prepared for the next meeting, and could accept, reject or amend an existing one).  

      (2) Administrative: "[Diplomacy]  It received foreign envoys before they proceeded to the ekklesia, and made drafts of treaties.  [Naval] It saw to the building of new triremes and the maintenance of the whole fleet and of the docks....  [Financial]  Through the πωληταί and apodektai ["receivers"] it supervised the letting out of state contracts for the collection of state taxes, and rents from state property, and the receipt of the revenue from the contractors, and in the fifth century, of the imperial tribute, in the reassessments of which it assisted; it also supervised the borrowing and repayment of loans from the temple treasuries, the handing over of funds from each annual group of treasurers to their successors, and the accounts kept by magistrates of the public moneys entrusted to them.  [Municipal services]  It had the care of public buildings, and of certain state cults and sacrifices.  [State Archives]  It was reponsible for the preservation of State Archives.   

      (3) Judicial: as a court presided over by the Thesmothetai (q.v.), the boule had 3 duties transferred to it (by Ephialtes?) that had belonged to the Areopagus Council): (a)  d o k i m a s i a,  i.e. assessment of someone's fitness for office (at least for archons, and probably cavalry, ephebes, and invalids).  The Boule reported all its own findings (even if favorable) to an assembly court, which had to vote approval.  (So every archon had in effect two dokimasiai.  And "we are told that no holds were barred in the questioning and that an aspirant might be called on to justify any aspect of his life [Lys. 16.9; Dem. 21.111]"--Ostwald 80).  (b)  E u t h y n a i, i.e. the annual assessment of all outgoing magistrates; here the Boule punished small offences itself and referred capital crimes to a court (or to the Assembly--see Appendix II).  (c) All charges of  e i s a n g e l i a  -- i.e. charges of capital crimes against the state -- were brought before it, and it could either dismiss them or refer them to a jury court (or the Assembly--see App. II)).  

      When a denunciation had been laid before the Council, "if the Council voted that the charge should be investigated, the Presidents (prytaneis) arranged a time for trying the case and had power to imprison, or hold to bail, the accused according to the gravity of the alleged offence.  If after hearing both parties the majority voted for acquittal, the accused was released and the business ended" (CGS 477).  The Council "could itself impose fines up to a limit of 500 drachmas; for a severer penalty it had to refer the case to the ekklesia or a dicastery" (OCD)      


                IV.1]  E k k l e s i a.  H i s t o ry.  At first "it probably decided only issues of peace and war, and formally elected the magistrates [i.e. from candidates dominated by the aristocracy]; as political tension increased, it may have shared in other important decisions, e.g. to appoint Dracon and Solon as lawgivers and to divide the archonship of 580/79 between the classes.  Solon may have granted, or formalized, a power of passing decrees or laws; and he supposedly entrusted the people with judicial responsibilities.  The earliest attested decrees are those granting Peisistratus a boydguard (561/0) and abolishing torture (510/09?); the earliest laws passed in the assembly were perhaps those of Cleisthenes; we know of no judicial acts on its part before its possible acts of condemnation of the exiled Peisistratids (510/09?) and the partisans of Isagoras (508/07).  Significant additions to its judicial powers were made by Ephialtes." 

                IV.2]  C o m p o s i t i o n  and  p l a c e  &   t i m e s  o f  m e e t i n g.  "Membership may have been originally confined to freeholders; the apparent participation of craftsmen in 580/79 supports the tradition that under Solon's constitution all citizens might attend.  Regular statutory meetings, at first one each prytany, almost certainly date from Cleisthenes."  In the fully developed democracy, any assembly was open to all adult male citizens over 18,  and anyone present had the right to speak; "magistrates had no privileges.  Ambassadors and heralds from foreign states might be permitted to address the Assembly."        

                IV.3]  The later normal peacetime attendance was about 5,000, "a very fair proportion of the citizen body, considering that many lived in the country.  After the Peloponnesian War, when the masses were poorer, payment for attendence was introduced.... It met on the Pnyx or, from the late fourth century, in the theater of Dionysius; occasionally in the Piraeus; and in the Agora if a ballot was needed."

                IV.4]  "There were four statutory meetings in each prytany; extra meetings were called if the boule thought fit or the strategoi [q.v.] demanded it.... To some extent the agenda was governed by law, certain matters coming up regularly once a prytany (continuation in office of magistrates, corn supply, etc.), others annally" (OCD).  For example, "in the κυρία ἐκκλησία of the sixth prytany every year a vote was taken whether recourse should be had to ostracism.  If the Assembly so decided, in the eigth prytany an extraordinary Assembly was called in the ἀγορά, when the citizens wrote on potshards the name of the man whom they wished to ostracize,  If 6,000 voted in all, the man against whom a majority of votes was cast had to leave Athens for ten years" (CGS 455).  Also, at a certain prytany every year there was a review of the laws. 

                IV. 5]  P r o c e d u r e.  "The meetings were summoned by the prytaneis [see III.3], who for the ordinary meetings published a πρόγραμμα five days before.  Extraordinary meetings were called in emergencies by a trumpeter.  Six ληξίαρχοι, assisted by thirty συλλογεῖς τοῦ δήμου, controlled the attendance....  The Assembly opened with sacrifice and prayer: the presidents brought forward the business on the πρόγραμμα.  On each question the προβούλευμα of the Council was read out by the herald.  The προβούλευμα might contain a definite proposal, might offer alternative courses, or might serve simply to introduce the business for consideration.    A preliminary vote (προχειροντονία) was taken to decide if the προβούλευμα should be accepted as it stood or discussed.  If it were not immediately accepted the herald asked τίς ἀγορεύειν βούλεται;   Naturally the proposal of the Council would find advocates; but anyone could propose to reject or amend it, or could make counter proposals.  All proposals had to be put in writing.  It was also open to a citizen to bring forward some subject which had not been considered by the Council.  If the Assembly approved, the subject was referred to the Council, which was directed to prepare a προβούλευμα.  When the discussion was concluded, the citizens voted by show of hands (χειροτονία)." (CGS)

                IV. 6]  "Voting was by a simple majority, and generally by a show of hands; secret balloting by tribes and a quorum of 6,000 were required in some cases affecting individuals, viz. some trials, ostracism, and grants of citizenship or adeia [i.e. immunity from prosecution, granted in return for information, μήνυσις].   The ballots, except for ostracism, were ψῆφοι, pebbles; hence, by extension, any decree was a ψήφισμα" (OCD).   

                IV.7]  F u n c t i o n s.  Those of the later assembly were  e l e c t o r a l  -- it elected generals, other military officers, and a few other magistrates;  l e g i s l a t i v e  -- it passed both laws and "some decrees of general or paramount application tantamount to laws; after 403/2 laws and decrees were kept distinct and the revision of the laws was entrusted to nomothetai"; and  j u d i c i a l  -- it often judged in cases involving eisangelia ('denunciation' of public officials, on which see V.4.  Most eisangeliai were laid before the Council (q.v.), which either resolved them itself or turned them over to the Thesmothetai and the lawcourts (q.v.); but some cases the Assembly accepted and tried itself.) 

                IV.8]  "The Athenian people (ὁ δῆμος, τὸ πλῆθος τῶν Ἀθηναίων) exercised a direct sovereignty.  Administrative and executive functions were of necessity delegated to magistrates or Council, but both authorities were jealously controlled.  The powers of the Assembly were indeed limited by the law courts, which exercised a final decision on changes of law and a power of revision over the decrees of the Assembly [see V]: but this was no derogation from the supremacy of the people.  For the dicasts were regarded not as magistrates but as citizens assembled for special duties, acting as irresponsibly as in the Assembly but with a different procedure.  With this qualification the Assembly had unlimited powers, and settled matters of policy or administration by discussion and vote.  The decision of war, peace, treaties and alliances, the election of generals and other military officers, the assignement and despatch of forces, the conduct of military operations, the raising and apportionment of funds, were all within its provice" (CGS 454).


                V.1]  L a w c o u r t s.  Originally most private suits were wholly in the hands of the 9 archons (AP 3.5), each in charge of his own tribunal; some private suits and cases involving homicide, arson, religious matters and all public suits belonged to the  A r e o - p a g u s  -- e.g. eisaggelia for crimes against the state; all cases arising from euthyna (i.e. the auditing of magistrates; probably at first this was done not regularly, as it was later, but only when a magistrate was suspected of a misdeed); and cases arising from dokimasia (= the assessment of someone's fitness to hold office). 

                V.2]  The later courts ( i.e. all but the Areopagus) were of three kinds.  They seem to have begun when Solon established: (I) the  (H) e l i a i a  = the whole people sitting in assembly as a court, to hear appeals (ἐφέσεις) against magistrates' verdicts, or to authorize any penalties above certain limits. (Later, when all that passed to the dikasteria, "heliaia" meant either [a] the court of the Thesmothetai (see in 4 below), or [b]  the whole body of jurors, δικασταί, = ἡλιασταί.)  Then arose (II) the  D i k a s t e r i a  which eventually tried nearly all kinds of cases (see below); and (III) the  E p h e t a i,  a special court, of obscure origin, presided over by the King; its 51 elderly jurors tried nearly all homicide cases not considered important enough for the Areopagus (so e.g. cases involving unintentional killing, complicity in murder, the killing of a slave, metic or foreigner).

                V.3]  The  d i k a s t e r i a  --i.e. tribunals of the people, sitting not as an Assembly but as judges -- probably began when appeals became so common that magistrates no longer had time to hear them, or the main Assembly to try them.  By the time of Pericles, each year a list of  6,000 jurors was made (from citizens over the age of 30) and divided into 10 sections (each containing members of all 10 tribes), and they were alloted to courts in such a way that the ten tribes were equally represented in each court (in the 4th century, this was done by lot to preclude bribery).  After Pericles each juror was paid 2 obols (= less than a day's wage, with the result that juries were often largely elderly).  In 4th-c. documents we learn that courts had 201 jurors, 401, 501, 701, 1001, 1,500, 2000, or 2500, and that those of 1001 and more were only in great political trials.  The day and place of meeting were decided by the Thesmothetai (in consultation with the presiding magistrates).    

                V.4]  Different magistrates presided over different types of dikastery (till the mid 4th c., after which time, cases were assigned to the various courts by lot): the A r c h o n  over cases concerning family and inheritance rights; the  K i n g  over religious trials; the  P o l e m a r c h  over cases concerning foreigners and freedmen; the  S t r a t e g o i  over military and naval cases; the  E l e v e n  (i.e. the police and prison magistrates -- one from each tribe plus a secretary) over cases of theft; the  F o r t y  (i.e. the deme judges) over lesser private cases (these men often appointed public  a r b i t r a t o r s  -- diaithtaÛ, citizens over 60 old chosen by lot -- to settle cases out of court, though the decision could be appealed to a court).  The  E i s a g o g e i s  (a board of five "Introducers") took many kinds of case requiring speedy action (e.g. loan defaults, dowry cases, assault) which they had to resolve within a month.  Most important were the  T h e s m o t h e t a e,  whose own court was the Heliaia; they presided over a few private cases (e.g. mining cases; mercantile disputes between foreigners and citizens; adultery); but mainly they took the most important  public cases (i.e. wherever the state was involved), e.g. cases involving graphe = "written indictment", including γράφη παρανόμων (indictment of someone for making an illegal proposal in the Assembly; γράφαι προεδρικαὶ καὶ ἐπιστατικαί (indictments of Council and Assembly presidents); εἰσαγγελία ('dennunciation' = impeachment of a public official, e.g. for treason, subversion of democracy, taking bribes, breaking promises to the state; δοκιμασία (assessment of someone's fitness for office); ratification of trade regulations with foreign states (and the suits arising from those); and προβολ ('presentment', a sort of tentative denunciation to the Assembly of someone who has deceived the people.  The Assembly then voted on the probable guilt.  This was not strictly a trial, but only a "testing of the waters" to see how a trial might go, if the case were brought to court.)

                V.5]  Of all these magistrates none was really a "judge" in the modern sense; and all except the Thesmothetai, the Introducers, and the Forty had more important other duties.  A magistrate's judicial role "resembled that of a court officer.  He received the charge, saw that legal rules were observed, prepared the materials on which the the judges [i.e. jurors] had to decide, settle with the Thesmothetae the day of trial, presided in court, and sometimes was responsible for the execution of  the sentence.  The law and practice of the constitution left him small authority during the preliminaries of the trial and no influence at all on the judgement" (CGS 471-2). 

                V.6]  P r e l i m i n a r i e s.  Anyone wishing to prosecute had first to go the the appropriate magistrate and obtain, and then deliver to his opponent (usually in the presence of two witnesses), a summons (πρόκλησις, κλῆσις) to appear on a stated day before that magistrate.   At the magistrate's careful inquiry (ἀνάκρισις) statements and evidence were given by both parties.  Since normally (as was said above) the magistrate was not a legal expert but feared being prosecuted himself for any mistakes committed in office, he perhaps rarely decided cases forthwith; more often he decided that the case should be taken to court.  He required court fees from the prosecuting party; conducted (or had conducted) the preliminary investigation (ἀνάκρισις); had all the evidence put in writing (including authenticated copies of the relevent laws), and kept this sealed and carefully preserved till trial; had a brief exposition of the case copied and published in a suitable public place; and arranged (usually with the Thesmothetai) for the time and place of trial.  

                V.7]  Of course, a defendent could object that the case should not be in this or that magistrate's sphere, or that this or that law was not applicable to himself, or that the time for legal proceedings had expired, etc.  Such "special pleas" (παραγραφαί, etc.) could themselves be referred to a Heliastic court, and the original suit be meanwhile suspended.  But no one lightly entered on such secondary suits, because the jurors tended to be impatient with purely legal subtleties.

                V.8] C o u r t  P r o c e d u r e.   "At the trial the magistrate presided, but he did not give directions or advice to the jury, and did not perform the functions of a modern judge" (OCD) -- i.e. the jury had to decide not only the facts but also how to interpret the laws, and often even the penalty (see below).   First the court clerk read out the plaint and the rejoinder, then came the speeches.  The accuser spoke first, then the accused, and both were measured by a water-clock.  In some trials each spoke only once, in some trials twice.  If not incapacitated by age or sickness, each had to speak for himself (unless a minor, a woman, a non-citizen--then, the nearest male relative or patron spoke); but he could recite a memorized speech, for which he had paid a professional speech-writer (the two most famous were Antiphon and Lysias).  During his speech, on the one hand, he could be interrupted by questions from his opponent or the jury; on the other, he could himself call witnesses or have the clerk read evidence (e.g. that given by a tortured slave) or pertinent laws or public documents.  During those times, his clock was suspended.  Witnesses could not include women, children, slaves; they could be questioned by the speaker, but not then cross-questioned.  After the speeches there was no summing up, but immediate voting (by pebbles, ψῆφοι -- each juror dropped his pebble into one of two urns set on a platform), and there was no appeal (except in that a verdict could be set aside because of false testimony -- δίκη ψευδομαρτυρίων -- if advanced notice of this had been given in court before the voting).  A tie jury meant acquittal.

                V.9]  P e n a l t i e s  were sometimes fixed by law; otherwise, the prosecutor and the convicted each, in a new speech, proposed a different penalty, and the jury decided.  Normally, in private suits (δίκαι ἴδιαι) the punishment was only pecuniary; in public suits (δίκαι δημόσιαι) it could be death, exile, disenfranchisement (ἀτιμία), loss of property, fines, etc., or (rarely) temporary imprisonment (e.g. in the public stocks.  There was but one prison -- τὸ δεσμωτήριον, alias τὸ οἴκημα --  which was flimsy, used only for temprorary imprisonment).

                V.10] I n  s u m,  "the democratic theory that it was the duty and privilege of every citizen to take part in the work of government was everywhere applied by the Athenians with excellent logic and much fertility of contrivance, but nowhere with more thoroughness and ingenuity than in the constitution of their tribunals.  The complex organization we have described rests on two very simple ideas, that law ought to be intelligible to the average man, and that the common sense and moral instincts of large bodies of ordinary citizens are the best guarantees of a pure administration of justice" (CGS 466).  There is of course a bad side to this attitude, and it can lead to atrocious injustices.


                VI.1]  S t r a t e g o i.   H i s t o r y.  "Nothing is known of Athenian strategoi in the sixth century, when the army was commanded by the polemarchus [I.3] but in 501/500 a new arrangement was introduced by which the people annually elected ten strategoi, one from each of the ten tribes (Arist. Ath. Pol. 22.2).  Each strategos commanded the regiment of his own tribe, while the polemarchos, like the other archontes, was appointed by lot.  Good leaders, whether military or political, obviously could not be regularly selected by lot; and so the polemarchos ceased to command the army, and the strategoi, who continued to be elected, not only became the chief military comannders, but in some cases became political leaders too", e.g. Themistocles, Kimon, Pericles, Cleon, Nicias, Alcibiades.

                VI.2]  "After the strategoi took over the supreme command from the polemarchos, they ceased to command the regiments of the tribes individually.  (This function was taken over by the taxiarchoi.)  A particular naval or military expedition might have one or several strategoi in command; only occasionally did all ten go together.  A strategos might be given special powers to take decisions in the field without reference back to Athens (στρατηγὸς αὐτοκράτωρ)" (OCD)

                VI.3]  M o d e  o f  e l e c t i o n.  "The annual election... was held in the spring, and their term of office coincided with the ordinary Athenian year, from midsummer to midsummer...  The original rule that one strategos was elected from each tribe underwent some modification: in several years (the earliest is 441/40) one tribe is known to have supplied two strategoi simultaneously, leaving another tribe unrepresented."

                VI.4]  F u n c t i o n s.  They were not mere generals but also state e x e c u t i v e s  who "controlled the military and naval administration, provided for the defence of the land, and the provisioning of the city.  They conducted the levy, nominated trierarchs, and superintended the raising of the property tax" (CGS 452; so all quotes in this and the next paragraph).   J u r i d i c a l l y they "presided in suits connected with those duties, as well as in trials for military offences."  In  f o r e i g n  r e l a t i o n s, "as the chief magistrates they took a prominent part in negotiations and in the ratification of treaties with other states."  As  l e g i s l a t o r s, "they had a right of access to the Council and could submit motions to be brought before the Assembly (γνώμη στρατηγῶν).  They could get extraordinary meetings of the Assembly summoned by the prytaneis, and in all Assemblies they could claim precedence for their proposals."

                VI.5]  "Subordinate to the generals were ten  τ α ξ ί α ρ χ ο ι, each commanding the infantry contingent of his own tribe.  Below them ranked the λοχαγοί..  The cavalry was commanded by two  ἵ π π α ρ χ ο ι,  with φίλαρχοι and δεκάδαρχοι subordinate to them.  The ships in the fleet were each assigned to a trierarch, a rich citizen called upon to undertake the duty, who prepared the ship for service and commanded it in time of war."

                VI.6] "The Athenian people kept a close watch on their strategoi.  At the end of their term of office they were subject to euthyna like other magistrates.  But in addition every prytany each strategos was subject to a vote, by a show of hands, on the question whether his conduct in office was satisfactory.  If the vote went against him he was tried in a lawcourt; but if he was acquitted by the court, he resumed his office (Arist., Ath. Pol. 61.2)  These arrangements illustrate one of the most striking features of Athenian democracy: reluctance to give power to able men and fear that it might be abused" (OCD).

                VI.7] We can say that the Generalship was an office peculiar in at least five ways: (a) It was one of the few offices filled by election, not by lot (with the inevitable result that it was filled by aristocratic or otherwise powerful men).  (b) It was the only office in which repetition in office was allowed (with the result that a man like Pericles could be elected year after year).  (c) Generals, alone among magistrates, could attend meetings of the Boule, and could demand special sessions of the Assembly.  (d) εὔθυνα of outgoing generals was not entrusted to the Boule at all, but was always conducted directly in the Assembly.  (e) Every prytany (i.e. ten times a year) each general had to undergo a vote of confidence in the Assembly.


                VII.1]  S o c i a l  G r o u p s:  T r i b e,  P h r a t r y,  G e n o s.   Phylai, tribes of people descending from a putative common ancestor, were often subdivided into phratries (φρατρίαι), i.e. narrower kinship groups (composed of related people or φράτερες), which in turn were subdivided into gene, families (on which see Genos below).  Membership in any of the three entities was hereditary.  Every Athenian belonged to a tribe and phratry, though it seems that not all belonged to a genos (see below, 6.)

                VII.2]  Though I called them "social groups", all three entities were also corporations with elected officials (for illustration of what that means, see below under Genos), and each had not only a social dimension but also a religious and a political--especially the tribes, which were administrative and military divisions of the state.

                VII.3]  P h y l a i.  "The original four phylai of Athens--Geleontes, Hopletes, Argades, and Aigikores--recur in some other Ionian cities, together with other phylai for non-Ionians."  These original four Athenian tribes, "which had been dominated by the nobles [i.e. by the leaders of the g¡nh, on which see 6 below], did not include many of the new citizens admitted under the legislation of Solon and by the tyrants."  So "Cleisthenes created ten new phylai, allowing the old ones to survive for a few sacred purposes only.  To break up not only the old ascendency of the nobles but also the more recent division of the people into Pedieis [men of the plain], Paralioi [of the coast], and Diakrioi [of the northeast], he formed each new phyle from three  t r i t t y e s  [lit. 'thirds'--divisions of the tribe], one from each of the three new territorial divisions of Attica, corresponding only partially with the three older regions.  These were 'the town' (τὸ ἄστυ)... and part of the plain of Athens; the Paralia, including most of the old Paralia with the remaining coastal regions, and the 'interior' (μεσόγειος), composed from parts of the old regions.  Each trittys was in turn divided into  d e m o i. *   Membership of the demes, carrying with it membership of the new phylai and of the citizen-body, was extended to all free men living in them at the time of the reform.  It was not altered by subsequent changes of residence and was transmitted by descent in the male line." 

                VII.4]  Political functions.  "The phylai were not units of local government; each had its headquarters in the city."  However, "the new state administration was based on them.  Most of the magistrates, including the archontes and strategoi, and various committees of the boule, formed boards of ten"-- i.e. consisted of ten members, each from one of the ten neew tribes.  There were likewise ten regiments of hoplites and ten of cavalry (hippeis), led by ten phylarchoi and ten taxiarchoi.  And "each group of fity prytaneis within the boule consisted of the councillors from a single tribe".  

                VII.5]  P h r a t r y.  "Aristotle (Ath. Pol fr. 3) equated the Athenian phratries with the twelve old trittyues [see above]; but although only a handful of names of phratries are known, it is probable that there were far more than twelve.  In Draco's time every Athenian belonged to a phratry, and nobles and plebeians might be phrateres to one another.  But the noble γένη were doubtless powerful within the phratries...  Down to the time of Cleisthenes membership of a phratry was the sole test of citizenship.  Cleisthenes introduced a new criterion, that of deme membership, but did not disturb the phratries (Arist. Ath. Pol. 21.6), and they continued to register new members as before."  A phratry, though a corporation which elected annual officers (e.g. phratriarch, priest), had no larger political function, except that a man's phrateres could appear in court as wtinesses to his status.

                VII.6] "G e n o s  (γένος, in some states πάτρα or πατριά), a family, in the sense of persons claiming descent in the male line from a single ancestor; narrower than a phratry, of which it might form a part.... Like phratries, gene were organized corporations whose specific activity was the worship of some supposed ancestor." 

                VII.7]  "At Athens the noble, i.e. named, γένη appear to correspond with the Eupatridai.  About sixty such gene are known; most have patronymic names... 

                VII.8]  "Like the phratries they had a definite constitution and elected officials, including an ἄρχων.  Besides the eponymous ancestor, they worshipped Zeus Herkeios and Apollo Patroos, the tutelary deities of all Athenians.  They met at least once a year to elect oficials, pass decrees and enrol new members, who had to be sons of existing members born in wedlock or lawfully adopted.  Acceptance seems to have carried unquestioned acceptance in the phratry also; rejection might be questioned in the courts.  Gennetai [members of the same genos] like phrateres, suggeneis and demotai, were called on in the courts to bear witness to status". 

                VII.9]  "It is hard to see how the new citizens accepted by Solon and Cleisthenes can have been admitted into existing gene or given new gene of which we hear nothing.  That some citizens were not gennetai is implied by the law obliging phrateres to accept both orgeones [i.e. plebeians who shared the religious rites] and ὁμογάλακτες (said to be an old synonym for gennetai); and the evidence of the fourth-century orators makes it pretty clear that while all citizens had phrateres and, potentially, συγγενεῖς (relations of the father's and mother's side), some did not have gennetai.  Hence the widely accepted view that the Athenian gene were throughout aristocratic in character."

                VII.10]  "The Athenian aristocratic gene were probably formed in post-Mycenaean times and dominated public life until Solon.  Not only was the archonship reserved to them, but individual families had an exclusive right to certain priesthoods...  Solon deprived the gene of their monopoly of office, and though Cleisthenes did not legislate against them directly (Arist. Ath. Pol. 21.6), his reorganization of the citizen body (see Demoi, Phylai), must further have diminished their political power.  While some gene gave their names to demes, which perhaps indicates that they were still locally concentrated and continued to wield local influence, others, already dispersed, are found split between several demes.  But their priestly privileges continued intact; they continued to provide leading men; and though some were wiped out in the wars (Isocr. 8.88) they remained a prominent feature of Athenian life and long outlived the phratries, some surviving into the third century A.D." 




and the people's right to judge them..  A clause in a early 5th-c. inscription (IG3105-35) stipulates: [ἄνευ τοῦ δήμου τοῦ Ἀθηναίων πληθύοντος μὴ εἶναι θανάτῳ [ζημι][σαι], "that no one be punished with death without the (consent of) the majority of the Athenian people".  We can conjecture that, till Ephialtes, "charges of crimes against the state were initially aired before the Areopagus, as Solon had stipulated [and later, after Ephialtes, before the Boule of 400]; but that if a hearing before the Areopagus [or later, the Boule] established that they had substance, and if the penalty upon conviction would be death (or probably likewise other severe fines or penalties), the case had to be referred by mandatory ephesis to a popular tribunal for final trial and verdict" (Ostwald 36).

            This inscription is significant because of its very early date (inferred from linguistic evidence): it might well antedate Ephialtes.  We can suspect that, even at a time when the Areopagus still investigated capital charges, the principle of ephesis (right of appeal to the people) was already established.  It "may be interpreted as extending to serious offences against the state the principle of ephesis, which Solon had introduced at least for complaints heard in the first instance bfore an archon.  Furthermore, by making ephesis... obligatory, it designated the people as the final judge in all cases seriously affecting the state.  Thus, in the sense that it made convictions by the Areopagus of offenders against the state subject to a compulsory final review by the people as a whole, the document represents an application to the judicial aspects of public life of the isonomia that Cleisthenes had instituted in the legislative sphere....  Ephialtes' achievement was to complete the process by giving the people full sovereignty in handling crimes against the state [i.e. by transferring the initial, routine investigative process from the Areopagus to the Boule]" (Osrtwald 39-40).


APPENDIX II: re  ε ὔ θ υ ν α ι,  annual assessments of outgoing magistrates.


Those of generals were always conducted directly in the Assembly; those of other officials were done by boards of examiners drawn from the Council.   Probably they had always existed irregularly; it was Ephialtes who made them annual and mandatory.

            In iv B.C. there were four boards of 10 members each: a panel of 10  l o g i s t a i  (chosen by lot from members of the Boule) examined magistrates' financial ledgers in each prytany; a panel of 10  l o g i s t a i  (chosen by lot from all Athenian citizens) examined the same ledgers for thirty days after a man left office; 10  e u t h y n o i  (also chosen by lot from all citizens, and each assisted by two 'assessors' or paredroi assigned by lot) examined their more general conduct in office, including private offences, and helped the logistai in any prosecution; and finally -- also helping that second board of logistai -- 10  s u n e g o r o i  (selected by lot one per tribe) were entrusted with any public prosecutions that resulted.  

            "At the examination any citizen had the right to lodge a complaint against an outgoing magistrate", which could result in a jury trial, e.g. for "embezzlement, bribery, or malversation....  Conviction of the first two.. carried the mandatory penalty of ten times the amount involved, but conviction of misdemeanor merely required restitution of the simple amount...  The decision of the jury was final and not subject to appeal" (Ostwald 56).  And even if there were no prosecutions, "the logistai and their synegoroi had to submit all the accounts they had scrutinized to a jury of 501 members for final disposition" (ibid.).

            Earlier, in the fifth century, the Logistai were but one panel of 30 members, and seem to have been merely accountants (without juridical power).  The overall examinations were conducted not by them but by the Euthynoi (i.e. the relative importance of the two boards was exactly reversed).  The Euthynoi, with their assistants, the paredroi, examined both public and private complaints (that 4th-c. distinction did not yet exist) and could by written indictments (graphai) summon offenders to a jury court, or if the fine was less than 500 drachmas, themselves convict.




Alcibiades 6.1; Antiphon 5.8, Aristeides 1.7, 2.3; Cleisthenes 1.7, 2.3, 3.1, 4.1, 4.2 2, 7.3, 7.5, 7.9, 7.10; Cleon 6.1; Draco 2.2, 3.1, 4.1, 7.5; Ephialtes 2.2, 2.3, 3.5.3, 4.1, 4.3, App. I, II; Hippias 1.7; Lysias 5.8; Kimon 6.1; Nicias 6.1; Peisistratus 1.4, 5.1, 5.2, Pericles 3.2, 5.3, 6.1, 6.7.b; Solon 1.7, 2.1, 3.1, 4.1, 4.2, 4.3, 7.3, 7.9, 7.10, App. I; Themistocles 1.7, 2.3, 6.1.




(Greek alphabetical order even when English words or characters are used -- so "th-" = y- etc.)


"the 11" 5.4, "the 40" 5.4.   ( A ) adeia 4.6; ἀνάκρισις (inquiry) 5.6; apodektai 3.3; 'appeal' see ephesis; Areopagus Council 2; Archon 1.4, 5.4.   ( B )  Βουλή 3; βουλευτήριον 3.4.   ( G ) gennetai 7.8, 7.9; genos 7.1, 7.6, 7.7; grammateis 3.4; graphai (indictments) App. II; γνώμη στρατηγῶν 6.4; γράφη παρανόμων 5.4; γράφαι προεδρικαὶ καὶ ἐπιστατικαί 5.4.    ( D ) δεκάδαρχοι 6.5; δεσμωτήριον 5.8; δῆμοι = demes 7.3; δημόσιαι 2.3, 3.5.3, 5.4.   ( E ) eisagagogeis 5.4; εἰσαγγελία 2.3, 3.5.3, 4.7, 5.4; Ekklesia 4; Eleven 5.4; ἐπιμεληταὶ τοῦ νεωρίου 3.4; ἐπιστάτης τῶν πρυτάνεων, 3.3; Ephetai 5.2; Eupatridai 1.6, 2.1, 7.7; euthyna 2.3, 3.5.3, 5.1, 6.6, 6.7.d, App. II; euthynoi App. II; ephesis 5.2, App. I.  ( H ) Heliaia 5.2 & 4.  ( Θ )  Thesmothetae 1.5, 5.4, 5.5, 5.6; Thetes 3.2.   ( I ) ἱεροποιοί 3.4; "introducers" = eisagagogeis.  ( K ) King 1.2, 5.4; κλῆσις (summons) 5.6; κυρία ἐκκλησία 4.4.   ( L ) Lawcourts = dikasteria; ληξίαρχοι 4.5; λογισταί 3.4, App. II; λοχαγοί 6.5.  ( N ) nomothetai 4.7; νομοφυλακία 2.2.   ( O ) ὁμογάλακτες 7.9; orgeones 7.9.  ( Π ) παραγραφαί 5.7; paredroi App. II; Polemarch 1.3, 5.4. 6.1; προβολή 5.4; προβούλευμα 3.1, 3.5, 4.5; πρόγραμμα 3.3, 3.5, 4.5; proedroi 3.3; πρόκλησις = κλῆσις 5.6; πρυτανεῖαι 3.3, 4.4, 6.7.e; πρυτάνεις 3.3, 3.4, 3.5.3, 4.5, 7.4; πωληταί 3.5.  ( S ) Strategoi 6; συγγενεῖς 7.9; συλλογεῖς τοῦ δήμου 4.5; sunegoroi App. II.  ( T ) ταξίαρχοι 6.2, 3, 7.4; trierarch 6.5; τριηροποιοί 3.4; trittys 7.3.  ( Φ ) φίλαρχοι 6.5, 7.4; Forty 5.4; φρατρίαι 7.1 & 5; φράτερες 7.1 & 5; Phylai, 6.1, 6.4., 7.3.  ( Ψ )  ψῆφος (vs  ψήφισμα -- vote; bill, decree) 4.6, 5.8.