In Ancient Greece, the municipality (ancient Greek: δῆμος) meant the assembly of citizens as the dominant political body and then the administrative subdivision of ancient Attica, the continuation of which is present-day Attica, a region of Greece. Demes as simple subdivisions of land in the countryside seem to have existed in the 6th century BC and earlier, but did not acquire particular significance until the reforms of Cleisthenes in 508 BC. In those reforms, enrollment in the citizen-lists of a deme became the requirement for citizenship; prior to that time, citizenship had been based on membership in a phratry, or family group. At this same time, demes were established in the main city of Attica itself, where they had not previously existed; in all, at the end of Cleisthenes' reforms, Attica was divided into 139 demes to which one can be added Berenikidai (established in 224/223 BC), Apollonieis (201/200 BC), and Antinoeis (added in 126/127). The establishment of demes as the fundamental units of the state weakened the gene, or aristocratic family groups, that had dominated the phratries.
A deme functioned to some degree as a polis in miniature, and indeed some demes, such as Eleusis and Acharnae, were in fact significant towns. Each deme had a demarchos who supervised its affairs; various other civil, religious, and military functionaries existed in various demes. Demes held their own religious festivals and collected and spent revenue.
Demes were combined within the same area to make trittyes, larger population groups, which in turn were combined to form the ten tribes, or phylai of Athens. Each tribe contained one trittys from each of three regions: the city, the coast, and the inland area.
Cleisthenes' reforms and its modifications
First period: 508 – 307/306 BC
Cleisthenes divided the landscape in three zones—urban (asty), coastal (paralia) and inland (mesogeia)—and the 139 demes were organized into 30 groups called trittyes ("thirds"), ten for each of the zones and into ten tribes, or phylai, each composed of three trittyes, one from the coast, one from the city, and one from the inland area.
The ten tribes were named after legendary heroes and came to have an official order:
- Erechtheis (Ἐρεχθηΐς) named after Erechtheus
- Aigeis (Αἰγηΐς) named after Aegeus
- Pandionis (Πανδιονίς) named after Pandion
- Leontis (Λεοντίς) named after Leos, son of Orpheus
- Acamantis (Ἀκαμαντίς) named after Acamas
- Oineis (Οἰνηΐς) named after Oeneus
- Kekropis (Κεκροπίς) named after Cécrops
- Hippothontis (or Hippothoontis) (Ἱπποθοντίς) named after Hippothoon
- Aiantis (Αἰαντίς) named after Ajax
- Antiochis (Ἀντιοχίς) named after Antiochus, son of Heracles
Second period: 307/306 – 224/223 BC
In 307/306 – 224/223 BC the system was reorganized with the creation of two Macedonian Phylai (XI. Antigonis and XII. Demetrias), named after Demetrius I of Macedon and Antigonus I Monophthalmus, and an increase in the membership of the Boule to 600. Each of the ten tribes, except Aiantis, provided three demes (not necessarily one for trittyes); the missing contribution of Aiantis was covered by two demes of Leontis and one from Aigeis.
Third period: 224/223 – 201/200 BC
The Egyptian Phyle XIII. Ptolemais, named after Ptolemy III Euergetes was created in 224/223 BC and the Boule was again increased to 600 members, the twelve tribes giving each a demos. A new village was created and named Berenikidai after Ptolemy's wife Berenice II of Egypt.
Fourth period: 201/200 BC – 126/127 AD
In 201/200 BC the Macedonian Phylae were dissolved and the villages (except the two given to Ptolemais) went back to their original tribes. In the spring of 200 BC Tribe XIV. Attalis, named after Attalus I, was created following the same scheme used for the creation of the Egyptian Phyle: each tribe contributed a deme and a new deme, Apollonieis, was created in honour of Apollonis, wife of Attalus I of Pergamum. As a consequence there were again 12 tribes and 600 members of the Boule. From this period onward, quotas were no longer assigned to the demes for the 50 Boule members from each tribe
Fifth period: 126/127 – third century
The last modification was the creation in 126/127 of XV. Hadrianis, named after the Emperor Hadrian, following the same scheme: each tribe contributed a deme and a new deme, Antinoeis, was created in honour of Hadrian's favourite, Antinous. Each tribe contributed 40 members to the Boule.
Representation in the Boule
In the first three periods there it a more detailed system of fixed quotas which essentially remained unchanged. There is no evidence for a single general reapportionment of quotas within each of the first three periods, while there are evident small quota-variations between the first and the second periods.
More precisely in:
- 307/306 BC, 24 demes increased of 1 bouleutes, 13 of 2, 5 or 3, 6 of 4 and 1 (Lower Paiania) of 11 and there is not a single example of a decreased quota.
- 224/223 BC 4 demes increased of 1 bouleutes, 1 of 2, 2 or 3 and 2 of 4; of the 56 demes whose quota in the third period are known more than half maintain their same quota through the first three periods.
As regards the last two periods, the material illustrates the complete collapse of the quota-system from 201/200 BC.
Spurious and Late Roman demes
Some deme lists suggest extensions to the list of 139+3 Demes by adding 43 additional names, some of which have been considered by scholars as Attic demes. The criticism performed by John S. Traill shows that 24 are the result of error, ancient or modern, or of misinterpretation and 19 are well known chiefly from inscriptions of the second and third centuries AD, i.e. in the fifth period, and thus for political purposes they were originally dependent on legitimate Cleisthenic demes.
Homonymous and divided demes
There were six pairs of homonymous demes:
- Halai Araphenides (VII.Kekropis) and Halai Aixonides (II.Aigeis)
- Oion Dekeleikon (VIII.Hippothontis; later XIII.Ptolemais, XIV.Attalis) and Oion Kerameikon (IV.Leontis; affiliated with XII.Demetrias in the Macedonian period)
- Eitea: there were two demes of that name, but no modifier is known. One is associated to V.Acamantis, later XI.Antigonis and XV.Hadrianis; the other is associated to X.Antiochis
- Oinoe and Oinoe: again no modifier is known; one deme was associated to VIII.Hippothontis, later XII.Demetrias and XIII.Ptolemais; the other was associated to IX.Aiantis, later XIV.Attalis and XV.Hadrianis.
- Kolonai: again no modifier is known; one deme was associated to IV.Leontis; the other to X.Antiochis, later XI.Antigonis and XIII.Ptolemais.
- Eroiadai: again no modifier is known for these two demes associated to VIII.Hippothontis and X.Antiochis.
There were six divided demes, one composed of three parts:
- Agryle, Upper Agryle and Lower Agryle (I.Erechtheis); one of them, but there is no prosopographical information for identifying which, was transferred to XI.Antigonis and went back at the end of the Macedonian period; later one of them (again it is uncertain which) was transferred to XIV.Attalis.
- Lamptrai, Upper Lamptrai and Coastal/Lower Lamptrai (I.Erechtheis); Upper Lamptrai was transferred to XI.Antigonis and went back at the end of the Macedonian period.
- Pergase, Upper and Lower (I.Erechtheis); one of them (no prosopographical information allows to decide which) was transferred to XI.Antigonis and went back at the end of the Macedonian period.
- Ankyle: no special designations of either section are preserved, although they are presumed to have the regular Upper and Lower forms. One section, perhaps Upper Ankale, was transferred to XI.Antigonis and went back at the end of the Macedonian period.
- Paiania, Upper Paiania and Lower Paiania (III.Pandionis); Upper Paiania, was transferred to XI.Antigonis and went back at the end of the Macedonian period.
- Potamos has three sections, Upper Potamos, Lower Potamos and Potamos Deiradiotes (IV.Leontes); during the Macedonian period, Potamos Deiradiotes belonged to XI.Antigonis and Lower Potamos to XII.Demetrias
List of Athenian demes according to tribes/phylai (φυλαί)
The ten Cleisthenic tribes
|Upper Agryle||2||3||3||One deme to XI.Antigonis in the second and third periods and to XIV.Attalis in the fourth period|
|Themakos||1||1||to XIII.Ptolemais in the third period|
|Upper Lamptrai||5||to XI.Antigonis in the second and third periods|
|Pambotadai||1(0)||1||2||to XV.Hadrianis in the fifth period|
|Upper Pergase||2||3||3||One deme to XI.Antigonis in the second and third periods|
|Upper Ankyle||1||to XI.Antigonis in the second and third periods|
|Diomeia||1||to XII.Demetrias in the second and third periods|
|Phegaia||3(4)||3(4)||to XV.Hadrianis in the fifth period|
|Gargettos||4||to XI.Antigonis in the second and third periods|
|Ikarion||5(4)||to XI.Antigonis in the second and third periods and to XIV.Attalis in the fourth period|
|Kydantidai||1(2)||1(2)||to XIII.Ptolemais in the third period|
|Kydathenaion||12(11)||to XI.Antigonis in the second and third periods|
|Probalinthos||5||5||5||to XIV.Attalis in the fourth period|
|Konthyle||1||1||to XIII.Ptolemais in the third period|
|Kytheros||2(1)||to XI.Antigonis in the second and third periods|
|Oa||4||4||4||to XV.Hadrianis in the fifth period|
|Upper Paiania||1||to XI.Antigonis in the second and third periods|
|Oion Kerameikon||1||to XII.Demetrias in the second and third periods|
|Skambonidai||3||4||4||to XV.Hadrianis in the fifth period|
|Lower Potamos||1||to XII.Demetrias in the second and third periods|
|Deiradiotai||2||to XI.Antigonis in the second and third periods|
|Potamioi Deiradiotai||2||to XI.Antigonis in the second and third periods|
|Sounion||4||6||6||to XIV.Attalis in the fourth period|
|Aithalidai||2||to XI.Antigonis in the second and third periods|
|Hekale||1||1||to XIII.Ptolemais in the third period|
|Poros||3||to XII.Demetrias in the second and third periods|
|Eitea||2||to XI.Antigonis in the second and third periods and to XV.Hadrianis in the fifth period|
|Hagnous||5||to XII.Demetrias in the second and third periods and to XIV.Attalis in the fourth period|
|Prospalta||5||5||to XIII.Ptolemais in the third period|
|Boutadai||1||1||to XIII.Ptolemais in the third period|
|Hippotomadai||1||to XII.Demetrias in the second and third periods|
|Tyrmeidai||1(0)||1||to XIV.Attalis in the fourth period|
|Kothokidai||2(1)||to XII.Demetrias in the second and third period|
|Phyle||2||to XII.Demetrias in the second and third period|
|Thria||7||8||to XV.Hadrianis in the fifth period|
|Daidalidai||1||to XII.Demetrias in the second and third periods and to XV.Hadrianis in the fifth period|
|Melite||7||to XII.Demetrias in the second and third periods|
|Xypete||7||to XII.Demetrias in the second and third periods|
|Athmonon||6||10||to XIV.Attalis in the fourth period|
|Phlya||7||9||to XIII.Ptolemais in the third period|
|Koile||3||to XII.Demetrias in the second and third periods|
|Korydallos||1||1||to XIV.Attalis in the fourth period|
|Auridai||1||to XI.Antigonis in the second and third periods|
|Elaious||1||1||to XV.Hadrianis in the fifth period|
|Oinoe||2||to XII.Demetrias in the second and to XIII.Ptolemais in the third period|
|Oion Dekeleikon||3||3||to XIII.Ptolemais in the third period and to XIV.Attalis in the fourth period|
|Oinoe||4||4||6||to XIV.Attalis in the fourth period and to XV.Hadrianis in the fifth period|
|Trikorynthos||3||3||6||to XV.Hadrianis in the fifth period|
|Aphidna||16||16||to XIII.Ptolemais in the third period and to XV.Hadrianis in the fifth period|
|Aigilia||6||7||to XIII.Ptolemais in the third period|
|Atene||3||to XII.Demetrias in the second and third periods and to XIV.Attalis in the fourth period|
|Besa||2||2||to XV.Hadrianis in the fifth period|
|Thorai||4||to XII.Demetrias in the second and third periods|
|Kolonai||2||to XI.Antigonis in the second period and to XIII.Ptolemais in the third period|
The Macedonian tribes
The later tribes
|Kydantidai||Aigeis||inland||1 (2)||1 (2)||1|
|Pambotadai||Erechteis||coast||1 (0)||1 (0)||2|
|Phegaia||Aigeis||coast||3 (4)||3 (4)||4|
When the city was settled under the support of Pericles and the command of Lampon and Xenocritus the population was organized in ten tribes, following the Athenian organization: there were tribes for the population of 1. Arcadia, 2. Achaea, 3. Elis, 4. Boeotia, 5. Delphi, 6. Dorians, 7. Ionians, 8. population of Euboea, 9. the islands and 10. Athenians.
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The term "deme" (dēmos) survived into the Hellenistic and Roman eras. By the time of the Byzantine Empire, the term was used to refer to one of the four chariot racing factions, the Reds, the Blues, the Greens and the Whites.
In modern Greece, the term dēmos is used to denote one of the municipalities.
- , Traill 1975, p. 76
- J.V. Fine, The Ancient Greeks: A Critical History
- David Whitehead, "Deme" from the Oxford Classical Dictionary, Simon Hornblower and Antony Spawforth, ed.
- Traill 1975, p. 56
- Traill 1975, p. 59
- Traill 1975, p. 62
- Traill 1975, p. 61
- Graes, Phegaia, Kaletea (III); Rhakidai, Kyrteidai (V); Phyle B, Perrihidai (VI); Kikynna B, Trinemeia B, Sypalettos B (VII); Agriadai, Pol(--), Anakaia B, Amymone, Sphendale (VIII); Kykala, Perrhidai, Thyrgonidai, Titakidai, Petalidai, Psaphis (IX); Atene B, De(--), Lekkon, Leukopyra, Ergadeis, Phyrrhinesioi, Malainai, Pentele (X).
- Traill 1975, pp. 81–96
- Anakaia B, Phegaieis B, Graes, Pol(--)
- De(--), Salamis, Kaletea, Kikynna B, Atene B, Ikaroin, Amphitrope B, Phyle B, Sypalettos B, Trinemeia B, Coastal Lamptrai, Chastieis, Chelidonia, Echelidai, Gephyreis, Lekkon, Oisia, Rhakidai, Sporgilos.
- Hyporeia,Thirgonidai, Titakidai, Perrhidai, Petalidai, Eunostidai, Klopidai, Melainai, Sphendale, Pentale, Psaphis, Akyaia, Amymone, Ergadeis, Kykala, Kyrteidai, Leukopyra, Phy(r)rhinesioi, Semachidai B,
- Traill 1975, pp. 123–8
- Traill 1975, Table I
- Quota in the first period
- Quota in the second period
- Quota in the third period
- Traill 1975, Table II
- Traill 1975, Table III
- Traill 1975, Table IV
- Traill 1975, p. 133
- Traill 1975, Table V
- Traill 1975, Table VI
- Traill 1975, Table VII
- Meritt, 1961, pp.227-230 suggests that Sypalettos could be temporarily belonged to XIV.Attalis in 145; the argument would justify the conflicting facts that the current archon, Epikrates, was from Sypalettos and that archonship, in the secretary-cycle, should be assigned to Attalis; in connection he pointed that the son of the eponym, Attalos II, was of the deme Sypalettos and that a similar reletionship between phylai and members of the family of the eponym is proved by Ptolemy V Epiphanes, grandson of Ptolemy III and member of XIII.Ptolemais and by Hadrian which was accepted into the deme of Besa.
- Traill 1975, Table X
- Traill 1975, Table XI
- Traill 1975, Table XII
- Traill 1975, Table XIII
- Traill 1975, Table XIV
- Traill 1975, Table XV
- Fritz Schachermeyr, Perikles, Kohlhammer, Stuttgart–Berlin–Köln–Mainz 1969
- Traill, John S. (1975). The Political Organization of Attica. Hesperia Supplements. Vol. 14. Amsterdam: American School of Classical Studies at Athens (ASCSA). pp. i–169. doi:10.2307/1353928. ISBN 978-0-87661-514-0. JSTOR 1353928.
- Fine, John V. A. The Ancient Greeks: A critical history (Harvard University Press, 1983). ISBN 0-674-03314-0.
- Hornblower, Simon, and Anthony Spawforth, ed., The Oxford Classical Dictionary (Oxford University Press, 2003). ISBN 0-19-866172-X.
- Meritt, B. D. The Athenian Year. Berkeley, 1961.
- Suzanne, Bernard (1998). plato-dialogues.org, "Attic Tribes and Demes". Retrieved August 1, 2006.
- Whitehead, David. The Demes of Attica 508/7–ca. 250 BC: A Political and Social Study (Princeton University Press, 1986).