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The Zeugitae (Greek: ζευγῖται) or zeugitai were members of the third division of ancient Athens after the political reforms of Solon. The zeugitae were those whose property or estate could produce 200 medimnoi of wet or dry goods (or their equivalent), per year. The term appears to have come from the Greek word for "yoke", which has led modern scholars to conclude that zeugitae were either men who could afford a yoke of oxen or men who were "yoked together" in the phalanx—that is, men who could afford their own hoplite armor.
The zeugitae could serve as hoplites in the Athenian army. The idea was that one could serve as a hoplite if he had enough money to equip himself in that manner, i.e. he could produce 200 medimnoi or more per year.
At the time of Solon's reforms, zeugitae were granted the right to hold certain minor political offices. Their status rose through the years; in 457/6 BC they were granted the right to hold the archonship, and in the late 5th century moderate oligarchs advocated for the creation of an oligarchy in which all men of hoplite status or higher would be enfranchised, and such a regime was indeed established for a time during the Athenian coup of 411 BC.
They were eligible for a few positions of government in Athens such as:
- Council of 500
- Lower offices of state
- In 457/6 BC, the archonship was opened to zeugitae
- Pentacosiomedimni, the highest class, who had at least 500 medimnoi of wet or dry goods (or their equivalent) as yearly income
- Hippeis, the class above, who had at least 300 medimnoi (or their equivalent) as yearly income
- Thetes, the lowest class, who were workers for wages, or had less than 200 medimnoi (or their equivalent) as yearly income
- Solon, the reformer who established the zeugitae
- Whitehead, "The Ancient Athenian ΖΕΥΓΙΤΑΙ", 282–83
- Fine, The Ancient Greeks, 209
- Renshaw, In Search of the Greeks, 147
- Kagan, The Peloponnesian War, 398–399
- Fine, John V.A. The Ancient Greeks: A critical history (Harvard University Press, 1983) ISBN 0-674-03314-0
- Kagan, Donald. The Peloponnesian War (Penguin Books, 2003). ISBN 0-670-03211-5
- Whitehead, David, "The Ancient Athenian ΖΕΥΓΙΤΑΙ", The Classical Quarterly New Series, Vol. 31, No. 2 (1981), pp. 282–286
- Renshaw, James, "In Search of the Greeks". ISBN 978-1-85399-699-3
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