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A Greek word meaning: (1) the people, either in contrast with a despot or the nobility, or as the depository of supreme power. (2) a district or region. Thus in the Athenian state the demes were the hundred administrative districts formed by Clisthenes, of which ten were contained in each of the ten tribes or phylae. The demes were named after the small towns and hamlets, and sometimes from distinguished families living there and owning property at the time of the division. In course of time the number of the demes increased through extension and division, so that in the age of Augustus it amounted to 174. According to the original arrangement all persons who belonged to a deme lived in its precincts. The descendants belonged to the same demes as their ancestors, even though they neither lived nor owned property there. To pass from one deme to another was only possible by adoption. To own property in a strange deme it was necessary to pay a special tax to it. As every citizen was obliged to belong to a deme, the complete official description of him included the name of his deme as well as of his father. Every deme had certain common religious rites, presided over by special priests. The demotae, or members of a deme, had also a common property, a common chest for receiving the rents and taxes, common officers with a demarchus at their head, and common meetings for the discussion of common interests, elections, and so forth. At these meetings the names of the young citizens of eighteen years old were written in the registers of the deme, and after two years were enrolled in the lists of persons qualified to take part in the meetings. It was also at these assemblies that the regular revision of the lists of Athenian citizens took place.
Type: Standard
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