Classical Quarterly 31 (02):282- (1981)
AbstractIt seems to be widely agreed by modern scholars that when Solon created his four census-classes in early sixth-century Athens he gave to at least three of them – the ππες, the ζευγται and the θτες – names which were in pre-existing use there. But what, if so, did the names signify, before being assigned their new, official, quantitative Solonic sense? The archaic Athenian θτες were presumably recognizably akin to their Homeric and Hesiodic namesakes; and despite the etymological obscurity of the word in any event, in practical terms it will have denoted men who by all relevant social, economic or military tests scored a negligible rating. In the case of higher scorers, however, it becomes important for us to discover precisely which criteria are being applied, and so it is the ππες and the ζευγται who have always posed the main interpretative puzzle. For the ζευγται Ehrenberg put it succinctly enough: ‘the zeugitai can be explained either as those who owned a pair of oxen under the yoke or those who are joined to their neighbours in the ranks of the phalanx’. Both these explanations – for convenience I shall call them the agricultural and the military – have indeed long had, and continue to have, their adherents. Most of the great nineteenth-century students of Staatsaltertümer took the agricultural line, usually without argument; and the standard lexica still do. In 1894, however, Conrad Cichorius made out a strong case for the military explanation, and he has had many followers, both witting and unwitting
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