In Ancient Greece, a deme or demos (Greek: δῆμος) was a suburb of Athens or a subdivision of Attica, the region of Greece surrounding Athens. 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 city of Athens itself, where they had not previously existed; in all, at the end of Cleisthenes' reforms, Attica was divided into 139 demes to which one should add Berenikidai, established in 224/223 BC, Apollonieis (201/200 BC) and Antinoeis (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 with other demes from 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 and the 139 demes were organized into 30 groups called trittyes ("thirtieth"), ten for each of the zones and into ten tribes, or phyle, 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 (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 creating the two Macedonian Phylai (XI. Antigonis and XII. Demetrias), named after Demetrius I of Macedon and Antigonus I Monophthalmus, and increasing the Boule to 600 members. Each of the ten tribes, except Aiantis, provide 3 demes (not necessarily one for trittyes); the missing contribution of Aiantis is covered by two demes of Leontis and 1 from Aigeis.
In connection the contribution of each village to the Boule is properly adapted.
Third period: 224/223 – 201/200 BC
The Egyptian Phyle XIII. Ptolemais, named after Ptolemy III Euergetes is created in 224/223 BC and the Boule increases to 600 members, the twelve tribes giving each a demos; moreover a new village is creatied 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 are dissolved and the villages (except the two given to Ptolemais) go back to the original tribe. Moreover, in spring 200 BC the tribe XIV. Attalis, named after Attalus I, is created following the same scheme used for the creation of the Egyptian Phyle: each tribe contributes a deme and a new deme, Apollonieis, is created in honour of Apollonis, wife of Attalus I of Pergamum. As a consequence we have again 12 tribeas and 600 members of the Boule.
From this period there are no more quotas assigned to the demes for the 50 Boule members of each tribe
Fifth period: 126/127 – third century
The last modification is the creation in 126/127 of XV. Hadrianis, named after Hadrian following the same scheme: each tribe contributes a deme and a new deme, Antinoeis is created in honour of Hadrian's favorite, Antinous.
More over each tribe contributes 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.
Spurious and Late Roman demes
Some deme lists suggest to extend the 139+3 list adding 43 other 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 after Christ, i.e. in the fifth period, and thus for political purposes they were originally dependent on legitimate cleisthenic demes.
Homonymous and divided 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 Macedonanian 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: 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.
and 6 divided demes, one composed of three parts:
- Agryle, Upper and Lower (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 Macedonanian period; later one of them (again it is uncertain which) was transferred to XIV.Attalis.
- Lamptrai, Upper and Coastal/Lower (I.Erechtheis); Upper Lamptrai was transferred to XI.Antigonis and went back at the end of the Macedonanian 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 Macedonanian period.
- Ankale: 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 Macedonanian period.
- Paiania, Upper and Lower (III.Pandionis); Upper Paiania, was transferred to XI.Antigonis and went back at the end of the Macedonanian period.
- Potamos has three sections, Upper Potamos, Lower Potamos and Potamos Deiradiotes (IV.Leontes); during the Macedonanian 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
- Erechtheïs (Ἐρεχθηΐς)
Deme # # # Notes city Upper Agryle 2 3 3 One deme to XI.Antigonis in the second and third periods and to XIV.Attalis in the fourth period Lower Agryle 2 Euonymon 10 12 12 Themakos 1 1 to XIII.Ptolemais in the third period coast Anagyrous 6 8 8 Kedoi 2 2 2 Upper Lamptrai 5 to XI.Antigonis in the second and third periods Coastal Lamptrai 9 10 10 Pambotai 1(0) 1 2 to XV.Hadrianis in the fifth period Kephisia (?) inland Kephisia 6 8 8 Upper Pergase 2 3 3 One deme to XI.Antigonis in the second and third periods Lower Pergase 2 Phegous 1 1 1 Sybridai 0(1) 1 1 Deme # # # Notes
- Aigeis (Αἰγηΐς)
Deme # # Notes city Upper Ankyle 1 to XI.Antigonis in the second and third periods Lower Ankyle 1 1 Bate 1(2) 1 Diomeia 1 to XII.Demetrias in the second and third periods Erikeia 1 2 Hestiaia 1 1 Kollytos 3 4 Kolonos 2 2 coast Araphen 2 2 Halai Araphenides 5 9 Otrine 1 1 Phegaia 3(4) 3(4) to XV.Hadrianis in the fifth period Philaidai 3 3 Epakria inland Erchia 7(6) 11 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 Ionidai 2(1) 2 Kyndatidai 1(2) 1(2) to XIII.Ptolemais in the third period Myrrhinoutta 1 1 Plotheia 1 2 Teithras 4 4 Deme # # Notes
- Pandionis (Πανδιονίς)
Deme # # # Notes Kydathenaion city Kydathenaion 12(11) to XI.Antigonis in the second and third periods Myrrhinous coast Angele 2(3) 4 4 Myrrhinous 6 8 8 Prasiai 3 3 3 Probalinthos 5 5 5 to XIV.Attalis in the fourth period Steiria 3 3 4 Paiania inland 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 Lower Paiania 11 22 22 Deme # # # Notes
- Leontis (Λεοντίς)
Deme # # # Notes Skambonidai city Halimous 3 3 3 Kettos 3 3(4) 3 Leukonoion 3 5 5 Oion Kerameikon 1 to XII.Demetrias in the second and third periods Skambronidai 3 4 4 to XV.Hadrianis in the fifth period Upper Potamos 2 2 2 Lower Potamos 1 to XII.Demetrias in the second and third periods Phrearrhioi coast Deiradiotai 2 to XI.Antigonis in the second and third periods Potamioi Deiradiotai 2 to XI.Antigonis in the second and third periods Phrearrhioi 9 9 10 Sounion 4 6 6 to XIV.Attalis in the fourth period Hekale (?) inland Aithalidai 2 to XI.Antigonis in the second and third periods Cholleidai 2 5 5 Eupyridai 2 2 2 Hekale 1 1 to XIII.Ptolemais in the third period Hybadai 2 2(1) 2 Kolonai 2 2 2 Kropidai 1 1 1 Paionidai 3 3 3 Pelekes 2 2 2 Deme # # # Notes
- Akamantis (Ἀκαμαντίς)
Deme # # Notes Cholargos city Cholargos 4 6 Eiresidai 1 2 Hermos 2 2 Iphistiadai 1 1 Kerameis 6 6 Thorikos coast Kephale 9 12 Poros 3 to XII.Demetrias in the second and third periods Thorikos 5(6) 6 Sphettos inland 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 Kikynna 2 3 Prospalta 5 5 to XIII.Ptolemais in the third period Sphettos 5 7 Deme # # Notes
- Oeneïs (Οἰνηΐς)
Deme # # Notes Lakiadai city Boutadai 1 1 to XIII.Ptolemais in the third period Epikephisia 1(2) 1 Hippotomadai 1 to XII.Demetrias in the second and third periods Lakiadai 2 3 Lousia 1 1 Perithoidai 3 3 Ptelea 1 1 Tyrmeidai 1(0) 1 to XIV.Attalis in the fourth period Thria coast Kothokidai 2(1) to XII.Demetrias in the second and third period Oe 6(7) 6 Phyle 2 to XII.Demetrias in the second and third period Thria 7 8 to XV.Hadrianis in the fifth period Pedion inland Acharnae 22 25 Deme # # Notes
- Kekropis (Κεκροπίς)
- Hippothontis (Ἱπποθοντίς)
Deme # # Notes Peiraieus city Hamaxanteia 2 2 Keiriadai 2 2 Koile 3 to XII.Demetrias in the second and third periods Korydallos 1 1 to XIV.Attalis in the fourth period Peiraieus 9 10 Thymaitadai 2 2 Eleusis coast Acherdous 1 1 Auridai 1 to XI.Antigonis in the second and third periods Azenia 2 2 Elaious 1 1 to XV.Hadrianis in the fifth period Eleusis 11 12 Kopros 2 2 Oinoe 2 to XII.Demetrias in the second and to XIII.Ptolemais in the third period Dekeleia (?) inland Anakaia 3 3 Eroiadai 1 2 Dekeleia 4 6 Oion Dekeleikon 3 3 to XIII.Ptolemais in the third period and to XIV.Attalis in the fourth period Deme # # Notes
- Aiantis (Αἰαντίς)
Deme # # # Notes Phaleron (?) city Phaleron 9 9 13 Thorikos coast Marathon 10 10 13 Oinoe 4 4 6 to XIV.Attalis in the fourth period and to XV.Hadrianis in the fifth period Rhamnous 8 8 12 Trikorynthos 3 3 6 to XV.Hadrianis in the fifth period Aphidna (?) inland Aphidna 16 16 to XIII.Ptolemais in the third period and to XV.Hadrianis in the fifth period Deme # # # Notes
- Antiochis (Ἀντιοχίς)
The Macedonian tribes
Deme Former phyle Trittys # # Lower Agryle Erachtheis city 3 3 Upper Lamptrai Erachtheis coast 5 5 Lower Pergase Erachtheis inland 2 2 Upper Ankyle Aigeis city 1 1 Ikarion Aigeis inland 5 6 Kydathenaion Pandionis city 12 12 Kytheros Pandionis inland 2 2 Upper Paiania Pandionis inland 1 1 Aithalidai Leontis inland 2 2 Deiradiotai Leontis coast 2 2 Potamos Deiradiotes Leontis coast 2 2 Eitea Akamantis inland 2 2 Auridai Hippothontis coast 1 1 Kolonai Antiochis inland 2 2
The later tribes
Deme Former phyle Trittys # # # Kolonai Antigonis inland 2 2 2 Oinoe Demetrias coast 2 2 2 Themakos Erechteis city 1 1 1 Kydantidai Aigeis inland 1 (2) 1 (2) 1 Konthyle Pandionis inland 1 1 1 Hekale Leontis inland 1 1 1 Prospalta Akamantis inland 5 5 5 Boutadai Oineis city 1 1 1 Phlya Kekropis inland 6 9 9 Oion Dekeleikon Hippothontis inland 3 3 3 Aphidna Aiantis inland 16 16 16 Aigilia Antiochis coast 6 7 7 Berenikidai new 1
The ten tribes of Thurii
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.
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 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.
- Urban/asty or astu (ἄστυ), coastal/paralia (παραλία) and inland mesogaia (μεσογαία).
- 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 pg.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 epynom, Attalos II, was of the deme Sypalettos and that a similar reletionship between phylai and members of the family of the epynom 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 V
- Traill 1975, Table IX
- 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. Amsterdam: American School of Classical Studies at Athens (ASCSA). 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". Accessed August 1, 2006.
- Whitehead, David. The Demes of Attica 508/7–ca. 250 BC: A Political and Social Study (Princeton University Press, 1986).