ElAnt v3n3 - Lysias 29.12: Jurors from the Piraeus

Volume 3, Number 3
December 1995


James Roy,
Department of Classics,
University of Nottingham,
e-mail: abzroy@arn1.arts.nottingham.ac.uk

In a forensic speech delivered c.388 B.C.( 1 ) the speaker states that at the time of an earlier trial in 389 'these men' (evidently associates of his opponent, and possibly including the opponent) went about claiming that 500 men from the Piraeus and 1600 from the asty had been bribed ( dedekasmenoi ( 2 )) by them. While the speaker's statement is patently unsupported by evidence and inherently dubious, so that it is far from clear that the claim to have bribed jurors was ever actually made, the assumptions which underlie the speaker's statement are of interest. They may throw some light both on the citizen population of the Piraeus and on the social status of Athenian jurors. At the beginning of each year a panel of 6000 Athenian citizens over the age of thirty swore the dikastic oath and so became eligible to serve on juries that year( 3 ): since their names were known it would, at least in theory, have been possible to try to corrupt them, and there is clear evidence that concern was actually felt about the danger of corruption. The system by which jurors from the panel were allocated to the jury for a particular case is not entirely clear, but it is likely that anyone who succeeded in bribing 2100 jurors could have expected that a significant number of bribed jurors would turn up on any jury.

Firstly, the statement, if taken literally, supposes that on the panel of 6000 there could be at least 500 jurors from the Piraeus and 1600 from the asty (and possibly more, since the speaker does not suggest that all jurors from these two places had been bribed). If, as seems likely, the speaker's statement was pure invention, the numbers were presumably also invented, and deliberately set high to show the seriousness of the attempts at bribery; but the statement is meaningless unless it could plausibly be supposed that the jury- panel for a year would include a large number of residents of the Piraeus and far more men from the asty. For the speaker's purposes it did not matter where the allegedly bribed jurors came from, and he had no reason to identify them as being respectively from the Piraeus and the asty unless such origins were plausible.

Secondly the claim identifies the jurors from the Piraeus as such, though 500 (or even only half as many) cannot all have come from the deme Peiraieis. The best indication of the size of the deme is the fact that from 307/6 it had 10 bouleutai out of the total Council membership of 500( 4 ). There had certainly been a considerable influx into the Piraeus of citizens from other demes( 5 ). Despite belonging to different demes, however, residents of the Piraeus were identified as such and thought of as a social category( 6 ). Aristotle took a similar view in the Politics (1303b7-12).

Thirdly the difference in number for Piraeus jurors and the jurors from the asty is striking. In theory the difference might arise at least partly because jurors from the asty somehow proved easier to bribe than jurors from the Piraeus, or because proportionally more citizens from the asty than from the Piraeus were willing to serve as jurors, but neither supposition would plausibly explain the whole difference. The numbers cited are so large and the difference between them so great that the speaker is clearly supposing that, while the Piraeus provided a strikingly large number of jurors, the asty provided far more. His supposition raises questions on two counts: the relative size of the populations of the Piraeus and the asty, and the social status of the jurors from the Piraeus.

We do not have clear evidence of the size of the population of the Piraeus, though it certainly grew rapidly from the time when the port was developed in the early fifth century, and it has been suggested that c.432 the population of the Piraeus matched that of the asty( 7 ). The speaker's statement however suggests that c.388 the citizen population of the asty was much greater than that of the Piraeus.

There has been debate about the social status of Athenian jurors, and Todd (1990) has argued persuasively for the view that farmers were the predominant social group, against the view of Markle (1985) that poorer citizens made up much of the panel of jurors (references in note 3). Residents of the Piraeus no doubt farmed land within walking distance( 8 ), and the deme Piraeus leased for agricultural purposes plots of land - some small - near sanctuaries( 9 ). If the Piraeus provided 500 men for the jury-panel (or whatever other smaller number might still be big enough to make the statement plausible), and if Todd's view of the jurors' social status is correct, then two possibilities present themselves: either the jurors from the Piraeus resembled jurors from elsewhere and there was a more important agricultural population in the Piraeus than is generally supposed ( 10 ); or else many of the Piraeus jurors were from a different social background from the majority of citizens on the jury-panel. (Markle's view could readily accommodate a number of jurors recruited from the urban poor of the Piraeus.)


(1) Lysias 29.12. On the political setting of the speech see R. Seager, 'The Corinthian War.' pp. 97-119 in Cambridge Ancient History (second edition, Cambridge, 1994), Vol. VI: The fourth century B.C. There is a vaguer allegation of widespread bribery in the related speech Lysias 28.9.

(2) On the term dekazein (meaning to bribe , and used especially of bribing jurors) see P. J. Rhodes , A commentary on the Aristotelian Athenaion Politeia (Oxford, 1981) p. 343.

(3) On Athenian jurors see S. C. Todd, The shape of Athenian law (Oxford, 1993) pp. 82-91. In the debate on the social status of Athenian jurors there are major contributions by A. H. M. Jones, Athenian democracy (Oxford, 1957) pp. 36-37, 50, 123- 124; M. M. Markle, 'Jury pay and Assembly pay at Athens.' pp. 265-297 in P. Cartledge and F. D. Harvey (edd.), Crux (Exeter, 1985); and S. C. Todd, Lady Chatterley's Lover and the Attic orators. Journal of Hellenic Studies 110 (1990), pp. 146-173 : none of these discusses the passage Lysias 29.12.

(4) See J. S. Traill, Demos and trittys (Toronto, 1986) pp. 16- 18; cf. pp. 136-138 on Hippothontis, the tribe to which the deme belonged. There is no evidence for the number of Piraeus bouleutai before 307/6; after 307/6 the Piraeus had 10 bouleutai, and Traill suggests 8 before 307/6. (Traill, The political organization of Attica: a study of the demes, trittyes, and phylai, and their representation in the Athenian council (= Hesperia Supplement 14) (Princeton, 1975) pp. 21-2 had estimated the number of bouleutai before 307/6 at 9, but modified the figure in 1986 in the light of new, indirect, evidence.)

(5) M. H. Hansen, The Athenian Ecclesia II: a collection of articles 1983-89 (Copenhagen, 1989) pp. 73-91 argues for a considerable movement of citizens from the demes of the Paralia and the Mesogaios into the demes of the Asty (including the Piraeus), taking account of the arguments of Osborne and Whitehead that such movement has been exaggerated. For the influx of Athenians to the Piraeus in the fifth century see Plutarch Themistocles 19.2-4. Cf. the analysis by R. Osborne, Demos: the discovery of classical Attika (Cambridge, 1985) pp. 1-6, of the case of Meixidemos of Myrrhinous, involving a number of men from the deme Myrrhinous living in the Piraeus.

(6) See S. von Reden, 'The Piraeus - a world apart.' Greece and Rome 42 (1995), pp. 24-37 on the complex relations between the Piraeus and the rest of the Athenian community, particularly the asty. I hope to discuss these relations further in a forthcoming article.

(7) See R. Garland, The Piraeus (London, 1987) pp. 58-72 for a discussion of likely trends in the population of the Piraeus: he suggests (p. 60) that the population of the Piraeus may have equalled that of the asty in 432.

(8) See Todd (1993) p. 88 (note 3 above), referring to M. H. Hansen, The Athenian Assembly (Oxford, 1987) pp. 8-12, on farmers living in the asty: similar arguments would apply to farmers living in the Piraeus.

(9) IG .II. 2 .2498 sets out conditions on which the deme Piraeus will lease various properties: the text provides for rents of under 10 drachmae per year for some properties, which must therefore be small.

(10) Garland (note 7 above) pp. 69, 95, and 194 sets out the limited evidence for agriculture in the vicinity of the Piraeus.

James Roy, e-mail: abzroy@arn1.arts.nottingham.ac.uk

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Electronic Antiquity Vol. 3 Issue 3 - December 1995
edited by Peter Toohey and Ian Worthington
ISSN 1320-3606