In Ancient Greece
, a deme
) was a subdivision of Attica
, the region of Greece
. 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. 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 phyles of Athens. Each tribe contained one trittys from each of three regions, the city, the coast, and the inland area.
List of Athenian demes according to tribes/phylai
- Upper Agryle
- Lower Agryle
- Upper Lamptrai
- Lower Lamptrai
- Upper Pergase
- Lower Pergase
- Upper Ankyle
- Lower Ankyle
- Halai Araphenides
- Upper Paiania
- Lower Paiania
- Oion Kerameikon
- Upper Potamos
- Lower Potamos
- Oenoe (of the west)
- Oion Dekeleikon
- Oenoe (of the east)
The term deme
) 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.
- 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.
- Suzanne, Bernard (1998). plato-dialogues.org, "Attic Tribes and Demes" Accessed August 1, 2006.