Dēmos · Classical Athenian Democracy · a Stoa Publication
→ Financial Matters.
Christopher W. Blackwell, edition of March 26, 2003
page 18 of 23
The Assembly made decisions in financial matters as well.
A topic of discussion for at least some meetings of the Assembly was the “dole” (τοῦ λαβεῖν), and whether monies should be distributed generally to all citizens, or only to those who provided some service (Dem. 13.1). Demosthenes complains, on one occasion that “we have surrendered the Assembly to discussion of doles” (ὡς περὶ τοῦ λαβεῖν ἐκκλησίαν ἀπεδώκαμεν), and we might suspect that this was a popular and controversial topic (Dem. 13.3). The Assembly voted on how to spend any surplus funds; on one occasion, after the Council had passed a probouleuma (the preliminary measure that put a piece of business on the Assembly’s agenda), the Assembly had to decide whether to spend surplus funds on military things or on funding public festivals (Dem. 59.4). This particular choice, defense or festivals, appears elsewhere, where the question is whether the Legislators (νομοθέται) should repeal a law and allow the Theoric Fund to be spent for military purposes (Dem. 3.10). We know that the Assembly determined military budgets, as when Meidias was dispatched in a ship on a military mission and the Assembly set his budget at 12 talents (see Money) (Dem. 21.173).
The Assembly was the forum for accusations of financial misdeeds and the body responsible for investigating them. Dem. 24.11 mentions a decree that established a special investigation into any public money that might be in the hands of private citizens; this investigation brought its results to the Council, which then asked the Assembly to vote for further investigations (Dem. 24.11). A man named Pamphilus, from the deme Acherdous denounced Hegesandrus and Timarchus before the Assembly, accusing them of having stolen 1000 drachmas from the Parthenon (Aeschin. 1.110). Demosthenes reports a case in which someone was charged with defrauding the treasury, and the matter went before the Council, the Assembly (which spent a whole day on the matter), and two different juries (Dem. 24.9). If someone were imprisoned because he owed money to the treasury, the Assembly could agree to let him remain free as long as someone else posted bond (Dem. 24.79). However, if someone lost his citizenship because of an unpaid debt to a temple, the Assembly could not restore his citizenship without 6000 votes in his favor (Dem. 24.45).
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