Dēmos · Classical Athenian Democracy · a Stoa Publication
S.C. Todd, selections by Michael de Brauw, edition of March 16, 2003
page 13 of 50
Plot on a Map
atimia (abstract noun) · Lit. “loss of time, honour.” In early archaic Athens, atimia seems to have meant outlawry, the total deprivation of all rights, such that a citizen could kill an atimos (pl. atimoi: person suffering from atimia) without committing an offence or apparently incurring blood-guilt. Well before the classical period, however, atimia had already been restricted in its scope to mean the loss of some or all of a man’s active rights as a citizen. Such atimia could be partial or total; it could be imposed permanently by a court, or it could be the (theoretically) temporary result of an unpaid debt to the state, a condition which would automatically terminate if the debt were ever paid off. A man subject to total atimia could not appear in certain public places, could not take part in public life, and could not appear in court. If he broke any of these bans, he was liable to apagoge and death. But he did retain his private rights as a citizen: to kill him would be murder; he was not formally exiled; and he continued to own his property—though his lack of the capacity to sue may have made it difficult procedurally to defend these rights, and many may have found life under such restrictions so intolerable that voluntary exile seemed preferable. A man subject to partial atimia lost either a particular right or rights, or else the power to exercise his rights in a particular situation: for instance, the ability to bring certain types of prosecution.
page 13 of 50