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Summary.

Adikia and Dike (Injustice and Justice).

Anangke (Necessity).

Arete (Excellence, Valor).

Basileia (Kingdom, Sovereignty, or Monarchy).

Boule (Council).

Demokratia (Democracy).

→ Demos (Populace) of Athens.

Demoi of demes.

Demoi of foreign cities.

Eirene (Peace).

Eukleia (Good Repute).

Eunomia (Good Order).

Eutaxia (Good Order).

Hellas (Greece).

Harmonia (Harmony).

Nemesis (Retribution).

Homonoia (Concord).

Oligarchia (Oligarchy).

Peitho (Persuasion).

Philia (Friendship).

Phyle/Phylai (Tribe/s).

Soteria (Salvation).

Themis.

(Agathe) Tyche (Good Fortune).

Further Reading.

Index of Citations

General Index

Demos Home

Athenian Political Art from the Fifth and Fourth Centuries BCE: Images of Political Personifications 

Amy C. Smith, edition of January 18 2003

page 8 of 26

· Demos (Populace) of Athens ·

Δῆμος

Read about the evidence
Aristophanes (Aristoph. Kn.).
 
Plot on a Map
Athens.

Discussion: Demos ( δῆμος ) was used through the middle of the fifth century to refer to commoners. But in fifth century Athens demos also meant the sovereign body of free citizens. As commoners comprised a good part of the citizenry in the democracy, the two definitions—commoners and citizens—coexisted through the Classical period. It is the sovereign Demos that would have been revered in the cult with the Nymphs, on the Acropolis at Athens: an inscription dating to 462 attests a joint sanctuary of Demos and the Nymphs, who may have been the Horai (Seasons) and/or Charites (Graces) (IG I2, 854). Certainly in the second half of the fifth century, demos sometimes took on negative connotations, and the demos is increasingly represented as gullible and fickle, capable of being deceived by politicians, as exclaimed by the chorus of aristocratic cavalrymen in AristophanesKnights (in 424), for example (Aristoph. Kn. 1111-18). (Aristophanes was probably the first to personify Demos, but similar characters may have been portrayed in the lost comedies of Eupolis and Cratinus.) Tension between the two views of demos—the commoners who are ridiculed, on the one hand, and the sovereign people, who warrant respect—seems to have been reflected in the personification of Demos on stage and in visual arts. In Knights Aristophanes is also sympathetic, and clearly sees the demos as capable of reform, for the crux of the play is Demos’ rejuvenation. The youthful Demos at the end of the play vows to restore old-fashioned ways in the government, a solution for which the democrats frequently yearned.

Read about the evidence
Pliny (Plin. HN).

It is in the last quarter of the fifth century that the first known personification of Demos in visual arts was created, in a painting by Parrhasios [1]. Pliny’s testimony makes it clear that Parrhasios effectively reflected the divergent views of demos in his representation (Plin. HN 35.69). It is indeterminate whether Euphranor’s mid-fourth century representation of Demos (with Demokratia, and Theseus [2]), copied this prototype.

Read about the evidence
Demosthenes (Dem. 18).
 
Plot on a Map
Athens.
Chersonnesos, Thrace (in text as “Chersonnesos”).
Sestos.
Elaius.
Madytos.
Alopekonnesos.
Macedonia (in text as “Macedonian”).

Although the creators of the restored democracy of 403/2 subordinated the power of the demos to the power of nomos, the increasing disdain for demos expressed by some Athenians toward the end of the fifth century subsided, perhaps because of the reconciliation of aristocratic and democratic interests in the restored democracy. The people may also have taken a more protective attitude toward the political entity, demos, in the aftermath of the tyranny of the Thirty. At any rate, the demos seems to have gained more respect in fourth century Athens, which is reflected in the common citation or invocation of demos (or the “Good Fortune of the Demos…”) in decrees and other documents. In the mid-fourth century the Athenian Demos seems to have been worshipped outside of Athens, by other poleis, as attested in Demosthenes’ speech On the Crown (delivered in 330): Demosthenes states that the cities of the Thracian Chersonnesos (Sestos, Elaius, Madytos, and Alopekonnesos) dedicated altars to the Athenian Demos and Charis (Grace) in response to Macedonian approach (Dem. 18.92).

Plot on a Map
Athens.
Byzantium.
Perinthus.

The new found respect for demos is also reflected in the common personification of Demos in public arts of fourth-century Athens. In the visual sources he is a bearded (i.e., mature, not necessarily old) Attic countryman, wearing a himation, often holding a staff. In this personified form he seems to be represented, with honorands, deities or personifications, on as many as 25 reliefs decorating inscriptions that recorded decrees approved by the Ekklesia, the Assembly of the demos of Athens. These representations began to appear in the first quarter of the fourth century, with most dated to the middle quarters of that century. He is labelled on as many as four [4, 5, 28, and Aixone 2]. His appearance may have been similar on the lost monumental paintings [1-2] and statues [3 and 7] at Athens. The monumental statue group of the Demoi of Athens, Byzantium, and Perinthus, that was to be erected at Byzantium [6] may have been inspired by these monuments at Athens (and probably even created by Athenian artists). Despite Demosthenes’ recording of the resolution (by the people of Byzantium and Perinthus) to grant the Athenians the right to erect these statues, they were probably never created, given the submission of the Athenians, and all Greeks, to the Macedonian rulers in the subsequent decade (320s).

Demos is generally shown awarding honors to individuals. He also appears with Boule (the Council that also ratified decrees), when both award crowns to honorands [11, 12, 16, 24, 27, and 34]. On only one of these documents [12] does the honorand seem to be a woman, probably a priestess of Athena. Demos is standing on all of these examples, except [26] (the placement of the seated Demos’ foot on that of the honorand suggests that the artist had been constricted by the small compositional space available). Demos is seated in two other examples, in both of which cases he may serve as a representative of the Athenian people, in a general sense: (1) on [13] he is shown in the guise of Zeus, reaching his hand to Korkyra, whose appearance here is akin to that of Hera, as she holds her veil in an anakalypsis gesture ; (2) he is seated in a throne, while Demokratia crowns him, on the anti-tyranny decree [30]. In another unique appearance [36] Demos is shown with Eutaxia (Good Order), who is labelled on this relief. On all of these reliefs, the mature, bearded Demos wears a himation draped over his left shoulder and holds a staff and sometimes an olive crown with which he awards the honorand. It has been postulated that Demos is the similarly dressed, bearded man represented on the reliefs decorating some treasury documents. As Lawton has argued, however, the bearded man on these reliefs should rather be interpreted as Erechtheus, the legendary hero whose relevance to Athena and the Acropolis is made explicit in the reliefs with images of Athena, her olive tree, and perhaps even Erechtheus’ daughters.

Examples:

Read about the evidence
Pliny (Plin. HN).
Pausanias (Paus.).
Pausanias (Paus.).
Demosthenes (Dem. 18).
 
Plot on a Map
Athens.
Piraeus.
Byzantium.
Perinthos.
Chersonnesos.
Delos.
Euboia.
Lemnos.
Korkyra.
Pelagonia.
Croton.
Crimean Bosporos.
Bosporos (in text as “Bosporan”).
Andros.
Sikyon.

  1. A wall painting (now lost), perhaps in the Stoa of Zeus Eleutherios (in the Agora of Athens), with a representation of Demos, ca. 420, by Parrhasios of Ephesos (Plin. HN 35.69) [certain example].
  2. A wall painting (now lost), in the Stoa of Zeus Eleutherios (in the Agora of Athens), by Euphranor of Isthmia, ca. 350 BCE, with representations of Demokratia and Demos (Paus. 1.3.3-4) [certain example].
  3. A statue of the Demos of Athens (now lost), ca. 350 BCE, at Piraeus, by Leochares (Paus. 1.1.3) [certain example].
  4. Athens, EM 2791: a male figure, labelled ΔΗΜΟΣ , probably with Boule, honoring a man, on a relief from a proxeny (?) decree (IG II2, 160), ca. 350 (shown above) [certain example].
  5. Athens, NM 2407: a male figure, labelled ΔΗΜΟ[Σ] , with Athena and possibly Herakles, crowning a man on a relief from an honorary (?) decree (IG II2, 4630), ca. 350-325 [certain example].
  6. A colossal statue group (now lost) with a representations of the Demoi of Athens, Byzantium, and Perinthos, in a Colossal group dedicated by the cities of the Chersonnesos (Dem. 18.90) [certain example].
  7. A statue (now lost) with a representation of Demos (of Athens), in the Bouleuterion (Athens, Agora), by Lyson (Paus. 1.3.4) [certain example].
  8. Warsaw 142458: a male figure, labelled ΔΗΜΩΝ , dancing with personifications of Delos, Euboia, and Lemnos, on a cup attributed to the Eretria Painter, c. 430-420 BCE [possible example].
  9. A male figure on a relief (whereabouts unknown, formerly in the Piraeus Museum) from an inscription concerning the cult of Bendis (IG I3, 136), 432-411 [possible example].
  10. Athens, AM 2552 + AM 2552a: a female figure standing with Hermes, a female (?) mortal, and perhaps Athena, on an relief from an honorary decree stele (IG I3, 191), ca. 410-400 [possible example].
  11. Athens, AM 2549 + AM 2717: a male figure standing with a goddess and perhaps Boule on a document relief, ca. 400-375 [possible example].
  12. Athens, AM 2427 + AM 2758: a male figure standing with Athena, and perhaps Herakles and Boule, crowning a priestess of Athena (?) on a relief from an honorary decree for a priestess of Athena (?), ca. 400-375 [possible example].
  13. Athens, NM 1467: a seated male with a female figure, perhaps the personification of Korkyra, on a relief from an alliance decree (IG II2, 97) between Athens and Korkyra, probably after 375/4 [possible example].
  14. Athens, EM 2796: a male figure, standing with Athena, crowning a man, on a relief from an unidentified decree (IG II2, 167), probably regarding a treaty or alliance, ca. 400-350 [possible example].
  15. Athens, EM 7024: a male figure standing with Athena, crowning Menelaos, on a relief from a decree honoring Menelaos of Pelagonia (IG II2, 110), ca. 375-350 [possible example].
  16. Athens, NM 1473: a male figure with Athena and Boule, honoring a man, on a relief from an honorary decree (IG II2, 46k) ca. 375-350 [possible example].
  17. Athens, EM 2788: a male figure crowning a man on a relief from an honorary decree (?), ca. 350 [possible example].
  18. Athens, EM 2798: a male figure on a relief from an unknown document, ca. 350 [possible example].
  19. Athens, Agora S 1139: a male figure, with Athena, on a relief from an unknown document, ca. 350-325 [possible example].
  20. Athens, AM 6787: a male figure, with Athena, on a relief from an honorary decree, ca. 350-325 [possible example].
  21. Athens, NM 2952 + NM 2961: a male figure, with Athena, on a relief from an honorary decree, ca. 350-325 [possible example].
  22. Athens, NM 2985: a male figure, with Athena, on a relief from a decree (IG II2, 406) honoring a man from Croton (?), ca. 350-325 [possible example].
  23. Athens, NM 2986: a male figure, with perhaps Athena or Hera, and a smaller male figure, on a relief perhaps from an honorary decree, ca. 350-325 [possible example].
  24. Athens, AM 3304: a male figure, with Athena or Boule, honoring a man, on a relief from an honorary decree, ca. 350-300 [possible example].
  25. Athens, AM 7231: a male figure, with Athena, crowning a man on a relief from an honorary decree, ca. 350-300 [possible example].
  26. Athens, EM 2809: a seated male figure crowning a smaller man on a relief from an honorary decree, ca. 350-300 [possible example].
  27. Athens, NM 2404: a male figure, with perhaps Boule, honoring a man, on a relief from an honorary decree, ca. 350-300 [possible example].
  28. Athens, NM 2946: a male figure, with Athena, crowning a military man on a relief from an honorary decree, ca. 350-300 [possible example].
  29. Athens, NM 1471: a standing male figure, with two seated male figures, perhaps two of Leukon’s sons), on a relief from a document honoring Spartakos II, Pairisades I, and Apollonios of the Crimean Bosporos, the sons of Leukon, ruler of Bosporan kingdom (IG II2, 212), 347/6 [possible example].
  30. Athens, Agora I 6524: a male figure being crowned by Demokratia on a relief from a decree of the nomothetai (SEG 12.87), an Athenian law against tyranny, 337/6 [possible example].
  31. Athens, EM 7155: a male figure, perhaps crowning a smaller male figure, Amphis (Anphis) of Andros (IG II2, 347), 332/1 [possible example].
  32. Cambridge, Fitzwilliam GR.13.1865: a male figure, with Athena and perhaps Protesilaos, on a relief from an Athenian decree, ca. 330 [possible example].
  33. Athens, Agora I 4224C: a male figure, with Athena, on a relief from an unknown document, 324/3 [possible example].
  34. Athens, EM 2811: a male figure, perhaps with Boule, honoring Asklepiodoros on a relief from an honorary decree (IG II2 367), 323/2 [possible example].
  35. Athens, NM 1482: a male figure, with a groom and a horse, as well as Athena, honoring a man on a relief from a decree originally honoring Euphron of Sikyon and his descendants (IG II2, 448), 323/2-318/7 [possible example].
  36. Athens, NM 2958: a male figure with Eutaxia, honoring a man, on a relief, probably from a catalogue of liturgists (IG II2, 417), ca. 325-317 [possible example].

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