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Political pay

  1. P. J. Rhodes

Published Online: 7 FEB 2012

DOI: 10.1002/9781444338386.wbeah04271

The Encyclopedia of Ancient History

How to Cite

Rhodes, P. J. 2012. Political pay. The Encyclopedia of Ancient History. .

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 7 FEB 2012

Stipends for the performance of civic duties were introduced first in Athens in the middle of the fifth century bce and subsequently in some other states, to make it easier for poorer men who were eligible to devote some of their time to public service (while not being so generous as to be more attractive than other means of earning one's living). Probably the first instance ofthis was payment for service on Athenian juries (which was open even to the poorest citizens: [Arist.] Ath. Pol. 63.3), introduced by Perikles, probably in the 450s bce ([Arist.] Ath. Pol. 27.3–4); payment for service in the council of five hundred (see Boule) and in various offices followed, probably before the beginning of the Peloponnesian War in 431 bce (it is attested in 411 bce: Thuc. 8.67.3, 69.4). Payment for attending the assembly was added ca. 400 bce, probably with the intention of strengthening the democracy after the recent periods of oligarchic rule ([Arist.] Ath. Pol. 41.3). Some scholars think that not all the offices that were salaried in the fifth century were still salaried in the fourth, but this depends on an insecure argument from silence (in favor, Hansen 1979; 1971–80; against, Gabrielsen 1981). By the 330s/320s bce most payments had been increased, in line with inflation; but the pay for jurors, increased by Kleon in the 420s bce from an original 2 obols to 3 obols (Ar. Eq. 797–800, schol. Vesp. 88 [emended], 300), had not been further increased ([Arist.] Ath. Pol. 62.2).

Aristotle associated payments for service with extreme democracy, and fines for absence with Oligarchy (Arist. Pol. 4.1292b41–1293a10, 1294a37–41, 6.1317b35–8); and the Athenian oligarchs abolished most civilian stipends in 411 bce (Thuc. 8.67.3; with more precision, [Arist.] Ath. Pol. 29.5), at a time when the need to save money was an important consideration (see Four Hundred, oligarchs at Athens), while fines for absence from the council are mentioned in the oligarchs' “future constitution” ([Arist.] Ath. Pol. 30.6). However, other places for which civilian stipends are attested include, in the Classical period, federal Boiotia, which was mildly oligarchic (Hell. Oxy. 19.4 Chambers: see Boiotian League), as well as democratic Rhodes (Arist. Pol. 5.1304b25–31) in the early fourth century, and Iasos in Caria in the second half of the century (Rhodes-osborne 99).

References and Suggested Readings

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  2. References and Suggested Readings
  • de Ste. Croix, G. E. M. (1975) “Political pay outside Athens.” Classical Quarterly n.s. 25: 48–52.
  • Gabrielsen, V. (1981) Remuneration of state officials in fourth century bc Athens. Odense.
  • Hansen, M. H. (1979) “Misthos for magistrates in classical Athens.” Symbolae Osloenses 54: 5–22.
  • Hansen, M. H. (1971–80) “Perquisites for magistrates in fourth-century Athens.” Classica et Mediaevalia 32: 105–25.
  • Rhodes, P. J. and Osborne, R., eds. (2003) Greek historical inscriptions 404–323 bc. Oxford (=Rhodes-Osborne).