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Headword: Πρυτανεῖον
Adler number: pi,2999
Translated headword: Prytaneion, Prytaneum; deposit
Vetting Status: high
Translation:
Thesmotheteion, Tholos.[1]
Among the Athenians [sc. the Prytaneion was] a small public building, where those who attain the appropriate honor among them used to be given dinner at public expense. Attaining such a reward was sought-after; for on the occasion of great successes they used to bestow such a privilege.[2]
Alternatively a storehouse of fire, where there was an eternal flame, and [where] they used to pray.[3]
Aristophanes in Clouds [writes]: "for every one I happen to owe money to swears an oath, lays down deposits, and says that he will destroy me and wipe me out."[4] What the Romans call sportula.[5] For by depositing a tenth of the debt with the prytaneis, they used to take their debtors to court.
Greek Original:
Πρυτανεῖον: θεσμοθέτιον, θόλος. παρὰ δὲ τοῖς Ἀθηναίοις οἰκίσκος δημόσιος, ἔνθα ἐσιτοῦντο δημοσίᾳ τῆς τοιαύτης τιμῆς παρ' αὐτοῖς τυχόντες. περισπούδαστον δὲ ἦν τῆς τοιαύτης δωρεᾶς τυχεῖν: ἐπὶ γὰρ μεγάλοις κατορθώμασι τὴν τοιαύτην ἀπεδίδοντο χάριν. ἢ πυρὸς ταμεῖον, ἔνθα ἦν ἄσβεστον πῦρ, καὶ ηὔχοντο. Ἀριστοφάνης Νεφέλαις: πᾶς γάρ τις ὀμνύς, οἷς ὀφείλων τυγχάνω, θείς μοι πρυτανεῖ', ἀπολεῖν μέ φησι, κἀξολεῖν. τὰ παρὰ Ῥωμαίοις καλούμενα σπόρτουλα. τὰς γὰρ δεκάτας τοῦ χρέους καταβάλλοντες τοῖς πρυτάνεσιν εἰσῆγον τοὺς χρεώστας.
Notes:
This compendious entry begins with 'the' (Athenian) Prytaneion, a public building, but shifts into the lower-case sense of the word as already covered by pi 2997 and pi 2998.
[1] From glosses on Herodotus 1.146.2, where mention is made of early Ionians originating 'from the Athenians' prytaneion'; and cf. the scholia to Plato, Protagoras 337D. The comment shows apparent confusion between three different buildings: the Prytaneion, the Thesmotheteion and the Tholos. This confusion may have arisen because all three buildings were venues for dining at public expense. The Tholos also housed the prytaneis (for whom see pi 2995, pi 3000), which may also be a source of confusion. (Wycherley [1957] 171; Pausanias 1.5.1; 1.18.3 [See web address 1 and web address 2 below]).
[2] From the scholia to Aristophanes, Knights 167, where the Prytaneion is mentioned.
[3] There is some evidence that a perpetual fire was housed in the Prytaneion (scholion to Thucydides 2.15.2; Wycherley [1957] 171), so the author seems to be simply reporting another way of referring to the same building.
[4] Aristophanes, Clouds 1135-6 (web address 3), with scholion.
[5] cf. sigma 966.
References:
Wycherley, R.E. (1957) The Athenian Agora III: Literary and Epigraphical Testimonia. Princeton
Thompson, H.A. and Wycherley, R.E. (1972) The Athenian Agora XIV: The Agora of Athens. Princeton
Miller, S.G. (1978) The Prytaneion. Berkeley & Los Angeles
Associated internet addresses:
Web address 1,
Web address 2,
Web address 3
Keywords: architecture; comedy; definition; economics; food; historiography; history; law; religion
Translated by: William Hutton on 29 October 2000@01:04:31.
Vetted by:
David Whitehead (supplemented translation; augmented bibliography; cosmetics) on 31 March 2001@04:58:54.
David Whitehead (another keyword) on 22 November 2005@10:04:23.
Catharine Roth (added cross-reference) on 21 September 2006@10:55:37.
Catharine Roth (upgraded links) on 7 June 2010@15:17:24.
David Whitehead (augmented notes and keywords; tweaks and cosmetics) on 17 May 2011@07:10:45.
David Whitehead (added primary note) on 29 November 2011@05:27:47.
Catharine Roth (tweaked notes) on 21 September 2013@01:20:44.
Catharine Roth (expanded abbreviations) on 4 February 2015@00:01:28.

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