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Headword: *me/toikoi
Adler number: mu,820
Translated headword: metics, resident aliens
Vetting Status: high
The metics are an inferior part of the citizens, like the achura of barley. Aristophanes [writes]: "for the metics I call achura of the townsfolk."[1]
Metics [are] those moving from one city and living in another.[2]
"If ever you spoke well in a petty lawsuit against a metic foreigner, you considered yourself an able speaker".[3]
In Sophocles 'metic' appears in place of 'inhabitant' [e)/noikos]: "unless you wish to be a metic of this land".[4] For 'inhabitant' did not mean the same thing, as it does in our language. 'Metics' is what we call those living [somewhere who have come] from another land, and also those who have migrated from somewhere or other. This means an inhabitant [in our language].[5] Aeschylus [speaks of] the birds in high places [as metics], meaning inhabitants.[6]
And elsewhere: "when Zobia took in the fugitive Aristogeiton and asked for the favour to be returned when he had recovered, he dragged her to the auction-house of the metic-tax, and he sold [his own] sister for export".[7]
And elsewhere: "[the Athenians] sold him when he was unable to pay the metic-tax".[8]
Greek Original:
*me/toikoi: me/ros e)sti\ tw=n politw=n oi( me/toikoi eu)tele/s, w(s ta\ a)/xura tw=n kriqw=n. *)aristofa/nhs: tou\s ga\r metoi/kous a)/xura tw=n a)stw=n le/gw. *me/toikoi de\ oi( a)f' e(te/ras po/lews metasta/ntes kai\ ei)s e(te/ran oi)kou=ntes. ei)/ pou diki/dion ei)=pas eu)= kata\ ce/nou metoi/kou, w)/|ou dunato\s ei)=nai le/gein. para\ *sofoklei= de\ me/toikos a)nti\ tou= e)/noikos: ei) mh\ me/toikos th=sde th=s xw/ras qe/leis ei)=nai. a)nti\ tou= e)/noikos. ou) ga\r au)to\ tou=to to\ e)/noikos, w(s h(mei=s famen, ei)/rhtai. metoi/kous de\ kalou=men tou\s a)po\ e(te/ras xw/ras oi)kou=ntas, pro\s de\ tou\s metoikisqe/ntas poqe/n. tou=to de\ shmai/nei e)/noikon. *ai)sxu/los tou\s oi)wnou\s tw=n u(yhlw=n to/pwn, a)nti\ tou= e)noi/kous. kai\ au)=qis: *zwbi/an u(podecame/nhn *)aristogei/tona fugo/nta kai\ a)ciou=san eu)= paqei=n, o(/te i)/sxuen, e)pi\ to\ tou= metoiki/ou pwlhth/rion h)/gage kai\ th\n a)delfh\n e)p' e)cagwgh=| pe/prake. kai\ au)=qis: tou=ton de\ e)pi/praskon, to\ metoi/kion a)tonou=nta qei=nai.
For the metics of Athens see already mu 819, and generally Whitehead (1977), where all the passages given in this entry are discussed.
[1] Aristophanes, Acharnians 508 (web address 1). Scholiastic comment on it, followed here, construed a)/xura as (worthless) chaff; but more probably it means bran, which turns the line from an insult into a compliment.
[2] cf. mu 819.
[3] Aristophanes, Knights 347-350 (web address 2), abridged.
[4] Sophocles, Oedipus at Colonus 934-5 (web address 3).
[5] From the end of the Sophocles quotation to this point the Greek is very obscure; translation tentative.
[6] Aeschylus, Agamemnon 57 (web address 4).
[7] [Demosthenes] 25.57 and 55 (web address 5); cf. alpha 3913 and epsilon 1514, with the notes there.
[8] Diogenes Laertius 4.14, on Xenocrates (xi 42). On this episode see Whitehead (1981).
D. Whitehead, The Ideology of the Athenian Metic (Cambridge 1977).
D. Whitehead, "Xenocrates the metic", Rheinisches Museum für Philologie 124 (1981) pp.223-244.
Associated internet addresses:
Web address 1,
Web address 2,
Web address 3,
Web address 4,
Web address 5
Keywords: biography; botany; comedy; daily life; definition; economics; ethics; history; imagery; law; philosophy; rhetoric; tragedy; women; zoology
Translated by: David Whitehead on 27 September 2001@07:02:08.
Vetted by:
William Hutton (cosmetics, modified translation, added links and keywords, set status) on 2 October 2003@15:42:40.
David Whitehead (cosmetics) on 3 October 2003@03:19:40.
David Whitehead (another keyword) on 23 October 2005@09:45:06.
David Whitehead on 20 May 2013@06:58:25.
Catharine Roth (cosmeticule) on 24 August 2020@00:21:14.


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