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Headword: Οἱ Νομοφύλακες
Adler number: omicroniota,124
Translated headword: the nomophylakes, the law-guardians
Vetting Status: high
Translation:
Who? Some determined that they were the same as the thesmothetai - but it is not so: for the thesmothetai used to climb the Areiopagos garlanded in the traditional manner, whereas the nomophylakes used white headbands and, during spectacles, would sit on thrones opposite the nine archons;[1] also they used to decorate the procession for Pallas [Athena], when her cult-image needed to be taken to the sea;[2] they also compelled the officials to abide by the laws; and at the assemblies they sat with the proedroi, preventing voting on what was disadvantagous to the city, if they felt anything to be unlawful.
Greek Original:
Οἱ Νομοφύλακες τίνες: ἔδοξέ τισι τοὺς αὐτοὺς εἶναι τοῖς θεσμοθέταις: ἀλλ' οὐκ ἔστιν οὕτως: οἱ μὲν γὰρ θεσμοθέται κατὰ τὰ πάτρια ἐστεφανωμένοι ἐπὶ τὸν Ἄρειον ἀνέβαινον πάγον, οἱ δὲ νομο- φύλακες στροφίοις λευκοῖς ἐχρῶντο καὶ ἐν ταῖς θέαις ἐπὶ θρόνων ἐκάθηντο κατ' ἀντικρὺ τῶν ἐννέα ἀρχόντων: καὶ τῇ Παλλάδι τὴν πομπὴν ἐκόσμουν, ὅτε κομίζοιτο τὸ ξόανον ἐπὶ τὴν θάλασσαν: ἠνάγκαζον δὲ καὶ τὰς ἀρχὰς χρῆσθαι τοῖς νόμοις: καὶ ἐν ταῖς ἐκκλησίαις ἐκάθηντο μετὰ τῶν προέδρων, κωλύοντες ψηφίζειν, εἴ τι παράνομον αὐτοῖς εἶναι δόξειεν, ἀσύμφορον τῇ πόλει.
Notes:
The Lexicon Rhetoricum Cantabrigiense s.v. ascribes this information to Philochorus (FGrH 328 F64); see also Pollux 8.94 and Harpokration and Photius s.v. for the basic didactic/polemical point that the nomophylakes were not to be confused with the thesmothetai. The LRC also claims that they were created in 462/1 BCE, in or as an immediate consequence of the reforms of Ephialtes. For several reasons (notably their association with the proedroi, who did not exist then) this has generally been felt to be improbable. Harpokration cites two lost speeches of Dinarchus which mentioned them, and if these speeches dated from the second half of the 320s it would become more understandable that there is no mention of the nomophylakes in the Aristotelian Athenaion Politeia - whether they are an institution of the last phase of untrammelled democracy (c.327-323) or a creation of one of the alternative constitutional regimes which came later, that of Demetrius of Phaleron (317-307). See however O'Sullivan (below) for an acceptance of Philochorus.
cf. nu 488, nu 489.
[1] Who of course included the (six) thesmothetai. See theta 267.
[2] Bathing this ancient relic in seawater was one of the ceremonies in the Panathenaia festival (pi 151, pi 152).
References:
P.J. Rhodes, A Commentary on the Aristotelian Athenaion Politeia (Oxford 1981) 315, cf. 580
R.W. Wallace, The Areopagos Council to 307 BC (Baltimore & London 1989) 202-203
M.H. Hansen, The Athenian Democracy in the Age of Demosthenes (Oxford [Blackwell] 1991) 211, 240, 243
L. O'Sullivan, "Philochorus, Pollux, and the nomophylakes of Demetrius of Phalerum", Journal of Hellenic Studies 121 (2001) 51-62
Keywords: clothing; constitution; definition; historiography; history; law; religion; rhetoric
Translated by: David Whitehead on 27 November 2001@08:17:35.
Vetted by:
Catharine Roth (cosmetics) on 17 August 2003@19:44:23.
David Whitehead (added x-refs and keywords; cosmetics) on 18 August 2003@02:56:44.
David Whitehead (another keyword) on 27 November 2005@09:35:16.
David Whitehead on 7 August 2013@06:06:30.
David Whitehead on 4 September 2013@05:49:41.
Catharine Roth (coding) on 23 October 2014@00:17:13.

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