The Ancient Library

Scanned text contains errors.

On this page: Systylos – Tabella



vacancies were filled up by ballot, in which unani­mous consent was indispensable for election. No persons, not even the kings, were, allowed what was called an atyiSiTos y/J-epa (Hesych. s. v.) or excused

from attendance at the public tables, except for some satisfactory reason, as when engaged in a sacrifice, or a chase, in which latter case the individual was required to send a present to his table. (Plut. I. c. AgiS) c. 1 0.) Each person was supplied with a cup of mixed wine, which was filled again when required; but drinking to excess was prohibited at Sparta as well as in Crete. The repast was of a plain and simple character, and the contribution of each member of a mess or (peidiTijs was settled by law. (Wachsmuth, vol. ii. pt. ii. p. 24, 1st ed. ; Plut. I. c.) The principal dish was the jueAas Co»[j.6s or black broth, with pork. (Athen. iv. p. 141.) The eirdiK\ov or aftemieal (from the Doric &ik\ov, a meal) was however more varied, and richly supplied by presents of game^ poultry, fruit, &c., and other delicacies which no one was allowed to purchase. Moreover, the entertainment was enlivened by cheerful conversation, though on public matters. (Xen. Rep. 6.) Sing­ing also was frequently introduced, as we learn from Alcman (Frag. 31), that " at the banquets and drinking entertainments of the men it was fit for the guests to sing the paean." The arrange­ments were under the superintendence 'of the Polemarchs.

The use and purposes of the institutions de­scribed above are very manifest. They united the citizens by the closest ties of intimacy and union, making them consider themselves as mem­bers of one family^ and children of one and the same mother, the state. They maintained a strict and perfect separation between the higher and the subject classes both at Sparta and in Crete, and kept up in the former a consciousness of their su­perior worth and station, together with a strong feeling of nationality. At Sparta also they were eminently useful in a military point of view, for the members of the syssitia were formed into cor­responding military divisions^ and fought together in the field, as they had lived together at home, with more bravery and a keener sense of shame (cu'Scfo), than could have been the case with merely chance comrades. (Herod, i. 65.) Moreover " they gave an efficacy to the power of public opinion which must have nearly superseded -the necessity of penal laws." (Thirl wall, vol. i. p. 289.) With respect to the political tendencies, they were de­cidedly arranged upon aristocratical principles, though no individual of a company or mess was looked upon as superior to his fellows. Plutarch (Quaes. Si/mpos. vii. p. 332) accordingly calls them ffvveSpta dpicTTOKpcm/ca, or aristocratical meetings, and compares them with the Prytaneium and Thes-mothesium at Athens.

The simplicity and sobriety, which were in early times the characteristic both of the Spartan : and Cretan Syssitia, were afterwards in Sparta at least supplanted by luxury and effeminate indulgence. The change was probably •• gradual, but the kings Areus and Acrotatus (b.c. 300) are recorded 'as having been mainly instrumental in accelerating it. The reformer Agis endeavoured but in vain to re­store the old order of things, and perished in the attempt. In his days Sparta contained 4500 families, out of -which he proposed to make fifteen whence Mliller infers that formerly, when j


the number of families was 9000, the number o! syssitia was thirty ; and consequently that Hero­dotus, when he spoke of Lycurgus having instituted the " syssitia " for war, alluded to the larger divi­sions and not the single banqueting companies ; a conclusion justified by the context. Miiller more­over supposes, that in this sense the Syssitia at Sparta corresponded to the divisions of the state called obae, and sometimes (^parpicu, which were also thirty in number. (Dorians, iii. 5. § 6, and 12. §4.)

(Hoeck, Creta, vol. iii. pp. 120—139; Hiillman's Anf'dnge^ § 138 ; Thirl wall, Hist, of Greece, vol. i. pp. 288, 331 ; Hermann, Lehrbuch der Griecli. Staats. §§ 22, 28.) [R. W.]

SYSTYLOS. [templum.]


TABELLA, dim. of TABULA, a billet o? tablet, with which each citizen and judex voted in the comitia and courts of justice. In the comitia, if the business was the passing of a law, each citi­zen was provided with two Tabellae, one inscribed V. R. i. e. Uti Rogas, " I vote for the law," the other inscribed A. i. e. Antiquo, " I am for the old law." (Compare Cic. ad Att. i. 14.) If the busi­ness was the election of a magistrate, each citizen was supplied with only one tablet, on which the names of the candidates were written, or the ini­tials of their names, as some suppose from the ora­tion .pro Domo, c. 43 ; the voter then placed a mark (punctum*) against the one for whom he voted, whence puncta are spoken of in the sense of votes, (Cic. pro Plane. 22.) For further particulars re­specting the voting in comitia, see diribitohes,



The judices were provided with three Tabellae : one of which was marked with A. i.e. Absolvo? " I acquit;" the second with C. i. e. Condemno, " I condemn ;" and the third with N. L. i. e. Non Liquet, " It is not clear to me." The first of these was called Tabella absolutoria and the second Ta­bella damnatoria (Suet.. Octav. 33), and hence Cicero (pro Mil. 6) calls the former litera salutaris? and the latter litera tristis. It would seem that, in some trials the Tabellae were marked with the let­ters L. and D. respectively, i.e. Libero and Damno, since we find on a denarius of the Caelian gens a Tabella marked with the letters L. D. ; and as we know that the vote by ballot in cases of Perduellio was first introduced by C. Caelius Caldus [tabel-lariae leges], the Tabella on the coin undoubt­edly refers to that event. There is also a passage in Caesar (J3. C. iii. 83), which seems to intimate that these initial letters were sometimes marked on the tabellae : " Unam fore tabellam, qui liber-andos omni periculo censerent; alteram, qui capitis damnarent" &c. (Compare Spanheinij Nitmism* vol. ii, p. 199.)

About | First | English Index | Classified Index | Latin Index | Greek Index



page #  
Search this site
All non-public domain material, including introductions, markup, and OCR © 2005 Tim Spalding.
Ancient Library was developed and hosted by Tim Spalding of