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date: 09 December 2022


, 'dwellers round about'


, 'dwellers round about'
  • Paul Cartledge


Perioikoi ‘dwellers round about’, was the name employed usually to describe neighbouring people frequently constituting groups of subjects or half-citizens, normally with local self-government; but it could also be applied to outright slaves. Perioikoi of the usual, personally free type were found in Argolis (see argos(1)), *Crete, *Elis, *Thessaly, and elsewhere, but the best-known group are those of the Spartan state. Here, the origins of their status and ethnic affiliation are unclear, though their *dialect was the Laconian Doric (see laconia) common to all the state's inhabitants.Like the full citizen Spartiates, perioikoi were counted as Lacedaemonians in military contexts, not only serving in the Spartan army but (after c.450) in the same regiments. But they had no say in the making of Spartan policy and seem to have been subject to special taxation, so can be considered at best half- or second-class citizens of Sparta. One unreliable ancient source states that they were controlled by a system of *harmosts, as if they were Sparta's imperial subjects, but the only certainly attested harmost in a perioikic area was based on the strategically sensitive island of *Cythera (called Kutherodikes in Thuc.


  • Greek Law

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