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date: 02 October 2022



  • John Davies


The word genos was widely and variously used in Greek of all periods to denote ‘species’, ‘genus’, ‘sort’, ‘category’, ‘birth’, ‘kin’, ‘race’, ‘lineage’, ‘family’, ‘generation’, ‘posterity’, etc. Probably from its use to denote (noble) lineage’ (already in Theognis 894, Pindar, Ol. 6 and 8, and frequently in Herodotus), it came to be used in 4th-cent. bce Athenian orators and inscriptions in a quasi-precise sense to denote a set of families or individuals who identified themselves as a group by the use of a collective plural name. Some such names were geographical (e.g. Salaminioi; see salamis (1); sunium) or occupational (e.g. Bouzygai, ‘ox-yokers’), but most were patronymic in form (e.g. Amynandridai, Titakidai), implying the descent of their members—the gennētai—from a fictive or real common male ancestor. About 60 such groups are known, some attested only in the lexicographers, who typically define them as (name): genos of true-born (ithageneis) at Athens’.


  • Greek History and Historiography

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