From Demoteutes to Demagogue (Athenian Trierarchs of the 5th Century BC and Their «Electorate»)

Surikov Igor E.

In a recent article (2005) the author attempted to demonstrate the existence in Early Classical Athenian polis of a special layer of political elite – the so-called demoteutai, elite of Attic demes (especially rural ones). Late in the 5th century, mostly during the Peloponnesian War, these people moved to the leading position in Athenian politics. Almost all major politicians of the period in question there were citizens from rural demes. The main thesis of this article is that the new situation had resulted in a high degree from establishment of trierarchy by Themistocles. To become a trierarch (trireme’s captain), it was enough to be a propertied citizen. Many rural Athenians, earlier well-known only in their demes, used the position of trierarch to obtain popularity and influence at the level of the whole polis.

Keywords: classical Athens, democracy, "new politicians", demagogues, trierarchs, demes, elite