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Christopher Joyce


This article challenges the modern orthodoxy which states that phratry membership was a necessary precondition of Athenian citizenship in the fifth and fourth centuries BC and argues that the purpose of the phratry was to establish not claims to citizenship, even though membership in a phratry was proof of citizenship, but inheritance entitlements. It questions the widespread assumption that citizens needed to be born of unions legally cemented by engyê. In turn, it challenges a recent attempt to argue that legitimacy of birth and legitimacy in community were one and the same. Finally, in examines passages of orators which show that the concern of the phratry was to establish not the right to participate in Athenian polity, which was the business of the deme to determine, but the right to inherit property, and in the light of those conclusions argues that while membership in the phratry proved citizenship, it was not essential or necessary for each and every citizen of Athens to be a member of a phratry, the chief purpose of which was to establish inheritance claims.