Brill’s New Pauly

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(518 words)

[German version]

[1] Social class

Penestai (πενέσται/penéstai, sing. πενέστης/penéstēs) is probably etymologically related to the word πένης (pénēs), 'poor'. Penestai was applied as the collective term for the class of dependent Greeks who formed the economic and military foundation of the aristocracy in the towns of Thessaly (Crannon, Larissa, Pherae). Dionysius [18] of Halicarnassus compared them with the thétai and pelátai at Athens (Dion. Hal. Ant. Rom. 2,9); they were thus accorded the social status of dependents or client…

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Cartledge, Paul A. (Cambridge) and Olshausen, Eckart (Stuttgart), “Penestai”, in: Brill’s New Pauly, Antiquity volumes edited by: Hubert Cancik and , Helmuth Schneider, English Edition by: Christine F. Salazar, Classical Tradition volumes edited by: Manfred Landfester, English Edition by: Francis G. Gentry. Consulted online on 23 September 2023 <>
First published online: 2006
First print edition: 9789004122598, 20110510

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