The Classical Quarterly (New Series)

Research Article

‘Donatus’ and Athenian phratries

Mark Goldena1

a1 University of Winnipeg

My purpose in this paper is to reassert the traditional view that Athenian women of the classical period regularly had an association with phratries (and incidentally to clarify the nature of that association). As part (though not an essential part) of my argument I adduce an overlooked piece of evidence, a much discussed passage from the Donatus commentary on Terence; for this I provide a new interpretation.

There is some evidence that Athenian women were introduced to their fathers phrateres at birth, or to their husbands' phrateres at marriage, or both. The speaker of Isaeus 3 repeatedly asserts (73, 75, 76, 79) that a certain Pyrrhus would have presented his daughter to his phrateres if she had been legitimate (which he denies). A scholium on Aristophanes, Acharnians 146 (= Suda s.v. Apatouria) may refer to such a practice. Euxitheus calls as witnesses of his mother's citizenship phrateres for whom his father celebrated the wedding feast, the gamelia, on her behalf (Dem. 57.43, 69, Isaeus 3.79); celebration of the gamelia is regarded as proof of the legitimacy of the speaker's mother at Isaeus 8.19. Neither Demosthenes nor Isaeus says that women were formally registered among the phrateres or even present at the feast; but notices in the lexicographers do connect the gamelia with registration among or introduction to the phrateres (Harpocration s.v. gamelia, Suda s.v. gamelia, Etym. Magn. 220.50 s.v. gamelia, Pollux 8.107, Anec. Bekk. 228.5, Schol. Dem. 57.43). Many scholars have accepted these passages as evidence for normal practice at Athens in the classical period.