Proxenos

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[edit] Definition

The institution of the role of the proxenos has been developed in ancient Greece, after 480. The proxenos was a citizen of a Greek city charged by another city of the welcoming of its nationals.

His first duty was to welcome the nationals, involving that the proxenos must be rich. Indeed he had to defend the interests of his hosted nationals. In case of litigation, he was allowed to intervene only as a witness regarding a conflict between one of his guests and a citizen. If necessary he had to provide an escort to his host. If he did not provide hospitality, he was liable to a fine imposed by his own city.

[edit] Appointment

Due to the semi-official character of this function, the same person could be the proxenos of several cities; or several individuals could be proxenos of the same city at the same time. The function was established by decree. In Athens, the decree was voted during the visit of the candidate in the city. There were some benefits in becoming a proxenos: indeed, some did not hesitate to receive bribes. Thus, Demosthenes would have received considerable sums.

[edit] Condition of the Proxenos

The role of the proxenos was more of an honour than a function. It had been partly because of this reason that this function did not last. It was transmissible to heirs. Decrees of proxenos were deposited in the archives of the city, and then engraved on a stone stele placed on the acropolis.

It was with pride that proxenos showed their title, sometimes even on tombstones. The city used to offer punctual or permanent honours to the proxenos: for example the invitation to a public banquet, receiving gold crown as present or granting with a place of honour in the theatre permanently.

All these honours were the subject of a proclamation on the occasion of an important religious celebration. The proxenos had to make numerous trips between the two cities. When he was settled in the city in which he was proxenos, some rights or privileges of citizens were granted: real property, deliberation at the Assembly...

[edit] Examples

Thus, Cimon was the proxenos from Sparta to Athens. The orator and politician Demosthenes was proxenos of the Thebans.

[edit] Internal Links

Ombudsman, although the ombudsman has a mandate which concerns the administration and although his official function does not lead him to defend the possible interests of immigrants...

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