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Document Details :
Title: Payments to the Disabled at Athens
Subtitle: Social Justice or Fear of Aristocratic Patronage?
Author(s): DILLON, M.P.J.
Journal: Ancient Society
Volume: 26 Date: 1995
Physically disabled Athenian citizens were entitled to financial assistance from the city in the fifth and fourth centuries BC, and the allowance paid to them fits into the general context of the payments made to Athenian citizens by the state. But these other payments were in return for services performed for the state, such as serving as a bouleutes (member of the boule) or dikastes (juror), whereas the disabled (the adynatoi), were given an allowance simply because they were disabled. The adynatoi did not serve the city in their capacity as adynatoi, and the reason why payments were made to them is never made explicit. It could perhaps be suggested that Athens was a ‘welfare state’ that made financial provision for those who could not support themselves, with the Athenians being motivated by considerations of ‘social justice’ to make provision for those less fortunate than the typical able-bodied citizen. But this does not seem to be the character of Athenian society, even in the age of democracy. Rather, it seems that the Athenians were motivated less by altruistic considerations than by a concern for the democracy itself.