The term of hétairie ( hetaireia , association of friends, companions), indicates an aristocratic club of a city of the traditional Greece, or a political or literary company of the modern Greece. By extension, it indicates a political faction.
NB: we will regard here the Roman republic as member of the Greek world, as she was considered itself.
Opposition to the democracy
The hétairies often were in conflict with the democrats, and of mistrust existed of each with dimensions.
The popular party feared their coups d'etat: thus at the time of the scandal of the Hermocopides, fearing a plot oligarchical and eager to draw aside from too charismatic aristocrats, the popular party skilfully connected this sacrilege to a business of parodies of the Mystères of Éleusis, in which the citizens more in sight would have taken part according to certain denunciations, in particular already influence Alcibiade then strategist and who wisely preferred to exile himself. Some time after, Andocide arrété and threatened shows its hétairie , to which belonged his/her Léogoras father, of the profanations.
Whoever controls the laws by subjecting them to the authority men, fixes the city with the orders of a hétairie, uses for all that of violence, causes the civil war, that one, it is necessary to see in him the enemy more declared city very whole. (Plato, the Laws, Delivers IX, 856)
Of their dimensioned, the hétairies did not miss by warping these coups d'etat: thus, with Athens, at the time of the oligachic revolution of the Four hundred, in fact the hétairies pass to the action to reverse the democracy; they act under the influence of Alcibiade, which convinced them that the satrap Perse Tissapherne, auprès of which it took refuge, will assist financially from the city in war against Sparte in the condition which it gives up its mode to adopt an oligarchy politically more interdependent of its monarchy.
But their activities were not limited to the opposition to the democratic regime, of which they could draw part of the weaknesses. Of their activities (within the Roman republic in dilapidation), Theodor Mommsen could say:
the hétairie decides election; the hétairie orders the committal for trial; the hétairie leads defense; it gains lawyer of reputation, concludes an agreement where necessary with the contractor from payments, who makes trade of the voices of the judges. The hétairie has its bands, its phalanges, with which it directs the street, and too often the State itself. All these excesses were made regularly and publicly, so to speak! The hétairies had their organization more completed, more followed than such and such branch of the public administration. (Roman History, Delivers V)
Thus, the Ostracism, combined with the Clientélisme, appeared a quite useful weapon in their competitions: the graphological analysis of the hundreds of ostraca found at the time of the excavations of the agora , in Athens, showed that for a vote given only ten different hands the names had registered on the shards.
The hétairies played a leading role in the fight for the independence of Greece.
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