The Ancient Library

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On this page: Democratia – Democritus – Demophoon



by the loss of freedom, which involved the loss of all other rights. This would occur if a Roman citizen were taken prisoner in war, or given up to the enemy for having violated the sanctity of an ambassador, or concluding a treaty not approved of by the people. Or again if he was sold into slavery, whether by the State for refusing military service, or declining to state the amount of his property at the census, or by his creditors for debt. If a prisoner of war returned home, or if the enemy refused to accept him when given up to them, his iormer civil rights were restored. The inter­mediate stage, deminutio capitis media or TnJfior, consisted in loss of civil rights con­sequent on becoming citizen of another state, or on a decree of exile confirmed by the people, or (in imperial times) on depor­tation. Restoration of the civil status was possible if the foreign citizenship were given up, or if the decree of exile were cancelled. The lowest grade (deminutio capitis minima) was the loss of hitherto existing family rights by emancipation (which involved leaving the family), adop­tion, or (in the case of a girl) by marriage.

Demiurgi (Demlourgoi, workers for the people). A general term among the Greeks for tradesmen, among whom they included artists and physicians. In old times they formed, at Athens, the third order, the other two being the EupaMdat and GeOmOn (see these names). In some states demiurgi was the name of the public officials; in the Achaean League, for instance, the ten demiurgi were among the highest officers of the confederacy.

Democratla (Demokratta, sovereignty of the people). The Greek term for the form of constitution in which all citizens had the right of taking part in the government. This right was not always absolutely equal. Sometimes classes were formed on a pro­perty qualification, and civil rights con­ferred accordingly (see timocratia) ; but no class in this case was absolutely excluded from a share in the government, and it was possible to rise from one class to another. Sometimes provision was made by law to prevent any person taking part in the ad­ministration but such as had proved their worth and capacity. In the absence of such limitations the democracy, as Plato in his Republic and Aristotle in his Politics observed, soon degenerated into a mob-government (Schlocr&tla), or developed into a despotism.

Demdcrltus (DemSMtds) A. Greek

philosopher born at Abdera in Thrace about 460 b.c. His father, who had entertained king Xerxes for some time during his expedition against Greece, left him a very considerable property, which he spent in

| making long journeys into Egypt and Asia.

I On his return he held aloof from all public business, and devoted himself entirely to his studies. He was more than a hundred years old at his death, and left behind him a number of works on ethics, physics, astronomy, mathematics, art, and literature, written in an attractive and animated manner. We have the titles of some of his writings; but only scanty fragments remain. Democritus was the most learned Greek before Aristotle. In the history of philosophy he has a special importance, as the real founder of what is called the Atomic Theory, or the doctrine that the universe was formed out of atoms. It is true that his master Leucippus had already started the same idea. According to this theory there are in the universe two fundamental principles, the Full and the Void. The Full is formed by the atoms, which are primitive bodies of like quality but different form, innumerable, indivisible, indestructible. Falling for ever through the infinite void, the large and heavier atoms overtake and strike upon the smaller ones, and the oblique and circular motions thence arising are the beginning of the formation of the world. The difference of thiugs arises from the fact that atoms differ in number, size, form and arrangement. The soul consists of smooth round atoms resembling those of fire; these are the nimblest, and in their motion, penetrating the whole body, produce the phenomena of life. The impressions on the senses arise from the effect produced in our senses by the fine atoms which detach themselves from the surface of things. Change is in all cases nothing but the union or separation of atoms.

The ethics of Democritus are based on the theory of happiness, and by happiness he means the serenity of the mind, undis­turbed by fear or by anything else. The control of the appetites, attainable by tem­perance and self-culture, is the necessary condition of this. To do good for its own sake, without the influence of fear or hopeT is the only thing which secures inward contentment. The system of Epicurus is, of all other ancient systems, the most closely connected with that of Democritus.

Dem6ph86n. (1) Son of Celgus of Eleusis and Metanlra. He was tended in infancy

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