Theorica (Gr. polytonic|Θεωρικά) was in ancient Athens the name for the fund of monies expended on festivals, sacrifices, and public entertainments of various kinds; and also monies distributed among the people in the shape of largesses from the state.Citation | last = Kennedy | first = Charles Rann | author-link = Charles Rann Kennedy | contribution = Theorica | editor-last = Smith | editor-first = William | title = Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities | volume = | pages = 1126-1127 | publisher = Little, Brown and Company | place = Boston | year = 1870 | contribution-url = ]

There were, according to Xenophon, more festi­vals at Athens than in all the rest of Greece. [Xenophon, "De Rep. Ath." iii. 8] Besides those which were open to the whole body of the people, there were many confined to the members of each tribe, deme, and house. These last were provided for out of the private funds of the community who celebrated them. At the most important of the public festi­vals, such as the Dionysia, Panathenaea, Eleusinia, Thargelia, and some others, there were not only sacrifices, but processions, theatrical exhibitions, gymnastic contests, and games, celebrated with great splendor and at a great expense. A portion of the expense was defrayed by the individuals, upon whom the burden of polytonic|λειτουργία devolved; but a considerable, and perhaps the larger, part was defrayed by the public treasury. Demosthenes complains that more money was spent on a single Panathenaic or Dionysiac festival than on any military expedition. [Demosthenes, "Philip." i. 50] The reli­gious embassies to Delos and other places, and especially those to the Olympian, Nemean, Isth­mian, and Pythian Games, drew largely upon public funds, though a part of the cost fell upon the wealthier citizens who conducted them. [Georg Friedrich Schömann, "Antiquitates juris publici Graecorum" p. 305]

The largesses distributed among the people had their origin in an early period, and in a measure apparently harmless, though from a small begin­ning they afterwards rose to a height most in­jurious to the commonwealth. The Attic drama used to be performed in a wooden theater, and the entrance was free to all citizens who chose to go. It was found, however, that the crushing to get in led to much confusion and even danger. On one occasion, about 500 BC, the scaffolding which supported the roof fell in, and caused great alarm. It was then determined that the entrance should no longer be free. The fee for a place was fixed at two obols, which was paid to the lessee of the theater (called polytonic|Θεατρώνης, polytonic|Θεατροπώλης, or polytonic|ἀρχιτέκτων) who undertook to keep it in good repair, and constantly ready for use, on condition of being allowed to receive the profits. This payment con­tinued to be exacted after the stone theater was built. Pericles, to relieve the poorer classes, passed a law which enabled them to receive the price of admission from the state; after which all those citizens who were too poor to pay for their places applied for the money in the public assembly, which was then frequently held in the theater. [Georg Friedrich Schömann, "Id." p. 219]

In time this donation was extended to other entertainments be­sides theatrical ones: the sum of two obols being given to each citizen who attended; if the festival lasted two days, four obols; and if three, six obols ; but not beyond that. Hence all theoric largesses re­ceived the name of "diobelia" (polytonic|διωβελία). The sums thus given varied at different times, and of course de­pended on the state of the public treasury. These distributions of money, like those of grain and flour, were called "dianomai" (polytonic|διανομαί), or "diadoseis" (polytonic|διαδόσεις). They were often made at the Dionysia, when the allies were present, and saw the surplus of their tribute distributed from the orchestra. The appe­tite of the people for largesses grew by encourage­ment, stimulated from time to time by designing demagogues; and in the time of Demosthenes they seem not to have been confined to the poorer classes. [Demosthenes, "Philip." iv. 141] The German classical scholar Philipp August Böckh calculated that from 25 to 30 talents were spent upon them annu­ally. [Philipp August Böckh, "The Public Economy of Athens" p. 224, 2d ed.]

So large an expenditure of the public funds upon shows and amusements absorbed the re­sources, which were demanded for services of a more important nature. By the ancient law the whole surplus of the annual revenue which re­mained after the expense of the civil administra­tion (polytonic|τὰ περίοντα χρήματα τῆς διοικήσεως) was to be carried to the military fund, and applied to the defense of the commonwealth. Since the time of Pericles various demagogues had sprung up, who induced the people to divert all that could be spared from the other branches of civil expendi­ture into the Theoric fund, which at length swal­lowed up the whole surplus, and the supplies needed for the purpose of war or defense were left to depend upon private contribu­tions, or property taxes (polytonic|εἰσφοραί). An attempt was made by the demagogue Eubulus, of whom Theopompus says that polytonic|τὰς προσόδους καταμισθοφορῶν διετέλει, [Theopompus, "Athen." iv. p. 166] to perpetuate this system. He passed a law which made it a capital offense to propose that the Theoric fund should be applied to military service. In 353 BC Apollodorus carried a decree empowering the people to determine whether the surplus revenue might be applied to the purpose of war; for which he was in­dicted by a polytonic|γραφὴ παρανόμων, convicted and fined; and the decree was annulled. [Demosthenes, "c. Neaer." 1346—1348] The law of Eubulus was a source of great embarrassment to Demosthenes in the prosecutions of his schemes for the national defense; and he seems at last, but not before 339 BC, to have succeeded in repeal­ing it. [Harpocration, and the Suda, "s.v." polytonic|Θεωρικά and polytonic|Εὔβουλος] [Philipp August Böckh, "Id." i. pp. 219—223] [Georg Friedrich Schömann, "Id." p. 307]

In the earlier times there was no person, or board of persons, expressly appointed to manage the Theoric fund. The money thus appropriated was disbursed by the "Hellenotamiai". After the anarchy, the largess system having been restored by Agyrrhius, a board of managers was appointed, who were called by many names (polytonic|ἀρχὴ ἐπὶ τῷ θεωρικῷ, polytonic|οἱ ἐπὶ τῷ θεωρικὸν τεταγμέμοι or polytonic|κεχειροτονημένοι, polytonic|θεωρικὴ ἀρχὴ &c.). They were elected by show of hands at the period of the great Dionysia, one from each tribe. In the time of Eubulus many other branches of the administration were placed under the control of this board; as the management of the civil expenditure, the office of the "Apodektai", the building of docks, arsenals, streets, &c. This was dictated by an anxiety on the part of the people that no part of the revenue should be improperly diverted from the Theoric fund, which they thought would be prevented by increasing the powers of its mana­gers. But these extraordinary powers appear not to have been of long continuance. [Aeschines, "Against Ctesiphon" 57, ed. Steph.] [Philipp August Böckh, p. 170, &c.] [Georg Friedrich Schömann, "Id." 320] [Wachsmuth, "Hellen. Alt." vol. ii. pt. i. pp. 124—127, 1st ed]


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