Hired labourers, the lowest class of free men in a Greek state. At Athens, after Solon, the lowest of the four property classes, comprising men who did not own land yielding as much as 200 medimnoi of corn or the equivalent in other produce. Solon admitted them to the assembly (ekklesia) and eliaia (indeed, probably they had never been formally excluded from the assembly), but not to magistracies or, presumably, the council (boule). Because they could not afford the armour, thētes did not fight as hoplites, but when Athens became a mainly naval power, they acquired an important role as oarsmen in the fleet.
Subjects: Classical Studies.