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A Metöke ( Greek  μέτοικος métoikos , settler ') was a foreigner living permanently in the respective city in ancient Greece , especially in Athens , who had no local citizenship (and thus no political participation rights) there. Usually there were also Greeks from another polis (city-state with its own territory and its own institutions) with citizenship there. In the past, the German expression was mostly, if not exactly precisely, given as “ Beisasse ”.

Legal Status

The Metöken had to pay a special tax in Athens ( μετοίκιον metoikion , probably one drachma per month) and were therefore under a certain protection of the state . In court and in legal transactions , Metöken had to be represented by a citizen. They were not allowed to acquire real estate in Athens . They were therefore mainly active in trade and commerce , but like the citizens they were drawn into military service. Citizenship could only be transferred to Metöken by a resolution of the people's assembly due to special merits. In the Hellenistic period there were reports of a purchase of citizenship.

The periocs in Sparta were subject to similar legal restrictions .

The word lives pejoratively in French métèque and in closely related languages ​​(Catalan: metec ; Occitan: metèc ) and denotes an unloved stranger. This French term has become particularly well known in the German-speaking area through the chanson Le Métèque by Georges Moustaki of the same name .


  • Mustafa Adak: Metics as benefactors of Athens. Investigations into the social exchange between local strangers and the civil parish in classical and Hellenistic times (approx. 500–150 BC) (= sources and research on the ancient world. Vol. 40). tuduv, Munich 2003, ISBN 3-88073-591-3 (also: Freiburg (Breisgau), University, dissertation, 1999).
  • Peter Spahn : Strangers and Metics in the Athenian Democracy. In: Alexander Demandt (ed.): Living with strangers. A cultural history from antiquity to the present. Beck, Munich 1995, ISBN 3-406-39859-6 , pp. 37-56.

Web links

Wiktionary: Metöke  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Wilhelm Gemoll : Greek-German school and hand dictionary. 9th edition, reviewed and expanded by Karl Vretska with an introduction to the history of language by Heinz Kronasser. Hölder-Pichler-Tempsky et al., Munich et al. 1965.
  2. Paul Cartledge: Metoikos. In: The New Pauly (DNP). Volume 8, Metzler, Stuttgart 2000, ISBN 3-476-01478-9 , Sp.?.
  3. Balbina Bäbler : Hardworking Thracians and defensive Scythians. Non-Greeks in Classical Athens and their archaeological legacy (= contributions to antiquity. BzA. Vol. 108). Teubner, Stuttgart et al. 1998, ISBN 3-519-07657-8 , p. 48, (as e-book: De Gruyter, Berlin 1998, ISBN 978-3-598-77657-1 , doi : 10.1515 / 9783110934632 ), ( At the same time: Bern, University, dissertation, 1996/1997).
  4. Georges Moustaki: Le Métèque - The Stranger (beginning of the song):
    «Avec ma gueule de métèque
    De Juif errant, de pâtre grec ... »
    “With my face from a foreigner
    of a wandering Jew , a Greek cattle herder ... "