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Definition of PHYLE
: the largest political subdivision among the ancient Athenians
Origin of PHYLE
Greek phylē tribe, phyle
First Known Use: 1863
Any of several tribes that formed the largest political subgroups in all Dorian and most Ionian Greek city-states. Phylae were simultaneously kinship groups, corporations with their own officials and priests, and local units for administrative and military purposes. Athens's original four phylae were replaced by 10 under a reorganization (508/507 BC) initiated by Cleisthenes; Sparta's original three were supplanted by five in the 8th century BC.