noun \ˈfī-(ˌ)lē\
plural phy·lae \-ˌlē\

Definition of PHYLE

:  the largest political subdivision among the ancient Athenians

Origin of PHYLE

Greek phylē tribe, phyle
First Known Use: 1863


noun    (Concise Encyclopedia)

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.


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