Phyle(redirected from phylae)
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in ancient Greece, originally a clan tribal association; subsequently a territorial division.
The ancient kinship phylae were the center of Greek political, military, and religious life during the clan period. Each phyle was divided into phratryes. Power in the phyle was shared by the following: an elected phylarch, who had religious, judicial, and military authority; a popular assembly; and a council of elders.
As slaveholding states evolved, territory replaced kinship as the basis of the phyle. In Attica, Cleisthenes introduced a reform in 510 and 509 B.C. that substituted ten territorial phylae for four kinship phylae. Each of the ten territorial phylae consisted of three parts, with one part, or trittys, from each of the three regions of Attica: the mountain, the coastal, and the interior. Attic democracy was based on the territorial phylae.