In Aeschylus' "Supplices" the Danaids flee their cousins and take refuge at Argos. Scholars have noted similarities between the Argos of the play and contemporary Athens. Yet one such correspondence has generally been overlooked: the Danaids are awarded sanctuary in terms reflecting mid fifth-century Athenian μετοιϰία, a process providing for the partial incorporation of non-citizens into polis life. Danaus and his daughters are of Argive ancestry and take up residence within the city, yet do not become citizens. Instead, they receive the right μετοιϰεῖν τῆσδε γῆς (609). As metics they retain control of their person and property, and are not liable to seizure by another. They are not permitted to own immovable property (ἔγϰτησις), but receive rent-free lodgings. Pelasgus and the other Argive citizens serve as their citizen representative (προστάτης). Casting the Danaids as metics highlights the similarities between Pelasgus and his predecessor, Apis. Both leaders were confronted by violent strangers demanding to live among the Argives, and sought to protect the autochthony and territory of Argos. Yet as suppliants the Danaids (unlike the snakes) cannot be forcibly expelled. Pelasgus' solution is a grant of μετοιϰία approved by the Argive assembly. The emergence of μετοιϰία as a formal status at Athens is difficult to date. Most scholars place it between the reforms of Cleisthenes (508/7) and Pericles' citizenship law (451/0). The "Supplices" provides evidence for a date in the 460s, and functions as a charter myth legitimizing μετοιϰία, much the way the Eumenides does for the Areopagus. The "Supplices" also fits well within the context of immigration and urban development leading to Pericles' law. The fact that the Danaid trilogy won first prize may be due to the Athenians' empathy for Argos as a risk-taking polis committed both to defending its identity and to acknowledging divinely sanctioned claims to refuge.
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