Gymnesii or Gymnetes (gumnesioi or gumnetes). A class of bond-slaves at Argos, who may be compared with the Helots at Sparta (Steph. Byz. s. v. Chios; Pollux, iii. 83). Their name shows that they attended their masters on military service in the capacity of light-armed troops, but no particulars are known about them.
This word primarily denotes the inhabitants of a district lying around some particular locality, but is generally used to describe a dependent population, living without the walls or in the country provinces of a dominant city, and, although personally free, deprived of the enjoyment of citizenship and the political rights conferred by it.
...From the account given above of the probable origin of the Perioeci of Sparta we should naturally expect to find a subject population of this kind existing in most Greek states, which are known to have experienced immigrations not resulting in a total change of population, but in a combined residence of populations of different nationality. Immigrations of this kind, which resulted in combined settlements, were in a high degree the characteristic of Dorian movements; and accordingly we should expect to find a Perioecic population as the basis of the early Dorian states. This is in the main verified by facts. In Argos, for instance, we have an undoubted Perioecic population; and although no true Perioeci can be identified in cities like Sicyon and Corinth, or most of the later Dorian colonies, this is easily explained by the fact that these states were created after the movement of the great Dorian migration was over. The Perioeci of Argos were called Orneatae from the town of Orneae, apparently the first or the most important town reduced to this condition by the Argives (Herod. viii. 73). These Orneatae are called summachoi of the Argives by Thucydides (v. 67, and Arnold's note), and with them are classed the inhabitants of Cleonae; but that they were Perioeci appears from the passage of Herodotus, in which he is evidently translating the less familiar Argive term Orneatae into the more familiar Spartan one Perioeci, to show the status of the Cynurian population he is describing. How large the Perioecic population of Argolis was we do not know. A large part of it, Cynuria, was taken by the Spartans (Herod. i. 82); and the two great Achaean townships, Mycenae and Tiryns, were certainly not Perioecic towns at the time of the Persian war (Id. vii. 102, ix. 28). After their destruction by Argos about 468 B.C. (Diod. xi. 65), they may possibly have been reduced to this condition.
This extract is from: A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (1890) (eds. William Smith, LLD, William Wayte, G. E. Marindin). Cited May 2005 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks
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