Ecchellensis, Or Echellensis, Abraham, a learned Maronite, professor of the Syriac and Arabic languages in Paris and in Rome, born at Ekkel, Syria, died in Italy in 1664. He was educated at Rome, and took the degree of doctor of theology and of philosophy. In 1630 he was invited to Paris to assist in editing the polyglot Bible of Le Jay. He contributed to this work the book of Ruth in Syriac and Arabic, and the third book of Maccabees in the latter language. He was besides the author of several historical writings and translations from the Arabic. In 1642 he returned to Rome as professor of the oriental languages.
ECCLESIA (Gr. from to call out or summon), in ancient Athens, a general assembly of the citizens summoned together to discuss and decide matters of public interest. The ordinary assemblies were held three times monthly on established days; the extraordinary were specially convened on any sudden and pressing emergency. When the occasion was of extreme importance, special messengers were despatched into the country to summon the people, and the assembly thus convened was termed a cataclesia. These assemblies were originally held in the Agora ; but during the most flourishing periods of Athens, in the times of Themistocles, Pericles, and Demosthenes, they were usually held on the rock of the Pnyx, where a semicircular space, partially formed by excavation from the native rock, and containing 12,000 square yards, could accommodate all the Athenian citizens. There were neither seats nor awning, and the assembly met at daybreak. The bema on which the orators stood to address the people was carved from the rock, and yet remains.
It was often called "the stone;" and as the destinies of Athens were swayed by the orators who stood upon it, it became a figure of speech for the existing government, and the phrase " master of the stone " indicated the ruling statesman of the day. At a later period the assemblies were often held in the great theatre of Dionysus, and also in the Piraeus, and in the theatre at Munychia. The right of convening the citizens was vested in the prytanes, or presidents of the council of 500, but in times of war or sudden emergency the generals also had the power to call extraordinary assemblies. Any citizen refusing to obey the call was fined. The poorer classes received a small fee for their attendance as a recompense for their time. Before the assembly entered upon any business, a sacrifice, usually of a suckling pig, was offered, and incense was burned. Then the herald proclaimed silence and offered a prayer to the gods; after which, under the direction of the prytanes and the proedri, or heads of tribes, the subjects to be discussed were stated, and permission was given to the speakers to address the people.
No measure could be acted upon in the assembly which had not been passed upon by the senate, but the decrees of the senate might here be approved, altered, or rejected; and a new proposition might be introduced on any subject which had already been discussed in the senate. According to the older regulations, persons above 50 years of age had the privilege of speaking first; but this distinction was obsolete in the days of Aristophanes. No new decree could be publicly proposed till it had been shown to the proedri, that they might see whether it contained anything injurious to the state or contrary to existing laws. The people voted either by show of hands or occasionally by ballot. The assembly could make inquisition into the conduct of magistrates, and in turbulent times exercised a power resembling that of impeachment, as in the cases of Demosthenes and Phocion. It was sometimes suddenly broken up at the occurrence of an unfavorable omen, as thunder and lightning, sudden rain, or any unusual natural phenomenon. - In later Greek and Latin the name signified the church.