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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 20 August 2016
20 THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 20 AUGUST 2016 DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM Απογραφή Important elements of Australia are not reflected in the census and are of concern, since our government may not understand the true complexity of its multicultural identity DEAN KALIMNIOU In a sermon circulated among the Greek colonies of the Crimea in the early 1800s, referring to the Islamic poll tax, or haraj, paid to the sultan, the following rather startling anarchist opinion was stated: "Ο κήνσος είναι δόμα και σημείον υποταγής", that is, the κήνσος - a direct transliteration of the Latin word census - is a sign of subjugation. In the Bible, the word κῆνσος is used to signify a Roman-imposed poll tax, being the reason why the counting of a population was conducted in the first place. The Romans conducted censuses every five years, calling upon every man and his family to return to his place of birth to be counted in order to keep track of the population and to determine the available amount of manpower that could be drafted into the army. The census thus played a crucial role in the administration of the peoples of an expanding Roman Empire, providing a register of citizens and their property from which their duties and privileges could be listed. Also in the Bible, we are able to find the modern Greek word for census, which is απογραφή. The most famous απογραφή, of course, is that which caused the Holy Family to move from Nazareth to Bethlehem where Jesus was born, not because wi-fi was more readily available there, all the better to complete the census form online, but rather because, as was the custom in Greek elections until recently, one had to return to their place of birth in order to be counted: "Ἐγένετο δὲ ἐν ταῖς ἡμέραις ἐκείναις ἐξῆλθε δόγμα παρὰ Καίσαρος Αὐγούστου ἀπογράφεσθαι πᾶσαν τὴν οἰκουμένην." Fittingly for the King of Kings, Jesus was born during a census that Caesar Augustus ambitiously wished to extend to the entire oecumene, or at least, the Roman part of it. Yet before we dismiss the census as a method of collating information about subject populations for the purpose of better fleecing them (William the Conqueror certainly took a leaf out of the Romans' tablet when commissioning the Domesday Book, all the better to denude the AngloSaxons of their property), it is important to note that censuses have been divine- ly sanctioned since Exodus, wherein the Lord commanded the Israelites to conduct a census of themselves, ensuring of course "that there be no plague among them, when thou numberest them", in order to levy a tax for the upkeep of the Tabernacle. Indeed an entire book of the Old Testament is based on a census, the Book of Numbers, which basically records a number of stocktakes of the Israelite population after the exodus from Egypt.
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