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{{other uses}}{{wiktionary}}Archon (, árchon, plural: ἄρχοντες, árchontes) is a Greek word that means "ruler", frequently used as the title of a specific public office. It is the masculine present participle of the verb stem αρχ-, meaning "to rule", derived from the same root as monarch and hierarchy.

Ancient Greece

In the early literary period of ancient Greece the chief magistrates of various Greek city states were called Archon.{{sfn|Mitchell|1911|p=444}} The term was also used throughout Greek history in a more general sense, ranging from "club leader" to "master of the tables" at syssitia to "Roman governor".{{Citation needed|date=May 2007}} In Roman terms, archontes ruled by imperium, whereas basileis ("kings") had auctoritas.In Athens a system of three concurrent Archons evolved, the three office holders being known as the Archon Eponymos, the Polemarch, and the Archon Basileus.{{sfn|Mitchell|1911|p=444}} According to Aristotle's Constitution of the Athenians, the power of the king first devolved to the archons, and these offices were filled from the aristocracy by elections every ten years. During this period the Archon Eponymos was the chief magistrate, the Polemarch was the head of the armed forces, and the Archon Basileus was responsible for the civic religious arrangements. After 683 BC the offices were held for only a single year, and the year was named after the Archon Eponymos. (Many ancient calendar systems did not number their years consecutively.) Although the process of the next transition is unclear, after 487 BC the archonships were assigned by lot to any citizen and the Polemarch's military duties were taken over by a new class of generals known as strategoi. The Polemarch thereafter had only minor religious duties. The Archon Eponymos remained the titular head of state under democracy, though of much reduced political importance. The Archons were assisted by "junior Archons", called Thesmothetes. After 457 BC ex-archons were automatically enrolled as life members of the Areopagus, though that assembly was no longer extremely important politically at that time.{{sfn|Mitchell|1911|p=445}}Under the Athenian constitution, Archons were also in charge of organizing festivals by bringing together poets, playwrights, actors, and city-appointed choregai (wealthy citizen patrons). The Archon would begin this process months in advance of a festival by selecting a chorus of three playwrights based on descriptions of the projected plays. Each playwright would be assigned a choregos, also selected by the Archon, from among the wealthy citizens who would pay all the expenses of costumes, masks, and training the chorus. The Archon also assigned each playwright a principal actor (the protagonist), as well as a second and third actor. The City Dionysia, an ancient dramatic festival held in March in which tragedy, comedy, and satyric drama originated, was under the direction of one of the principal magistrates, the archon eponymos. The archon eponymos remained the titular head of state under democracy, though of much reduced political importance.{{sfn|Mitchell|1911|p=445}}

Byzantine Empire

Byzantine historians usually described foreign rulers as archontes.Aksum: an African civilisation of late antiquity By Stuart C. Munro-Hay Page 145 {{ISBN|0-7486-0209-7}} The rulers of the Bulgars themselves, along with their own titles, often bear the title archon placed by God in inscriptions in Greek.Inside Byzantium, the term could be used to refer to any powerful noble or magnate, but in a technical sense, it was applied to a class of provincial governors. In the 8th and 9th centuries, these were the governors of some of the more peripheral provinces, inferior in status to the themata: Dalmatia, Cephalonia, Crete and Cyprus. Archontes were also placed in charge of various naval bases and trade stations, as well as semi-autonomous Slavic-inhabited areas (sclaviniae) under Byzantine sovereignty. In the 10th–12th centuries, archontes are also mentioned as the governors of specific cities. The area of an archon's jurisdiction was called an archontia ().{{ODB | page=160}} The title was also used for the holders of several financial posts, such as the head of the mint (), as well as directors of the imperial workshops, arsenals, etc.{{ODB | pages=160–161}}The title of megas archon ("grand archon") is also attested, as a translation of foreign titles such as "grand prince". In the mid-13th century, it was established as a special court rank, held by the highest-ranking official of the emperor's company. It existed throughout the Palaiologan period, but did not have any specific functions.{{citation | first = Mark C. | last = Bartusis | title = The Late Byzantine Army: Arms and Society 1204-1453 | publisher = University of Pennsylvania Press | year = 1997 | isbn = 0-8122-1620-2 | page=382}}

Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople

From time to time, laity of the Orthodox Church in communion with the Patriarch of Constantinople have been granted the title of Archon to honor their service to Church administration. In 1963, Archons were organized into a service society dedicated to St Andrew. This Archon status is not part of the Church hierarchy and is purely honorary. Seeweblink .An Archon is an honoree by His All Holiness the Ecumenical Patriarch, for his outstanding service to the Church, and a well-known, distinguished, and well-respected leader of the Orthodox Church (at large).It is the sworn oath of the Archon to defend and promote the Orthodox Church faith and tradition. His main concern is to protect and promote the Holy Patriarchate and its mission. He is also concerned with human rights and the well-being and general welfare of the Church.As it is a significant religious position, the faith and dedication of a candidate for the role are extensively reviewed during consideration; the candidate should have demonstrated commitment for the betterment of the Church, Parish-Diocese, Archdiocese and the community as a whole.

Gnostic Archons

{{section move from|Archon (Gnosticism)|November 2018|This section is about another concept than this section is. They may use the same term but are different ideas.}}{{Gnosticism}}In late antiquity some variants of Gnosticism used the term Archon to refer to several servants of the Demiurge, the "creator god", that stood between the human race and a transcendent God that could only be reached through gnosis. In this context their role is close to that of the neo-platonic daimon, but regared as malevolent, thus also comparable to a demon.Dorian Gieseler Greenbaum Dorian The Daimon in Hellenistic Astrology: Origins and Influence 2015 {{ISBN|9789004306219}} p. 165The Egyptian Gnostic Basilideans accepted the existence of an archon called Abraxas who was the prince of 365 spiritual beings (Irenaeus, Adversus Haereses, I.24). The Ophites accepted the existence of seven archons: Iadabaoth or Ialdabaoth (who created the six others), Iao, Sabaoth, Adonaios, Elaios, Astaphanos and Horaios (Origen, Contra Celsum, VI.31). The commonly-called Pistis Sophia (or The Books of the Savior) gives another set: Paraplex, Hekate, Ariouth (females), Typhon, and Iachtanabas (males).{{Citation needed|date=February 2017}}Ialdabaoth had a head of a lion, like Mithraic Arimanius and Vedic Narasimha, a form of Vishnu. Their wrathful nature was mistaken as evil. The snake wrapped around them is Ananta (Sesha) Naga (mythology).{{Citation needed|date=February 2017}}

Other uses

"Archon" is also used in Modern Greek colloquially, as άρχοντας (archontas) to someone that holds a form of status, or power WEB,weblink Άρχοντας -,, 16 March 2018, The term is used within the Arab-speaking Copts in church parlance as a title for a leading member of the laity.{{cn|date=May 2018}}Various fraternities and sororities use the title of archon or variations on it.{{cn|date=May 2018}}


  • A Greek-English Lexicon (aka Liddell and Scott), {{ISBN|0-19-864226-1}}
  • The Oxford Companion to Classical Literature, {{ISBN|0-19-866121-5}}.
  • Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate
  • EB1911, Archon, 2, 444–445, John Malcolm, Mitchell, This contains a detailed account of the evolution of the Greek office, and the qualifications required. Authorities cited:
    • G. Gilbert, Constitutional Antiquities (Eng. trans., 1895)
    • Eduard Meyer's Geschichte des Alterthums, ii. sect. 228
    • A. H. J. Greenidge, Handbook of Greek Constitutional History (1895)
    • J. W. Headlam, On Election by Lot in Athens (Camb., 1891)

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