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Archon (Gr. ?????, pl. ?????te?) 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 a??-, meaning "to rule", derived from the same root as monarch and hierarchy. In the early literary period of ancient Greece the chief magistrates of various Greek city states were called Archon.[citation needed] 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] 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.[citation needed] Originally these offices were filled from the aristocracy by elections every ten years. During this period the Eponymos Archon 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.) After 487 BC the archonships were assigned by lot to any citizen and the Polemarchs military duties were taken over by a new class of generals known as strategoi.[citation needed]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.[citation needed] 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. (See Archons of Athens.)

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