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stratēgoi


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Was the ordinary term for military commanders in Greece, but in Athens in the 5th cent. bc strategoi had political as well as military importance. Little is known of the number and method of appointment of Athenian strategoi in the 6th cent., but in 501/0 a new arrangement was introduced by which ten strategoi were elected annually, one from each phӯlē (see phylai). The ten were of equal status: at Marathon in 490 (acc. to Herodotus; see marathon, battle of) they decided strategy by majority vote, and each held the presidency in daily rotation. At this date the polemarchos had a casting vote, and one view is that he was the commander‐in‐chief; but from 487/6 onwards the polemarch, like the other archontes, was appointed by lot. Good leaders, whether military or political, obviously could not be regularly selected by lot; so now, if not before, the polemarch ceased to command the army, and the strategoi, who continued to be elected, not only were the chief military commanders, but in some cases became political leaders too.

Themistocles, Aristides 1, and Cimon were early examples of strategoi who were politicians as well as generals. Pericles was a strategos very often throughout his career; from 443 he held the office almost continuously until his death in 429. Cleon, Nicias, and Alcibiades were all strategoi. But at the end of the 5th cent., with the collapse of the military and naval power of Athens, and later because of an increasing tendency to specialization, military office ceased to be a means of acquiring political influence.

The annual election of strategoi was held in the spring, and their term of office coincided with the ordinary Athenian year, from midsummer to midsummer. If a stratēgos died or was dismissed from office, a by‐election might be held to replace him for the remainder of the year. The original rule that one strategos was elected from each phyle underwent some modification after 450: in several years one phyle is known to have supplied two strategoi simultaneously. Representation of phylai was certainly abandoned in the 4th cent., when ten strategoi were elected annually from all Athenians.

Strategoi commanded both by land and by sea. A particular military or naval expedition might have one strategos or several in command; rarely did all ten go together. A strategos might be given special powers to take decisions in the field without reference back to Athens. At home the strategoi were responsible for calling up citizens and metics for military service, and for organizing the maintenance and command of ships by the system of trierarchies. When a legal case arose from any of these matters, such as a prosecution for desertion or evasion of military service, or a dispute over the duty to perform a trierarchy, the strategoi were the magistrates responsible for bringing the case to court and presiding over the trial. Probably in the 4th cent. a systematic division of duties was made: one strategos led the hoplites, one was in charge of the defence of Attica, two were in charge of the defence of Piraeus, and one supervised the trierarchies, leaving five available for other duties.

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Subjects: Classical Studies.


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