Strategos, plural strategoi, (Greek: στρατηγός, pl. στρατηγοί; Doric Greek: στραταγός, stratagos; literally meaning "army leader") is used in Greek to mean military general. In the Hellenistic and Byzantine Empires the term was also used to describe a military governor. In the modern Hellenic Army it is the highest officer rank.
Strategos in the Classical AgeEdit
Themistocles, Aristides and Cimon were early examples of strategoi who were politicians as well as generals. Pericles was astrategos very often throughout his career; from 443 until 429 BC. Cleon, Nicias and Alcibiades were also strategoi. But at the end of the 5th century, with the collapse of the military power of Athens, and later because of an increasing tendency to specialization, military office ceased to be a means of acquiring political influence.
Little is known of the number and method of appointment of Athenian strategoi in the 6th century, but in 501 BC, a new arrangement was introduced by which ten strategoi were elected annually, one from each phyle. The ten were of equal status: atMarathon in 490 (according to Herodotus) 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 486 onwards thepolemarch, like other archontes, was appointed by lot.
The annual election of the strategoi was held in the spring, and their term of office coincided with the ordinary Athenian year, from midsummer to midsummer. If a strategos died or was dismissed from office, a by-election might be held to replace him.Strategoi commanded both from land and by sea. A particular military or naval expedition might have one strategos or several in command; rarely did all ten go together.
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 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.
In the 4th century a systematic division of duties was made: one strategos led the hoplites and one was in charge of the defense of Attica, two were in charge of the defense ofPiraeus, and one supervised the trierarchy, leaving the remaining five available for other duties.
The Athenian people kept a close eye on their strategoi. Like other magistrates, at the end of their term of office they were subject to euthyna and in addition there was a vote in theekklesia during every prytany on the question whether they were performing their duties well. If the vote went against anyone, he was deposed and as a rule tried by jury. Pericles himself in 430 was removed from office as strategos and fined, and in 406 the eight strategoi who commanded the fleet at Arginusae were all removed from office and condemned to death.
These arrangements illustrate one of the most striking features of Athenian democracy: reluctance to give power to individuals and fear that it might be abused.
Strategos during the Hellenic AgeEdit
In the Hellenistic empires of the Diadochi, notably Lagid Egypt, strategos became a gubernatorial office. In Egypt, a strategos presided over each of the country's nomes. In Egypt, the unique office and title of epistrategos (ἐπιστράτηγος, "over-general") was created in the early 2nd century BC, which survived intact into the Roman Empire. Two such existed, one for the Chora (Lower Egypt except for Alexandria) and one for the Thebaid, acting as viceroys controlling the subordinate strategoi of the nomes.
Under the Roman Republic and later through the Principate, Greek historians often used the term strategos when referring to the Roman political/military office of praetor. Such a use can be found in the New Testament: Acts 16:20 refers to the magistrates of Philippi as strategoi (στρατηγοί). Correspondingly, antistrategos ("vice-general") was used to refer to the office of propraetor.
The Odrysian kingdom of Thrace was also divided into strategiai ("generalships"), each headed by a strategos, based on the various Thracian tribes and subtribes. At the time of the kingdom's annexation into the Roman Empire in 46 AD, there were 50 such districts, which were initially retained in the new Roman province, and only gradually fell out of use. It was not until ca. 136 that the last of them were abolished.