Great King

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A great king ( Greek : ὁ μέγας βασιλεύς ho megas basileus or more often βασιλεύς, without an article; Latin rex regum 'king of kings' ) is a king who rules over several other kings.

Even the rulers of Akkad could be dubbed “Great King” or “King of Kings”, as did the kings of the Hittites and of Assyria (Šarru rabû šarru) . Even the rulers of smaller kingdoms, such as the Neo-Hittite Tabal or Urartu , called themselves great kings when they ruled over several other princes .

Under the Achaemenids the title became characteristic of the rulers of the Persian Empire . Later, in addition to the rulers of Armenia and Pontus, the Arsacids , the Parthian ruling house, designated themselves as great kings, while among their successors, the New Persian Sassanids , the title "King of kings" ( Shahanshah ) was more common again; the title "Great King" was apparently used as a rule for the heir to the throne at this time. Nevertheless, it is common in ancient historical research to also refer to the Sassanid ruler as the “great king”. Most likely there is also a connection between that of the Seleucid king Antiochus III. led, inscribed title "the great" or "the great king" and the oriental title of the great king.

In the Roman Empire , the prince of Palmyra Odaenathus and his sons Herodianus and Vaballathus rex regum . Later, Constantine the Great is said to have bestowed this title on his nephew Hannibalianus (who only appears as rex on coins ). In both cases, the title is likely to have been symbolically directed against the territorial claims of the Sassanid great king on the eastern border of the empire in Syria and Armenia .

The Emperor of Ethiopia also carried the title of "King of Kings", the name was Neguse Negest .

Muammar al-Gaddafi was proclaimed King of the Kings of Africa in 2008 by over 200 African kings and traditional tribal rulers.

See also


  • Iris Colditz: Ancient Oriental and Avesta Traditions in the Rulers' Titulature of Pre-Islamic Iran. In: Carlo G. Cereti, Mauro Maggi, Elio Provasi (Eds.): Religious themes and texts of Pre-Islamic Iran and Central Asia. Studies in honor of Professor Gherardo Gnoli on the occasion of his 65th birthday on December 6th, 2002 (= Contributions to Iranian Studies. Volume 24). Reichert, Wiesbaden 2003, ISBN 3-89500-329-8 , pp. 61-78.
  • John G. Griffiths: βασιλεὺς βασιλέων: Remarks on the History of a Title. In: Classical Philology. Vol. 48, No. 3, 1953, ISSN  0009-837X , pp. 145-154, JSTOR 267021 .
  • David Engels : Thoughts on the function of the titles "Great King" and "King of Kings" from the 3rd to the 1st century BC. In: Victor Cojocaru, Altay Coşkun , Mădălina Dana (eds.): Interconnectivity in the Mediterranean and Pontic World during the Hellenistic and the Roman Periods (= Pontica et Mediterranea. Volume 3). (Actes du colloque international, Constanţa, 8 - 12 July 2013). Mega, Cluj-Napoca 2014, ISBN 978-606-543-526-1 , pp. 333-362.

Individual evidence

  1. Gaddafi: Africa's 'king of kings' on BBC online, August 29, 2008