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Prytan ( Greek  πρύτανις prýtanis "chief", "first"; Äol. Πρότανις ; plural πρυτάνεις prytaneis , "Prytanen") denoted leading members of the government of a city ( polis ) in ancient Greece .

In many cities, such as Corinth , there was a prytane as an individual office who exercised supreme governmental power for a year. He was an eponymous magistrate there (as in other cities Archons or Damiourgen).

In some cities Prytanen were members of a college that exercised political leadership. Best known are the Prytans of Athens . In this city, which was initially divided into 4 phyls of 12 naukraria each , there has been a council ( bule ) since the reign of the first archons , which consisted of 48 so-called heads of a ship's command ( πρύτανις ναυκράρων ). After the Kleisthenic reforms , which divided Athens into 10 phyle, the 50 councilors of a phyle officiated as prytans for 35 or 36 days (1/10 of a year) before they were replaced by another phyle.

The official seat of the Prytane in Athens was the Leiton (People's House), which was later called Prytaneion . Here was the holy state hearth in honor of the goddess Hestia , whose fire the Prytans always had to keep burning. Other tasks of the Prytanen were the reception and entertainment of foreign messengers and honorary citizens and the advice on acts of war.

There were other Prytan colleges, the organization of which differed from that in Athens, in Miletus , Rhodes and Samos .