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Term of an unidentified strategist; Roman copy based on the Greek original from 400 BC Chr.

Strategos ( ancient Greek στρατηγός stratēgós , plural στρατηγοί stratēgoí , German also strategists ) is the ancient name for a military office in the Greek-speaking area with the German meaning "Heerführer". Today the rank of strategos ( στρατηγός stratigós ) in the Greek armed forces corresponds to the general . Most famous are the ten strategists who were chosen from the ten phyls in ancient Athens .


The prerequisite for being elected to the college of ten of strategists was qualification for office, ie knowledge of the art of war and strategy . In addition, the potential candidates had a certain reputation in “their” phyle, although they were elected from all citizens and no longer according to phyle. The term of office of the strategists was officially one year, in fact it lasted longer because of the distribution of tasks, re-election was permissible , in contrast to all other important archons (officials).

The first task of the strategists was to lead the army in times of war, from the 5th century linear to the decline of the Polemarch office , permanent leadership and command over the army and navy. In the course of time, business areas developed in the college: campaigns, national defense, port, determination of the Trierarchs (“captains”) and care for the ship houses, five strategists remained at their disposal, i.e. primarily for military operations.

Due to this wide range of tasks, they also had other tasks: raising army contingents in the event of war, protecting the country, securing shipping, supervising foreign communities under Athenian custody, thereby also looking after foreign affairs and negotiating with enemies through to the conclusion of a contract. In addition, he chaired military court proceedings and made sacrifices for gods associated with war or peace. The office of strategist enjoyed increasing popularity. In the course of re-election, it was expanded among some particularly prominent strategists, such as B. in the case of Pericles , who was a strategist for over seven years.

In war and battle, the strategists usually formed an equal committee with a chair that changes daily, although the specific competencies of the individual persons were also taken into account. In exceptional cases there was finally the appointment of a "strategós autokrátor" with the powers of a commander in chief.

Further development

In Hellenism , the term strategos continued to be used, not only being reserved for generals, but also describing other profiles in different countries.

In several Greek city leagues the title was reserved for the head of state, for example in the Arcadian league , the Aitolian league , the Achaean league and the Akarnanian league . These strategists were elected annually and united the office of the head of government and the commander-in-chief in one hand. Two prominent statesmen who were repeatedly elected to office by the Achaeans were Aratos of Sicyon and Philopoimen . The figure of the strategist in Achaia became the model for the role of President of the United States in 1783.

The Greeks also referred to the board members of the Gaue in ancient Egypt during the Greco-Roman period as strategists . These strategists lost their military function in Ptolemaic times and became administrative officials. In addition, there were two epistrategoi (“over- strategoi ”) in the 2nd century BC , one each for Lower Egypt (in Greek Chora ) and one for the Thebais . Even in Roman times, the Gaustrategen remained as strategoi tou nomou the boards of the Gaue ( nomoi ). In the 4th century AD, the strategists were replaced by the exactores after they had previously had to surrender a large part of their powers to other institutions.

There was also a city strategist in Alexandria, Egypt, with tasks similar to the police.

The term strategist was also part of the title of the Roman emperors in the Greek-speaking world (cf. Imperator ).

The modern terms strategist and strategy are named after the strategists of antiquity.

Byzantine Empire

In the Byzantine Empire , within the scope of the thematic order (from the middle of the 7th century to the late 11th century), the governors endowed with civil-military powers were also dubbed strategoi . Since the late 10th century, new, smaller topics or military commands ( strategia , "generals") were created in newly conquered areas in the Balkans and on the eastern border , which consisted only of a fortress and its surroundings, as well as supra-regional commands under a doux or katepano , which grouped several smaller subjects or strategiai . Since the late 11th century, the title only retained its general meaning ("General, Heerführer"), which has remained until today.

Modern use

The insignia of a strategos of the Greek armed forces.

Nowadays the rank of strategos in the Greek armed forces corresponds to the full rank of general. Antistrategos ("Vice- Strategos ") and Ypostrategos ("Unter- Strategos ") are used for the Lieutenant General and the Major General, respectively. In common parlance, they are all referred to and addressed with Strategos . Under the monarchy, the rank was reserved exclusively for the king and prince, and the first career officer to receive it was Alexandros Papagos (later also Field Marshal and Prime Minister of Greece ). In today's republic, Strategos is the highest attainable rank for officers, and is only held by the Chief of the General Staff for National Defense if he is an Army officer. The rank is also awarded honorary to Army Chiefs of Staff when they retire. In the Greek Police , the Greek Fire Brigade and the Cypriot National Guard , the highest attainable rank is that of the anti-strategist .