Hellenistic Warfare > Strategos


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The Greek term "strategos" (plural: strategoi) referred to a military and political office in ancient Greece, particularly in city-states like Athens and Sparta. A strategos was a high-ranking official tasked with military command and leadership, as well as broader political responsibilities.

The primary role of a strategos was to command the city-state's military forces during times of war, including planning military campaigns, organizing troops, and leading them into battle. In addition to their military duties, strategoi often held significant political influence and were involved in policymaking, diplomacy, and administration within the city-state.

Selection and Tenure:

The selection process for strategoi varied depending on the city-state and its political system. In democratic city-states like Athens, strategoi were typically elected by the citizen assembly (ecclesia) or appointed by the council of elders (boule). In oligarchic or autocratic regimes, strategoi might be appointed by a ruling council or monarch. The term of office for strategoi also varied but was usually limited to one year to prevent the accumulation of excessive power.

Types of Strategoi:

In Athens, the office of strategos was particularly significant and prestigious. Athenian strategoi were responsible for both military and naval affairs, as well as foreign policy. In Sparta, the equivalent office was known as the "strategos autokrator," which held extensive powers over military matters but operated within the framework of Sparta's dual kingship and the gerousia (council of elders).

Famous Strategoi:

Throughout Greek history, numerous strategoi achieved fame and renown for their military exploits and political leadership. In Athens, notable strategoi include Themistocles, who played a crucial role in the Athenian victory at the Battle of Salamis during the Greco-Persian Wars, and Pericles, who guided Athens to its zenith during the Golden Age. In Sparta, strategoi such as Brasidas and Lysander distinguished themselves in military campaigns during the Peloponnesian War and subsequent conflicts.


The office of strategos had a lasting impact on Greek political and military institutions and influenced subsequent systems of military command and leadership. The concept of military leadership and command remained central to Greek culture and society, and the role of the strategos continued to be celebrated in literature, art, and historical accounts. Overall, the Greek strategos was a multifaceted figure who combined military prowess with political acumen, playing a pivotal role in shaping the fate of city-states and influencing the course of Greek history.


Ameling, Walther. "Strategos II. Hellenistic states". Brill’s New Pauly. Brill Online, 2015

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