A polemarch (from _gr. πολέμαρχος, "polemarchos") was a senior military title in various ancient Greek city states ("poleis"). The title is composed out of the "polemos" (war) and "archon" (ruler/leader) and translates as "warleader" or "warlord".

Ancient Greece


The most famous "polemarchos" is probably the Athenian "archōn polemarchos". He was of the magistrates called archons. Originally, the polemarch was a commander of the army, but after 487/486 BC, when the Athenian magistrates were appointed by lot, the military duties were handled by the "strategoi". This office also had religious and legal functions.


In the new structure of the Spartan Army introduced sometime in the Peloponnesian War, a "polemarchos" was the commander of a "mora" of 576 men, one of six in the Spartan army on campaign.(Xenophon, Rep. Lac. XI 4.) On occasion however they were appointed to head armies. The six Spartan "polemarchoi" seem to have been on equal power to kings at expeditions outside Laconia and were usually descendants of the royal houses (Herodotus, VII 173.) They were part of the royal army council and the royal escort (δαμοσία) (Xenophon, Hell. VI 4 § 14.) The were supported or representation by officers (συμφορεῖς). The polemarchoi were also responsible for public meals, since, by the laws of Lycurgus, the Lacedaemonians would eat and fight in the same group. Next to their military and connected responsibilities, the "polemarchoi" were responsible for some civil and juridical tasks (not unlike the "archōn polemarchos" in Athens).


Several Boeotian cities used the office of "polemarchos" for the leader of their military forces. Thebes for instance had two - possibly annually elected - "polemarchoi".

Other uses

In modern use, some fraternities, notably Kappa Alpha Psi, label their chapters' leaders as Polemarchs.

Fictional use

This position was featured in Orson Scott Card's novel "Ender's Game". In the novel, the position of Polemarch was charged with the supreme command of humanity's space fleets. The Polemarch, along with the positions of Strategos and Hegemon, was one of the three most powerful people alive. Because of a belief in their inherent luck and brilliance, all three positions were originally filled with Jewish people — an American Jew as Hegemon, an Israeli Jew as Strategos, and a Russian Jew as Polemarch — but by the time of the Formic defeat, this superstition had died.

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  • Polemarch — Pol e*march, n. [Gr. ?; ? war + ? leader, from ? to be first.] (Gr. Antiq.) In Athens, originally, the military commanderin chief; but, afterward, a civil magistrate who had jurisdiction in respect of strangers and sojourners. In other Grecian… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • polemarch — (n.) commander of the army, 1570s, from Gk. polemarkhos, from polemos war + arkhos leader, chief, ruler (see ARCHON (Cf. archon)) …   Etymology dictionary

  • Polemarch — Po|le|march* der; en, en <aus gleichbed. gr. polémarchos, eigtl. »Kriegsführer«, zu pólemos »Krieg« bzw. polemeĩn »Krieg führen« u. árchein »vorangehen, führen«> Titel der mit der Leitung des Militärwesens u. mit dem Heereskommando… …   Das große Fremdwörterbuch

  • polemarch — pol·e·march …   English syllables

  • polemarch — ˈpäləˌmärk noun ( s) Etymology: Greek polemarchos, from polemos war + archos ruler more at archi : a chieftain or military commander in ancient Greece; especially : the third archon in ancient Athens presiding at the court and having jurisdiction …   Useful english dictionary

  • Callimachus (polemarch) — Callimachus (Καλλίμαχος) was polemarch in Athens in 490 BC, and was one of the commanders at the Battle of Marathon.As polemarch, Callimachus had a vote in military affairs along with the 10 strategoi , the generals, such as Miltiades. Miltiades… …   Wikipedia

  • Kappa Alpha Psi — ] are Kappa League, Jr. Kappa League, A MAN Program, [ cite web |url=http://www.aman.org/KappaInfo/Kappahome.html |title=Kappa Alpha Psi, Inc. Partners with A MAN, Inc. To Promote Interest In Science and Technology Among Youth |publisher=A MAN,… …   Wikipedia

  • Archon — For other uses, see Archon (disambiguation). Depiction from the east frieze of the Parthenon, of an assumed Archon Basileus, a remnant title of the Greek monarchy Archon (Gr. ἄρχων, pl. ἄρχοντες) is a Greek word that means ruler or lord ,… …   Wikipedia

  • List of International Fleet personnel — This is a list of characters from the fictional International Fleet organization in Orson Scott Card s Ender s Game series. Contents 1 Chamrajnagar 2 Hyrum Graff 3 Mazer Rackham 3.1 Ender Quarte …   Wikipedia

  • Archon of Athens — This is a list of the eponymous archons of Athens. BackgroundThe archon was the chief magistrate in many Greek cities, but in Athens there was a council of archons which comprised a form of executive government. From the late eighth century BC,… …   Wikipedia