Basileus (Greek: βασιλεύς)[n 1] is a Greek term and title that has signified various types of monarchs in history. In the English-speaking world it is perhaps most widely understood to mean "king" or "emperor". The title was used by sovereigns and other persons of authority in ancient Greece, the Byzantine emperors, and the kings of modern Greece.

The feminine forms are basileia (βασίλεια), basilis (βασιλίς), basilissa (βασίλισσα), or the archaic basilinna (βασιλίννα), meaning "queen" or "empress".[1]

A silver coin of the Seleucid king Antiochus I Soter. The reverse shows Apollo seated on an omphalos. The Greek inscription reads ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩΣ ΑΝΤΙΟΧΟΥ (of the king Antiochus).


The etymology of basileus is unclear. The Mycenaean form was *gʷasileus (Linear B: 𐀣𐀯𐀩𐀄, qa-si-re-u), denoting some sort of court official or local chieftain, but not an actual king. Its hypothetical earlier Proto-Greek form would be *gʷatileus.[2] Most linguists assume that it is a non-Greek word that was adopted by Bronze Age Greeks from a pre-existing linguistic Pre-Greek substrate of the Eastern Mediterranean.[3] Schindler (1976) argues for an inner-Greek innovation of the -eus inflection type from Indo-European material rather than a Mediterranean loan.

Ancient Greece

Original senses encountered on clay tablets

The first written instance of this word is found on the baked clay tablets discovered in excavations of Mycenaean palaces originally destroyed by fire. The tablets are dated from the 15th century BC to the 11th century BC and are inscribed with the Linear B script, which was deciphered by Michael Ventris in 1952 and corresponds to a very early form of Greek. The word basileus is written as qa-si-re-u and its original meaning was "chieftain" (in one particular tablet the chieftain of the guild of bronzesmiths is referred to as qa-si-re-u). Here the initial letter q- represents the PIE labiovelar consonant */gʷ/, transformed in later Greek into /b/. Linear B uses the same glyph for /l/ and /r/, now uniformly written with a Latin "r" by convention. Linear B only depicts syllables of single vowel or consonant-vowel form, therefore the final -s is dropped altogether.

Basileus vs. wanax in Mycenaean times

The word can be contrasted with wanax, another word used more specifically for "king" and usually meaning "High King" or "overlord". With the collapse of Mycenaean society, the position of wanax ceases to be mentioned, and the basileis (the plural form) appear the topmost potentates in Greek society. In the works of Homer wanax appears, in the form ánax, mostly in descriptions of Zeus (ánax andrōn te theōn te, "king of men and of the gods") and of very few human monarchs, most notably Agamemnon. Otherwise the term survived almost exclusively as a component in compound personal names (e.g., Anaxagóras, Pleistoánax) and is still in use in Modern Greek in the description of the anáktoron/anáktora ("[place or home] of the ánax"), i.e. of the royal palace. The latter is essentially the same word as 𐀷𐀩𐀏𐀳𐀫 wa-na-ka-te-ro, wanákteros, "of the wanax/king" or "belonging to the wanax/king", used in Linear B tablets to refer to various craftsmen serving the king (e.g. the "palace", or royal, spinner, or the ivory worker), and to things belonging or offered to the king (javelin shafts, wheat, spices, precincts etc.).

Most of the Greek leaders in Homer's works are described as basileís, which is conventionally rendered in English as "kings". However, a more accurate translation may be "princes" or "chieftains", which would better reflect conditions in Greek society in Homer's time, and also the roles ascribed to Homer's characters. Agamemnon tries to give orders to Achilles among many others, while another basileus serves as his charioteer. His will, however, is not to be automatically obeyed. In Homer the wanax is expected to rule over the other basileis by consensus rather than by coercion, which is why Achilles proudly and furiously rebels (the central theme of the Iliad) when he perceives that Agamemnon is unjustly bossing him around.

Archaic basileus

A study by Robert Drews (1983) has demonstrated that even at the apex of Geometric and Archaic Greek society, basileus does not automatically translate to "king". In a number of places authority was exercised by a college of basileis drawn from a particular clan or group, and the office had term limits. However, basileus could also be applied to the hereditary leaders of "tribal" states, like those of the Arcadians and the Messenians, in which cases the term approximated the meaning of "king".

Pseudo-Archytas' definition of the basileus as "sovereign" and "living law"

According to pseudo-Archytas's treatise "On justice and law", quoted by Giorgio Agamben in State of Exception (2005), Basileus is more adequately translated into "Sovereign" than into "king". The reason for this is that it designates more the person of king than the office of king: the power of magistrates (arkhontes, "archons") derives from their social functions or offices, whereas the sovereign derives his power from himself. Sovereigns have auctoritas, whereas magistrates retain imperium. Pseudo-Archytas aimed at creating a theory of sovereignty completely enfranchised from laws, being itself the only source of legitimacy. He goes so far as qualifying the Basileus as nomos empsykhos, or "living law", which is the origin, according to Agamben, of the modern Führerprinzip and of Carl Schmitt's theories on dictatorship.

Use of basileus in Classical times

KINGS of BAKTRIA. Agathokles. Circa 185-170 BC. AR Drachm (3.22 gm, 12h). Bilingual series. BASILEWS AGAQOKLEOUS with Indian god Balarama-Samkarshana
Coin of the Greco-Bactrian/Indo-Greek king Agathocles of Bactria (r. 190–180 BC), bearing the title of basileōs.

In classical times, almost all Greek states had abolished the hereditary royal office in favor of democratic or oligarchic rule. Some exceptions existed, namely the two hereditary Kings of Sparta (who served as joint commanders of the army, and were also called arkhagetai), the Kings of Syracuse, the Kings of Cyrene, the Kings of Macedon and of the Molossians in Epirus and Kings of Arcadian Orchomenus. The Greeks also used the term to refer to various kings of "barbaric" (i.e. non-Greek) tribes in Thrace and Illyria, as well as to the Achaemenid kings of Persia. The Persian king was also referred to as Megas Basileus (Great King) or Basileus Basileōn, a translation of the Persian title xšāyaθiya xšāyaθiyānām ("King of Kings"), or simply "the king". There was also a cult of Zeus Basileus at Lebadeia. Aristotle distinguished the basileus, constrained by law, from the unlimited tyrant (tyrannos).

At Athens, the archon basileus was one of the nine archons, magistrates selected by lot. Of these, the archon eponymos, the polemarch and the basileus divided the powers of Athens' ancient kings, with the basileus overseeing religious rites and homicide cases. His wife had to ritually marry Dionysus at the Anthesteria festival. Philippides of Paiania was one of the richest Athenians in the age of Lycurgus of Athens, he was honoured archon, basileus in 293/2. Similar vestigial offices called basileus existed in other Greek city-states.

By contrast, the authoritarian rulers were never called basileus in classical Greece, but archon or tyrannos; although Pheidon of Argos is described by Aristotle as a basileus who made himself a tyrant.

Alexander the Great

Basileus and megas basileus were exclusively used by Alexander the Great and his Hellenistic successors in Ptolemaic Egypt, Asia (e.g. the Seleucid Empire, the Kingdom of Pergamon and non-Greek but Greek-influenced states like the Kingdom of Pontus) and Macedon. The feminine counterpart is basilissa (queen), meaning both a queen regnant (such as Cleopatra VII of Egypt) and a queen consort. It is precisely at this time that the term basileus acquired a fully royal connotation, in stark contrast with the much less sophisticated earlier perceptions of kingship within Greece.

Romans and Byzantines

Follis-Leo VI-sb1729
Bronze follis of Leo VI the Wise (r. 886–912). The reverse shows the Latin-transcribed Greek titles used in imperial coinage: +LEOn En ΘEO bASILEVS ROMEOn, "Leo, by the grace of God Emperor of the Romans".

Under Roman rule, the term basileus came to be used, in the Hellenistic tradition, to designate the Roman Emperor in the everyday and literary speech of the Greek-speaking Eastern Mediterranean.[4] Although the early Roman Emperors were careful to retain the façade of the republican institutions and to not formally adopt monarchical titles, the use of basileus amply illustrates that contemporaries clearly perceived that the Roman Empire was a monarchy in all but name.[5] Nevertheless, despite its widespread use, due to its "royal" associations the title basileus remained unofficial for the Emperor, and was restricted in official documents to client kings in the East. Instead, in official context the imperial titles Caesar Augustus, translated or transliterated into Greek as Kaisar Sebastos or Kaisar Augoustos, and Imperator, translated as Autokratōr, were used.

By the 4th century however, basileus was applied in official usage exclusively to the two rulers considered equals to the Roman Emperor: the Sassanid Persian shahanshah ("king of kings"), and to a lesser degree the King of Axum, whose importance was rather peripheral in the Byzantine worldview.[6] Consequently, the title acquired the connotation of "emperor", and when barbarian kingdoms emerged on the ruins of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century, their rulers were referred to in Greek not as basileus but as rēx or rēgas, the hellenized forms of the Latin title rex, king.[4]

The first documented use of basileus Rhomaíōn in official context comes, surprisingly, from the Persians: in a letter sent to Emperor Maurice (r. 582–602) by Chosroes II, Maurice is addressed in Greek as basileus Rhomaíōn instead of the habitual Middle Persian appellation kēsar-i Hrōm ("Caesar of the Romans"), while the Persian ruler refers to himself correspondingly as Persōn basileus, thereby dropping his own claim to the Greek equivalent of his formal title, basileus basileōn ("king of kings").[7] The title appears to have slowly crept into imperial titulature after that, and Emperor Heraclius is attested as using it alongside the long-established Autokratōr Kaisar in a letter to Kavadh II in 628. Finally, in a law promulgated on 21 March 629, the Latin titles were dropped altogether, and the simple formula πιστὸς ἐν Χριστῷ βασιλεύς, "faithful believer, emperor by the grace of Christ" was used instead.[8] The adoption of the new imperial formula has been traditionally interpreted by scholars such as Ernst Stein and George Ostrogorsky as a move indicative of the almost complete hellenization of the Empire by that point.[9] In imperial coinage, however, Latin forms continued to be used. Only in the reign of Leo III the Isaurian (r. 717–741) did the title basileus appear in silver coins, and on gold coinage only under Constantine VI (r. 780–797).[4] "BASILEUS" was initially stamped on Byzantine coins in Latin script, and only gradually were some Latin characters replaced with Greek ones, resulting in mixed forms such as "BASIΛEVS".

Manuel II Helena sons
Early 15th-century miniature depicting Emperor Manuel II Palaiologos with his family: empress Helena Dragaš, and three of their sons, John, Andronikos and Theodore. The full imperial title uses both typically Byzantine and revived archaic Roman elements: ΜΑΝΟΥΗΛ ΕΝ ΧΩ ΤΩ ΘΩ ΠΙϹΤΟϹ ΒΑϹΙΛΕΥϹ ΚΑΙ ΑΥΤΟΚΡΑΤΩΡ ΡΩΜΑΙΩΝ Ο ΠΑΛΑΙΟΛΟΓΟϹ ΚΑΙ ΑΕΙ ΑΥΓΟΥϹΤΟϹ, "Manuel, by the grace of Christ the God, faithful Emperor and Autocrat of the Romans, the Palaiologos, forever August". Of his sons, John, the eldest and co-emperor, is also called basileus, while his brothers are titled despotes.

Until the 9th century, the Byzantines reserved the term basileus among Christian rulers exclusively for their own emperor in Constantinople. This usage was initially accepted by the "barbarian" kings of Western Europe themselves: despite having shed the fiction of Roman suzerainty from the 6th century on, they refrained from adopting imperial titulature.[10] The situation began to change when the Western European states began to challenge the Empire's political supremacy and its right to the universal imperial title. The catalytic event was the coronation of Charlemagne as imperator Romanorum ("Emperor of the Romans") by Pope Leo III on 25 December 800, at St. Peter's in Rome. The matter was complicated by the fact that the Eastern Empire was then ruled by the Empress Irene (r. 797–802), who had ascended the throne after the death of her husband, the Emperor Leo IV (r. 775–780), as regent to their 9-year-old son, Constantine VI (r. 780–797). Following Constantine's coming of age, Irene eventually decided to topple him and rule in her own name. In the conflict that ensued, Irene was victorious and Constantine was blinded and imprisoned, to die soon after. The revulsion generated by this incident of filicide cum regicide was compounded by the innate Frankish aversion to the concept of a ruling female sovereign. Consequently, in Frankish eyes, the imperial throne was vacant and free for Charlemagne to claim.[11] Although it is often claimed that, as monarch, Irene called herself in the male form basileus, in fact she normally used the title basilissa - empress.[12]

Charlemagne's claim to the imperial title of the Romans sparked a prolonged diplomatic row, which was resolved only in 812 when the Byzantines agreed to recognize him as "basileus". In an effort to emphasize their own Roman legitimacy, the Byzantine rulers thereafter began to use the fuller form basileus Rhomaíōn (βασιλεύς Ῥωμαίων, "emperor of the Romans") instead of the simple "basileus", a practice that continued in official usage until the end of the Empire.[4][11] The title autokratōr was also revived by the early 9th century (and appears in coins from 912 on). It was reserved for the senior ruling emperor among several co-emperors (symbasileis), who exercised actual power. The term megas basileus ("Great Emperor") was also sometimes used for the same purpose.[13] By the Palaiologan period, the full style of the Emperor was finalized in the phrase "X, in Christ the God faithful Emperor and Autocrat of the Romans" (Greek: "Χ, ἐν Χριστῷ τῷ Θεῷ πιστὸς βασιλεὺς καὶ αὐτοκράτωρ Ῥωμαίων", "Χ, en Christō tō Theō pistós basileus kai autokratōr Rhōmaíōn").

The later German emperors were also conceded the title "basileus of the Franks". The Byzantine title in turn produced further diplomatic incidents in the 10th century, when Western potentates addressed the emperors as "emperors of the Greeks".[4] A similar diplomatic scuffle (this time accompanied by war) ensued from the imperial aspirations of Simeon I of Bulgaria in the early 10th century. Aspiring to conquer Constantinople, Simeon claimed the title "basileus of the Bulgarians and of the Romans", but was only recognized as "basileus of the Bulgarians" by the Byzantines. From the 12th century however, the title was increasingly, although again not officially, used for powerful foreign sovereigns, such as the kings of France or Sicily, the tsars of the restored Bulgarian Empire, the Latin emperors and the emperors of Trebizond. In time, the title was also applied to major non-Christian rulers, such as Tamerlane or Mehmed II.[4] Finally, in 1354, Stefan Dušan, king of Serbia, assumed the imperial title, styling himself in Greek as basileus and autokratōr of the Romans and Serbs.[14]

New Testament and Jesus

While the terms used for the Roman emperor are Kaisar Augustos (Decree from Caesar Augustus, Dogma para Kaisaros Augoustou, Luke 2:1) or just Kaisar (see Render unto Caesar...) and Pontius Pilate is called Hegemon (Matthew 27:2), Herod is Basileus (in his coins also Basileōs Herodou, "of King Herod", and by Josephus)

Regarding Jesus the term basileus acquires a new Christian theological meaning out of the further concept of Basileus as a chief religious officer during the Hellenistic period. Jesus is Basileus Basileōn (Βασιλεὺς βασιλέων = King of Kings, Revelation 17:14, 19:16) (a previous Near Eastern phrase for rulers), or Basileus tōn basileuontōn (Βασιλεὺς τῶν βασιλευόντων = lit. King of those being kings, 1 Timothy 6:15). Other titles involving Basileus include Basileus tōn Ouranōn, translated as King of Heaven, with his Basileia tōn Ouranōn, i.e. Kingship or Kingdom of Heaven, and is Basileus tōn Ioudaiōn, i.e. King of the Jews (see INRI). In Byzantine art, a standard depiction of Jesus is Basileus tēs Doxēs King of Glory (in the West 'the Christ or Image of Pity');[15] a phrase derived from the Psalms 24:10 and the Lord of Glory (Kyrios tēs Doxēs, 1 Corinthians 2:8).

Modern Greece

During the post-Byzantine period, the term basileus, under the renewed influence of Classical writers on the language, reverted to its earlier meaning of "king". This transformation had already begun in informal usage in the works of some classicizing Byzantine authors. In the Convention of London in 1832, the Great Powers (the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, July Monarchy France, and Imperial Russia) agreed that the new Greek state should become a monarchy, and chose the Wittelsbach Prince Otto of Bavaria as its first king.

1876 five-drachma coin, bearing a bust of George I of Greece and the legend ΓΕΩΡΓΙΟΣ Α! ΒΑΣΙΛΕΥΣ ΤΩΝ ΕΛΛΗΝΩΝ ("George I, King of the Hellenes").

The Great Powers furthermore ordained that his title was to be "Βασιλεὺς τῆς Ἑλλάδος" Vasilefs tes Elládos, meaning "King of Greece", instead of "Βασιλεὺς τῶν Ἑλλήνων" Vasilefs ton Ellénon, i.e. "King of the Greeks". This title had two implications: first, that Otto was the king only of the small Kingdom of Greece, and not of all Greeks, whose majority still remained under the rule of the Ottoman Empire. Second, that the kingship did not depend on the will of the Greek people, a fact further underlined by Otto's addition of the formula "ἐλέῳ Θεοῦ" eléo Theou, i.e. By the Grace (Mercy) of God. For 10 years, until the 3 September 1843 Revolution, Otto ruled as an absolute monarch, and his autocratic rule, which continued even after being forced to grant a constitution, made him very unpopular. After being ousted in 1862, the new Danish dynasty of the House of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg took over with King George I. In a demonstrative move, as to assert both national independence from the will of the Powers, and as to emphasize the constitutional responsibilities of the monarch towards the people, his title was modified to "King of the Hellenes", which remained the official royal title until the abolition of the Greek monarchy in 1974.

The two Greek kings who bore the name of Constantine, a name of great sentimental and symbolic significance, especially in the irredentist context of the Megali Idea, were often, although never officially, numbered in direct succession to the last Byzantine Emperor, Constantine XI, as Constantine XII[16] and Constantine XIII[17] respectively.

See also


  1. ^ Ancient Greek: [basile͜ús], Modern Greek: [vasiˈlefs] Byzantine and Modern Greek pronunciation ; plural βασιλεῖς, basileis Ancient Greek: [basilêːs], Modern Greek: [vasiˈlis].


  1. ^ Brown, Roland Wilbur (1956). Composition of Scientific Words: A Manual of Methods and a Lexicon of Materials for the Practice of Logotechnics.
  2. ^ Andrew Sihler (2008), New Comparative Grammar of Greek and Latin, p. 330.
  3. ^ R. S. P. Beekes, Etymological Dictionary of Greek, Brill, 2009, p. 203.
  4. ^ a b c d e f Kazhdan, Alexander, ed. (1991), Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium, Oxford University Press, p. 264, ISBN 978-0-19-504652-6
  5. ^ Chrysos, Evangelos K. (1978), "The Title ΒΑΣΙΛΕΥΣ in Early Byzantine International Relations", Dumbarton Oaks Papers, Dumbarton Oaks, 32: 66–67, JSTOR 1291418
  6. ^ Chrysos, Evangelos K. (1978), "The Title ΒΑΣΙΛΕΥΣ in Early Byzantine International Relations", Dumbarton Oaks Papers, Dumbarton Oaks, 32: 35, 42, JSTOR 1291418
  7. ^ Chrysos, Evangelos K. (1978), "The Title ΒΑΣΙΛΕΥΣ in Early Byzantine International Relations", Dumbarton Oaks Papers, Dumbarton Oaks, 32: 70, JSTOR 1291418
  8. ^ Chrysos, Evangelos K. (1978), "The Title ΒΑΣΙΛΕΥΣ in Early Byzantine International Relations", Dumbarton Oaks Papers, Dumbarton Oaks, 32: 31, JSTOR 1291418
  9. ^ Chrysos, Evangelos K. (1978), "The Title ΒΑΣΙΛΕΥΣ in Early Byzantine International Relations", Dumbarton Oaks Papers, Dumbarton Oaks, 32: 32, JSTOR 1291418
  10. ^ Chrysos, Evangelos K. (1978), "The Title ΒΑΣΙΛΕΥΣ in Early Byzantine International Relations", Dumbarton Oaks Papers, Dumbarton Oaks, 32: 52–57, JSTOR 1291418
  11. ^ a b Kazhdan, Alexander, ed. (1991), Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium, Oxford University Press, p. 413, ISBN 978-0-19-504652-6
  12. ^ Liz James, "Men, Women, Eunuchs: Gender, Sex, and Power" in "A Social History of Byzantium" (J. Haldon, ed.) pp. 45,46; published 2009; ISBN 978-1-4051-3241-1: There are only three instances where it is known that she used the title "basileus": two legal documents in which she signed herself as "Emperor of the Romans" and a gold coin of hers found in Sicily bearing the title of "basileus". In relation to the coin, the lettering is of poor quality and the attribution to Irene may, therefore, be problematic. In reality, she used the title "basilissa" in all other documents, coins and seals.
  13. ^ Kazhdan, Alexander, ed. (1991), Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium, Oxford University Press, p. 235, ISBN 978-0-19-504652-6
  14. ^ Kazhdan, Alexander, ed. (1991), Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium, Oxford University Press, pp. 1950–1951, ISBN 978-0-19-504652-6
  15. ^ The icon in the life of the church: doctrine, liturgy, devotion By George Galavaris Page 38 ISBN 90-04-06402-8 (1981)
  16. ^ Brozan, Nadine (April 13, 1994). "CHRONICLE". The New York Times.
  17. ^ "King Constantine II and Queen Anne-Marie". Matt Barret's A History of Greece.


  • Robert Drews. Basileus. The Evidence for Kingship in Geometric Greece, Yale (1983).
  • Michael Janda. “Annäherung an basileús”, in Analecta Homini Universali Dicata ... Festschrift für Oswald Panagl zum 65. Geburtstag, vol. 1. Edited by Thomas Krisch, Thomas Lindner, & Ulrich Müller. Stuttgart: Hans Dieter Heinz, 2004, pp. 84−94.
  • Jochem Schindler. “On the Greek type hippeús”, in Studies Palmer, ed. Meid (1976), 349–352.

External links

Archon basileus

Archon basileus (Ancient Greek: ἄρχων βασιλεύς) was a Greek title, meaning "king magistrate": the term is derived from the words archon "magistrate" and basileus "king" or "sovereign".

Most modern scholars claim that in Classical Athens, the archon basileus was the last remnant of monarchy. Although much of his powers, they say, had been filtered away to other institutions such as the Areopagus and later the Boule and Ecclesia, he still nominally held a high position in Athenian society, alongside the archon eponymos and the polemarchos. The archon basileus was charged with overseeing the organisation of religious rites and with presiding over trials for homicide.There is a tradition that originally the archon basileus was elected from the Athenian aristocracy every ten years. After 683 BC, the office was only held for a year, and after Solon's reforms, he was elected from the wealthiest Athenians, the Pentakosiomedimnoi (Πεντακοσιομέδιμνοι), "500-bushel men", rather than the Eupatridae, (the aristocratic families). After 487 BC, the archonships were assigned by lot.

It is believed the archon basileus's wife, the basilinna, had to marry and have intercourse with the god Dionysos during a festival at the Boukoleion in Athens, to ensure the city's safety. It is uncertain how this was enacted. However, this was an important role for a woman who, according to Plutarch and Solon, would otherwise be confined to the house and be of little importance. During antiquity, women in Greece served as priestesses and presented oracles such as those issued at Delphi.

Ariarathes III of Cappadocia

Ariarathes III (Ancient Greek: Ἀριαράθης, Ariaráthēs; reigned 262 or 255 – 220 BC), son of Ariamnes, ruler of Cappadocia, and grandson of Ariarathes II, married Stratonice, a daughter of Antiochus II, king of Syria and wife Laodice I, and obtained a share in the government during the lifetime of his father. About 250 BC he was the first ruler of Cappadocia to proclaim himself king (basileus). It is known that he sided with Antiochus Hierax in his war against Seleucus II Callinicus. Ariarathes is also said to have expanded his kingdom adding Cataonia to his dominions. By his marriage he was the father of Ariarathes IV.


Autokratōr (Greek: αὐτοκράτωρ, autokrátor, pl. αὐτοκράτορες, autokrátores, Ancient Greek pronunciation [autokrátɔːr], Byzantine pronunciation [aftoˈkrator] lit. "self-ruler", "one who rules by himself", from αὐτός and κράτος) is a Greek epithet applied to an individual who exercises absolute power, unrestrained by superiors. In a historical context, it has been applied to military commanders-in-chief, and to Roman and Byzantine emperors as the translation of the Latin title imperator. Its connection with Byzantine-style absolutism gave rise to the modern terms autocrat and autocracy. In modern Greek, it means "emperor", and the female form of the title is autokrateira (αὐτοκράτειρα, autokráteira, "empress").

Baselios Paulose II

Catholicos Baselios Paulose II (born as Puthusseril Joseph Paulose; 12 June 1914 in Kandanad, India – 1 September 1996) was the first Catholicos of the Malankara Jacobite Syrian Orthodox Church (Syriac Orthodox Church in India).

Basil I

Basil I, called the Macedonian (Greek: Βασίλειος ὁ Μακεδών, Basíleios ō Makedṓn; 811 – August 29, 886) was a Byzantine Emperor who reigned from 867 to 886. Born a simple peasant in the theme of Macedonia, he rose in the Imperial court. He entered into the service of Theophilitzes, a relative of Emperor Michael III (r. 842–867), and was given a fortune by the wealthy Danielis. He gained the favour of Michael III, whose mistress he married on the emperor's orders, and was proclaimed co-emperor in 866. He ordered the assassination of Michael the next year. Despite his humble origins, he showed great ability in running the affairs of state. He was the founder of the Macedonian dynasty. He was succeeded upon his death by his son (perhaps actually Michael III's son) Leo VI.

Basil of Jerusalem

Basil of Jerusalem was the Patriarch of Jerusalem of the Church of Jerusalem from 821 to 842. During his episcopate, Basil actively opposed iconoclasm that was supported by the Eastern Roman emperor Theophilus.

Basileus Quartet

Basileus Quartet (Italian: Quartetto Basileus) is a 1983 Italian film. It stars actor Gabriele Ferzetti.

Bretagne-class battleship

The Bretagne-class battleships were the first "super-dreadnoughts" built for the French Navy during the First World War. The class comprised three vessels: Bretagne, the lead ship, Provence, and Lorraine. They were an improvement of the previous Courbet class, and mounted ten 340 mm (13.4 in) guns instead of twelve 305 mm (12 in) guns as on the Courbets. A fourth was ordered by the Greek Navy, though work was suspended due to the outbreak of the war. The three completed ships were named after French provinces.

The three ships saw limited service during World War I, and were primarily occupied with containing the Austro-Hungarian Navy in the Adriatic Sea. After the war, they conducted training cruises in the Mediterranean and participated in non-intervention patrols off Spain during the Spanish Civil War. After the outbreak of World War II, the ships were tasked with convoy duties and anti-commerce raider patrols until the fall of France in June 1940. Bretagne and Provence were sunk by the British Royal Navy during the Attack on Mers-el-Kébir the following month; Provence was later raised and towed to Toulon, where she was again scuttled in November 1942. Lorraine was disarmed by the British in Alexandria and recommissioned in 1942 to serve with the Free French Naval Forces. She provided gunfire support during Operation Dragoon, the invasion of southern France, and shelled German fortresses in northern France. She survived as a gunnery training ship and a floating barracks until the early 1950s, before being broken up for scrap in 1954. Bretagne and Provence were scrapped in 1952 and 1949, respectively.

Eponymous archon

In ancient Greece the chief magistrate in various Greek city states was called eponymous archon (ἐπώνυμος ἄρχων, epōnymos archōn). Archon (ἄρχων, pl. ἄρχοντες, archontes) means "ruler" or "lord", frequently used as the title of a specific public office, while "eponymous" means that he gave his name to the year in which he held office, much like the Roman dating by consular years.

In Classical Athens, a system of nine concurrent archons evolved, led by three respective remits over the civic, military, and religious affairs of the state: the three office holders were known as the eponymous archon, the polemarch (πολέμαρχος, "war ruler"), and the archon basileus (ἄρχων βασιλεύς, "king ruler"). The six others were the thesmothetai, judicial officers. Originally these offices were filled from the wealthier classes by elections every ten years. During this period the eponymous archon was the chief magistrate, the polemarch was the head of the armed forces, and the archon basileus was responsible for some civic religious arrangements, and for the supervision of some major trials in the law courts. After 683 BC the offices were held for only a single year, and the year was named after the eponymous archon.

George I of Greece

George I (Greek: Γεώργιος Α΄, Geórgios I; 24 December 1845 – 18 March 1913) was King of Greece from 1863 until his assassination in 1913.

Originally a Danish prince, George was born in Copenhagen, and seemed destined for a career in the Royal Danish Navy. He was only 17 years old when he was elected king by the Greek National Assembly, which had deposed the unpopular former king Otto. His nomination was both suggested and supported by the Great Powers: the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, the Second French Empire and the Russian Empire. He married the Russian grand duchess Olga Constantinovna of Russia, and became the first monarch of a new Greek dynasty. Two of his sisters, Alexandra and Dagmar, married into the British and Russian royal families. King Edward VII and Tsar Alexander III were his brothers-in-law and King George V and Tsar Nicholas II were his nephews.

George's reign of almost 50 years (the longest in modern Greek history) was characterized by territorial gains as Greece established its place in pre-World War I Europe. Britain ceded the Ionian Islands peacefully, while Thessaly was annexed from the Ottoman Empire after the Russo-Turkish War (1877–1878). Greece was not always successful in its territorial ambitions; it was defeated in the Greco-Turkish War (1897). During the First Balkan War, after Greek troops had captured much of Greek Macedonia, George was assassinated in Thessaloniki. Compared with his own long tenure, the reigns of his successors Constantine, Alexander, and George II proved short and insecure.

Jesus, King of the Jews

In the New Testament, Jesus is referred to as the King of the Jews {"יהושעמוס מלך היהודים "} (or of the Judeans), both at the beginning of his life and at the end. In the Koine Greek of the New Testament, e.g., in John 19:3, this is written Basileus ton Ioudaion (βασιλεὺς τῶν Ἰουδαίων).Both uses of the title lead to dramatic results in the New Testament accounts. In the account of the Nativity of Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew, the wise men (i.e., Magi) who come from the east call Jesus the "King of the Judeans", causing King Herod to order the Massacre of the Innocents. Towards the end of the accounts of all four Canonical Gospels, in the narrative of the Passion of Jesus, the title "King of the Judeans" leads to charges against Jesus that result in his crucifixion. The name Judea is a Greek and Roman adaptation of the name "Judah", which originally encompassed the territory of the Israelite tribe of that name and later of the ancient Kingdom of Judah.

The initialism INRI (Latin: Iēsus Nazarēnus, Rēx Iūdaeōrum) represents the Latin inscription (in John 19:19), which in English translates to "Jesus the Nazarene, King of the Jews", and John 19:20 states that this was written in three languages—Hebrew, Latin, and Greek—during the crucifixion of Jesus. The Greek version of the initialism reads ΙΝBΙ, representing Ἰησοῦς ὁ Ναζωραῖος ὁ Bασιλεὺς τῶν Ἰουδαίων.The title "King of the Jews" is only used in the New Testament by gentiles, namely by the Magi, Pontius Pilate, and the Roman soldiers. In contrast, the Jewish leaders use the designation "King of Israel". Although the phrase "King of the Jews" is used in most English translations, it has also been translated "King of the Judeans" (see Ioudaioi).


King, or king regnant, is the title given to a male monarch in a variety of contexts. The female equivalent is queen regnant, while the title of queen on its own usually refers to the consort of a king.

In the context of prehistory, antiquity and contemporary indigenous peoples, the title may refer to tribal kingship. Germanic kingship is cognate with Indo-European traditions of tribal rulership (c.f. Indic rājan, Gothic reiks, and Old Irish rí, etc.).

In the context of classical antiquity, king may translate in Latin as rex and in Greek as archon or basileus.

In classical European feudalism, the title of king as the ruler of a kingdom is understood to be the highest rank in the feudal order, potentially subject, at least nominally, only to an emperor (harking back to the client kings of the Roman Empire).

In a modern context, the title may refer to the ruler of one of a number of modern monarchies (either absolute or constitutional). The title of king is used alongside other titles for monarchs: in the West, prince, emperor, archduke, duke or grand duke, and in the Middle East, sultan or emir, etc.The term king may also refer to a king consort, a title that is sometimes given to the husband of a ruling queen, but the title of prince consort is sometimes granted instead. A king dowager is the male equivalent of the queen dowager. A king father is a king dowager who is also the father of the reigning sovereign.

List of tyrants of Syracuse

Syracuse (Gr. Συρακοῦσαι) was an ancient Greek city-state, located on the east coast of Sicily. The city was founded by settlers from Corinth in 734 or 733 BC, and was conquered by the Romans in 212 BC, after which it became the seat of Roman rule in Sicily. Throughout much of its history as an independent city, it was governed by a succession of tyrants, with only short periods of democracy and oligarchy. While Pindar addressed the Deinomenids as kings (basileus) in his odes, it is not clear that this (or any other title) was officially used by any of the tyrants until Agathocles adopted the title in 304.

Omega Psi Phi

Omega Psi Phi (ΩΨΦ) is an international fraternity with over 750 undergraduate and graduate chapters. The fraternity was founded on November 17, 1911 by three Howard University juniors, Edgar Amos Love, Oscar J. Cooper and Frank Coleman, and their faculty adviser, Dr. Ernest Everett Just. Omega Psi Phi is the first predominantly African-American fraternity to be founded at a historically black university.


Phyle (Greek: φυλή, romanized: phulē, "tribe, clan"; pl. phylai, φυλαί; derived from ancient Greek φύεσθαι "to descend, to originate") is an ancient Greek term for tribe or clan. Members of the same phyle were known as symphyletai (Greek: συμφυλέται), literally: fellow tribesmen. They were usually ruled by a basileus. Some of them can be classified by their geographic location: the Geleontes, the Argadeis, the Hopletes, and the Agikoreis, in Ionia ; the Hylleans, the Pamphyles, the Dymanes, in the Dorian region.


Scythosuchus is an extinct genus of rauisuchid. Remains have been found from Olenekian-age Lower Triassic beds in Russia, hence the name meaning 'Scythian crocodile'. The type and only species is S. basileus, described in 1999. Scythosuchus was between 2 and 3 metres long, and relatively heavily built. It is known from a partial skull, much of the spine, a fragment of the humerus and most of the hind leg and foot.

Tagus (title)

Tagus (Ancient Greek: τᾱγός, τάγης) was a Thessalian title for a leader or general, especially the military leader of the Thessalian League. When occasion required, a chief magistrate was elected under the name of Tagus, whose commands were obeyed by all the four districts of Thessaly (Phthiotis, Thessaliotis, Histiaeotis, Pelasgiotis). He is sometimes called king ("basileus", Herodotus, V.63), and sometimes "archon" (Dionysius. V.74). Accordingly, Pollux (I.128), in his list of military designations, classes together the Boeotarchs of the Thebans, the Kings of Sparta, the Polemarchs of the Athenians, (in reference to their original duties), and the Tagoi of the Thessalians. When Jason of Pherae was Tagus, he had an army of more than 8000 cavalry and not less than 20,000 hoplites. When Thessaly was not united under a Tagus, the subject towns possessed more independence. Philip II of Macedon and his son Alexander the Great exercised control over Thessaly as elected Tagoi. In later times some states called their ordinary magistrates "Tagoi".


Thraso (Greek: Θράσων), latinized as Thrason, was an Indo-Greek king in Central and Western Punjab, unknown until the 1982 discovery of one of his coins by R. C. Senior in the Surana hoard. The coin is in a style similar to those of Menander I, has the same type of Athena, and shares one of Menander's mint marks. On the coin, the title of Thraso is Basileus Megas ("Great King"), a title which only Eucratides the Great had dared take before him and which is seemingly misplaced on the young boy Thraso, whose single preserved coin indicates a small and insignificant reign.

Osmund Bopearachchi suggests a preliminary dating of 95–80 BC, but Senior himself concludes that Thraso was the son and heir of Menander (c. 155–130 BC), since his coin was not worn and was found in a hoard with only earlier coins.It seems as though the child was briefly raised to the throne in the turmoil following the death of Menander, by a general who thought the grandiloquent title might strengthen his case.


Tsar ( or ; Old Church Slavonic: ц︢рь [usually written thus with a title] or цар, царь), also spelled czar, or tzar, is a title used to designate East and South Slavic monarchs or supreme rulers of Eastern Europe, originally Bulgarian monarchs from 10th century onwards. As a system of government in the Tsardom of Russia and the Russian Empire, it is known as Tsarist autocracy, or Tsarism. The term is derived from the Latin word Caesar, which was intended to mean "Emperor" in the European medieval sense of the term—a ruler with the same rank as a Roman emperor, holding it by the approval of another emperor or a supreme ecclesiastical official (the Pope or the Ecumenical Patriarch)—but was usually considered by western Europeans to be equivalent to king, or to be somewhat in between a royal and imperial rank.

"Tsar" and its variants were the official titles of the following states:

First Bulgarian Empire, in 919–1018

Second Bulgarian Empire, in 1185–1396

Serbian Empire, in 1346–1371

Tsardom of Russia, in 1547–1721 (replaced in 1721 by imperator, but still remaining in use, also officially in relation to several regions until 1917)

Tsardom of Bulgaria, in 1908–1946The first ruler to adopt the title tsar was Simeon I of Bulgaria. Simeon II, the last Tsar of Bulgaria, is the last person to have borne the title Tsar.

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