AskDefine | Define archon

User Contributed Dictionary



Greek άρχων ‘ruler’, a noun use of the present participle of άρχειν ‘to rule’.


IPA: /'ɑ:kən/


  1. a chief magistrate of ancient Athens
    • 1980: Hated by the archons of Athens for his fearless condemnation of municipal graft, he was hypocritically arraigned on a charge of corrupting Athenian youth. (Burgess, Earthly Powers)
  2. a ruler, head of state or other leader
    • 1922: But neither the midwife’s lore nor the caudlectures saved him from the archons of Sinn Fein and their noggin of hemlock. (Joyce, Ulysses)
  3. a supernatural being subordinate to the Demiurge


Extensive Definition

Archon (Gr. άρχων, pl. άρχοντες) is a Greek word that means "ruler", frequently used as the title of a specific public office. It is the masculine present participle of the verb stem αρχ-, meaning "to rule", derived from the same root as monarch and hierarchy.

Ancient Greece

In the early literary period of ancient Greece the chief magistrates of various Greek city states were called Archon. The term was also used throughout Greek history in a more general sense, ranging from "club leader" to "master of the tables" at syssitia to "Roman governor". In Roman terms, archontes ruled by imperium, whereas Basileis ("Kings") had auctoritas.
In Athens a system of three concurrent Archons evolved, the three office holders being known as the Archon Eponymos, the Polemarch, and the Archon Basileus. Originally these offices were filled from the aristocracy by elections every ten years. During this period the Eponymos Archon was the chief magistrate, the Polemarch was the head of the armed forces, and the Archon Basileus was responsible for the civic religious arrangements. After 683 BC the offices were held for only a single year, and the year was named after the Archon Eponymos. (Many ancient calendar systems did not number their years consecutively.) After 487 BC the archonships were assigned by lot to any citizen and the Polemarch's military duties were taken over by a new class of generals known as strategoi. The Polemarch thereafter had only minor religious duties. The Archon Eponymus remained the titular head of state under democracy, though of much reduced political importance. The Archons were assisted by "junior Archons", called Thesmothetes. After 457 BC ex-archons were automatically enrolled as life members of the Areopagus, though that assembly was no longer extremely important politically at that time. (See Archons of Athens.)

Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople

From time to time, laity of the Orthodox Church in communion with the Patriarch of Constantinople have been granted the title of Archon to honor their service to Church administration. In 1963, Archons were organized into a service society dedicated to St Andrew. This Archon status is not part of the Church hierarchy and is purely honorary. See .
An Archon is an honoree by His All Holiness the Ecumenical Patriarch, for his outstanding service to the Church, and a well-known, distinguished, and well-respected leader of the Orthodox Church (at large).
It is the sworn oath of the Archon to defend and promote the Orthodox Church faith and tradition. His main concern is to protect and promote the Holy Patriarchate and its mission. He is also concerned with human rights and the well-being and general welfare of the Church.
As it is a significant religious position, the faith and dedication of a candidate for the role are extensively reviewed during consideration; the candidate should have demonstrated commitment for the betterment of the Church, Parish-Diocese, Archdiocese and the community as a whole.

Gnostic Archons

In late antiquity some variants of Gnosticism used the term Archon to refer to several servants of the Demiurge, the "creator god", that stood between the human race and a transcendent God that could only be reached through gnosis. In this context they have the role of the angels and demons of the Old Testament.
The Egyptian Gnostic Basilideans accepted the existence of an archon called Abraxas who was the prince of 365 spiritual beings (Irenaeus, Adversus Haereses, I.24). The Orphics accepted the existence of seven archons: Iadabaoth or Ialdabaoth (who created the six others), Iao, Sabaoth, Adonaios, Elaios, Astaphanos and Horaios (Origen, Contra Celsum, VI.31). The commonly-called Pistis Sophia (or The Books of the Savior) gives another set: Paraplex, Hekate, Ariouth (females), Typhon, and Iachtanabas (males).
Ialdabaoth had a head of a lion, like Mithraic Kronos (Chronos) and Vedic Narasimha, a form of Vishnu. Their wrathful nature was mistaken as evil. The snake wrapped around them is Ananta (Sesha) Naga (mythology).

Other uses

Real life

  • The term is used within the Arab-speaking Copts in church parlance as a title for a leading member of the laity.
  • Archon is the title given to presidents of student chapters of the Pi Kappa Phi Fraternity. Vice-presidents are known as Vice Archons.
  • Archon is the title given to the vice-president of student chapters of the Pi Lambda Phi Fraternity
  • Archon is the title given to presidents of student chapters of the Phi Sigma Sigma Sorority. Vice-presidents are known as Vice Archons.
  • Eminent Archon is the title given to presidents of chapters of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon Fraternity. Vice-presidents are known as Eminent Deputy Archons.
  • Archon is the designation given to individual members of the Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity. The wives of the members are termed Archousa (pl. Archousai).
  • The Archons are a Greek co-ed group at Kenyon College that focuses on social fun through service events. Their motto is "Esse Quam Videri," Latin for "To Be, Not to Seem to Be."
  • On the campus of the University of Rio Grande (Ohio) the Fraternal order of Archon exists. Their brethren are commonly called, “Archons.” The fraterinty has adapted the Greek letters AXN (alpha chi nu).


  • In the book Scar Night, Archons were a race of winged beings that were sent by Ulcis,the god of chains, out of the Abyss.
  • In the book Mind Invaders by Dave Hunt, The Archons are nine demonic beings who pretend to be highly evolved intelligent beings who have come to guide mankind to its next evolutionary step.
  • In the Greek versions of the Harry Potter books Tom Riddle is named Anton Morvol Hert, an anagram of "Archon Voldemort".
  • Jacques Derrida uses 'archon' to refer to the guardian and authoritative interpreter of an archive. For example, Derrida traces the archon to the Greek concept in Archive Fever: A Freudian Impression (1995, p.2).

Movies and television

  • In the Star Trek episode "The Return of the Archons," the space vessel Archon crashes on Beta III. The crew of the USS Enterprise are referred to as Archons, after the crew of the ill-fated ship.
  • In Stargate SG-1, Archons are similar to lawyers for the Tollans (an advance race living on a planet called Tollana). During Triad (trial), there are three archons, one for each defendant and a neutral archon, who has a casting vote.
  • In NX Files, Archons are evolved beings who guide Team Xtreme, the true purpose of which remains a mystery.
  • Some speculate that the Agents featured in The Matrix films were intended to metaphorically represent Gnostic Archons, in that they stood between humanity and their transcendence from the Matrix, into the enlightened real world. Also the robots could be seen as Archons in that they are our creations who have in a sense enslaved us in a false reality and live off our energy.

Role-playing games

  • In the World of Darkness, Archons are the chosen servants of the Justicars; both serving under, to reinforce, the Camarilla sect of Vampires.
  • In the game Kult, the ten Archons are servitors of the evil Demiurge. Their task is to keep humanity imprisoned in the Demiurge's illusion and ignorant of Reality and their true nature.

Video games

  • In the science-fiction series StarCraft, archons are powerful psionic entities, formed by two mentally disciplined Protoss merging their minds and corporeal bodies into psionic energy. In the games, they serve as heavy assault warriors. A number of variations of archons can be formed depending on the affiliation of the participants.
  • In the game Fable, archon was the title of rulers of the Old Kingdom. Ultimately, the last archon became corrupted by the Sword of Aeons that granted archons the might to rule.
  • Archon was a popular 1980s 8-bit computer game where opposing teams of good and evil characters did battle on a game board similar to a chess board.
  • In the online game Materia Magica, Archons are the highest level players, subordinate only to the Immortals (system administrators). Achievement of Archon rank requires advancement through 240 levels of play and completion of a special quest.
  • In the computer game NetHack, the Archon is the second most difficult of the randomly-generated monsters, and is regarded as the best pet.
  • Archons in RF Online are ten players with the highest Contribution Point (although Archons must be voted in to be elected), therefore considered as the leader of the race. Each race has its own Archon players.
  • In Age of Wonders 2 the Archons are a race who fight for just causes, and preach virtue and obedience to their subjects. They seldom seek to overrun any kingdom, but instead seem to appear where they might most likely be overpowered. Still, they persevere and are fearless in the face of death.



archon in Belarusian: Архонт
archon in Bosnian: Arhont
archon in Breton: Arc'honted Aten
archon in Bulgarian: Архонт
archon in Catalan: Arcont
archon in Czech: Archón
archon in German: Archon (Beamter)
archon in Estonian: Arhont
archon in Spanish: Arconte
archon in French: Archonte
archon in Italian: Arconte (storia)
archon in Hebrew: ארכון
archon in Lithuanian: Archontas
archon in Dutch: Archont (ambt)
archon in Japanese: アルコン
archon in Norwegian: Archon
archon in Polish: Archont
archon in Portuguese: Arconte
archon in Russian: Архонт
archon in Slovak: Archon
archon in Serbo-Croatian: Arhont
archon in Finnish: Arkontti
archon in Swedish: Arkont
archon in Ukrainian: Архонт
archon in Chinese: 執政官 (雅典)
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