What Were Rulers Called in Ancient Greece?

Ancient Greece was a civilization that flourished from the 8th to the 4th century BCE. It is known for its significant contributions to various fields such as philosophy, art, literature, and politics. One of the most important aspects of ancient Greek society was its political structure, which was led by powerful individuals known as rulers.

In ancient Greece, rulers were known by different names depending on their region and the time period. Here are some of the most common titles used for rulers in ancient Greece:


Tyrants were leaders who seized power through force and ruled with absolute authority. They were not bound by any laws or traditions and had complete control over their subjects. While the term “tyrant” has a negative connotation today, in ancient Greece some tyrants were seen as benevolent leaders who brought stability to their cities.


Basileus was a title used in Mycenaean Greece to refer to a king or chief. The term eventually became synonymous with monarchs in other parts of ancient Greece as well. Basileus had significant religious duties and was considered a representative of the gods on earth.


Archons were officials appointed to serve as magistrates in Athens. They held various positions such as chief magistrate, treasurer, and military commander. Archons were chosen through an electoral process and served one-year terms.


Strategos was a title given to military commanders who led armies into battle. They were responsible for planning military campaigns and ensuring victory against enemy forces. Strategoi played an important role in shaping the political landscape of ancient Greece.

Polis Leaders

Polis leaders were elected officials who governed city-states (polis) in ancient Greece. They held various titles such as strategos, archon, and bouleutes (members of the council). Polis leaders were responsible for making laws, enforcing them, and representing their city-state in diplomatic affairs.


Basilissa was a title used to refer to a queen or female ruler in ancient Greece. The term was used primarily in the Hellenistic period (323-31 BCE) when women had more opportunities to participate in politics.

In conclusion, rulers in ancient Greece held various titles depending on their region and the time period. Some notable titles include tyrants, basileus, archons, strategoi, polis leaders, and basilissa. Each title had specific duties and responsibilities that contributed to the political structure of ancient Greece.