"Retinue", "retainers", "household troops". Singular: agemē.

Archaic Period

Many monarchs and (in some oligarchies) other lords maintain a band of household troops, termed an agema. These personal retainers serve as household guards, battlefield bodyguards, aides-de-camp, and political 'muscle', and sometimes enforce their employer's executive and judicial authority. Like household knights in Europe or samurai in Japan, agema are expensively armed and equipped, and often well-born. Most agema are sons of the eupatridai, serving political allies in the expectation of future patronage.

Agema are makhētēs: equipped and trained to fight in a mêlée rather than in the neat formations of the battlefield. This, their privileged social background, and the personal character of their service distinguish an agema from an aotos.

Decadent Period

Most kritēs and nearly all episkopos find that they need armed retainers as bodyguards, political muscle, as aides-de-camp, and to give their government a little military authority independent of the Imperial Army and the militia, neither of which is reliably obedient to the political will. Besides, the attendance of a numerous and preferrably glorious retinue is a socially indispensable source and demonstration of prestige. Even some hypokritēs and mayors keep a retinue of a sort. These agema can be very numerous: a kritēs usually has ten or twenty retainers, and sometimes more; an episkopos usually has hundreds.

As in the Archaic Period, the bulk of the agema are warriors of eupatrid family, expensively armed, serving as bodyguards, aides, bailiffs, and personal troops in the expectation of future preferment and patronage for their families. Besides these there is often a smaller number chosen not for martial prowess and political connections, but because they reflect glory on their employer in other ways, or have other skills that may prove politically useful. Patrons have recruited athletics champions, poets, troubadours, artists, Go champions, noted avatars and demigods, dancers, and (more pragmatically) engineers, tacticians, proponents of the mystic disciplines, and magicians to their agemas. This practice is most common amongst episkopoi who are either militarily secure, prone to ostentation, or more inclined to finesse than force.

In the Decadent Period it is by the favour of the episkopos and his courtiers that the eupatridai are able to secure appointments as hypokritēs and leases on imperial estates. It is therefore in at the court of the local episkopos that young eupatridai seek to win favour, and service in the agema of the episkopos is the most highly sought-after of mililtary careers. The exchange of favours between episkopos and agema is the foundation of the power of the episkopos and of the wealth of the eupatridai.

Copyright © 1991 by Brett Evill. All rights reserved.