In the Archaic Period, a courtesy title which might be used in addressing any moderately eminent man. Some men are explicitly granted the epithet ‘aretos’ by monarchs and cities in recognition of great deeds and outstanding services, especially on the battlefield.

In the Classical Period, a dignity analogous to a later-day knighthood, awarded by the Boulē, and not hereditary. Aretoi are supposedly made in recognition of great deeds and outstanding services to the state, but unworthy people with enough friends in high places are sometimes able to get the title, and the younger sons of nobles are often made aretoi on the strength of their family alone.

Aretoi are entitled to the political privileges of the hundred-amphora men, regardless of wealth, and to be tried by a jury of their peers (hundred-amphora men and fellow aretoi). Socially, they are considered to be at the very lowest edge of the nobility, between the eupatridai and the dynastai. The badge of an aretos is a cloth-of-gold diadem.

In the Decadent Period, much as in the Classical Period, except that service to local government (i.e. an episkopos) no longer brings kudos in the eyes of the national government (i.e. the Polemarkh), so there are fewer aretoi among the country squires. The agema of the episkopoi, who might perform many conspicuous services to their lords, do not expect gratitude from the Polemarkh, and only very rarely are made aretoi.

Copyright © 1991 by Brett Evill. All rights reserved.