The Polemarch lives in the Epilyceum

The Polemarch was one of three senior archons who ran classical Athens.  The job title means war leader, but by the time of my stories his job had changed to being mayor of all the resident aliens in the city, of which there were many.  The resident aliens were a big part of the economy.

Like all archon jobs, people got elected Polemarch for a year, and having done the job once you could never be elected to it again.  Also, if you won the election, you moved home.

The Polemarch had an official residence, called the Epilyceum.  (I'm using the latin form of the name here.  The exact transliteration is Epilykaion.)

Aristotle says that the Polemarch's official residence used to be called the Polemarcheum, but the name changed after one man who held the job, a fellow named Epilycos, totally renovated the place out of his own pocket.  Which was rather clever of him because now he'll be remembered forever.  Though I imagine his real motive was along the lines of his wife saying, "I'm not living in that horrible, drafty, run-down place until you fix it up!"

Some modern historians reject Aristotle on the grounds that epilyceum in Greek means "outside the Lyceum".  Since there happened to be a place called the Lyceum, they take it to mean the Polemarch's residence was next door.

It sounds reasonable, but the problem is they're guessing from a distance of 2,600 years, while Aristotle was passing on what was probably common belief a hundred or so years after the fact.  They can't argue that the name is odd.  There was a comedian called Epilycos, so an archon by that name is perfectly possible.

So now you can say to people at parties that the Polemarch lived in the Epilyceum.


Ruth Muir said...

I really enjoy your books. They really help my trivia games!

Ruth Muir said...

I really love your books. They help me with my trivia games!

Gary Corby said...

Thank you Ruth, that's kind of you to say.

If there's ever a TV quiz show where contestants answer questions about ancient Greek history then we'll both be winners.

(Sorry the blog has moderation on, by the way. Unfortunately I get a lot of spammers.)