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date: 26 May 2024



  • Antony Spawforth


(γυμνασίαρχος) In Classical Athens gymnasiarchs were appointed annually from the ten tribes (*phylai) to organize torch-races; the post was an (especially burdensome) *liturgy. Likewise the gymnasiarch of the post-Classical *polis was usually a civic magistrate. He was general supervisor of the civic *gymnasium (or gymnasia), responsible (helped by a staff of assistants and specialists) for its practical administration and the moral supervision of its youthful users (see epheboi), for whom he was a fearsome authority-figure (e.g. Plut.Amat. 755a) empowered to fine and flog. The heavy costs of physical training, mainly oil (see olive) for *athletics and fuel for hot *baths, made the office a target for the *euergetism of rich citizens. The numerous inscriptions honouring generous incumbents naturally stress this aspect; the sole surviving ‘gymnasiarchic law’ (from 2nd-cent. bce Beroea in Macedonia: Austin 118) reveals burdensome responsibilities and liability to both physical assault in office and, out of it, prosecution for malfeasance. The centrality of the gymnasium to civic life ensured the gymnasiarch local prominence; in the *Acts of the Pagan Martyrs Alexandrian gymnasiarchs led anti-Roman demonstrations; the Athenian gymnasiarchy was prestigious enough for Mark Antony (see antonius (2), m.


  • Greek History and Historiography

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