Aesymnetes

Aesymnetes (Gr. polytonic|αισυμνήτης, from polytonic|αισα, a "just portion", hence "a person who gives every­one his just portion") was the name of an ancient Greek elected office similar to, and sometimes indistinguishable from, tyrant. [Citation
last = Smith
first = William
author-link = William Smith (lexicographer)
contribution = Aesymnetes
editor-last = Smith
editor-first = William
title = Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities
volume = 1
pages = 27
publisher =
place =
year = 1870
contribution-url = http://www.ancientlibrary.com/smith-dgra/0034.html
] The plural is "aesymnetai".

The title originally signified merely a judge in the heroic games, but afterwards indicated an individual who was occasionally invested volun­tarily by his fellow citizens with essentially unlimited power in a Greek state. Aristotle called the office an "elective tyranny", and said that the power of the "aesymnetai" partook in some degree of the nature "both of kingly and tyrannical authority; since he was appointed legally and ruled over willing subjects, but at the same time was not bound by any laws in his pub­lic administration." [Aristotle, "Politics iii. 9. § 5, iv. 8. § 2] [Hesych. "s. v."]

Hence Theophrastus calls the office polytonic|τυραννίς αιρετή, and Dionysius compares it with the dictatorship at Rome.Dionysius of Halicarnassus, v. 73] It was not hereditary; but it was sometimes held for life, and at other times only until some object was accomplished, such as the reconciling of the various factions in the state. We have only one express instance in which a person received the title of "Aesymnetes", namely, that of Pittacus, in Mytilene, [cite book
last = Ehrenberg
first =Victor
authorlink =
coauthors =
title = From Solon to Socrates: Greek History and Civilization During the Sixth and Fifth Centuries B.C.
publisher =Routledge
date =1973
location =
pages =24–25
url = http://books.google.com/books?id=pkdpLMjg3lwC&pg=PA24&dq=Aesymnetes&sig=sD6Kp3I7G4YBzG25fR44V4tDnmU
doi =
id =
isbn = 0-415-04024-8
] who was appointed to this dignity because the state had been long torn asunder by the various factions, and who succeeded in restoring peace and order by his wise regulations and laws. [Strabo, xiii. p. 617] [Plutarch, "Solon" 4] [Diogenes Laërtius, i. 75] [Plehn, "Lesbiaca", pp. 4 6,48]

There were, however, no doubt many other persons who ruled under this title for a while in the various states of Greece, and those law-givers bore a strong resemblance to the "aesymnetai", whom their fellow citizens appointed with supreme power to enact laws, as Dracon, Solon, Zaleucus and Charondas. In some states, such as Cyme and Chalcedon, it was the title borne by the regular magistrates.

Eventually, largely owing to the risk of those who would not willingly relinquish the office, it fell into disuse, and the Greek States allowed it to disappear altogether. [Aristotle, "Politics" 1285a, 31] [cite book
last =Aristotle
first =
authorlink =
coauthors =W.L. Newman
title =Politics
publisher =Harvard University Press
date =1902
location =
pages =268–269
url =http://books.google.com/books?id=P9YCAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA268&dq=Aesymnetes
doi =
id =
isbn =
]

References


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