, from ἁρμόζω
, to fit or join together) is best known as
the name of the governors whom the Lacedaemonians, after the Peloponnesian
war, sent into their subject or conquered towns, partly to keep them in
submission, and partly to abolish the democratical form of government, and
establish in its stead one similar to their own (Diod.
; Xen. Hell. 4.2.5
§ 117; Suidas, Hesych. s. v.;
s. v. Ἐπίσταθμοι
Although in many cases they were ostensibly sent for the purpose of
abolishing the tyrannical government of a town, and to restore the people to
freedom, yet they themselves acted like kings or tyrants, whence Dionysius
5.74) thinks that harmosts were merely
another name for kings. How little sincere the Lacedaemonians were in their
professions to restore their subject towns to freedom was manifest after the
peace of Antalcidas; for although they had pledged themselves to reestablish
free governments in the various towns, yet they left them in the hands of
the harmosts (Plb. 4.27
). The character of their
rule is sufficiently described by the word κατέχειν,
which Isocrates (l.c.
Demosthenes (de Cor.
p. 258.96) use in speaking
of the harmosts. (Compare Demosth. c. Timocrat.
Plut. Narrat. Amat.
100.3.) Even Xenophon
14.2) could not help censuring the
Lacedaemonians for the manner in which they allowed their harmosts to
It is not stated how long the office of a harmost lasted; but considering
that a governor of the same kind, who was appointed by the Lacedaemonians in
Cythera, with the title of Cytherodices, held his office only for one year
), it is tolerably certain that
the office of harmost was of the same duration (Gilbert,
These harmosts appear first in the closing years of the Peloponnesian war;
the earliest writer who mentions them is Thucydides, and he once only in his
last book (8.5). There is reason to think, however, that the name and office
were not new, but that ἁρμοσταὶ
previously existed as Spartan magistrates, twenty in number, charged with
keeping order among the Perioeci. The only evidence for this is the
Scholiast on Pindar (ἦσαν δὲ ἁρμοσταὶ
6.154); but it is accepted by Schömann, who
thinks the Perioeci were divided into twenty districts, each presided over
by a harmost (Antiq.
1.205, E. T.), and Gilbert