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MONA´RCHIA (μοναρχία), a general name for any form of government in which the supreme functions of political administration are in the hands of a single person. The term μοναρχία is applied to such governments, whether they are hereditary or elective, legal or usurped. If all the officials and ministers of the ruler are merely his deputies, appointed and removable by him, then the term μοναρχια strictly applies. Aristotle (Aristot. Pol. 3.15, 2,= p. 1287) calls this παμβασιλέια. This form of monarchy did not belong to Greek states except as a consequence of revolution, when some citizen usurped this power for himself, and sometimes transmitted it. Monarchy of the more constitutional kind, as described in Homer, probably existed throughout Greece at the time of the Dorian conquest, and gradually disappeared, appeared, as in each state the weak or violent rule stirred up successful opposition of the people. In Argos, however, it lasted to the time of the invasion of Xerxes (Hdt. 7.149), but disappeared before the Peloponnesian War. In Sparta it remained in a peculiar form. In its commonest application, it is equivalent βυσιλεία, whether absolute or limited. But the rule of an aesymnetes or a tyrant would equally be called a μοναρχία. (Arist. Pol. 3.16, 4.8 = pp. 1286, 1294;--Plato, Polit. p. 291, C, E; p. 302, D, E.) Hence Plutarch uses it to express the Latin dictatura. Aristotle defines four sorts of βασιλεία: “firstly, the kingship of the heroic period, when the obedience was voluntary, but the power of the kings strictly defined, the king being general, judge, and supreme religious functionary; secondly, the non-Greek, which was a hereditary despotic rule of a constitutional character; thirdly, the Asymneteia, as it is called, an elective tyranny; and, fourthly, the Laconian, which may be broadly defined as a hereditary generalship for life.” (Arist. Pol. 3.14, Welldon's translation.) It is by a somewhat rhetorical use of the word that it is applied now and then to the δῆμος. (Eur. Supp. 352; Arist. Pol. 4.4.) For a more detailed examination of the subject, the reader is referred to the articles REX, ARCHON, TYRANNUS, PRYTANIS, AESYMNETES, TAGUS.

[C.P.M] [G.E.M]

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  • Cross-references from this page (3):
    • Aristotle, Politics, 3.1287a
    • Euripides, Suppliants, 352
    • Herodotus, Histories, 7.149
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