Ephebos (Greek: ἔφηβος, pl. epheboi; Greek: ἔφηβοι), latinized as ephebus (pl. ephebi) and anglicised as ephebe (pl. ephebes), is a term for a male adolescent in Ancient Greece. The term was particularly used to denote one who was doing military training and preparing to become an adult.[1] From about 335 BC, ephebes from Athens (aged between 18–20) underwent two years of military training under supervision, during which time they were exempt from civic duties and deprived of most civic rights. During the 3rd century BC, ephebic service ceased to be compulsory and its time was reduced to one year. By the 1st century BC, the ephebia became an institution reserved for wealthy individuals and, besides military training, it also included philosophic and literary studies.[2]

The Agrigento Ephebe, a severe style Greek sculpture of the 5th century BCE in the museum of Agrigento, Sicily.

History edit

Blond Kouros's Head of the Acropolis museum in Athens.

Though the word ephebos (from epi "upon" + hebe "youth", "early manhood"[3]) can simply refer to the adolescent age of young men of training age, its main use is for the members, exclusively from that age group, of an official institution (ephebeia) that saw to building them into citizens, but especially to training them as soldiers, sometimes already sent into the field; the Greek city states (poleis) mainly depended (like the Roman Republic) on its militia of citizens for defense.

In the time of Aristotle (384–322 BC), Athens engraved the names of the enrolled ephebi on a bronze pillar (formerly on wooden tablets) in front of the council-chamber. After admission to the college, the ephebus took the oath of allegiance (as recorded in histories by Pollux and Stobaeus—but not in Aristotle) in the temple of Aglaurus and was sent to Munichia or Acte as a member of the garrison. At the end of the first year of training the ephebi were reviewed; if their performance was satisfactory, the state provided each with a spear and a shield, which, together with the chlamys (cloak) and petasos (broad-brimmed hat), made up their equipment. In their second year they were transferred to other garrisons in Attica, patrolled the frontiers, and on occasion took an active part in war. During these two years they remained free from taxation, and were generally not allowed to appear in the law courts as plaintiffs or defendants. The ephebi took part in some of the most important Athenian festivals. Thus during the Eleusinian Mysteries they were sent to fetch the sacred objects from Eleusis and to escort the image of Iacchus on the sacred way. They also performed police duty at the meetings of the ecclesia.[4]

Bronze head of an ephebe wearing a winners binding. 1st century AD Roman copy.

After the end of the 4th century BC, the institution underwent a radical change. Enrolment ceased to be obligatory, lasted only for a year, and the limit of age was dispensed with. Inscriptions attest a continually decreasing number of ephebi, and with the admission of foreigners the college lost its representative national character. This was mainly due to the weakening of the military spirit and to the progress of intellectual culture. The military element was no longer all-important, and the ephebia became a sort of university for well-to-do young men of good family, whose social position has been compared[by whom?] with that of the Athenian "knights" of earlier times. The institution lasted till the end of the 3rd century AD.[4]

In the Hellenistic and Roman periods, foreigners, including Romans, began to be admitted as ephebes. At this period the college of ephebi was a miniature city, which possessed an archon, strategos, herald and other officials, after the model of the city of Athens.[4]

Sculpture edit

In Ancient Greek sculpture, an ephebe is a sculptural type depicting a nude ephebos (Archaic examples of the type are also often known as the kouros type, or kouroi in the plural). This typological name often occurs in the form "the X Ephebe", where X is the collection to which the object belongs or belonged, or the site on which it was found (e.g. the Agrigento Ephebe).

Gallery edit

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ "Ephebe | English meaning - Cambridge Dictionary". dictionary.cambridge.org.
  2. ^ "Ephebus | Youth, Education, Training | Britannica". www.britannica.com. Retrieved 2023-12-07.
  3. ^ Harper, Douglas. "ephebic". Online Etymology Dictionary.
  4. ^ a b c   One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Ephebi". Encyclopædia Britannica. Vol. 9 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. pp. 669–670.
  • H. Jeanmaire, Couroi et Courètes: Essai sur l'éducation spartiate et sur les rites d'adolescence dans l'Antiquité hellénique, Bibliothèque universitaire, Lille, 1939
  • C. Pélékidis, Éphébie: Histoire de l'éphébie attique, des origines à 31 av. J.-C., éd. de Boccard, Paris, 1962
  • O. W. Reinmuth, The Ephebic Inscriptions of the Fourth Century B.C., Leiden Brill, Leyde, 1971
  • P. Vidal-Naquet, Le Chasseur noir et l'origine de l'éphébie athénienne, Maspéro, 1981
  • P. Vidal-Naquet, Le Chasseur noir. Formes de pensée et formes de société dans le monde grec, Maspéro, 1981
  • U. von Wilamowitz-Moellendorf, Aristoteles: Aristoteles und Athen, 2 vol., Berlin, 1916

Further reading edit

  • Budin, Stephanie Lynn (2013). Intimate Lives of the Ancient Greeks. Santa Barbara, Calif.: ABC-CLIO. ISBN 978-0-31-338572-8.
  • Dodd, David; Faraone, Christopher A., eds. (2013). Initiation in Ancient Greek Rituals and Narratives: New Critical Perspectives. London: Routledge. ISBN 978-1-13-514365-7.
  • Farenga, Vincent (2006). Citizen and Self in Ancient Greece: Individuals Performing Justice and the Law. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-1-13-945678-4.
  • Sage, Michael (2002). Warfare in Ancient Greece: A Sourcebook. London: Routledge. ISBN 978-1-13-476331-3.

External links edit

  Media related to Ephebes at Wikimedia Commons   The dictionary definition of ephebos at Wiktionary

  • Ephebarchic Law of Amphipolis