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Pentakosiarch (Greek: πεντακοσιάρχης, pentakosiarches in Modern Greek usually πεντακοσίαρχος, pentakosiarchos), meaning "commander of 500"[1], is a Greek military rank, first adopted in the infantry of the Army of Macedon (cf. Aelianus Tacticus and Plutarch, Life of Alexander, 76). The pentakosiarch commanded a pentakosiarchy (πεντακοσιαρχία, or pentakosiarchia) of 512 men, composed of two syntagmata of 256. Two pentakosiarchies in turn formed a chiliarchy and were commanded by a chiliarch.

During the time of Alexander the Great, selection of the pentakosiarch was based on merit. An account, for instance, described a contest of valor at Sittakene for hypaspists where six pentakosiarch and three chilliarch were selected.[2] The rank was revived for the irregular forces of the Greek rebels during the Greek War of Independence (1821–1829).

On 14 December 1868,[3] a Royal Decree authorized the creation of thirty independent pentakosiarchies of volunteer light infantry (αὐθύπαρκτοι πεντακοσιαρχίαι ἑλαφροῡ πεζικοῡ ἐξ ἐθελοντῶν), intended to serve as a militia. Numbering consecutively from 1 to 30, each was in turn composed of four hecatontarchies of 150 soldiers and 10 officers and NCOs each. With the pentakosiarchy commander and six other soldiers, including a flag-bearer, each pentakosiarchy numbered a total of 647 men.[4]

In the Roman army, the equivalent of pentakosiarch was the primicerius, who led 512 men.[5]


  1. ^ Heckel, Waldemar (2008-04-15). Who's Who in the Age of Alexander the Great: Prosopography of Alexander's Empire. John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 9781405154697.
  2. ^ Heckel, Waldemar (2016-08-05). Alexander's Marshals: A Study of the Makedonian Aristocracy and the Politics of Military Leadership, Second Edition. Oxon: Routledge. p. 271. ISBN 9781138934696.
  3. ^ Note: Greece officially adopted the Gregorian calendar on 16 February 1923 (which became 1 March). All dates prior to that, unless specifically denoted, are Old Style.
  4. ^ Royal Decree of 14 December 1868, published in ΦΕΚ 62/1868
  5. ^ Syvanne, Ilkka (2015). Military History of Late Rome 284-361. South Yorkshire: Pen and Sword. p. 109. ISBN 9781848848559.

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