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TETRARCH (Greek, τετράρχης):

A governor of a quarter of a province; the title of several feudal lords of Palestine and neighboring countries who were subject to Roman suzerainty. This title, which evidently implies a rank somewhat lower than that of Ethnarch, was held by the following Jewish princes: Herod the Great before he became king, and his brother Phasael, both of whom received the office from Antony (Josephus, "Ant." xiv. 13, § 1; idem, "B. J." i. 12, § 5); Pheroras, whom Augustus, at the request of Herod, appointed tetrarch of Perea (20 B.C.), a post which yielded him an income of 100 talents ("Ant." xv. 10, § 3; "B. J." i. 24, § 5); Herod Antipas, who was tetrarch of Galilee (Luke iii. 1); Philip, who governed Iturea and Trachonitis (ib.); and Lysanias, who ruled Abilene (ib.).

The district governed by a tetrarch was called a. tetrarchy ("Ant." xx. 7, § 1); and this term was first used by Euripides, who applied it to Thessaly, attributing to it its original connotation of a quarter province, since Thessaly was divided into four districts. "Tetrarch" was employed in a similar sense with reference to Galatia; but in other countries, as well as among the Jews, it lost its primary meaning, and came to imply a ruler whose power was less than that of a king. Such tetrarchs were especially numerous in Syria (Pliny, "Historia Naturalis," v. 74), and one Sohemus of Lebanon is mentioned by Josephus ("Vita," § 11). Kings and tetrarchs furnished auxiliary troops to the army of Varus ("Ant." xvii. 10, § 9). The Herodian tetrarchs, either from error or from mere flattery, were addressed also as kings (comp. Matt. ii. 22, xiv. 9); and it was with but little justification that Agrippa, II. styled himself "king," since, as a matter of fact, he was but a tetrarch.

  • Winer, B. R. 3d ed., s.v.;
  • Schürer, Gesch. 3d ed., i. 423.
E. C. S. Kr.
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