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From Ancient Greek ἔφορος (éphoros, overseer), from Homeric ἐπίουρος (epíouros), from ἐπί (epí, over) + ὁράω (horáō, look).



ephor (plural ephors)

  1. (historical) One of the five annually-elected senior magistrates in various Dorian states, especially in ancient Sparta, where they oversaw the actions of Spartan kings.
    • 1603, Michel de Montaigne, chapter 32, in John Florio, transl., The Essayes [], book II, London: [] Val[entine] Simmes for Edward Blount [], →OCLC:
      Agesilaus was fined by the Ephories, because he had drawne the hearts and good wills of al his fellow-citizens unto himselfe alone.
    • 1942, “Erato”, in George Rawlinson, transl., The Persian Wars[1], translation of original by Herodotus:
      Then one of his servants came and told him the news, as he sat in council with the Ephors; whereat, remembering when it was that the woman became his wife, he counted the months upon his fingers, and having so done, cried out with an oath, "The boy cannot be mine." This was said in the hearing of the Ephors; but they made no account of it at the time.
    • 1982, N. G. L. Hammond, “42: The Peloponnese”, in John Boardman, N. G. L. Hammond, editors, The Cambridge Ancient History, page 330:
      Originally associated with the social system, the agoge (see CAH III.I2, 742), the ephors rose to some constitutional importance when the senior ephor became the eponymous official of the year in 754, perhaps in connexion with the oaths made at the beginning of the year and renewed each month between the kings and the ephors: [].
    • 2009, Stephanie Lynn Budin, The Ancient Greeks: An Introduction[2], page 197:
      For basic duties, the ephors convened both the Spartan boulê of kings and elders and the assemblies. In times of war, the ephors were responsible for mustering troops, determining what age groups of soldiers would be sent out to battle, and determining how many would be sent.
    • 2011, Alfred S. Bradford, Leonidas and the Kings of Sparta[3], page 199:
      Moreover, as he[Cleomenes] was laying his plans, he was given a sign that he had divine sanction—an ephor told him that he had had a dream in which the ephors’ chairs had been removed and a divine voice told him that this was best for Sparta.
  2. (in modern Greece) A superintendent or curator.

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