Episkopos: Guardian, One who Watches Over, Overseer: PGM IV

This turn of phrase was given to Hector, and to many
different Gods. They are guardians over oaths and compacts, over the mind.
Tutors can be episkopos as well. In Athens, there was an official called
episkopos, which was responsible for surveying the vassal states in the League.

The term can also imply success, reaching, and touching.

Athena Episkopos watched over Athens, as Solon (and only
Solon) tells us. And yet, he also tells us that Athena did not guard the
particulars, and did not stop the breakdown between those who were not
fulfilling their obligations.

Plutarch called Pheidias, the man attributed for the
construction of the Parthenon, the Overseer of Everything (episkopos panton).
He also tells us that Pheidias was the close friend to Perikles and that he was
the episkopos over all the social projects that Perikles enacted.

In the Eumenides, we see the Gods discussing the power
structure of the household, and Athena declares that the man of the house is
the episkopos. Clearly guardianship carries responsibilities.

Hekate Episkopos is found exclusively, so far as we know, in
the Greek Magical Papyri. We’ve come to PGM IV 2708-2784 often over the course
of these articles. The invocation of the Goddess is chock full of epithets and
descriptions, and the power of it washes through the reader. It is little
wonder that we find Hekate as Overseer and Guardian here. This particular
epithet echoes others that have an earlier provenance. Hekate is not only Episkopos,
but she is also Empylios (At the Gate),
Epipurgidia (on the Tower), Limenitikos (Of the Harbor), Medousa (Protector),
Prodomos (of the Vestibule), and Propylaia (One before the Gate). Each of these
titles suggest that Hekate is watching over, guarding the domain in question.

With the arrival of Christianity, episkopos became the title
for the bishops in Greek, and the epithet gives its name to the Episcopal


Leonardo. “PGM 2708-2784: Invocation of
, on Voces-Magicae.com: http://voces-magicae.com/2015/08/05/pgm-iv-2708-2784-invocation-of-hekate/

Shakespeare, Brent. “Pastor = Bishop = Elder (Part I),” on ADVindicate: http://advindicate.com/articles/1695

Anhalt, Emily Katz. Solon
the Singer: Politics and Poetics
, Rowman & Littlefield, 1993.
Crotty, Kevin. Law’s Interior: Legal and
Literary Constructions of the Self
, Cornell, 2001.
Farenga, Vincent. Citizen and Self in
Ancient Greece: Individuals Performing Justice and the Law
, Cambridge,
Lewis, John David. Solon the Thinker:
Political Thought in Archaic Athens
, A&C, 2013.
Neils, Jenifer. The Parthenon: From
Antiquity to the Present
, Cambridge, 2005.


Unknown and Josias Belle. “Athena wearing the aegis,”
Sardonyx cameo (late 1st c. BC) mounted in gold by Josias Belle in
the 17th c. from the Cabinet des Medailles. Via wikicommons: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Cameo_Athena_CdM_Babelon17.jpg

“The Triple-Body Goddess Hekate,” at Mezeul National Brukenthal, photo by
ChristianChirita, via wikicommons: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Hekate_IMG_6523demetra1.