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This article is about the Greek word. For the Biblical term, see Kyrios (Biblical term). For the Cirque du Soleil show, see Kurios (Cirque du Soleil).

Kurios (κύριος) is a Greek word which is usually translated as "lord" or "master".

In the Septuagint, the word kurios was used to translate the Biblical Hebrew title Adonai. In the New Testament, it is the word used for God.

In some cases, when reading the Hebrew Bible the Jews would substitute Adonai (my Lord) for the Tetragrammaton, and they may have also substituted Kurios when reading to a Greek audience. Origen refers to both practices in his commentary on Psalms (2.2). The practice was due to the desire not to overuse the name of God. Examples of this can be seen in Philo.[1] In The Jewish War (7.10.1) Josephus remarked that Greek-speaking Jews refused to call the emperor Kurios for they reserved that word for God.[1]

In Classical Athens, the word kurios referred to the head of the household,[2] who was responsible for his wife, children, and any unmarried female relatives. It was the responsibility of the kurios to arrange the marriages of his female relatives,[3] provide their dowries, represent them in court, if necessary,[4] and deal with any economic transactions they were involved in worth more than a medimnos of barley.[5] When an Athenian woman married, her husband became her new kurios.[6]

The existence of the system of kurioi elsewhere in ancient Greece is debated, and the evidence is not clear-cut, but Cartledge has argued that in Sparta kurioi existed, though in Gortyn they do not appear to have done.[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Encountering the manuscripts: an introduction to New Testament paleography by Philip Comfort 2005 ISBN 0-8054-3145-4 page 209
  2. ^ Schaps, D.M. (1998). "What Was Free about a Free Athenian Woman?". Transactions of the American Philological Society (1974–) 128: 164. 
  3. ^ Pomeroy, Sarah B. (1994). Goddesses, whores, wives and slaves : women in classical antiquity. London: Pimlico. p. 64. ISBN 9780712660549. 
  4. ^ Goldhill, Simon. "Representing Democracy: Women at the Great Dionysia". In Osborne, Robin; Hornblower, Simon. Ritual, Finance, Politics: Athenian Democratic Accounts Presented to David Lewis. Oxford: Clarendon Press. p. 357. 
  5. ^ Foxhall, Lin (1989). "Household, Gender, and Property in Classical Athens". The Classical Quarterly 39 (1). 
  6. ^ Pomeroy, Sarah B. (1994). Goddesses, whores, wives and slaves : women in classical antiquity. London: Pimlico. p. 62. ISBN 9780712660549. 
  7. ^ Cartledge, Paul (1981). "Spartan Wives: Liberation or License?". The Classical Quarterly 31 (1): 100.