Archon, a high magistrate in ancient Athens. After the hereditary monarchy went into decline in the city-state, the king was forced, probably in the eighth century B.C., to share power with two officials chosen for life by the aristocrats; the king and these two officials were called archons. Eventually, the number of archons was increased to nine, chosen annually for a single term by general elections. On leaving office, the archons became members of the Areopagus, a high court. By the early fifth century B.C., the archons had lost their importance.