satrap (sāˈtrăp) [key], governor of a province (satrapy) of the ancient Persian Empire. He was nominated by the king and given extensive powers. Darius I reorganized the privileges and duties of his satraps in the 6th cent. B.C.; the number of satraps varied from 20 to 28 during his reign. To prevent the concentration of power in one man's hands, certain officials, responsible only to the king, checked up on the satrap. The king also regulated the taxes and imposed a fixed sum upon each satrap. Alexander the Great revised the system, replacing Persians with Macedonians and reducing their powers. The command of the troops was taken from the satraps, who lost the right to engage mercenaries and to issue coinage.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.