One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
In the ancient Greek or Roman world: a person who presides over public games; a director or overseer of the games.
Early 17th century. From (i) classical Latin agōnotheta (in post-classical Latin also agonitheta, agonithetes) president of public games (attested in an inscription), in post-classical Latin also with reference to God (late 2nd cent. in Tertullian) and to Christ (early 3rd cent. in Tertullian), and denoting a spiritual athlete or leader of martyrs.
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