Gerousia

The Gerousia (γερουσία) was the Spartan council of elders, which was made up of men over the age of sixty. It was created by the Spartan lawgiver Lycurgus in the seventh century BC, in his Great Rhetra ("Great Pronouncement"). According to Lycurgus' biographer Plutarch, the creation of the Gerousia was the first significant constitutional innovation instituted by Lycurgus.[1]

Sparta
Zeus Naucratis Painter Louvre E668

Zeus on his throne with his eagle

This article is part of the series:
Spartan Constitution


Great Rhetra
Laws of Lycurgus
Politeia
List of Kings of Sparta
Gerousia
Ephorate
Apella
Spartiates
Perioeci
Helots
Agoge
Syssitia

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The Spartan Constitution

Membership

The Gerousia consisted of 30 members in total, of whom twenty-eight had to be over the age of sixty, and the remaining two members were the two Spartan kings, regardless of their age. Other than the kings, the members of the Gerousia (known as gerontes) and served for life. Gerontes were elected by voice vote of the people, with the winner determined by a group of men in a separate building who would judge which shouts had been the loudest without knowing which candidate received that shout.[2] These elected members included a number of members of the two Spartan royal houses, and membership was probably restricted to aristocrats.[3]

Function

The Gerousia had two major roles. It debated motions which were to be put before the citizen assembly, with the power to prevent any motion from being passed on,[4] and functioned as a Supreme Court, with the right to try any Spartan, up to and including the kings.[3] The Great Rhetra suggests that it had the power to overturn decisions made by the Spartan assembly.[5]

See also

Notes

  1. ^ Cartledge 2003, p. 60
  2. ^ Plutarch
  3. ^ a b Cartledge 2003, p. 61
  4. ^ Holland 2009, p. 81
  5. ^ Cartledge 2003, p. 62

References

  • Cartledge, Paul (2003), The Spartans: An Epic History, London: Pan Books, ISBN 978-1-4472-3720-4
  • Holland, Tom (2009), Persian Fire, London: Abacus, ISBN 978-0-349-11717-1
  • Plutarch, Lucius Mestrius (75), Lycurgus
  • Schulz, Fabian (2011), Die homerischen Räte und die spartanische Gerusie, Düsseldorf: Wellem Verlag
Apella

The Apella (Greek: Ἀπέλλα) was the popular deliberative assembly in the Ancient Greek city-state of Sparta, corresponding to the ecclesia in most other Greek states. Every Spartan male full citizen who had completed his thirtieth year was entitled to attend the meetings, which, according to Lycurgus' ordinance, must be held at the time of each full moon within the boundaries of Sparta.

Archidamia

Archidamia (Greek: Ἀρχιδαμία) (c. 340-241 BC) was a wealthy Spartan queen, wife of Eudamidas I, mother of Archidamus IV and Agesistrata, grandmother of Eudamidas II, great-grandmother and grandmother of Agis IV.

The earliest accounts of her depict her leading Spartan women against Pyrrhus during his siege of Lacedaemon in the 3rd century BC. In the face of Pyrrhus's invasion, the Spartan Gerousia considered sending the Spartan women to Crete for their safety. Archidamia, speaking on behalf of the Spartan women, entered the Gerousia, "with sword in hand," and contested this proposal, questioning whether the Spartan women were expected to survive the ruin of their own city.With the matter settled, the Spartans initiated the construction of a defensive trench running parallel to Pyrrhus's camp. It is likely that Archidamia helped direct the Spartan women in this respect, since it is reported that the Spartan women impressively "completed with their own hands a third of the trench." Consequently, it is likely that Archidamia led the efforts of Spartan women during the subsequent battle against Pyrrhus, as they are noted for supplying the defenders with weapons and refreshment during combat, and extracting wounded from the battlefield.Later records of Archidamia date three decades later, with her assisting in the revolutionary designs of her grandson Agis IV, as he attempted to restore Lycurgan institutions to a Sparta then thoroughly corrupted by wealth and greed. Because Archidamia and Agesistrata were the wealthiest two people in all of Lacedaemon, Archidamia's support of Agis was instrumental in gaining support for the cause. She was among those who first pledged to contribute their wealth to a common pool, which was then to be distributed equally amongst both old and new Spartan citizens.However, these revolutionary designs were foiled by the corruption of Agis's uncle and erstwhile supporter, Agesilaus, and the machinations of a rival party, led by the Agiad King, Leonidas II. Leonidas and the Ephors had Agis illegally imprisoned and executed, unbeknownst to a mob that had gathered out of concern and a possible desire to see him freed. Archidamia and Agesistrata were subsequently lured into the prison on the premise that they were to see Agis; and there they too both met their ends at the hands of their political rivals. Considering that she must have born her son Archidamus IV before 320 BC, at the time of her execution in 241 BC she was probably far in her nineties.

Byzantine Senate

The Byzantine Senate or Eastern Roman Senate (Greek: Σύγκλητος, Synklētos, or Γερουσία, Gerousia) was the continuation of the Roman Senate, established in the 4th century by Constantine I. It survived for centuries, but even with its already limited power that it theoretically possessed, the Senate became increasingly irrelevant until its eventual disappearance circa 14th century.

The Senate of the Eastern Roman Empire originally consisted of Roman senators who happened to live in the East, or those who wanted to move to Constantinople, and a few other bureaucrats who were appointed to the Senate. Constantine offered free land and grain to any Roman Senators who were willing to move to the East. When Constantine founded the Eastern Senate in Byzantium, it initially resembled the councils of important cities like Antioch rather than the Roman Senate. His son Constantius II raised it from the position of a municipal to that of an Imperial body but the Senate in Constantinople had essentially the same limited powers as the Senate in Rome. Constantius II increased the number of Senators to 2,000 by including his friends, courtiers, and various provincial officials.

Cycladic culture

Cycladic culture (also known as Cycladic civilisation or, chronologically, as Cycladic chronology) was a Bronze Age culture (c. 3200–c. 1050 BC) found throughout the islands of the Cyclades in the Aegean Sea. In chronological terms, it is a relative dating system for artefacts which broadly complements Helladic chronology (mainland Greece) and Minoan chronology (Crete) during the same period of time.

Elder (administrative title)

The term Elder, or its equivalent in another language, is used in several different countries and organizations to indicate a position of authority. This usage is usually derived from the notion that the oldest members of any given group are the wisest, and are thus the most qualified to rule, provide counsel or serve the said group in some other capacity.

Ephor

The ephors were leaders of ancient Sparta and shared power with the two Spartan kings. The ephors were a council of five elected annually who swore "on behalf of the city", while the kings swore for themselves.Herodotus claimed that the institution was created by Lycurgus, while Plutarch considers it a later institution. It may have arisen from the need for governors while the kings were leading armies in battle. The ephors were elected by the popular assembly, and all citizens were eligible for election. They were forbidden to be reelected. They provided a balance for the two kings, who rarely cooperated with each other. Plato called the ephors tyrants who ran Sparta as despots, while the kings were little more than generals. Up to two ephors would accompany a king on extended military campaigns as a sign of control, and they held the authority to declare war during some periods in Spartan history. There were a total of 7 Ephors, consisting of the two kings and the 5 who were elected.

According to Plutarch, every autumn, at the crypteia, the ephors would pro forma declare war on the helot population so that any Spartan citizen could kill a helot without fear of blood guilt. This was done to keep the large helot population in check.

The ephors did not have to kneel down before the Kings of Sparta and were held in high esteem by the citizens, because of the importance of their powers and because of the holy role they earned throughout their functions. Since decisions were made by majority vote, this could mean that Sparta's policy could change quickly, when the vote of one ephor changed. (E.g. in 403 BC when Pausanias convinced three of the ephors to send an army to Attica; this was a complete turn around to the politics of Lysander.)

Cleomenes III abolished the ephors in 227 BC, but they were restored by the Macedonian king Antigonus III Doson after the Battle of Sellasia in 222 BC. Although Sparta fell under Roman rule in 146 BC, the position existed into the 2nd century AD, when it was probably abolished by the Roman emperor Hadrian and superseded by Imperial governance as part of the province of Achaea.

Gerontocracy

A gerontocracy is a form of oligarchical rule in which an entity is ruled by leaders who are significantly older than most of the adult population. The ancient Greeks were among the first to believe in this idea of gerontocracies; as famously stated by Plato, "it is for the elder man to rule and for the younger to submit". However, these beliefs are not unique to ancient Greece, as many cultures still subscribe to this way of thinking. Often these political structures are such that political power within the ruling class accumulates with age, making the oldest the holders of the most power. Those holding the most power may not be in formal leadership positions, but often dominate those who are. In a simplified definition, a gerontocracy is a society where leadership is reserved for elders. The best example of this can be seen in the ancient Greek city state of Sparta, which was ruled by a Gerousia. A Gerousia was a council made up of members who were at least 60 years old and served for life.

Greek Senate

The Greek Senate (Greek: Γερουσία, Gerousia) was the upper chamber of the parliament in Greece, extant several times in the country's history.

History of democracy

A democracy is a political system, or a system of decision-making within an institution or organization or a country, in which all members have an equal share of power. Modern democracies are characterized by two capabilities that differentiate them fundamentally from earlier forms of government: the capacity to intervene in their own societies and the recognition of their sovereignty by an international legalistic framework of similarly sovereign states. Democratic government is commonly juxtaposed with oligarchic and monarchic systems, which are ruled by a minority and a sole monarch respectively.

Democracy is generally associated with the efforts of the ancient Greeks and Romans, who were themselves considered the founders of Western civilization by the 18th century intellectuals who attempted to leverage these early democratic experiments into a new template for post-monarchical political organization. The extent to which these 18th century democratic revivalists succeeded in turning the democratic ideals of the ancient Greeks and Romans into the dominant political institution of the next 300 years is hardly debatable, even if the moral justifications they often employed might be. Nevertheless, the critical historical juncture catalyzed by the resurrection of democratic ideals and institutions fundamentally transformed the ensuing centuries and has dominated the international landscape since the dismantling of the final vestige of empire following the end of the Second World War.

Modern representative democracies attempt to bridge the gulf between the Hobbesian 'state of nature' and the grip of authoritarianism through 'social contracts' that enshrine the rights of the citizens, curtail the power of the state, and grant agency through the right to vote.

While they engage populations with some level of decision-making, they are defined by the premise of distrust in the ability of human populations to make a direct judgement about candidates or decisions on issues.

Lycurgus of Sparta

Lycurgus (; Greek: Λυκοῦργος, Lykoûrgos, Ancient Greek: [lykôrɡos]; fl. c. 820 BC) was the quasi-legendary lawgiver of Sparta who established the military-oriented reformation of Spartan society in accordance with the Oracle of Apollo at Delphi. All his reforms promoted the three Spartan virtues: equality (among citizens), military fitness, and austerity.He is referred to by ancient historians and philosophers Herodotus, Xenophon, Plato, Polybius, Plutarch, and Epictetus. It is not clear if Lycurgus was an actual historical figure; however, many ancient historians believed that he instituted the communalistic and militaristic reforms – most notably the Great Rhetra – which transformed Spartan society.

Paideia

In the culture of ancient Greece, the term paideia (also spelled paedeia) (; Greek: παιδεία, paideía) referred to the rearing and education of the ideal member of the polis. It incorporated both practical, subject-based schooling and a focus upon the socialization of individuals within the aristocratic order of the polis. The practical aspects of this education included subjects subsumed under the modern designation of the liberal arts (rhetoric, grammar, and philosophy are examples), as well as scientific disciplines like arithmetic and medicine. An ideal and successful member of the polis would possess intellectual, moral and physical refinement, so training in gymnastics and wrestling was valued for its effect on the body alongside the moral education which the Greeks believed was imparted by the study of music, poetry, and philosophy. This approach to the rearing of a well-rounded Greek male was common to the Greek-speaking world, with the exception of Sparta where a rigid and militaristic form of education known as the agoge was practiced.

Phyle Campaign

The Phyle Campaign was the civil war that resulted from the Spartan imposition of a narrow oligarchy on Athens (see Thirty Tyrants) and resulted in the restoration of Athenian democracy.

Polydorus of Sparta

Polydorus (Polydoros) (Greek: Πολύδωρος; reigned from c. 700 to c. 665 BC) was the 10th Agiad dynasty king of Sparta. He was succeeded by king Eurycrates.

Polydorus is known for supposedly supplementing the 'Great Rhetra' of Sparta. According to the Greek biographer Plutarch (writing roughly 700 years after the Spartan king), Polydorus and his co-king Theopompus changed the constitution of Sparta so that the Kings and the Gerousia (28 chosen men above the age of 60) could veto decisions made by the Spartan Apella (the male citizen body).Pausanias, another Greek writing under Roman rule, gave a detailed account of the First Messenian War, a conflict between Sparta and their neighbors who would soon become their slaves. He tells us that Polydorus was in charge of the left side of the Spartan forces at Ampheia, and that his co-king Theopompus was in command of the right flank (more influential for Spartan offensive tactics).

Seniority

Seniority is the concept of a person or group of people taking precedence over another person or group because the former is either older than the latter or has occupied a particular position longer than the latter. Seniority is present between parents and children and may be present in other common relationships, such as among siblings of different ages or between workers and their managers.

Under a seniority system, control is often granted to senior persons due to length of service in a given position. When persons of senior rank have less length of service than their subordinates, "seniority" may apply to either concept.

Sparta

Sparta (Doric Greek: Σπάρτα, Spártā; Attic Greek: Σπάρτη, Spártē) was a prominent city-state in ancient Greece. In antiquity the city-state was known as Lacedaemon (Λακεδαίμων, Lakedaímōn), while the name Sparta referred to its main settlement on the banks of the Eurotas River in Laconia, in south-eastern Peloponnese. Around 650 BC, it rose to become the dominant military land-power in ancient Greece.

Given its military pre-eminence, Sparta was recognized as the leading force of the unified Greek military during the Greco-Persian Wars. Between 431 and 404 BC, Sparta was the principal enemy of Athens during the Peloponnesian War, from which it emerged victorious, though at a great cost of lives lost. Sparta's defeat by Thebes in the Battle of Leuctra in 371 BC ended Sparta's prominent role in Greece. However, it maintained its political independence until the Roman conquest of Greece in 146 BC. It then underwent a long period of decline, especially in the Middle Ages, when many Spartans moved to live in Mystras. Modern Sparta is the capital of the Greek regional unit of Laconia and a center for the processing of goods such as citrus and olives.

Sparta was unique in ancient Greece for its social system and constitution, which configured their entire society to maximize military proficiency at all costs, and completely focused on military training and excellence. Its inhabitants were classified as Spartiates (Spartan citizens, who enjoyed full rights), mothakes (non-Spartan free men raised as Spartans), perioikoi (free residents, literally "dwellers around"), and helots (state-owned serfs, enslaved non-Spartan local population). Spartiates underwent the rigorous agoge training and education regimen, and Spartan phalanges were widely considered to be among the best in battle. Spartan women enjoyed considerably more rights and equality to men than elsewhere in the classical antiquity.

Sparta was the subject of fascination in its own day, as well as in Western culture following the revival of classical learning. This love or admiration of Sparta is known as Laconism or Laconophilia.

At its peak around 500 BC the size of the city would have been some 20,000–35,000 citizens, plus numerous helots and perioikoi. The likely total of 40,000–50,000 made Sparta one of the largest Greek cities; however, according to Thucydides, the population of Athens in 431 BC was 360,000–610,000, making it unlikely that Athens was smaller than Sparta in 5th century BC. The French classicist François Ollier in his 1933 book Le mirage spartiate ("The Spartan Mirage") warned that a major scholarly problem regarding Sparta is that all the surviving accounts were written by non-Spartans who often presented an excessively idealized image of Sparta.

Spartan Constitution

The Spartan Constitution, or Politeia, refers to the government and laws of the Dorian city-state of Sparta from the time of Lycurgus, the legendary law-giver, to the incorporation of Sparta into the Roman Republic: approximately the 9th century BC to the 2nd century BC. Every city-state of Greece had a politeia at all times of its sovereign life, including the preceding Achaean Sparta and the subsequent Roman Sparta. The politeia of Dorian Sparta, however, was noted by many classical authors for its unique features, which supported a rigidly layered social system and a strong military.

Spartan army

The Spartan army stood at the center of the Spartan state, citizens trained in the disciplines and honor of a warrior society. Subject to military drill from early manhood, the Spartans became one of the most feared military forces in the Greek world. At the height of Sparta's power – between the 6th and 4th centuries BC – it was commonly accepted by other Greeks that "one Spartan was worth several men of any other state". According to Thucydides, the famous moment of Spartan surrender on the island of Sphacteria, off Pylos, in 425 BC, was highly unexpected. He wrote that "it was the common perception at the time that Spartans would never lay down their weapons for any reason, be it hunger, or danger."

Tradition states that the semi-mythical Spartan legislator Lycurgus first founded the iconic army. Referring to Sparta as having a "wall of men, instead of bricks", he proposed to reform Spartan society to develop a military-focused lifestyle in accordance with "proper virtues" such as equality for the male citizens, austerity, strength, and fitness. A Spartan male's involvement with the army began in infancy when he was inspected by the Gerousia. Any baby judged weak or deformed was left at Mount Taygetus to die, since the world of the Spartans was no place for those who could not fend for themselves. (The practice of discarding children at birth took place in Athens as well.) Those deemed strong entered the agoge regime at the age of seven. Under the agoge the young boys or Spartiates underwent intense and rigorous military training. Their education focused primarily on cunning, sports and war tactics, but also included poetry, music, academics, and sometimes politics. Those who passed the agoge by the age of 30 achieved full Spartan citizenship.

The term "spartan" became synonymous with fearlessness, harsh and cruel life, endurance or simplicity by design.

Stemnitsa

Stemnitsa (Greek: Στεμνίτσα) is a mountain village in the municipal unit of Trikolonoi, Arcadia, Peloponnese, Greece. It was the seat of the former municipality Trikolonoi. Stemnitsa is a traditional settlement and is considered one of the most beautiful villages in Arcadia, due to its picturesque location and its historical churches and mansions. It is situated at the western edge of the Mainalo mountains, above the left bank of the river Lousios, at about 1050 m elevation. Stemnitsa is 6 km southeast of Dimitsana, 9 km northeast of Karytaina, 18 km northwest of Megalopoli and 26 km west of Tripoli. In 2011 Stemnitsa had a population of 191.

Synedrion

A synedrion or synhedrion (Greek: συνέδριον, "sitting together", hence "assembly" or "council"; Hebrew: סנהדרין‎, sanhedrin) is an assembly that holds formal sessions. The Latinized form is synedrium.

Depending on the widely varied constitutions, it applied to diverse representative or judiciary organs of Greek and Hellenistic city-states and treaty organisations.

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