Gerousia

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This article is part of the series:
Spartan Constitution

Contents


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 SpartaGreatRhetra.png
The Spartan Constitution

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]

Lycurgus of Sparta Legislator of Sparta

Lycurgus 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, military fitness, and austerity.

Great Rhetra Spartan Constitution or an oracle of Delphi

The Great Rhetra was used in two senses by the classical authors. In one sense, it was the Spartan Constitution, believed to have been formulated and established by the legendary lawgiver, Lycurgus. In the legend Lycurgus forbade any written constitution. It was therefore presumed to have been oral.

Plutarch Ancient Greek historian and philosopher

Plutarch, later named, upon becoming a Roman citizen, Lucius Mestrius Plutarchus, was a Greek biographer and essayist, known primarily for his Parallel Lives and Moralia. He is classified as a Middle Platonist. Plutarch's surviving works were written in Greek, but intended for both Greek and Roman readers.

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), 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]

In parliamentary procedure, a voice vote or acclamation is a voting method in deliberative assemblies in which a group vote is taken on a topic or motion by responding orally.


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

Related Research Articles

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References

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