Government in Sparta

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Government in Ancient Sparta

Supposedly formed by Lycurgus, the government in Sparta is very unique in that it is an Oligarchy; combining monarchy, aristocracy and democracy.
The reason for this is that few people actually ruled Sparta, and their power or time in office was limited to avoid corruption. There were two kings to keep a check on one another, there were 28 members of the Gerousia – a council of elders that included the two kings, five ephors who held in their hands the highest of powers but only served for one year, and the apella which was made up of all other Spartan citizens or Homoioi.

The Ephors controlled almost every aspect of Spartan life and were only limited by the fact that they could only rule for one year
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Their responsibilities were limited in that their rule was mainly a generalship. This is supported by Aristotle, who states that the King could “command the army on foreign expeditions, and supervise religious worship; beyond that their sovereignty does not extend…an independent and permanent generalship.”
In truth, beyond ruling the army and supervising worship, they did hold some limited powers over Sparta, being responsible for eunomia in Spartan policies and affairs, organising adoptions and marriages, holding a position of magistrate for exile and execution cases.
In everyday Spartan life, Kings has many privileges. They were treated differently in the education system, could choose their own syssitia and were given animals for sacrificial means. As well as these, Kings were also given double rations, but it was not expected that they would eat it all themselves. It was tradition that a King would give the extra rations to a citizen whom he thought worthy.

To be eligible to be a part of the Gerousia, one had to be a Homoioi over 60 or a king. The elections were done by acclamation by the Apella.
The Gerousia were showered with respect due to their age and assumed wisdom. They did not have to fight in any wars, unlike all other members of Sparta.
Xenophon speaks of the Gerousia in his ‘Constitution of the Spartans’ in which he says “By
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