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On this page: Geraerae – Geranos – Germani – Gerousia



or if there were any originally, that they gradually ' vanished. This would account for the fact that Dionysius (ii. 8) only mentions two classes of At-ticans; one corresponding to the Roman patricians, the other to the plebeians. (Thirlwall, History of Greece^ vol. ii. p. 14 ; Wachsmuth, Hellenische Altcrtkumskunde^ vol. i. p. 361,2d edit. ; Platner, Beitr'dge^ <fcc., p. 19 ; Titmann, Griech. Staatsver-fassungen^ p. 575, &c.)

In Samos the name yew/3,6poi was applied to the oligarchical party, consisting of the wealthy and powerful. (Thucyd. viii. 21 ; Plut. Quaest. Rom. p. 303; Mtiller, Dor. iii. 1. § 4.) In Syracuse the aristocratical party was likewise called yecafAopoi or ya^poi, in opposition to the 877,110$. (Herod, vii. 155; Hesych. s. v. Tdjjiopoi; Miiller, Dor. iii. 4. § 4 ; Gbller, de Situ et Orig. Syrac. p. 9.) [L. S.]

GERAERAE or GERARAE (yepaipai or yepa-pai). [dionysia, p. 412, a.]

GERANOS (ytpavos). [hyporchema.]

GERMANI. [cognati.]

GEROUSIA (yepova-ia), the council of elders (76poi/res), was the name of the Senate in most Doric states, and was especially used to signify the Senate at Sparta. In connection with this subject it is proposed to give a general view of the Spartan constitution, and to explain the functions of its legislative and administrative elements. In the later ages of Spartan history one of the most prominent of these was the college of the five ephors; but as an account of the Ephoralty is given in a separate article [EpnoRi], we shall confine our inquiries to the kings, the yepovres or councillors, and the e'/c/c;Vn<rta or assembly of Spar-

' * v X

tan freemen.

I. The Kings. The kingly authority at Sparta was, as it is well known, coeval with the settle­ment of the Dorians in the Peloponnesus, and confined to the descendants of Aristodemus, one of the Heracleid leaders, under whom, according to the Spartan legend, the conquest of Laconia was achieved. To him were born twin sons, Eurysthenes and Procles; and from this cause arose the diarchy, or divided royalty, the sove­reignty being always shared by the representatives of the two families which claimed descent from them (Herod, vi. 52) ; the precedence in point of honour was, however, granted to the older branch, who were called Agiads, as the younger house was styled Eurypontides from certain alleged de­scendants of the twin brothers. (Niebuhr, Hist, of Rom. vol. i. p. 356.) Such was the national legend; but as we read that the sanction of the Pythian oracle was procured for the arrangement of the diarchy (Herod. I. c.), we may conclude that it was not altogether fortuitous, but rather the work of policy and design ; nor indeed is it impro­bable that the nobles would gladly avail them­selves of an opportunity to weaken the royal au­thority by dividing it.

The descent of the Spartan kings from the na­tional heroes and leaders contributed in no small degree to support their dignity and honour ; and it is, perhaps, from this circumstance partly that they were considered as heroes, and enjoyed a certain religious respect. (Xen. De Rep. Lac. c. 15.) The honours paid to them were, however, of a simple and heroic character, such as a Spartan might give without derogating from his own dignity or for­getting his self-respect. Thus, we are told that kings united the character of priest and king,


the priesthoods of ZeusUranius (Plerod. vi. 56) and the Lacedaemonian Zeus being filled by them ; and that, in their capacity of national high priests, they officiated at all the public sacrifices offered on be­half of the state. (Xen. DeRep. Lac. 15.) Moreover they were amply provided with the means for ex­ercising the heroic virtue of hospitality; for this purpose, public or domain lands were assigned to them in the district of the perioeci, or provincial subjects, and certain perquisites belonged to them whenever any animal was slain in sacrifice. Be­sides this, the kings were entitled to various pay­ments in kind (Traff&v r&v ffvoov a/irb tokov %o?po^), that they might never be in want of victims to sacrifice; in addition to which they received, twice a month from the state, an ipfyov TeAeTo*/, to be offered as a sacrifice to Apollo, and then served up at the royal table. Whenever also any of the citizens made a public sacrifice to the gods, the kings were invited to the feast, and honoured above the other guests: a double portion of food was given to them, and they commenced the libations to the gods. (Herod, vi. 57.) All these distinctions are of a simple and antiquated character, and, so far as they go, prove that the Spartan sovereignty was a continuation of the heroic or Homeric. The dis­tinctions and privileges granted to the king as commander of the forces in war, lead to the same conclusion. These were greater than he enjoyed at home. Pie was guarded by a body of 100 chosen men, and his table was maintained at the • public expense: he might sacrifice in his sacerdotal capacity as many victims as he chose ; the skins and backs of which were his perquisites, and he was assisted by so many subordinate officers, that he had nothing else to do, except to act as priest and strategus. (Xen. De Rep. Lao. 14,15 ; Herod. vi. 55.)

The accession and demise of the Spartan kings were marked by observances of an Oriental charac­ ter. (Herod, vi. 58.) The former event was sig­ nalised by a remission of all debts due from private individuals to the state or the king ; and on the death of a king, the funeral solemnities were cele­ brated by the whole community. . There was a general mourning for ten days, during which all public business was suspended : horsemen went round the country to carry the tidings, and a fixed number of the perioeci, or provincials, was obliged to come from all parts of the country to the city, where, with the Spartans and Helots, and their wives, to the number of many thousands, they made loud lamentations, and proclaimed the virtues of the deceased king as superior to those of all his predecessors. (Herod. /. c.) ]

In comparison with their dignity and honours, the constitutional powers of the kings were very limited. In fact they can scarcely be said to have possessed any ; for though they presided over the council of yepovrcs or apxayerai, or principea s&natus, and the king of the elder house probably had a casting vote*, still the voice of each counted for no more than that of any other senator : when absent, their place was supplied and their proxies tendered by the councillors who were most nearly related to them, and therefore of an Heracleid family. Still the kings had some important prero-

* Dr. Thirlwall observes that this supposition may perhaps reconcile the difference between Herod, vi. 57. and Thucyd. i, 20.

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