-oligarchic element in the constitution
-according to Plutarch, it came about as part of Lycurgus' attempt to safeguard the state by "allaying and qualifying the fiery genius of the royal office" - most likely the result of a conflict between the kings and nobles about the time of the first Messenian War
-28 members plus 2 kings
-membership restricted to Spartans over sixty years of age who were therefore no longer liable for military service - body of elders who held their office for life
-regarded as a reward for merit
-members elected by Spartiates in assembly but it is not certain whether the candidates were from noble families or whether the "best families" mentioned by Aristotle meant those of wealth and renown - highly honourable and much sought-after office
-according to Plutarch they had to be "the best and most deserving men past sixty years old"
-selection was by acclamationand Plutarch describes in some detail the procedures for this - Aristotle disapproved of this method as "childish"
-probouleutic body - prepared and deliberated on bills to be presented to assembly for voting
-if it was not happy with assembly's vote on an issue it could decline to accept it by adjourning - in which case the bill would not be passed
aristotle 11.9 "they control much important business"