The Ephorate (Plutarch, Xenophon, Thucydides, Herodotus)

Info on the Ephors and the Eohorate from the sources; Plutarch, Xenoiphon, Thucydides, Herodotus

HideShow resource information

Ephors (Plutarch 7)

Appointed 130 years after Lycrugus (aprox.), during the reign of Theopompus. THEREFORE NOT PART OF LYCURGUS' LAWS.

They acted as a curb against the excesive use of power from the Kings.

Theopompus put them in palce because he believed that by having less power he would rule longer, and there would be less resentment of him

"So that they imposed upon it the authority of the Ephors to act as a curb"

1 of 9

Ephors (Xenophon IV 3 - 6)


They pick 3 men in their prime (prime example of what a Spartan male should be), which then gives the others a goal to reach.

They call the 3 men the "Hippogratia".

They take care of physical fitness but if the men fight with them they can be seperated and punished by the Ephors "because passion cannot override obediance to law".

The Hippogratia encourages competition.

2 of 9

Ephors ( Xenophon VIII 3 - 4)

Spartans obeyed the magistrates that the Ephors put in place, as they realised the importance of obeidance ( created by the Ephors)
"in sparta the leading citizens show the greates respect for the magistrates"

The rights of Ephors are:
to punish at will
fine adn depose of magistrates
imprison magistrates/ put them on life trial
Never normally allow an office-holder to complete their year in power because of the power they can hold.

"Ephors have the right to inflict punishment at will"
"Require immediate payment of fines"
"depose of magistrates during theirr term of office, to imprison them, and even have them put on a trial for their lives"
"they do not al;ways allow office holders to complete their year of office"

3 of 9

Ephors (Xenophon XI and XIII)

XI: The Ephors say the age groups who are allowed to go to war

"First, the Ephors proclaim the age-groupos to be called up"

They list the people who will be calvary, infantry and craftsmen> Resulting in Sparta having a supply of everything whilst on war.

"listing calvary, and infantry, and then also craftsmen, with the result that the Spartans have a sound supply of everything which is available in the city while on campaign as well."

XIII: The two Ephors are present for the kings sacrifices, but do not take part unless invited to.
"Two of the Ephors are also present, but take no part unless the king invites them to do so"

By watching every mans conduct, the men excercise restraint.
"by watching every mans condu t they exercise a restraining hand on all

4 of 9

Ephors (Xenophon XV)

They do not stand when the king enters, unlike others, they stay seated on their official thrones

"Everyone stands when the king enters except Ephors seated on their official thrones"

During the monthly sacrifice they swear on behalf of the city

"Oaths are exchanged every monthm the Ephors swearing on behalf of the city"

5 of 9

Ephors (Thucydides 85-87)

The Ephors made speeches to the assembly

When deliberatin going to war, they tried to persuade people to choose the right way.

The ephors alsob took the vote on whether to go to war or not
"In his capacity as an Ephor."

6 of 9

Ephors (Herodotus Book 5: 39-40)

The Ephors decieded King Alexandrias should get rid of his infertile wife and have a new wife so he could get an heir. He refused. The elders suggested he have two wives, which he accepted. Both wives got pregnant, the ephors watched the 1st wifes birth to make sure shhe wasn't faking her labour.  SHOWS THE POWER THE EPHORS HAD OVER THE KING.


"as thy present wife bears thee no children put her away and wed another.

7 of 9

Ephors (Herodotus Book 5: 63 54 67 and Book 6: 82)

The Ephors had council with the king when he claimed his third wifes child wasn't his.

Ephors ignored this. epoohors in charge of the line of the throne gave evidence.

Ephors can act as witnesses,

8 of 9


Leading assembly
Organising army recruits and supplies
Accompanying army on campaign to keep order
ADvisors to the Kings
Ensured royal succession
Issued punishments, including fines.
Sat as a judge/jury at trials
Picked the Hippogratia
Impose punuishment at will
Conside causes of illegitimacy
To put the Kings on trial
Judge acclimations fo the assembly
Swear on behalf of the city to support the kingship as long as the king was acting in accordance with laws
Decide what was lawful.

9 of 9


No comments have yet been made

Similar Ancient History resources:

See all Ancient History resources »