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The Council instituted at Athens by Solon consisted of 400 members (bouleutai), 100 being taken from each of the four Ionic tribes (phylai). By Cleisthenes the number was increased to 500, 50 being taken from each of the ten newly constituted tribes, and chosen by lot; whereas up to his time the councillors had been elected from the number of candidates who offered themselves for the position. In 306 B.C. two new tribes were added, and the number of the council was accordingly increased to 600, at which figure it remained, with some variations, down to the times of the Roman empire. But in the 2nd century A.D. it again fell to 500. In ancient times no one was eligible as a councillor who did not belong to one of the three wealthiest classes; but after the time of Aristides the position was open to any free Athenian of thirty years of age, and in possession of full civic rights. In choosing councillors by lot, two candidates were presented for each vacancy. The same person might hold the office several times, though not for two years in succession. Every councillor had to take a special oath, strictly formulated, on entering the Boule. At the meetings of the Council its members wore myrtle crowns as insignia of their office. They had the further privilege of a place of honour at the festivals, and were excused, during their term of office, from military service. They also received a payment of five obols (nearly 7d.) for every sitting they attended. Their place of meeting was called the bouleuterion ("council-chamber"); here they met every day except on public holidays, each member having his numbered seat. When assembled, the Council was divided into ten sections of 50 members each, each representing one of the tribes. These sections were called Prytaneis ("Presidents"), and officiated in succession, as arranged at the beginning of each year, for 35-36 days, or in leap-years for 38-39. This period was called a Prytaneia, and during its continuance the prytaneis, for the time being presided over the full sittings of the Council and of the public assembly. At other times they remained the whole day at their office (Tholos or "dome") near the council-chamber, where they usually dined at the expense of the State. A president (Epistates) was chosen every day by lot from among the prytaneis to act as chairman in the Council and the public assembly, to keep the keys of the fortress and the archives, and the seal of state. From 378 B.C. the presidency of the public assembly was committed to a special chairman, elected from among the nine proedroi ("presidents"), who were chosen by lot by the epistates of the prytaneis from the remaining nine tribes at each sitting of the Council and of the public assembly. At other times they remained the whole day at their office (Tholos or "dome") near the council-chamber, where they usually dined at the exponse of the State. A president (Epistates) was chosen everyday by lot from among the prytaneis to act as chairman in the Council and the public assembly, to keep the keys of of state. From 378 B.C. the presidency of the public assembly was committed to a special chairman, elected from among the nine proedroi (" president"), who were chosen by lot by the epistates of the prytaneis from the remaining nine tribes at each sitting of the Council. The first duty of the Council was to prepare all the measures which were to come before the public assembly, and to draw up a preliminary decree (probouleuma). Accordingly it was its business to receive the reports of the generals and of foreign ambassadors. Foreign affairs always stood first in the order of daily business. Besides this, the Council exercised a general supenintendence over all public business, and especially over the financial administration. It gave the authority for the farming of the taxes, contracts for public works, sales of confiscated property, for adopting new lines of expenditure or modes of raising income, for arresting tax-gatherers and tax-farmers if they fell into arrear. The treasurers of the temples were also responsible to it. The cavalry and the navy were placed under its special supervision, and it had, in particular, to see that a certain number of new ships of war was built every year. It examined the qualifications of the newly elected archons. In many cases it acted as a court of justice, and had the power of inflicting fines up to the amount of 500 drachmae (£16 13s. 4d.). But more serious cases it had to pass on to the Heliastai, or to the public assembly (see HELIASTAI). The assembly would sometimes entrust the Council with absolute power to deal with cases which, strictly speaking, lay outside its jurisdiction. The decrees passed by the Council on matters affecting the public administration ceased to be binding on the expiration of its year of office, in case they were not adopted by its successors [Aristotle, Const. of Athens, 43-49]. The voting took place by show of hands (cheirotonia); voting pebbles and other devices being only used for judicial decisions. Private citizens could transact business with the Council only after previous application for an audience, generally made in writing. The official correspondence was transacted by three secretaries (called grammateis or "writers") appointed from among the members, and assisted by a Dumber of subordinate functionaries.
 
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