1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Apella
APELLA, the official title of the popular assembly at Sparta, corresponding to the ecclesia in most other Greek states. Every full citizen who had completed his thirtieth year was entitled to attend the meetings, which, according to Lycurgus’s ordinance, must be held at the time of each full moon within the boundaries of Sparta. They had in all probability taken place originally in the Agora, but were later transferred to the neighbouring building known as the Skias (Paus. iii. 12. 10). The presiding officers were at first the kings, but in historical times the ephors, and the voting was conducted by shouts; if the president was doubtful as to the majority of voices, a division was taken and the votes were counted. Lycurgus had ordained that the apella must simply accept or reject the proposals submitted to it, and though this regulation fell into neglect, it was practically restored by the law of Theopompus and Polydorus which empowered the kings and elders to set aside any “crooked” decision of the people (Plut. Lycurg. 6). In later times, too, the actual debate was almost, if not wholly, confined to the kings, elders, ephors and perhaps the other magistrates. The apella voted on peace and war, treaties and foreign policy in general: it decided which of the kings should conduct a campaign and settled questions of disputed succession to the throne: it elected elders, ephors and other magistrates, emancipated helots and perhaps voted on legal proposals. There is a single reference (Xen. Hell. iii. 3. 8) to a “small assembly” (ἡ μικρὰ καλουμένη ἐκκλησία) at Sparta, but nothing is known as to its nature or competence. The term apella does not occur in extant Spartan inscriptions, though two decrees of Gythium belonging to the Roman period refer to the μεγάλαι ἀπέλλαι (Le Bas-Foucart, Voyage archéologique, ii., Nos. 242a, 243).