chapter  IV
23 Pages

THE COUNCIL

T H E demos was sovereign, its functions were universal and its powers unlimited. But, according to the maxim of Lincoln which a penetrating scholar of antiquity has very aptly applied to Athenian democracy, one can secure tha t a par t of the people shall govern all the time, or tha t all the people shall govern par t of the time, but one will never succeed in enabling all the people to govern all the t ime. 1 To enable the demos to make its decisions, it was necessary for its work to be prepared, for decrees to be given a regular form before being submitted to it, in order tha t it might vote upon precisely worded and carefully considered texts . Moreover it could not be in permanent session to ensure the detailed execution of its will, and to supervise public administration, nor could it as a body conduct negotiations with representatives of foreign powers. It was compelled, therefore, to delegate a par t of its sovereignty to a body invested with deliberative power (fiovXevew) and placed at the head of the executive (dpx^v). It was this body to which the Athenians gave the name of Council, Boule, and which they regarded as the first magistracy, the first dpxv, of the republic. If, therefore, one seeks in the Athenian constitution anything approximating to the representative system of modern Parliaments, it is not in the Ecclesia tha t one must look, but in the Boule.