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.
Restored the royal power by murdering four of the ephors and abolishing the office, and though it was revived by Antigonus Doson after the battle of Sellasia, and existed at least down to Hadrian's reign (Sparta Museum Catalogue, Introd.
There was a monthly exchange of oaths, the kings swearing to rule according to the laws, the ephors undertaking on this condition to maintain the royal authority (Xen.
Subsequently appointed by the ephors to settle the political dissensions then rife at Byzantium and to protect the city and the neighbouring Greek colonies from Thracian attacks, he made himself tyrant of Byzantium, and, when declared an outlaw and driven thence by a Spartan force, he fled to Cyrus.
More and more, as time went on, the kings became mere figure-heads, except in their capacity as generals, and the real power was transferred to the ephors and to the gerousia.
Aristotle says that the ephors of each year on entering office declared war on the helots so that they might be put to death at any time without violating religious scruple (Plutarch, Lycurgus 28), and we have a well-attested record of 2000 helots being freed for service in war and then secretly assassinated (Thuc. iv.
Here also, however, the royal prerogatives were curtailed in course of time: from the period of the Persian wars the king lost the right of declaring war on whom he pleased, he was accompanied to the field by two ephors, and he was supplanted also by the ephors in the control of foreign policy.
It was instituted primarily as a precaution against the ever-present danger of a helot revolt, and secondarily perhaps as a training for young Spartans, who were sent out by the ephors to keep watch on the helots and assassinate any who might appear dangerous.
The war party in Sparta regained its strength under new ephors and negotiations began for an alliance between Sparta, Argos and Boeotia.
The ephors summoned and presided over meetings of the Gerousia and Apella, and formed the executive committee responsible for carrying out decrees.