The reason for this change lay partly in the fact that the ephors, chosen by popular election from the whole body of citizens, represented a democratic element in the constitution without violating those oligarchical methods which seemed necessary for its satisfactory administration; partly in the weakness of the kingship, the dual character of which inevitably gave rise to jealousy and discord between the two holders of the office, often resulting in a practical deadlock; partly in the loss of prestige suffered by the kingship, especially during the 5th century, owing to these quarrels, to the frequency with which kings ascended the throne as minors and a regency was necessary, and to the many cases in which a king was, rightly or wrongly, suspected of having accepted bribes from the enemies of the state and was condemned and banished.
Indeed the spread of democracy elsewhere increased the prestige of the Athenian administration, which had now reached a high pitch of efficiency.
However, any danger that menaced the prestige of Rome disappeared when the emperor Honorius removed the imperial residence to Ravenna, and still more so when the Western emperors were replaced in the north of Italy by barbarian sovereigns, who were Arians.
Wellington realized the supreme necessity, in the interests not only of France but of Europe, of confirming and maintaining the prestige of the restored monarchy, which such a dismemberment would have irretrievably damaged.
The prestige of the country was practically gone, not only with the world outside, but, what was of still more moment, with her neighbour the Free State, which felt that a federation with the Transvaal, which the Free State once had sought but which it now forswore, was an evil avoided and not an advantage lost.
That prestige was enormously enhanced when, in 1497-1499, Vasco da Gama completed the voyage to India.
Internal difficulties, low transport capabilities, and the necessity of garrisoning almost all parts of Albania and Macedonia to prevent local risings, added to the customary slackness in administration and training and the customary dishonesty in supply and equipment matters, resulted in the putting into the field of two armies which were numerically inferior, unequally trained, and poorly equipped - possessing indeed few assets beyond the solid fighting-worth of the individual Mahommedan Turk .2 With all this, however, the prestige of a great Power facing a group of small states, whose mutual hatred and rivalries had only just been composed, stood high, especially in Germany where the positive effects of the Turkish army reforms initiated by von der Goltz and others were overrated.
The prestige of the Stephensons carried all before it, but in later life Sir John Fowler had the satisfaction of seeing the opposition of his clients justified, and Sheffield placed on the main line.
Sagasta kept quiet until nearly the end of the struggle with the colonies, when the queen-regent had to dismiss the Conservative party, much shorn of its prestige by the failure of its efforts to pacify the colonies, and by the assassination of its chief, Canovas delCastillo.
Hyrcanus returned from his prison: mutilated, he could no longer hold office as high-priest; but his mutilation probably gave him the prestige of a martyr, and his influence - whatever it was worth seems to have been favourable to the new dynasty.