previous next


PROBOULI (πρόβουλοι), a name applicable to any persons who are appointed to consult or take measures for the benefit of the people. Thus, the delegates who were sent by the twelve Ionian cities to attend the Panionian council, and deliberate on the affairs of the confederacy, were called πρόβουλοι (Hdt. 6.7). So were the deputies sent by the several Greek states to attend the congress at the Isthmus, on the occasion of the second Persian invasion (Hdt. 7.172); and also the envoys whom the Greeks agreed to send annually to Plataea (Plut. Arist. 21). The word is also used to denote an oligarchical body, which in oligarchies performed the functions discharged by the βουλὴ in democracies, being a sort of committee for initiating measures. Where it co-existed with the βουλή, it was established as a check upon it to prevent more democratic tendencies. (Arist. Pol. 6.15, 11 = p. 1299; 7.8, 17 = p. 1322.) Such was the government at Corinth after the fall of the Cypselids (Müller, Fr. Hist. Gr. 3.394). A body of men called πρόβουλοι were appointed at Athens, after the end of the Sicilian war, to act as a committee of public safety (Thuc. 8.1; Aristoph. Lys. 467; Lys. c. Erat. § 65). Thucydides calls them ἀρχήν τινα πρεσβυτέρων ἀνδρῶν, οἵτινες περὶ τῶν παρόντων ὡς ἂν καιρὸς προβουλεύσουσι. They were then in number (Suidas, s. v. Πρόβουλοι). Whether their appointment arose out of any concerted plan for overturning the constitution, is doubtful. The ostensible object at least was different; and the measures which they took for defending their country and prosecuting the war appear to have been prudent and vigorous; it is clear, however, from the words of Lysias, that their appointment was regarded by him as tending to oligarchy. Their authority did not last much longer than a year; for a year and a half afterwards Pisander and his colleagues established the council of Four Hundred, by which the democracy was overthrown. (Thuc. 8.67; Wachsmuth, vol. i. pt. 2, p. 197.) There is no sufficient ground for the conjecture that the ξυγγραφῆς αὐτοκράτορες were the same persons as the πρόβουλοι. (See Grote, Hist. of Greece, 8.46; Gilbert, Staatsalt. 2.90, 315.) [C.R.K] [G.E.M]

(Appendix). The statement (p. 493 b) in which we followed Grote, that there was no sufficient ground for supposing that the ξυγγραφῆς αὐτοκράτορες of Thuc. 8.67 were the same persons as the πρόβουλοι must be modified. In 100.29 we are told that on the motion of Pythodorus twenty persons over forty years of age were elected, in addition to the ten προὔπάρχοντες πρόβουλοι, to draw up the constitution under the 400. We should infer, with Mr. Kenyon, that this “pre-existing” board of ten commissioners was a continuation of that mentioned in Thuc. 8.1; and that the party of Pisander having either reappointed them, or appointed others with the same title, added twenty to carry out the work. So far this treatise justifies Androtion and Philochorus when Harpocration (s. v. συγγραφεῖς) cites as speaking of thirty in all; and Grote is probably wrong in supposing that they confused the oligarchy of the 400 with that of the Thirty.

hide References (6 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (6):
    • Aristophanes, Lysistrata, 467
    • Herodotus, Histories, 6.7
    • Herodotus, Histories, 7.172
    • Plutarch, Aristeides, 21
    • Thucydides, Histories, 8.1
    • Thucydides, Histories, 8.67
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: