In ancient Sparta, the council of elders, one of two chief organs of the Spartan state, the other being the apella. The gerousia prepared business submitted to the apella and had extensive judicial powers: it alone pronounced sentences of death or exile. Its 30 members, the gerontes (“elders”), including the two kings, were chosen for life by acclamation of the citizens from among candidates of age 60 or older.

This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise.
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