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(from the Greek word for council), in ancient Greece:
(1) In Homer’s narrative poems, the tribal council of nobles under the basileus.
(2) In the aristocratic and oligarchic poleis (until the beginning of the fifth century B.C.), the ruling council of the nobility or primarily wealthy citizens; membership was for life (the Gerousia in Sparta, the Areopagus in Athens, and others).
(3) In the democratic poleis, the supreme agency of executive power and state control, elected for a specific term; it prepared the agenda for the assembly. The boule at Athens was the best known. It was established by Solon in 594 B.C. and known as the council of400. It became the council of 500 under Cleisthenes (509 B.C.), and from 307 B.C. it was the council of 600. It was elected from the phylae, and from the middle of the fifth century B.C. members were chosen by lots. The boule was divided into ten committees, known as prytaneis, which operated on a rotation basis (each prytane performing its duties for a tenth of a year). From the fifth century B.C. the members of the boule (bouleutai)began to receive payment of one drachma a day.