|The Ephors as depicted in "300"|
By about 750 BC, however, the institution appears to have evolved somewhat farther. Each year, five citizens were elected by the Spartan Assembly to serve for one year and one year only. No one could be re-elected, so the composition of the ephorate was constantly (annually!) changing. It was not, therefore, a body "controlled" by any particular faction or even class. Yes, Sparta's most famous statesman and philosopher, Chilon, served as an ephor one year (and may have done much for the prestige of the institution), but we also know that some very poor and many obscure men also held the office. The individual members of the ephorate were not particularly powerful either before or after their one year in office.
Furthermore, because the ephors changed annually, the ephors as a body did not have a specific policy or even a consistent bias. A.H.M. Jones in his succinct book on Sparta (A.H.M. Jones, Sparta, Barnes and Noble, 1967) notes: "Roughly speaking the ephors represented the will of the majority. When feeling was strongly in one direction there would be continuity of policy. When opinion was equally divided, or fluctuated, the ephors reflected this instability. When a king like Agesilaus was carrying out a policy which all Spartans approved, the ephors gave him their full support. When a king like Achidamus was fighting the tide of public opinion, he would often be over-ruled or frustrated by the ephors." (p. 30) Nevertheless, as an institution, the ephors were very powerful.
The ephors as both representatives from the Assembly and executors of it's will were fundamentally a democratic institution. The power of these annually elected ordinary citizens exercised is an testiment to the degree to which the Spartan monarchy was a constitutional monarchy.