Comparison Of Athens And Sparta. Focuses On Differences Between The Two City States I.E. Spartan Militarism Vs. Athenian Arts, Literature, Culture.

1545 words - 6 pages

Ancient Greece was a land of contradictions and conflict. Located amist ruggedmountains, the Greek mainland was both protected from its enemies, and isolated from its allies,making communication between the many Greek city-states extremely difficult. Each city-stateand the lands around it were referred to as a polis, and each polis functioned as an independentcountry, with its own laws and government. Despite the unwillingness and inability of the Greekcity-states to unite, the Greeks were able to leave a long-lasting mark on western civilization.The two principle city states in Greece were Athens and Sparta. The two cities had littlein common. Sparta, located on the Peloponnesus was a militaristic society, which prided itselfabove all and foremost in its army, while Athens, which lay northeast of the Peloponnesus, was acenter of art, philosophy, architecture, and theater.The importance of the military was clearly evident in the Spartan society, which believedthat strong men could protect the city just as well if not better than a wall. The government wasfounded on the principle that the life of an individual belonged to the state. There were threedistinct classes that inhabited Sparta. Spartan citizens lived in the city itself, and they alone hada voice in government. The peroikoi or "dwellers round" lived on the outskirts of the city, andwere mostly merchants and tradesmen. Although free, they had no government rights becausethey were not involved in military affairs. The last group of inhabitants were the Helots, whomade up the majority of the population of Sparta, and cultivated the farms of wealthy landowners.Although two kings ruling jointly were said to be the official government of Sparta, theyhad little power except for leading the army and conducting religious services. The main"branch" of government was The Assembly, a group of prominent male citizens over the age oftwenty who were responsible for passing laws and making decisions concerning war and peace.Each year, five ephors, or overseers were elected to administer public affairs. The Council ofElders, a group of twenty-eight male citizens over the age of sixty acted as a supreme court andproposed laws to The Assembly. They also assisted the ephors in supervising the citizens andtraining the young.At birth, infants were examined, and those found to be unhealthy were abandoned andleft to die, in an effort to ensure "survival of the fittest." At age seven, young boys wereseparated from their parents, and grouped with other boys to begin military training. Unlike theboys in Athens, who studied literature and music, the youths of Sparta practiced gymnastics andmilitary exercises instead. They were taught to endure pain and hunger, and to follow orderswithout complaint.Discipline increased further still, as a boy reached adulthood. All male citizens betweenthe ages of 20 and 60 were required to serve in the army and ate and slept at an army barracks.Serving one's city in battle was...

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