Spartan Government Essay

1236 words - 5 pages

Evaluate the importance of the following in the Spartan System of government;-Kings-Gerousia-Ephors-ApellaAll aspects of the Spartan government was arranged into a hierarchy, with a mixed constitution, later praised as being the 'Ideas System'. This system was based on 'Eunomia' or 'Good Order', each part of the constitution played checks and balances on the other. Initially the two Kings and the Gerousia were the most important powers in Spartan government, but over time the Ephors gained a lot more supremacy and dominance. However, the Kings, Gerousia, Ephors, and Apella all play a different role within Spartan society.Kings were the Supreme commander of the Spartan army. One King led the campaign, while the other stayed in Sparta. "These large powers were always limited by the double nature of kinship." This originated in 507BC, when 2 kings disagreed over the expedition against Athens. The kings had the right to declare war on the battlefield and could decide between life and death. The kings were supervised by the Ephors and had a bodyguard of 100 men. However, the kings could be heavily punished if their campaign failed.The Kings were intermediaries between the gods and men and held their office as the gods pleased. If things went wrong, the kings were blamed and the ephors looked to the sky every 9 years for approval or disapproval. Each month they offered sacrifices to Apollo as Herodotus recounts, "on the first and seventh days of each month each king is given a full grown animal to offer in sacrifice in the temple of Apollo". Before a campaign, the gods also sacrificed to Zeus and if it was favourable they kept their sacrifices for the campaign.Erenburg claims that the Kings "had supreme power as leaders in war, priests and judges," however their judicial duties were limited. They did decide on marriages of orphans, control of matters concerning the highways and adoption of Spartan children.The Kings had many special honours and marks of distinction. They were supported at the expense of the state, and when on military service they were "allowed for their own use as many cattle as they wish." They were treated with much honour and respect, such as the order they were served their meal, first, and they were given double portions. Xenophon claims, "In order that the kings might dine in public he assigned them a public banquet, and he honoured them with a double portion each of the evening meal", in regards to the covenant set by Lykurgas. The kings were also given seats of honour at religious festivals, and a standing ovation when they entered the assembly.The Spartan Kings play a small role in the government. It is evident that they are significant on the battlefield, as priests and in some judicial areas, however most emphasis on their importance is only for show, and they portray a God-like figure within Spartan society.Symone HannamThere were five ephors, one from each territorial region, they were magistrates elected annually from...


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