Sparta Vs Athens



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Sparta Vs Athens

In Ancient Greece there were two different major forms of government,

Oligarchy and Democracy. The two city-states that best represent each

form of government were Sparta (oligarchy) and Athens (democracy). The

democratic government in Athens, though de cently equal, fair and fairly

advanced for its time, did not meet the needs of the Greeks. During a

time of many military battles Athens decided to worry more about comfort

and culture. It is the oligarchy in Sparta that put a war-like attitude

as it's first priority and best met the needs of Ancient Greece.
The Athenian democratic government, which may have given the citizens in

Greece more freedom, was not the best form of government at the time. The

democracy in Athens cannot really be called a true democracy since there

were several flaws in the governme nt and the way it worked. Only ten per

cent of the total population of Athens actually had voting rights and all

of these citizens were upper class men who were over thirty years old.

Women, no matter what the class or age, were given no freedom at all.

They were first owned by their fathers and then were passed from them to

their husbands who then gave them nothing more than the responsibilities

of managing the household and educating the children. During a meeting of

the Assembly, a policy could be adopted and formed into a law but once the

meeting of the assembly ended, the enforcement of that law was left in the

hands of people who may not agree with that specific law. Also, a rule of

the Assembly said that if a certa! in speaker became too powerful, he

could be expelled from the country if given a majority vote by the

Assembly. This rule could easily be abused and really infringed on the

freedom of speech that most democracies have. The Assembly was made up of

five


hundred men who were chosen from a list of those who were eligible to

serve on the council. Since most of the population was of a lower

economic class, the time taken away from their normal work by serving on

the Assembly lowered their earning potential , causing their already poor

situation to worsen. Life may have been sophisticated and graceful in

Athens but the Athenians were often mocked by opposing countries and other

city-states for having no bravery, patriotism or courage. This was shown

by the


repeated attacks on Athens. If the Athenians had a more war-like

reputation, they probably could have avoided many of those conflicts that

eventually led to the loss of the power Athens held in Ancient Greece.
In the city-state of Sparta, the government was controlled by an oligarchy

in which the power was held by a group of five men called ephors. It may

not seem very fair that the citizens had little say in the decisions made

by the government but, at the ti me, this was the better government. The

Spartans needed to give up comfort and culture for a more disciplined

military approach to control the rebelling Messenians which eventually

turned them into a deadly war machine. Over the years, the Spartan's r

uthless and brutal reputation in war grew so large that other nations and

city-states were so frightened that they would not attack Sparta even

though the Spartan army was not more larger then eight thousand men. The

Spartan men in the army would start t heir military training at the age of

seven and were trained to be tough and very self-sufficient. Every man in

the army would fight with a great deal of passion for his country. Life

in Sparta may have been rough but the res! t of the Greeks envied the

Spartans for their simplicity, straight forwardness, and fanatical

dedication. There was a law in Sparta that banned all foreign trade and

foreign travelling. This kept out all foreign ideas and allowed them to

have the eleme nt of surprise when it came to attacks. This law did not

affect their economy, which was already self-sufficient. Unlike the rest

of Greek women, Spartan women had the freedom of equal rights except for

voting rights. Since men were in the military,

the women had full authority over their households and weren't forced

into a life of only childbearing and housekeeping like the Athenian woman.

The best example of why the Spartan government was better then the

Athenian government happened in 404 B.C.

when the Spartan army were able to conquer the mighty power known as

Athens. The Spartan government was clearly better for that time period

because they could handle the rigors of the military craze which was

growing amongst!

its enemies.


For that specific time period the oligarchy government in Sparta was

better for the Ancient Greeks than the democratic government in Athens.

The government in Athens worried more about the citizens of its city-state

then its own well-being. The Spartan oligarchy may not have given its



citizens a lot of freedom but it was successful in gaining attention and

respect from the other Greeks and their rival nations.


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