Authoritarian rule



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Brains or Brawn?

Comparing Spartan and Athenian Society


Authoritarian rule is a political system where

power is concentrated in the hands of a very few

people. The Greek philosopher Aristotle described

Sparta this way; as "a kind of unlimited and

perpetual generalship..." Within Sparta there

existed three groups:

1) slaves, known as Helots,

2) Spartan females, who were taught to be fit and

patriotic, and

3) Spartan males, who were trained to become warriors.

None of these groups enjoyed

a great deal of freedom. At the age of seven, boys

were forced from home to live in barracks a

receive military training from older boys. The

Helots slaved to provide the necessary food and

labor for Sparta. While women enjoyed some

freedom relative to other Greek city-states, overall,

free-will was very limited in Spartan society and

control was often harsh and ruthless.

Democracy is a political system popularized by the

citizens of Athens, Greece. In 510 BC the unpopular

dictator Hippias was overthrown, and all citizens

were allowed to participate in Athenian

governmental activities. All citizen

before the law, although slaves and women were

not allowed citizenship. Athenians eventually

abolished slavery and developed a direct

democracy where citizens chose the members of

the powerful Assembly. Athenian youth were

encouraged to develop artistic and intellectual

talents to such a degree that historians refer to this

time period as Athens’ “Golden Age.” Citizens in

Athens also had to complete military training, but

Athens never exercised the same strict and brutal

control over its people as Sparta.


Task #1

Both of the quotations below were made by very famous people in world history (ancient period). First, read through both quotes, and decide whether you think the quote best represents the government model of Ancient Sparta or Athens that exemplifies either Spartan or Athenian values and explain why that sentence is important. Finally take a guess at which historical figure said it.


Quotation 1: ““The fundamental theme through all the centuries has been the principle that force and power are the determining factors. All development is struggle. Only force rules. Force is the first law. . . . Only through struggle have countries and the world become great. If one should ask whether this struggle is gruesome, then the only answer could be—for the weak, yes, for humanity as a whole, no. Instead of everlasting struggle, the world preaches cowardly, and everlasting peace. These three things, considered in the light of tconsequences, are the causes of the downfall of all humanity.”
Does the represent Sparta or Athens? Explain.

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________


Who said it? _____________________________________________________
Quotation 2: “We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed Creator with certain undeniable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness; that to secure these rights Governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the people over whom they govern.”
Does the represent Sparta or Athens? Explain

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________


Who said it? ______________________________________________
Task # 2

Using the slideshow to guide you, compare and Contrast the two city-states. List at least three thing they have in common and three things that are different about them:


Things in common


Things that were different

Task #3


Using the descriptions above and the slideshow answer the questions below and then make the case for which city state you would have preferred to live in and why.
1) What kind of government did Athens have? What kind of government did Sparta have?
2) What kind of society did Athens have? What kind of society did Sparta have?
3) Which of the city-states most resembles the United States, why did you pick the one that you did pick this one (give examples)?
4) Which city-state do you think you would have called home? Why?

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