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DOCUMENT-BASED QUESTION:


Classical Sparta and Classical Athens


Directions

The following question is based on the accompanying documents. (The documents have been edited for the purpose of this exercise). The question is designed to test your ability to work with and understand historical documents. Write an essay that:





  • Has relevant thesis and supports that thesis with evidence from the documents.




  • Uses all or all but one of the documents.




  • Analyzes the documents by grouping them in as many appropriate ways as possible and does not simply summarize the documents individually.




  • Takes into account both the sources of the documents and the authors’ points of view.

Essay Prompt




Compare and contrast Classical Sparta and Athens.

What types of additional documentation would help access the similarities and differences between Sparta and Athens?

Historical Background

Although there were nearly 100 city states or poleis (plural of polis) in ancient Greece, the Hellenic world was polarized between the states of Sparta and Athens. Although both states temporarily allied to halt the Persian invasions, their rivalries were too fundamental to make them permanent friends. Tension between Sparta and Athens had been building for years. Many people in both cities thought conflict was unavoidable. Instead of trying to avoid war, leaders on both sides began to press for a war to begin while they thought their own city had the advantage. Finally, in 431 BC, the Spartans marched into Athenian territory.


Document 1




“The same goes for the Spartans. One-against-one, they are as good as anyone in the world. But when they fight in a body, they are the best of all. For though they are free men, they are not entirely free. They accept Law as their master. And they respect this master more than your subjects respect you. Whatever he commands, they do. And his command never changes: It forbids them to flee in battle, whatever the number of their foes. He requires them to stand firm -- to conquer or die."
Demaratus, ex-king of Sparta, comments to Xerxes of Persia, recorded in Herodotus’ Histories,

Written in the 5th century BCE



Document 2




We do not copy the laws and ways of other states. Actually, we are the pattern to others. Our administration places power in the hands of the many instead of the few: this is why it is called a democracy. If we go to court, our laws provide equal justice to all. Class considerations are not allowed to interfere with merit. Nor does poverty bar the way -- if a man is able to serve the state, he is not hindered by the obscurity of his condition.”
Pericles’ Funeral Oration for the Fallen Athenians of the Peloponnesian War, 5th century B.C.E.


Document 3


I do not approve of the Athenian constitution, but since they have decided to have it, I propose to show that they are going about the right way of preserving it. First it is right that there the poor and the commons have advantages over the nobles and the rich; for it is the commons who row the ships and give the city its power – they and the petty officers and the shipyard workers, rather than the armored troops (aristocrats) and the gentry. Slaves and non-citizens are extremely undisciplined at Athens. You are not allowed to hit them, and a slave will not get out of the way. But I will tell you why. If it were allowed, one might strike an Athenian by mistake for a slave; they are no better dressed and no better in appearance.”
From a circulated 5th century BCE Athenian pamphlet



Document 4

“…Your confidence in your own constitution and in your own public life inclines you too be skeptical toward representatives of foreigners. This may fortify your judgement, but it puts you out of touch with foreign affairs…Have you ever thought out what…the Athenians are like, or how vastly and indeed utterly, they differ from yourselves? They are revolutionaries, prompt in conception and execution. You are conservatives who deprecate new ideas and who take even less than an essential minimum of action. They are men of action, while you are never able to make up your minds. They travel to the ends of the earth, while you stay at home…”
Corinthian Diplomat’s speech before the Spartan Assembly, 432 BCE



Document 5



“In Athens, the girls who are destined to become mothers and are brought up in the approved fashion, live on the very plainest fare, with a most meager allowance of delicacies. Wine is either withheld altogether, or, if allowed them, is diluted with water. The rest of the Greeks expect their girls to imitate the sedentary life that is typical of handicraftsmen -- to keep quiet and do wool-work. How, then, is it to be expected that women so brought up will bear fine children?
But Lycurgus (of Sparta) thought the labor of slave women sufficient to supply clothing. He believed motherhood to be the most important function of freeborn woman. Therefore,…he insisted on physical training for the female no less than for the male sex: moreover, he instituted races and trials of strength for women competitors as for men, believing that if both parents are strong they produce more vigorous offspring.”
Xenophon, Athenian soldier and writer, from his book, The Constitution of Sparta, 5th c. BCE



Document 6





POPULATION


ATTICA,

ATHEN’S POLIS IN 5TH CENTURY B.C.E.

LACONIA,

SPARTA’S POLIS, 5TH CENTURY B.C.E.


CITIZENS


165,000


32,000

METICS

(RESIDENT ALIENS)


30,000




PERIOCI

(RESIDENTS WITH NO VOTE)




120,000

SLAVES (ATHENS) OR

HELOTS (SPARTA)


105,000


224,000





“ You are the unconquered blood of Hercules


So be brave, fear not the number of the enemy

Stand straight in the front rank with your shield before you

And see your life as your enemy;

The darkness of death should be as welcome as the light of the sun.”
Tyrateus, Spartan lyric poet, 6th century BC


DOCUMENT 7

5TH CENTURY TRADE

ATHENS

SPARTA




IMPORTS


BARLEY, WHEAT

SALTED FISH, GOLD

IVORY, AMBER,

TIN, COPPER, WOOD

WOOL, SKINS

IRON

IVORY

TIN

COPPER



EXPORTS

WINE, OIL, CLOTH,

JEWELRY, SILVER,

METAL TOOLS,

WEAPONS, POTTERY,

CERAMICS, BOATS, PERFUME, OINTMENT

GRAINS

CATTLE

HIDES

CERAMICS

VOTIVE ITEMS




Document 15

Document 8



“…though the neighboring peoples were subject to the Spartans, still they had equal rights, sharing both in the rights of citizenship and in the offices of state, and they were called Helots; but Agis deprived them of the equality of rights and ordered them to pay tribute to Sparta. Now all obeyed except the Heleians, the occupants of Helus, who, because they revolted, were forcibly reduced in a war, and were condemned to slavery, with the express reservation that no slaveholder should be permitted either to set them free or to sell them outside the borders of the country. This war was called the War against the Helots.”
Strabo, Greek geographer and explorer, from his book, Geography, 1st century C.E.


DOCUMENT 9



“Now that the state was emboldened and much money had been collected, Pericles (ruler of Athens) began to advise them to aim at the leadership, and to come down from their farms and live in the city, telling them that there would be food for all, some serving in the army and others as frontier-guards and others conducting the business of the community, and then by this method they would keep the leadership…They also established a plentiful free food-supply for the multitude…; for the combined proceeds of tributes, taxes, and allies served to feed more than 20,000 men. For there were 6,000 jurymen, 1,600 archers and also 1,200 cavalry, 500 members of the Council, 500 guardians of the docks, and also fifty watchmen in the city, as many as seven hundred officials at home and as many as 700 abroad; and in addition to these, when later they settled into the war, 2,500 hoplites, twenty guard-ships and other ships conveying the guards to the number of 200 elected by lot; and furthermore the Athenian ruling committee, two orphans, and warders of prisoners - all of these had their [support] from public funds.
Aristotle, Greek philosopher on Pericles, Athenian ruler of the 5th century BCE, quoted in his Politics, 4th century CE

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