Sparta was the greatest Greek polis in ancient times. For reasons why, read thefollowing. Once you are done reading, you too will agree.The Spartans trained their whole life to become military soldiers and fight. Somemay criticize them for this, saying that they focused too much on military rather than theintellectual side of life. The ancient times was a very tough period of life. You had todefend yourself or risk being destroyed. Instead of wasting time writing, the Spartanstrained, so that they could both defend themselves, and attack others. If Athens invented anew popcorn machine, and the Spartans wanted it, all they would have to do is marchover, fight them, and then seize it. The mind may be power today, but back then, strengthcould get you anything that you wanted. And that is why Spartan society thrived.Whatever Athens had, Sparta could get through military strength.In all of Greece, women were treated with no respect, except for Sparta that is. If you went to Athens, women would be at home, cleaning the house, doing whatever their husbands told them to do. In Sparta, young girls went to school to learn how to read andwrite. And they also had a mind of their own. No, they would not get into large fightswith their husbands, but they did say something if they had a statement on their mind.Women were also psychically trained to that they would stay in shape, they did this bylearning gymnastics. In other Greek states, women had to stay indoors at all times, unlessthey were specifically told to go outside by their husband. That was no the case in Sparta,where women had much more freedom to go where they wanted to. Sparta was one of thefirst societies to give treat women with a fair amount of respect.Homosexuality was very common in Sparta. Many believe that this was the samecase for all of Greece, but it was only widely spread in a small number of Greek states.The men of ancient Sparta were largely homosexual, or bisexual. This may be becausemen grew up with the same group of males throughout their entire life. From when theystarted training at the age of 7, to when they died in battle alongside of them in war.Bisexuality was also fairly common between women. Females would commonly haveaffairs with unmarried, young women.Sparta was a big stickler for perfection, especially when it came to their militaryand soldiers. They believed that if a soldier died in training, that it was for the best because they would never make a good soldier. To separate the strong from the weak,soldiers were trained for over 10 years in sometimes very dangerous tasks. When a childwas born, he or she was check out by a council of advisors. They would look for physicalimperfections on the baby. If they found any, then they would take the child and leavehim in the woods or the mountains. Both men and women were physically trained to havea perfect body. Obesity was not allowed and was rare in Sparta. To be Spartan meant to be perfect.
The country of Greece in 400-500 B.C. was led to greatness by two great city-states. These city-states were Athens and Sparta. These two states were as different as night and day. They were rivals and very diverse. As you read you will find out their differences between their form of culture and government.
The city-state of Athens adopted a form of government which is now called democracy. Democracy is when the government is ruled by the people. This government consisted of an assembly , a jury , and there was a council of 500 men over 30 . The council decided such matters as to declare war or to spend money. The council was used to make decisions for the Athenian government. All men that were citizens were able to participate in an assembly , hold office , vote , and serve on a jury. Slaves could not do any of these things because they were not counted as citizens . The Athenian government was as similar as the American government today (Meigas 32).
Unlike the government of Athens the government of Sparta flourished as an aristocracy . This type of government is when a place is ruled by a small number of people from the upper class . There was a Council of Elders , an assembly , and the five ephors. The Council of Elders was made up of two kings and 28 men over the age of 60. This council decided on making laws. The assembly was made out of all male citizens over 30. The assembly did many things. It elected government workers and voted on laws that were introduced by the Council of Elders. The ephors were selected by the assembly. The ephors were overseers. They controlled slaves , conducted business with foreign countries , and negotiated with the kings (Hornblower 35).
The men of ancient Athens were very educated. From their childhood until the ages of six or seven the men were taught home by their mother or a male slave. After the age of seven they attended a normal day school. At school they learned drama, public speaking, reading, writing, and mathematics . When they reached the age of fourteen they attended a higher school for four more years. At the higher school they learned more math , more science , and things about the government. When the men reached the age of 18 the were required to attend military school for 2 more years. The Athenian men were skilled architects , poets , and artists. From them is where we get great works known as The Odyssey and The Iliad by the writer known as Homer (Meigas 123).
The men of ancient Sparta were very cunning , slick , and strong. During their childhood the Spartan men were taken away from their parents. Being taken away at the age of seven , they were sent to military school. If a child was not strong , he/she was left on a cliff to die of exposure. In the military school they lived in barracks. They were taught survival skills , the endurance of pain , discipline , and toughness at the school. They were given little food and were encouraged to steal. If they were caught stealing they would get a beating. They were also beaten up by older children in fights , so they could become tough and strong. At the age of 20 the Spartan men finally became soldiers. Once they got married , they were only allowed to live in their own homes with their family at the age of 30. At this age they were considered equals. The military service for the Spartan men ended at the age of 60 (Connolly 230).
The Athenian women were very literate and educated. The women were not counted as citizens and they were not allowed to hold property. The women received the same education as the Athenian men did. Although the education was the same, the women were not allowed to leave the household. They did not go shopping or to run errands. Their husband did most of these things. The main job of the women was to run the household. She managed the family’s money , the children , and the slaves. She also spun wool and created artistic pottery (Hornblower 145).
In Sparta the lives of women were unlike the lives of any other Greek polis. The Spartan state didn’t take the academic education of a female seriously. The physical education that the women had was very tough and grueling. They learned gymnastics and aerobics. They also had more freedom then women of other city-states. They were able to move from place to place , do the shopping , and control the house. They also had a lot of freedom from their husbands because their husbands lived in barracks. Most of the time the Spartan women worked on fields and were medics to the injured Spartan soldiers. They were considered as mothers to all Spartan soldiers (Connolly 260).
This is how the culture and the government of the Greek city-states of Sparta and Athens was different. Each state had a different type of education and a different momentum of how the government wanted their polis to be. These city-states again were very diverse and different. In my writing you saw how different they were.
Filed Under: Ancient Greece, History