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Athens vs. Sparta – Comparative

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Tags: armyAthensbattleculturemilitarySpartaSpartan soldiers

Essay type: narrative essay

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Athens Vs. Sparta Tyler King Greece, a country united by its name, but divided by its opinions, was separated into many city-states. The two most authoritative states were the two that were always at war. These very distinct provinces were that of Sparta and Athens. Sparta was focused on having a perfect military, whereas Athens made it a point to have a perfect government for their people. Athenian daily life revolved around learning and knowledge where a Spartan male devoted his time to the army. When Athenian children were being trained for life, Spartan children were being trained for battle. Athens and Sparta were very different, especially in their views of politics, military, and culture. These two city-states had very different opinions of their military. They were both very powerful and extremely feared. Many Greek cities dreaded facing the Athenian navy where Sparta frightened these city-states on land. The lives of Spartans revolved around military. At age seven, each and every Spartan boy would be required to start his training at the agoge to become an elite fighter. The education given was meant to create Spartans into soldiers. Not only were the Spartans raised to be military-minded, but they were also expected to be a disciplined soldier. The strict rules of the government made it so that every Spartan was to be physically fit and always ready for battle. Once of age and rank, a Spartan warrior would be invited to a mess, this would house a Spartan for the rest of his life. Without belonging to a mess, a Spartan would be nothing. Spartans thrived for battle and this is why they continuously won each battle they entered. The Spartan soldiers remained very close with each other considering most of them are related. They fight in a phalanx formation, which is almost impeccable. Before being defeated at the battle of Epiminondas against Thebes, the Spartan army was triumphant in over 300 continuous battles. The Athenian army, on the other hand, was based on the “hoplite” or foot soldier, and it’s navy. It was one of the first navy’s established in the ancient world and this was why it flourished. The Athenians continually added new ships, making it almost impossible for other armies to defeat. Politics was one of the main causes for battle between these two historical ity-states. As in many Greek city-states, Athenian government evolved from a monarchy into an aristocracy. Around 700 B. C. , noble landowners began chosing the chief officials. Nobles judged major cases in court and dominated the assembly. Athenian wealth and power grew under the aristocracy. Yet discontent spread over the commoners. Merchants and soldiers resented the power of the nobles and argued that their services to Athens entitled them to more rights. As discontent spread, the government slowly moved towards a democracy. Solon, one of Athens greatest leaders, made many reforms such as outlawing debt slavery. Solon also promoted freeing those who had already been sold into slavery due to their debt. The Spartans formed a very complex government mixing democracy and oligarchy, and this form of government was a model for other city-states. The government was made up of four parts, the kingship, the council of elders, the Ephorate, and the Assembly. The kingship in Sparta was shared by two kings who inherited their position for life. They shared equal powers which included being active commanders of the army, which gave them power to go to war with any country they choose. The council of elders, called Gerousia, were elected by the Assembly and held office for life. The Gerousia consisted of 30 men including the two kings that decided whether or not a child would be raised or not. If they were to not be raised, the children would be left for dead. The Ephorate was the biggest constitutional change which occured after the first Peloponnesian war. It consisted of five men who were chosen by the kings, but soon that would change and these men would be elected annually. Their basic role was to keep the kings on the right track, to make sure that they stood by their oaths, and this was to keep the kings from gaining too much power. The Assembly was made up of male Spartan citizens over the age of thirty. Culture was a major diversion between these two ferocious city-states. Athens offered an all around education where everyone was entitled to learn, not just the rich. The daily life of an Athenian incorporated knowledge with military tactics, and this is why they were so successful. The Athenians were also concerned with making a profit so they became sea traders, which was a major income for the Athenian city. Unlike the Athenians, the Spartans were culturally backward, which means we never learned from this society's way of life. They had no real family life and were very militaristic. They spoke in laconic phrases, which meant they answered or spoke in as little words as possible. They were forced to marry at 30 so they could produce as many healthy children as possible considering all unhealthy children were left to die. Athens and Sparta were two very unrelated city-states which caused for much tension between them. They did not agree on many things including military tactics, treatment of slaves, politics, and the daily life a citizen lived. An Athenian person was very well educated where as a Spartan was a natural born warrior. These provinces battled for a very long time before Sparta emerged victorious.
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