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Athens and Sparta Essay

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Athens and Sparta existed from 2000 B.C. to 404 B.C. Sparta came around when the helots were conquered in a village that was named Sparta which became their capital. Athens were sea traders and were big on trade, which might have been a reason why their city-state came about. Sparta was located in a village down in a valley. They were a rigid and highly militarized society. Their location may have helped explain why Sparta developed different from Athens. Athens was an attic peninsula that was built inland. Their city-state was built around the rocky hill of Acropolis. Sparta was ruled by two kinds. One king led the army, while the other took care of the matters at home. The Council of Elders were made up of 28 male citizens over 60. They were usually wealthy and high in power. They proposed laws and served as a criminal court. An assembly consisted of all male citizens over 30 voted on those laws proposed by the Council of Elders to accept or reject them. The helots in Sparta hated the Spartans and what they did, because they had no say and were treated as a low class. Athens was a democracy ruled by Cleisthenes. What he first did was divide Athen’s citizens into 10 tribes. Then each tribe chose 50 men. And those men formed what we call the Council of Five Hundred. The members served for one year and couldn’t be chosen more than twice. They proposed laws to the assembly, but the assembly had the final word. The court became more democratic also. Jurors were citizens chosen by lots, and each many could plead his own case to the jury. They voted each case by using a secret ballot. Before Cleisthenes came to power Peisistratus ruled Athens. He was a tyrant that did not get along with the nobles. But it seems like with a democracy the people of Athens had more say in what they wanted which makes it fair to everybody.

In Sparta there were three social groups. The first was the equals who controlled the city-state. Half-citizens were the second. They were free, paid taxes, served in the army, but had no political power. Some half-citizens farmed and others lived in the towns where they traded and worked with industry. Helots were the lowest class and they were the slaves. In Athens there were also three classes. Citizens were the top group, they could be rich aristocrats or they could be poor farmers. Only citizens born in Athens had full political rights. Metics were the second group. They were non-citizens, because they were born outside of Athens. They worked as merchants or artisans. They could not take part in the government or own land. Slaves consisted of the last group. In Sparta their customs was to bathe kids in wine. They did that to prepare them to become warriors. The babies were examined from the time they were born and if the people thought it wasn’t fit to be a warrior it was left for death. They had the traditions of the heredity of crowns. Each crown within a family was hereditary. The army of Sparta was led by a king, which were the ones with the crown. The value of Sparta was mainly for military purposes and to train boys to become warriors. In Athens it was common for women to get married at a young age, like 13 or 14 years old. The man she got married to was sometimes twice her age, even older! The main purpose of that was so the girl could have children. But if a family couldn’t afford to take care of a child it was left to die, especially if it was a girl. Boys got a pedagogue at age seven who taught them manners. The values of Athens was all about family and marriage.

In Sparta females could own property. But they could not vote or hold office. They gave birth to the kids, that were trained to be warriors. So pretty much without them they couldn’t become what they were militarily without them. In Athens they had no power, they had to be in the background (like hidden). The women were only used for the birth of children. They were citizens but could not own or inherit property. They stayed at home and learned to run a household but usually received no other education. In Athens they placed great value on literacy and education. Parents sent their sons to elementary school for a small fee. Women did not go to school. They weren’t really educated at all unless you were rich and that was a maybe. The boys studied reading, writing, grammar, poetry, music, and gymnastics. In Sparta the goal was to make every adult male citizen a part of the military. When a baby was born it went under examination. If it wasn’t healthy it was left to die. When boys were seven they left home to live in military barracks. And then from ages eighteen to twenty they trained specifically for war. When men reached the age of twenty they began their service in the military. They could not go home until they were 30. Men remained eligible for military service until they were 60. The Spartan girls had to be healthy and strong. Both boys and girls studied music in order to learn discipline and coordination. Sparta felt the need to have a military, because they felt that they needed to keep the power to control people and have power. In Athens at age eighteen males received a year of military training. If the men could afford armor and weapons they became hoplites and served in the army for a year. Hoplites formed the center of the infantry. Men who could not afford those items served on the army’s flanks. They also rowed the warships in the Athenian fleet.

A famous person and or leader of Sparta is King Leonidas. He was the king of Sparta form 490 B.C. until 480 B.C. when he died. He is known for his great sacrifice, because he sent almost all of his army away when he noticed that he got outwitted by the Persians. In Athens their leader was Peisistratus then it was his son, and then it was Cleisthenes. A famous Athenian would be Draco. He was an archon who was thought to have created Athens’s first written law code around 621 B.C. The laws were so cruel and severe that they now call a harsh law a Draconian law. If I had to choose what city-state to live in it would be hard to pick. In both of those cities women had no particular rights. In Sparta men couldn’t marry until they were 20. It doesn’t say that they got married to young people like the Athenians, but I might take that chance and live in Sparta. But I am not much for war and violence, therefore I might like Athens better. In Sparta women had to be strong and healthy which would be good for me, because I don’t eat healthy and I am weak. So with all the pros and cons pointed out I think I would rather live in Sparta, because of the strength, healthy eating, marrying possibly at an older age, and for the right to own property if I wanted to.

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