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Sparta vs. Athens Essay

  • Submitted by: JoeTheSchmoe
  • on October 6, 2012
  • Category: History
  • Length: 787 words

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Below is an essay on "Sparta vs. Athens" from Anti Essays, your source for research papers, essays, and term paper examples.

Of all the great city-states (poleis) of Ancient Greece, the two most popular are Sparta and Athens.   While there were advantages to be had with their respective styles of government, economics, military, and society, there were distinct disadvantages to be had as well.
The Spartan form of government was that of an oligarchy; a state in which power is held by a small group.   There would be five elected officials and two “kings” who inherited their positions, who made all of the decisions regarding the welfare of the state. The land-owning citizens were permitted to attend these government sessions but were not were allowed to voice their opinions.   The land-owning citizens of Sparta only made up about ten percent of the total population.   The remaining ninety percent of the population were known as helots, who were the defeated natives from the land of Sparta that were forced to work for the new land-owners.   In a modern society, this would most likely be referred to as apartheid. "As the object of the Spartans was to increase the number of lots of land for their citizens, many of the conquered Messenians (those who did not manage to leave the area) were reduced to the condition of Helots. Servitude was hard, though their plight might have been harder, for they paid to their lords only one-half of the produce of the lands which they tilled.”   (Bury and Meiggs, “A History of Greece”   4th edition)
The Athenians, however, developed the first true democracy.   “ Assembly was the regular gathering of male Athenian citizens (women also enjoyed the status of “citizen,” but without political rights) to listen to, discuss, and vote on decrees that affected every aspect of Athenian life, both public and private, from financial matters to religious ones, from public festivals to war, from treaties with foreign powers to regulations governing ferry boats.”   (Christopher W. Blackwell, “The Assembly”)   As with any society, there was a hierarchy among the citizens, ranging...

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