Sparta Vs Athens


In Ancient Greece there were two different major forms of government,
Oligarchy and Democracy. The two city-states that best represent each
form of government were Sparta (oligarchy) and Athens (democracy). The
democratic government in Athens, though de cently equal, fair and fairly
advanced for its time, did not meet the needs of the Greeks. During a
time of many military battles Athens decided to worry more about comfort
and culture. It is the oligarchy in Sparta that put a war-like attitude
as it's first priority and best met the needs of Ancient Greece. 

The Athenian democratic government, which may have given the citizens in
Greece more freedom, was not the best form of government at the time. The
democracy in Athens cannot really be called a true democracy since there
were several flaws in the governme nt and the way it worked. Only ten per
cent of the total population of Athens actually had voting rights and all
of these citizens were upper class men who were over thirty years old. 
Women, no matter what the class or age, were given no freedom at all. 
 They were first owned by their fathers and then were passed from them to
their husbands who then gave them nothing more than the responsibilities
of managing the household and educating the children. During a meeting of
the Assembly, a policy could be adopted and formed into a law but once the
meeting of the assembly ended, the enforcement of that law was left in the
hands of people who may not agree with that specific law. Also, a rule of
the Assembly said that if a certa! in speaker became too powerful, he
could be expelled from the country if given a majority vote by the
Assembly. This rule could easily be abused and really infringed on the
freedom of speech that most democracies have. The Assembly was made up of
 hundred men who were chosen from a list of those who were eligible to
serve on the council. Since most of the population was of a lower
economic class, the time taken away from their normal work by serving on
the Assembly lowered their earning potential , causing their already poor
situation to worsen. Life may have been sophisticated and graceful in
Athens but the Athenians were often mocked by opposing countries and other
city-states for having no bravery, patriotism or courage. This was shown
by the
 repeated attacks on Athens. If the Athenians had a more war-like
reputation, they probably could have avoided many of those conflicts that
eventually led to the loss of the power Athens held in Ancient Greece. 

In the city-state of Sparta, the government was controlled by an oligarchy
in which the power was held by a group of five men called ephors. It may
not seem very fair that the citizens had little say in the decisions made
by the government but, at the ti me, this was the better government. The
Spartans needed to give up comfort and culture for a more disciplined
military approach to control the rebelling Messenians which eventually
turned them into a deadly war machine. Over the years, the Spartan's r
uthless and brutal reputation in war grew so large that other nations and
city-states were so frightened that they would not attack Sparta even
though the Spartan army was not more larger then eight thousand men. The
Spartan men in the army would start t heir military training at the age of
seven and were trained to be tough and very self-sufficient. Every man in
the army would fight with a great deal of passion for his country. Life
in Sparta may have been rough but the res! t of the Greeks envied the
Spartans for their simplicity, straight forwardness, and fanatical
dedication. There was a law in Sparta that banned all foreign trade and
foreign travelling. This kept out all foreign ideas and allowed them to
have the eleme nt of surprise when it came to attacks. This law did not
affect their economy, which was already self-sufficient. Unlike the rest
of Greek women, Spartan women had the freedom of equal rights except for
voting rights. Since men were in the military,
 the women had full authority over their households and weren't forced
into a life of only childbearing and housekeeping like the Athenian woman. 
The best example of why the Spartan government was better then the
Athenian government happened in 404 B.C. 
 when the Spartan army were able to conquer the mighty power known as
Athens. The Spartan government was clearly better for that time period
because they could handle the rigors of the military craze which was
growing amongst! 
 its enemies. 

For that specific time period the oligarchy government in Sparta was
better for the Ancient Greeks than the democratic government in Athens. 
The government in Athens worried more about the citizens of its city-state
then its own well-being. The Spartan oligarchy may not have given its
citizens a lot of freedom but it was successful in gaining attention and
respect from the other Greeks and their rival nations.


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