Governmental body of Athens and Sparta Spartans were the warriors. Athenians were the brains. This is what we learned in school as kids. We did delve into how these great cities worked. It has gone down in history that Athens was the birthplace of democracy. This makes many people believe that their was equality in Athens like their is in today’s democratic societies. However if you were not lucky enough to be born a rich Athenian male you were not allowed to hold political office. Spartans were the warriors everyone fear in Greece. They were known for their ruthlessness. Their military are till this day revered by countries. How did these societies work? If the Spartans were always away who ran the government? Who participated in the political aspects of these city-states?
In this essay these questions will be answered and many others. Let’s delve into the ancient cities of Athens and Sparta. Athens and Sparta had a very strict and finite way that one could participate in Public life and make decisions for the Community. Although both Athens and Sparta had very similar rules. Sparta was very cut to and dry, If you were a free male citizen in Sparta you were part of the Assembly. The Assembly not only had the power to pick the annual Ephors they also had the power to pick the Gerousia when a position became available. The Assembly also were able to pass laws and were able to make decisions on war. However, the assembly had little power compared to the Ephors and the Gerousia. The Ephors were elected annually. Ephors could only serve one term in office. The Ephors combined with the two kings were considered the Executive branch in Sparta. (Brand, P. J. (n.d.).)
The Gerousia were a more elite group that was harder to get into. Once a free male citizen became 60 they could become part of the Gerousia once a position became available. The Gerousia were the ones who ultimately made the decision as no laws could be passed without their approval. These three assemblies including the Kings are who made decisions that affected the community in Sparta. As for the right to participate in public life Spartan women were permitted the freedom to go out in public. This being mostly due to the fact the free male spartan were soldiers and could not be there to manage the households economic affairs. During Athens Archaic Period the power to participate in public life and make decisions were solely in the hand on the Aristocratic class. The Aristocratic class were the ones who controlled both the economy as well as the political government in Athens. The middle class would often fight for economic and political rights that were more favorable to them.
Where as the poor class would fall so far in debt to the aristocratic class that they would end up selling themselves into slavery. This was first changed by Solon. His reform made it that the lower class could not sell themselves to forgo their debt. Cleisthenes is where democracy truly began in athens. Democracy in Athens however, did not differ very much from Sparta’s government. The only population that was allowed to participate in the political aspect of the government were free adult males who had athenian parent’s. When it came to seeking political office Athen’s still had a class based system. The richest men were known as 500 Bushel men (Brand, P. J. (n.d.). These men were given the freedom to apply for any political position. Which included the 10 anual generals that were elected for the military.
The 300 bushel men(Brand, P. J. (n.d.)) as well as 200 bushel men(Brand, P. J. (n.d.)) could only serve for lower political offices. The lowest class 199 bushel men (Brand, P. J. (n.d.)) could not be assigned into a political office however, the could vote in the assembly. Everyone else which included women, slaves and metics ( Foreigners) were not allowed to participate in and part of the government politically.The popular Assembly consisted of all male athenian citizens 20 years or older. Higher political offices were only given to the wealthie male athenian citizen. These were mainly aristocrats. Although Sparta and Athens had very different systems their rules of who could participate in the Political aspect of their cities did not differ. In Sparta as well as Athens they only ones who were allowed to participate in their government were male citizens of their cities decent. However, where Sparta had a more all inclusive system of all Spartan male citizens were equal. Athens had a class based system. The richer you were the more power you held politically. Spartan society did not discriminate themselves into classes because they all believed to be superior over the helots. (Brand, P. J. (n.d.).)
In conclusion, Athens and Sparta although different cities with different government had very similar rules. Sparta was known for their military. However their government were very equal. All free Spartan males were allowed to run for government positions. Athens although democratic were more judgmental with their own people. They had a class based system on who could and could not run for office. Spartan women were known for being outspoken and were able to run their household. All in all Although both city states had many differences in how things were run. They both had a downfall in the end due to not being a united country.
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