Sparta Vs Athens Essay, Research Paper
Sparta and Athens – Explain and Contrast
Both Sparta and Athens were Greek city-states. Sparta was a strict military ruled city-state where the people established themselves as a military power early. However Athens was more of a political city-state that was more involved with their economical stature than their military forces. Still changes from the Persian wars would change the powers of the city-state and somewhat unite them.
Sparta was a strict military city-state. The people were Dorians who conquered Laconia. This region lies in the Peloponnesus, which lied in southern Greece. The invaders turned the conquered people into state owned slaves, called helots. Since the helots greatly outnumbered their rulers, Spartans established a strict and brutal system of control. The Spartan government had two kings and a council of elders who advised the monarchs. An assembly made up of all citizens approved all major decisions. From child-hood, a Spartan prepared to be part of the military. All newborn were examined and the healthy lived and the sickly were left to die. Spartans wanted future soldiers or mothers of soldiers to be healthy. At the age of seven, boys trained for a lifetime in the Spartan military. They moved to the barracks and endured brutal and extensive training.
Athens was located in Attica, just north of the Peloponnesus. As in many Greek city-states, Athenian government evolved from a monarchy into an aristocracy. Around 700 B.C., noble landowners chose 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. And freed those who had already been sod into slavery due to debt. Solon encouraged the export of olive oil and other such products, aiding to the economy.
The Persian war brought massive change to the people of both Sparta and Athens. The Persians were great conquerors who crushed rebel cities with ease. King Darius sent a large force to punish Athens with its interference. The Persian army landed at Marathon where Athenian forces attacked. Though they were outnumbered 2 to 1 they emerged victorious. Athens had convinced Sparta and other city-states to join them in their battles. The Persians launched another attack and they were met with a small group of Spartans who fought hand and teeth and emerged victorious. This established Athens as the most powerful city-state.
Although Athens and Sparta believed in two completely different forms of government, It was Sparta not Athens who emerged victorious. Athens way of economy led them to a golden age while the Spartans still trained in their harsh military lifestyle and the Persian wars did hold an immense change on the people of both Sparta and Athens.