Athens and Sparta Lifestyle, Government, and Major Conflicts
The Spartan Lifestyle “ So seriously did the Spartan children go about their stealing, that a boy, having stolen a young fox and hid it under his cloak, let it tear out his guts with its teeth and claws and died right there, rather than let it be seen” - Plutarch
The Spartan Government Most Greek towns, by 900 b.c., had gotten rid of their kings and tried new forms of governments. Sparta was one of the few cities that kept their kings. In fact, they had two kings! One stayed home to help run the country, and the other fought in wars to protect the land and city.
Slavery was common in Egypt, as we learned about the Egyptians and the Nubians. Sparta also used slavery as a means of getting certain city work completed. The Spartans conquered the Messenians form Messenia, whom they called the ‘helots’ (HEEL-otts). The Messenians did the Spartans farm work, and were treated terribly.
Spartan Children The Spartan boys were not taught to read or write. They did not do math and did not play music. They are raised to be fighting machines. They exercised, used swords, and were not allowed any luxuries, including food and blankets, This was to make them tough. The Spartan girls stayed home with their mother and father and learned to spin and weave. Do not be mistaken though they too were tough and were to exercise often.
The Spartan army was one of the best in Greece. However, because they enslaved the Messenians, the army had to stay close because if they were far away, the Messenians would revolt and try to run to freedom from Sparta.
When Two Great Cities Clash Athens v.s Sparta in the Peloponnesian War
Sparta kept people enslaved, and they raised their children to face death at war at any time. Consider this hypocrisy when the Spartans decided that the Athenians were pushing people around and had to be stopped. The Spartans befriended the Corinthians and attacked Athens
At first, the Spartans were losing.
A Plague hit Athens, which helped the Spartans gain a win against the Athenians.
The Spartans got a little advice, and were told to build a Navy. This helped them even more!
The Spartans won in 404 b.c and broke down Athens’ walls.
Remember how the Messenians caused a problem for the Spartans when it came to how far they could go out to war? What do you think happened when the Spartans were at war with the Athenians?
The Messenians got help from the Theban army, and revolted. The Messenians won the revolt and started their own city outside of Sparta. What did this mean for the Spartan men? They had to farm. This left less time to practice with swords and exercise, and thus the Messenian revolt helped the reduce the Spartan Army and keep it from reining ever again. The Messenian Revolt
Athens: The Democracy
The first democracy ever was started by Cleisthenes, the leader of Athens. He wanted power, but he did not want tyranny.
The men of Athens were able to help the government make decisions on issues that would effect the whole city. For example, if Athens wanted to go to war, the citizens would gather in an assembly and decide if they all should or should not go to war.
The Catch Women, Slaves, Children and Foreigners could not vote.
The People of The First Democratic System The assembly, known as the Ekklesia, had to have 6,000 men present to be able to make a final decision. Every year 500 men were randomly picked to join the Council of Five Hundred, or Boule, whom offered ideas for new laws to the Ekklesia. They were also in charge of managing street repair, temples and navy ships. Officials were elected and called Archons, to take care of specific tasks. Ten generals (strategoi) were elected each year by the Assembly, to help make decisions. The generals gained much power and soon became similar to our President. The most famous was Pericles, who gained his power after the Peloponnesian War.
The Future Struggle The Athenian democracy had some troubles during the Peloponnesian war when they were fighting the Spartans. The democracy held on, until the end of Sparta and Athens when King Philip of Macedon conquered both.