ANCIENTCULTURESAthens and SpartaMaram KhatibDania Aburouss
ATHENS: the capital and largest city of Greece, it is one of theworlds oldest cities, as its recorded history spans around3,400 years. It is widely referred to as the cradle ofWestern civilization and the birthplace of democracy ,largely due to the impact of its cultural and politicalachievements during the 5th and 4th centuries BC on therest of the then known European continent . Athens was the host city of the first modern-day Olympic Games in 1896, and 108 years later it welcomed home the 2004 Summer Olympics.
Religion:Ancient Greek theology was based onpolytheism ; that is, the assumption thatthere were many gods and goddesses.There was a hierarchy of deities, with Zeus,the king of the gods, having a level ofcontrol over all the others, although he wasnot omnipotent. While being immortal, thegods were not all powerful. They had toobey fate, which overrode all.
Macedonian era: After the Golden Age, in 431 BC Sparta declaredwar on Athens and after many years of fighting,Athens was finally defeated. The Peloponnesian War,as it was called, had weakened most of Greece,enabling Philip II of Macedonia to subdue themajority of the Greek states, including Attica. Later,Philips son, Alexander the Great consolidated allof Greece and established his empire, conqueringareas in Africa and the East, spreading the Greeklanguage and culture. During Alexanders reign,Athens remained an intellectual center.
SPARTAN LIFESTYLE: Spartan boys were sent to military school at age 6 or 7. They lived, trained and slept in the barracks of their brotherhood. They were taught survival skills and other skills necessary to be a great soldier. Although students were taught to read and write, those skills were not very important to the ancient Spartans. Only warfare mattered. The boys were not fed well, and were told that it was fine to steal food as long as they did not get caught stealing. If they were caught, they were beaten. The boys marched without shoes to make them stronger. Somewhere between the age of 18-20, Spartan males had to pass a difficult test of fitness, military ability, and leadership skills. Any Spartan male who did not pass these examinations became a perioikos.
If they passed, they became a full citizen and a Spartan soldier. Spartan citizens were not allowed to touch money. That was the job of the middle class. Spartan soldiers spent most of their lives with their fellow soldiers. They ate, slept, and continued to train in their brotherhood barracks. Even if they were married, they did not live with their wives and families. They lived in the barracks. Military service did not end until a Spartan male reached the age of 60. At age 60, a Spartan soldier could retire and live in their home with their family. Known to be descendants of Hercules himself the Spartans had warrior in their blood.
EDUCATION OF ATHENIANS: • Purpose: The Athenians wanted their sons to have a "rounded" education so that they would know something about a wide range of subjects and be able to "appreciate" many things. They were not concerned with specialization or preparation for any specific job. • Schools: - most boys went to school roughly from age 7 to age 14 (girls stayed at home and learned the skills of housekeeping and motherhood, but some families hired private tutors to educate their daughters – there were some very well educated Athenian women)
• All schools were private schools - parents had to pay to send their children to school but the fees were so low that even poor citizens could usually afford to have their sons educated and most did so because they valued education .• The academic part of the school day began at dawn and lasted untilabout noon .• Teachers were often retired military men - discipline wasstrict, beatings were given not only for misbehaviour but alsofor careless mistakes• Boys were mostly accompanied to and from school by an educated and trustedslave called a PEDAGOGUE, whose job it was to protect the young man fromundesirables, help him to choose good friends and oversee his behavior and hisprogress in class (the slaves sat at the back of the class and observed) .
• The three main subjects that they studiedwere: Grammar, music and Gymnastics.• After the young man finished his basic education,he might go for higher education to one of theschools of philosophers or the sophists.• From the ages 18 to 20, all able-bodied Athenianyouths were to take military training for the army ornavy. Athens was justifiably known as the "School ofHellas" (Greece) because of their high standard ofknowledge and respect for education.
GOVERNMENT IN SPARTA: Sparta had two kings, who came from two different families. But these monarchs did not have absolute power. They shared power with each other, and they also had to answer to council of elders. They were all male citizens over the age of sixty. There were twenty-eight of them. These elders were elected and they served for life. Below them comes the assembly, which consisted of all male citizens over the age of thirty. They voted on proposals that originated in the council of elders. To complete the system of checks and balances, the Spartans created a judicial position called ephor. At any given time, there were five citizens serving in this role. Ephors were citizens over the age of thirty. They were elected to serve one-year terms. An ephor could bring charges against anyone in Sparta—including one the city-state’s kings.
Sparta was therefore not as much of a totalitarian state. Sparta’s elaborate system of checks and balances prevented any one individual from becoming absolute dictator over the polis. This did not make Sparta any less absolutist—but at least it was not a one-man dictatorship. The government enforced various isolationist measures. Foreigners were discouraged from visiting Sparta. Outsiders would likely bring ideas that could upset the Spartan system. The Spartan government also discouraged pursuits thathad no direct relationship to the military. As a result, theSpartans did not make significant achievements in art,literature, and philosophy. Nor did they leave mucharchitecture. The Spartan leadership regarded most aspectsof culture as frivolous and possibly corrupting.
IN ATHENS: Only in Athens, and only for a short time, "rule by many" meant that all citizens had to be willing to take an active part in government. That was the law. Each year, 500 names were drawn from all the citizens of Athens. Those 500 citizens had to serve for one year as the law makers of ancient Athens. All citizens of Athens were required to vote on any new law that this body of 500 citizens created. One man, one vote, majority ruled. Women, children, and slaves were not citizens, and thus could not vote.
SPARTAN AND ATHENIAN WOMEN: "With it or on it." Weve all heard that Spartan mothers said it while giving their sons shields before their first battle. With it = victorious hero; on it = fallen hero; without it = coward.
WHY SPARTAN WOMEN WERE MORE DOMINANT INSOCIETY THAN THEIR ATHENIAN SISTERS? Girls were given a good education in both the arts and athletics. Women were encouraged to develop their intellect. Women owned more than a third of the land. There was less difference in age between husbands and wives, and girls in Sparta married at a later age than their sisters in Athens. Husbands spent most of their time with other men in the military barracks; since the men were rarely home, the women were free to take charge of almost everything outside of the army. Mothers reared their sons until age 7 and then society took over. Fathers played little or no role in child care.