Athens and Sparta

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Michael James G. Lao History 2/13/14 Compare and Contrast: Athens and Spartans Ancient Greece was comprised of small city-states, of which Sparta and Athens were two. Athens was renowned as a center of wisdom and learning. The people of Athens were interested in arts, music, and intellectual pursuits. Sparta, on the other hand, was recognized for its military strength. A Spartan's life was centered on the state, because they lived and died to serve the state. Although the competing city-states of Sparta and Athens were individually different as well as governmentally diverse, they both managed to become dominating powers in Ancient Greece. The political power of Athens is based on economic power. Democracy is based on middle class economic power. In slow evolution towards democracy, as their trade increased, Athenian craftsmen and merchants had enough money to purchase their own weapons. These armed ordinary people formed the phalanx which made the aristocratic cavalry obsolete. On the other hand, the Spartan constitution reputedly introduced by semi legendary Lycurgus in 600 B.C. to reflect their deep conservatism and made a minimal concession to democracy. Their authority was carefully kept in the hands of the elders. In this oligarchy, the citizens in Sparta were firmly guided by age and experience, and many outsiders admired Sparta’s mixed constitution, in which they seemed to balance their democracy in oligarchy. The Athenian economy had some crafts and agriculture. But Athens’s power rested on trading olive oil and silver mines. Slavery was everywhere. Slaves worked beside free men and women. They could have homes, earn money, and even own slaves. In Spartan economy, their economy rested on an enslaved population (helots) ten times more numerous than the Spartans (Lecture). Usually, Sparta’s helots seemed to
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