Classical Athens Vs Sparta

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Athens and Sparta are the two most well known poleis of ancient Greece and each was known for the structure of its society. In this essay I will discuss how people in those societies obtained the right to participate in public life and make community decisions, identify who held public office, and how public office holders were elected. How those two societies were similar and how they differed will also be discussed throughout this essay. Both Athens and Sparta had a societal structure based on a class system that dictated the path of the people in those city states. In Sparta you had not only the warrior Spartans but also the Periokoi (non-Spartan free men) and the Helots who were essentially slaves to the Spartan society. Athens too had …show more content…
Both societies had a popular assembly, as did most Greek poleis, but in Sparta that assembly held limited power with their most important powers being to elect Ephors and Gerousia. One of the most notable things of the Spartan system was that they would have 2 kings who were from different royal families, the Agiads and the Eurypontids. These kings did not hold absolute power, however as they were still beholden the other elements of Spartan politics, the Gerousia and the Ephors. (Brand, N.D.). The male Spartan soldier citizenry participated in the popular assembly which elected the public office holders of the Gerousia and Ephors. The rules dictated that Ephors could only serve a single 1 year term and this was the only way that a non-aristocratic Spartan to achieve political office. The Gerousia was made up of 30 aristocrats aged 60 or older plus the two kings who gained automatic membership. This Grousia held the real power in the Spartan political system. The power of the assembly was limited because the Ephors and Gerousia could dictate what matters the assembly could address. (Brand, …show more content…
Both societies forbade a majority of the people within its borders from political involvement and restricted political rights from women, foreigner or immigrants, or slaves, however, Athens provided greater freedoms for those not considered citizens. While the Spartan system had some elements of representation found in a Republic, in practice it was dictatorial in nature with the public assembly having very little power and the real power was consolidated in the hands of the oligarchs of the Gerousia. In contrast, the Athenians were a direct democracy and political power was offered to a broader citizenry, though citizenship was still restricted to a relatively small segment of the overall

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