Athens V Sparta
The Greek city-states of Athens and Sparta were similar in that they both denied women basic rights, but they are more different because of their culture and political structures. In both city-states, their social structures featured women as minorities. However, their customs and concepts differ tremendously.
Generally, Sparta had a very strict military-based state, while Athens focused on the fine arts. Politically, the two city states differed in that Athens had a democracy and Sparta had an oligarchy. Although the city-states had some similarities, they had vast differences.
Athens and Sparta were similar when it came to their social structures. Women’s rights and responsibilities were one of the few areas in which they were alike. In Athens, women had many responsibilities at home. It was their job to care for kids and the house. Women also were in charge of taking care of the slaves if they happened to get sick or hurt. Although they couldn’t vote in Athens’ democracy, women could participate in religious festivals. In the city-state of Sparta, women also raised their children and took care of the house.
Here, women were allowed to own their own property. All women had the responsibility of managing the estate, supervising the slaves and doing the finances. In Sparta, women had a duty to keep healthy so that they could bear a child that could eventually join the military. Since the women of Athens and Sparta were required to stay at home, the men were able to pursue cultural and military activities. This is extremely important to the cultures of both city-states because it influences how they developed and thrived.
As you can see, the city states were very similar when it came to the responsibilities of women and their social structures. Athens and Sparta differed greatly in the way that their governments were set up. Sparta followed an oligarchy. An oligarchy is when the government is ruled by a small group of very powerful people. In Sparta, older and more experienced men were chosen to be the leaders. The Council of Elders consisted of thirty men. All of the men in the council were at least sixty years of age or older. Sparta also had an assembly.
It consisted of men that were thirty and older. There were five chief officials in Sparta that determined the final decisions made for the city-state. However, the government of Athens was very different. Athens had a democracy. This meant that the government was ruled by the people. They also had an assembly, but theirs consisted of free men that were eighteen years or older. In the democracy, all citizens could vote. Women were not included in the voting process. Athens had a council of five hundred men. These men proposed all of the laws.
The democratic government in Athens provided more freedom for its citizens but did not provide the safety that the Spartan government had. It is important to understand that Sparta had an oligarchy because they valued experience over everyone ruling. This is important to understand because Sparta would eventually conquer Athens. Although Athens and Sparta were similar in their social customs, they were very different in the ways that their governments were set up. Athens and Sparta also differed when it came to their cultures.
Generally, Sparta was a very strict city-state that focused almost all of its energy on building a strong military. Sparta rejected all outward displays of money and wealth. Spartans also did not spend any money on decorating their city. All boys, at the age of seven, were recruited and sent to a military school. There they learned to read, write, and use weapons. Many wives were required to go long times without seeing their husband and children. Although Athens had a stronger navy, the Athenians spent more time making their city beautiful.
In Athens, they used League money to rebuild their city. They spent a lot of time and money to ensure that they pleased the gods by creating statues, buildings and art. Athens focused on making music and poetry while Sparta did not. This is important because both city-states influenced other states in Greece by providing examples of art and military techniques. Overall, Spartans focused in maintaining a powerful military force while Athenians focused on more artistic causes. The two Greek city-states of Athens and Sparta were similar in that they both had social societies that favored men.
Both civilizations didn’t believe women were equal to men as well. On the other hand, their cultures were very different. Sparta had a main goal of a strong military while Athens focused on art and music. Politically, Athens had a democracy and Sparta had an oligarchy. It is important for us to study the similarities and differences between the two city-states because it will enhance our understanding of how Athens was eventually defeated by Sparta. Clearly, Sparta and Athens had more differences than they did attributes in common. Bibliography: Stearns book was used to gather information