Similarities And Differences Between Ancient Egypt And Ancient Athens

1182 Words5 Pages
Midterm Essay Maureen Cairns

In comparing and contrasting the societies of Periclean Athens and ancient Egypt, we must first mention some of the characteristics of an actual society: a society has social levels and classes, a governmental system, and a developed culture. Both the societies of ancient Athens and Egypt fit into these parameters. In this essay we will explore social classes, gender relations, social inequality, and hierarchy as they apply to these societies. Both ancient Athens and Egypt adhered to a strict hierarchical framework, ranking people as superiors or inferiors. Old Kingdom Egyptian hierarchy is described as having the king and queen at the top, with priests, administrators, governors and army commanders coming second, then the commoners who worked mostly in agriculture, and finally, slaves, who had been captured in war. (Hunt, pg. 22). According to Esolen, (pg. 35), Egyptian society was structured as such: the Pharaoh came first, and was believed to be God on earth. Next came the “Vizier”, who was the pharaohs chief advisor. Nobles were next in the hierarchy, responsible for making local laws. Priests followed, and were responsible for performing rituals and ceremonies. Scribes were a very important group, as they were the only ones who could read or write, so they were the record keepers. A small percentage of boys from good families were trained for this particular job, starting at the age of five. Soldiers came next, and were responsible for the defense of the country. Craftsmen were skilled workers (weavers, tailors, jewelry makers), farmers worked the land, and at the very bottom were slaves, who were usually prisoners captured in war.
In Periclean Athens, all adult male citizens had political and judicial power, even the poor. The upper class didn’t agree with this, as they believed the poor lacked the education to make political decisions. Under Pericles, citizens could only be those whose mother and father were Athenian by birth, and because of this, a great many had their citizenship revoked. (Hunt, pg. 85). As mentioned in Hunt (pg. 90), women, slaves, and metics (foreigners granted permanent residency in exchange for military service) made up a majority of
Get Access