Sparta is considered by many people as the greatest and most powerful city in Greece for its great strength and power among the other city-states on the Peloponnese peninsula. When you look at Sparta compared to its rival city-states, is it really as great as we think it is? After all, it only lasted 300 years. Sparta’s weaknesses definitely outweighed its strengths. There are many factors to support how Sparta dug its own grave, but the main reasons are because of their lack of education, abusive ways, and their overpopulation of helots (Slaves).
Ancient Greece is commonly acknowledged as one of the greatest societies to ever exist. Two of the most known civilizations in ancient Greece were Athens and Sparta. However, both of these civilizations were known for completely different reasons. Sparta was recognized for its military above anything else. The Spartan military was an unparalleled fighting force of its time, with its high-end weaponry, organization, and impressive methods of fighting. This is primarily because the Spartan military was the only full-time fighting force in ancient Greece which compelled it to sustain an elite status.
Many of the arguments against Sparta reason that government officials did not grant enough power to the people of the city-state, and therefore favor Athens. This is not the case. The kings, elders, and rulers of the Spartan government knew what was best for the citizens of Sparta, and, as a consequence, created strictly regimented rules that shaped Spartan lives for the better. Although Sparta did not have a significant amount of participation in law by common people, it was able to create and sustain an advanced city-state through discipline and a form of government that placed stress on health and military supremacy.
During 750-500 B.C.E, Ancient Greece is a place that is known for some city-states, called poleis. Each polis differ particular on economically, politically, and military, When in doubt, however, the city-states did not get along. Two of the most well known and powerful city-states were Sparta and Athens. Sparta is far better than Athens on the grounds that their armed force was strong and defensive.
Throughout history, archaeologists have discovered a variety of different physical and written evidence about Sparta, and its army.
Sparta was one of the most well known city states in ancient Greece. Sparta focused on producing good soldiers. Every male citizen was apart of the Spartan army. Unhealthy babies were not accepted in Sparta if you were unhealthy they would be left to die at the Apothetae, a chasm by Mount Taygetus. If you were male at 7 years old you were to join the agoge, the states educational program. Spartan mothers would say “Son either with this or on this. They were referring to there shield as they would rather have there son die than come home defeated. They would live in the barracks with the other Spartan boys until they become 30. From 7 to 11 you get taught reading, writing, music and dancing, but there teachers are most concerned about physical improvement. Life was hard for them; there daily physical training included being barefoot and having only one piece of clothing. They would do this no matter what the weather was. Also there was never enough food but teachers encouraged students to steal food, if you got caught you would get in trouble not for stealing
Athens and Sparta, the two largest and most powerful cities in ancient Greece (between 800 and 323 BCE) were two different models of polis, their social, political and cultural values and ways of life were dramatically different. (Brand, n.d.)
Since the speech that clearly persuaded the Spartans took the form of the Athenian Thesis, one could reasonably conclude that the Spartans were moved by the motives of fear, honor, or benifit. Thus, this case as a whole lends credence to the thesis itself. Interestingly, if the Spartans truly acted according to the Athenian Thesis, this would imply that Sparta has the same tendency for domination as the Athenians. This could suggest that, after assembling alliances out of fear of a growing Athens, Sparta would progress to maintain its hold on states out of honor and, finally, out of interest, thereby mirroring Athens’ past. Whether Thucydides believed in the Athenian Thesis and intended the persuasiveness of this speech to be a historical case that supported the Athenian Thesis’ soundness is uncertain. However, no one can deny that the reasons which persuaded the Spartans to act followed the form of the thesis and that Sparta seems to have acted from
The government in Sparta followed a very different coarse than that of the Athenians. It was controlled by an oligarchy in which the power was held by a group of five men called ephors. Working below the ephors was the Council of Elders and an Assembly. Male citizens over age sixty could serve on the Council while anyone, male or female, over the age of twenty could be a member of the Assembly. Though the citizens had little say in the decisions made by the government, the system worked effectively. Over the years, the Spartan's brutal reputation in war grew so great that other nations and city-states were too frightened to attack Sparta even though the Spartan army was no larger then eight thousand men. The Spartan Constitution called for all men to begin their military education at the age of seven, where they were trained to be tough and self-sufficient. Every man in the army fought with a great deal of passion for his country. Life in Sparta may have been rough, but the rest of the Greeks envied the Spartans for their simplicity, straight forwardness, and fanatical dedication. The beliefs of Sparta were oriented around the state. The individual lived and died for the state. The combination of this philosophy, the education of Spartan males, and the discipline of their army gave the Spartans the stability needed to survive in Ancient Greece.
The Spartans were a military force to be rekon with, in part their entire lives were focused upon developing and training their people into excellent soldiers. In order to have a society that had such a presence, their way of life was drastically different from any other city- state of this time. Politically, there was no hierarchy within Sparta, all men were seen as legally equal. The government leaders were made up of two hereditary kings, who would often be prominent leaders within their military. There was a council that was referred as, the “Gerousia”. The council was only made up of men who had reached a certain age, around sixty years. This was to ensure that only men with experience and knowledge would be able to deliberate the important issues that were being discussed. These men also were retired from the Spartan military, thus having knowledge in military strategy. This group mainly reviews foreign and domestic issues, which ultimately is preparation for the council made up of Spartan citizens(73-74).
The progressing city-state of Sparta was infamous for many things. Sparta was known for its powerful army, strict guidelines, and eccentric values. Due to these unique characteristics, residents of Sparta had to keep up to continue its legacy. Being a resident of Sparta meant taking numerous risks yet for reasonable causes. These risks were taken for the progression of the city state. Risks included krypteia mindlessly killing Helots to prevent them from rebelling. Despite this lack of respect for human life, Sparta had atoned for this by providing relevant teachings for women and lessons on survival. Sparta, being a city state with a small population , was primarily focused on winning battles. Thus they perpetrated many feats that were meant to benefit this major cause. Although there was a lack of respect for human life in Sparta, the strengths of a Spartan education are clearly greater than its weaknesses because of the education provided for women and teachings on survival.
Spartan elders and kings were also very serious about the preservation of the Spartan’s history, culture and way of life. This is why they did not encourage foreigners to visit Sparta or anything that may corrupt their way of life. Sparta did not leave behind much art, literature or historic artifacts; but they considered their everyday life or the way that they lived to be a masterpiece all its own.
Sparta’s government was said to have a mixture of the major types of government which is oligarchy, monarchy, and democracy. While Athens seems to only have a democracy. In Document 2, an excerpt from “The Spartan Constitution” by Aristotle there’s a quote that states “they praise Lacedaemon because it is made up of oligarchy, monarchy, and democracy..” This quote tells exactly what type of government Sparta had. It’s also said that Sparta is the foundation for the governments we now have in the world. Athens on the other hand had a democracy as stated in Document 3, an excerpt from “Funeral Orations” by Pericles a quotes from this excerpt states “it is true that our government is a democracy, because it’s administration is in the hands, not of the few, but of many..” This quote clearly states that the type of government Athens has is a
Sparta had a mixed government consisting of elements of monarchy, oligarchy and democracy. The monarchy, although not a true monarchy, consisted of two kings from separate royal tribes. These kings were subject to the will of the Gerousia and the Ephors and