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Athens Vs. Sparta Comparison
Transcript of Athens Vs. Sparta Comparison
Tasks of Spartan Women
The main task for Spartan women in their society was to raise strong Spartan boys so that they could become soldiers. They needed to be good mothers and wives. They were encouraged to be in shape so that they provided a safe and stable body for their child to grow in and also so they would be in good health. Another task of Spartan women was to be used as tools to encourage Spartan men to be strong warriors. An example of this is when Plutarch discusses how, "The girls praised the men who were brave and strong, and they made fun of those who were weak and cowardly, so they sharpened the men's love of glory and fear of shame."
Tasks of Athenian Women
The women of Athens did not serve near as important a role in their society as Spartan Women. Women in the lower class would spend their days cleaning, cooking, and working in servantry jobs to support their families while women in the higher class would spend their days relaxing away from society being served by lower class women or slaves. Women were shut away from society in this way because they were though of as possessed by demons. The Athenians did not like to think about the positive impact of women on their society as much as the Spartans because of this.
Similarity of Religion
One of the main similarities between Athens and Sparta was that they shared the same religion. It was a polytheistic religion that was shared by all the city-states of Ancient Greece. This religion contained many gods all lead by Zeus that all lived in a mystical realm on top of mount Olympus. Folklore and myths are often centered on these gods which the Greeks used to explain issues in the world that they did not understand such as why there were seasons. Both polei celebrate their gods and religion the same way by making sacrifices and building and frequenting temples of worship usually one for each individual god. One minor difference in religion that could be though of is that Athens has the patron goddess Athena while the Spartans favor the god Ares.
The main thing to know about the Spartan economy is that they really didn't have much of one. The Spartans did not focus on the aspect of economy but instead tried to abolish it from their society. Plutarch discusses how, "Once gold and silver were banished from Sparta, litigation died out. Greed and poverty were replaced by equality and independence: equality because they all lived in simple houses and ate at common tables, and independence because their wants were small." The Spartans tried to get rid of wealth because of the problems it created. While their was still technically wealth it did not matter much in society. Citizens technically had no property because everything was owned by the Spartan state and lent to them to use. By trying to destroy any aspect of economy the Spartans also got rid of trade. They nearly never even met with of polei because of this. The fact that Sparta had very little to no ecomy made their people independent from one another and the city more independent as a government.
The Athenian economy is very different from the Spartans' because they actually focus on the aspect of economy as a goal for the city. The Athenians work towards making good relationships with one another and coming together as a city through interdependence. The main way they do this is economy. They all specialize in one area as in one person grows olive trees and another is a blacksmith this way they rely on each other. This forces the economy to grow stronger. Another thing the Athenians do that Spartans don't is trade. The only thing they export is olive oil because they have an excess of this. Only exporting one thing also helps them to reach their goal of forcing others come to their city to trade in order to establish themselves as a world economy and to make more money through taxes.
Similarity of Slavery
Role of Spartan Individual
The Spartan individual's job was to serve the state, especially the military. Everything in Sparta was focused on bettering Sparta as a polis and military force. The Spartan government did not care about the needs of individual citizens but instead only cared about the needs of its government. This is shown by the fact that they would dispose of ill children at birth so they were not a burden to society. Individualism was disliked by the government because all of Sparta was to work together as a whole. Men worked towards bettering the military by being forced to serve in the army and women were supposed to raise babies for the army. Government always came before people in Sparta.
Role of Athenian Individual
The role of the Athenian individual was to serve themselves through government. In Athens the government is run by the people so the government's only purpose is to serve the people unlike Sparta. The government is meant to focus on specific issues and needs of Athenian citizens. It knows many of these first hand because the citizens in need are the ones making the laws. The only way Athenians serve the government is to participate in it which really allows them to help their own voice be heard and to pay taxes which the money is then used to help the citizens. So even when citizens serve the government they are really serving themselves.
Similarity of Equality in Government
Both of these societies had aspects of equality mainly equal voting in their government which was very uncommon for the time. Their were some differences in how much of a role it played but the fact that they both had it is a large similarity. The main form of equality in Sparta was the Apella. This was formed of all Spartan citizens. Plutarch describes how they equally voted by saying, "All citizens of Sparta were called together in an open field. Nearby, in a little house without windows, some judges rated the applause as each candidate was presented. The judges had no way of knowing which man was being applauded, since they did not know the order of presentation." An example of equal voting in Athens was Ostracism. This was mentioned by Aristotle when he discussed that, "when the people had now gained self–confidence, they for the first time made use of the law of ostracism." This was the act of voting to banish someone who had too much power of persuasion over the people from Athens to prevent them from corrupting the populous. All Athenian citizens voted on this matter by putting rocks of either white for yes or black for no into a bin to then be counted for a final result. Another thing Athens had similar to equal voting was equal random selection. One part of government in Athens that helped equal selection to exist were the Demes. Aristotle describes them as, "ten tribes in place of the existing four, with the object of intermixing the members of the different tribes, and so securing that more persons might have a share in the franchise." These ensured equal random selection occurred by making sure not only one section of the city would get to rule the entire city.
Both Athens and Sparta used slaves as a workforce of free labor. They were able to give the slaves the arduous or menial tasks that they did not want to have to do on their own like farming wheat so they could focus more on other aspects of life. The Spartans used this freed up time for military training while the Athenians used it for government and arts. Both of these societies got their slaves from conquering nearby neighbors. The Spartan conquered another area on the Peloponnesus called Messenia while the Athenians conquered the nearby island of Euboea. The Spartans referred to their new slaves as helots. The evolution of the government of both societies into the world powers they became would not have been possible without their slave networks behind them.