Athens vs. Sparta

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Athens vs. Sparta

During the times of Ancient Greece, two major forms of government existed, democracy and oligarchy. The city-states of Athens and Sparta are the best representatives of democracy and oligarchy, respectively. The focus of the times was directed towards military capabilities, while the Athenians were more interested in comfort and culture. It was the oligarchy in Sparta that put a war-like attitude as its first priority and best met the needs of Ancient Greece. These factors empowered Sparta and led to the development of an authoritative and potent state. Other contrasting issues included women’s rights, social classes, and value of human life.

Four rulers, Draco, Solon, Pisistratus, and Cleithenes, greatly influenced the political development of Athens. However, Athenian democracy cannot really be called a true democracy since there were several flaws in the government and the way in which it functioned. Upper class male citizens over the age of thirty were the only Athenians who held any right to vote. The democracy in Athens consisted of an executive, legislative, and judicial branch. Together, nine anchors, a Council of five hundred, an Assembly, and a court chosen by lot governed the city-state with limited power. The Assembly was made up of five hundred men who were chosen from a list of those who were eligible to serve on the council. All branches of the government were capable of vetoing one another. It was also customary to expel from the country any speaker who became too powerful. This rule could easily be abused and often infringed on the freedom of speech that most democracies have. However, as stated in the Athenian Constitution, male citizens were equal and the government’s focu...

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...wer. Like the Nazi’s, a central power had authority over the government and the state as a whole. Hitler was the Nazi’s central power, while the Spartans were headed by five ephors. The unlimited power of the ephors allowed them to dictate the thoughts and actions of the entire city-state of Sparta, much like Adolph Hitler ruled over his Nazi nation. However, the command of the ephors was divided by three, rather than being held by an individual.

Athens and Sparta can be compared to each other in many ways. However, in today’s culture, we can never completely achieve the military power of Sparta, nor the sense of individual well being exemplified in Athens. We mimic their beliefs, while at the same time improve their customs. America too is a great nation; however, just like Athens and Sparta, we are often shaped by our mistakes and defined by our flaws.