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Athens and Sparta were the two major city-states in Greece in the time of the Pericles, about 475-40 B.C. Physically, religiously, economically, politically, and socially the two cities are comparable and contrastable.


Athens was a city located near the coast of the Aegean Sea and the Mediterranean Sea. They were in good position to trade with all of the cities around the Mediterranean Sea. Sparta was landlocked and between mountains. It was harder for them to trade with other cities. Both are located on the Mediterranean Sea and therefore had a mild climate. The seas brought moist warm air over the land.


Athens and Sparta both had close to the same religion. All of Greece at this time period worshiped gods and goddesses such as Athena, Zeus, Hades, and Hera. They also thought that these gods had control over everything that occurred in their lives. They concluded that gods and goddesses could take people and place them in other environments. In Greece, cities would choose a god or goddess to protect their city from harm. For example, Athens chose Athena to protect the city. To honor gods the built sanctuaries and places of worship for the gods and goddesses, the Parthenon is an example of this type of building. Athens valued contests and sacrifices that they held year around. Sparta valued a militaristic way of life. Children were taught to respect their elders, women, and warriors.


These cities also had to have a source of income. Sparta was a military associated area. Men grew up thinking that they only way to get ahead was to be higher in the military. Most of the occupation of Spartan men was to learn defense and how to protect his country. Women’s occupation was more varied in Sparta than in other cities in Greece. They often practiced gymnastics and worked out to be strong. Sparta favored strong over the weak while Athens on the other hand worked to make their city smarted and wiser. Men often would trade and learn how to read and write. Women frequently would sit in the house and learn the ways of the house and sew and take care of the family. Women were used as a source on income in Athens.


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Athens and Sparta had very different views in political life. As stated above Sparta was a military strength. Sparta’s government was known as an oligarchy or “ruled by few”, but it also had elements of a monarchy, democracy, and aristocracy. The government consisted of two Kings, overseers, Council or Senate, and the Assembly. The two Kings did not have much power but instead were the generals of the armies and they had some religious duties. The five overseers had control over the day-to-day operations of Sparta and could veto decisions by the Council or Senate. The Council was made up of 8 citizens over the age of 60 and the two kings. They acted as judge for trials and proposed new laws. The Assembly was all the Spartan men over the age of 0 and could support or veto the council’s propositions. Athens also had an Assembly but it consisted of all citizens. They passed laws and made political decisions. Athens also had elected officials and Council of 500. The elected officials included 10 Generals, magistrates, and other. The Council of 500 was in charge of administering decisions made by the Assembly. During this time citizens were paid for jury service so not only the wealthy could participate. In both Athens and Sparta government women were not allowed to participate. Athens is most remembered for its strong navy and Sparta for its strong army and the most feared fighters on land.


Athens and Sparta are each remembered for all the things they did for the society. Athens had a social structure that consisted of Freemen, Metics, and Slaves. Freemen included aristocrats or people would have large estates and made up the cavalry, it also included middle ranks or small farmers, the lowest class of the Freemen was the thetes or urban craftsmen. Metics were those who came from the outside of the cities and were not allowed to own land but could run businesses. Slaves were the lowest class but were treated less harshly than in other Greek cities. Slaves had no rights and their owners could kill them. Some slaves were given important jobs such as policemen. Sparta’s social structure was more or less the same thing. The top of the structure was the Spartiates or military professionals who lived in military barracks and his land has farmed by serfs. These men could vote in elections and serve in the army. Perioeci were freemen who lived outside the city. Their occupations included artisans, craftsmen, and merchants. They could not vote of serve in the army. Helots were serfs and were treated like slaves. They were constantly rebelling because they had to give half of their produce to the Spartan government. Athens boys were educated with reading, writing, and math. They also learn music, poetry, sport, and gymnastics. They were taught by their birth and the wealth of their parents. Wealthy were educated from ages 5-18 and everyone else was 5-14. At age 0 all men were to join the military and go through intensive training. Athens girls were not taught much about political life but more about the home and how to spin fabric, weaving, and other home arts. Spartan boys were taken away from their parents at age 7 and trained for war. They were only given a cloak and little food for survival do they had to learn survival techniques like stealing. At age 0 they moved up to higher ranks. At age 0 they were dedicated to the state and could marry. Curing their lives they were also taught choral dances, reading, writing, gymnastics, athletics, and mostly military training. Girls in Sparta were given more rights than in Athens. At age 7 girls were taught reading, writing, gymnastics, and athletics. Athenians enjoys rich food from all over the empire. Spartans food was not as luxurious as Athens and it consisted of pork, blood, salt, and vinegar. They were taught to dislike luxuries because most of their life is spent in war. Athens is mostly remembered for art, architecture, drama, literature, philosophy, science, medicine, and anything that was intelligent. Sparta was mostly known for its military.


In Conclusion, Athens and Sparta are two completely different cities although they are so close together. Athens was more of an intellectual center while Sparta was the place for defense and protection.





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