Sparta VS Athens
Uploaded by fatherflem on Mar 26, 2004
Sparta and Athens: Comparison and Contributions
The two best-known societies in ancient Greece were the Spartans, and the Athenians. The two cultures were very different from each other but both contributed ideals that modern man still uses today.
The most obvious difference between the Athens and Sparta is its ancestry. The Spartans were descendents of the Dorian invaders, while the Athenians were of Ionian descent. Both city-states faced a turning point in their history, and each on was regarding slavery. The turning point for Athens were the laws given by Solon. The Athenians were faced with two paths, either continue the practice of enslaving its own citizens, or free them. Solon chose to abolish the practice of debt slavery, and introduced land reforms. When faced with problems regarding slavery, the Spartans did the exact opposite; they based their whole society upon repression of its “Helots” (slaves). Lycurgus was the person behind the laws that made Sparta into a society that was basically one large armed camp. The two philosophies that were followed in the two city-states were quite different also. Athenians believed that the individual was important, while Spartans followed the belief that the state should be all encompassing. Militarily, the Spartans were supreme on land, while the Athenians had the best navy. Each government was unique also. Athens was a democracy, while the Spartans had a strange mix of a monarchy/aristocracy/oligarchy. Economically the Athenians were supreme, Athenians had the best navy in the world, and so they had the most commerce. A Spartan citizen was not even aloud to be anything but a soldier, so they were economically challenged.
The similarities between the two cultures are few, but are important. Even though the Spartan’s whole society was based upon the military, the Athenians could be just as brave and tenacious. This is evident in the Battle of Marathon, where the Athens won a battle against great odds. Both cultures used hoplites and the phalanx in battles, and they were very effective. A common thread was also religion; even though they were so unalike, the same gods were worshipped.
Greece contributed so many things to modern civilization; some of our society is directly borrowed from these people. The Athenian culture produced some great art from this time period, and the Classical and Hellenistic period of Greek art is still studied and admired today. Some of the greatest and long lasting monuments were made by...