The country of Greece, in 400-500 BCE was led to greatness by two city-states.
These city-states, diverse in ideas and actions, were Sparta and Athens.Sparta and Athens were as different as night and day.Sparta glorified military tactics while Athens took relish in art and learning.
These city-states served not only as rivals but also allies.Sparta and Athens, two city-states with nothing in common but the desire to make Greece a powerful, omnipotent nation, accomplished their goal through their unity, diverseness, and controversy.To better understand the interaction between Sparta and Athens and their desire for Greece to be a strong nation, it is imperative to know the situation of these two city-states in the early 400’s BCE.
At this point in time, another city-state of Greece, Ionia was under the control of Persia.The Ionian Greeks were dissatisfied by Persian rule.A Persian tyranny dominated Ionia at this time and Ionians begged Sparta and Athens to relieve them from the burden of Persia.Sparta declined to help but Athens decided their assistance would prevent the Persian tyranny from spreading in the direction of Athens, their home.Athens easily defeated Persia and freed the Ionians in the battle of Marathon in what is known as the Ionian Revolt.Margaret Killingray supports this in writing, “Athens, a tiny city, gloried in her victory over one of the world’s largest empires” (Killingray 18).This defeat however, angered the Persian tyranny and thus war was declared on Greece, Persia’s intentions being to conquer all of Greece and make it part of the Persian empire.Thus, in 490 BCE the Persian War began.
Now that the threat of the Persians had intensified, Sparta was ready to fight Persia.Greek armies everywhere, including that of Athens who had an incredible naval fleet, united under the supreme military command of Sparta.The Persian’s efforts were crushed by the Greek force; Sparta having led them .
..During the Lyric Age (800-500B.
C.), the Greeks expanded geographically, artistically, and politically.The revival of literacy there was a literary flowering where poets began to break away from the heroic tradition and write about their own lives.It was during this time that Sparta and Athens rose to prominence, the two antipodal city-states of Greek society.Here I will explore the contrasting governments, attitudes towards women, values, and education systems of the two city-states, Athens and Sparta.In Athens the pressing economic and social problems led to the creation of government by democracy.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 focus was on the individual rather than the state as a whole. This form of government could have run smoothly if it had not existed in a time led my military empires.The Athenian economy depended on foreign trade and travel.