This is my report on Sparta and Athens, two very

Essay by EssaySwap ContributorHigh School, 12th grade February 2008

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This is my report on Sparta and Athens, two very important city-states in Greece. I don’t know that much about them, but I hope they are interesting so I can get through this report. So I guess I better get started. I’ll start with the one that sounds the coolest.

Sparta         Sparta is my favorite of the two cities in my report because in my opinion they were the most interesting. The education system, the government, their way of life, all revolved around war.                 There is a story about a Spartan boy who stole a fox. In order to hide the fox he hid it under his cloak and let it gnaw at him rather than get caught, so he died of the wounds. If he would have been caught, he would not get in trouble for stealing it, but for allowing it to be found.

        This is a good illustration of how their education worked, to produce perfect, brave, and willing soldiers.

People/Social Classes         There were three main social classes in ancient Sparta. They were the Spartiates, the Periokoi, and the Helots.

        Spartiate is the term used for Spartan citizens who has gone through their military training. They were eligible to be kings and they were part of the assembly. These guys were tougher than tough. You’ll see why when I explain a Spartan’s upbringing.

        The Periokoi (or “dwellers around”) were the free people of Sparta, mostly farmers and merchants who didn’t have the full citizenship of the Spartiates.

        In 725 B.C., the Spartans realized they needed more fertile land for their increasing population, so they looked southwest to the land of Messenia. They conquered the Messenians and took their fertile plains.         The Messenians revolted in 640 B.C., almost beating the Spartans, and almost destroying the whole city itself. So now, the Messenian population outnumbered their population ten to one. It wouldn’t be long before the Messenians would overrun their conquerors, so the Spartans did something as revolutionary and the Athenian democracy in the north. They turned their state into a military state, and turned the Messenians into agricultural slaves called Helots. They worked on small plots of land owned by the Spartans, and most of their produce went to the masters of the estate, getting only enough to survive for themselves.

Upbringing         Everything was now dedicated to making each Spartiate an excellent and unquestioningly loyal soldier. The Process started at birth. A committee of elders inspected newly born babies, and, if considered too weak, they were left to die by exposure on the side of Mount Taygetos. Those who survived were carefully brought up.

        The women did not bathe the babies with water, but with wine, sort of making it a test of their strength. Spartans say that the epileptic and sickly ones lose control and go into convulsions, but the healthy ones are rather toughened like steel and strengthened in their physique. The nurses displayed care and skill, they made them sensible and not fussy about their food, not afraid of the dark or scared of being left alone, not inclined to cry or whine. So even some foreigners acquired Spartan nurses for their children.

        At the age of seven, a Spartan boy came directly under the control of the city until the time of his death. From this age boys were brought up in groups, which had a prefect system, and were under the control of a state director of education.

        They learned reading and writing for basic needs, but all the rest of their education was to make them well disciplined and steadfast in hardship and victorious in battle. For this reason, as boys grew older, the Spartans intensified their training; cutting their hair short and making them used to walking barefoot.

        When the boys reached the age of twelve, they no longer had tunics to wear, but got one cloak a year. Their bodies were tough and not used to baths and lotions. They slept, in groups, on beds they made themselves.

        The smallest offences were punishable by whipping, and food was rationed very well, so that the boys were forced to steal to get more. The packs of boys were matched against each other in violent games with a ball and in fights. As they approached the age of twenty, and manhood, the training grew more and more severe. One test was the Krypteia, or “period of hiding“, during which the boy had to live alone and under cover in the countryside.

        The girls exercised their bodies in running, wrestling and throwing the discus and javelin, so that their children, taking root in strong bodies, would grow the better, and they themselves would be strong for childbirth.

The Constitution         There were two kings to keep each other in check. Kind of like our government in America here.... KIND of. They prevented each other from getting too powerful. Actually, they weren’t very powerful, for Kings that is. They were more like war generals. And if there was a battle outside of Sparta only one king was to go, probably so there weren’t disagreements, or they couldn’t afford to lose two kings.



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