The Main Differences Between Sparta and Athens: Education And Government

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Civilization is defined as the stage in which social and cultural improvements are considered the most advanced. In the past, there had been a great number of civilizations that left great signs for future generations. The ancient Greek people were one of those civilizations which had an enormous impact on world civilization. Greece was situated in the southern part of the Balkan Peninsula where is a mountainous region. Due to religious practices and different political systems, the ancient Greeks had their own city-states. The main known city-states are Athens and Sparta. While Athens was in the region named Attica, Sparta was located in the Laconia territory. Both city-states had played a great role in the ancient Greek civilization. Despite having few similarities, this paper examines the differences between Athens and Sparta in terms of education and government system.

As an ancient Greek philosopher, Aristotle mentioned, “The roots of education are bitter, but the fruit is sweet”. Education had played a very essential part in ancient Greek civilization; however, the approach to education was different in Sparta and Athens. The education system of Spartans was based on military services as men were educated in war and fight to start from 7 years old till the age of 30. The system was harsh enough because men were doing painful practices, and they were offered low-quality foods. Spartans believed that men had to find food themselves and it had not been any matter of the season for them. In case they were caught while stealing food, they were severely punished. After receiving hard training for 12 years, the men were sent to the test where they were beaten till their bodies bled, and in case of tolerating such pain, they were declared as a winner and sent to military service. Otherwise, they were not given any political rights. Besides men, women were educated in the military too, but not as harsh as men since the aim of education for women was to be physically strong and healthy to have strong and healthy sons for Sparta. Women were also physically tested and if she had passed, the husband was assigned for her. From my point of view, Spartans had a high sense of patriotism through education, since no matter women or men, they all were aimed to serve the state. However, despite having two years of mandatory military education, Athenians were offering science-based education as well. Both men and women had a right to get an education in Athens too. Men at the age of 16 were considered to complete the basic part of education; however, depending on their willingness, they could continue their education till 18. The primary education contained math, writing, reading, music, and physical training, such as running and jumping. Having completed primary education, they were taught philosophy. At the age of 18, they had to take military training for the army since Athenian parents wanted to have sons having both educational and military skills. Based on the researches, it is deduced that Athenians wanted to have both power, education, and military. Thereby, today, Athens is known as the birthplace of several sciences. Philosophers, such as Hippocrates, Pythagoras, Aristotle, etc., are the paradigms of how Athenians had been strongly educated. Women were educated at home by their mothers or private tutors. Their education system was mostly about housekeeping, motherhood, as well as writing and reading. The purpose of educating women was to educate their children in the future.

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Moreover, the government system of Athens and Sparta had differed from each other. The government system of Spartans was an oligarchy which referred to a small group of people to govern a city-state. Sparta was ruled by two kings and the council of elders. One of the kings was supposed to stay at home to care homeland while the other one was away to fight battles. The Council of elders was over the age of 60. Once a person attained the position of the council, the seat had been held until the end of the council’s life (Schrader, 2012). The citizens almost had not had the right to make governmental decisions; however, males had a right to vote in the assembly. To be more specific, the government system of Sparta was on the basis of a disciplined military perspective. Women in Sparta were given more freedom since the males were in the military services, women were the ones to take care of houses. In my opinion, it must be highly appreciated since the Spartan women were given a sense of power and domination which lead to the factor that while the men were away to fight, the safety of the city-state was possibly guaranteed by their wives. On the other hand, Athens was a place called the birth of a democratic system that gives every person a right to express themselves; thereby, Athenians were given more freedom than Spartans. It had law courts with trial by jury and about 500 citizens were part of juries. Since there was not any lawyer, people were supposed to defend themselves on their own in a given time scaled by the water-clock. This way of government was a sign of balance in the society, and I believe that the system of democracy prevented Athens from rebellions. Furthermore, people had been given a chance to choose a new politician through voting if they did not like it. The voting had taken part among the adult male Athenian citizen and he must have completed the military training. However, most of the population, such as women, children, slaves, did not have a right to vote. Even though Athens’ government-supported fairness, not having freedom as much as Spartan women could be considered a negative point.

Taking everything into consideration, the system of education and government is believed to differ in both, Sparta and Athens obviously. While the education system in Sparta was based on military principles, Athens preferred to teach both scientific and military factors. Athenian males were taught math, writing, reading, art, philosophy, music as well as military training; however, Spartan males were only tested by tolerating painful training and very harsh systematic conditions. Nonetheless, both city-states had education for women, Spartan women were educated in physical practices to have strong sons, on the other hand, women in Athens were taught housekeeping, motherhood, writing, etc. to educate their daughters. Besides education, the government was also varied between both city-states. The new system named democracy was implemented in Athens, and every citizen had a right to express themselves in court. However, only adult males were eligible to vote for choosing the new leader. In Sparta, the system was called oligarchy and ruled by two kings and a council of elders. Specifically, like education, the government in Sparta was also based on a military system. Both the education and regulation systems of ancient Greeks have had an enormous impact on the modern society of Greece. In spite of the past thousands of years, today, in every street of Athens, where is the capital of modern Greece, the signs of ancient Greeks are being felt as billboards describe quotes of ancient Greek philosophers, exponents in museums are mostly the heroes from Sparta and their preserved clothes. I believe that the role of ancient Greece is still being played to improve modern society, education and will be passed down to the next generation successively.

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