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Athens is Better than Sparta

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Throughout Greek history, there have been many interesting city-states. Two very important poleis are Athens and Sparta. After studying these poleis it is clear that Athens is the better polis because of its government, education, and society.

The government in Athens was better then Sparta’s government. After laws were written down and enforced, power was divided equally in Athens government. In Sparta “the ephors had unlimited power to act as guardians of the state, and they used that power freely (112).” This shows that in Athens the government was split up equally and in Sparta the government used power freely and could have abused it. Not only was the government better, but the education was also better.

Athenian education aimed to create free thinkers, while Spartan education focused only on producing strong warriors. In Athens boys went to school starting at a young age. They studied many subjects such as grammar, music, gymnastics, poetry, government mathematics and ethics. All of these subjects and others helped male citizens gain both mental and physical strength. This form of education produced smarter, independent thinkers. Spartan education did not produce strong thinkers. They focused on physical strength to support the military. The purpose for school in Sparta was to strengthen the polis as a Military power. Each students was treated the same and expected to be like everyone else. Athenian education allowed people to have a better understanding of the world. This led to a more civilized society with many different types of jobs.

Society in Athens was centered around the people while Spartan society focused on strengthening the military. Spartans were not allowed to choose what they wanted to do in life. They were expected to either be soldiers if they were male or support soldiers if they were female. “First, they sacrificed individual freedom to the state. Second, their society produced nothing in art, literature, philosophy, or science (112).” Spartans had helots, or slaves that worked for them while everyone else prepared for war. In Athens there were also slaves that did work, but instead of training for war people went to school and had jobs as farmers or in workshops.

When looking at the government, education and society of both Athens and Sparta it is clear that Athenians were able to make more choices about how they lived and worked. Spartans gave up their life to the Military while Athenians were able to develop their skills and passions. This freedom helped create a happier environment and a stronger polis.

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