Describe the Social, Cultural and Political Features of Classical Athens and Ancient Sparta

Topics: Sparta, Ancient Greece, Battle of Thermopylae Pages: 6 (2297 words) Published: May 22, 2013
Greece in ancient times had many social, political and cultural features, including: religion, society, government and warfare. Two powerhouses of Ancient Greece were the cities of Athens and Sparta, who led Greece in many of their endevours.

Early Sparta and Athens was a building process with many ups and down of which they learnt how to run their cities. Early Sparta did not have enough land to support it's growing population, so they conquered the neighbouring state of Messinia and doubled the amount of land that they had control of. Sparta then experienced a period of great wealth and power in the Greek region until, the Messinian people who had been enslaved by the Spartans revolted wanting their freedom and land back. It took Sparta twenty years to conquer the revolt and it became clear that the Spartans had to change their way of life. So, they turned themselves into a military state, establishing their military power across Greece. Unlike Sparta, Athens was not a military-based state but rather an aristocracy, led by noble families, and it's from here their early problems stemmed. Athens problems were cause by the greed and power of their noble positions and they constant bickering between themselves over control of the city. On the other end of the spectrum, the poor faced many problems and hardships as the nobles forced them into slavery and into debt, taking their land.

Religion was a cultural aspect that all Greeks had in common. They worshipped the same family of Gods and Goddesses and built temples, carried out sacrifices and celebrated festivals in the God's name. In return, the Greeks believed that the Gods would protect them, make their crops grow and grant them favours. The Gods and Goddesses each had particular powers and responsibilities and each was responsible for an aspect of Greek society. The Greeks also worshipped heroes, some of who were sons of gods and goddesses. Each city-state was also under the protection of a patron deity; Sparta's was Apollo - God of Prophecy, Music and Healing, Athens' was Athena - Goddess of Wisdom. This cultural aspect of Sparta and Athens was quite alike.

Mythology is Ancient Greece was an all-important aspect of Greek Religion. Greek mythology is the body of myths and etchings that belong to the ancient Greeks, concerning their Gods and Heroes, the Nature of the World and the origins and significance of their ritual practices. Mythology consisted of figures such as; Hercules, Perseus, Medusa, Hydra and Kraken.

Spartan and Athenian social structures were very quite different. All Spartan babies were inspected for physical health by tribal leaders; and if he or she wasn't physically healthy it was taken to a place on Mount Taygetus and left to die. From ages thirteen to eighteen, young men were very strictly trained; if they did not do as expected, their teachers flogged them. They were given one piece of clothing to training for both Summer and Winter, went barefoot, exercised naked and were given very little food. Growing into adults, Spartans were expected to take on more personal responsibility in order to exercise authority and discipline. These included; training youths by telling them about the honourable behaviour of older Spartans, and supervising their training. Education within Sparta wasn't seen as a high priority they just continued to train. Marriage in Sparta was expected after the age of twenty and men were punished if they remained bachelors. Although Spartan men didn't have much of a social life however they did enjoy numerous leisure activities including: music, dancing, festivals and hunting. In Athens, unlike Sparta, it was believed that males should have a balanced education; early education concentrated on writing, grammar, reciting poetry and music. At fourteen, they were trained physically at gymnastics, wrestling, running, jumping, discus, javelin and boxing variations. Gradually as they grew up they were also expected to learn...
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