The Concept of the Polis

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Catherine Ashley
December 15th, 2012
Mr. Jones
Western Civ Honors

The concept of the polis is to identify the Greek city-state and show the Greeks citizenship to their city-state. Polis is where our word "politics" came from. The polis would be across between our word "government" and "culture" since the Greeks held that which we call culture is formed, shaped or controlled by the activities of the citizens of the polis. The polis was a type of force as well as alliance, thanks to it’s strength in numbers. Sparta and Athens both thought very highly of the polis, however they did different things to fulfill it. Their education varied, as well as their political rights and their economic standings.

Athens was a democracy, in which all adult male citizens could participate in government and vote. There was no president, any man who was sufficient enough could lead the assembly. Women, people who weren’t Athenian, and slaves (who made up 50% of the population) had no say in politics at all.Athens first had a direct democracy where everybody voted on everything. Then, they came up with the limited democracy where the people were limited to what they could vote on.

Sparta had a mixed government, with democratic features. There were two kings, each hereditary. This arrangement had the convenience of allowing one king to lead the army while the other stayed behind to mind things at home. This way they would always have back up. Five ephors, elected by the citizen assembly, were chosen to run the government. There was a Council of Elders made up of the two kings and 28 elders which made most decisions. At age 30, male Spartans were eligible to vote.

In Athens, the education was based on class. The elites got all the benefits of Athenian education. The male Athenians started school at age seven. The males got educated for the public sphere. Pedagogues were assigned to the boys when they turned seven. They were adults who job it was to teach the boys...
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