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Ancient Greek Society
Sparta v. Athens
Ancient Greek Society
• Early Greek society was broken into two groups
– Free people
• Adult males; usually wealthy and landowners
• Considered to be citizens w/ rights and responsibility for
civic participation in the city-state
– Slaves
• Not based on race/color
• Had no political rights and were the property of the
wealthy
• Women and foreigners have no political rights
• Women rarely seen in Greek public life
Daily Life in Greece
• Daily life very different for men, women & slaves
• For Men – life based around the agora
– Expected to participate in conversation of the city
– Expected to serve in military and be educated
• For women – life based in the home
– Not expected to be educated
– Expected to stay in the home and tend to children
• For Slaves – life based on doing daily chores
– Expected to run the errands of the home
– Expected to protect the family while men are away
Forms of Government
• Many different ways to govern a city-state
– Monarchy – ruling by a king or queen (usually king)
• 1st way most Greek city states were ruled
– Aristocracy – rule by small group of wealthy land
owners
• Usually gained power and land from a former king
– Oligarchy – rule by a few powerful people
• Usually military leaders or a person with a strong army
– Tyranny – rule by one very powerful person
• Usually came to power by appealing to the poor and
starting a revolution against the rich
The Emergence of Sparta
• Spartan society was far different from Athens
– Was located on the Peloponnesus peninsula
• Spartans took over lands near them to expand
their empire for food
– People conquered forced to
work their own land- called helots
– Helots revolted and almost
defeated Spartans
– Due to revolt the Spartans
build a strong military state
Spartan Government
• Spartan government was an oligarchy
– Rule by a few strong military leaders
• Two powerful kings ruled Sparta at all times
• Under the kings were two other groups
– The assembly – free adult males & elected officials
• Voted on the major issues of Sparta
– Council of Elders – those who were elder statesmen
• Proposed and carried out the approved laws of Sparta
• Also in charge of education and the court system
Spartan Society
Upper Class – those who were family of the original
people of Sparta (original land owners)
– Citizens usually had to pass a physical test to become a citizen
• If a person failed they became a Middle Class citizen
• Middle Class – non-citizens but were free people
– People worked industrial or commerce jobs (building/selling)
• Lower Class – Helots – those forced to work their own
land, but conquered by Spartans
– Were seen as just slightly better than slaves (farmers mainly)
• Slaves – those who were owned by wealthy land
owners of the Upper Class
– Did the chores of the home, etc.
Spartan Society (cont’d)
• Women held a higher status in Sparta v. Athens
– If they passed a physical test they were citizens too
– Able to be seen in society if a citizen
– Other Greek city-states questioned this role
• Spartan Babies
– Babies that were thought to be unfit would be left
on mountaintops or tossed away by the father
– Unfit babies includes:
• Deformed, undersized, or anything not considered strong
Spartan Education
• Education differed for males and females
– Women were given some education in Sparta
• For the boys – life centered on military training
– Around age 7 boys would be taken to a barracks
– Training would last for next 12-15 years
• Heads were shaved and their clothes and food was sparse
• Trained to fight, kill and always put Sparta before self
• For the girls – education involved many things
– Girls taught to run, wrestle and play sports
– Also focused on placing Sparta before themselves
• Neither boys or girls focused on the arts, or other skills
such as orating (speaking)
The Emergence of Athens
• Located on the Balkan peninsula
– Was controlled by the Mycenaeans until they were
weakened by the Trojan War
• Was first ruled by a monarchy
• Later switched to aristocracy
– Rule by a few rich landowners
• For a short period of time
they were under tyranny
• Eventually they created a
limited democracy
The Athenian Democracy
• Athenians created a democracy to avoid a war
– Problems b/w rich and poor were growing
– Same problems were similar all through Greece
• Solon and Cleisthenes both help reform Athens
• Only free adult males were part of democracy
– Makes it a limited democracy- limited people
– Also a direct democracy- people vote, majority rules
• Women, foreigners, slaves not allowed to vote
– Not given citizenship or rights either
Athenian Society
• Athenian society was based on education, arts
and knowledge
• Society had 2 classes based on wealth/land
– Citizen Class- those who owned land and were able
to vote and participate in the government
– Non-citizen Class- all non-land owners, slaves and
foreign people in the city-state of Greece
– Women had no rights to vote and mainly stayed in
the home to deal with cooking, cleaning, children
• Could be a citizen if her husband was, but could not vote
Athenian Education
• Education in Athens was the most important
– Focused on reading, writing, math, and speaking
– Also focused on philosophy and music
• For the boys– Boys were taught from age 6-7 in the arts at schools
– Went to 4 additional years of school around age 18
– Were expected to serve 2 years in the military
• For the girls– Girls were taught to read and write at home
– Also taught how to weave, cook , etc.
Sparta v. Athens
• Neither area like the other
– Both thought they were better than the other
• Sparta had the stronger Army
– Athens had the stronger Navy
• Athens had the smarter, more rounded people
– Sparta had the better fighters
• Women had a larger role in Sparta and could
be citizens- if they passed the physical test
– Women of Athens were only citizens if husband was
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