Athens And Sparta The Culture Essay Research

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Athens And Sparta; The Culture Essay, Research Paper Athens Athens was one of the first city-states. Each of these independent states consisted of a city and the region that surrounded it. Athens had a king, as did other Greek states. According to tradition, the first king of Athens was named Cecrops. Kings ruled the city-state until 682 B.C. Beginning that year, elected officials called archons headed the government of Athens. The general assembly, which consisted of all adult male citizens of Athens, elected the archons to one-year terms. After their term of office, the archons joined the Areopagus, a council of elder statesmen. The Areopagus judged murder trials and prepared political matters for the vote of the general assembly. Hippias fell from power in 510 B.C., and

Cleisthenes, the head of a leading family, became the most powerful statesman in Athens. About 508 B.C., the Athenians adopted a new constitution proposed by Cleisthenes, which made the state a democracy. This constitution was an unwritten one, but it stayed in effect with little change for hundreds of years. The constitution kept the ideas of Solon, but it also provided for new conditions that had developed since Solon’s rule. Until Cleisthenes’ time, citizenship in Athens had been based on blood relationship to the four Ionic tribes that had originally settled Attica. A man had to belong to a phratry (brotherhood) to be a citizen. Under Cleisthenes’ system, all men 18 years of age and older were registered as citizens and as members of the deme (village or town) in which

they lived. In time, membership in the demes became hereditary, and so a man might belong to a deme in which he did not actually live. Cleisthenes divided the demes into 30 groups called trittyes, which, in turn, were divided into 10 new tribes. Each of the 10 tribes was made up of 3 trittyes from different regions of Athens. Thus, members of each tribe came from various families and different parts of the city-state. Athens led the empire into the Peloponnesian War (431-404 B.C.) against Sparta and its allies. Sparta won this war and remained the most powerful Greek state until 371 B.C., when it was defeated by Thebes. Athens never regained its political leadership. But the city remained Greece’s intellectual center. People still came to Athens as a center of culture under

Macedonian rule, and later under Roman rule. For hundreds of years, wealthy Roman families sent their sons to Athens to complete their education. However, Athens lost its position as a cultural center in A.D. 529, when the Byzantine emperor Justinian closed the city’s schools of philosophy. From about 1100 to 1400, during the Middle Ages, Athens declined even further. As the power of Byzantium weakened, various Italian and other European rulers occupied the neglected city. In 1456, Athens fell to the Ottoman Empire. The Islamic Ottomans did little to restore the Christian city to its former glory. In 1833, after the Greek War of Independence, Athens became the capital of the new kingdom of Greece. The first king, Otto I, or Otho I, and his advisers were German. They used modern

Western European ideas–such as public squares and straight streets–in their urban planning designs along the northern and eastern slopes of the Acropolis. The population grew to about 500,000 by the mid-1920’s. Sparta The people belonged to three classes. The Spartans themselves were descended from the Dorians, a people who invaded the Greek peninsula in the 1100’s B.C. They were the ruling class of Sparta and were the only ones who had full rights of citizenship. They enslaved the earlier Greek peoples of Laconia, the Achaeans and Ionians. These enslaved Greeks, who were called helots (pronounced HEHL uhts), outnumbered the Spartans. Some of the non-Spartan Greeks escaped enslavement. They were not citizens, but they lived in Sparta as free people. This group was known