Does anyone have a reliable source of information on Sparta and Athens?

grumpycroc

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I would be grateful for any information on the two ancient city states. I am particularly interested in how the states formed, and their forms of governments.

I have consulted Google, but I don't trust any of the links. They are all kind of gimmicky.

Thank you in advance.
 

Midnattblod

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well I do know that Sparta was heavily militaristic in their government, but that's probably common knowledge. I don't know about actual sources other then those trusty page things called books:D. actually though if anyone else has something I would be kinda interested too.
 

AlphaAlex

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didn't foinakas get perma banned?
All I can say is watch doco's on youtube.. however they probably aren't THAT reliable :p. Sorry.
 

Stormborn

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I would be grateful for any information on the two ancient city states. I am particularly interested in how the states formed, and their forms of governments.

I have consulted Google, but I don't trust any of the links. They are all kind of gimmicky.

Thank you in advance.

Hm I should be able to answer this, I started my bachelor degree in archeology with a course that involved the subject. Err. That was 2011 and I quit after one semester to study law instead. (However I got accepted to the program again this week but my main subject will be Nordic archeology.)

But, I do have all of my books about ancient cities and society's, so I could have a look at the different books our university recommend on the subject.
 
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grumpycroc

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Hm I should be able to answer this, I started my bachelor degree in archeology with a course that involved the subject. Err. That was 2011 and I quit after one semester to study law instead. (However I got accepted to the program again this week but my main subject will be Nordic archeology.)

But, I do have all of my books about ancient cities and society's, so I could have a look at the different books our university recommend on the subject.

That would be great:)

Thank you already.
 

Stormborn

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There is so much information to write down, but here is a little about Sparta.

During the Archaic period, 600-479 BC, a general prosperity among city-states created a balance of strength and influence between regions. By the second quarter of the fifth century BC, power had concentrated in the hands of two; Athens and Sparta. At the end of the century they would fight each other in the Peloponnnesian War, a protracted, draining conflict that finished with the defeat of Athens. The character of Athenian society differed dramatically from that of Sparta. Indeed, that Greek culture produced two such contrasting city-states has fascinated observers from antiquity to the present day. Although Sparta only has contributed only modestly to the archaeological evidence for ancient Greece, it's historical importance calls for a brief look at the nature of it's society.

The Spartan mirage begins with the story about Lycurgus who is said to have created the perfect laws for Sparta. He made all spartan men equal, regulated their lives and forged the ultimate fighting machine - according to the legend.

The spartans spoke the dialect of Greek called Dorian, according to the legend the Dorians were a distinct people who invaded southern greece in the twelfth century, soon after the fall of troy. However it's not been decided if the Dorian invasion can be verified in the material record but the important thing is that the Spartans believed that they descended from the conquering Dorians and that they believed that this descent gave them the right to dominate the defeated indigenous peoples.

Around the ninth century the Spartans conquered Laconia and reduced its population to dependence. The luckier Laconians,called perioikoi, got to stay around and they lived in independent villages and paid tribute to Sparta, served in the military but where not allowed to contribute to any decisions. Less fortunate ones, called Helots, became state owned slaves that worked the land for the Spartans. Helots were sometimes forced to wear silly outfits, paraded drunk in public, whipped. Every year Spartan officials declared a ritual war against them, removing religious pollution for killing a helot - making murder of them legal. An extreme system aimed at terrorizing the helots into obedience.

Sparta had an unusual political system, with four main political institutions, the kings, the council of the elder, the council of ephors (overseers) and the assembly. By 700 BC moste poleis discarded kings, but Sparta, always different, had two. Two different families, the Agiads and the Eurypontids, each provided a king. The kings had authority in war and were the highest religious officers. The two rulers, often in disagreement, had an equal standing and led the armies jointly, until one king left the other king in the lurch in a war against Athens in 506 BC. After that a new rule decided that only one king could be with the army at a time.

There were also twenty-eight members on the council of elders that served with the kings. The five Ephors presided over the Council, which settled all serious lawsuits and determined what questions to put before an assembly consisting of all Spartiate males. Sparta had no written laws. Therefore the power of the council of elders went beyond that of modern judges and juries combined. The assembly also elected the elders, when there was a vacancy - all men over sixty, and therefore not eligible for military service. Whomever got the loudest shout from the Spartiate males, was chosen. Being made an elder was a great honor, and only 5% lived to this age. Each year the assembly elected the Ephors as well, they served for one year and could not be reelected. Their job was to supervise the kings and the elders with authority to impeach or depose them if they broke the unwritten laws. Two Ephors always accompanied the kings on campaign and could even arrest the king if he fell short in his military duties. The Elders also supervised the assembly meetings.

The assembly included all Spartiate men aged over thirty and they met up at every full moon. The elders made proposal and the citizens of the assembly shouted approval or disapproval with little discussion.

The Spartans prided themselves on their balanced constitution, in which different institution exercised checks and balances on each other. The kings controlled war and religion, the elders controlled the law and the Ephors ensured fair play. The assembly - the citizens made the final decisions. Although as early as the seventh century BC a law was added tgat allowed the kings and the elders to simply adjourn the assembly and proceed without it's approval if they did not like it.

Political power was only for a tiny elite, about five percent of the population of Laconia. The effective decision makers were barely about one percent. However, every institution depended on another, change was hard to make, so it stayed fairly stable from the seventh or sixth until the third century BC.

The absence of hierarchy of offices combined with the Spartan deference to authority meant that individuals could play the system and gain great power. Kings who did well in war got greater influence in civil society, when they were week, the elders held that power. When Sparta had strong leaders their system worked well, when they had week ones it worked poorly. The habit of deferring to authority, indecision was easier than action, Sparta relied on oracles when it's leaders couldn't decide and other poleis bribed the oracles to mislead Spartans.

However Sparta never had a tyrant and avoided serious civil unrest for half a millennium and remained undefeated in battle for several generations. For much of this period, Sparta were the greatest military power in Greece.


And now I can't write much more before my brain turns to mush at the moment. I don't know if any of this is useful even. :p
 

Sparrow

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There is so much information to write down, but here is a little about Sparta.

During the Archaic period, 600-479 BC, a general prosperity among city-states created a balance of strength and influence between regions. By the second quarter of the fifth century BC, power had concentrated in the hands of two; Athens and Sparta. At the end of the century they would fight each other in the Peloponnnesian War, a protracted, draining conflict that finished with the defeat of Athens. The character of Athenian society differed dramatically from that of Sparta. Indeed, that Greek culture produced two such contrasting city-states has fascinated observers from antiquity to the present day. Although Sparta only has contributed only modestly to the archaeological evidence for ancient Greece, it's historical importance calls for a brief look at the nature of it's society.

The Spartan mirage begins with the story about Lycurgus who is said to have created the perfect laws for Sparta. He made all spartan men equal, regulated their lives and forged the ultimate fighting machine - according to the legend.

The spartans spoke the dialect of Greek called Dorian, according to the legend the Dorians were a distinct people who invaded southern greece in the twelfth century, soon after the fall of troy. However it's not been decided if the Dorian invasion can be verified in the material record but the important thing is that the Spartans believed that they descended from the conquering Dorians and that they believed that this descent gave them the right to dominate the defeated indigenous peoples.

Around the ninth century the Spartans conquered Laconia and reduced its population to dependence. The luckier Laconians,called perioikoi, got to stay around and they lived in independent villages and paid tribute to Sparta, served in the military but where not allowed to contribute to any decisions. Less fortunate ones, called Helots, became state owned slaves that worked the land for the Spartans. Helots were sometimes forced to wear silly outfits, paraded drunk in public, whipped. Every year Spartan officials declared a ritual war against them, removing religious pollution for killing a helot - making murder of them legal. An extreme system aimed at terrorizing the helots into obedience.

Sparta had an unusual political system, with four main political institutions, the kings, the council of the elder, the council of ephors (overseers) and the assembly. By 700 BC moste poleis discarded kings, but Sparta, always different, had two. Two different families, the Agiads and the Eurypontids, each provided a king. The kings had authority in war and were the highest religious officers. The two rulers, often in disagreement, had an equal standing and led the armies jointly, until one king left the other king in the lurch in a war against Athens in 506 BC. After that a new rule decided that only one king could be with the army at a time.

There were also twenty-eight members on the council of elders that served with the kings. The five Ephors presided over the Council, which settled all serious lawsuits and determined what questions to put before an assembly consisting of all Spartiate males. Sparta had no written laws. Therefore the power of the council of elders went beyond that of modern judges and juries combined. The assembly also elected the elders, when there was a vacancy - all men over sixty, and therefore not eligible for military service. Whomever got the loudest shout from the Spartiate males, was chosen. Being made an elder was a great honor, and only 5% lived to this age. Each year the assembly elected the Ephors as well, they served for one year and could not be reelected. Their job was to supervise the kings and the elders with authority to impeach or depose them if they broke the unwritten laws. Two Ephors always accompanied the kings on campaign and could even arrest the king if he fell short in his military duties. The Elders also supervised the assembly meetings.

The assembly included all Spartiate men aged over thirty and they met up at every full moon. The elders made proposal and the citizens of the assembly shouted approval or disapproval with little discussion.

The Spartans prided themselves on their balanced constitution, in which different institution exercised checks and balances on each other. The kings controlled war and religion, the elders controlled the law and the Ephors ensured fair play. The assembly - the citizens made the final decisions. Although as early as the seventh century BC a law was added tgat allowed the kings and the elders to simply adjourn the assembly and proceed without it's approval if they did not like it.

Political power was only for a tiny elite, about five percent of the population of Laconia. The effective decision makers were barely about one percent. However, every institution depended on another, change was hard to make, so it stayed fairly stable from the seventh or sixth until the third century BC.

The absence of hierarchy of offices combined with the Spartan deference to authority meant that individuals could play the system and gain great power. Kings who did well in war got greater influence in civil society, when they were week, the elders held that power. When Sparta had strong leaders their system worked well, when they had week ones it worked poorly. The habit of deferring to authority, indecision was easier than action, Sparta relied on oracles when it's leaders couldn't decide and other poleis bribed the oracles to mislead Spartans.

However Sparta never had a tyrant and avoided serious civil unrest for half a millennium and remained undefeated in battle for several generations. For much of this period, Sparta were the greatest military power in Greece.


And now I can't write much more before my brain turns to mush at the moment. I don't know if any of this is useful even. :p


When reading a history book on these events I often wonder how much is myth and how much is grounded by what historians and archaeologists have uncovered?.. besides ancient Egyptian History, it's Ancient Greek history I find exciting... also early Roman Empire to middle Roman Empire. It's amazing that they continue even into modern times finding new information about these civilizations.
 

Stormborn

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When reading a history book on these events I often wonder how much is myth and how much is grounded by what historians and archaeologists have uncovered?.. besides ancient Egyptian History, it's Ancient Greek history I find exciting... also early Roman Empire to middle Roman Empire. It's amazing that they continue even into modern times finding new information about these civilizations.

That's what's fascinating I think. There's a specific author who wrote a lot about Sparta in that time whom himself don't really know of what's myth and reality. Silly people.

I think it'll be the same about us, no matter how well documented we are now. I'm sure they will see our ways of doing the documentation as primitive and unreliable. Who will know if doctor who fan fiction is reality or not in thousands of years. ;)
 
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grumpycroc

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Stormborn, this is both very generous, and very helpful. I really appreciate this. I guess the only question is, how did Sparta become more militaristic, and how did Athens become more democratic? Is it even possible to know? From the sound of it we're not exactly clear. Except...any statistics on what percentage of the population of Sparta was Helot?

Also what about trade? Did Spartan citizens make and sell anything, or did they leave that to their slaves?
 

Sparrow

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That's what's fascinating I think. There's a specific author who wrote a lot about Sparta in that time whom himself don't really know of what's myth and reality. Silly people.

I think it'll be the same about us, no matter how well documented we are now. I'm sure they will see our ways of doing the documentation as primitive and unreliable. Who will know if doctor who fan fiction is reality or not in thousands of years. ;)

It's the same way with trying to learn about the Roman Empire... they were anal about record keeping and recording this and that... but it turns out most of it was written by bureaucrats, and usually incompetent lying bureaucrats. So sometimes all historians have to go by are government officials kissing the higher-ups asses.

When historians wipe away the dust from our time on Earth, methinks they will be unimpressed.:eek:
 

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