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SPARTA. Sparta focused on foreign conquest in response to population pressure By 600 BC it had taken over the nearby city of Messenia Doubling agricultural acreage and establishing firm economic base for future military power

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  • Sparta focused on foreign conquest in response to population pressure
    • By 600 BC it had taken over the nearby city of Messenia
      • Doubling agricultural acreage and establishing firm economic base for future military power
  • War against Messenia also forced fundamental social, political, and economic reforms within Sparta
    • First written constitution in Greek history
      • Reflected unique form of society in which every aspect of a citizen’s life was governed by military necessity
spartan training i
  • Every new-born infant examined by committee
    • Abandoned to die if it showed any type of deformity
  • Enrolled in special troops at age six
    • Remained members until age 18
    • Girls still lived at home but boys lived away from parents
    • Put through increasingly brutal series of classes designed to make them used to suffering and hardship
      • Also designed to break down family relationships
      • Education focused on music, dancing, and athletics
spartan training ii
  • Began formal military training at age 18
    • Took 2 years to complete
  • Applied for admission into a military club after successful completion of training
    • Membership was official indication that a boy had become a man
    • Application for admission had to be voted on by other members of club
      • Vote had to be unanimous
  • Not allowed to marry or have a family for 10 years
    • Still had to have meals with club until he was 60
  • Military clubs formed basic unit of military service
  • Spartan men given plots of land to support themselves after they joined a military club
    • Did not work land themselves
    • Work done by helots
      • Slaves owned by the Spartan state
  • Manufacturing also done by helots
  • Spartan men lived off the work of others so that they could devote their entire life to being a soldier
spartan government
  • Two kings
    • Led army and Sparta in general
    • Hereditary
  • Gerousia
    • 28 man council
    • All members over 60 years old
    • Drew up proposals for legislation
  • Assembly of the Spartans
    • All full male citizens
    • Voted on legislative proposals
    • Presided over by five elected officials called ephors

King Leonidas


Originally a protective alliance with included most of the city-states in the Peloponnese

Met periodically to discuss issues

Decisions made through majority vote but Sparta became accepted as most important member and was able to get majority support for its position on any issue

Sparta exercised power through the Peloponnesian League


  • Lost control of Attica and only gradually re-established itself as a unified state in the region
    • By 650 BC
  • Entered a period of internal turmoil around 630 BC
    • Two attempts by individuals to seize control of the city
    • Great deal of unrest by lower classes and hoplites against domination by oligarchy of wealthy landowning families
    • Oligarchy also divided between conservative and progressive factions
  • Solon given job to reform city’s laws and restore internal peace and order
    • 594 BC
    • Determined to stamp out lawlessness at all levels of society and convinced all Athenians that disobedience to the law would destroy the city
      • Best way to do this was to make the law more fair and eliminate unjust laws
        • Only way to get people to respect the law was to make it worthy of their respect
reforms of solon
  • Abolished practice of enslaving a person for unpaid debts and freed all persons enslaved for that reason
  • Abolished all feudal obligations that commoners owed the aristocracy
  • Widened political participation
    • Broke monopoly aristocrats had over Council of Athens, elected positions, and Assembly of Athens
    • Allowed all citizens regardless of wealth to serve in Assembly
    • Opened up position of archon and seat in Council of Athens to wealthy hoplites
    • Created new 400 member body which acted as Supreme Court
    • Established right of any citizen to bring a case to court
reforms backfire a little
  • Solon’s reforms went long way towards opening up Athenian society and government to a greater number of people
    • But they did not immediately end the turmoil that plagued the city
  • Athens did prosper
    • Rapid population growth, geographic expansion, various public works projects
    • But Solon’s reforms increased infighting by multiplying the number of factions struggling for control
      • Even resulted in several dictatorships (tyrannies)
  • Two factions struggled for control after death of the tyrant Hippias (508 BC)
    • One led by Isagoras and the other by Cleisthenes
  • Cleisthenes won
    • Because he had cultivated the support of the demos
      • Majority of Athenian population who were still excluded from politics because they owned little or no property
      • He had won their support because he promised to give them a legal political voice
reforms of cleisthenes
  • Cleisthenes kept promise to demos
    • Population of city and region divided into ten tribes
    • Each included people from all walks of life
    • Each elected representatives to the Council, elected generals and public officials, and jurors to Supreme Court
  • Cleisthenes permanently broke power of old aristocracy and established the foundation for democracy
archaic greece
  • At beginning of period, most of the Aegean world was divided into independent principalities
    • Had simple social structures with nobility on top and everyone else below
  • By 500 BC, principalities had been transformed into city-states
    • Aristocracy reduced to just one faction of many
    • Aristocratic value system subsided in favor of a new one based on service to the community and the law
  • Old value system of aristocracy was based on fighting and an obsession with honor
    • But the new city-state, with its commercial and business activities, had little use for a bunch of jealous, warring aristocrats with their inflated sense of honor
      • Required instead justice, established by law according to rational and regular procedures
  • Poets at the forefront of attack on old aristocratic value system
    • Example: Archilocus
    • Argued old aristocratic and heroic values were out of touch with the times
      • Silly and counter to the need for law and order
changes in religion
  • Gods reflected aristocratic values in Homer’s poems
    • Obsessed with fighting, killing, and performing heroic feats
  • During the Archaic Ages, gods became more interested in justice
    • Urged men to be content with their lot in life
      • To go against this was now considered hubris
        • Insolence against the gods
  • Religion modified during Archaic Age to reinforce new value system and discourage the old
  • Mutually-reinforcing cycle
    • Growth of business and trade undermined the aristocratic monopoly over society
      • Decline of aristocracy was accompanied by a parallel decline in their value system
        • Helped by propaganda attacks by poets and a gradual shift in religious emphasis
    • Decline of aristocratic value system was paralleled by the rise of a new value system based on law, order, and stability
      • Encouraged further business growth and prosperity
        • Sped up the decline of the aristocracy
        • Provided good environment for development of literature and beginning of philosophic and scientific speculation
greek political culture
  • In Greek polis, the state was society
    • Two were completely integrated with each other
  • Power was not delegated to a permanent group of legislators, judges and bureaucrats
    • Citizens were expected to play an immediate and direct role in legislation, the judiciary, and executive policy-making
  • Fundamental principle of most Greek city-sates that officials should be constantly changed
    • Giving almost everyone a chance to actively running the polis
private sphere public sphere
  • No “diffusion of loyalty”
    • No chance for citizen to develop non-state loyalties
      • Only one state religion
      • No non-state cultural associations
        • All art was public and all cultural events were state affairs
    • Nothing in the Greek polis existed to distract the citizen from his loyalty to the state
      • Private sphere linked tightly to the state, focusing everyone’s absolute loyalty to that institution
political assumptions
  • Taken for granted that all important questions regarding policy-making, legislation, and judiciary was the concern of all citizens
    • Professionals did not dominate government
  • Power was not dissipated among a multitude of specialized departments and institutions
    • Rested fully in the hands of the people
  • All city-states restricted who could become a citizen
    • General tendency in Archaic Age was towards less restrictivness
  • Citizens only made up part of total population
    • Rest were foreigners, slaves, and freedmen
slaves and freedmen
  • Slaves played crucial role in economy of all city-states of ancient Greece
    • And in Sparta, they were the economy
  • Freedmen worked as craftsmen, small farmers, small retail merchants
    • But they worked for themselves, not for others
  • To work for someone else on a regular basis was the mark of a slave
    • Essential characteristic of a freedman was economic independence
      • No matter how low-level or demeaning the work they did
  • Freedmen often very poor
    • Did not view themselves as oppressed working class
    • Complaints directed against the rich
      • Especially wealthy creditors
      • Slogans concerned lack of political participation or the elimination of debts
    • Saw themselves as independent businessmen
      • Wanted recognition of their status and relief from the costs of doing business
    • Never formed any kind of alliance with slaves to overcome their mutual exploitation
      • Because they say themselves as inherently better than slaves
greek family
  • Archaic Greeks viewed family as immortal
    • Founded in mythical days and would continue forever
    • Male head of family therefore had to work to ensure this immortality
      • By expanding its economic base, performing religious rituals, worshipping ancestors, having children
        • Family without children was not considered a family at all
      • Family heads under great pressure to keep their families going by having children
  • Marriage was a carefully considered, regulated step
    • Were prearranged
    • Couple became engaged as children after long negotiations between parents
    • It was understood that love would develop after marriage
      • Not before
greek women
  • Greeks attached immense importance to chastity of citizen women
    • It was of utmost importance that legitimacy of offspring not be questions on the grounds of a pre-marital or extra-marital affair
    • Took every precaution to segregate women from men
      • Even set aside a part of the house for exclusive use of women
    • Adultery considered a serious crime that threatened foundation of the state
      • Not just a private matter
citizen and slave women
  • Women had no political role
    • Charged with running households and nothing else
  • Slave women and freedman women had more freedom
    • Since they were not considered important enough to worry about
      • No one cared if their families remained intact or not
      • Could pretty well do what they wanted in their private lives
final point
  • Neither male nor female citizens enjoyed a high degree of freedom (in the modern sense of the term)
    • Greek ideas of freedom implied conformity to community standards of behavior
      • Community needs defined the roles of men and women and restricted the freedom of both
      • Male family heads had little choice over who and when he should marry, whether to have children, etc.
        • Law and custom demanded that he subordinate his own needs and desires to those of his family and the community at large
        • In exchange, men and women enjoyed a strong and stimulating community life
          • A trade off between liberty and security, with security receiving the most emphasis