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The Spartans. Comparing Sparta and Athens. Objective. Students will be able to compare the governments, citizenships, and roles of women in Sparta and Athens. . Essential Question. What drove Sparta to become a military state ?

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the spartans

The Spartans

Comparing Sparta and Athens

  • Students will be able to compare the governments, citizenships, and roles of women in Sparta and Athens.

Essential Question

  • What drove Sparta to become a military state?
  • Why would Sparta be so different from Athens if they are both Greek?
the spartan state
The Spartan State
  • Government was a mix of monarchy, oligarchy, and democracy.
  • Didn’t use coins but iron rods for currency.
  • Sparta is located on the Peloponnesian Peninsula, but was not a sea power.
  • Was ruled by 2 kings who also served as military leaders.
government in sparta
Government in Sparta
  • The kings also headed the council of elders.
    • 28 men over the age of 60. Members were elected for life.
  • This oligarchy was the true government of Sparta.
  • Did have an assembly made up of free adult males (only 9,000 compared to Athens 45,000!!!) The Assemblycould pass laws but the council had to approve them.
  • The assembly’s 1 power was to elect the ephors who were responsible for the day to day running of the government (made sure the rulers and council stayed in the law!!)
military conquests
Military Conquests
  • Sparta had no interest in trade. They just took land by force.
  • Messenia was a neighboring city-state they conquered and the captured Messeniansbecame helots. The Messenians were forced to grow crops for the Spartansand turn over half the crop to Sparta.
  • The Helots were treated harshly, and grew enough food to free Spartan men from farming so they could be part of the professional army.
the helot revolt
The Helot Revolt
  • In the early 400’s BC the Helots launched a revolt but lost.
  • Even though they won, the Spartans were outnumbered and feared another revolt.
  • Decided to create a military state (a society organized to wage war)
  • Controlled the Helots by terror. Every year the ephors waged war on the helots. This allowed any Spartan to kill them w/o fear of punishment. If a helot fought back they would be beaten or killed.



At 7 boys left home and went to school & lived in barracks.

Spent most time hunting, exercising and training w/weapons.

Taught to obey orders, not to think for themselves.

At 18 boys start 2yr program for phalanx.

  • Some girls could read & write
  • Formal education was only for boys.
  • Attended from age 7 and studied literature, physical education, and music.
  • By 420’s BC higher education came and taught math and public speaking.
social classes
Social Classes



After training was complete, Spartan men faced a test to become part of the men’s club of soldiers. If they failed, they were “inferiors” and became outcasts, and never became citizens.

If they passed they became “equals” and were full citizens, got membership to assembly, land worked by helots, & at 60 could become part of council of elders if elected.

  • All free men born in Athens could be citizens.
  • Classes went from rich landowners -> merchants and artisans -> and landless poor -> slaves. Though not all these could participate in government.
roles of women
Roles of Women



Only purpose in life was to have strong, healthy babies.

Could participate in sports.

Had more freedom & responsibilities.

Could sell property

Had some education

  • Wealthier women stayed home, managed money & spending, & managed slaves & supervised the household & raised the children.
  • Poorer women worked outdoors on farms or sold goods at markets.
  • Made the families clothing.
athens vs sparta
Athens VS Sparta



Feared individual differences and change.

Wanted everyone to fit in.

Sparta’s oligarchy & society changed very little.

  • Valued individuals and new ideas.
  • Open to change.
  • Athenian democracy evolved over time.