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Comparisons of Athenian and Spartan Governments - Essay Example

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A Comparison on the Governments of Athens and Sparta Ancient Greece has been considered as a cradle of western civilization. The early city states that existed then bore many of the economic, political, and cultural hallmarks that greatly influenced the development of modern societies…
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Comparisons of Athenian and Spartan Governments
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Comparisons of Athenian and Spartan Governments

Download file to see previous pages... There were two prominent cities in ancient Greece that possess distinct and contrasting governmental systems. Athens and Sparta were the two most powerful city states then and their influence, especially in the field of governance, was widespread in the region. Since the two states have different systems of government, both are worth studying and comparing for the purpose of deriving ideas and lessons on modern states should be run. Sparta’s government has often been construed as similar to the modern autocracy. This impression is brought about by the structure of the government itself. At the helm are the Ephors who were elected yearly by the people. The Ephors were composed of five individuals who did not belong to the royalty. They enjoyed unlimited power when it comes to executing the laws of the state. Due to the blanket authority that the Ephors practiced and also because of their small number, the Spartan government may at best be considered as an oligarchy. Oligarchy literally means the rule of a few. However, it must be noted that while the Ephors may have unlimited power and while they may be on top of the governmental hierarchy, they could not actually monopolize political power for several reasons. First of all, being an Ephor is not a birthright and it is also not a position that one can held on to for life. As pointed out, there is a clear length of time that an individual can rule as part of a collective, which is one year. An election would be held every year, which means that an individual may no longer retain his seat as Ephor. The thought of becoming an ordinary citizen after a year of being on society’s highest power structure might discourage an individual Ephor from committing abuses. Since the rule is collective in essence, there was already a degree of check and balance from within the ranks of the five Ephors. If the Spartans are not satisfied with the way the Ephors are managing the affairs of the state or with how they are treating the citizens, they would just wait for the next elections and the individual Ephors could be subjected to removal or replacement. Under such setup, it is clear that autocracy may not be the most accurate term to describe Sparta’s government. An oligarchy, notwithstanding the fact that it is just for a year, may be the best description. While the Ephors controlled all the executive functions of the Spartan government, there was also the Council of Elders, which may be considered as the equivalent of the senate. The Council of Elders was composed of 28 members who are aged 60 and above. The age requirement definitely borne out of the belief that one’s life experience is reflective of his wisdom. Aside from the 28, the Council of Elders also includes the two kings who, upon the increased powers of the Ephors, have been relegated to figureheads and their only actual governmental function was to become part of the Council. The Council of Elders is responsible for making the laws as well as deciding on important issues that affect the state and society. However, whatever decision that the Council of Elders arrive at would not be deemed as a final governmental policy unless this has been approved by the General Assembly. The General Assembly was composed of all male citizens with ages 30 and above. This much larger body, however, “did not debate but only voted on the issues put before it by the Council of El ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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