This arrangement allowed one king to govern Sparta while the other was leading the Spartans into battle. Beneath the Fringe-Dwellers was the enormous serf caste of Helots. Sparta did not like the way tyranny worked so they produced a different form of government. 1 Questions & Answers Place. Noncitizens could not participate in the government. Homoioi were expected to continue serving in the Spartan military reserves until age 60. The Spartan political mindset was war. Supposedly formed by Lycurgus, the government in Sparta is very unique in that it is an Oligarchy; combining monarchy, aristocracy and democracy. These slaves had no rights and belonged to the state — not to the landowners themselves. Sparta, ancient capital of the Laconia district of the southeastern Peloponnese, southwestern Greece. Follow Us. Although they did not have many rights, women in Sparta have more rights than other Greek women have. While many are familiar with the Spartans' military prowess, most are unaware that the Spartans had a highly democratic form of government in which all full citizens -- called "homoioi" -- were expected to participate. They were subject to Sparta's laws and could be punished by Sparta's elected government. That was the Spartan way: Lie, cheat, steal, and get away with it, or else. The Spartans did have a sea port but due to the distance and rough weather from the Mediterranean, the Spartan's naval abilities suffered. Groups living in Sparta who were not allowed the rights of citizens include the helots -- slaves who performed agricultural labor -- and the perioeci -- free non-citizens who were generally employed in skilled labor and merchant trade. Many of the Fringe Dwellers seem not to have been particularly hostile to the Spartan regime, but neither did they have any reason to be particularly loyal to the Similars when it came to a crunch. The Oracle was a priestess of Apollo who prophesied on behalf of the gods so when Lycurgus took his ideas of government to her, he was lookin… Spartan dress, taste, and style were notoriously modest, even austere, but Spartans were not crude, dirty, or unkempt – as contemporary art amply demonstrates. Ancient Sparta is one of the most well-known cities in Classical Greece. Five ephors, chosen annually by popular election, had the main power. At this point, Spartan men were granted the full rights of citizens, including the right to vote for their leaders and laws. See disclaimer. This story is related by Plutarch in his Life of Lycurgus: This is striking for two reasons: that he would think the rich were not susceptible to bribes, and that he approves of government by the elite, something people in modern democracies tend to disapprove. Another right that Spartan women have is to speak in public with men. Classroom is the educational resource for people of all ages. Spartan babies who were not deemed likely to be physically fit were left alone on a hillside to die. I have read that during their early years, during military training, that spartan boys were sometimes fed pig fat and pig blood. These men … Sparta was much admired in Greece. Boys were separated from their mothers at age 7 to begin rigorous military training and continued to live in military barracks until age 30. What form of government did Sparta have? While many are familiar with the Spartans' military prowess, most are unaware that the Spartans had a highly democratic form of government in which all full citizens -- called "homoioi" -- were expected to participate. ThoughtCo uses cookies to provide you with a great user experience. Every man in the army fought with a great deal of passion for his country. Sparta's entire society was based on the idea that all men should be soldiers who spent their lives in service to the state. Oligarchy - council of 5 Spartan Nobles who guarded against change and outside influences. Why would such a well-educated, brilliant thinker believe there was a difference between the rich and poor? In peacetime they were responsible for the cult and to some legal issues. They were the supreme commanders of the army. King was succeeded by his the first born son after he came to power. They thought of themselves as Greeks. The people the Spartans caught after a raid were turned into slaves. The Spartan men in the army started their military training at the age of seven and were trained to be tough. This gave them considerably more political clout than most ancient women, but it did not afford them the right to vote or actively participate in the democratic process. What kind of goventment did the ancient spartas have? Based on the Word Net lexical database for the English Language. In Sparta, helots were captured enemies who were made to work for the Spartans without pay. Monarchy- A government ruled by a king or queen. But the Spartans were the best warriors in all of Greece. The Spartans had two kings ruling the city, but their powers were limited by the 'council of elders', having 28 members participating. Herodotus on the Kings of Sparta C 430 BCE, M.A., Linguistics, University of Minnesota. Some of the people lived with a lot less stress that did … Whether you’re studying times tables or applying to college, Classroom has the answers. A Sybarite, who ate at a public mess, once remarked: "Now I know why the Spartans do not fear death." Instead, it is thought that for internal dealings Spartans would have used iron spits as a form of currency. T… The Spartans took the rich land of their neighbors and made them helots, forced laborers. Thrasybulus leads the democratic resistance to the new oligarchic government, known as the Thirty Tyrants, that the victorious Spartans have imposed on Athens. No. Unlike many ancient monarchs, the kings of Sparta did not wield absolute power. Other Greek city states had an almost all militia army. eight thousand men. According to Aristotle, Sparta had a government comprised of three systems, the monarchical, oligarchic and democratic. When he isn't writing business spotlights for local community papers, he writes and has owned and operated a small business. Life in Sparta may have been hard but the rest of the Greeks envied the Spartans for their simplicity and fanatical dedication to their country. The Elizabethan English constitutionalist John Aylmer compared the mixed government of Tudor England to the Spartan republic, stating that "Lacedemonia [was] … Noncitizens were not slaves they were freemen. Spartan kings had royal reputation, first places in all, holding the biggest portion of lands. The Spartan system was based on the idea that the collective came before the individual. The political system of ancient Sparta was a very unique and different oligarchy as compared to other civilization's. Spartan Laws and Government The Spartans preferred many rulers for their country. Because of this, Sparta had the only full time army in all of Greece. Sparta traditionally was ruled by two kings, kingship being hereditary in two different families, the Agids and the Europontids. She has been featured by NPR and National Geographic for her ancient history expertise. Government in Ancient Sparta. He replied "Good, then we shall have our battle in the shade." However, Sparta did not have a coinage (until King Areus, 309-265 BCE minted silver tetradrachms, only four of which have survived). N.S. For girls, school was also very similar. Sparta had two hereditary kings at any given time. Republic vs. Democracy: What Is the Difference? Find answers now! Regardless of how old we are, we never stop learning. Sparta was ruled by a small group of retired warriors. The Spartan society was known for its highly-skilled warriors, elitist administrators, and its reverence for stoicism, people today still look to the Spartans as model citizens in an idealist ancient society. Spartan women were allowed more rights than most Greek women, including the right to own property and to interact socially with men. Spartans had the slaves and noncitizens produce the goods they needed. The Spartans did not seem to achieve a high level of culture but the stability of their government has always been admired. The Spartans spoke Greek. This type of government is called an oligarchy. What Is a Constitutionally Limited Government? In the monarchical system two kings—hereditary monarchs, one from each of the Agiad and Eurypontid families—had priestly obligations and the power to make war (although by the time of the Persian Wars, the kings' power to make war was restricted). If we need proof that the Spartans had an organized and sophisticated government, look no further than the Great Rhetra. The helots were always looking for an opportunity to revolt and did in time revolt, but the Spartans won despite an overwhelming shortage of population. Despite this, the Spartan system of government did share some similarities with the democratic governments of the other city­states. Sparta was an ancient Greek city-state, founded around 1000 B.C. A Spartan women has to look after her husbands land while he is away at war. The Greeks admired the harmony and order produced by the Spartan Constitution. Most of the people living in and around Sparta were not afforded the opportunity to become homoioi. Sparta was an ancient Greek city-state, founded around 1000 B.C. The reason for this is that few people actually ruled Sparta, and their power or time in office was limited to avoid corruption. Indeed many Greeks wanted their polis to adopt a similar form of government The city-state system also influenced philosophers such as Plato and its influence can be seen in his great work the Republic. The state demanded total obedience from the citizen whose service to the state came before… Of course a Spartan women was just as likely to have a baby girl as a baby boy and the two while sharing an almost unparalleled level of equality in the ancient world were treated differently. The Spartan government was divided into two bodies: the Gerousia, or council of elders, and the Apella, or assembly. The sparsity of ruins from antiquity around the modern city reflects the austerity of the military oligarchy that ruled the Spartan city-state from the 6th to the 2nd century BCE. Oligarchyies in each city-state with Spartan governors and magistrates to rule. The council of elders or "gerousia" was comprised of elected Spartans 60 years or older who were appointed for life. According to tradition, the Great Rhetra was given to the legendary figure Lycurgusby the mythical Oracle of Apollo at Delphi. We have also been recommended for educational use by the following publications: Our Mission Our mission is to engage people with cultural heritage and to improve history education worldwide. Unlike the Athenian government the Spartans didn't use tyranny or any form Athenian democracy. In essence, this was the constitution of Sparta, the political document that outlined the powers and structures of government. © 2020 Leaf Group Ltd. / Leaf Group Media, All Rights Reserved. Gill is a Latinist, writer, and teacher of ancient history and Latin. Women have the right to talk to her husband's friends. This created social classes within Sparta, the highest social class being the kings and the 'council of elders'. However their actual constitution was a good example of the ‘mixed constitution’ of the type that the Greeks admired, in that it mixed together the two main systems of kingship and democracy. Oligarchy Sparta always had two kings, the state was ruled by two hereditary kings of the Agiad and Eurypontid families (probably the two gens had great merits in the conquest of Laconia). Sparta had two kings ruling together but at the same time creating a system of checks and balances in a modified version of a democratic society. In fact, modern eyes might well have preferred the Spartan style of whitewashed buildings to the gaudy painting of temples and statues common in the rest of the ancient world. History: 8 Reasons It Wasn't Easy Being Spartan, HSC Online: Spartan Society to the Battle of Leuctra 371 BC. control over the people. He thinks they would take bribes. Sparta did not invent slavery, but they did generate a particular kind of slavery system. Yet, as is often the case, many of the perceptions we have The kings were automatic members of the Gerousia, the council of 28 elders picked for life plus the two kings. Sparta had a highly unusual system of government. What type of government did Sparta and Athens have? If they needed to, they were able to serve in the Spartan military. This ‘Lycurgan’ system as described by Plutarch and Xenophon is a seriously weird system. All citizens in ancient Greece were warriors. In the quoted passage on the government of Sparta, Aristotle disapproves of government run by poor people. Aristotle, in "On the Lacedaemonian Constitution"—a section of The Politics—says that some claim Sparta's system of government included monarchical, oligarchic and democratic components. But Sparta was very different from the other Greek city-states. Law forbade all Spartan males from any occupation other than that of being a soldier. All Spartan homoioi participated in the general assembly -- called the apella -- in which they voted on legislation and elected members to the board of ephors and the council of elders. Because the Spartan government wanted Spartans to be tough and strong, they weren't given enough food or clothing, so they were encouraged to steal, but if they were caught they were beaten. Ephors were magistrates who had power over the king served one-year terms as a sort of executive council. Spartan women were credited for making Spartan men strong, their strong hand and firm belief in the state was though to be one of the many reason for the military might of the ancient state. The Spartans formed a very complex government mixing democracy and oligarchy, and this form of government was a model for other poleis. By using ThoughtCo, you accept our, The Ancient Spartans Had a Murderous Secret Police, 7 Points to Know About Ancient Greek Government, Political Aspects of the Classical Age of Greece. 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