Sparta's Participation In Public Life Essay

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How did people in Athens and Sparta obtain the right to participate in public life and make decisions affecting the community? Who held public office? What rules governed the selection of public office holders?
In Sparta, the first line of decision making opportunity for the public was the group called The Assembly. As long as a citizen of Sparta was male and free, they were considered members of the assembly. The exception to this eligibility is when a free male Spartan lost his citizenship. The next level of public office was the Gerousia. Assembly members at the age of 60 would be eligible for this position but they had to be chosen. The next level up after the Gerousia was the group of Euphors, another office held by appointment only.
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Weight in decision making was based on level of wealth. According to Brand (2010), a minority group called Thetes, was comprised of the top three income groups: 500 bushel men, the 300 bushel men and the 200 bushel men who could serve in political stations equivalent to their rank in wealth. Those free men who fell below this income level could serve and vote in the assembly. This group formed the majority of the eligible citizens that could make a contribution to the community. There was also a legislative council that was referred to as ‘Boule’ that comprised of 500 councilors. “500 councilors were chosen each year, 50 from each tribe drawn from every part of Attica.”(Brand, 2010:19) Another group who was not allowed to serve politically but only economically was the Metics. They were free foreigners or “resident aliens” as Brand put it.
How were the two city-states similar in their governmental structures?
Both Athens and Sparta required political contributors to be male, citizens and free. They both also consisted of Assemblies which served as the most basic form of political contribution. Both governments condoned slavery, even though entirely different forms of
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