Spartan constitution essay

Greek historian and philosopher. Xenophon was a fourth-century Greek historian best known for his Hellenica, which began where Thucydides's History of the Peloponnesian War had stopped, and for the semi-historical, semi-novelistic Cyropaedia.

Spartan constitution essay

The speech revolves around the concept of courage as it relates to shame, self-control and honor. Likewise, in his discussion of the training of guardians towards ruling of the Republic, Plato[1] emphasizes the importance of similar concepts.

Spartan constitution essay

At first glance, it seems that these two accounts of state virtue appear identical; however, as I will argue in the following essay, the constitutions of the ideal citizens are essentially different insofar as they are based on essentially different metaphysical foundations and directed toward essentially different ends.

Whereas Sparta is founded upon nomos categories associated with custom and tradition in the service of upholding Spartan honor, the guardians of the republic ground themselves upon logos categories in order to remain connected to the eternal forms.

King Archidamus on Spartan Virtues and Constitution King Archidamus begins his speech with a polemical edge by which he not only presents a case for why Sparta should not rush into war, but also argues for why failing to engage Athens immediately does not prove Sparta cowardly.

For Archidamus, with his long experience with the complexities of war, the first consideration in any declaration should be whether or not war is necessary.

Spartan constitution essay

If such delegation proves ineffective, Archidamus does allow for war, but insists on the need for proper preparation, namely making further alliances, organizing soldiers and most importantly, securing sufficient funding.

In this he recognizes the burden that rests on Sparta to act wisely: In this, he aims his polemic directly against pleasures or unbridled emotion: Instead, he points to the importance of discipline.

Discipline creates good soldiers by developing a sense of honor within them and showing how the lack of discipline or self-control brings shame to this honor: In this respect, courage and shame operate as dialectical concepts dependent upon one another, albeit negatively. The Spartan citizen is drawn to act courageously, mainly, by the desire not to have his or her actions seen as cowardice.

So we always make our preparations in action… p. In addition, with respect to lawfulness, Archidamus also points out that the citizens follow laws precisely because they remain ignorant and do not question the foundations of the laws.

Therefore, instead of relying upon intellectual disciplines, Sparta turns to pragmatism in action as well as obedience to authority and the customs of the culture in order to define not only that which is to be valued most among the citizens, but also that which is to define courage and national virtue.

Plato on Guardian Virtues and Constitution In the Republic Plato sets out to define justice and to prove its essential necessity for a good life. As such he attempts to show how justice may best function in a city in order, by comparison, to show how justice may function in the individual.

In outlining the structure of the city, he divides it into three classes: The guardians are given the authority to rule and therefore Socrates spends a considerable amount of time describing their education.

Just as with Archidamus, Plato recognizes the importance of instilling virtues such as self-control and moderation in the guardians, and for this reason he shapes his education toward this end.

Education of the guardians begins with a careful censure of anything that could prove harmful or disruptive for the children. Storytellers are required to report only stories of beauty or truth and therefore any poetry of Homer or Hesiod that portrays the gods in a less favorable light is strictly forbidden.

By giving children images of divinity acting in virtuous ways—unlike the debauchery and revelry of the Homeric Gods—the future guardians may begin to develop similar forms of goodness and self-control. Likewise, music is limited to calm and harmonic forms that soothe and lead to reflection, instead of modes that excite the body into loss of control and impropriety.

As Socrates argued, too much physical training makes a person savage, whereas too much poetry and music makes a person soft. With respect to this, we see the crucial importance of moderation as placing the body and mind in a proper relation. The guardians are required to have a harmonious constitution insofar as they will be required to be both spirited and gentle at different times and in different contexts.

In order to allow for this harmony, Socrates argues that the guardians must have a philosophical nature.


Because the philosophical is that which best discerns and judges, this aspect will best aid the guardians in proper ruling. However, the philosophical nature is not nurtured quickly, but requires many years of training, first in mathematics and later in the pure science of philosophy itself.

In this respect, Plato places great emphasis on the intellect because it is precisely through the intellect and the use of reason that one is able to derive the standards by which to rule.

Just as the experienced captain of a ship steers through the direction of the stars Rep.Excerpt from Essay: Spartan and Athenian constitutional and political systems.

In the first part, an introduction of Athens and Sparta has been given. Xenophon’s Views on Sparta Introduction: Interpreting Xenophon’s Views on Sparta Xenophon’s affection for Sparta ran so deep that he was willing to introduce deliberate distortions into his writings in order to present Sparta and its leaders in a favorable light.

The Spartan Government Ancient Spartan government was a complex system of intertwined elements, which affected the power control. In many ways, ancient Sparta was a communist state, with the lack of luxuries, other Grecian states enjoyed and the strict control for equality but was complicated with the almost religious need for a democratic vote.

Free spartan papers, essays, and research papers. My Account. Your search returned The first test came from its mother, the child would be bathed in wine to test its constitution. [tags: History, The Spartan Society] but more by the differences.

This essay will tell more about the differences than the similarities. I'll start with. The Spartan constitution, commonly dated to the early 7th century BC, is the first known constitution that vested supreme power in the hands of an Assembly composed of all citizens.

Thus, Sparta was the first known functioning democracy – roughly years before the introduction of democracy in Athens.

Social Structure and Political Organisation: Issue of Lycurgus (the Great Rhetra) -The Spartan system (Social code, military & land system and political constitution) was the work of a single great lawgiver named Lycurgus.

Spartan Constitution - Wikipedia