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The Spartan social system was created between 900 and 600 BC. It was made by Lycurgus after a slave revolt. He increased the military's role in society so this wouldn't happen again. Daily life in Sparta reflected the belief that military power was the way to provide security and protection for the city.
Sparta was basically dominated by the army. Even the lives of children reflected this domination. The government officials looked at every boy who was born. The sad part was that if the boy was not healthy, he was taken outside of the city and left to die. On the other hand, the healthy boys were trained from an early age to be soldiers.
As part of their training, boys ran, jumped, swam, and threw javelins to increase their strength. The boys also learned to endure the hardships they would face as soldiers. Example: boys weren't given shoes or heavy clothes, even in winter. They also weren't given much food. They were allowed to steal food if they could, but if they were caught, they were whipped. At least one boy chose to die rather than admit to his theft.
Sparta's main rival in Greece was Athens. Athens had been a leader in the Persian Wars and had a powerful army like Sparta. Life in Sparta and Athens though was very different. Along with physical training, the Athenians valued education, clear thinking, and the arts.
The training for boys in Athens was not as harsh or as long as the training in Sparta. From a young age, Athenian boys from rich families worked to improve both their bodies and their minds. LIKE Spartan boys, Athenian boys had to learn to run, jump and fight. UNLIKE Spartan men, Athenian men didn't have to devote their whole lives to the army. All men in Athens joined the army, but for ONLY 2 years.
Athenian men helped defend the city between the ages of 18 and 20. Older men only had to serve in the army in times of war. In addition to their physical training, Athenian students, UNLIKE the Spartans, also learned other skills. They learned to read, write, and count as well as sing and play musical instruments. Boys also learned about Greek history and legend.
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