Friday, July 12, 2019

Nationalist Sparta and Democratic Athens

Classical Athens was a noisy democracy, while Sparta was a militaristic and nationalistic state; both were political rivals and they fought against each other in the Peloponnesian War (431–404 BC). The alliance led by Sparta was victorious over the Athenian alliance. For reasons that are unclear, the Athenian society, which was crippled and demoralized by the defeat in the Peloponnesian War, gave rise to several brilliant minds, including Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle. The militarily powerful Sparta did not produce any major thinker, but it can be said to have played a role in keeping Athens safe from invaders—this, I think, can be seen as the contribution that the Spartans have made to the cause of philosophy, literature, and art. In 480 BC, the Persian King Xerxes would have wiped out Athens and rest of Ancient Greece if the Spartan King Leonidas had not stopped the Persian army comprising of more than 200,000 soldiers at the narrow passageway of Thermopylae. Without nationalistic and militaristic Sparta, there would not have been any democratic and liberal Athens—and without Athens, it is possible that Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle, and several other artists and writers might not have found a conducive social environment for doing their work. 

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