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In your opinion, where did the real power lie within the Spartan Constitution?

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Introduction

In your opinion, where did the real power lie within the Spartan Constitution? First of all, in order to answer this question as fully and in as much detail as possible, one must first reach a decision as to what type of 'power' will be focused upon in this essay. Power, in a philosophical sense, can be broken down to encompass six different types; Positional Power, Referent Power, Expert Power, Reward Power, Coercive Power and Informational Power. Each of these six relate to different criterion, with some occasionally overlapping. Positional Power, also known as Legitimate Power, is the power of an individual based on their position and duties within an organisation; such as the position of Prime Minister affording the individual in such a position a great deal of control and resources available to them to carry out their manifesto's. Referent Power is essentially the power, or ability, of an individual to attract others and build loyalty. Referent Power is based on charisma and the interpersonal skills of the individual in power. For example, a polite, charming and friendly police officer is going to be trusted more by the people living in the area he patrols than a brash and impolite officer. Expert Power is the power of an individual based on the skills or expertise that they have, which is required by an organisation. This type of power though is normally quite specific and limited to particular areas wherein such expertise is the result of training. ...read more.

Middle

This belief then would have meant that the Kings would have had a sort of 'divine right' for ruling the Spartiates but, since the Spartiates wished for something other than monarchism as political governance, this meant the Kings would either have to be deposed or a solution found in order to maintain their existence. This solution was the Ephors. The Kings were priests of Zeus, a religious role which resulted in them being important figures in religious festivals and rites carried out in Sparta throughout the year. However, the Ephors eventually came to take on some of these religious roles in certain festivals later on so the long-term Positional Power of the Kings was weakened by this later development. However, the Kings appointed the Pythii, the envoys that travelled to the Delphic Oracle, and retained a copy of the Oracle from the visit, as did the Pythii who retained a copy also. This wasn't tempered by the Ephors and thus remained a power which was based on the position of the Kings; but, on the other-hand, the Kings responses in engagements would have been influenced by the Oracles thus causing them to use their position in a manner they wouldn't have done otherwise. For example, Leonidas had been told by the Oracle that either a Lacedaemonian King had to die or Sparta would fall to the Persians. This likely influenced his decision to remain at the pass at Thermopylae with his contingent of 300 Spartiate soldiers, 700 Thespians and 400 Thebans whilst the rest of the Greek forces retreated. ...read more.

Conclusion

Also, as an additional 'bonus' to this, the Assembly had the power to chose which of the two Kings would lead them on the military campaign. Now, this type of decision was based on a number of things; most likely on the militaristic competence of the chosen King but, quite possibly, also the charisma of the King. As it was, the chosen King would, in effect, become the General of the Army and also the strategist for the campaign making his decisions final; though an Ephor would accompany the King on campaign to make sure he maintained the Code of Sparta whilst on campaign. In conclusion to this, I would surmise that it was the Position of Ephor which garnered the most power since the Ephors had the ability and means to control the Kings; insofar as having the power to summon, depose and even censure the King. In addition to this immense power over the Kings, the Ephors also had the power of their position to discipline and fine Spartiate citizens in much the same way a member of law enforcement does today. This then creates a diverse and dynamic position of power which enabled the Ephors to control the Kings themselves but also everyday individuals in order to maintain the Code of Sparta. Unlike the Gerousia which depended on the Assembly's agreement on proposals, and the Kings who depended on the Assembly on which King would undertake a military campaign, the Ephors were required to answer to no-one except the laws of Sparta itself. ...read more.

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