What are the differences between the three poleis of Athens, Sparta, and Miletus?

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Politics and Government

Fifth-century Athens has become famous for its adoption of direct democracy. In this system, land-owning men voted directly on laws and state-actions. They also served on juries and were selected to serve in public office by a lottery. Prior to this system, Athens was ruled by tyrants who exercised near-total control. In good times, these tyrants were actually supported by the general populace.

The government of the Spartans was based on a system of kings ruling with the help of an oligarchy. Uniquely, Sparta always had two concurrent kings from two hereditary dynasties. Decisions were made only when these two kings were in agreement. The kings ruled alongside a council of elders known as the Gerousia. These elders were elected by other elderly Spartan champions and served as advisors to the kings as well as providing some limited legislative functions. The Spartans also had a national assembly (apella) that could accept or reject the passage of laws.

At first,...

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