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Military Governance

Here is one field the oligarchs can, arguably, claim to be superior. There are several factors which makes oligarchic military administration more effective than the democratic:

· Longer command times; in democracies, generals are often changed over in terms and generals often want to achieve short-term victories to glorify themselves; where Athens had dozens of commanders taking command in Attica in rapid succession during the Peloponnesian Wars, for example, the Spartan King Agis remained in charge for the whole duration, from the first invasion to the fortification of Decelea.

· Unified command; where Athenian generals sharing a command argue over policy, Spartan generals have more chance to head in a single direction; where Athenians Alkibiades, Nikias and Demosthenes argued over policy, the Spartan commander Gylippus controlled the whole army of Sparta and its allies in the Sicilian Campaign.

· Lack of choice; military service is the only way Spartan youths have for distinguishing themselves, in consequence, intelligent young men are more inclined to take commands in Sparta than in Athens, and more encouraged to acts of bravery, such as the commands of Brasidas, who scored astonishing victories over numerically superior Athenian and allied forces.

· Military elite; the oligarchs were formed because of their suitability to wage war, and a tradition of fighting increases experience and the morale of soldiers.

· More lenient punishment; Athenian generals were always reluctant to withdraw from doomed campaigns, e.g. Nikias, because of fear of punishment; Spartan generals have less to fear because of family connections.

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