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Athens and Sparta are both famous and prosperous cities in Ancient Greece, which have also rivaled each other for years. They are just 95 miles away from each other, but their differences were vastly noticeable. Their ideals, principles, and the way they tackle challenges are so contrasting it created animosity between them. A three-decade war sealed the deal with Sparta becoming the most powerful. Athens may have lost the battle, but their contributions became the most relevant in the modern world.
See the fact file below for more information on the Athens Versus Sparta or alternatively, you can download our 26-page Athens Versus Sparta worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
Basic Facts of Athens and Sparta
- Athens, now the capital of Greece, is located on a peninsula that stretches southeastward into the Aegean Sea. It is the oldest civilization where the first recorded human inhabitants were in 3000 BC.
- Its name came from the Greek patron god Athena, the goddess of wisdom and courage.
- Sparta, now a city in Laconia, was also a distinguished city in Ancient Greece known for its disciplined and military-trained people.
- The word Spartan means bravery, discipline, austere. Words that perfectly describe the Spartans during the Ancient times.
Life as an Spartan and Athenian
- Spartan society consisted of three main groups: the full-blooded Spartans, the Helots or slaves, and the Perioeci, who were the craftsmen and traders.
- Healthy Spartan men were trained to be in the military at the age of seven. They had an austere education system called Agoge that emphasized the value of fighting for their state more than anything else. All men lived to fight for their kingdom.
- Spartan women were much freer than any other civilization during that time. Educated, engaged in competitive combats, they could own land due to the absence of their deployed-at-war husbands.
- They were also almost spared from domestic responsibilities as there were helots to take over these jobs.
- The Helots are captured people in the land they conquered. They typically outnumbered the original citizens, which caused a lot of concern to the Spartan government.
- To control them, they maltreated the Helots to emphasize their authority over them and prevent any uprising. They were also killed without much reason.
- If being a warrior was the way of life in Sparta, it was entirely different in Athens, which prioritized arts, philosophy, and education.
- Athens had four main groups of people: the upper class or the full-blooded Athenians, the metics, or the middle class, which were the non-Athenian but chose to live there even with limited rights and privileges, the third class, the freedman or commoners, and the freed slaves, captured by the Athenians during their wars.
- Athens was a patriarchal society despite having more liberal ideas.
- Girls were not allowed to have formal education. They were also seen as a liability because their fathers needed to raise an endowment for them to marry well.
- Athenian women’s lives were limited to the domestic tasks and taking care of the children.
- Athens also had slaves, which they called thetes. Athenians tolerated slaves better. They even had the chance to rise from this social class if they did a good deed, and their masters allowed them to.
Greek Government and Economy
- Spartan government was oligarchic, which is a type of government ruled by a few people.
- It has three branches: The Assembly, The Council of Elders, and the Kings. The Assembly was composed of all free men but had little powers. The Council of Elders had up of twenty-eight people over sixty years of age.
- Sparta was ruled by two kings. One of them led the Spartan Army.
- Spartans, situated in a plain between mountains and sea, used farming and conquering other states to move their economy.
- Spartans did not use coins, so they avoid trading. Their government also believed that trading could bring in new ideas that can corrupt the citizen’s minds.
- Athens used a democratic type of government. All men over eighteen years old can exercise their right to vote and hold government positions as they will be full fledged citizens of Athens. Women and slaves remain in their homes as they are not allowed to have any of these rights.
- The Athenian government consisted of the following:
- The Assembly, also known as Ecclesia, who held a meeting of all Athenian citizens every ten days to debate and decided on new laws.
- The Council, which was the people who were selected by lotteries. They were responsible for overseeing the day to day activities of the government
- The Courts who handled the lawsuits and trials.
- They also have Stategoi, which is a group of 10 elected people which the primary function is to run an army.
- Surrounded by water, trading is their best bet to run its economy.
- They bought and sold their goods in a place called Agora, but unlike the Spartan, they used coins that are made of gold, silver, and bronze to trade.
- The Athenians traded their honey, olive oil, silver, and pottery in exchange for wood and grains.
- Athens and Sparta were two of the most progressive cities in Greece.
- The former because of their wealth and culture and the latter because of their military expertise.
- The two cities merely tolerated each other until they became allies when the Persian army attack Greece.
- They won against the Persians and to protect itself from a revenge attack; Athens formed the Delian League, which consisted of states/cities that guaranteed their alliance with Athens, giving the latter ultimate power and prestige. Eventually, it almost looked like an Athenian Empire rather than an Alliance.
- This alliance did not sit well with Sparta even though they had their own Peloponnesian League consisting of Corinth, Elis, Tegea, and other states. Each member ensured that Spartan enemies are their enemies and allowed Sparta domination over them.
- The Peloponnesian war started when Corinth, an ally of Sparta, engaged in a Civil War with Corcyra, an ally of Athens.
- Sparta was ambivalent about supporting Corinth. Corcyra demanded that Athens must help them as part of their alliance. Sparta finally succumb to Corinth pressure because they are worried about Athens’ increasing power.
- Athens had a powerful naval force, which was why more cities chose them as their ally. Meanwhile, Sparta had a proven and credible military power.
- Athens also built a wall surrounding their port. It was helpful during the war because it forces Sparta to engaged them in waters, which was Athens’ strength.
- Peloponnesian war had three periods: the Archidamian War (431-421) led by the Spartan King Archimadus, the Peace of Nicias and the Sicilian Expedition (420-413), and the Ionian War (412-404).
- In the first phase of the war, Archimadus attacked Attica and provoke Athens to counter fight. But Pericles restrained his army from fighting until the Peloponnesian dispersed. However, Athens had different plans. Led by Pericles, they invaded Peloponnesian as their vengeance of the attack to Attica.
- When Spartan was trying to attack again, Athens was hit by a plague that came from Egypt. Athens lost almost half of its people, including their leader Pericles.
- The Peace of Nicias (420-413) was a failure because Athens decided to attack Sicily. This attack turned into a disaster for Athens as their naval ships and army collapsed.
- The Ionian War finally sealed the victory of Sparta as they allied themselves to Persia and destroyed Athens’ fleet at Aegospotami, which signify the end of the war.
Athens Versus Sparta Worksheets
This is a fantastic bundle which includes everything you need to know about the Athens Versus Sparta across 26 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use Athens Versus Sparta worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about the Athens and Sparta which are both famous and prosperous cities in Ancient Greece, which have also rivaled each other for years. They are just 95 miles away from each other, but their differences were vastly noticeable. Their ideals, principles, and the way they tackle challenges are so contrasting it created animosity between them. A three-decade war sealed the deal with Sparta becoming the most powerful. Athens may have lost the battle, but their contributions became the most relevant in the modern world.
Complete List Of Included Worksheets
- Athens Versus Sparta Facts
- Archimadus Versus Pericles
- Greek Alliances
- Peloponnesian War
- The Greek Way
- Ancient Greek Women
- Spartan Slaves
- It’s all Greek To Me
- The Greek Leagues
- School Life in Greece
- Greece Express
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