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Difference Between Sparta and Athens

 Sparta vs Athens

When discussing the greatness of ancient civilizations, it’s impossible not to toss Greece into the mix. At the time, the Greeks were considered superior in almost all aspects of life from intellect to physical strength. And the proof was found in two of the most prominent cities in history–Sparta and Athens.

While both cities are located in Greece, the similarities end there. Despite being from the same nation, citizens from Sparta and Athens have different views and beliefs. In fact, there was only one instance in history that they joined forces when Greece came under attack from Persian invaders. For most of the time they were at odds with each other especially in matters of running the country.

These differences may be rooted in their genes as both came from different lineages. Athenians came from the Ionians while Spartans were descendants of Dorian invaders who came from the north. This would eventually lead Sparta to attack and conquer Athens.

They also had different views when it came to government. Athens is considered the birthplace of democracy because of the way they chose to run their city. Athenians voted for their leaders who came from the upper class. Sparta, on the other hand, was ruled by five men with help from a council of elders. This type of governance was in line with their belief in military rule.

As a result of this discrepancy in forms of government, the cultural aspects and beliefs of the two cities were also highly contrasting. Athens became known for their architecture and infrastructure while Sparta focused their resources on military training. This was displayed in how children from both cities were brought up at the time. While Spartan boys were made to train for combat at a very early age, Athenians taught their children about art and sciences. It also showed how wealth and resources were distributed between citizens of Sparta and Athens. Spartan rulers used brute strength to fight for land and riches which went directly to the coffers of the government. Athenians encouraged their citizens to engage in trading which made them richer than their neighbors.

Another revealing comparison between these cities is how each citizen is expected to live. Athenians encouraged their people to study music, art, and literature. They also engaged in physical activities like sports. This resulted in more productive citizens compared to Spartans. Military life awaits every child born in the city of Sparta. Right from birth, boys were groomed to become soldiers who comprise the strength of the city. And no band of warriors were said to be better and fiercer than the mighty Spartans at the time.

Their livelihood also varied. Athenians were notable intellectuals, and so they spent a lot of time developing and improving techniques on farming and food production. Sparta relied on agriculture and used their military might to conquer other cities. As a result of intellectual superiority, Athens developed the greatest navy during that period while Sparta was unchallenged on land warfare. These opposing attributes made Greece a very powerful and influential nation, but at the same time it became their ultimate weakness.

Summary:
1. Athens’ population was of Ionian descent while Sparta traces its ancestry to the Dorian invaders.
2. Athens used democratic rule while Sparta had an oligarchy.
3. Athenians were noted architects and builders while Spartans were famous soldiers.
4. Athens traded for wealth while Sparta took it by force.
5. Athens fostered creativity and intellectual work among its residents while Sparta expected all men in their ranks to become soldiers.
6. Athens developed new techniques to improve food production and built a great navy while Sparta focused solely on agriculture and land warfare.


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7 Comments

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