Athens And Sparta Essay

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The ancient Greek polis, or city states, of Athens and Sparta were prominent powers during the Classical Era from c. 750 BCE – 400 BCE. The two emerged around the same time, but grew into vastly different cities. One became a powerful military state, while the other became the birthplace of democracy. Both Athens and Sparta helped to shape civilization in the ancient western world, but they were often rivals, and polar opposites in the aspects of government, militarism, and culture. Originally four small villages, Sparta unified and emerged as a strong community in the southeastern Peloponnesus. They conquered their neighbors, the Laconians, but the land was unable to support the growing Spartan population. Around 730 BCE, the Spartans …show more content…
They built a seaport at Piraeus and “amassed the biggest navy in Greece, 200 warships, [which] played a paramount role in defending Greece against the invasion of Persian king Xerxes […] and helped destroy the Persian navy at the sea battle of Salamis” (‘Athens’ 4). Another example of strong Athenian militarism was in 507 BCE, when Spartan king Kleomenes attacked Athens, attempting to dismantle the growing democracy. “The optimism of the following years helped the Athenians to repel a Persian invasion force at the battle of Marathon in 490 BCE” (‘Athens’ 3). The two poleis went head to head many times during the Peloponnesian war. When the Athenian army battled Aegina, Boeotia, Phocis and Corinth - city-states in Mainland Greece - they were “brought into intermittent conflict with those states’ powerful ally, Sparta” (‘Athens’ 5). Eventually, Sparta defeated Athens in the Peloponnesian War, and “became the supreme Greek city” (‘Sparta’ 1) in 404 BCE.
Athens and Sparta were rival powers in Ancient Greece, both excelling in the art of war. But Sparta’s diligent military training of its citizens lead to an advantage over democratic Athens at the end of the Peloponnesian War. Despite the Athenians eventual defeat, their rich culture and people-powered government contributed greatly to the development of the modern western world. These two contrasting poleis left their legacy in history, with their divergent societies and puissant, yet vastly different

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