Essay on Athens V Sparta Geography

1231 Words Jun 6th, 2014 5 Pages
Athens v. Sparta

Geographical Showdown

Although they pursued different cultural paths, Sparta and Athens were both strongly shaped by their geographical circumstances.

After the fall of the Mycenaean Empire many local institutions called poleis took the lead in restoring Greece. Many of these city-states grew independently, adapting to their physical surroundings. The two most famous of these poleis were Athens and Sparta. For example, Athens adapted to its access to the Mediterranean Sea by basing its economy on maritime trade. Sparta on the other hand was founded on a fertile region in center of Peloponnesus, which made them very xenophobic and military based. The geography was a key aspect that affected the Athenian and
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The Spartans envied the fertile Messenian lowlands. Around 740 B.C., the Spartans invaded Messenia, which triggered the start of the 1st Messenian War. This war lasted 20 years and ended with the Spartans prevailing. After Sparta conquered these two poleis, it became the largest of all Archaic Greek States, controlling an empire of over 3,000 square miles (three times the size of Athens). Often location affects ones relationship with others. This holds true to the two poleis, Athens and Sparta. In Sparta’s case, they lacked essential resources like access to the ocean and they were situated in an unfavorable location in the center of Peloponnesus on rocky terrain. As a result, they conquered the surrounding poleis to suffice their needs. Athens on the other hands began to fall into conflict with the expanding Persian Empire because of their thriving maritime trade in the 5th century B.C. This began the Persian war which resulted in Athens winning the war after the Battle of Plataea, because the Persians still were a threat to Greece, Athens formed the Delian League in order to form an alliance with them as them as the chief leader, that could protect Greece from the Persians. This alliance was successful in driving the Persians out of Northern Aegean. By the 470s much of southern Aegean was clear as well. However the Athenians began to abuse this newfound power. With

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