Athens and Sparta Were the Two Opponents Essay

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Athens and Sparta were the two opponents of ancient Greece that clattered most and bestowed us with the majority of customs and traditions. Despite the fact that the two poleis were close together geographically, both differed greatly in their values and ways of living1.

Athens and Sparta: History

The enriching, intellectual and artistic heritage of ancient Athens to the world is immense and immeasurable. The indications to the Greek legacy that flourish in the civilization of Western Europe are attributed to Athenian civilization. Athens was made the strongest Greek city-state after the Persian Wars. Though it was a good deal smaller and less dominant than Sparta at the beginning of the wars, Athens was more energetic, efficient and effectual in the warfare against Persian Empire. Miltiades, Themistocles, and Cimon were the Athenian heroes who were mainly responsible for making the city strong. Athens reached the pinnacle of its cultural and colonial triumph in the era of Pericles (443 -- 429 B.C.). The unparalleled Parthenon was built during this time along with the flourishing of sculpture and painting. This was the time when Athens became the hub of intellectual life. Nevertheless, the contention between Athens and Sparta continued and the Peloponnesian War between the two poleis took place. Even though the war went poorly for Athens, the troubled times could not discontinue her achievements in philosophy, drama, and art. Aristophanes, Plato, Aristotle, Thucydides all remained active. Regardless of the fact that the magnificence and splendor of Athens diminished in the 3rd century B.C., its past contributions spread throughout the globe in Hellenistic culture2.

Sparta, on the other hand, was founded by Dorian Greeks. Sparta enjoyed an era of wealth and culture ancient city B.C. However, the ancient city-state only concentrated on the military arts after 600 B.C. And by that time, it became the strongest Greek city. The Persian Wars strengthened its rivalry against Athens. In 464 B.C., an earthquake struck the city that weakened it massively. However, the Romans made the city prosperous but by 395 A.D., the Goths had devastated it3.

An Analysis of the two Poleis

Ancient Greece is renowned as the origin of western civilization. It was the Greeks who introduced the concept of democracy and innovative ideas in scientific and artistic fields. Ancient Greece was not a single country. In its place, independent city-states were present who possessed their own regime and armed forces. Athens and Sparta were the most influential and dominant states. Both did not have sufficient means to feed their people. This caused them to conquer states that possessed ample food supplies. Whenever they conquered such small city-states, the Athenians or Spartans offered them protection against the enemies4.

Although the two city-states were close together on the map, their beliefs and principles, societies, forms of governance and the basic approach towards living were drastically different. Athens was one of the most important cities of ancient Greece due to its cultural and philosophical triumphs that laid the foundations of an innovative western society. In contrast, the warring Sparta was famous as a hostile power and was renowned as having a machismo culture. Thus, while Sparta was completely motivated by wars and clashes, Athens was popular for achieving the most extraordinary philosophical, artistic and scientific milestones in human history 4.

The two cultures also had ancestry as the basic dissimilarity between them. The Dorian invaders were the ascendants of the Spartans whereas the Athenians were descended from the Ionians. In Ancient Greece, two forms of government existed at that time i.e. democracy and oligarchy. Two kings along with a council consisting of twenty-eight elders ruled Sparta. Spartan citizens over 30 years of age elected this type of oligarchic government. On the other hand, it was Athenians who were the pioneers of democracy in ancient Greece. Athens was under the ruler ship of a council of 500 members whom the citizens elected. This council was responsible for devising and deciding the laws of the state. The democratic government in Athens was nominated and regulated by a male population belonging to the upper class4. It can be thus said that the two poleis were similar in their form of government as both had an Assembly elected by the citizens1.

As far as the culture and beliefs of the two cities were concerned, there was again a strong distinction between them. Spartans were interested in strengthening their military power and emphasized only on the expansion of their power and control over other kingdoms. On the other hand, Athenians were interested in growing the fields of their infrastructure and culture. The two rivals also had dissimilar ideologies and goals. The Athenians believed in conquering and ruling as much land as possible whereas the citizens of Sparta tend to keep to themselves except in case of an attack from their enemies. They believed that the exclusive reason of their existence was to be totally loyal to the state. Despite these differences, there were a few remarkable similarities between the two rivals. Both worshipped Greek gods and goddesses and were extremely daunting on the war-front4. The Athenians dominated the sea whereas Spartans were the rulers on land. However, both were considered as superpowers of their times keeping in mind the size of their states5.

The severe everyday life of Spartans was distinctive as compared to the Athenian focus on philosophical ideas and learning. The people in Athens liked to spend a significant amount of time to study literature, art, and music. On the other hand, Sparta was focused on training he citizens to be soldiers. This made them brilliant at wars and their warriors were believed to be the best. The painstaking preparation that started at birth toughened the Spartan soldiers to such an extent that they never lost a battle4.

The Athenians and Spartans had diverse ideals, morals and ethics which were exceptional in their own ways. Men and women in Sparta and Athens enjoyed different privileges. One of the strangest and a brutal tradition in Sparta was that newborn babies were tested by the elders for deformities and in case any baby was observes as unfit, he was abandoned immediately. At the age of seven, the boys were taken from the family and the state became his sole guardian. The boys were then trained and when they turned twenty, it was obligatory for them to join the regular army. A Spartan soldier was supposed to stay in the army barrack even after getting married. However, at the age of thirty, Spartan men were permitted to take part in an election and were also allowed to settle at home. Unlike other Greek women, Spartan women enjoyed full freedom. The state encouraged them to keep themselves fit so that they could become mothers of healthy babies fit for the army4. Despite this freedom, they were not allowed to wear any kind of accessories to beautify them. They were judged on the basis of their physical features, appearance and competence5.

On the other hand, the Athenian everyday life was an inventive and resourceful wonderland that allowed the male members to attain good education and pursue their favorite kinds of arts or sciences. However, unlike Spartan women, the women in Athens did not enjoy full freedom and were not considered as an important part of the society4. However, they were particularly judged on the basis of their artificial beauty. They were supposed to wear adorning jewelry and seductive clothes5. The title of 'citizen' was only granted to men meaning that only those men in Athens had a say on the matters of the state. As opposed to Spartan society, men in Athens were not compelled to join the armed forces. In fact, they enjoyed full independence to do whatever they wanted4.


It is not an untold secret that Ancient Greece made a…

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