Geography was very important to the development of ancient Greek city-states. Maritime power was valued by these states, as nearly all of them had access to water. To trade with many of the island city-states, ships were the only option. This maritime trade with the rest of the ancient world gave ancient Greeks access to a diverse array of goods and ideas. It also made them the envy of rivals such as the Persians, thus leading to war. As no Greek island was powerful enough to stand up to the Persian army, they banded together. While this was good to defeat the armies of Xerxes, it proved detrimental going forward, as Athens and Sparta were rivals and Sparta accused Athens of dominating the alliance. Athenian prosperity allowed them to devote more time to the arts and democracy.
The mountains, storms, and occasional seismic activity that took place on the Mediterranean coast also influenced Greek city-states. Greeks looked for answers to explain their everyday lives, and they turned to polytheism which was common in that area at the time. Much like the gods of ancient Egypt, the ancient Greek gods had love affairs, disagreements, and normal feelings like ordinary people. Many of the Greek city-states commissioned statues and other works in order to honor their pantheon of gods.