What were the major differences between Athens and Sparta?

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While both were examples of the Ancient Greek polis, Sparta and Athens had vast differences. Much of this can be traced to their ethnic roots. The Spartans were descended from Dorian invaders of the Peloponnese, while the Athenians were Ionian Greeks.

Sparta was an insular society with few outside contacts and relations. They did not maintain trade networks with the other Greeks and preferred to manage their own local affairs. They seldom formed alliances with the other Greek city-states (a notable exception being the Persian Wars). The Athenians, on the other hand, constantly looked outward. They maintained extensive trade relations with much of the Greek world, as well as the central and eastern Mediterranean. They formed numerous military, commercial, and political alliances with their neighbors and were much more open to receiving outsiders into their polis.

Government and politics differed greatly between the two city-states. Athens is famous for being the birthplace of democracy. During the 5th century BCE, decisions were made by popular vote by land-owning adult male citizens. Holders of public offices were selected through a lottery system. Court decisions were made by juries. At this time, Sparta was ruled by kings who made decisions alongside a council of elders. This oligarchy had near-total control of legal and political affairs in Sparta.

Arts were highly valued by the Athenians. Most of the Greek literature and drama that we know of today came from Athens. Visual arts and music were also appreciated in this polis. The Athenians also built sophisticated monumental buildings, such as the temples of the Acropolis. The Spartans, however, saw little value in these artistic pursuits. Instead, they placed more cultural value on militaristic achievements and feats of strength.

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These rival city-states with the most enduring traditions of ancient Greece had several differences. The form of government had similarities, with one profound difference: Sparta was ruled by two kings who would rule for life, while Athens held annual elections. This is partially why Athens is known as the birthplace of democracy.

Sparta is probably most famous for being a profoundly militaristic state. Indeed, many facets of Spartan life focused predominantly on war. Spartans used slavery to free young citizens from the work force to become soldiers. In Athens, by contrast, military service was voluntary and a greater emphasis was placed on education. Science and art were considered more noble pursuits than conquest.

Though Sparta defended Greece valiantly on many occasions, it was more of an isolationist city, preferring not to establish connections the way Athens did.

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Sparta was monarchal, while the government of Athens more closely represented our republic today in that they held special elections to decide who would be in charge and in what capacity. The style of governance in Sparta, on the other hand, would more closely resemble pre-modern England, an important difference being that Sparta had two kings instead of one. In relation to Athens, Sparta could be characterized as more warlike, while Athens relied upon publicly held elections and as such could be considered more closely related to our republic today, as stated. A reason that could account for this difference is that Sparta held strategic importance in terms of trade and even for war as a type of entry point to the rest of Greece.

So while Athens could be considered more important politically, Sparta was more important militarily.

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Athens and Sparta were city-states in Ancient Greece. A key difference between the two was in their system of rule. Athenians had a democratic system of government, and power-sharing was common. On the other hand, Sparta was ruled by kings and embraced oligarchy. Spartans dedicated their lives to the military, and, therefore, many citizens did not have time for arts or literature. Conversely, Athenians focused on arts and literature. Furthermore, they were known for their architecture.

Women in Athens were homemakers. Young girls were taught by their mothers how to cook and clean. However, women in Sparta were different. Young girls were taught how to fight and wrestle. In addition, children in Athens learned how to read and write while their counterparts in Sparta were being trained for battle.

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The two rival city-states of Athens and Sparta were both different in many ways.

One of the main differences was their form of government. Although both city-states had elected assemblies, Sparta was ruled by two kings while Athens was rules by annually-elected archons.

Spartan life focused around martial prowess and obedience. Slavery was put into place, which allowed young men to focus on military training. Young boys were training to be warriors while young women were trained to become mothers to warriors.

Athenians were much more creative. Education was the primary focus, which led to great achievements in both the arts and sciences. Military service was optional, and young women, while having more options than in Sparta, were stilled restricted in their freedoms.

They also had different ideas of the world around them. Sparta kept to itself, but did lend assistance when it was needed, such as during the Persian Wars. Athens wanted to become a major player in Greek politics, and tried creating vast alliances. The Deliean League was an alliance both military and trade which was the closest that Athens ever came to a unified Greece. This would eventually led to conflict between the two city-states.

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