One of the two significant rivals of ancient Greece is Athens and Sparta. Most of the present-day western current traditions are attributed to these two regions.
- Athens was an ancient Greek city-state known for its focus on democracy, arts, philosophy, and education, fostering a culture of intellectual growth and creativity.
- Sparta was an ancient Greek city-state recognized for its militaristic society, strict discipline, and emphasis on physical strength and combat training.
- The primary difference between Athens and Sparta lies in their political systems, societal values, and cultural focus, with Athens prioritizing democracy and intellectual pursuits. At the same time, Sparta emphasized military strength and discipline.
Athens vs Sparta
Athens was home to some renowned philosophers, such as Socrates and Plato. Sparta had a unique social structure where a select group held great power and influence. The citizens of Sparta were required to serve in the military until 60 years of age.
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However, the above is not the only difference. A comparison between both the terms on specific parameters can shed light on subtle aspects:
|Parameter of Comparison||Athens||Sparta|
|Meaning||Athens is the capital city of Greece||One of the cities in Greece|
|Is it the capital city?||Yes||No|
|Is it the most populous city in Greece?||Yes||No|
|What is the population?||3,153,355 (in 2020)||Around 17000 (in 2011)|
|What is the region in which the city is located?||Attica||Laconia|
|What is the type of climate?||Hot summer Mediterranean climate||Sunny warm Mediterranean climate|
|How was the government based in ancient times?||Democratic||Military|
|Ruled by whom in ancient times?||Nine chief magistrates had to undergo annual elections||Kings who either died or were thrown out from kingship|
|What was the type of ancient culture?||Progressive||Relaxed and easy-going|
|Whether the military was mandatory in ancient times?||No||Yes|
|Whether girl education was the norm in ancient times?||No||Yes|
|What was the status of women in ancient times?||Less freedom and status with more focus on household work||More freedom and status even receiving physical training similar to that of men|
|What was the most important aspect from a defence perspective?||Powerful navy||Military soldiers|
|What was the economy dependent on in ancient times?||Commerce and farming||Agriculture, wars|
|Why did they become famous?||Civilization, Commercial development and intelligence||Military prowess|
|What was the most important focal point in ancient times?||Education and development||Building military|
What is Athens?
Athens is an ancient city in Greece. It can be considered one of the world’s prominent olden and traditional cities, with inhabitation dating back to more than 3000 years.
Athens is considered to have laid the structure and beginning of western civilization’s progress.
Athens is an originator of literature, intellect, arts, architecture, and modern culture. Athens has given birth to prominent creative and imaginative people in diverse fields such as mathematics, sciences, history, etc.
Athens has been a house to exceptionally talented writers, thinkers, and philosophers such as Socrates, Democritus, Hippocrates, Pindar, Phidias, Plato, and Aristotle, to name a few.
Athens is also considered a pioneer in modern infrastructural development as many temples and buildings signifying beauty and sophisticated architecture were built over time.
Athens displayed such incredible architecture that even Spartans who once defeated Athens were amazed by the region’s beauty. Though they captured the city, they did not destroy the artefacts.
Athens had a form of democratic government. Athens’s economy ran on commerce and trading in the sea as agriculture was not prominent due to the soil’s non-availability and suitability.
Athens did not have a significant military power but a commendable naval warship which led to the defeat of the Persians in multiple wars.
What is Sparta?
Sparta is also known by the name “Lacedaemon.” Sparta is located in the southern region of Greece known as Laconia. The word Sparta means simple and economical.
The spartan tradition was based on military prowess. At a very young age, the boys were compulsorily being made to take military education and become paid soldiers.
Sparta, at the forefront of philosophy, professed discipline and battles.
Right from the time the child was born till the person turned old, endurance exercises were made compulsory, such as leaving the child on a mountain overnight to test its strength and severely punishing small children for unruly behaviour. Men even served in the army after the age of 60 years.
Spartans used to capture fellow Greeks and turn them into slaves. These slaves used to help the Spartans complete their daily activities such as farming, labour, etc.
The slaves were maltreated by the Spartans, even killing them on occasion. However, Sparta women had more freedom than their counterparts in other cities.
Sparta had an oligarchy form and had a classic military or autocratic rule. The main occupation was agriculture, and people did not possess a forward-looking outlook nor significantly devoted time to intellect, ideas, and philosophy.
Sparta, at one stage, defeated Athens in the Peloponnesian War (431-404 B.C.).
Thebes defeated Sparta at the Battle of Leuctra in 371 B.C., ultimately leading to their decline.
Further battles led to the freedom of slaves. Somewhere in the early 1820s, the Greece King founded the modern city of Sparta.
Main Differences Between Athens and Sparta
- Athens is considered to be the home of western civilization. Sparta is not considered home to any modern civilization.
- Athens was based on a democratic government where people were elected annually. Sparta was based on an oligarchy and had two rulers.
- Athens’s core ideals were based on development, trade, intellect, and wisdom and did not force people to join the military. Sparta’s philosophy was based on creating military power and making joining the military compulsory.
- Athens believed in having strong family relationships. Sparta did not believe in such a mindset though women possessed multiple rights.
- Athens’s economy was based on trade. Sparta‘s economy was based on agriculture.
- Athens is considered a centre of arts and learning. Sparta is not considered such a centre.
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Emma Smith holds an MA degree in English from Irvine Valley College. She has been a Journalist since 2002, writing articles on the English language, Sports, and Law. Read more about me on her bio page.