The cities of Athens and Sparta are famous for various reasons, including their eternal rivalry. They have some things in common, such as being located in Greece; however, there are more differences than similarities when it comes to the characteristics of these Greek polis.
Although geographically they were very close to each other, they had different values, lifestyles and cultures. Things that are very important to know in order to better understand what is the difference between Sparta and Athens.
If you have any questions about it or are simply looking for a little more information to expand your knowledge, keep reading, because below we explain everything you need to know about this topic.
ATHENS Difference Between Sparta and Athens
This city has been continuously inhabited for at least 3,000 years and is the most important in Ancient Greece. Athens was precisely the polis considered “the cradle of Western civilization”, this above all thanks to the contributions of many philosophers and thinkers to all areas of human knowledge.
During the Middle Ages , Athens experienced a decline; but it regained some of its splendor during the Byzantine Empire. It was relatively prosperous during the Crusades, as it benefited from trade with Italy. Only after a long period of decline during the Ottoman Empire did Athens reemerge in the 19th century as the capital of the independent state of Greece.
One of the main objectives of the Athenians was to take control of more and more land in Greece. This later would be largely the cause of conflicts between the Greeks themselves. On the other hand, the Athenians were democratic and focused heavily on infrastructure development.
As for the lifestyle in Athens, it was very modern and offered an open picture. Family ties were taken more into consideration in this case and the women were legally dependent on their husbands or fathers.
The Athenian economy depended more on trade than anything else and in the 5th century BC it became the most important trading point in the Mediterranean.
On the other hand, tradition holds that Sparta was founded around 1000 BC. It is said, some eight years before the event of the Trojan War; thanks especially to the Doric migrations .
This polis was very famous for its martial power, its enmity with the Persian Empire and its eventual conquest of Athens. However, despite the fact that it conquered several kingdoms and intimidated various communities with its military power, in medieval times this city was destroyed due to the constant invasions it received. Modern Sparta was rebuilt in 1834.
Due to the great power of their army, the Spartans were considered the protectors of Greece. Its values were above all militaristic and were not governed democratically, but oligarchically. Unlike Athens, they did not focus much on infrastructure and their naval unit was very poor; his main objective was to gain power and control the other kingdoms.
One of the elements that makes the biggest difference between this polis and Athens is the fact that Spartan men were forced into the army; while in Athens they could opt for various types of education, including arts and sciences.
In Sparta women had rights, they were stronger and could establish relationships with men of their choosing. They could own property and were not required to do the kind of housework that Athenians were required to do.
Finally, the Spartan economy was largely based on agriculture; but like the Athenians, the Spartans worshiped the gods and respected people, appreciated beauty, music, literature, drama, philosophy, art, politics and sports; only these things predominated in Athens more than in Sparta.