Athens and Sparta Comparison

Topics: Sparta, Ancient Greece, Classical Athens Pages: 4 (1314 words) Published: September 18, 2006
Athens and Sparta

Athens and Sparta were the two largest Greek city-states of the Ancient world. They were the biggest of rivals, two towering cities at their peak, the most influential cultural, military, and trade powers of western civilization in the first millennium B.C. They are sharply contrasting yet strikingly similar, setting the stage for the Peloponnesian War. Their differences were the effect of geographical isolation but they began with the same base of ideas on which to build. The Peloponnesian War was between the two over Sparta's fear of Athens' growth of power, and especially the Megarian Decree, an Athenian economic sanction against the Spartan ally Megara. This sanction against the state would prove disastrous for its economy without the wealth of the Athenian economy to augment their trade, forcing Sparta's war machine to spring to life. Ultimately the Peloponnesian War was over the ideological and cultural rivalry between Athens and Sparta.

Ancient Athens was a powerful city-state, the leading city of ancient Greece in the first millennium B.C. and a renowned center for learning. It has the longest history of any city in Europe; it has been inhabited continuously for over 3000 years. Originally ruled by a king, it was like many of the other city-states surrounding it, but the power of the king receded to that of a council below him, composed of nobles, called the Areopagus. The Areopagus got their power from the lucrative cash crops of wine and oil which required money to get started too. This led to an unhealthy cycle of the wealthy Athenians controlling the government and the poor ones selling themselves and their families into slavery. This was stopped by the tyrant Solon whose reforms led to a government based on 4 tiers of social classes with hints of democracy. The rise of another tyrant, Peisistratus, led to more reform that was focused on cultural improvements. After his son lost power, Cleisthenes began a series of major...
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