Sparta vs. Athens
What is Differences between Sparta and Athens? 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, more are the differences than the similarities when it comes to the characteristics of this Greek polis.
Although geographically they were the one near the other, they had different values, lifestyles and culture. Things that are extremely important to know in order to better understand the difference between Sparta and Athens.
Differences between Sparta and Athens
If you have any doubts about it or just search for a bit more information to expand your knowledge, continue reading, because then we explain everything you need to know about this topic.
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 as “the cradle of Western civilization”, 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 regained some of its splendor during the Byzantine Empire. It was relatively prosperous during the Crusades, since it benefited from trade with Italy. Only after a long period of decline during the Ottoman Empire, Athens reemerges 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 lands of Greece. This would later be largely the cause of the conflicts between the Greeks themselves. On the other hand, the Athenians were democratic and concentrated very much on the development of the infrastructure.
As for the lifestyle in Athens, it was very modern and offered an open panorama. Family ties were taken more into account in this case and women were legally dependent on their husbands or fathers.
The Athenian economy depended more on commerce than on anything else and in the fifth century by it became the most important commercial point of the Mediterranean.
On the other hand, tradition maintains that Sparta was founded around the year 1000 BC It is said, about 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. Nevertheless, although it conquered several kingdoms and intimidated to several communities with its military power, in the medieval time this city was destroyed due to the constant invasions that received. Modern Sparta was rebuilt in 1834.
Due to the great power of his army, the Spartans were considered the protectors of Greece. Its values were mainly militaristic and were not governed in a democratic way, but oligarchic. Unlike Athens, they did not focus much on infrastructure and their naval unit was very poor; its main objective was to gain power and to control the other kingdoms.
One of the elements that make the greatest 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, were stronger, and could establish relationships with the men they chose. They could have properties and were not obliged to do the kind of domestic work that the Athenians had 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 that these things predominated in Athens more than in Sparta.