Athens and Sparta were two of the greatest Greek city states ever. Not only do these two cities have many differences but they also have some things in common too. But only one could be the best, was it Sparta or Athens? Many people think that Sparta and Athens were completely different, but this is not true, they had many similarities. To start off they were both two of the most powerful and important city states in ancient Greece. Sparta with it amazing army and Athens cultural legacy, they both set the stage for the history of ancient Greece. These two cities’ also had very strict social classes, for example in both city’s wealthy land owners were the top class and slaves were the bottom class.
Sparta and Athens were both strong in certain militaristic areas. Athens had very powerful Navy, while Sparta had one of the best Army’s in ancient times. Lastly, both belonged to leagues of allies. Sparta belonged to the Peloponnesian league and Athens belonged to the Delian League. Although Athens and Sparta have things in common they were more different than they were alike. For example the lives of the Spartans revolved around war, preparing for war, educating their kids for war and conquering other countries during war. While Athens had other priorities, like culture, art, education and unification. Spartan children were only educated in the art of battle and taught how to fight, while Athenian children were educated in math, music, poetry and sports. Spartan women also had more rights than Athenian women.
Women in Athens were not allowed to leave their homes or participate in any events; they were considered property of their husbands and were responsible for the household duties. On the other hand Spartan women were educated in reading and writing, could participate in sports, own their own land and were treated more as equals. Sparta was one of the first places in the world to start women’s rights. The governments in these two city states were also very different. In Athens there was a direct democracy, meaning all the male citizens of Athens could vote on the laws being passed. Athens believed that all citizens should be included in government decisions and tried to unite the people. Sparta though, had an Oligarchy which was ruled by 2 kings who were usually in command of the armies.
Lastly, the cultures of Athens and Sparta were very different. Athens was a united beautiful city full of art, architecture, literature, philosophy, science, medicine and they enjoyed a variety of luxurious foods in their diets. Although, Sparta on the other hand was not very unified, extremely military based and the people didn’t enjoy many luxuries for example the Spartan diet mainly consisted of pork, blood, salt and vinegar. Athens and Sparta were both wonderful cities but only one could be the best, and that was Athens. Athens was the better city in pretty much all aspects of life. The people prospered in Athens they enjoyed fine dining and art, unlike those in Sparta. Athens focused on so much more than just war; this is why Athens was the city that had some of the best cultural achievements in ancient society.
They made beautiful art, medical advancements and were one of the first democratic governments, paving the way for countries today like the USA. Athens was cleaner, nicer and prettier which would have made it a much more enjoyable place to live. Athens may not have had as good of an army as Sparta but in the end cultural and society advancements are more important than having the best army in the world. All these reasons and more just shows how much better Athens is than Sparta. Two of the most powerful cities’ in the ancient times, Sparta and Athens were alike and different. They were both unique in different ways and each thrived in different areas. But in the end, it is an obvious choice that Athens was clearly the better Greek City State.
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