Athens and Sparta
Coach Parrish
Chapter 7, Section 2
Living in Sparta
Unlike Athens, life in Sparta was harsh and even
cruel. The Spartans were a very tough group.
The only similarity between Athens and Sparta
during the 400s BC was the size of the military.
Sparta became different from other Greek citystates in the 600s BC when a new government
was formed out of external and internal wars.
From these wars came the Spartan Rule: Always
put the city’s needs above your own.
Living in Sparta, cont.
Early in its history, the Spartans conquered the
land around their city. They turned the
conquered people into helots – slaves owned by
Since there was more helots than Spartans, they
treated them harshly in fear of a revolt.
Growing up in Sparta
The life of every Spartan was in the hands of the
government from birth. Only the healthiest
children were allowed to live because the
Spartans wanted only the healthiest people in
the city.
The First Test
Soon after birth, a child would be placed in a
wine bath. The thought in Sparta was that a
child placed in these conditions could only
survive if they were tough.
If a child passed, they was brought before a
council where the elders checked the baby for
defects. Passing this test = life.
Growing Up Male
For boys, training began early. At age seven, a
Spartan boy left home to live in the barracks
with other boys. Training lasted 13 years.
By age 12, a boy had spent many hours using
swords and spears. He had only one cloak and a
thin mat to sleep on. Because they gave the
boys so little to eat, they had to steal enough
food to survive.
Growing Up Male
If the boys were caught stealing, they were
severely punished. They were expected to take
their punishments in silence to show toughness.
When a Spartan turned 20 years old, they
became a soldier. Men remained soldiers until
they were 60 years old.
At age 30, they were allowed to join the council,
where government decisions were made.
Growing Up Female
Like the boys, the girls also trained in wrestling
and spear throwing. Spartan women were
expected to be fit because it was thought they
would have fit children.
Spartan women were allowed to own land and
take part in business. They also typically
oversaw the home because the men were gone
to battle.
Expanding Persian Empire
Cyrus the Great founded the Persian Empire in
the mid 500s BC. By 520 BC, the Persians had
gained control of the Greek Colonies on the
west coast of Asia Minor.
Battle at Marathon
In the fall of 490 BC, thousands of Persians landed in
Greece. The Persians gathered at Marathon, a city 25
miles north of Athens.
The Athenians put together a small army that was
outnumbered 2 to 1 by the Persians. The two armies
stared at each other for 2 days before fighting began.
Suddenly, the Athenians rushed and attacked the
Persians killing 6400 while only losing 192 soldiers
themselves. Athens won the battle. Once the battle
was over, a runner ran back to Athens to proclaim
victory. He ran into Athens, yelled “Nike,” and
dropped dead!!
Conflict and the Athenian Empire
More battles between Greece and Persia
followed. With each win, the Greeks assumed
they had pleased the gods.
Athens emerged from the Persian wars the most
powerful city-state in Greece. They formed the
Delian League where other city-states bowed to
them. This time in Athens was the Golden Age
mentioned in Chapter 6.
Sparta and Athens at War
Athens had a democratic government, but it
began to treat other city-states unfairly,
especially those in the Delian League. Those
city-states were making tribute payments to
Athens for protection from the Persians.
Athens moved the treasury from Delos to
Athens and used the money to build the
Parthenon and other projects.
Peloponnesian War
The Greeks began to resent Athenian power.
They looked to Sparta to help protect them.
Sparta formed the Peloponnesian League with
city-states in southern Greece.
In 431 BC, Sparta and its allies fought against
Athens and its allies. This was called the
Peloponnesian War – conflict between Sparta
and Athens that lasted for 27 years.
Peloponnesian War, cont.
When Sparta attacked Athens, Pericles (leader of
Athens) allowed people to move inside the city
walls. The overcrowded conditions led to a
plague – widespread disease.
When the plague ended 5 years later, almost
1/3rd of the Athenians had died, including
Fall of Athens
Athens never recovered from its losses during the
plague. To make matters worse, Sparta allied itself with
the Persians to use its mighty Navy.
In 405 BC, the Spartans and Persians staged a blockade
– action taken to isolate the enemy and cut off its
supplies. The Spartans surrounded the harbor where
Athens received supplies.
Starving and beaten, Athens surrendered in 404 BC.
The Spartans knocked down the city walls and
decimated Athens. Athens never again dominated the
Greek world.