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Sparta vs. Athens

A chart comparing the ancient Greek city-states of Sparta and Athens.


In Sparta…

…whereas in Athens…


The government’s main goal was the protection of the state, and the two kings led the army in war.

The government was more well-rounded.


The government started training boys at a very early age, with emphasis on military training and physical education.

Boys learned poetry, reading, writing, and music as well as physical education.

Social roles and responsibilities

Things were run very strictly and everyone worked for the good of the state; all citizens had to be soldiers and helots (slaves) worked the land.

People were given more freedom and were allowed to pursue any career that they wanted.


Foreigners were never allowed inside, and only the perioikoi were allowed to make contact with them (for trading).

Trade and travel were encouraged and foreigners were welcome, although they usually couldn’t become citizens.

Views on freedom

Slaves called helots greatly outnumbered the Spartans, so they had to be prepared for slave revolts.

Slaves were treated fairly, could earn their freedom, and could appeal to mistreatment.


During the Archaic period, they traded with other Greek states, and their craftsmen produced high quality products.

The economy was based on slaves, who ran factories, worked in homes and on farms, and in other professions. Most people wanted to own one or two.


All Spartan citizens were soldiers and spent their lives training and fighting, which made Sparta the strongest Greek military power by the Classical period. Women kept fit, too.

At the age of 18, all boys went to military school for two years, and serving in the army gave citizens their freedom.

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