Ancient Greece was dominated by two city-states, Sparta and Athens. Despite their proximity, the Spartans and the Athenians nurtured contrasting cultures. The Spartans, located in Peloponnesus, were ruled by an oligarchic military state. They practiced farming, disallowed trade for Spartan citizens, and valued military arts and strict discipline. They emerged as the strongest military force in the area, and maintained this status for many years. In one memorable encounter, a small group of Spartans held off a huge army of Persians at Thermopylae. The Athenians were centered in Attica, where the land was rocky and unsuitable for farming. Like the Spartans, they descended from invaders who spoke Greek. Their government was very different from Sparta’s; it was in Athens that democracy was created by Cleisthenes of Athens in 508 B.C.E. Athenians excelled in art, theater, architecture, and philosophy.
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Last updated: 12/29/2017
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