Sparta

The most powerful Greek polis.

Sparta's Origins.

After the Greek dark ages, two prominent city - states emerged; Athens and Sparta. Although Athens established the first democracy and had many great philosophers, Sparta had the strongest army in Greece for 300 years. Their phalanx, or battle formation, was virtually unbeatable.

They established an Oligarchy, which means a small group of leaders rule. They made all the decisions. Another great achievement of the Spartans was how much land they conquered. Most city - states only controlled anywhere from 50 to 500 square miles of land. Sparta had over 4000. The largest area they conquered was Messenia. They enslaved the people and forced them to work. These Messenians rebelled and almost defeated the Spartans. This led to the decision to devote Sparta into creating the strongest army ever.



Spartan Soldiers

Rise and Fall of Sparta Military Training

Spartan soldiers were the strongest in Greece. If Spartan babies were not strong enough, they were left to die. Spartans were sent of to a military academy at the age of seven. The were subjugated to cruel and harsh conditions. At around age twelve they had to fend for themselves. They were expected to steal food to survive. However, if they were caught, they would be severely punished.

Spartans served in the military until they were 30. Then they were military reserves until age 60. Spartan girls were not only trained to be able to support the house, but also sports and athletics to be able to produce better soldiers. This is why Sparta had the strongest military in Greece.

The Persian Wars

The Persians had created a huge empire to the east of Greece, and had attacked on numerous occasions. Finally, Greece decided to do something about it. Athens and Sparta teamed up and fought The Persians. This angered many Persians, and they sent a huge invasion force to Greece. The Persians greatly outnumbered the Greeks.


Now, the Greeks only chance was excellent strategy. In the battle of Marathon, The Greeks defeated more than twice as many Persians. The marathon race was established in this battle. Then later, at the Battle of Thermopylae, the Greeks sent a small diversion force to defeat the Persian fleet off the coast of Salamis. This allowed the Greeks to win the war.

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The Peloponnesian Wars

After the Persian wars, both Sparta and Athens wanted to control Greece. Athens created the Delian League, while Sparta created the Peloponnesian League. Tensions built, and Sparta attacked the territory of Athens. Sparta continued this onslaught and most of the people in league with Athens fled to the city. The polis was so overcrowded that a disease spread like wildfire and killed many people.


Later, Athens went to attack an ally of Sparta. Its army was surprised and defeated by the Spartans. This greatly weakened Athens. Nine years later, Sparta won the war against Athens, and the Delian League collapsed. Sadly, this weakened all of Greece.

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Why is Sparta more powerful than Athens?

Many people would say Athens were more powerful. They were at one point, however, after The Peloponnesian Wars, Sparta was more powerful. While many people would argue that Athens had many philosophers and made many cultural advancements, this did not contribute to how powerful they were. Their democracy could not make their army better than the hardened Spartans.


The Spartans trained their whole life to be in battle, while the Athenians lived daily lives and participated in government. Why would the Spartans NOT be able to defeat the Athenians? The only thing that Athens beats Sparta in is government. Democracy is much more efficient than an Oligarchy.