The Powerful City-State (Created by: Ankita Khera)


After the Peloponessian War, several great thinkers were determined to seek the truth, no matter where the search took them. The Greeks gave these thinkers a name, Philosophers, which meant one who loves wisdom. Greek philosophers believed that the universe was governed by a set of uniform laws and that it functioned in an order. The four most famous philosophers were Pythagoras, Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle.
Pythagoras was the first major Greek philosopher, as well as a great mathematician, mystic, and scientist. He greatly influenced Plato, and, through him, all of Western philosophy. Socrates taught his Socratic Method to teach his students and encouraged them to reexamine accepted notions like democracy, patriotism, and religion. Plato was a student of Socrates, and published his own book called The Republic. In it, he set forth his vision of a perfectly governed society, and it was not a democracy. Aristotle was a physician's son who had an intense hunger for knowledge. Aristotle developed a belief that all truths logical arose from other truths in a logical order. Thus, he created a set of logical statements known as syllogisms.



During Athens's Golden Age, Pericles, who was ruler of Ancient Athens during the Golden Age, encouraged the structure of new buildings. The Parthenon was one of Athen's greatest architectural achievements. It set the style for all temples for the next two hundred years. Within the temple was a statue of Athena, who was the goddess of wisdom and the protector of Athens.
Pericles entrusted the construction of the Parthenon to a man named Phidias, who was an Athenian sculptor. Phidias and other architects developed a unique architectural style that continued to influence architecture. For example, the pillars that supported the roofs of temples like the Parthenon serve as a good example. The Greeks developed three unique tops or capitals for the columns. For the Parthenon, the used Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian, which you will see in the pictures below.

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Greek Drama was an expression of civic pride and a tribute to the gods. The Greeks invented what we know today as drama by writing plays that were to be performed on the stage. During Pericles time, there were two writers that dominated Greek Drama. Those two writers were Aeschylus and Sophocles. Aeschylus wrote more than eighty plays, but only seven survive. Sophocles wrote over one hundred plays, with his most famous work being Oedipus.
Greek plays were the biggest form of entertainment for the Greeks, but not only that, it also was a means of educating the population about the major issues confronting Athenian society. Greek plays were partly acted and partly chanted. Both Aeschylus and Sophocles wrote a type of play called a tragedy. The tragedy portrayed men and woman as strong individuals whose very strength led to their downfall. That strength led the hero to pride, and pride inevitably led to an unforgivable sin. Thus, the gods would have to punish the the hero for his or her sin.

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Athenians were always open to new ideas and always eager to learn. Athenians had been raised to think of themselves as free people. However, like other city-states, Athens always struggled between rich and poor. Therefore, a democracy was able to be created by Athens's three most famous leaders.
  • First lawgiver
  • Published strict, stern rules to govern Athens
  • Punished all crimes with death
  • Citizens of Athens grew tired of the harsh laws


  • Second great reformer
  • Moved away from the harsh environment Draco created
  • Encouraged a more democratic system
  • Ruled for 22 years before allowing others to rule Athens

  • Third great reformer
  • Expanded Athenian democracy through further legal reforms
  • Increased the power of assembly
  • Created the Council of Five to propose laws and advise the assembly

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Athens vs. Sparta

Athens and Sparta were the two most powerful city-states, though they developed very differently. Tensions were always high between the two empires, until finally Sparta attacked in 431 B.C. and invaded Athenian territory, destroying their local food supply. Overall, after twenty seven years of fighting, Athens finally surrendered to Sparta. The years at war destroyed Athen's fleet, empire, and wealth. However, I still believe that Athens was the better city-state. I will explain after showing the differences between Athens and Sparta.

  • Open to new ideas
  • Eager to learn
  • Avoided civil wars by creating a democracy
  • Created a council in order to discuss laws
  • Created paid positions
  • Architecture(Parthenon)
  • Greek drama
  • Famous philosophers

  • Created a society based around strength
  • Society was ruled by an oligarchy
  • Governed by a strict set of laws
  • Created programs to have sufficient soldiers on the battlefield
  • Soldiers remained active till the age of sixty
  • Spartan girls had greater freedom
  • Created little culture/art/literature/architecture

So, in conclusion, I believe Athens was a far more important city-state than Sparta. Though Sparta overpowered Athens in a physical aspect, Athens left behind a lot of culture for later generations. Athens civilization had a far greater impact on Western Civilization than Sparta.

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