Sparta was a powerful city-state in ancient Greece that was feared because of its military.
A city-state was a large town that controlled the land around it.
There were 33 city-states in ancient Greece and Sparta had the largest and strongest military.Sparta was on the Peloponnese, or mainland Greece.
Its society was different from the other Greeks because it emphasized the importance of strength, physical health, and being a good fighter.
All boys had to join the army and serve as soldiers until they were 60 years old.
Girls were expected to exercise and be fit to give birth to sons that could be warriors.
The Spartans were ruled by a king and nobles. They had a huge slave class that formed 25% of the population.
These slaves were called the helots. They did all of the regular work like farming so Spartan men could be in the military.
Sparta possessed a strong navy as well and traded on the Mediterranean Sea.
However, Sparta did not like luxuries like the other city-states because they believed it would make the population soft to have fancy things.
Instead, they traded for food and the bronze and iron needed to make weapons.
Like the other city-states, Sparta had a patron god that they thought protected the city and would bring them luck. Theirs was Athena, the goddess of wisdom and war.
They also worshipped Apollo, the Greek god of light and the sun. They performed sacrifices and religious rituals called rites to keep the gods happy.
They thought that if Athena and Apollo were pleased, then Sparta would have good luck and keep being strong.
Sparta’s enemy was Athens. Athens was also on mainland Greece and had a strong army and navy.
However, Athens focused more on pursuits that challenged the mind like philosophy and theater.
Sparta and Athens fought each other all the time and tried to take each other’s land.
Sparta and Athens eventually fought against each other during the Peloponnesian War (431 – 404 BCE).
Sparta became allies with other city-states that were tired of Athens and marched on the city.
Sparta won and forced Athens to give up its navy and control of the Mediterranean Sea.
However, Sparta was as big of a bully as Athens. The other city-states got tired of Sparta too and decided to go back to Athens.
They started another war and Sparta lost and had to give up some of its territory.Sparta didn’t have a chance to get revenge.
A king from the north part of Greece called Philip II of Macedon was sick of the Greek city-states fighting and defeated all of them.
He became the new leader and forced Sparta to work together with the others.
His son, Alexander the Great, then expanded the empire to the point where the city-states weren’t important. By 338 BCE, Sparta had no political power.
Facts about Ancient City of Sparta
- Sparta had the oldest marrying age for women at 18
- Women in Sparta could go to the gym and had more rights than women in other cities
- Men had to live in the barracks and serve in the military from 7-30
- The Spartans did not like luxuries and were raised to be tough
- Spartan babies were not picked up when they cried
- Spartan women shaved their heads before getting married and kept short hair
- Spartan women who died giving birth were given a warrior’s funeral
- Spartan men were soldiers until they turned 60
- Boys were encouraged to fight and steal from one another and were only punished for being caught
Questions and Answers
Where in Greece was Sparta?
Who was Sparta’s biggest enemy?
Why betrayed Sparta against the Persians?
What did the Spartans call their slaves?
How long were Spartan men soldiers?
From ages 7-60
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