Difference Between Athens and Sparta

Key Difference – Athens vs Sparta

Athens and Sparta refer to two of the greatest cities of Greece between which many differences can be identified in terms of the lifestyles and value systems. Athens can be considered as the fountain of culture and philosophical knowledge. Even today, the achievements of Athenians in terms of architecture are much appreciated. Other than this, the philosophical contribution of key figures such as Socrates, Hippocrates cannot be ignored. On the other hand, Sparta refers to a city-state dominated by military service. Unlike in Athens where culture flourished, in Sparta, the focus was more on military service than anything else. This can be considered as the key difference between Athens and Sparta. This article attempts to clarify the difference in detail.

What is Athens?

Athens refers to the capital city of Greece located in the Attica region. It is believed that during the ancient days this was the largest city with a population of about 140000. The people of Athens were of Ionian descent. When examining the form of government of Athens, it can be considered as a democratic government where the members were elected by the people. These members were known as ‘Archons’. In fact, according to historians, the first form of democracy begins in Athens.

When looking at life in Athens, it was full of creativity. Men were given the opportunity to pursue whatever field they wished to whether it was the arts or the sciences. This is why key intellectuals such as Hippocrates, Socrates, Sophocles, Pericles and Herodotus emerged. Military service was not made compulsory for young men as in the case of Sparta. However, it must be highlighted that in Athens girls were not given the opportunity for education.

Difference Between Athens and Sparta

What is Sparta?

Sparta also known as Sparti is another great city of Greece located in the Laconia region. The population was about 100000. The people of Sparta were of Dorian descent. When looking at the government, an oligarchic form existed. This meant a closely knit group such as kings ruled the country until death.

When we focus on the lifestyle of the people, Spartans were well known for their military capacity. In fact, men were trained to be warriors and released from all other duties. This enabled them to focus fully on their military training and performance. The military power and bravery of Spartans were famous during the Persian wars, at the Battle of Thermopylae and Plataea.

A key factor that needs to be emphasized is that in Sparta girls were given the opportunity for education. This can be considered as a key contrast not only with Athens but with most major cities of the time because women were rarely given such opportunities. Also, although women did not take part in battles, they were also given physical training as healthy women were believed to be more suitable for producing healthy offspring.

Key Difference - Athens vs Sparta

Battle of Thermopylae

What is the difference between Athens and Sparta?

Definitions of Athens and Sparta:

Athens: Athens is a city in Greece.

Sparta: Sparta is a city in Greece.

Characteristics of Athens and Sparta:


Athens: Athens is located in the Attica region.

Sparta: Sparta is located in the Laconia region.


Athens: In Athens, education was only given to boys.

Sparta: In Sparta, both girls and boys were given education.

Militaristic Focus:

Athens: Athens did not have a militaristic focus.

Sparta: Sparta had a clear militaristic focus here the lifestyle was dominated by this.

Artistic Focus:

Athens: Athens had a great artistic focus and produced a number of philosophers and made a large contribution to the development of western culture.

Sparta: Sparta had no artistic focus.


Athens: In Athens, a democratic government existed.

Sparta: In Sparta, an oligarchic government existed.


Image Courtesy:

1. “Otto’s entry in Athens” by Peter von Hess – Neue Pinakothek, München. [Public Domain] via Commons

2. “Jacques-Louis David 004 Thermopylae” by Jacques-Louis David [Public Domain] via Commons