Ancient Sparta Greece




Ancient Sparta in Greece

Ancient Sparta Greece

Ancient Sparta Greece

The courageous charge of 300 Spartan soldiers at Thermopylae was celebrated in the movie "300" -- but it has also been stirring people ever since it happened in 480 BC. King Leonidas ruled ancient Sparta at that time, and he was shown above with his soldiers in the early days of that battle.

Yet the story of Classical Greece was also the story of an ongoing struggle between Sparta and Athens over who would be the dominant force in Greece. Sparta was much in favor of military training and became an unrivaled land power. Athens was more inclined to the arts and became a dominant sea power.

Among the many twists and turns of the competition between these two cities was a revolt among the helots or serfs who chafed under Spartan rule. When Sparta called upon other Greek cities for support, several sent troops to give aid, including troops from Athens under their general Cimon. He was the leader of Athens in those days, and favored good relations with Sparta at a time when many other Athenians did not. But the Spartans were suspicious of the democracy-loving Athenians, and feared they might side with the rebels. So Cimon and his troops were rejected by Sparta and had to march home in disgrace. 

That was the final insult for the people of Athens, who then ostracized Cimon and banished him from their city. In his place a new leader was selected for Athens, and his name was Pericles.

Ancient Sparta Ruins

These are the ancient ruins of Sparta's theater district.

Sparta watched Pericles build a Golden Age at Athens, and itched for a chance to determine who was the true leader of all Greece. Their chance came in 431 BC when the Peloponnesian War broke out. Brilliantly chronicled by the historian Thucydides, the events of this war tell us much of what we know about Sparta and other Greek cities during the Classical Age.

For additional reading:

Plutarch On Sparta  (trans. Richard J.A. Talbert)  London: Penguin Books, 2005.

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This page updated on February 14, 2019.

Ancient Sparta Greece

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How much of Classical Athens can we still see today in the City and in the Arts? And what is the fascinating history behind each of those during the Golden Age of Greece? Discover all these things here in beautiful detail.

Great New Book

The latest addition to our bookshelf is Ancient Athens: Five Intriguing Lives by historian Sanford Holst. The compelling stories of these people give a fascinating look inside Athens and its rise to the golden age. Highly recommended.

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Today people still go to Delphi to see where the Oracle made her pronouncements, and where the other cities donated buildings and gifts to her mentor at the Temple of Apollo.

See Delphi Greece Oracle.


Discover some things you may not have known which can be found on the Acropolis of Athens. Treasures from its Golden Age. The  map and notations you find here can be particularly enlightening.

See Ancient Athens Acropolis Map.

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Ancient Sparta Greece

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