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Athens, a port on the Aegean Sea, was a major trade center. It traded goods such as
olive oil and grapes for much needed wheat. Athens developed a strong navy. Large
fleets of fighting ships called triremes defended Athens. A city wall almost 7 feet thick
and 23 feet tall protected the city-state.
In ancient Athens, the purpose of education was to produce citizens trained in the arts and to
prepare citizens for both peace and war. As a cultural center of ancient Greece, Athens attracted the best
artists and scholars. Athenians developed new ideas about architecture, art, literature, philosophy, politics
and science. Athens developed the world’s first democracy, which many of the other Greek city-states used
as their form of government as well.
Athenian Boys
From age 7 to 12, boys went to school to learn writing, literature, philosophy, math,
history, public speaking, government, drama, art, painting and music. Books were very
expensive and rare, so subjects were read out-loud, and the boys had to memorize
everything. They had to learn two important things - the words of Homer and how to
play a musical instrument. Their teacher was always a man. Following primary school, boys
attended a higher school for 4 more years. When they turned 18, they entered military
school for 2 additional years. At age 20, they graduated and often served as a soldier for
at least one year.
Athenian Girls
Girls were not educated at school. Most girls learned household chores from their mothers. In
wealthier families, mothers would teach their daughters how to read and write in the comfort of their
courtyard. The girls were often married at the age of 15.
Sparta was located in an inland valley 150 miles away from Athens. High mountains formed a
natural wall protecting the city-state. Spartans disapproved of trade and contact with outsiders. Male
citizens received a plot of land to farm, but they also had to be soldiers.
Sparta had the strongest army in the ancient world. Spartans believed in a life of discipline, selfdenial, and simplicity. They were very loyal to the state of Sparta. Every Spartan, male or female, was
required to have a perfect body. When babies were born in ancient Sparta, Spartan soldiers would come
by the house and check the baby. If the baby did not appear healthy and strong, the infant was taken
away, and left to die on a hillside, or taken away to be trained as a slave (a helot). Babies who passed this
test were assigned membership in a brotherhood or sisterhood. Sparta was the only city-state that did not
develop a democratic government. Two kings, who were also army commanders, led it. Only men born
in Sparta could be citizens. Women were not citizens, but could own land.
Sparta was not famous for beautiful buildings or works of art because they did not believe in
luxuries. Sparta is remembered for its army.
Spartan Boys
Spartan boys were educated and were sent to military school at age 7. They
trained and slept in their barracks of their brotherhood. Although students were taught
to read and write, those skills were not very important to the ancient Spartans. They
emphasized on physical and military training. At school, they were taught survival skills
and other skills necessary to be a great soldier. Only warfare mattered. The boys
marched without shoes to make them strong. It was a brutal training period. Boys had to be in the army
until the age 30 at least. Spartan soldiers spent most of their lives with their fellow soldiers. Even if they
were married, they did not live with their wives and families.
Spartan Girls
In Sparta, the girls lived, slept and trained in their sisterhood's barracks. They also went to school at
age 7, but did not go to learn how to read or write. The girls were taught wrestling, gymnastics, and
combat skills. The Spartans believed that strong young women would produce strong babies. As in
Athens, the mothers taught their daughters household chores.
Since the men and women were separated in barracks, the Spartan women did not have restrictions.
They had more freedoms and responsibilities in public life. They were able to go out in public unescorted,
participate in athletic contests, and inherit land.
Directions: Compare and Contrast the city states of Athens and Sparta. Write the facts in the correct
section of the Venn-diagram. Refer back to your article for help.
Directions: Compare and Contrast how the boys and girls of Athens and Sparta lived in Ancient Greece.
Write the facts in the correct section of the Venn-diagram. Refer back to your article for help.
Athenian Boys & Girls
Spartan Boys & Girls