Corinthian War: Sparta and Athens

Involving some of the major city-states of ancient Greece, the Corinthian War was a significant part of Greek history because it matched cultural powerhouses against one another. Many were forced to take sides. In this article, you will meet two of the major players in the war, Sparta and Athens, as well as Thebes, who play a significant role in starting the war in the first place.

Introducing the Major Players of the War


The infamous city-state of ancient Greece was positioned on the River Eurotas, located in the southern region of the Peloponnese. Beginning around 650 BC, the city-state grew in power until it was known as a dominating military force within the region. Out of all the Greek forces, Sparta gained the reputation as being a leader amongst the people, especially during the Greco-Persian Wars. In the past, more than 80% of the population of Sparta was helots , people who were considered ‘unfree.’ Routinely humiliated, it was actually legal for citizens of Sparta to kill these inhabitants.

The history of Sparta is riddled with battles. From 431 to 404 BC, the city-state was the primary enemy of Athens when the Peloponnesian War broke out. Sadly, by 362 BC, the dominance that Sparta once enjoyed as a military powerhouse had vanished.


Found in Cithaeron range, the Greek city of Thebes has a history saturated in Greek mythology. It is here that tales surrounding Oedipus, Dionysus, and other great Greek figures were born. The site was also important for development that took place during the Bronze Age. Archeologists have found clay tablets that point to a thriving Mycenaean settlement. During ancient times, the city was regarded as the largest of the Boeotia region. It would also become a major opponent to ancient Athens. During the 480 BC invasion of Xerxes, Thebes decided to side with the Persians. However, their claim to fame is probably best known as ending the power of Sparta at the Battle of Leuctra, which took place in 371 BC.


In Europe, Athens possesses the longest history than any other city in the world. For more than 4,500 years, the city has been inhabited on a continuous basis. In the 1st millennium, the city led the ancient Greek world. Because of the cultural milestones they were able to achieve during the 5th century BC, the foundations of the western civilization were attributed to the ancient Athenians. When the Middle Ages emerged, Athens went through a period of decline, followed by recovery under the Byzantine Empire. During the Crusades, the Athenians enjoyed a rather prosperous time , partly due to Italian trade. During the days of the Ottoman Empire, the city experiences a long stretch of decline, but the city was able to once again reemerge in the 19th century, claiming the position of capital of the independent Greek state.