Around 1000 BCE, the great city of Sparta was founded. Sparta (also known as Lacedaemon) rose in prominence as a city-state in ancient Greece. It was located on the banks of the River Eurotas in Laconia. In this article, you will learn more about this powerful and influential city-state, as well as information on other city-states to follow.
By the 10th century BC, the city-state made a move to become a political powerhouse when the invading Dorians conquered the local population of non-Dorians. From around 650 BC, Sparta would increase their dominance as a powerful military entity during ancient Greek times.
The social system and constitution of Sparta differed from other city-states as the Spartans were consumed with military training and excellence. The Spartans had a classification system for their inhabitants. Those called Spartiates were considered citizens and enjoyed full rights. Mothakes were non-Spartan free men who were raised as Spartans. Perioikoi were freedmen and Helots who were state-owned serfs and those that made up the population of enslaved non-Spartan locals. They also granted women more rights in Sparta than any other culture during the Classical Greek age.
The dominance of their military helped Sparta to earn recognition as the leader of the combined Greek forces that fought during the Greco-Persian Wars. Between 431 and 404 BC, Sparta became the chief enemy of Athens during the Peloponnesian War. Sparta won, but the victory did not come without a price. In 371 BC, the great military power was defeated by Thebes in the Battle of Leuctra. They had lost their stronghold as the leading military force in ancient Greece.
Despite this turn of events, Sparta was able to maintain its political independence until 146 BC , the Romans conquering Greece was at the root of this change.
~ 800 BCE: Other city-states in Greece emerge, such as Athens, Thebes and Megara.
Athens became known as the capital and largest city in Greece. During the Classical age, Athens grew in power and emerged as a center for the arts, education, and philosophy. The city-state was home to Plato’s Academy and Aristotle’s Lyceum. Historians refer to Athens as the “cradle of Western civilization.” It is also the location that saw the birth of democracy. While Sparta had the brawn, Athens definitely had the brains.
Thebes was located to the north of the Cithaeron range, which divided Boeotia from Attica. The city-state played a significant role in the development of Greek myths. Stories involving Cadmus, Oedipus, Dionysus, and others were centered at Thebes. During ancient times, Thebes was the largest city of the Boeotia region. It became a rival of ancient Athens and took sides with the Persians when Xerxes led the 480 BC invasion.
In Attica, Greece, the northern section of the Isthmus of Corinth (opposite the island of Salamis) is where you would have found the ancient city of Megara. This is the land that the city once ruled until Athens claimed it for itself. Megara was one of the four districts that made up Attica. Nisos ruled the city at one time, which was known as a trade port. The people used their ships and wealth to get in good with the armies of neighboring lands. The city-state had a reputation for exporting wool and other animal products, such as horses and other livestock.