What Was the Strongest Army in Ancient Greece?

Ancient Greece was home to some of the most formidable armies the world has ever seen. From the time of the Trojan War to the Peloponnesian War, Greek armies played a crucial role in shaping the course of history. But what was the strongest army in Ancient Greece?

The Spartan Army

The Spartan army is often regarded as one of the most powerful and well-trained armies of its time. Known for their strict military training and discipline, the Spartans were feared by their enemies. The soldiers were selected at a young age and underwent rigorous physical training to become skilled warriors.

The Spartan army was also known for its use of phalanx formation – a military tactic that involved soldiers standing shoulder-to-shoulder with their shields overlapping to form an impenetrable wall. This formation allowed them to withstand enemy attacks and advance towards their enemy as a cohesive unit.


  • Well-trained soldiers
  • Disciplined army culture
  • Effective use of phalanx formation


  • Small population size compared to other Greek city-states
  • Lack of flexibility in warfare tactics
  • Poor naval power compared to other Greek city-states

The Athenian Army

The Athenian army was another formidable force in Ancient Greece. Unlike Sparta’s emphasis on physical training, Athens placed more emphasis on intellectual pursuits like philosophy and art. This resulted in a more diverse group of soldiers that included both wealthy aristocrats and poor farmers.

The Athenian army also had a strong navy, which allowed them to dominate trade routes and protect their empire from invasion.


  • Diverse group of soldiers
  • Strong navy
  • Flexibility in warfare tactics


  • Lack of emphasis on physical training like Sparta
  • Reliance on mercenaries for some battles
  • Limited resources compared to Sparta and other Greek city-states

The Theban Army

The Theban army rose to power in the late 4th century BC under the leadership of Epaminondas. They were known for their use of an innovative military tactic called the “Sacred Band” – a unit composed entirely of male lovers.

This unique formation allowed them to fight fiercely and protect their loved ones with even greater intensity.


  • Innovative military tactics like the Sacred Band formation
  • Courageous soldiers willing to fight for love and honor
  • Strong cavalry units


  • Limited resources compared to Sparta and Athens
  • Their success was largely dependent on one leader, Epaminondas.
  • Weaker naval power compared to other Greek city-states.
  • The Conclusion: Who had the strongest army?

    Determining which Ancient Greek city-state had the strongest army is not a straightforward answer as each had its own strengths and weaknesses. While Sparta’s well-trained soldiers and disciplined culture made them a formidable force, Athens’ diverse group of soldiers, strong navy, and flexibility in warfare tactics were also crucial components that cannot be ignored.

    The Theban army’s innovative military tactics and courageous soldiers were equally impressive. Ultimately, the strength of an army was not determined by one factor alone but rather a combination of multiple elements like training, tactics, and resources.