What Were the Two Main City-States of Ancient Greece?

Ancient Greece was a civilization that thrived from the 8th century BCE to the 6th century CE. During its peak, it was divided into several city-states, each with its own unique culture and government. However, two of the most prominent city-states were Athens and Sparta.

The City-State of Athens

Athens was located in Attica, which is in the southern part of Greece. It was known for its democratic government, philosophy, art, and literature. Athens is often referred to as the birthplace of democracy because it was one of the first places to have a democratic government.

The Athenian government had three branches: the Assembly, the Council of 500, and the Courts. The Assembly was made up of all male citizens over the age of 18 who could vote on laws and policies.

The Council of 500 was responsible for proposing laws and policies to the Assembly. The Courts were responsible for interpreting laws and settling disputes.

Aside from its political structure, Athens was also known for its intellectual achievements. Some of the most famous philosophers in history such as Plato, Aristotle, and Socrates were Athenians. In addition to philosophy, Athens was also home to some of the most iconic pieces of art in history such as the Parthenon.

The City-State of Sparta

Sparta was located in Laconia which is in the southern part of Greece. It was known for its military prowess and discipline. Unlike Athens’ democracy-based government structure, Sparta had an oligarchic government where a small group of people held power.

Sparta’s society revolved around military training from a young age. Boys began their training at age seven by being taken away from their families to live in barracks with other boys their age until they became men at age 30.

The Spartan army consisted mainly of hoplites – heavily armed infantry soldiers. Hoplites were trained to fight in formation, which made them an effective fighting force. Spartans were also known for their discipline and bravery in battle.


In conclusion, Athens and Sparta were two of the most prominent city-states of ancient Greece. While they had different forms of government and societal structures, they both played a significant role in shaping Greek history and culture. Athens was known for its democracy, philosophy, art, and literature, while Sparta was known for its military prowess and discipline.