Athens vs. Sparta: Was War Between the Two Inevitable?

Topics: Sparta, Peloponnesian War, Ancient Greece Pages: 7 (2645 words) Published: April 25, 2005
In 480 and the years prior the Athenians and Spartans, banned together to defeat the Persian Army. The Spartans stand at Thermopylae, allowed the Athenians time to prepare, and ultimately allowed the victory. With both of these great city-states located so close together in Hellas, there differences would ultimately lead to dissension. Throughout the course of this paper, I hope to explain the reasoning behind the dissension between Sparta and Athens, made war between these former allies inevitable. Whenever there is an argument or war there is always differences between both parties involved. In order to understand the causes of the Peloponnesian War, we must look at their differences. One of the main differences that the Athenians and the Spartans had was their way of education. Athenian boys were tutored at home until the age of six or seven years old. After seven they were sent to neighborhood schools where they were taught primary education until around the age of fourteen. These neighborhood schools were usually private schools, but the amount of money for tuition was usually affordable enough for the poor to send their children for a few years. During primary school the boys were usually taught calisthenics and how to play certain games. Older boys were taught more militaristic activities such as boxing or wrestling. All ages of Athenian boys read heavily, as well as were taught to sing songs, play instruments, and do mathematics. Athenian boys who could not afford to go to school usually began apprenticeships. No matter what however, at the age of 18 all boys were required to go to military school for two years, after completion of that they were allowed to live however they wanted. Athenian girls were not officially schooled, they were usually taught in the own homes. The purpose of an Athenian education was to train people to be thinkers, people who are well-trained in the arts and sciences (Columbia). The education of the youth establishes a precedent for the differences between the way Spartans and Athenians lead their lives. At age seven, training for the military began for all Spartan boys, they're forced to leave their homes and go to military schools, where they endure all types of harsh training and discipline. The main lesson was learning to take pride in enduring pain and hardships. During their teenage years they were taught wrestling, boxing, swimming, javelin and discus throwing. This athletic training allowed them to become better soldiers. When Spartan boys turned eighteen, they were forced to go out and steal food; if they were caught they were punished severely. In this way Spartan boys were training to become better soldiers, this provided a real life way of allowing the boys to become more stealth like and cunning. At the age of twenty the boys had become men, and they were forced to attempt a numerous number of tests which dealt with their physical and leadership skills. Whoever passed became a part of the Spartan Army and was allowed to take a wife, but could not live with her. It is important to realize, that it wasn't until the age of thirty, and through service in the Spartan army, that these boys were considered real men. These men would usually serve into their fifties, as the age of release was officially sixty (Wikipedia). Spartan girls went to school at the age of seven and were taught wrestling, calisthenics, and gymnastics. The schools were basically the same as the ones that the Spartan boys had gone to. The reasoning behind this was that the Spartans believed strong women, produced strong offspring, which meant that the offspring would then become strong soldiers who would serve the state. The primary goal of the Spartan education was to create a strong military and it did just that. Another major difference between the Athenians and the Spartans was their military. Both the Spartans and Athenians had different military trademarks. The Athenians were known for their navy, while...
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