Ancient Greece was comprised of small city-states, of which Sparta and Athens were two. Athens was renowned as a center of wisdom and learning. The people of Athens were interested in arts, music, and intellectual pursuits. Sparta, on the other hand, was recognized for its military strength. A Spartan's life was centered on the state, because he lived and died to serve the state. Although the competing city-states of Sparta and Athens were individually different as well as governmentally diverse, they both managed to become dominating powers in Ancient Greece. Athens became a democracy under the rule of Solon in 594 B.C. In addition to eliminating serfdom, Solon altered the stringent laws of a previous ruler, Draco, making murder the only crime punishable by death. Under the democracy, Athens entered its golden age, becoming a center of wisdom and learning. The Spartans also entered their golden age with the forming of their military state. This military state was established to control the people they had conquered, the Messenians. Because the Messenians outnumbered their conquerors on a ratio of ten to one, the Spartans turned them into agricultural slaves, or helots. Thus, while Athens was liberating everyone by becoming a democracy, Sparta was enslaving a large amount of people for its own benefit.
The forming of Sparta's military state changed the Spartan way of life. At the tender age of seven, all Spartan males entered a military school. During thirteen years of harsh training, the young men learned toughness, discipline, endurance of pain, and survival skills. Finally, at age twenty, men entered the military. At this point, the young Spartan might became a hoi homoioi, or a "Similar,” one of the "warrior elite,” if he was accepted into a certain mess unit. If he did not become a "Similar,” he and all his descendants were doomed to enter one of the lesser castes, either the "Inferiors" or the "Tremblers.” Although