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Keeling 1

Allison Keeling
Mr. Fronk
AP World History
19 December 2016
Practice DBE
Sparta and Athens had built up tension and contempt for each other because of their polar
opposite values and opinions on how a city-state should be run. Athens believed in a free,
innovative society, while Sparta believed in complete obedience to the law and isolation. They
also both lacked in certain areas, where the other prospered. Ultimately, Sparta and Athens were
complete opposites in almost every aspect, which caused their views to contrast from the start. In
this essay you will see their views collide and how this caused problems in their relationship with
each other and for surrounding areas.
Sparta is known to be a strict society that is focused on the military and abiding by a
demanding law. They were also afraid of any outside attacks, which ultimately caused them to
become extreme isolationists, and to reject new ideas or innovations. Athens is known for their
focus on literature and innovation, not necessarily a highly skilled military force. They also
welcomed any and all new ideas and many foreigners, unlike the Spartans. All the citizens of
Sparta believed in the same ideology, which created unity and political peace. Due to Athens
democratic stance, many ideologies and ways of thinking had emerged leading to rebellions or
conflicts within Athenian society. An example of conflicts within Athenian Society is the
emergence of Socrates and his teachings, which were said to be corrupt. When he was tried and
executed there was disagreement between his followers and those who agreed with the verdict.

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There are many pieces of evidence found in the documents provided that tell of Athens
and Spartas way of life, and how they differ. Document 1 is a recorded conversation between
Demaratus, an ex-king of Sparta, and Xerxes of Persia. In this conversation he talks about how
Spartan warriors are stronger together than apart, and that a Spartan will obey the Law as their
master causing loyalty to be placed on the Law rather than any leader. These facts from the
source tie into the argument that Spartas focus is on the obedience of the law. This source was
written in a Spartan point of view, it was recorded in the correct time period of 5th century BCE,
and can be considered a primary source because there is no bias against Sparta as it was said by
an ex-king.
Document 2 can be compared to document 1 because they both are a summary of each
city-states mind set and specific characteristics. Document 2 was said by Pericles, an Athenian
leader during the Peloponnesian War in the 5th century BCE. This source is focused on freedom
in the hands of many rather than few, and equal justice for all no matter class or wealth. This ties
into the Athenian ideology of democracy and freedom, and it is also a completely different
concept than the Spartan way of thinking in the previous document. The audience of this
document are for hopeful Athenians, who are being comforted by Pericles at a funeral, after
many warriors had died in the Peloponnesian War. Document 9 is closely related to document 2
because it talks more about freedom and equality for everyone. This source talks about calling
down farmers to live in the city, where there will be food, jobs, and military service for all. They
mention the feeding of 20,000 men from all walks of life, like jurymen, to officials, to even
orphans and prisoners. All people had been provided for through public funds, showing that
Athenian society was community oriented.

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The next three documents all focus on Spartas isolationist policy, the comparison of
Athens and Spartas number of citizens and resident aliens, and an event that occurred because
of their way of isolationism. Document 4 is a speech by a Corinthian diplomat before a Spartan
Assembly stating the reasons why Sparta should become more welcoming to foreigners and new
ideas. He says that Sparta has become out of touch with foreign affairs, and he compares them to
Athens saying that they are men of action while Sparta cannot even make up its mind. An
example of Athens advancements in certain areas compared to Sparta is their proficient navy and
the innovations that went along with it. At the time Athens was known to have the best rowers in
all of Greece, who could complete complicated maneuvers, as well as, the success of their
premier warship, the trireme This document is a secondary source because it was said by a
Corinthian, who would not know firsthand the situations of both Athens and Sparta, and its
intended audience was for the Spartans to see the advantages of foreigners and new ideas.
Document 6 is a chart showing the amount of citizens, resident aliens, residents with no
vote, and slaves in the capitals of Athens and Sparta. Sparta showed fewer citizens, more slaves,
and no aliens compared to Athens, who had more citizens, 30,000 aliens, and less slaves. This
chart is just another piece of evidence to show that Sparta was not welcoming to aliens, also
known as foreigners. Document 8 is about how the Spartans dealt with their neighboring people,
the Helots. The Helots were technically allowed equal rights but they were deprived of that, and
were ordered to pay tribute to Sparta. When a specific group of them known as the Heleians
rebelled, they were subject to slavery and were never be allowed to be free or sold to anyone
outside of Sparta. This source shows their distrust with the neighboring peoples like the Helots
from the beginning because it does not seem like they were given a chance to prove their loyalty,
their rights were just immediately taken away. This source can be considered a primary or

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secondary because it was written by a Greek philosopher, but it was written a long time after the
event had actually happened making it less credible. This was intended to show the Spartans
paranoia of outside attack.
During the Persian War, Sparta had shown their obedience to the Law and dedication to
war and their fellow city-state. The Persian War was a time that Athens and Sparta had to join
forces, despite their differences, to fight a common enemy, Persia. During the Battle of
Thermopylae, the Spartan king, King Leonidas, and his army were sent to fight against the
Persians, but something had gone wrong in timing. So instead of retreating back exposing the
Greek army, they held their ground. This ultimately led to their death, this was a sacrifice they
were willing to make for the sake of the war. The actions Sparta had taken in this battle show that
they are dedicated, which ultimately supports the claims made about their isolationism and
obedience to the Law.
The relationship of Athens and Sparta can be compared to the relationship between the
United States and the Soviet Union during the time of the Cold War. The United States can be
compared to Athens because they both believe in freedom, innovation, and equality for all. They
also both have their fair share of social issues because of this freedom like Athens had the
controversial beliefs of Socrates, and America today has controversial beliefs about gay
marriage. The Soviet Union can be compared to Sparta because they both believed in a strict
Law or belief system and had a distrust with foreigners. An example of this would be Soviet
Unions widespread belief in Communism compared to Spartas widespread belief of focusing
everything on the military and a strict way of life. The Soviet Unions distrust of foreigners was
shown when they had built the Berlin Wall because a wall symbolizes that no one gets in and no
gets out. Both parties in both the relationships of the U.S. and the USSR, and Athens and Sparta

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show that both were afraid that the other would take over or attack. The relationships between
these parties show that they have polar opposite views of each other just as it was claimed earlier.
The documents and other background knowledge support the claim that Athens and
Sparta have completely different views, and that these view were the main contributor to their
tense relationship. Many of the documents can be considered primary sources, which proves the
claims made even further.