Spartan and Athenian Soldiers

Contributor: Ryann Maginn. Lesson ID: 12490

Picture the soldiers in your country. Picture yourself learning to be a soldier at your age! You will literally picture a soldier as you study some ancient Greeks and their military requirements!



learning style
personality style
Grade Level
Intermediate (3-5)
Lesson Type
Quick Query

Lesson Plan - Get It!


Currently in the United States (2017), military service is optional. What if you had to join the military at your age and had to stay in the military until you were an old man? Learn how two ancient Greek city-states raised their youth!

"The two rivals of ancient Greece that made the most noise and gave us the most traditions were Athens and Sparta. They were close together on a map, yet far apart in what they valued and how they lived their lives" (

For young children in Athens, education was very important for their upbringing.

Athens’ goal was to train individuals to be thinkers and artists. Boys of Athens were tutored until age six or seven, when they were sent to school. Once they reached age 14, if their families were rich, the boys could continue on to private school. Throughout school, the children were encouraged to read heavily. In addition, as the boys grew older, they began to train for the military, doing activities such as running, boxing, and wrestling. When Athenian boys reached age 18, they were required to attend military school for two years. Upon completion, they were free to choose what they wanted to do for the rest of their lives.

Sparta had a very different approach compared to Athens. Growing up in Sparta meant intense training and discipline to become a great soldier. Children began military school by age seven and continued training until they reached 18. Many of their trainings were harsh and seemingly cruel. Sparta’s intentions for such trainings were to harden the boys to make them understand pride and withstand pain. A few examples of these harsh trainings included not being allowed shoes and having little clothing. They were also forced to steal their food. If caught, they were punished. Once training was complete, Spartan men were required to remain in the military until age 60.

It is evident that Sparta and Athens had unique goals, very different from one another. In Athens, they preferred to raise a society based on education and expanding one's intelligence. They desired a strong army, but favored education. In Sparta, their intentions were to grow a powerful and strong military society in order to protect their state.

Based on what you have learned, which army do you think was more powerful? Are any of these military tactics practiced today? Express your thoughts with your parent or teacher. Discuss the reasons why you feel the way you do.

Now, proceed to the Got It? section, where you will be challenged to see how much you’ve learned so far about these two diverse groups.

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