Sparta & Athens represent 2 opposing concepts of the Greek polis
Also represent opposing concepts of the individual's relationship to the state.
The single, overwhelming fact of Spartan history was the Messenean War.
725 BCE, the Spartans annexed all territory of their neighbour, Messenia.
Controlling the territory of a subject population that outnumbered their population ten to one, Spartans worried of revolt and so invented a new political system as dramatically revolutionary as Athenian democracy in the north:
They turned their state into what amounts to a military state.
The Messenians were turned into agricultural slaves called helots.
The military and the city‑state became the centre of Spartan existence.
The state determined whether children, both male and female, were strong when they were born; weakling infants were left in the hills to die
At 7, every male Spartan was sent to military and athletic school. These schools taught toughness, discipline, endurance of pain (often severe pain), and survival skills.
At 20, after thirteen years of training, the Spartan became a soldier. The Spartan soldier spent his life with his fellow soldiers; he lived in barracks and ate all his meals with his fellow soldiers.
At 30, the Spartan become an "equal," and was allowed to live in his own house with his own family—although he continued to serve in the military.
The ideology of Sparta was oriented around the State. The individual lived (and died) for the state.
The combination of this ideology, the education of Spartan males, and the disciplined maintenance of a standing army gave the Spartans the stability that had been threatened during the Messenean revolt.
Spartan society was divided into three main classes.
At the top was the Spartiate, or native Spartan
The Spartiate served in the army and was the only person who enjoyed the full political and legal rights of the state.
Below the Spartiates were the perioeci, foreigners who served as a kind of buffer population between the Spartans and the helots.