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The Classical Age • Athens
Classroom Activities

Objective: Choose either Athens or Sparta and then use presentation software to attract outsiders to the chosen community.

Key Questions:

  • Why do you think Athens and Sparta were powerful rivals?

Notes on Implementation:

  • Extend learning by having students debate the merits of Athens vs. Sparta.
  • If students need support, have them write down concrete facts about Athens and/or Sparta as they read. Then have students discuss what they learned in small groups. Note also that finding selling points for Athens may be easier than for Sparta.
  • Reinforce learning by playing a game. Have students write their facts on index cards. Then rearrange students in teams. Mix up the index cards so that the facts about Sparta and Athens are together. Have teams take turns drawing a card, reading aloud the fact, and deciding whether it fits Athens or Sparta. Award points for correct answers; the team with the most points at the end wins. Alternatively, you can have students sit down if they don't answer correctly. The team with the last student standing (or the most students at the end of the game) wins. To make the game harder, include some facts that apply to neither city-state and/or to both Athens and Sparta.
  • There are many free online tools students can use to create presentations. If computer or Internet access is not available, students can create a poster and give an oral presentation.

Student Activity: Students can access the below activity in the Classical Age Topic Center within the World History: Ancient and Medieval Eras database.

Student Activity:

During its classical period (ca. fifth–fourth centuries BCE), ancient Greece was made up of a number of distinct city-states. Two of the most powerful city-states at the time were Athens and Sparta, which are often contrasted with each other because of their many social, cultural, political, and economic differences.

In this activity, you will learn about Athens and Sparta. Then you will write a broadside, brochure, or commercial advertisement attracting others to visit and live in one of those city-states.



  • Begin by reviewing the Resources to learn about Athens and Sparta. As you read, take notes about the positive aspects of each city-state.
  • Imagine you have traveled back in time to ancient Greece in the year 400 BCE. The leaders of the city-states Athens and Sparta want you to use modern communication technology as part of a marketing campaign to attract new residents. Choose either Athens or Sparta. Use the Resources to learn more about your chosen community. Then create an online presentation to advertise the benefits of this city-state. Your presentation should include a tagline or catchy phrase to "sell" your community to potential new residents. You should also include information about the geography, government, cultural life, and economic benefits your city-state has to offer residents. Use images as well as words to attract potential residents.
  • Share your online presentation with colleagues. As you listen to the ideas of others, think about what advantages each city-state had to offer. Discuss what you learned in a small group. What advantages did the Athenian system of government have for citizens? Why do you think Sparta was able to become a powerful rival of Athens?


Key Understandings:

  • Political structure influences the economic stratification of a society
  • Democratic systems value the rights and opinions of citizens
  • Strong leadership leads to success of political and military campaigns

Possible Answers for Activity:


  • Athens . . . Birthplace of Democracy, Unprecedented Prosperity
  • Our beautiful community of Athens sits on and around the Acropolis
  • Citizens can participate in public ceremonies at the Acropolis
  • Enjoy the beauty of classical architecture used in such temples as the Parthenon; the frieze sculptures are a marvel
  • Citizens have more political and legal rights than anywhere in the world!
  • Maritime trade at the harbor at Piraeus gives residents access to some of the finest goods from around the world!
  • The agora provides a market area for people to meet and conduct business
  • Participate in a dynamic cultural life. Join others at the agora to enjoy plays and participate in assemblies as well as academic lectures and discussions with some of the world's premiere philosophers
  • Athens is also widely known for its many artistic projects, made possible in part by wealth from its access to silver mines
  • Goats and sheep, olives and grapes . . . you will never go hungry! Come to the symposia to enjoy musical performances, drinking, and conversations with friends

Images could include the Acropolis, classical architecture, a chart showing rights of citizens in Athenian democracy, a map showing the location of Athens or Sparta, images of Plato or Socrates, and so forth.


  • Sparta . . . We Are the Champions!
  • Safe, snug, and secure . . . With our tough military, you won't have to worry!
  • Helots will provide you with food . . . You won't go hungry!
  • Enjoy the beauty and quiet of the countryside
  • An active lifestyle will keep you healthy—Sparta encourages physical exercise and activities.
  • Enjoy public sporting events, as well as sacred rituals and festivals
  • Sparta will live long beyond our rivals!

Images could include a map showing Sparta's location, photos showing the beauty of the countryside (e.g. fertile land in the Eurotas valley or Eurotas River), one or more Spartan warriors, a sporting event, women engaged in physical activity, etc.


MLA Citation

"Athens." History Hub, ABC-CLIO, 2020, historyhub.abc-clio.com/Support/Content/2043347?cid=257. Accessed 18 Feb. 2020.

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