The end of Sparta - The Spartans in Ancient Greece
Welcome to Study Guides!

The End of Sparta

bronze man wearing armor
Spartan hoplite soldier

In 441 BC, the Spartans decided that the Athenians were pushing everybody around too much, and they got an alliance of other city-states together (mainly Corinth) and attacked Athens to break up Athenian power. This is known as the Peloponnesian War, because Sparta is in the part of Greece called the Peloponnese.

At first the Spartans were losing the war, but then when there was a plague in Athens they began to win. They won even more after they got advice from an Athenian called Alcibiades. He told them to build a navy. In the end, the Spartans won the Peloponnesian War. In 404 BC, they took over Athens and destroyed the fortification walls around Athens.

But the Spartans didn't get to enjoy their victory for very long. In 369 BC, the Theban army came down into the Peloponnese and helped the Messenians (the helots) get free of the Spartans and form their own city-state. After this, the Spartan men had to work on farms to feed themselves and their children, and they couldn't train all the time. So they weren't the best army anymore, and Sparta became just another small town, without much power.

By 338 BC, Sparta had been taken over by Philip of Macedon, like all the rest of Greece. It never really got to be independent again, but was part of Alexander the Great's empire, then part of the Roman Empire, then the Byzantine Empire, and finally, in 1453 AD, the Ottoman Empire.

Learn by doing: compare freeing the helots to freeing the American slaves
More about Corinth

Bibliography and further reading about Sparta:

Leonidas: Hero of Thermopylae, by Ian Macgregor Morris (2003). A biography for young adults.

The Spartan Army (Osprey Military Elite Series, 66), by Nicholas Sekunda and Richard Hook (1998). Easy reading.

The Spartans: The World of the Warrior-Heroes of Ancient Greece, from Utopia to Crisis and Collapse, by Paul Cartledge (2003). This is pretty hard going, but Cartledge knows everything about ancient Sparta.

Spartan Women, by Sarah B. Pomeroy (2002). Pomeroy was one of the first feminist historians to write about women in the ancient world, and she's still one of the best.

More about Corinth
Ancient Greece home

For Presidents' Day, check out our articles about Washington in the Revolutionary War and Lincoln in the Civil War. Find out about the Constitution, the Bill of Rights and the other Amendments, and how Washington promised to include freedom of religion.
Please help other teachers and students find us: link to this page from your class page.
Karen Carr is Associate Professor Emerita, Department of History, Portland State University. She holds a doctorate in Classical Art and Archaeology from the University of Michigan. Follow her on Instagram or Twitter.
Looking for more?
Cite this page
  • Author: K.E. Carr
  • Title:
  • Site Name: Study Guides
  • Publisher:
  • Date Published:
Proud of your class page, homework page, or resource page? Send it in and win a "Great Page!" award!
Sign up for more free articles and special offers in' weekly newsletter:
We will never share your e-mail address unless you allow us to do so. View our privacy policy. Easy unsubscribe links are provided in every email.
Comment on This Article

Cool stuff we've been enjoying: Looking for Valentine's gifts? Check out these new Chromebooks - all the computer you need for only $229.00!. Then study in peace with these Beats wireless headphones - for the exact same price! When you're done, show off your presentation or watch a movie with this excellent smartphone projector for only $39.99!

Does your class page honor diversity, celebrate feminism, and support people of color, LBGTQ people, and people with disabilities? Let us know, and we'll send you a Diversity Banner you can proudly display!
ADVERTISEMENT is loading comments...
(Comments will appear after moderation, if they are kind and helpful. Feel free to ask questions, and we'll try to answer them.)
Cite this page
  • Carr, K.E. . Study Guides, . Web. 20 February, 2017