The country of Greece, in 400-500 BC was led to greatness by two poli or city-states, Athens and Sparta. They had a common language, religion, and sense of superiority over all non-Greeks. However these two super powers of the time had many differences in how they went about gaining greatness, which led to the eventual downfall of one. Their main differences were in lifestyle, economy, and government. The tremendous differences between Athens and Sparta led to many quarrels and ultimately all out war.
Athenians and Spartans lived very distinct lifestyles. The Athenians were all about wisdom, arts, and crafts. This is why their matron was Athena, the of wisdom and crafts. All native born Athenians and a selected few foreigners were considered to be citizens. Boys were properly educated if their family could afford it. Their education included a wide variety of subjects. Spartans on the other hand were all about military strength and their whole lives were devoted to it. All Spartan boys were trained to be soldiers. Only native-born Spartan males were considered citizens. Boys were taken from their homes to the military at age 7.
The differences in the economies of Athens and Sparta could mostly be attributed to the fact that they were in completely different geographical locations. Athens had great amounts of trade because of their close proximity to water, while Sparta kept to themselves very much not only because of their inland location, but they also had a large amount of pride, causing them to look down on trade. Athens outlawed debt slaves while Sparta had as many slaves as they could get. Athenian specialized workers were mostly merchants and farmers, while Spartan men became soldiers as a general rule. Women were allowed to inherit land in Sparta. The Athenians went through a very short economical golden age, while the Spartans never had such a thing.
Athens and Sparta also had completely contradictory governments.