Lesson 3: Classical Greece

Getting Started

In this lesson, you'll explore the Classical period in ancient Greek history, compare the city-states of Athens and Sparta, and learn about the Peloponnesian Wars.

Stuff You Need

  • The Usborne Internet-Linked Encyclopedia of the Ancient World by Usborne
  • colored pencils
  • tape or glue stick
  • timeline binder
  • timeline cards

Ideas to Think About

  • How is power divided differently in different forms of government?
  • When the goals of two powerful people or societies collide, how can conflicts be resolved?
  • In a diverse society, how do people of different cultures interact and share ideas?

Things to Know

  • Athens and Sparta, the two most powerful city-states, had a great deal in common but also differed in significant ways.
  • Democracy means rule by the people.
  • The Peloponnesian Wars between Athens and Sparta lasted from 431 BC to 404 BC and eventually led to the end of the great city-states of the Classical period.

Skills

  • Analyze the geographic, political, economic, religious, and social structures of the early civilizations of Ancient Greece. (SS)
  • Trace the transition from tyranny and oligarchy to early democratic forms of government and back to dictatorship in ancient Greece, including the significance of the invention of the idea of citizenship (e.g., from Pericles' Funeral Oration). (SS)
  • State the key differences between Athenian, or direct, democracy and representative democracy. (SS)
  • Compare and contrast life in Athens and Sparta with an emphasis on their roles in the Persian and Peloponnesian Wars. (SS)
  • Describe the enduring contributions of important Greek figures in the arts and sciences (e.g., Hypatia, Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Euclid, Thucydides). (SS)

Introducing the Lesson

In this lesson, your child will explore the Classical period in ancient Greek history, compare the city-states of Athens and Sparta, and learn about the Peloponnesian Wars.
Reading and Questions
Materials: The Usborne Internet-Linked Encyclopedia of the Ancient World by Usborne
Read pages 187-198 in The Usborne Internet-Linked Encyclopedia of the Ancient World. This reading covers the Golden Age of Athens, Athenian democracy, Classical Sparta, and the Peloponnesian Wars.
Questions
  1. According to legend, how did Athens get its name?
    Poseidon and Athene fought over the right to name the city and Athene's gift to the city, an olive tree, was considered to be more valuable than Poseidon's promises of wealth through trade, so the city was named after Athene.
  2. How could Athenian citizens get rid of a politician they were unhappy with?
    They could banish the politician by ostracism — if 6000 people cast votes to ostracize someone, that person would have to leave for 10 years.
  3. What were the different parts of the Spartan government?
    Sparta was governed by two kings, a council of elders, and an Assembly.
  4. Did the end of the Peloponnesian Wars mean an end to conflict in Greece?
    No, the end of the wars signaled the end of the great city-states and the Classical age. Conflicts continued, and Macedonia eventually took control of Greece.