Ancient Greek city-state, capital of Laconia and chief city of the Peloponnese. Of Dorian origin, it was founded in the 9th century BC and developed as a strictly militaristic society. In the 8th–5th centuries BC it subdued neighbouring Messenia. From the 5th century BC the ruling class of Sparta devoted itself to war and forged the most powerful army in Greece. After a long contest with Athens in the Peloponnesian War (431–404 BC), it attained dominance over all of Greece. Sparta's power was broken by Thebes at the battle of Leuctra in 371 BC. It lost its independence c. 192 BC when it was defeated by and forced to join the Achaean League. It was made part of the Roman province of Achaea in 146 BC. The Visigoths captured and destroyed the city in AD 396. The ruins of its acropolis, agora, theatre, and temples remain.

Variants of SPARTA

Sparta or Lacedaemon

This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise.
For the full entry on Sparta, visit

Seen & Heard

What made you look up Sparta? Please tell us what you were reading, watching or discussing that led you here.