Lesson 2: What was most valuable to Athenians?


Lesson Objectives:

  • Students will be able to describe the ways that Greeks developed the ideas of citizenship and democracy
  • Students will be able to compare and contrast the city-states of Athens and Sparta
  • Students will be able to describe the role of Greek men and women

Key Terms to Know

Directions: Look up each term in the textbook (pages 128-130) and define each term in your social studies notebook.

  • Solon
  • Cleisthenes

Athenscoins.jpeg Athena.jpeg The Goddess Athena

Athens Values

While Spartans valued military strength, Athenians placed a higher value on education and culture. Their main goal was building a democracy. Athenians believed that the only way to build a strong democracy was to create well informed citizens.

Boys were educated.

  • They learned reading, writing, and math
  • They learned to sing and play instruments
  • At 18 years old, they became citizens

Girls were not educated.

  • They stayed at home and were taught household duties
  • They had little personal freedom
  • They were expected to have children

Athenian Government

Athenian government began as an oligarchy. A rebellion against the nobles by unhappy farmers resulted in a democracy. The farmers, some that had become in debt or even slaves to nobles from borrowing money, wanted their freedom. They also wanted the land owned by the nobles to be shared with the poor. They wanted a say in government.

Solon 594 BC: He was trusted by both farmers and nobles to solve the problems between the two groups.

  • He canceled all of the farmers' debts
  • He freed the farmers that had become slaves
  • He allowed all male citizens to participate in the assembly and law courts
  • He refused to divide the nobles' land

The changes Solon made were popular with the common people. They got most of what they wanted. They continued to try to get Solon to divide the land. After Solon died, Athens went through a rough period. A tyrant took his place and gave the farmers what they wanted, the nobles' land, and was very popular with the common people.

Cleisthenes 508 BC: He came to power and is credited with turning Athens government into a democracy.

  • He reorganized the assembly, making all males citizens- not just the wealthy
    • All citizens could vote on laws
    • All citizens could debate issues
    • All citizens could hear court cases
    • All citizens could appoint army generals
  • A council of 500 citizens was chosen by lottery
    • They helped the assembly with daily business
    • They suggested laws
    • They dealt with foreign countries
    • They managed the treasury (money)

Cleisthenes opened government to all male citizens which was a big change from how the government was run. Now more people had a say in how the government was run. He also brought fairness to the process by using a lottery to choose officials.

Click the link below to learn about Life in Athens

Ancient Athens


Click the link below to learn about life in Athens and life in Sparta

Sparta vs. Athens

  • Use the chart that you started in the Sparta lesson.
  • Complete the information for Athens


  • Use the information from the Sparta and Athens lessons to write a 3 paragraph response
  • Which society would you have liked to be a part of, Sparta or Athens?
  • Identify what role you would have in society
  • Identify why you would choose to be a Spartan or an Athenian
  • Be sure to include supporting evidence

Click the link below for the next lesson

Lesson 3: What brought Sparta and Athens together?

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It's All Greek To Me!