embly in which participation was limited to males over age 30. Unlike Athens, Sparta had a unique governing institution û a board of governors ("ephors") elected annually by the assembly. These leaders set foreign and domestic policy, though public participation by citizens was extensive in Sparta as well as in Athens.
The critical differences between the two city-states appear to have been focused on lifestyle and values. Luxury was enjoyed and valued in Athens, and despised in Sparta. Sparta emphasized commitment to the "polis" rather than to the family or the tribe. In Sparta, privacy, luxury, and even comfort were all sacrificed to the mission of training soldiers who would become members of the best army in the world.
Athens, in contrast, was highly aristocratic despite the creation of a democratic assembly. Military prowess was well-regarded, but so were artistic and philosophical creativity. Both city-states were polytheistic. Both perceived one another as rivals for control in the Attic region. Power fluctuated between the two, with Sparta achieving a temporary hegemonic status after the Athenian Empire was destroyed in the Great Peloponnesian War. Of the two, however, it is Athens that has come to be regarded as an example of the greatness to which ancient civilization could aspire and what it could in fact achieve.
Egypt's fertile Nile Valley made it wealthy in a region that was largely desert and therefore not amenable to cultivation. Egypt could and did use the Nile as a means of t