Classical Greek civilization was one of the most influential civilizations to emerge in the ancient world. The Greeks’ conception of government—particularly democracy—as well as philosophy, art, and military strategy had a profound effect upon both ancient and modern history. This sophisticated society had its roots in the Greek Dark Ages—also known as Archaic Greece—a period that was characterized by the proliferation of tiny political units—known as “city-states” or “poleis”—ruled by kings. The classical period of Greece, however, was dominated by two powerful city-states—Athens and Sparta. In this unit, we will focus on Athens and Sparta—their military conflicts, artistic accomplishments, and cultural achievements—as well as the advent of the Hellenistic Age.