Spartans were members of a prominent Greek civilization in the 1st millennium BC, becoming the dominant land-power in Greece by 650 BC, hence their leadership of the Greek alliance against the invasion of the Persian Empire. The Spartans had a longstanding rivalry with the Athenians, whose naval power threatened their military dominance of the Greek city-states, culminating in the Peloponnesian War in the late 5th century, in which they defeated their Athenian rivals. Although Sparta lost its political prominence in 371 BC in the Battle of Leuctra against Thebes, it kept its independence until the Roman conquest of Greece in 146 BC.
Spartan culture was truly unique, as its focus was very much on maximal military proficiency, with all social institutions aiming to provide military training and physical development. As a result of this, Spartans had an incredibly impressive military tradition, with their phalanx brigades considered to be the best in battle. Another notable aspect of Spartan culture was the position of women and girls of the citizenry class (native Spartans). They were allowed to exercise, eat, learn and own property in the same capacity as men, which gave them status unparalleled by any ancient civilization of the same time. Sparta was not only widely admired among its contemporaries, but has also been praised throughout the millennia after its decline, leaving an impact on the world which has shaped how rulers and scholars have viewed the running of an ideal society.