In ancient Greece, the great rival of Athens was Sparta. Sparta was a town in southern Greece. It was already there in the Late Bronze Age, and appears in Homer’s Odyssey as the kingdom of Menelaus and Helen. During the Dark Ages, Sparta declined like other Greek towns. In the early Archaic period, around 900 BC, Sparta began to grow again. Although most Greek towns got rid of their kings at this time, the Spartans kept their kings.