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Three Millennia of Greek Literature
 

William Smith, A Smaller History of Ancient Greece

 

 

 

CHAPTER XVII

The Supremacy of Thebes, B.C. 371-361

ELPENOR EDITIONS IN PRINT

HOMER

PLATO

ARISTOTLE

THE GREEK OLD TESTAMENT (SEPTUAGINT)

THE NEW TESTAMENT

PLOTINUS

DIONYSIUS THE AREOPAGITE

MAXIMUS CONFESSOR

SYMEON THE NEW THEOLOGIAN

CAVAFY

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N PURSUANCE of the treaty, the Lacedaemonians withdrew their harmosts and garrisons, whilst the Athenians recalled their fleet from the Ionian sea. Only one feeling prevailed at Sparta--a desire to crush Thebes. This city was regarded as doomed to destruction; and it was not for a moment imagined that, single- handed, she would he able to resist the might of Sparta. At the time when the peace was concluded Cleombrotus happened to be in Phocis at the head of a Lacedaemonian army; and he now received orders to invade Boeotia without delay. The Thebans on their side, were equally determined on resistance. The two armies met on the memorable plain of Leuctra, near Thespiae. The forces on each side are not accurately known, but it seems probable that the Thebans were outnumbered by the Lacedaemonians. The military genius of Epaminondas, however, compensated any inferiority of numbers by novelty of tactics. Up to this time Grecian battles had been uniformly conducted by a general attack in line. Epaminondas now first adopted the manoeuvre, used with such success by Napoleon in modern times, of concentrating heavy masses on a given point of the enemy's array. Having formed his left wing into a dense column of 50 deep, so that its depth was greater than its front, he directed it against the Lacedaemonian right, containing the best troops in their army, drawn up 12 deep, and led by Cleombrotus in person. The shock was terrible. Cleombrotus himself was mortally wounded in the onset, and with difficulty carried off by his comrades. Numbers of his officers, as well as of his men, were slain, and the whole wing was broken and driven back to their camp. The loss of the Thebans was small compared with that of the Lacedaemonians. Out of 700 Spartans in the army of the latter, 400 had fallen; and their king also had been slain, an event which had not occurred since the fatal day of Thermopylae.

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