37. THE SPARTAN AND THEBAN SUPREMACIES, 404-362 B.C.
Sparta was now the undisputed leader of Continental Greece
and of the Aegean. As the representative of the liberty-loving Greeks she had
humbled the pride and power of "tyrant" Athens. A great opportunity
lay before her to reorganize the Hellenic world and to end the struggles for
supremacy between rival cities. But Sparta entered upon no such glorious
career. She had always stood as the champion of aristocracy against democracy,
and now in her hour of triumph she began to overturn every democratic
government that still existed in Greece. The Greek cities soon found they had
exchanged the mild sway of Athens for the brutal despotism of Sparta.
THE FREEING OF THEBES 379 B.C.
But Spartan despotism provoked resistance. It was the
Boeotian city of Thebes which raised the standard of revolt. Some of the
liberty-loving Thebans, headed by Pelopidas, a patriotic noble, formed a
conspiracy to drive the Spartans out of the city. Disguised as huntsmen,
Pelopidas and his followers entered Thebes at nightfall, killed the tyrants
whom Sparta had set over the people, and forced the Spartan garrison to