War is not the best way of settling differences; it is the only way of preventing their being settled for you. — G. K. Chesterton

Story of the Greeks - Helene Guerber




Thebes Free Once More

The Spartans, coming into Thebes, as we have seen, exiled the rich and important Pelopidas, but allowed his friend Epaminondas to remain. They little suspected that this quiet and seemingly stupid man would in time become their greatest enemy, and that the mere sound of his name would fill their hearts with dread.

Pelopidas, thus forced to leave home, withdrew to Athens, where he was very kindly received. He was not happy, however, and was always longing to return home, and see his friend Epaminondas, whose society he missed very much.

He therefore called a few of the Theban exiles together, and proposed that they should return to Thebes in disguise, and, taking advantage of the Spartans' carelessness, kill their leaders, and restore the city to freedom.

This proposal was received with joy, although the Spartans numbered three thousand, and the Theban exiles only twelve. The chances were of course against them; but the men were so anxious to free their city, that they resolved to make the attempt.

They therefore set out from Athens with weapons and hunting dogs, as if bent upon a day's sport in the country. Thus armed, they secretly entered the house of Charon, one of their friends in Thebes. Here they exchanged their hunting garments for women's robes; for, hearing that the Spartan general and his officers were feasting, they had resolved to pretend that they were dancing girls, in order to gain entrance into the banquet hall, and kill the men while they were drinking.

They had just finished dressing, when a knock was heard at the door, and a Spartan soldier came in and gravely informed Charon that the commander wished to see him.

For a moment Pelopidas and his companions fancied that their plans were discovered, and that Charon had betrayed them. He read this suspicion in their frightened faces, and, before leaving the house with the soldier, he placed his only son, a mere infant, in the arms of Pelopidas, saying, "There, keep him; and if you find that I have betrayed you, avenge yourselves by killing my only child, my dearest treasure."

Pelopidas
"Avenge yourselves by killing my only child."


After speaking thus, Charon went out, and soon came back to report that all was well.

The Theban exiles now went to the banquet hall, where they were readily allowed to enter to amuse the company. The Spartan officers, who were no longer frugal and temperate as of old, were so heavy and stupid with wine, that the supposed dancing girls easily killed them.

One version of the story is that Pelopidas and his companions rushed out into the street with lighted torches, and slew every Spartan they met. The Spartan soldiers, deprived of most of their officers (who had been killed in the banquet hall), and greatly frightened, fled in the darkness from what they fancied was a large army, and returned in haste to Sparta.



Contents

Front Matter
Review

Early Inhabitants of Greece
The Deluge of Ogyges
Founding of Important Cities
Story of Deucalion
Daedalus and Icarus
The Adventures of Jason
Theseus Visits the Labyrinth
The Terrible Prophecy
The Sphinx's Riddle
Death of Oedipus
The Brothers' Quarrel
The Taking of Thebes
The Childhood of Paris
Muster of the Troops
Sacrifice of Iphigenia
The Wrath of Achilles
Death of Hector and Achilles
The Burning of Troy
Heroic Death of Codrus
The Blind Poet
The Rise of Sparta
The Spartan Training
The Brave Spartan Boy
Public Tables in Sparta
Laws of Lycurgus
The Messenian War
The Music of Tyrtaeus
Aristomenes' Escape
The Olympic Games
Milo of Croton
The Jealous Athlete
The Girls' Games
The Bloody Laws of Draco
The Laws of Solon
The First Plays
The Tyrant Pisistratus
The Tyrant's Insult
Death of the Conspirators
Hippias Driven out of Athens
The Great King
Hippias Visits Darius
Destruction of the Persian Host
Advance of the Second Host
The Battle of Marathon
Miltiades' Disgrace
Aristides the Just
Two Noble Spartan Youths
The Great Army
Preparations for Defense
Leonidas at Thermopylae
Death of Leonidas
The Burning of Athens
Battles of Salamis and Plataea
The Rebuilding of Athens
Death of Pausanias
Cimon Improves Athens
The Earthquake
The Age of Pericles
Teachings of Anaxagoras
Peloponnesian War Begins
Death of Pericles
The Philosopher Socrates
Socrates' Favorite Pupil
Youth of Alcibiades
Greek Colonies in Italy
Alcibiades in Disgrace
Death of Alcibiades
Overthrow of Thirty Tyrants
Accusation of Socrates
Death of Socrates
The Defeat of Cyrus
Retreat of the Ten Thousand
Agesilaus in Asia
A Strange Interview
The Peace of Antalcidas
The Theban Friends
Thebes Free Once More
The Battle of Leuctra
Death of Pelopidas
The Battle of Mantinea
The Tyrant of Syracuse
Damon and Pythias
The Sword of Damocles
Dion and Dionysius
Civil War in Syracuse
Death of Dion
Philip of Macedon
Philip Begins His Conquests
The Orator Demosthenes
Philip Masters Greece
Birth of Alexander
The Steed Bucephalus
Alexander as King
Alexander and Diogenes
Alexander's Beginning
The Gordian Knot
Alexander's Royal Captives
Alexander at Jerusalem
The African Desert
Death of Darius
Defeat of Porus
Return to Babylon
Death of Alexander
Division of the Realm
Death of Demosthenes
Last of the Athenians
The Colossus of Rhodes
The Battle of Ipsus
Demetrius and the Athenians
The Achaean League
Division in Sparta
Death of Agis
War of the Two Leagues
The Last of the Greeks
Greece a Roman Province