There is something to be said for teaching everything to somebody, as compared with the modern notion of teaching nothing, and the same sort of nothing, to everybody. — G. K. Chesterton

Story of the Greeks - Helene Guerber




The Battle of Leuctra

The Thebans, delighted at having thus happily got rid of their enemies, had made Pelopidas and Epaminondas Bœotarchs, or chiefs of Bœotia, the country of which Thebes was the capital. These two men, knowing well that the Spartans would soon send an army to win back the city, now made great preparations to oppose them.

Epaminondas was made general of the army; and Pelopidas drilled a choice company, called the Sacred Battalion. This was formed of three hundred brave young Thebans, who took a solemn oath never to turn their backs upon the enemy or to surrender, and to die for their native country if necessary.

The Thebans then marched forth to meet their foes; and the two armies met at Leuctra, a small town in Bœotia. As usual, the Thebans had consulted the oracles to find out what they should do, and had been told that all the omens were unfavorable. Epaminondas, however, replied that he knew of none which forbade fighting for the defense of one's country, and he boldly ordered the attack.

The Spartans were greatly amused when they heard that Epaminondas, a student, was the commander of the army. And they expected to win a very easy victory. They were greatly surprised, therefore, when their onslaught was met firmly, and when, in spite of all their valor, they found themselves defeated, and heard that their leader, Cleombrotus, was dead.

The Thebans, of course, gloried in their triumph; but Epaminondas remained as modest and unassuming as ever, merely remarking that he was glad for his country's and parents' sake that he had been successful. To commemorate their good fortune, the Thebans erected a trophy on the battlefield of Leuctra, where their troops had covered themselves with glory.

The inhabitants of Sparta, who had counted confidently upon the victory, were dismayed when they saw only a few of their soldiers return from the battle, and heard that the Thebans were pursuing them closely. Before they could collect new troops, the enemy marched boldly down into Laconia; and the women of Sparta now beheld the smoke of the enemy's camp for the first time in many years. As there were neither walls nor fortifications of any kind, you can easily imagine that the inhabitants were in despair, and thought that their last hour had come.

If Epaminondas had been of a revengeful temper, he could easily have destroyed the city; but he was gentle and humane, and, remaining at a short distance from the place, he said that he would go away without doing the Spartans any harm, provided they would promise not to attack Thebes again, and to set the Messenians free.

These conditions were eagerly agreed to by the Spartans, who found themselves forced to take a secondary place once more. Athens had ruled Greece, and had been forced to yield to Sparta; but now Sparta was compelled in her turn to recognize the supremacy of Thebes.



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