A Smaller History of Greece
From The Earliest Times To The Roman Conquest
By William Smith D.C.L., LL.D.
THE SUPREMACY OF SPARTA, B.C. 404-371.
After the fall of Athens, Sparta stood without a rival in Greece. In the various cities which had belonged to the Athenian empire Lysander established an oligarchical Council of Ten, called a DECARCHY or Decemvirate, subject to the control of a Spartan HARMOST or governor. The Decarchies, however, remained only a short time in power, since the Spartan government regarded them with jealousy as the partisans of Lysander; but harmosts continued to be placed in every state subject to their empire. The government of the harmosts was corrupt and oppressive; no justice could be obtained against them by an appeal to the Spartan authorities at home; and the Grecian cities soon had cause to regret the milder and more equitable sway of Athens.
On the death of Agis in B.C. 398, his half-brother Agesilaus was appointed King, to the exclusion of Leotychides, the son of Agis. This was mainly effected by the powerful influence of Lysander, who erroneously considered Agesilaus to be of a yielding and manageable disposition and hoped by a skilful use of those qualities to extend his own influence, and under the name of another to be in reality king himself.
Agesilaus was now forty years of age, and esteemed a model of those virtues more peculiarly deemed Spartan. He was obedient to the constituted authorities, emulous to excel, courageous, energetic, capable of bearing all sorts of hardship and fatigue, simple and frugal in his mode of life. To these severer qualities he added the popular attractions of an agreeable countenance and pleasing address. His personal defects at first stood in the way of his promotion. He was not only low in stature, but also lame of one leg; and there was an ancient oracle which warned the Spartans to beware of "a lame reign." The ingenuity of Lysander, assisted probably by the popular qualities of Agesilaus, contrived to overcome this objection by interpreting a lame reign to mean not any bodily defect in the king, but the reign of one who was not a genuine descendant of Hercules. Once possessed of power, Agesilaus supplied any defect in his title by the prudence and policy of his conduct; and, by the marked deference which he paid both to the Ephors and the senators, he succeeded in gaining for himself more real power than had been enjoyed by any of his predecessors.
The affairs of Asia Minor soon began to draw the attention of Agesilaus to that quarter. The assistance lent to Cyrus by the Spartans was no secret at the Persian court; and Tissaphernes, who had been rewarded for his fidelity with the satrapy of Cyrus in addition to his own, no sooner returned to his government than he attacked the Ionian cities, then under the protection of Sparta. A considerable Lacedaemonian force under Thimbron was despatched to their assistance, and which, as related in the preceding chapter, was joined by the remnant of the Greeks who had served under Cyrus. Thimbron, however, proved so inefficient a commander, that he was superseded at the end of 399 or beginning of 398 B.C., and Dercyllidas appointed in his place. But though at first successful against Pharnabazus in AEolis, Dercyllidas was subsequently surprised in Caria in such an unfavourable position that he would have suffered severely but for the timidity of Tissaphernes, who was afraid to venture upon an action. Under these circumstances an armistice was agreed to for the purpose of treating for a peace (397 B.C.).
Pharnabazus availed himself of this armistice to make active preparations for a renewal of the war. He obtained large reinforcements of Persian troops, and began to organize a fleet in Phoenicia and Cilicia. This was intrusted to the Athenian admiral Conon, of whom we now first hear again after a lapse of seven years since his defeat at AEgospotami. After that disastrous battle Conon fled with nine triremes to Cyprus, where he was now living under the protection of Evagoras, prince of Salamis.
It was the news of these extensive preparations that induced Agesilaus, on the suggestion of Lysander, to volunteer his services against the Persians. He proposed to take with him only 30 full Spartan citizens, or peers, to act as a sort of council, together with 2000 Neodamodes, or enfranchised Helots, and 6000 hoplites of the allies. Lysander intended to be the leader of the 30 Spartans, and expected through them to be the virtual commander of the expedition of which Agesilaus was nominally the head.
Since the time of Agamemnon no Grecian king had led an army into Asia; and Agesilaus studiously availed himself of the prestige of that precedent in order to attract recruits to his standard. The Spartan kings claimed to inherit the sceptre of Agamemnon; and to render the parallel more complete, Agesilaus proceeded with a division of his fleet to Aulis, intending there to imitate the memorable sacrifice of the Homeric hero. But as he had neglected to ask the permission of the Thebans, and conducted the sacrifice and solemnities by means of his own prophets and ministers, and in a manner at variance with the usual rites of the temple, the Thebans were offended, and expelled him by armed force:--an insult which he never forgave.
It was in 396 B.C. that Agesilaus arrived at Ephesus and took the command in Asia. He demanded of the Persians the complete independence of the Greek cities in Asia; and in order that there might be time to communicate with the Persian court, the armistice was renewed for three months. During this interval of repose, Lysander, by his arrogance and pretensions, offended both Agesilaus and the Thirty Spartans. Agesilaus, determined to uphold his dignity, subjected Lysander to so many humiliations that he was at last fain to request his dismissal from Ephesus, and was accordingly sent to the Hellespont, where he did good service to the Spartan interests.
Meanwhile Tissaphernes, having received large reinforcements, sent a message to Agesilaus before the armistice had expired, ordering him to quit Asia. Agesilaus immediately made preparations as if he would attack Tissaphernes in Caria; but having thus put the enemy on a false scent, he suddenly turned northwards into Phrygia, the satrapy of Pharnabazus, and marched without opposition to the neighbourhood of Dascylium, the residence of the satrap himself. Here, however, he was repulsed by the Persian cavalry. He now proceeded into winter quarters at Ephesus, where be employed himself in organizing a body of cavalry to compete with the Persians. During the winter the army was brought into excellent condition; and Agesilaus gave out early in the spring of 395 B.C. that he should march direct upon Sardis. Tissaphernes suspecting another feint, now dispersed his cavalry in the plain of the Maeander. But this time Agesilaus marched as he had announced, and in three days arrived unopposed on the banks of the Pactolus, before the Persian cavalry could be recalled. When they at last came up, the newly raised Grecian horse, assisted by the peltasts, and some of the younger and more active hoplites, soon succeeded in putting them to flight. Many of the Persians were drowned in the Pactolus, and their camp, containing much booty and several camels, was taken.
Agesilaus now pushed his ravages up to the very gates of Sardis, the residence of Tissaphernes. But the career of that timid and treacherous satrap was drawing to a close. The queen-mother, Parysatis, who had succeeded in regaining her influence over Artaxerxes, caused an order to be sent down from Susa for his execution; in pursuance of which he was seized in a bath at Colossae, and beheaded. Tithraustes, who had been intrusted with the execution of this order, succeeded Tissaphernes in the satrapy, and immediately reopened negotiations with Agesilaus. An armistice of six months was concluded; and meanwhile Tithraustes, by a subsidy of 30 talents, induced Agesilaus to move out of his satrapy into that of Pharnabazus.
During this march into Phrygia Agesilaus received a new commission from home, appointing him the head of the naval as well as of the land force--two commands never before united in a single Spartan. He named his brother-in-law, Pisander, commander of the fleet. But in the following year (B.C. 394), whilst he was preparing an expedition on a grand scale into the interior of Asia Minor, he was suddenly recalled home to avert the dangers which threatened his native country.
The jealousy and ill-will with which the newly acquired empire of the Spartans was regarded by the other Grecian states had not escaped the notice of the Persians; and when Tithraustes succeeded to the satrapy of Tissaphernes he resolved to avail himself of this feeling by exciting a war against Sparta in the heart of Greece itself. With this view he despatched one Timocrates, a Rhodian, to the leading Grecian cities which appeared hostile to Sparta, carrying with him a sum of 50 talents to be distributed among the chief men in each for the purpose of bringing them over to the views of Persia. Timocrates was successful in Thebes, Corinth, and Argos but he appears not to have visited Athens.
Hostilities were at first confined to Sparta and Thebes. A quarrel having arisen between the Opuntian Locrians and the Phocians respecting a strip of border land, the former people appealed to the Thebans, who invaded Phocis. The Phocians on their side invoked the aid of the Lacedaemonians, who, elated with the prosperous state of their affairs in Asia, and moreover desirous of avenging the affronts they had received from the Thebans, readily listened to the appeal. Lysander, who took an active part in promoting the war, was directed to attack the town of Haliartus; and it was arranged that King Pausanias should join him on a fixed day under the walls of that town, with the main body of the Lacedaemonians and their Peloponnesian allies.
Nothing could more strikingly denote the altered state of feeling in Greece than the request for assistance which the Thebans, thus menaced, made to their ancient enemies and rivals the Athenians. Nor were the Athenians backward in responding to the appeal. Lysander arrived at Haliartus before Pausanias. Here, in a sally made by the citizens, opportunely supported by the unexpected arrival of a body of Thebans, the army of Lysander was routed, and himself slain. His troops disbanded and dispersed themselves in the night time. Thus, when Pausanias at last came up, he found no army to unite with; and as an imposing Athenian force had arrived, he now, with the advice of his council took the humiliating step--always deemed a confession of inferiority--of requesting a truce in order to bury the dead who had fallen in the preceding battle. Even this, however, the Thebans would not grant except on the condition that the Lacedaemonians should immediately quit their territory. With these terms Pausanias was forced to comply; and after duly interring the bodies of Lysander and his fallen comrades, the Lacedaemonians dejectedly pursued their homeward march. Pausanias, afraid to face the public indignation of the Spartans took refuge in the temple of Athena Alea at Tegea; and being condemned to death in his absence, only escaped that fate by remaining in the sanctuary. He was succeeded by his son Agesipolis.
The enemies of Sparta took fresh courage from this disaster to her arms. Athens, Corinth, and Argos now formed with Thebes a solemn alliance against her. The league was soon joined by the Euboeans, the Acarnanians, and other Grecian states. In the spring of 394 B.C. the allies assembled at Corinth, and the war, which had been hitherto regarded as merely Boeotian, was now called the CORINTHIAN, by which name it is known in history. This threatening aspect of affairs determined the Ephors to recall Agesilaus, as already related.
The allies were soon in a condition to take the field with a force of 24,000 hoplites, of whom one-fourth were Athenians, together with a considerable body of light troops and cavalry. The Lacedaemonians had also made the most active preparations. In the neighbourhood of Corinth a battle was fought, in which the Lacedaemonians gained the victory, though their allied troops were put to the rout. This battle, called the battle of Corinth, was fought in July 394 B.C.
Agesilaus, who had relinquished with a heavy heart his projected expedition into Asia, was now on his homeward march. By the promise of rewards he had persuaded the bravest and most efficient soldiers in his army to accompany him, amongst whom were many of the Ten Thousand, with Xenophon at their head. The route of Agesilaus was much the same as the one formerly traversed by Xerxes, and the camels which accompanied the army gave it somewhat of an oriental aspect. At Amphipolis he received the news of the victory at Corinth; but his heart was so full of schemes against Persia, that the feeling which it awakened in his bosom was rather one of regret that so many Greeks had fallen, whose united efforts might have emancipated Asia Minor, than of joy at the success of his countrymen. Having forced his way through a desultory opposition offered by the Thessalian cavalry, he crossed Mount Othrys, and marched unopposed the rest of the way through the straits of Thermopylae to the frontiers of Phocis and Boeotia. Here the evil tidings reached him of the defeat and death of his brother-in-law, Pisander, in a great sea-fight off Cnidus in Caria (August 394 B.C.) Conon, with the assistance of Pharnabazus, had succeeded in raising a powerful fleet, partly Phoenician and partly Grecian, with which he either destroyed or captured more than half of the Lacedaemonian fleet. Agesilaus, fearing the impression which such sad news might produce upon his men, gave out that the Lacedaemonian fleet had gained a victory; and, having offered sacrifice as if for a victory, he ordered an advance.
Agesilaus soon came up with the confederate army, which had prepared to oppose him in the plain of Coronea. The Thebans succeeded in driving in the Orchomenians, who formed the left wing of the army of Agesilaus, and penetrated as far as the baggage in the rear. But on the remainder of the line Agesilaus was victorious, and the Thebans now saw themselves cut off from their companions, who had retreated and taken up a position on Mount Helicon. Facing about and forming in deep and compact order, the Thebans sought to rejoin the main body, but they were opposed by Agesilaus and his troops. The shock of the conflicting masses which ensued was one of the most terrible recorded in the annals of Grecian warfare. The shields of the foremost ranks were shattered, and their spears broken, so that daggers became the only available arm. Agesilaus, who was in the front ranks, unequal by his size and strength to sustain so furious an onset, was flung down, trodden on, and covered with wounds; but the devoted courage of the 50 Spartans forming his body-guard rescued him from death. The Thebans finally forced their may through, but not without severe loss. The victory of Agesilaus was not very decisive; but the Thebans tacitly acknowledged their defeat by soliciting the customary truce for the burial of their dead.
Agesilaus, on his arrival at Sparta, was received with the most lively demonstrations of gratitude and esteem, and became hence- forward the sole director of Spartan policy.
Thus in less than two months the Lacedaemonians had fought two battles on land, and one at sea; namely, those of Corinth, Coronea, and Cnidus. But, though they had been victorious in the land engagements, they were so little decisive as to lead to no important result; whilst their defeat at Cnidus produced the most disastrous consequences. It was followed by the loss of nearly all their maritime empire, even faster than they had acquired it after the battle of AEgospotami. For as Conon and Pharnabazus sailed with their victorious fleet from island to island, and from port to port, their approach was everywhere the signal for the flight or expulsion of the Spartan harmosts.
In the spring of the following year (B.C. 393) Conon and Pharnabazus sailed to the isthmus of Corinth, then occupied as a central post by the allies. The appearance of a Persian fleet in the Saronic gulf was a strange sight to Grecian eyes, and one which might have served as a severe comment on the effect of their suicidal wars. Conon dexterously availed himself of the hatred of Pharnabazus towards Sparta to procure a boon for his native city. As the satrap was on the point of proceeding homewards, Conon obtained leave to employ the seamen in rebuilding the fortifications of Piraeus and the long walls of Athens. Pharnabazus also granted a large sum for the same purpose; and Conon had thus the glory of appearing, like a second Themistocles, the deliverer and restorer of his country. Before the end of autumn the walls were rebuilt. Having thus, as it were, founded Athens a second time, Conon sailed to the islands to lay again the foundations of an Athenian maritime empire.
During the remainder of this and the whole of the following year (B.C. 392) the war was carried on in the Corinthian territory.
One of the most important events at this time was the destruction of a whole Lacedaemonian MORA, or battalion, by the light-armed mercenaries of the Athenian Iphicrates. For the preceding two years Iphicrates had commanded a body of mercenaries, consisting of peltasts, [So called from the pelta, or kind of shield which they carried.] who had been first organised by Conon after rebuilding the walls of Athens. For this force Iphicrates introduced those improved arms and tactics which form an epoch in the Grecian art of war. His object was to combine as far as possible the peculiar advantages of the hoplites and light-armed troops. He substituted a linen corslet for the coat of mail worn by the hoplites, and lessened the shield, while he rendered the light javelin and short sword of the peltasts more effective by lengthening them both one-half These troops soon proved very effective. After gaining several victories he ventured to make a sally from Corinth, and attacked a Lacedaemonian mora in flank and rear. So many fell under the darts and arrows of the peltasts that the Lacedaemonian captain called a halt, and ordered the youngest and most active of his hoplites to rush forward and drive off the assailants. But their heavy arms rendered them quite unequal to such a mode of fighting; nor did the Lacedaemonian cavalry, which now came up, but which acted with very little vigour and courage, produce any better effect. At length the Lacedaemonians succeeded in reaching an eminence, where they endeavoured to make a stand; but at this moment Callias arrived with some Athenian hoplites from Corinth, whereupon the already disheartened Lacedaemonians broke and fled in confusion, pursued by the peltasts, who committed such havoc, chasing and killing some of them even in the sea, that but very few of the whole body succeeded in effecting their escape.
The maritime war was prosecuted with vigour. Thrasybulus, and after his death Iphicrates, were successful upon the coast of Asia Minor, and made the Athenians again masters of the Hellespont. Under these circumstances the Lacedaemonians resolved to spare no efforts to regain the good will of the Persians. Antalcidas, the Lacedaemonian commander on the Asiatic coast, entered into negotiations with Tiribazus, who had succeeded Tithraustes in the satrapy of Ionia, in order to bring about a general peace under the mediation of Persia. Conducted by Tiribazus, Antalcidas repaired to the Persian court, and prevailed an the Persian monarch both to adopt the peace, and to declare war against those who should reject it. Antalcidas and Tiribazus returned to the coasts of Asia Minor, not only armed with these powers, but provided with an ample force to carry them into execution. In addition to the entire fleet of Persia, Dionysius of Syracuse had placed 20 triremes at the service of the Lacedaemonians; and Antalcidas now sailed with a large fleet to the Hellespont, where Iphicrates and the Athenians were still predominant. The overwhelming force of Antalcidas, the largest that had been seen in the Hellespont since the battle of AEgospotami, rendered all resistance hopeless. The supplies of corn from the Euxine no longer found their way to Athens: and the Athenians, depressed at once both by what they felt and by what they anticipated, began to long for peace. As without the assistance of Athens it seemed hopeless for the other allies to struggle against Sparta, all Greece was inclined to listen to an accommodation.
Under these circumstances deputies from the Grecian states were summoned to meet Tiribazus; who, after exhibiting to them the royal seal of Persia, read to them the following terms of a peace: "King Artaxerxes thinks it just that the cities in Asia and the islands of Clazomenae and Cyprus should belong to him. He also thinks it just to leave all the other Grecian cities, both small and great, independent--except Lemnos, Imbros, and Scyros, which are to belong to Athens, as of old. should any parties refuse to accept this peace, I will make war upon them, along with those who are of the same mind, both by land and sea, with ships and with money." All the Grecian states accepted these terms.
This disgraceful peace, called the PEACE OF ANTALCIDAS, was concluded in the year B.C. 387. By it Greece seemed prostrated at the feet of the barbarians; for its very terms, engraven on stone and set up in the sanctuaries of Greece, recognised the Persian king as the arbiter of her destinies. Although Athens cannot be entirely exonerated from the blame of this transaction, the chief guilt rests upon Sparta, whose designs were far deeper and more hypocritical than they appeared. Under the specious pretext of securing the independence of the Grecian cities, her only object was to break up the confederacies under Athens and Thebes, and, with the assistance of Persia, to pave the way for her own absolute dominion in Greece.
No sooner was the peace of Antalcidas concluded than Sparta, directed by Agesilaus, the ever-active enemy of Thebes, exerted all her power to weaken that city. She began by proclaiming the independence of the various Boeotian cities, and by organizing in each a local oligarchy, adverse to Thebes and favourable to herself. Lacedaemonian garrisons were placed in Orchomenus and Thespiae, and Plataea was restored in order to annoy and weaken Thebes. Shortly afterwards the Lacedaemonians obtained possession of Thebes itself by an act of shameful treachery. They had declared war against Olynthus, a town situated at the head of the Toronaic gulf, in the peninsula of the Macedonian Chalcidice, the head of a powerful confederation which included several of the adjacent Grecian cities. The Thebans had entered into an alliance with Olynthus, and had forbidden any of their citizens to join the Lacedaemonian army destined to act against it; but they were not strong enough to prevent its marching through their territory. Phoebidas, who was conducting a Lacedaemonian force against Olynthus, halted on his way through Boeotia not far from Thebes; where he was visited by Leontiades, one of the polemarchs of the city, and two or three other leaders of the Lacedaemonian party in Thebes. It happened that the festival of the Thesmophoria was on the point of being celebrated, during which the Cadmea, or Theban Acropolis, was given up for the exclusive use of the women. The opportunity seemed favourable for a surprise; and Leontiades and Phoebidas concerted a plot to seize it. Whilst the festival was celebrating, Phoebidas pretended to resume his march, but only made a circuit round the city walls; whilst Leontiades, stealing out of the senate, mounted his horse, and, joining the Lacedaemonian troops, conducted them towards the Cadmea. It was a sultry summer's afternoon, so that the very streets were deserted; and Phoebidas, without encountering any opposition, seized the citadel and all the women in it, to serve as hostages for the quiet submission of the Thebans (B.C. 382). This treacherous act during a period of profound peace awakened the liveliest indignation throughout Greece. Sparta herself could not venture to justify it openly, and Phoebidas was made the scape-goat of her affected displeasure. As a sort of atonement to the violated feeling of Greece, he was censured, fined, and dismissed. But that this was a mere farce is evident from the fact, of his subsequent restoration to command; and, however indignant the Lacedaemonians affected to appear at the act of Phoebidas, they took care to reap the fruits of it by retaining their garrison in the Cadmea.
The once haughty Thebes was now enrolled a member of the Lacedaemonian alliance, and furnished her contingent--the grateful offering of the new Theban government--for the war which Sparta was prosecuting with redoubled vigour against Olynthus. This city was taken by the Lacedaemonians in B.C. 379; the Olynthian confederacy was dissolved; the Grecian cities belonging to it were compelled to join the Lacedaemonian alliance; whilst the maritime towns of Macedonia were reduced under the dominion of Amyntas, the king of Macedon.
The power of Sparta on land had now attained its greatest height. Her unpopularity in Greece was commensurate with the extent of her harshly administered dominion. She was leagued on all slides with the enemies of Grecian freedom--with the Persians, with Amyntas of Macedon, and with Dionysius of Syracuse. But she had now reached the turning-point of her fortunes, and her successes, which had been earned without scruple, were soon to be followed by misfortunes and disgrace. The first blow came from Thebes, where she had perpetrated her most signal injustice.
That city had been for three years in the hands of Leontiades and the Spartan party. During this time great discontent had grown up among the resident citizens; and there was also the party of exasperated exiles, who had taken refuge at Athens. Among these exiles was Pelopidas, a young man of birth and fortune, who had already distinguished himself by his disinterested patriotism and ardent character. He now took the lead in the plans formed the the liberation of his country, and was the heart and soul of the enterprise. His warm and generous heart was irresistibly attracted by everything great and noble; and hence he was led to form a close and intimate friendship with Epaminondas, who was several years older than himself and of a still loftier character. Their friendship is said to have originated in a campaign in which they served together, when, Pelopidas having fallen in battle apparently dead, Epaminondas protected his body at the imminent risk of his own life. Pelopidas afterwards endeavoured to persuade Epaminondas to share his riches with him; and when he did not succeed, he resolved to live on the same frugal fare as his great friend. A secret correspondence was opened with his friends at Thebes, the chief of whom were Phyllidas, secretary to the polemarchs, and Charon. The dominant faction, besides the advantage of the actual possession of power, was supported by a garrison of 1500 Lacedaemonians. The enterprise, therefore, was one of considerable difficulty and danger. In the execution of it Phyllidas took a leading part. It was arranged that he should give a supper to Archias and Philippus, the two polemarchs, and after they had partaken freely of wine the conspirators were to be introduced, disguised as women, and to complete their work by the assassination of the polemarchs. On the day before the banquet, Pelopidas, with six other exiles, arrived at Thebes from Athens, and, straggling through the gates towards dusk in the disguise of rustics and huntsmen, arrived safely at the house of Charon, where they remained concealed till the appointed hour. While the polemarchs were at table a messenger arrived from Athens with a letter for Archias, in which the whole plot was accurately detailed. The messenger, in accordance with his instructions, informed Archias that the letter related to matters of serious importance. But the polemarch, completely engrossed by the pleasures of the table, thrust the letter under the pillow of his couch, exclaiming, "Serious matters to-morrow."
The hour of their fate was now ripe. The conspirators, disguised with veils, and in the ample folds of female attire, were ushered into the room. For men in the state of the revelers the deception was complete; but when they attempted to lift the veils from the women, their passion was rewarded by the mortal thrust of a dagger. After thus slaying the two polemarchs, the conspirators went to the house of Leontiades whom they also despatched.
The news of the revolution soon spread abroad. Proclamations were issued announcing that Thebes was free, and calling upon all citizens who valued their liberty to muster in the market-place. As soon as day dawned, and the citizens became aware that they were summoned to vindicate their liberty, their joy and enthusiasm were unbounded. For the first time since the seizure of their citadel they met in public assembly; the conspirators, being introduced, were crowned by the priests with wreaths, and thanked in the name of their country's gods; whilst the assembly, with grateful acclamation, unanimously nominated Pelopidas, Charon, and Mellon as the first restored Boeotarchs.
Meanwhile the remainder of the Theban exiles, accompanied by a body of Athenian volunteers, assembled on the frontiers of Boeotia; and, at the first news of the success of the conspiracy, hastened to Thebes to complete the revolution. The Thebans, under their new Boeotarchs, were already mounting to the assault of the Cadmea, when the Lacedaemonians capitulated, and were allowed to march out with the honours of war. The Athenians formed an alliance with the Thebans, and declared war against Sparta.
From this time must be dated the era of a new political combination in Greece. Athens strained every nerve to organize a fresh confederacy. Thebes did not scruple to enrol herself as one of its earliest members. The basis on which the confederacy was formed closely resembled that of Delos. The cities composing it were to be independent, and to send deputies to a congress at Athens, for the purpose of raising a common fund for the support of a naval force. Care was taken to banish all recollections connected with the former unpopularity of the Athenian empire. The name of the tribute was no longer PHOROS, but SYNTAXIS, or "contribution." The confederacy, which ultimately numbered 70 cities, was chiefly organised through the exertions of Chabrias, and of Timotheus the son of Conon. Nor were the Thebans less zealous, amongst whom the Spartan government had left a lively feeling of antipathy. The military force was put in the best training, and the famous "Sacred Band" was now for the first time instituted. This band was a regiment of 300 hoplites. It was supported at the public expense and kept constantly under arms. It was composed of young and chosen citizens of the best families, and organized in such a manner that each man had at his side a dear and intimate friend. Its special duty was the defence of the Cadmea.
The Thebans had always been excellent soldiers; but their good fortune now gave them the greatest general that Greece had hitherto seen. Epaminondas, who now appears conspicuously in public life, deserves the reputation not merely of a Theban but of a Grecian hero. Sprung from a poor but ancient family, Epaminondas possessed all the best qualities of his nation without that heaviness, either of body or of mind, which characterized and deteriorated the Theban people. By the study of philosophy and by other intellectual pursuits his mind was enlarged beyond the sphere of vulgar superstition, and emancipated from that timorous interpretation of nature which caused even some of the leading men of those days to behold a portent in the most ordinary phenomenon. A still rarer accomplishment for a Theban was that of eloquence, which he possessed in no ordinary degree. These intellectual qualities were matched with moral virtues worthy to consort with them. Though eloquent, he was discreet; though poor, he was neither avaricious nor corrupt; though naturally firm and courageous, he was averse to cruelty, violence, and bloodshed; though a patriot, he was a stranger to personal ambition, and scorned the little arts by which popularity is too often courted. Pelopidas, as we have already said, was his bosom friend. It was natural therefore, that, when Pelopidas was named Boeotarch, Epaminondas should be prominently employed in organizing the means of war; but it was not till some years later that his military genius shone forth in its full lustre.
The Spartans were resolved to avenge the repulse they had received; and in the summer of B.C. 378 Agesilaus marched with a large army into Boeotia. He was unable, however, to effect any thing decisive, and subsequent invasions were attended with the like result. The Athenians created a diversion in their favour by a maritime war, and thus for two years Boeotia was free from Spartan invasion, Thebes employed this time in extending her dominion over the neighbouring cities. One of her most important successes during this period was the victory gained by Pelopidas over a Lacedaemonian force near Tegyra, a village dependent upon Orchomenus (B.C. 375). Pelopidas had with him only the Sacred Band and a small body of cavalry when he fell in with the Lacedaemonians, who were nearly twice as numerous. He did not, however, shrink from the conflict on this account; and when one of his men, running up to him, exclaimed, "We are fallen into the midst of the enemy," he replied, "Why so, more than they into the midst of us?" In the battle which ensued the two Spartan commanders fell at the first charge, and their men were put to the rout. So signal a victory inspired the Thebans with new confidence and vigour, as it showed that Sparta was not invincible even in a pitched battle, and with the advantage of numbers on her side. By the year 374 B.C. the Thebans had succeeded in expelling the Lacedaemonians from Boeotia, and revived the Boeotian confederacy. They also destroyed the restored city of Plataea, and obliged its inhabitants once more to seek refuge at Athens.
The successes of the Thebans revived the jealousy and distrust of Athens. Prompted by these feelings, the Athenians opened negotiations for a peace with Sparta; a resolution which was also adopted by the majority of the allies.
A congress was accordingly opened in Sparta in the spring of 371 B.C. The Athenians were represented by Callias and two other envoys; the Thebans by Epaminondas, then one of the polemarchs. The terms of a peace were agreed upon, by which the independence of the various Grecian cities was to be recognised; and the Spartan harmosts and garrisons everywhere dismissed. Sparta ratified the treaty for herself and her allies; but Athens took the oaths only for herself, and was followed separately by her allies. As Epaminondas refused to sign except in the name of the Boeotian confederation, Agesilaus directed the name of the Thebans to be struck out of the treaty, and proclaimed them excluded from it.
The peace concluded between Sparta, Athens, and their respective allies, was called the PEACE OF CALLIAS. The result with regard to Thebes and Sparta will appear in the following chapter.