Boeotian War

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The Boeotian or Theban War broke out in 378 BCE as the result of a revolt in Thebes against Sparta. The war would last six years.[1]

Outbreak of the War

Hoplite Shields

In 378 BCE a revolt in Thebes led to the assassination of the ruling three-man junta and the expulsion of the Spartan garrison.[2] An expedition against Thebes was mounted, led by Cleombrotus. It achieved little but left a garrison in Thespiae under Sphodrias.[3] That winter Sphodrias attempted a raid on Piraeus which ended in fiasco.[4] Sphodrias had not acted under orders and was brought to trial. However, he was acquitted, which led Athens to declare for Thebes as well,[5]

The War

Two expeditions against Thebes led by King Agesilaus achieved little.[6] Mark Munn argues that it is likely that the Dema wall was built at this time to defend Attica.[7] An expedition in 376 BCE led by King Cleombrotus was blocked at the passes of Cithaeron.[8] Sparta then sent a fleet in and attempted to blockade Athens.[9] The result was the defeat of the Spartan fleet at the Battle of Naxos at the hands of a predominately Athenian fleet commanded by Chabrias in 376 BCE.[10] In 375 BCE Athens mounted two successful expeditions - one to the north Aegean under Chabrias and a second round the Peloponnese to western Greece under Timotheos, son of Conon, who won the battle of Alyzeia in Acarnania.[11]

Ancient Boeotia

In 375 BCE there was a renewal of the King's Peace, but this lasted but a few months.[12] The capture of Plataea by the Thebans put the Theban-Athenian under strain,[13] as the Plataeans were expelled from their city and found asylum in Athens, where they were a strong voice against Thebes.[14] Though the alliance held, Athens insisted on negotiations with Sparta.[15] A peace treaty was agreed but things went seriously awry at the signing - Epaminondas insisted that he should sign for the Boeotians as a whole rather than just Thebes, at which the Spartan king Agesilaus struck the name of Thebes off the list of signatories.[16]

After the peace

Most of Greece implemented the treaty which meant that Thebes faced the Spartan expedition against her alone. However the resulting battle at Leuktra would be a decisive Spartan defeat and usher the era of Theban hegemony.[17]

Notes

  1. The Historians' History of the World, vol. 4, p. 140
  2. Kennell (2010), p. 139
  3. Kennell (2010), p. 140
  4. Kennell (2010), p. 140
  5. The Historians' History of the World, vol. 4, p. 140
  6. The Historians' History of the World, vol. 4, p. 142
  7. Mark H. Munn, The Defense of Attica: The Dema Wall and the Boiotian War of 378-375 BC (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1993)
  8. The Historians' History of the World, vol. 4, p. 142
  9. The Historians' History of the World, vol. 4, pp. 142-143
  10. Agesilaos, P Cartledge p. 377
  11. Agesilaos, P Cartledge p377
  12. Kennell (2010), p. 142
  13. Kennell (2010), p. 142
  14. The history of ancient Greece: its colonies and conquests, from the earliest, By John Gillies p 323
  15. Kennell (2010), p. 142
  16. Kennell (2010), pp. 142-143
  17. Kennell (2010), pp. 143-145

Sources

  • Nigel Kennell, Spartans, a new history, 2010
  • Henry Smith Williams (Ed.) The Historians' History of the World, vol 4