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Thebes in Greece


Definition: Thebes has been a city in Boeotia, Greece from the early Bronze Age. The acropolis of Thebes is called the Cadmea after the legendary founder of Thebes, Cadmus. The legendary hero Hercules (Heracles) was born in Thebes. The relationship between Thebes and Athens varied over the years. At Thermopylae, during the Persian Wars, the people of Thebes were split in their alliances, some supporting the Greeks and others medizing. Thebes attacked Athens' ally Plataea thereby inciting the Peloponnesian War. At the end of the Peloponnesian War, Thebes' friendly relationship with Sparta deteriorated, and it supported Athens in the Corinthian War. Thebes achieved leadership of Greece briefly, after the Battle of Leuctra in 371 B.C. but lost power during the 3rd Sacred War and to Philip II of Macedonia [see Battle of Chaeronea]. Philip's son Alexander the Great destroyed the city, but his successor Cassander rebuilt the Cadmea it in 316. Thebes later suffered at the hands of the Romans.


John Boardman "Thebes (1)" The Oxford Classical Dictionary . Simon Hornblower and Anthony Spawforth. © Oxford University Press 1949, 1970, 1996, 2005.

Pausanias describes the seven gates of Thebes:
"[9.8.4] In the circuit of the ancient wall of Thebes were gates seven in number, and these remain to-day. One got its name, I learned, from Electra, the sister of Cadmus, and another, the Proetidian, from a native of Thebes. He was Proetus, but I found it difficult to discover his date and lineage. The Neistan gate, they say, got its name for the following reason. The last of the harp's strings they call nete, and Amphion invented it, they say, at this gate. I have also heard that the son of Zethus, the brother of Amphion, was named Neis, and that after him was this gate called."
Pausanias. Description of Greece. Translated by Jones, W. H. S. and Omerod, H. A. Loeb Classical Library Volumes. Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press; London, William Heinemann Ltd. 1918.

Diodorus Siculus describes the was of the Epigoni against Thebes:

Next: The Theban Stories

"[4.66.1] As for The Seven against Thebes, such, then, was the outcome of their campaign. But their sons, who were known as Epigoni, being intent upon avenging the death of their fathers, decided to make common cause in a campaign against Thebes, having received an oracle from Apollo that they should make war upon this city, and with Alcmaeon, the son of Amphiaraüs, as their supreme commander."
Diodorus Siculus. Library of History (Books III - VIII). Translated by Oldfather, C. H. Loeb Classical Library Volumes 303 and 340. Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press; London, William Heinemann Ltd. 1935.

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