PELOPIDAS, son of Hippoklas
Pelopidas, son of Hippoklas, was a descendant of a wealthy and aristocratic family in Thebes of Boeotia. His life is recounted by Plutarch, and there are extensive references to him in Xenophon's Hellenika and in Diodorus Siculus. He inherited his family's wealth as a young man, and spent the rest of his life giving it away to the poor. He tried to enrich his relative and dearest friend, Epaminondas, whose side of the family was poor, but Epaminondas always refused and preferred to live in genteel poverty for the sake of virtue. Pelopidas had a wife, and two children.

Pelopidas' life was saved by his friend Epaminondas during the Battle of Mantinea. " . . . Many indeed think this strict and entire affection is to be dated from the battle of Mantinea, where they both fought, being part of the assistance that was sent from Thebes to the Lacedaemonians, their then friends and allies. For, being placed together among the infantry, and engaging the Arcadians, when the Lacedaemonian wing, in which they fought, gave ground, and many fled, they closed their shields together and sesisted the assailants. Pelopidas, having received seven wounds in the forepart of his body, fell upon a heap of slain friends and enemies; but Epaminondas, though he thought him past recovery, advanced to defend his arms and body, and singly fought a multitude, resolving rather to die than forsake his helpless Pelopidas. And now, he being much distressed, being wounded in the chest by a spear, and in the arm by a sword, Agesipolis, the King of the Spartans, came to his aid from the other wing, and, beyond hope, delivered them both." (Plutarch Pelopidas 4).

Pelopidas fled from Thebes after the seizure of the Cadmeia (the citadel of Thebes) by Phoibidas the Spartan, who installed an oligarchic government and a Spartan garrison. (Plutarch Pelopidas 5-6) Phoibidas was repudiated by Sparta, but the garrison stayed. Democrats and anti-Spartans fled into exile (Xenophon Hellenika V. 2).

Pelopidas returned to Thebes with the other democrats, from Athens, in the pre-dawn coup which freed the Cadmeia by negotiation with the Spartan commander. Pelopidas was elected polemarch (one of the chief Theban magistrates, the 'war-leader). (Plutarch Pelopidas 5)
378 ff.
Pelopidas elected Boeotarch (chief magistrate of the Boeotian League) for the first time. He held the office thirteen times in his life, dying in office in 364.
375 Battle of Tegyra: Pelopidas was leader of the "Sacred Band" (300 pair of lovers).

Battle of Leuctra. Pelopidas again leader of the Sacred Band, under the general command of his lover Epaminondas in the struggle against the Spartan invasion (Plutarch Pelopidas 16; Xenophon Hellenika VI. 4).
370/69 Put on trial for staying in office beyond the end of his year, Pelopidas is aquitted.

At Larisa, while working for the Thessalian cities against the tyranny of Alexander of Pherae (son and successor of Jason of Pherae, the tyrant, who died ca. 370). He became involved as an arbitrator in Macedonian affairs. He settled the difficulties between King Alexander II and Ptolemy, and took thirty hostages to Thebes, including the young Philip (the king's brother). Philip became King of Macedonia in 359, and the father of Alexander III in 356. (Plutarch Pelopidas 26.)
368/67 Involved in affairs with Alexander of Pherae.

Pelopidas sent as ambassador from Thebes to the King of Persia at Susa; he was highly honored by Artaxerxes II (Plutarch Pelopidas 30: Xenophon VII. 1. 33).

Pelopidas, serving as Boeotarch, was killed in battle against the Thessalians and Alexander of Pherae (Plutarch Pelopidas 32.).

EPAMINONDAS, son of Polymnis
Epaminondas was the son of Polymnis; his family was aristocratic, but poor. He was educated in philosophy by the Pythagorean, Lysis of Tarentum, and in music and dance. He was said to be witty. He never married. (A Life of Epaminondas by Plutarch is lost; quotations of it, however, survive in Pausanias, Book IX).
383 Battle of Mantinea: Epaminondas helped save the life of Pelopidas, and became his lover.
Battle of Leuctra. Epaminondas was Boeotarch for the first time. At the peace negotiations he worked to keep Boeotia united by pressuring the individual cities not to sign separate treaties, but as a result Thebes was excluded from the treaty by the Spartans (King Agesilaus) and the Athenians.
370/69 He invaded the Peloponnesus and Sparta; he was put on trial in 369, but acquitted.
366/5 He struck treaties with Corinth and with Phlius. He built 100 triremes.
364 Expedition to Byzantium, Chios and Rhodes (an anti-Athenian effort).
Epaminondas sponsored the formation of an Arcadian League (anti-Spartan); the synoecism of Megalopolis; the alliance of Thebes with Tegea, Megalopolis, Messenia, and Argos (against Sparta, Athens, Elis and Achaea [Sicyon]).
362 Invasion of the Peloponnesus. Battle of Mantinea. Death of Epaminondas in the battle.

© 08/20/2003


January 23, 2010 10:51 PM

John Paul Adams, CSUN

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