Page 0594

594

UNIVERSAL BISTORY-THE ANCIENT WORLD.

resolved into the five villages of which it was originally composed. Over

each of these villages a petty oligarchy was established, and then the

Lacedaemonians retired to their own place.

Meanwhile, the city of Olynthus, at the head of the Toronaic gulf, in the

southernmost of the Chalcidician peninsulas, had become the center of a

formidable confederacy. Nearly all the towns in that region, with the

exception of Acanthus and Apollonia, had entered a league for the

maintenance of their independence. But the two Just named, being under

the influence of oligarchies, and threatened with war by the confederate

cities, appealed to Sparta for aid. Their ambassadors were supported by

Amyntas of Macedon, and the Lacedaemonians were not hard to convince of

the propriety of taking up arms against Olynthus. An army of ten thousand

was at once put into the field, and two thousand of these were hurried to

the North.

This advance force gained some advantages over the league, and Potidaea

was won over to Sparta. When the remainder of the Lacedaemonian army,

under the command of Phoebidas, was sent forward, it passed through

Boeotia, and by a singular act of treachery gained possession of Thebes.

The Thebans had joined the Olynthian alliance, and thus aggravated the

existing animosity of the Spartans, but the latter concealed their

purposes, and acting in conjunction with Leontiades, one of the Theban

polemarchs, laid a plan to overthrow the government. It happened that at

this time the festival of the Thesmophoria was celebrating in Thebes, and

that in accordance with the custom the Cadmea or citadel was given up to

the women. While the city was thus in a defenseless condition, Phoebidas,

pretending to continue his march, suddenly turned about, seized the

Cadmea, arrested and put to death Ismenias, the popular leader, and

compelled three hundred of his followers to fly for their lives.

The sequel of this audacious villainy was in keeping with the Spartan

character. With profound duplicity the Ephors, who had authorized the

act, now, in answer to the indignant voice of Greece, disavowed what

Phoebidas had done and imposed on him a fine for his conduct. Then they

restored him to his command, and were meanwhile careful to keep

possession of the Cadmea!

Thebes, thus overrun, was obliged to enter into a Spartan alliance, and

to furnish troops to assist in the prosecution of the Olynthian war. For

four years (B. C. 383-379) the conflict was continued. Agesipolis died

and was succeeded by Polybiades. The Spartans gradually gained on the

allies until the latter were broken up. Olynthus was besieged, and after

a long investment, was taken and dismantled. All the Macedonian towns

which had been in rebellion against Amyntas were restored to his

authority. The influence of the democratic states in the North, so

necessary as a counterpoise to the growing power of Macedon, was

destroyed, and the floodgates left open for the coming deluge.

For three years the city of Thebes remained in the hands of the Spartan

confederates. The leaders of the democracy were living in exile in

Athens. Chief among these was the wealthy young Pelopidas who had

already, by his virtues and abilities, acquired an ascendancy over the

minds of his countrymen. The leader in Thebes was the great Epaminondas,

between whom and Pelopidas the warmest ties grew up. On one occasion,

when Pelopidas was scarcely of the military age, he had fought rashly in

battle and was beaten down, by the enemy; but, in the critical moment,

Epaminondas threw his broad shield between the gallant youth and

destruction.

Ever afterwards Pelopidas looked to Epaminondas as to a father. Between

the two heroes communication was now opened, and a conspiracy was formed

for the liberation of Thebes from thralldom. A banquet was given to the

polemarchs, Archias and Philippus, and when they were well drunken

Pelopidas, and six others, who had come into the city in disguise, were

introduced dressed as women. When the intoxicated officers undertook to

lift their veils the conspirators drew their daggers and stabbed them.

Leontiades, the military governor, was surrounded in his