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GREECE-SPARTAN AND THEBAN ASCENDENCIES.

The terms of the compact were-the independence of the various Greek

cities, the disbanding of the hostile fleets, and the dismissal of all

the Spartan garrisons from the towns now occupied by them. When it came

to signing the treaty there was a strange incident, which revealed more

plainly than words the hollowness of the settlement, or perhaps it might

be said of any settlement between the states represented in the congress.

Sparta ratified the terms for herself awl her allies. Athens signed for

herself only, and each of the confederate cities gave a separate

ratification until it came to Thebes. Epaminondas insisted that he would

sign for himself and for the Boeotian confederacy. When this proceeding

was resisted by Agesilaus, the Theban boldly defended his right,

maintaining that the same differed in no respect from the right of Sparta

to sign for the Lacedaemonian league. He declared that in either case the

right depended on the sword, and that a Boeotian sword was as good as a

Spartan. Agesilaus was greatly angered at this insolence and the

altercation became so violent that the king in a rage ordered the name of

Thebes to be struck out of the treaty. So Epaminondas was left to himself

and his sword.

Of course there was but one thing to be expected-the immediate invasion

of Boeotia by the Lacedaemonians. Nor was it regarded as within the range

of things possible that Thebes, even with the support of her great

general, could long withstand the assaults of her inveterate and powerful

foe. Nevertheless, when Cleombrotus, who now held command of the Spartan

army in Phocis, was ordered to march into Boeotia and put down all

opposition, Epaminondas, nothing daunted, made preparations to give him

battle. The combatants met on the plain of Leuctra. The Thebans were.

greatly discouraged at the approach of the enemy. Bad omens were reported

by the seers. Three of the seven Boeotrarchs voted to return to the city

and to send their wives and children to Athens.

But Epaminondas could not be appalled. Just before the battle began an

exile discovered that the field contained the tombs of two Theban virgins

who had killed themselves after having been violated by Spartan soldiers.

The general had their graves covered with garlands, and demanded that the

outraged honor of Theban womanhood should now be vindicated on the

dastardly race that had committed the deed. The spirit of the soldiers

was fired with the appeal, and the conflict began.

The tactics adopted by Epaminondas were a novelty in Grecian warfare.

Hitherto there had been but little variation from the established usage

of the field. The Greek commander generally arranged his forces so as to

attack in line. The theory of battle was that the whole line-center, left

wing, right wing-must be maintained unbroken. It is to Epaminondas that

the method of attacking in column, that is, of throwing upon some

particular part of the enemy's lines a heavy mass of men moving in a

column with a narrow front, but of great depth, must be referred. He

adopted this policy for the first in the battle of Leuctra. Concentrating

his best troops in the left wing, where they were massed to the depth of

fifty files, he threw them with irresistible force against the Spartan

right. The Theban center and right were not advanced at all, but held in

reserve to act according to the emergency. With the onset the

Lacedaemonian right wing was utterly routed. Cleombrotus was mortally

wounded-the first Spartan king who had fallen in battle since the day of

Thermopylae. The rout was complete. The Spartans were granted the

privilege of burying their dead, but these were first stripped of their

armor, which was hung as a trophy in Thebes.

The effect of this victory was tremendous in all Greece. It had been

believed that in a general field battle the Spartan hoplites were

invincible. Here at Leuctra, though superior in numbers, advantageously

posted, and ably commanded, they had been beaten down by the hitherto

comparatively undistinguished soldiery of Thebes, and this, too, by a

method of attack which was an innovation upon the established rules of

battle. Sparta had never before suffered so great a disaster in the

field.