GREECE-SPARTAN AND THEBAN ASCENDENCIES.
immediate result. He was restored to his office and entrusted with a new
expedition to secure the release of Pelopidas. He at once proceeded into
Thessaly and induced Alexander rather by diplomacy than by force to set
Pelopidas at liberty. Epaminondas then refrained from any severe
retaliation against the generalissimo on the ground of expediency.
The next incident of the struggle to maintain the Theban ascendancy was
the capture of Oropus. This town, situated near the border line between
Athens and Thebes, had for a long time been in possession of the former
city; but the people of Oropus, composed for the most part of Theban
exiles, sympathized with the mother state, and watching their opportunity
seized the city and delivered it over to Thebes. About the same time the
Arcadians, under the lead of Lycomedes, having been alienated by the
course of the Theban authorities, sought and obtained an alliance with
Athens, though in the course of the negotiations Lycomedes was
assassinated by some exiles acting in the Theban interest.
By this league it became more than ever desirable for Athens to have
possession of the isthmus of Corinth to the end that she might keep a
free communication between herself and her Peloponnesian allies. She
accordingly with singular moral obliquity formed the design of seizing
Corinth, though between herself and that city there was not the slightest
cause of quarrel. The Corinthians, however, gathered an intimation of the
scheme, and were able, by judicious measures, to thwart the purpose of
their friend. They then turned to Thebes with a proposition for a general
peace. To this the Thebans assented, and a conference was accordingly
convened at Sparta, but only the minor states could agree on the terms of
settlement. Thebes, Athens, Sparta, and Arcadia could not be reconciled,
and the struggle continued as before.
During the years B. C. 365-364 the Athenians regained in some measure
their ascendancy at sea. A fleet under command of Timotheus conquered
Samos and restored the authority of his country in most of the Cyclades.
The effect of this revival of maritime power was to arouse and exasperate
the Thebans, who had never hitherto wielded any influence in the AEgean.
Epaminondas encouraged his countrymen to build a fleet of one hundred
triremes and was himself put in command of the squadron. Sailing to the
Hellespont in B. C. 363 he made as though he would begin a conquest of
the countries adjacent thereto, but nothing came of the expedition. The
sea-service was a novelty both to himself and his men.
While this maritime ambition had possession of the mind of Epaminondas,
Pelopidas organized a land force and again invaded Thessaly. The
recollection of his imprisonment rankled within him, and he determined
that Alexander should feel the force of his vengeance. The latter raised
a large army and advanced to meet the Thebans. The two enemies confronted
each other in the field of Cynoscephaiae, where the Thessalians, though
greatly superior in numbers, were completely routed. Pelopidas, however,
like Cyrus the Younger at Cunaxa, inspired by a sudden rage on beholding
Alexander in the enemy's confused ranks, made a rash and furious charge
with the hope of reaching him. But Alexander was surrounded by his
friends, and Pelopidas, cutting at them with blind fury, was himself
struck down and killed. His loss was so great as to counterbalance the
victory. Shortly afterwards, however, a second Theban campaign against
Thessaly was completely successful. Alexander was stripped of all his
dependencies and confined to the limits of his own city of Pherae.
In the mean time a war had broken out between Elis and Arcadia. The
latter state in B. C. 364 had transferred the presidency of the Olympic
games from the Eleans to the Pisatans, and the former endeavored to
maintain their rights by force. During the progress of the festival they
came armed into the sacred precincts, and were resisted by the Arcadians.
The temple of Zeus was seized and used as a fortress, and the celebration
was broken up in a shameful conflict. The Eleans were finally compelled
to retire, but they sought revenge by striking the one hundred and fourth
Olympiad from the list of the