MACEDONIA-ALEXANDER THE GREAT.
Alexander's accession a garrison had been, by the order of the
Amphictyons, established in the Theban citadel. The two commanders of
this body of guards were Amyntas and Timolaus. The first was a Theban
and the second a Macedonian. Both, believing in the peaceable
disposition of the citizens, took up their quarters in the town instead
of the citadel. Meanwhile a sedition was fomented in Athens, and certain
Theban exiles residing there were instigated to return to their own city
and head an insurrection. Accordingly, in the dead of night, Amyntas and
Timolaus were beset in their quarters and killed. Heralds then ran
through the town, proclaiming that Alexander was dead, and urging the
citizens to attack and destroy the Macedonian garrison.
Hearing of this condition of affairs, Alexander came down with all haste
from the North, and marched into Boeotia. Before the Thebans could
prepare resistance, the king was upon them. They were incredulous, and
refused to believe that he who but a few days before had been proclaimed
dead in the mountains of Illyria was actually at their doors with a
Macedonian phalanx. Thinking that the advance was some company of
marauders, they sent out a body of cavalry and peltasts to confront
them. Alexander, acting with great moderation, made proclamation that
the infatuated multitude should cease from their rash hostility and
return to their allegiance. When the demagogues who had control of the
city would not hear of the proposed settlement, the king advanced his
army to the city gates, and stood ready for action. For it was believed
that the Macedonian party in Thebes would presently assert itself, and
that the storming of the town would thus be avoided.
But while matters stood in this attitude a party of the besiegers, under
command of Perdiccas, being close to the city wall, discovered the means
of scaling the rampart, and, without waiting for orders, began an
assault. They fought their way into the heart of the city, but the
Thebans rallied in great numbers and the assailants were driven back.
Retreating through the gates, the Macedonians were pursued by the rash
throng of citizen soldiers, who recklessly pressed on until they struck
the phalanx, which Alexander had drawn up to resist them. Against this
immovable wall the Thebans dashed themselves, and were hurled back in
confusion. A battle was now fairly on. The Macedonians followed the
insurgents into the city.
The besieged garrison now poured out of the citadel, and the
discomfiture of the Thebans was soon complete. Great numbers were
slaughtered in the streets. The auxiliaries in Alexander's army, burning
with the recollection of wrongs which they had suffered at the hands of
the Thebans in the times of Pelopidas, gave free rein to their passions,
and made an indiscriminate butchery of the inhabitants. Nor did the
violence of the victors cease with the bloody tragedy by which the town
was taken. A congress of the confederate states was presently convened,
and decrees of relentless barbarity were passed against Thebes and her
people. It was solemnly resolved that the Theban name should be blotted
out; that the city should be destroyed; that the women and children
should be sold into slavery; that the territory should be parceled out
to the allies and to those of the natives who had maintained their
allegiance to Macedonia; and that the citadel should be held by a
garrison in the Macedonian interest.
The character of Alexander was illustrated in the enforcement of the act
of the congress. Much of the severity of the edict was abated.
Especially where the interests of literature and art were concerned did
the king act the magnanimous part. The house of the poet Pindar was not
demolished, and even his relatives were spared from persecution. In
other respects the decree was enforced, and Thebes was extinguished. Six
thousand of her people had perished in battle, and thirty thousand were
sold into slavery. It is said that the mind of Alexander was haunted not
a little with the recollection of these atrocities perpetrated against
the Thebans, and that he attempted, as far as lay in his power, to make
amends by the bestowal of favors upon those who survived the destruction
of the state.
Great was the alarm at Athens when it was known that Thebes had been
taken and destroyed. It was confidently expected that