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When Alcisthenes was archon at Athens, the Romans elected eight military tribunes with consular power, Lucius and Publius Valerius, Gaius Terentius, Lucius Menenius, Gaius Sulpicius, Titus Papirius, and Lucius Aemilius, and the Eleians celebrated the hundred second Olympiad in which Damon of Thurii won the stadium race. [2] During their term of office, after the Lacedaemonians had held the supremacy in Greece for almost five hundred years, a divine portent foretold the loss of their empire; for there was seen in the heavens during the course of many nights a great blazing torch which was named from its shape a "flaming beam,"2 and a little later, to the surprise of all, the Spartans were defeated in a great battle and irretrievably lost their supremacy. [3] Some of the students of nature ascribed the origin of the torch to natural causes, voicing the opinion that such apparitions occur of necessity at appointed times, and that in these matters the Chaldeans in Babylon and the other astrologers succeed in making accurate prophecies. These men, they say, are not surprised when such a phenomenon occurs, but rather if it does not, since each particular constellation has its own peculiar cycle and they complete these cycles through age-long movements in appointed courses. At any rate this torch had such brilliancy, they report, and its light such strength that it cast shadows on the earth similar to those cast by the moon. [4]

At this time Artaxerxes the Persian King, seeing that the Greek world was again in a turmoil, sent ambassadors,3 calling upon the Greeks to settle their internecine wars and establish a common peace in accordance with the covenants4 they had formerly made. All the Greeks gladly received his proposal, and all the cities agreed to a general peace except Thebes5; for the Thebans alone, being engaged in bringing Boeotia under a single confederacy,6 were not admitted by the Greeks because of the general determination to have the oaths and treaties made city by city.7 So, remaining outside of the treaties as formerly, the Thebans continued to hold Boeotia in a single confederacy subject to themselves. [5] The Lacedaemonians, being exasperated by this, decided to lead a large army against them as common enemies, for they cast an extremely jealous eye upon their increase of power, fearing lest with the leadership of all Boeotia they might break up the Spartan supremacy, given a suitable opportunity. For they constantly practised gymnastics and had great bodily strength, and since they were naturally lovers of war, they were inferior to no Greek nation in deeds of valour. [6] They had besides leaders conspicuous for their virtues, greatest among them being three men, Epameinondas, Gorgidas, and Pelopidas.8 The city of the Thebans was full of pride because of the glory of its ancestors in the heroic age and aspired to mighty deeds. In this year, then, the Lacedaemonians were making ready for war, levying armies both of their own citizens and from their allies as well.

1 372/1 B.C.

2 Seneca, Q .N. 7.5: "talem effigiem ignis longi fuisse Callisthenes tradit, antequam Burin et Helicen mare absconderet. Aristoteles ait non trabem illam sed cometen fuisse." Translation by John Clarke: "Callisthenes puts it on record that a similar appearance of a trail of fire was observed before the sea swallowed up Buris and Helice. Aristotle says it was not a 'beam,' but a comet." On the basis of this passage of Diodorus and the passage of Seneca it would seem that ὁδός in Aristot. Meteor. 343b 23 (διὸ καὶ ἐκλήθη ὁδός, ed. by F. H. Fobes) should read δοκός (see Wesseling's note). Aristotle dates the occurrence in 373/2 (Aristot. Meteor. 343b 19).

3 For the participation of the King see Dionysius Hal. De Lysia Iudicium 12; Xen. Hell. 6.3.12, 5.1 f.

4 See chap. 38, which in many details is an anticipation of this chapter.

5 See Xen. Hell. 6.3.1-19 and for date Plut. Agesilaus 28.

6 The Boeotian League such as it had been before the Peace of Antalcidas (for its constitution see Oxyr. Pap. 842 [vol. 5], 11.38-12.31) was set up anew, only much more strongly centralized and on a democratic basis. The executive was the college of boeotarchs no longer representative of separate states but elected from all Boeotian citizens and reduced in number from eleven to seven (chap. 52). The deciding power lay with the assembly of the Boeotian folk which met at Thebes but in which every citizen of a Boeotian state had a voice (cp. Book 16.25.1). Unlike Attica, each city had autonomy and the League army was composed of contingents from the separate states.

7 See Xen. Hell. 6.3.19-20; Plut. Agesilaus 28; Nepos Epameinondas 6.4; Paus. 9.13.2.

8 See chap. 39.

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