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[73] led the Sacred Band1 and Epaminondas and their compeers were in command. It was then that Thebes won the battle of Leuctra, then that they invaded the Spartans' country which, it was thought, could not be ravaged. During that period they accomplished many fine achievements: founded Messene in the four hundredth2 year after its fall, gave the Arcadians self-government, and won a universal reputation.

1 The Sacred Band was a company of 300 picked soldiers maintained by the state. They first attracted attention by defeating a Spartan force in 375 B.C. and played a large part in the victory of Leuctra. At Chaeronea they fought to the last man and were buried by the highway from Phocis to Thebes with the figure of a lion over their tomb.

2 Messenia was first conquered about the year 700 B.C., so that the figure 400th is a very rough estimate; 300th would be nearer. Cf. Lyc. 1.62 and note.

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