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BOEOTARCHES (Βοιωτάρχης, or Βοιώταρχος). It is proposed under this head to give a brief account of the Boeotian constitution as well as of the Boeotarchs.

The Boeotians in ancient times occupied Arne in Thessaly. (Thuc. 1.12.) Sixty years after the taking of Troy they were expelled by the Thessalians, and settled in the country then called Cadmeis, but afterwards Boeotia (the ἀποδασμὸς being introduced by Thucydides in order to reconcile the Homeric account, Il. 2.494. foll., with the tradition as to the time of their migration into Boeotia). The leader of the Boeotians was king Opheltas (Plut. Cim. 1); a later king Xanthus fell in single combat with Melanthus (Harp. s. v. Ἀπατούρια). From Thuc. 3.61 it would seem that these kings ruled the whole country from Thebes. Later on the country was divided into several states, containing each a principal city with its ξυντελεῖς (cf. Thuc. 4.76, Χαιρώνειαν--ἣ ἐς Ὀρχομενὸν--ξυντελεῖ) or ξύμμοροι (cf. Thuc. 4.93, Θηβαῖοι καὶ οἱ ξύμμοροι αὐτοῖς, i.e. “those who inhabited the same μοῖρα or division of Boeotia with the Thebans, as, e.g., the Parasopii, Therapnenses, Peteonii: Strab. 9.2, 24. 26,” Arnold ad Thuc. l.c.) living around it. The number and names of these independent states are differently given by different writers on the subject; we know, however, for certain that they formed a confederacy called the Boeotian League, with Thebes at its head, and Freeman is of opinion that the political union grew out of an older Amphictyony (Paus. 9.34, 1). Common sanctuaries were the temple of the Itonian Athene near Coronea, where the Pamboeotia were celebrated, and the temple of Poseidon in Onchestus (Strab. 9.2, 23. 33). Thucydides (iv, 93) mentions seven independent states: Thebes, Haliartus, Coronea, Copae, Thespiae, Tanagra, and Orchomenus; and we learn from inscriptions that, at one time or other, the following belonged to the same class: Anthedon, Lebadea, Hyettus, Acraephia, Chorsia (or Korsia, Demosth. F. L. § 141, etc.), Thisbe, Chaeronea. O. Müller (Orchom. p. 403) supposes there were originally fourteen free states. Probably the number differed at different times; some Boeotian towns seceded from the league, as Eloutherae (Paus. 1.38, 8), Plataea (Hdt. 6.108, in B.C. 519, according to Clinton, whilst Grote, 4.94 n., fixes the date after the expulsion of Hippias; it joined the league again a few years previous to B.C. 372), Orchomenus in B.C. 395 (Xen. Hell. 3.5, 6), Oropus (Paus. 1.34, 1; Xen. Hell. 7.4, 1; Demades, 1.9, and Hyp. pro Eux. 100.16; Diod. 13.56); or non-Boeotian towns joined the league, e. g. Larymna (Paus. 9.23, 7, ἑκουσίως μετετάξαντο ἐς Βοιωτους), etc.; or we find Boeotian towns changing their status within the league, gaining independence: thus Acraephia belonged at one time to Thebes (Paus. 9.23, 5, εἶναι ἐξ ἀρχῆς μοῖραν τῆς Θηβαΐδος); as to Chaeronea cf. Thuc. 4.76, and Paus. 9.3, 6; other towns were destroyed by Thebes, as Plataea, Orchomenus, Thespiae, Coronea. The dependent towns, or districts, were not immediately connected with the national confederacy, but with the neighbouring chief city, as Cynoscephalae was with Thebes (Boeckh on Pindar. 2.2, p. 13). In fact, “they were obliged to furnish troops and money, to make up the contingent furnished by the state to which they belonged, to the general confederacy” (Arnold ad Thuc. 4.76). Freeman, however, is of opinion that ξυντελεῖν implies a greater degree of freedom on the part of these dependent places than Arnold allows (cf. also Vischer, Kl. Schr. i. p. 341, 4). Freeman divides the history of the league into three periods: the first extends to the dissolution of the league at the peace of Antalcidas, B.C. 387 ; the second includes the short but brilliant period of Theban greatness down to the conquest of Thebes by Philip (B.C. 338) and its destruction by Alexander, B.C. 387-334 (the league was nominally revived: Diod. 15.80, κοινὴ σύνοδος τῶν Βοιωτῶν: cf. 83, but was practically only another name for bondage to Thebes, Xen. Hell. 6.1, 1, 5.4, 63); the third from the destruction of Thebes by Alexander and its restoration by Cassander, B.C. 316 (Thebes becoming again the head of the league: Liv. 31.1, “Boeotiae caput,” but with powers very inferior to those she formerly possessed), down to the final dissolution of the league by Quintus Marcius Philippus, B.C. 171. Mommsen (Röm. Gesch. i. p. 740) fixes the legal dissolution of the league in B.C. 146, and infers from Pausanias (7.16, 9, 10) that it was revived soon afterwards (καὶ συνέδριά τε κατὰ ἔθνος ἀποδιδόασιν [οἱ Πωμαῖοι] ἑκάστοις τὰ ἀρχαῖα, etc.). Certain it is that some kind of confederation lasted down to a late period of the Roman Empire: the Boeotians retained two votes in the Amphictyonic council after the reforms of Augustus (Aeschin. 2.116, and Paus. 9.8, 3); they sent Epaminondas of Acraephia as ambassador to the emperor Caligula ὑπὲρ τοῦ ἔθνους Βοιωτῶν (Keil, Sylloge Inscr. Boeot. p. 116; cf. C. I. G., 1625, 50.30, τὸ κοινὸν Παμβοιωτῶν συνέδριον); and from an inscription of the reign of Marcus Aurelius (Henzen, Ann. [p. 1.301]dell' Inst. di Corresp. Archeol., 1866, p. 139 foll.), we learn that a citizen of Chaeronea had been three times Boeotarch ( Βοιωτάρχης τὸ γ́).

Each of the principal towns seems to have had its βουλή (Xen. Hell. 5.2. 29) and δῆμος. It is true, as Freeman points out, the passage in question merely speaks of a Theban βουλή, and that during the time (B.C. 382) when the confederation was in abeyance, yet he admits that Boeckh was justified by analogy in his supposition; he adds that he is “not clear about the existence of popular assemblies in the Boeotian cities during the first period” (yet there are traces of such: see Hdt. 5.79, ἁλίην ποιησάμενοι: Xen. Hell. 3.5. 8, τότε ἅπασα πόλις ἀπεψηφίσατο μὴ συστρατεύειν αὐτοῖς, sc. the Lacedaemonians). In his opinion, during nearly the whole of the first period, the government of each particular city was oligarchic, as the federal government was oligarchic; for the supreme power of the league was vested in the four senates (Thuc. 5.38, αἵπερ ἅπαν τὸ κῦρος ἔχουσιν), of the constitution of which we know nothing. Tittmann (p. 695), Kortüm (p. 86), and Freeman consider it most probable that they represented four districts ; they must, however, have been assembled in one place, since Thucydides uses also βουλὴ for them all. In the second period, after democracy was introduced at Thebes, Thebes practically became sovereign (Isocr. 14.8. 35); there was no longer a Boeotian confederacy, but rather a Theban state, in which other cities were compelled to merge themselves against their will. In formal documents constitutional federal language was employed (κοινὴ σύνοδος τῶν Βοιωτῶν, Diod. 15.80; 16.85), but in reality the Boeotian assembly simply sat to register Theban edicts in the name of the league (τὸ πλῆθος or δῆμος, Diod. 15.72, 78, 79). In the third period (the date of the reconstitution of the league does not seem certain, but in B.C. 323 the Boeotians are spoken of as a political whole, Hyper. Or. fun. 6, 16), Orchomenus was for a time the head of the league (B.C. 294, Polyaen. 4.7, 11), but Thebes was again “Boeotiae caput” in B.C. 197 (Liv. 31.1): the supreme power was vested in a federal assembly, in which, as we may gather from an expression of Livy (l.c. 100.2), each of the confederate cities had a distinct vote (Freeman): δῆμος conferred προξενία (πρόξενον εἶμεν Βοιωτῶν, Larfeld, Syll. Inscr. Boeot. No. 316 = C. I. G. 1565, No. 317), elected στρατηγοί (Plb. 20.6), etc.

Each city had one or several archons (cf. the inscr. quoted above from the 1st century after Christ, and C. I. G. 1625, 1. 41); their period of office was a year (C. I. G. 1569a, 3.40, ἐνιαυτὸς μετὰ Θύναρχον ἄρχοντα Ἐρχομενίυς; Rangabé, Antiq. Hellen. 1005; hence the archon is called ἐπώνυμος). We know nothing of their power and duties. The Theban archon was chosen by lot, and kept a sacred spear of office always by him (Plut. de gen. Socr. 31; see Plut. Arist. 21, on the Plataean archon). The main powers of the state were in the hands of the polemarchs, the “maximi magistratus” of Corn. Nep. Pelop. 2.2; they did not command forces, but they could imprison (Xen. Hell. 5.2, 30); they directed the levies of troops (C. I. G. 1573, etc.); they seem also to have been concerned with finances (C. I. G. 1569, 1570), and to have been entrusted with the carrying out of decrees of the senate and people (Keil, p. 132, δεδογμένον εἶναι τοῖς τε συνέδροις καὶ τῷ δήμῳ, τοὺς πολεμάρχους τοὺς ἐπὶ Καφι[σοτίμου̣] ἄρχοντος [ἐπαινέσαι], etc.; Meier, d. Privatschiedrichter, etc., p. 49, 1, 27, ἀναγράψαι τ[ε τοὺς] ἀστογυολ̣ where Lebas, Voyage archéol. en Grèce, No. 35, reads ἀναγραψάντων δὲ τοὶ πολέμα[ρχοι]). Their period of service was a year; their number was three (not six, as Boeckh thought; cf. E. Curtius in Rhein. Mus. 1843, p. 110), see C. I. G. 1573, etc.; only two are mentioned for Thebes by Xen. Hell. 5.2, 25. The γραμματεὺς to the polemarchs under the empire (C. I. G. 1573, γραμματίδδοντος τῦς πολεμάρχυς) was probably of higher rank than the one mentioned by Xen. Hell. 5.4, 2; Plut. Pel. 7, de gen. Socr. 4. Of other magistrates we find mentioned ἵππαρχοι and ἰλάρχαι (C. I. G. 1575, 1588; Rang. 1313; C. I. G. 1588, 1576), commanding the cavalry; a ναύαρχος (Rang. l.c.); κατόπται, who assisted the polemarchs in financial matters and audited magistrates' accounts (C. I. G. 1569, 1570); συνήγοροι and σούνδικοι (Keil, p. 13); ταμίαι, with their president ταμίας προάρχων (C. I. G. 1570, τ. π. προσθέτω τὸ ἐλλεῖπον καὶ ἀπολογισάσθω πρὸς κατόπτας). The popular assembly at Thebes is called ἁλία by Hdt. 5.79, ἐκκλησία by Demosth. de Cor. § 213, and Plut. Pel. 12; see also Paus. 9.1. 5, ἠπίσταντο (the Plataeans) τοὺς Θηβαίους ὡς πανδημεὶ καὶ ἅμα ἐπὶ πλεῖστον εἰώθεσαν βουλεύεσθαι, παρεφύλασσον τὰς ἐκκλησίας αὐτῶν, etc. The murderers of Euphron (B.C. 367) were put upon their trial before the βουλὴ at Thebes (Xen. Hell. 7.3, 5-12); οἱ δικάζειν λαχόντες are mentioned by Paus. 9.14. 7, in connexion with the trial of Epameinondas. Besides the archons of the separate states, there was an archon of the confederacy. This archon, the nominal chief of the league, was not necessarily a Theban, as Boeckh supposed: cf. Keil, p. 69, ἄρχοντος Βοιωτοῖς Φιλοκώμω [Ἀντ]ι[γενε]ιΐω Θε[ι]σπιε[ῖος], and Lolling (Mittheil. d. d. Arch. Inst. in Athen, iii. p. 87), Εὐμείλω ἄρχοντος Ἐπικουδείω Κορωνέως; he was re-eligible after his year's service, for in some inscriptions of Hyettus we find the same federal archon, but different polemarchs. His name was affixed to all alliances and compacts which concerned the whole confederacy (C. I. G. 1565, τοῦ δεῖνα ἄρχοντος: 1570, ἄρχοντος ἐν κοινῷ Βοιωτῶν, or, as above, with the addition of his father's name and that of the town of which he was a citizen), and also to the lists of conscripts of the individual states, the name of the federal archon preceding that of the local archon: thus C. I. G. 1573, Κτεισίαο ἄρχοντος Βοιώτνς, Ἐρχομενίυς δὲ Καραΐχω. The real power was in the hands of the Boeotarchs, as representatives of the several Boeotian cities; it is true, their determinations required the ratification of the four senates (Thuc. 5.38). They: were the supreme military commanders, but we also find them discharging the functions of an executive in various matters. In fact, they are represented by Thucydides as forming an alliance with foreign states; as receiving ambassadors on their return home; as negotiating with envoys from other countries, and as acting as the representatives of the whole league, although, to their great surprise, the βουλὴ refused to sanction the measures they had resolved on (cf. also Aeschin. [p. 1.302]3.149, 151; Polyaen. 4.7-11). Another instance in which the Boeotarchs appear as executive is their interference with Agesilaus on his embarking from Aulis for Asia (B.C. 396), when they prevented him from offering sacrifice as he wished (Plut. Ages. 6; Xen. Hell. 3.4, 4). Still the principal duty of the Boeotarchs was of a military nature (hence they are sometimes called στρατηγοί, Plut. Reg. et imp. Apophth. p. 194 B; Pelop. 29, 31, &c.): thus they led into the field the troops of their respective states; and when at home they took whatever measures were requisite to forward the military operations of the league, or of their own state. For example, we read of one of the Theban Boeotarchs ordering the Thebans to come in arms to the ecclesia for the purpose of being ready to attack Plataea (Paus. 9.1. 6). The exact number of Boeotarchs is a disputed point; we know that the Thebans elected two (Thuc. 2.2 ; 4.91, etc.), and Boeckh explains the second Theban Boeotarch to have been the representative of some town formerly a member of the league, but afterwards merged in Thebes (on one occasion, i. e. after the return of the exiles with Pelopidas, B.C. 379, we read of there being three at Thebes, Plut. Pel. 13); and it is generally supposed that each of the other cities elected one. Boeckh, however, whom Grote (ii. p. 296) follows, is of opinion that in the second period of the league the number of Boeotarchs was fixed, and that two or three of the smaller cities chose one Boeotarch in turn. Mention is made of eleven Boeotarchs in connexion with the battle of Delium (B.C. 424) by Thucydides (4.91, cf. Schol. on 2.2; so Boeckh, Arnold, etc. others make out thirteen; Von Wilamowitz-Möllendorff in Hermes, viii. p. 440, proposes to read ἑπτά for ἕνδεκα since in chap. 93 seven independent states are mentioned). At the time of the battle of Leuctra (B.C. 371) we find seven Boeotarchs mentioned (Diod. 15.52, 53; Paus. 9.13. 6, 7), and the same number in C. I. G. 1565, 1593, and in the inscr. quoted above (Lolling, etc.), if ἀφεδριατεύοντες is only another name for Boeotarchs (so Boeckh, C. I. G. p. 729 a; Schoemann, Jus publ. 408, n. 37; whilst C. W. Müller sees in them the members or committees of the four senates, and G. Gilbert, ii. p. 56acommission specially appointed to procure the tripods in question). Correspondingly there were seven federal officers of the cavalry, as we learn from the account of the hipparch Pompidas (see Von Wilamowitz-Möllendorff, l.c. pp. 431-441. Thuc. 4.72; Plb. 20.5, mention the hipparch τῶν Βοιωτῶν). No conclusion as to the number of Boeotarchs can be drawn from Liv. 42.43 ( “ut duodecim, qui privati coetum et concilium habuissent” ), or from Paus. 10.20. 3, where we read of four, since on that particular expedition probably only that number were sent. The Boeotarchs, when engaged in military service, formed a council of war, the decisions of which were determined by a majority of votes (Thuc. 4.91; Diod. 15.53, 62; Paus. 9.13, 6, 7), and “it may be doubted whether the words ἡγεμονίας οὔσης αὐτοῦ in the passage of Thucydides imply that the supreme command was always vested in a Theban Boeotarch, or whether it was merely the turn of Pagondas to command that particular day” (Freeman). Their period of service was a year, beginning about the winter solstice (Plut. Pel. 24, 25), and whoever continued in office longer than his time was punishable with death, both at Thebes and in other cities (Plut. l.c.; Paus. 9.14. 5; Corn. Nep. Epam. 7). Epameinondas, with Pelopidas and the other Boeotarchs, did so on their invasion of Laconia (B.C. 369), but their eminent services saved them; in fact, the judges did not even come to a vote respecting the former. At the expiration of the year a Boeotarch was eligible to office a second time, and Pelopidas was re-elected without interruption from B.C. 378 to his death (Diod. 15.81). From the case of Epameinondas and Pelopidas, who were brought before Theban judges for transgression of the law which limited the time of office, we may conclude that each Boeotarch was responsible to his own state alone. From Plb. 20.6; 23.2, Freeman (cf. Gilbert, p. 55, n. 3) concludes that in the third period there was a single general at the head of the league, as at the head of other leagues, by whose side the Boeotarchs continued, “their office now answering pretty well to that of the Achaean Demiourgoi or Ministers.” Other officials of the league are mentioned in C. I. G. 1593: cf. Rangabé, 1217, a γραμματεύς, a θεοπροπέων, and a μαντευόμενος.

(Klütz, de foedere Boeotico, 1821, Kortüm, Zur Gesch. hellen. Staatsverfassungen, pp. 83-89, 1821; Tittmann, Darstellung d. griech. Staatsverf. p. 375 foll., and p. 693 foll., 1822; Boeckh, C. I. G. i. p. 726 foll.; Freeman, Hist. of Federal Governm. p. 154 foll.; C. W. Müller in Pauly's Realencykl. s. v.; C. Fr. Hermann, Staatsalterth. § 179 foll.; E. Preuss, Quaest. Boeot. 1879; E. Caillemer ap. Daremberg and Saglio; G. Gilbert, Handb. d. greich. Staatsalt. ii. pp. 45-93.)

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  • Cross-references from this page (70):
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    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 7.10
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 7.16
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    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 9.13.6
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 9.1.6
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    • Xenophon, Hellenica, 3.4
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    • Xenophon, Hellenica, 5.2
    • Xenophon, Hellenica, 5.2.29
    • Xenophon, Hellenica, 7.5
    • Homer, Iliad, 2.494
    • Polybius, Histories, 23.2
    • Polybius, Histories, 20.5
    • Polybius, Histories, 20.6
    • Thucydides, Histories, 4.76
    • Thucydides, Histories, 4.91
    • Thucydides, Histories, 5.38
    • Cornelius Nepos, Epaminondas, 7
    • Cornelius Nepos, Pelopidas, 2.2
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 42, 43
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 31, 1
    • Thucydides, Histories, 2.2
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    • Plutarch, Pelopidas, 25
    • Plutarch, Pelopidas, 7
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