, a village of Boeotia, situated on the road from Thespiae to Plataea (Strab. ix. p.414
), and in the territory of the former city. (Xen. Hell. 6.4. 4
). Its name only occurs in history on account of the celebrated battle fought in its neighbourhood between the Spartans and Thebans, B.C. 371, by which the supremacy of Sparta was for ever overthrown.
In the plain of Leuctra, was the tomb of the two daughters of Scedasus, a Leuctrian, who had been violated by two Spartans, and had afterwards slain themselves; this tomb was crowned with wreaths by Epaminondas before the battle, since an oracle had predicted that the Spartans would be defeated at this spot (Xen. Hell. 6.4. 7
; Diod. 15.54
; Paus. 9.13.3
; Plut. Pelop.
cc. 20, 21).
The city of Leuctra, is sometimes supposed to be represented by the extensive ruins at Lefka
), which are situated immediately below the modern village of Rimókastro.
But these ruins are clearly those of Thespiae, as appears from the inscriptions found there, as well as from their importance; for Leuctra was never anything more than a village in the territory of Thespiae, and had apparently ceased to exist in the time of Strabo, who calls it simply a τόπος
(x. p. 414).
The real site of Leuctra, “is very clearly marked by a tumulus and some artificial ground on the summit of the ridge which borders the southern side of the valley of Thespiae.
The battle of Leuctra was fought probably in the valley on the northern side of the tumulus, about midway between Thespiae, and the western extremity of the plain of Plataea. Cleombrotus, in order to avoid the Boeotians, who were expecting him by the direct route from Phocis, marched by Thisbe and the valleys on the southern side of Mount Helicon; and having thus made his appearance suddenly at Creusis, the port of Thespiae, captured that fortress. From thence, he moved upon Leuctra, where he intrenched himself on a rising ground; after which the Thebans encamped on an opposite hill, at no great distance.
The position of the latter, therefore, seems to have been on the eastern prolongation of the height of Rimókastro.
The tumulus is probably the place of sepulture of the 1000 Lacedaemonians who fell in the battle. For a full account of this celebrated contest, see Grote, Hist. of Greece,
vol. x. p. 239, seq.
In ancient times, the neighbourhood of Leuctra appears to have been well wooded, as we may infer from the epithet of “shady” bestowed upon it by the oracle of Delphi (Λεῦκτρα σκιόεντα, Paus. 9.14.3
); but at present there is scarcely a shrub or a tree to be seen in the surrounding country. (Leake, North. Greece,
vol. ii. p. 480, seq.
Paus.; τὸ Λεῦκτρον,
Strab., Plut., Ptol.), a town of Laconia, situated on the eastern side of the Messenian gulf, 20 stadia north of Pephnus, and 60 stadia south of Cardamyle. Strabo speaks of Leuctrum as near the minor Pamisus, but this river flows into the sea at Pephnus, about three miles south of Leuctrum [PEPHNUS
The ruins of Leuctrum are still called Leftro.
Leuctrum was said to have been founded by Pelops, and was claimed by the Messenians as originally one of their towns.
It was awarded to the latter people by Philip in B.C. 338, but in the time of the Roman empire it was one of the Eleuthero-Laconian places. (Strab. viii. pp. 360, 361; Paus. 3.21.7
, seq.; Plut. Pel. 20
; Plin. Nat. 4.5. s. 8
; Ptol. 3.16.9
.) Pausanias saw in Leuctra a temple and statue of Athena on the Acropolis, a temple and statue of Cassandra (there called Alexandra), a marble statue of Asclepius, another of Ino, and wooden figures of Apollo Carneius. (Paus. 3.26.4
, seq). (Leake, Morea,
vol. i. p. 331, Peloponnesiaca,
p. 179; Boblaye, Récherches, &c.
p. 93; Curtius Peloponnesos,
vol. ii. p. 285.)
Thue. Xen.; τὸ Λεῦκτρον,
Paus.), a fortress of the district Aegytis, on the confines of Arcadia and Laconia, described by Thucydides (5.54
) as on the confines of Laconia towards Mt. Lycaeus, and by Xenophon (Xenoph. Hell. 6.5.24
It was originally an Arcadian town, but was included in the territory of Laconia. (Thuc. l.c.
) It commanded one of the passes leading into Laconia, by which a portion of the Theban army penetrated into the country on their first invasion under Epaminondas. (Xen. l.c.
) It was detached from Sparta by Epaminondas, and added to the territory of Megalopolis. (Paus. 8.27.4
It appears to have stood on the direct road from Sparta to Megalopolis, either at or near Leondári,
in which position it was originally placed by Leake; and this seems more probable than the site subsequently assigned to it by the same writer, who supposes that both Leuctra and Malea were on the route from Megalopolis to Carnasium. [MALEA
] [Leake, Morea,
vol. ii. p. 322, Peloponnesiaca,
p. 248; Curtius, Peloponnesos,
vol. i. p. 336.)