Speaking generally, however, it was not the passion of Laius that, as the poets say, first made this form of love customary among the Thebans;1
but their law-givers, wishing to relax and mollify their strong and impetuous natures in earliest boyhood, gave the flute great prominence both in their work and in their play, bringing this instrument into preeminence and honour, and reared them to give love a conspicuous place in the life of the palaestra, thus tempering the dispositions of the young men.
And with this in view, they did well to give the goddess who was said to have been born of Ares and Aphrodite a home in their city; for they felt that, where the force and courage of the warrior are most closely associated and united with the age which possesses grace and persuasiveness, there all the activities of civil life are brought by Harmony into the most perfect consonance and order.
Gorgidas, then, by distributing this sacred band among the front ranks of the whole phalanx of men-at-arms, made the high excellence of the men inconspicuous, and did not direct their strength upon a common object, since it was dissipated and blended with that of a large body of inferior troops; but Pelopidas, after their valour had shone out at Tegyra, where they fought by themselves and about his own person, never afterwards divided or scattered them, but, treating them as a unit, put them into the forefront of the greatest conflicts.
For just as horses run faster when yoked to a chariot than when men ride them singly, not because they cleave the air with more impetus owing to their united weight, but because their mutual rivalry and ambition inflame their spirits; so he thought that brave men were most ardent and serviceable in a common cause when they inspired one another with a zeal for high achievement.