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Pelopidas


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Theban general. First attested at the Spartan siege of Mantinea (386), he was exiled by the pro-Spartan junta (382). His contribution to the liberation of Thebes (379/8) earned the first of thirteen boeotarchies (chief magistracies in the Boeotian Confederacy). Returning from an attack on Boeotian Orchomenus, he inflicted a psychologically important defeat on two Spartan morai at Tegyra (375). At the battle of Leuctra (about which he had a prophetic dream) he and the Sacred Band helped to execute Epaminondas' battle-plan. After the historic Theban invasion of Laconia (370/69), he was (like Epaminondas) acquitted on a politically inspired charge of acting ultra vires. In 367 he visited King Artaxerxes II of Persia, extracting a rescript which suited Theban interests but proved hard to enforce. Latterly his special interest was Thessaly. In 369 he threatened the tyrant Alexander of Pherae and freed Larissa from King Alexander II of Macedon, receiving Philip II as a hostage. In 368 he bargained with Ptolemaeus (Alexander's murderer), but was arrested by Alexander of Pherae (Boeotian military intervention eventually ‘negotiated’ his release). In 364 Thessalians under his command worsted Alexander of Pherae at Cynoscephalae, but he was killed. (The Thessalians erected his statue at Delphi, SEG 22. 460.) With Epaminondas (their friendship is much stressed in the tradition esp. Plut. Pelop., for which see Westlake, CQ 1939, 11 ff.) he embodies the post-Leuctra ‘Theban hegemony’, though neither consistently exercised political control in Thebes.

Christopher J. Tuplin

Subjects: Classical Studies.


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