A city in south Boeotia situated between Mt. Cithaeron and the Asopus river, commanding a small plain. In the last quarter of the 6th cent. bc Thebes tried to force it into the Boeotian Confederacy (see federal states). An appeal to Sparta for support having failed, Plataea entered into an alliance with Athens. The border between Plataea and Thebes became the Asopus river. The Plataeans turned out in force to support Athens at the battle of Marathon, despite the denials of Athenian orators. A site on the battlefield has been claimed as the mass grave of the Plataeans. The greatest fame of Plataea comes from the final battle there between the Greeks and the Persians in 479 bc, when some 600 Plataeans fought alongside the other Greeks; in celebration of the victory the Greeks erected the altar of Zeus Eleutherius. See next entry.
Plataea faded into temporary obscurity in the early 5th cent.. After the defeat of the Athenian Tolmides at the battle of Coronea in 447, however, it joined the new Boeotian Confederacy. The Theban attack on it in 431 was the real start of the Peloponnesian War. Most inhabitants having fled to Athens, the survivors, after a spirited defence, surrendered in 427 and were put to death. Rebuilt after the war, Plataea was independent under the terms of the King's Peace until 373, when Thebes again seized it. Again survivors found refuge in Athens. After the battle of Chaeronea in 338, Philip II restored it. Alexander (2) the Great gave Plataea its opportunity for revenge when he destroyed Thebes in 335.
Subjects: Classical Studies.