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Thebes

Thebes, chief city of Boeotia, in ancient Greece. It was originally a Mycenaean city. Thebes is rich in associations with Greek legend and religion (see Oedipus the Seven against Thebes Epigoni ). Sometime before 1000 BC, Thebes was settled by Boeotians and rapidly replaced Orchomenus as the region's leading city. At the end of the 6th cent. BC it began its struggle with Athens to maintain its position in Boeotia and in Greece. In the Persian Wars, Thebes, motivated by hostility to Athens, sided (480–479 BC) with the Persians. When the Persians were defeated, Thebes was punished, and only the intervention of Sparta, which saw in the city a balance to the power of Athens, saved it from destruction. Thebes supported Sparta against Athens in the Peloponnesian War but, fearing Spartan territorial ambitions, withdrew this support and joined (394 BC) the confederation against Sparta. Sparta was able to place (382 BC) a garrison in Thebes, but the city was freed by one of its great generals, Pelopidas, three years later. This freedom was insured (371 BC) by the Spartan defeat at Leuctra by the Theban Epaminondas. Thebes joined Athens against Philip II of Macedon and shared in the defeat at Chaeronea (338 BC). A revolt at Thebes caused Alexander the Great to attack and destroy (336 BC) the city. Cassander rebuilt Thebes c.315 BC, but it never regained its former greatness. The modern Thívai occupies the site of the Theban acropolis, part of which still survives. There are also remains of the prehistoric city and the temple of Ismenian Apollo.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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