Boeotia bēōˈshə [key], region of ancient Greece. It lay N of Attica, Megaris, and the Gulf of Corinth. The early inhabitants were from Thessaly. A number of small cities scattered over the rough country—mountainous in the south, hilly in the north—may have had a sort of confederacy before the Boeotian League was formed (c.7th cent. b.c.). Thebes dominated the region and the league. The rival cities were Orchomenus, Plataea, and Thespiae. The history of Boeotia is largely a record of the vain attempts of these cities to escape the domination of Thebes and the attempts of Thebes to prevent encroachment on the region by others of the great city-states. Boeotia, therefore, was the scene of various important battles—Plataea, Leuctra, Coronea, and Chaeronea. After the defeat of the Persians at Plataea (479), the Greeks besieged Thebes for aiding the Persians, and the Boeotian League was disbanded. The league was temporarily revived in 457 b.c. before being defeated in the same year by Athens, which briefly attached the Boeotian cities to the Athenian empire. Thebes returned to power at the head of the league in 446. Later, after the victory of Epaminondas over the Spartans, the history of Boeotia was completely absorbed into that of Thebes. Boeotia was the home of the poets Hesiod and Pindar.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2024, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

See more Encyclopedia articles on: Ancient History, Greece