166 Route 7. PLATAEA. From Livadia
Leuktra was the scene in B. C. 371 of the battle which gave Thebes
the hegemony of Greece for a brief period.
The Battle of Leuktra is variously represented by different ancient
authors; in the ensuing description we follow Xenophon. In order to
decide the contentions that had arisen between Sparta and Thebes in con¬
sequence of the peace of Antalkidas (p. 168), the Spartan king Kleombrotos
advanced with a powerful army from Phocis to Kreusis (p. 169) across
the S. side of Helikon. His intention was to fall upon Thebes which had
been denuded of troops. Suddenly, however, his march was arrested
by the unexpected appearance of the enemy on the hills opposite
Leuktra. In spite of the superiority of the Spartan numbers Epa¬
minondas induced his Boeotians to await the attack. The Spartans ap¬
proached confident of victory. Both armies advanced their cavalry to
begin the fight; but the excellent Boeotian horse far excelled that of the
Peloponnesians, who, as of old, relied chiefly on their hoplites and mounted
only their least efficient soldiers. The Spartan infantry was drawn up in
a long line 12 men deep, while the Thebans, less extended, stood 50 deep,
ready to hurl themselves (in 'wedge' or 'column formation') against the
right wing, under the king, and after routing it to defeat the rest of the
enemy at their ease. The Spartan cavalry was soon driven back in wild
confusion on the hoplites, closely followed up by the Thebans. For a
long time the Lacedaemonians stood firm, but at last not only the king hut
the two generals Deinon and Sphodrias fell, and also Kleonymos, the son
of the last. Their right wing gave way. The left seeing this wavered
also, but succeeded in retiring, though with heavy loss, to the camp,
which had been formed on the slope of the hill and was defended by a
ditch. A few voices were there raised in favour of trying their fortune once
more; but the polemarchs, in spite of the disgrace that awaited both
them and their army in Sparta, did not venture to renew the battle.
About 1000 of the Lacedaemonians fell, among tberu 400 Spartans; acknow¬
ledging defeat, they begged a truce in order to bury their dead. The
arms of the fallen were, however, retained by the victors, and five cent¬
uries later the shields of the chief Spartan officers were seen by Pausa¬
nias at Thebes. The Thebans, who according to Pausanias lost 47 men
only, reared a trophy on the spot where the battle had raged most fiercely.
The Trophy which the Thebans erected on the field is particu¬
larly interesting as it was not usual to place permanent monu¬
ments of the victories of Greeks over Greeks. It is supposed to
have been of bronze, standing on a stone base adorned with shields.
Remains of the base are supposed to have been found beside the
road, about % M. from Parapoungia, and 1/i M. from the ruined
chapel of St. John, in the walls of which some ancient hewn stones
are immured. The district is called std Marmara and now sometimes
also to Trdpaeon.
Plataea, which lies about lxfe nr- from Leuktra, may be reached
either via the village of Kapareli, or by a track passing to the left
of it. We traverse the S.W. part of the plain of the Asopos, whence
the little stream of Oerde ('QepoY)), the modern Potami Livadostro,
flows off towards the W. On the S. stretches a broad and lofty spur
of Kithaeron or Elatids (p. 170), on the lower slope of which lies
the village of Kokla, which, however, we need not enter. About
1/i hr. to the N.E. lie the ruins of the famous city of Plataea (comp.
the Map at p. 174).
Plataea lay at the N. base of Kithaeron, near the junction of roads
from Attica, Megaris, and the N.E. bays of the Corinthian Gulf. Its
name probably mean's the 'town on the nlateau'. Althoneh it seems to