Boeotia, Thebes circa 426 - 395 BC

Obv: Boeotian shield. Rev: Amphora with Ivy leaf from left handle - Greek letters QE ΘΕ.

Metal: Silver 12.14 grams, 21 mm diameter. Condition: VF toned.

History of Thebes and Boeotian Confederacy

According to Legend when Zeus disguised as a bull carried off Europa from Phoenicia her brothers including Kadmos were sent to find Europa and told not to return without her. Unsuccessful in his quest, Kadmos went to Delphi and was told that it was useless for him to search for his sister because she was not carried off by a bull, but by Zeus himself in disguise. The oracle then told Kadmos that he should look for a cow bearing a white full moon shaped spot on either side and where said cow dropped from exhaustion establish a city. Kadmos did this and established the city of Thebes in the cattle grazing area known as Boeotia (from the Greek word "bous" for cow). Other brothers founded other cities in seach of Europa in what is now known as Europe.

The area became rich due to its fertile soil with Thebes as its major city. In the late 6th century BC, the Boeotian cities formed a confederation under Thebes and from that time Thebes became the epicenter of Boeotia. Thebes is most famous as the rival of Athens. They even supported Persia over Athens during the Persian war 480/479 BC.

In 446 BC. Thebes defeated Athens and became the undisputed head of the Boeotian league. In 431 BC, Thebes attacked Plataiai an ally of Athens prompting Athens to retailiate, which in turn caused Sparta to intercede with Thebes and started the Pelopensian war (431 - 404 BC), which ended in defeat of Athens. However in 394 BC, Thebes allied with Corinth and Athens against Sparta. In 382 BC, Thebes was having a woman's festival at which time men were not allowed to be on the walls over looking the activities - a small force of Spartans took advantage and took the city. This was justly followed by a bunch of Thebean men dressing like woman who participated in a Spartan banquet re-taking the city. At this time an unofficial group of Athenian soldiers participated and Sparta declared war against Thebes and Athens. In 371 BC, the Thebean fleet was defeated by the Spartans and a small force of a 1000 men (including 400 pure Spartans) took the city of Thebes. Jason from the Thesilian League came to the support of Thebes and upon his return destroyed the Spartan fort at Thermopylai - effectively limiting Sparta to Peloponnesia, The next year the Greeks at the battle of Louctra defeated and killed Jason. Thebes was freed from Theselian control and became a leading city. Under Epaminondos Thebes attacked Sparta (the first time the Spartan homeland had been physically attacked). The Spartans were very weak and had to give freedom to 6000 Helots to survive. Athens, hating the Thebeans even more than the Spartans, joined with Sparta in 369 BC. This was a period of many battles and shifting alliances between the three main cities (Athens, Sparta and Thebes). In 362 BC, Epaminondos died while in a victory pursuit of fleeing Athenians, Spartans and Acadians. With Epaminondos' death, the short period of Thebean glory (371 - 362 BC ended). In 338 BC, Thebes joined with Athens in an attempt to stop Phillip II of Macedon but failed and the city fill to Macedon. In 335 BC, with the death of Phillip II, Thebes revolted against Macedonian rule. The revolt was quickly put down by Alexander III (the Great) who destroyed the city with over 6000 Thebeans slaughtered and the rest sold into slavery. Although Thebes was reistablished by Kassander, it never recovered any policical power..