Épaminondas , in Greek old Ἐπαμεινώνδας / Epameinốndas , born with Thèbes v. 418 av. J. - C., died with Mantinée in 362 av. J. - C., statesman and general thébain.
Born in a noble but poor family, it is pointed out for the first time in 379, at the time of the restoration of the democracy by Pélopidas and the expulsion of Béotie of the Spartiates and their friends thébains, carried out by Léontiadès.
Quickly become Béotarque, it engages Thèbes in a policy of strengthening of its power on the cities béotiennes. For that, he does not hesitate to face Sparte on several occasions, even when its own troops are in numerical inferiority: thus the Philistines are victorious of Lacédémoniens with Tégyres and Orchomène in 375. These successes are mainly due to the military engineering of Épaminondas but also to its reorganization of the phalange béotienne by the introduction of a permanent crack corps of 300 men, the famous Bataillon crowned, which according to Plutarque, is entirely made up of couples of lovers.
In 371, Sparte, which tramples on the faces thébain and Athenian, proposes a common peace. Thèbes agrees to swear peace if it does it in the name of the Philistines, which returns for Athens and Sparte to recognize the hegemony of Thèbes on Béotie. Agésilas, king of Sparte, refuses and requires that Thèbes recognizes the independence of Béotie. Rétorque Épaminondas that it will make it if Sparte recognizes that of the Laconie. Furious, the Spartans launch out in a great invasion of Béotie, carried out by the king Cléombrote II. Épaminondas manages to convince his/her colleagues to fight battle in spite of their numerical inferiority. It is the Bataille of Leuctres, where Épaminondas deploys its military talent: it disorganizes the lines Spartans thanks to a first attack of cavalry, then redeploys its phalange by concentrating its forces on the left side (and not the right as it is the use), on a depth of 80 men (against 12 on the side Spartan). This enables him to insert the enemy lines unrelentingly, on the side of their troops of elite. Sparte loses 400 Pars, whose king Cléombrote, is a third of the citizens in age to fight.
This crushing success allows Épaminondas to adopt a more ambitious policy: to put an end to the hegemony of Sparte and to replace it by that of Thèbes. The assassination of Jason de Phères in 370, the worrying neighbor of Thèbes, removes an important obstacle. Thèbes is combined in the cities of central Greece, the Phocidiens, the Locriens, the Acarnanie NS and the Eubée NS. It launches a great offensive against the Peloponnese at the end of 370, in spite of the winter and the fact that the béotarques ones are at the end of the mandate. Épaminondas plunders Laconie, but vis-a-vis the tactic of guerilla of the king Agésilas II, gives up attacking Sparte itself. It is folded up on the Messénie and releases the Hilotes messéniens. It makes build a city around the Ithôme, fortress historical of the Guerres of Messénie, strengthens it, and invites all Messéniens exiled in Greece or Grande Greece to be returned. The new city, Messène, regard Thébain as its œcist (founder).
While returning in Thèbes, these is however a lawsuit which awaits Épaminondas and Pélopidas, béotarque him also: one shows them to have exceeded their functions. Quickly, the lawsuit turns to the triumph for the two generals. While Pélopidas turns to the Thessalie, under the yoke of the Tyran S successors of Jason, with mitigated successes, being even captured in 368 by the Alexandre tyrant, then goes until in Macedonia, the troops Macedonians helping the tyrants thessaliens, Epaminondas directs his attention on the Isthme of Corinth (winter 370 - 369), with an aim of ensuring the communications between Thèbes and its allies péloponnésiens, but fails in front of Corinthe, remained faithful to Sparte and defended by the Athenian Chabrias. In 365, he extorts a peace all the same to them where the city recognizes the independence of the Messénie.
On sea, Épaminondas seeks to establish its hegemony against Athens. It makes vote by the Parliament the construction of a new fleet of one hundred Trière S, lends in 364. He wants to separate Byzance, Chios and Rhodos of the Athenian Confederation, and to thus form a fleet able to compete with Athens. However, the results obtained are thin. After 363, one seldom hears of the trières thebaines.
In 364, the Arcadiens, with which the relations became tended, invade the Élide and make control on the crowned treasure of Olympie. Mantinée, adversary of Thèbes, protests and obtains win near the assembly of Dix-Mille, which governs Arcadie. However, the treaty enters Arcadie and Thèbes prohibits a separate peace. Épaminondas is sent to bring back Mantinée to the step. This one called upon Sparte, which sends an army ordered by Agésilas. The battles takes place in 362 on the plain of Mantinée. The thébains insert the lines Spartans thanks to their usual tactic and gain the battle, but Épaminondas finds death during the combat and Thèbes will not be able to exploit this success.
Épaminondas is a character admired under Antiquity. Cornélius Népos, which devotes a biography to him, pays homage to him by saying that before its birth and after its death, Thèbes is always dominated by a foreign power, but that while it is with the capacity, Thèbes is found with the head of Greece.
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