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date: 29 March 2023

Thebes (1), historiclocked

Thebes (1), historiclocked

  • John Boardman


Thebes was the birthplace of *Heracles, who, as its champion, threw off the tribute imposed upon it by the king of *Orchomenus (1). The legend of Heracles reflects the essence of Boeotian politics, which were moulded by rivalry between Thebes and Orchomenus. *Herodotus(1) (5. 57–61) erroneously attributes to Thebes the introduction of the alphabet to Greece (though he is right to speak in this connection of *Phoenicians; see alphabet, greek; and for the allegedly Phoenician origins of the Thebans, see cadmus). *Aristotle (Pol. 2. 9. 7, 1274a 31) claims that the Bacchiad Philolaus of *Corinth became a lawgiver to Thebes in familial matters and rights of property. By the late 6th cent. bce Thebes had organized an alliance or rudimentary confederacy consisting of its neighbours, with Orchomenus conspicuously absent. Thereafter, it vied for the hegemony of all Boeotia. It maintained friendly relations with the Pisistratids (see athens, History; hippias(1); hipparchus(1); pisistratus), but hostility to Athens arose over *Plataea, which joined Athens in either 519 or 509 bce.


  • Greek History and Historiography

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