- John F. Lazenby
ExtractLeuctra, place in SW *Boeotia where the Boeotians defeated the Spartans in 371 bce. *Epaminondas of Thebes massed his Thebans, 50 deep, on his left, opposite the Spartans themselves, with the élite *Sacred Band perhaps forming the front ranks, and the remaining Boeotians, opposite Sparta's allies, echeloned back to the right. The battle opened with a clash between the cavalry, unusually placed in front of the phalanxes (see phalanx), and the defeated Spartans reeled back into their advancing infantry. The latter's confusion was compounded by an attempt either to increase depth or to extend to the right, or both, and at this point the Sacred Band charged. The Spartan king, Cleombrotus, was mortally wounded, and although his men managed to recover his body, they eventually gave way, with heavy losses, particularly among the Spartiates. The battle ended two centuries of Spartan domination on the battlefield. See also tegyra.
- Ancient Geography