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The Defense of Attica, 378-375 B.C.

War pits strength against weakness. Each side chooses how best to bring its own strength to bear upon the perceived weak points of the enemy. It is in the nature of war, between rival states at least, that each side anticipates it and takes measures accordingly, either to precipitate hostilities at a favorable moment or to defer and forestall them. But each, in the process, is continually reckoning the balance of strengths against vulnerabilities. This reckoning, before hostilities begin, is in itself a formidable and fearful task (as the contemplations of Archidamos and Perikles on the eve of the Peloponnesian War, in books 1 and 2 of Thucydides, make clear), for the process depends upon estimations not only of numbers of men, strategic positions, and quantifiable resources, but also of collective intent, mood, and morale. These last three are the factors that bring on war, and only when they are fundamentally altered does it end.

Intentions and objectives are the qualifies most essential to under-standing war, both for those directly confronting it and for the historian investigating it. The claims and declarations of the combatants against each other and among themselves establish the overt justifications of war. Thucydides has long taught us how far these might lie from under-lying causes and objectives yet how crucial they are for creating collective resolve. War is a collective action, the most extreme condition of subordinating multifarious interests to a single collective purpose. The sources of tension and the strengths of counterthemes encountered in the process of creating a collective purpose must be evaluated, by both leaders and historians of war, in formulating the objectives of the process. The deployment of material resources—the strategy of war—is the most explicit indicator of intentions and objectives. But here, too, a


simple reading of the evidence, especially for the historian dealing with antiquity, cannot always distinguish primary from secondary objectives or, more important, how objectives may have been shifted and redefined according to material obstacles and shifting intentions.

This portion of the present work is an essay on the interplay of strengths and weaknesses, and on the counterplay of intentions, among adversaries in the war of 378-375 B.C. , known as the Boiotian War.[1] Although study of this episode can afford a wider scope over the subject of imperialism and diplomacy in fourth-century Greece, this essay is narrowly focused and does not offer an analysis of what is, to most historians, the salient feature of that war—the foundation of the second Athenian naval confederacy. Aspects of the proximate and underlying causes of the war are thus deliberately minimized in the discussion here, although they cannot be passed over lightly, for they are controversial and not well understood. They are so treated here, however, both because I am attending to the subject in another work and because attention to other facets of the events of 378-375 is needed before problems that have absorbed so much scholarly attention can be resolved, or at least removed to a new level of inquiry. What follows, therefore, is a narrative account of the Boiotian War, more specifically, of the Athenian preparation for and conduct of what was, at its beginning and for the greater part of its duration, a land war.[2]

The nature and focus of this essay are justified by the substantive results of the foregoing chapters, which add a significant new dimension


to our previous understanding of these events based on the surviving ancient narrative accounts of Xenophon and Diodoros. The physical set-ting of the war provides an independent parameter that, combined with the qualitatively variable testimony of our sources, enables us to evaluate the respective strategies and strengths of the two sides and to formulate original conclusions about their intentions and their accomplishments. In the case of Athens and Attica, substantial archaeological remains, the actual artifacts of war, can be added to the physical setting. The following essay is devoted to the integration of these artifacts into a new narrative of the Boiotian War.


Topography and unlettered monuments cannot of themselves generate any narrative discourse of events. The foregoing chapters have amply demonstrated how archaeological remains, even in a historically well-documented and archaeologically well-studied period, can be subject to widely divergent interpretations. Narrative discourse can arise only from narrative sources, and these naturally become the center of attention in a historical essay such as this, to be only periodically, though not insignificantly, illuminated by the evidence of topography and monuments. The histories of Xenophon and Diodoros, the former the work of a contemporary and the latter derived from a near contemporary to these events, are thus the basis for what follows.

The imperfections of both of these sources have long exercised scholars, especially in connection with the present subject. Their accounts are enriched, but never immediately clarified, by passages from a wide variety of other sources. Problems inherent in construing our source material can only be dealt with in detail. In this essay, I have chosen to make my own narrative of events the primary mode of discourse and to comment on problems raised by our sources on a secondary and, I hope, less obtrusive level than has been common practice. It will be useful, there-fore, to characterize briefly the shortcomings of Xenophon and Diodoros as I perceive them, so that their salient features may more readily be recognized in my comments on sources in the narrative that follows.

Xenophon, in treating this period in his Hellenika , narrates events al-most exclusively from the standpoint of their effect on the hegemony of Sparta. The relevant portion of his narrative begins with his summary of apparent Spartan strength in 379 (5.3.27), following the surrender of both Phleious and Olynthos to Sparta. The Theban uprising then marks the beginning of a series of events that led, through divinely ordained retribution for past Spartan excesses, to the catastrophic defeat of Sparta by the Thebans at Leuktra eight years later (cf. 5.4.1 and 6.4.2-3). The


concern for the experience of Sparta throughout this narrative is marked by the lengthy vignettes devoted to the trial of Sphodrias (5.4.25-33) and the mission of Polydamas of Pharsalos to Sparta (6.1.2-19). The former reveals Xenophon's fixation on the immediate cause of the Athenian entry into the war, since as far as Xenophon's narrative is concerned, the Sphodrias affair seems to be the only reason for Athenian involvement (cf. 5.4.63, in which Athenian enthusiasm for the war three years later is still attributed to their anger over Sphodrias). The latter episode serves to underscore Sparta's waning influence outside of the Peloponnese. Likewise, the three speeches by Athenian ambassadors at Sparta in 371 (6.3.4-17) provide commentaries primarily on the position of Sparta at that time, shortly before the ill-fated decision by the Spartans to send Kleombrotos from Phokis into Boiotia.

Yet even the reliability of Xenophon's judgment of the causes of Sparta's downfall may be called into question by his concurrent concern to present his esteemed Agesilaos as free from the blame that he attaches either anonymously to Spartan deliberative bodies or by name to a few individuals, chief among whom is Kleombrotos, Agesilaos' counterpart in kingship. As I have described in detail elsewhere, Xenophon's ac-count, through both explicit comments and significant omissions, pro-vides a comparison of these two men that serves to magnify Agesilaos and discredit Kleombrotos, often unfairly.[3] With such preoccupations, Xenophon's account not only fails completely to mention important developments on the Athenian side (the foundation of the second Athenian naval confederacy is the most egregious of these omissions), but it also provides a noticeably skewed picture of Spartan capabilities and accomplishments.

Diodoros provides a very different sort of narrative, counteracting some of the weaknesses of Xenophon but, at the same time, presenting very different problems. Although Diodoros, like all of his predecessors including Xenophon, cannot resist focusing the narrative on the over-arching theme of Sparta's excesses leading to its downfall (e.g., 15.1.1-6, 33.2-3, 50.2), he does succeed in presenting a more balanced appraisal of the concerns of all three of the chief contenders: Sparta, Thebes, and


Athens. His history is, however, a condensation of the lengthier account given by Ephoros and shows flaws that are virtually inevitable in such a compressed and secondhand account. Much has been left out, and what this has deprived us of we can only guess. In what we can evaluate, we find clarity sacrificed to brevity (for example, the battle described in 15.34.1-2) and outright errors (such as the reported death of Chabrias in 15.36.4; cf. 16.7.3-4; and, probably, numbers; cf. 15.29.7 and Polybios 2.62.6).

The most serious flaw in Diodoros' history here, as elsewhere, is his mutilation of Ephoros' topically arranged narrative for the sake of creating an annalistic one. This has caused chronological distortions, the mildest of which is that for the whole narrative of the war of 378-375, events are dated at least one archon-year too late by Diodoros. More serious confusion arises when events which Ephoros narrated out of chronological order, but according to their logical coherence, are re-ported by Diodoros all within a single year. The worst case is 15.28-35, all of which supposedly occurred within the archonship of Kalleas.[4]

The demonstrable flaws in Diodoros' account have for a long time led many scholars to treat his authority as distinctly secondary to Xenophon wherever the two seem to be at odds. The most important of these divergences concerns the Athenian involvement in the Theban uprising of 379/8. It has seemed appropriate to many to dismiss much of Diodoros' testimony on this matter as erroneous, in part because of the apparent occurrence of yet another of Diodoros' occasional chronological monstrosities, the doublet, or narration of the same event in two different forms as two events (in this case 15.26.1 and 26.2-3, which have been regarded as doublets of 15.29.7 and 32.2-3).[5] Diodoros' account


of the peace of 375 is likewise considered defective because it contains a doublet of the peace of 371 (15.38-39 and 50.4-6).[6] In neither case, however, are the apparent difficulties easily resolved by the excision of one or another passage of Diodoros. There has been a growing, though by no means unanimous, tendency in recent years to regard apparent contradictions between Diodoros and Xenophon, and even within Diodoros' own narrative, as indicative not of blunders of the compiler or of fabrications in his source material but of nuances in the import of events, obscured at times by Diodoros' abridgment but otherwise faithful to events as they occurred and as they were variously perceived and rep-resented by the participants.[7] I support this tendency in general, and I have, by and large, taken it farther than most so far have cared to do.


By the autumn of 379, the Athenians were making preparations for war with Sparta. Opinions had for some years been divided about how and when, and even if , this war should be fought, in view of the overwhelming advantages in allied strength possessed by Sparta. But because those very advantages were seen by many to be based on heavy-handed and unpopular policies, they were believed to be vulnerable. Among Athenians and the friends of Athens, there was a strong tide of feeling against Sparta in 380/79, as the sentiments of Isokrates' Panegyrikos reveal. Under these circumstances, and despite some deep misgivings among not a few Athenians, the majority of Athenians strongly favored taking action to check the influence of Sparta. With this in mind, in 379, an influential


circle of executive officers and statesmen prepared a plan of covert action that, when announced, would receive the endorsement of the demos, even though it would very likely mean war with Sparta.[8] The movements of Chabrias provide evidence for these preparations.

After distinguishing himself as a commander of mercenaries in the Corinthian War, since 388 Chabrias had been abroad, at first in Cyprus, where he led a corps of Athenian and mercenary troops in the service of Euagoras of Salamis, an ally of Athens. Since the King's Peace of 386 expressly ceded Cyprus to King Artaxerxes, Chabrias withdrew and accepted command of a mercenary army being raised in Egypt by Hakoris for war against the forces of Artaxerxes, who was attempting to reestablish Persian dominion in Egypt. Chabrias was eminently successful in his command under Hakoris. He devised an elaborate system of fortifications to defend both the overland and maritime approaches to the Nile delta from Palestine. He exercised his command in action, holding off Persian forces led by Pharnabazos, Tithraustes, and Abrokomas for three years (probably 385-383), and he even enlarged Egyptian domains in Palestine with the collapse of the Persian offensive. After having served his patron so ably and, following the death of Hakoris, after seeing the rule of Egypt securely transferred to Nektanebis I late in 379, Chabrias was summoned back to Athens.[9]

In the compressed account of Diodoros, Chabrias was recalled immediately after the Athenians received complaints about him from Pharnabazos. The circumstances belie such a simple account. Pharnabazos' complaint, which carried with it the threat of alienating Artaxerxes, could hardly have been both so tardy and so effective. Why would Pharnabazos wait until 379, after Chabrias had been making headway against Persian forces for more than five years, to represent the king's interests


before the Athenians? The truth more likely was that Pharnabazos had complained more than once and had received the reply that Chabrias was acting on his own initiative,

(Diodoros 15.29.2), and could not be restrained by the Athenians. When Chabrias finally was recalled, on strict orders from the Athenians, it was after his task in Egypt was done and after he had seen to the establishment of a suitable successor to Hakoris. The occasion must have had more to do with a need for his services at Athens than with Pharnabazos' wish to see him gone.[10]

When Chabrias emerges in action in the opening campaigns of the Boiotian War, he is the energetic and sagacious commander of mercenaries for the Athenians. When peace was made in 375, one of the factors encouraging the Athenians to make peace was the burdensome cost of maintaining mercenary troops. The circumstantial case is extremely strong, therefore, that Chabrias returned to Athens in 379 in the company of a substantial corps of seasoned mercenary troops and that, although he rose to the rank of an elected general early in the war, he began service on the Kithairon frontier as a commander of mercenary forces. The further, and more important, conclusion to be drawn from these developments in the career of Chabrias is that, by the time the Athenians summoned him and his followers to Athens, the Athenians already foresaw the need for such troops in a war that was soon to break out.[11]


Athenian involvement in the Theban uprising against the Spartan garrison on the Kadmeia is further evidence that war was anticipated by the Athenians. At the beginning of the winter of 379/8, the return of the Theban exiles from Attica and their coup d'état at Thebes was supported by a corps of Athenian volunteers led by two generals. The affair was planned and executed in secrecy and, therefore, was not authorized by any public decree on the part of the Athenians. The Athenian officers and men in on the conspiracy were certainly aware of the gravity of the


situation and the probability that war with Sparta would result. They must have proceeded, nonetheless, with the expectation that what they were doing was opportune and would receive the endorsement of the Athenian assembly as soon as the uprising was announced. This is precisely what did happen, according to Isokrates, Deinarchos, Diodoros, Plutarch, and Aristides, and their testimony should be accepted despite the silence of Xenophon on this point.[12]

On the first day of the uprising, when it became known that the pro-Spartan polemarchs were dead and the city of Thebes was in the hands of the anti-Spartan faction, messengers were dispatched by both the conspirators and the beleaguered Spartan garrison to summon aid to their sides. The Spartans urgently requested support from the surrounding allied towns and a relieving force from Sparta to put down the insurrection. The Thebans, presumably seconded by their Athenian coconspirators, urgently requested a force from Athens in order to capture the Kadmeia before the Peloponnesian army should arrive. Within a day, the Theban appeal was heard at Athens and approved, and the following day, a force "as large as possible" was dispatched to Thebes (Diodoros 15.26.1).

Diodoros says that 5,000 Athenian hoplites and 500 cavalry were mobilized under the command of Demophon and that the Athenians prepared to follow this force

, with their entire levy, if necessary (15.26.2). The mercenaries of Chabrias were already on the scene. Operating out of Eleutherai on the main road to Thebes, Chabrias' men must have formed the bulk of the force led by the two generals, for no citizen levy could have been called out for that covert purpose without arousing widespread suspicion and speculation. As it was, the presence of these men in the vicinity of the frontiers seems to have been noticed by the Spartan commanders, who suspected that something was afoot and placed their allies on alert. This emerges from details in Plutarch's account of the events leading up to the uprising in Thebes in his On the Daimon of Sokrates . Although this is a largely fictionalized work, these particular details seem too circumstantially precise to be dismissed. Plutarch has one of the Theban conspirators, despairing of their chances


for success, point out that their enemies could not be altogether ignorant of the conspiracy of the exiles, since on the eve of the planned coup, the Thespians had been standing to arms for two days already, under orders from the Spartan commanders to be prepared in case they were summoned (Moralia 586e-f). A second circumstantial detail is that one of the three Spartan commanders, Lysanoridas, was away from Thebes at the time of the uprising (Moralia 586e, 594d, 598f). This detail is con-firmed by the fact that, of the three Spartan commanders held accountable after the surrender of the Kadmeia, Lysanoridas was the only one to escape the death sentence (Plutarch Pelopidas 13.2, Moralia 598f; cf. Diodoros 15.27.3). Considering the state of alert at Thespiai, it is most likely that Lysanoridas was in the field investigating the source of the alarm. Under the circumstances, Plataia would have been his most probable location, for there he could most readily gather intelligence about the movements of the Athenian force, whose presence in such strength was most unusual at any time, and certainly in this season. As events proved, if the Spartans and their allies suspected anything at this moment, it was the Athenians, not the conspirators within Thebes.[13]

Upon the arrival at Thebes of the main Athenian force and supporters from other Boiotian cities, the siege of the Kadmeia was more closely pressed. The mass of forces assembled (Diodoros 15.26.4 reports no less than 12,000 hoplites and 2,000 cavalry) was intended primarily to fore-stall any intervention by Spartan allies in the immediate vicinity, and in this it was entirely successful. The Thespians, whatever orders they may have received, kept quiet. Athenian citizen troops were most likely detailed to this deterrent role. Actual fighting was left to the Thebans and their Boiotian supporters and, probably, the mercenaries brought by the Athenians.

Frequent assaults were made on the walls, and soldiers were encouraged by the promise of great rewards to the first man to enter the acropolis, all loudly announced for the effect it would have on morale on both sides. The garrison of 1,500 men held out stoutly for days, but as provisions began to dwindle and no relieving force was in sight, the pressure began to tell. Finally, after at least two weeks of ceaseless right-


ing, all in the gloom of winter, the Peloponnesian followers compelled their Spartan commanders to accept terms of surrender and to evacuate the Kadmeia.[14]

The surrender was a decisive victory, for if the Kadmeia had not fallen by the time the Peloponnesian army arrived, the Spartans would have been able to lay siege to the Thebans and their allies from within and without, reducing the anti-Spartan forces to a state from which there would have been no easy recovery. The victory was a narrow one, for the relieving army was little more than a day away at the time of the evacuation. Did the Thebans and Athenians realize that success hung by so slender a thread?

There is no doubt that they realized the urgency of reducing the Kadmeia, but they may well have felt confident in their ability to press the siege to a successful conclusion no matter how long it took. The reason for their confidence was the presence of Chabrias' peltasts together with a Theban force on the Kithairon frontier, whose purpose was to halt the army of Kleombrotos when it finally arrived in the Megarid. Determined opposition could dose the Kithairon passes to an invading army, as Kleombrotos was to discover in 376. On this occasion, however, Kleombrotos did force his way through, although it is likely that his progress north from the Megarid was significantly delayed before he was able to find a way to do so.

Xenophon describes the position of Kleombrotos' foes at the moment that Kleombrotos made his passage through Kithairon "on the road leading to Plataia" (Hellenika 5.4.14). Chabrias and his peltasts were guarding the road through Eleutherai while a force of some 150 men from Thebes were on guard in the pass on Kleombrotos' route. It is sometimes assumed, as Xenophon's simple description seems to imply, that Chabrias at Eleutherai had forced Kleombrotos to make a detour out of the best route across Kithairon into a byway where a small de-fending force was taken by surprise. This is an erroneous assumption, however, for Kleombrotos' route to Plataia was in fact the direct route for his purposes (see map 5 and figures 41, 42).[15] At the moment of his crossing, Chabrias' force was in no position to hinder Kleombrotos' passage into Boiotia. Only the "men released from prison [in the uprising at Thebes], who were about one hundred and fifty in number," as


Xenophon describes them, were in Kleombrotos' way, and these Kleombrotos' vanguard of peltasts surprised and slaughtered or dispersed.

This is a remarkable set of circumstances, in view of the fact that the approach of Kleombrotos' army was no secret and that the men from Thebes were, presumably, on the lookout for his army. Why were there so few of them, and why were they taken by surprise? The answer to these questions must be that they did not expect Kleombrotos to cross Kithairon at that moment, and the only reason for them to have been so careless is that they believed their task was done.

The garrison on the Kadmeia had already surrendered, and its commanders had been allowed to withdraw to Megara, there to meet Kleombrotos with their shameful news (Plutarch Pelopidas 13.2). There is every reason to believe that until that time the Thebans, almost certainly rein-forced by Chabrias' peltasts, had stood watch in force over the southern entrances to the Kithairon passes, preventing Kleombrotos from making any attempt to cross.[16] Standing guard for weeks on these ridges and summits in the bitter cold of the midwinter season would have taken its toll on these men. After they had seen the Spartans from the Kadmeian garrison make their dismal way across the passes, they must have been ordered to withdraw and return to sheltered quarters. Most of the Thebans returned home, but 150 miserable souls were left to stand guard over the northern entrances to the Kithairon passes, where their object would have been to keep watch on Plataia, ready to intercept any movement that Lysanoridas and his small force there might make to cross out of Boiotia. Chabrias' mercenaries took up quarters at Eleutherai to keep watch over another northern entrance to Kithairon. Neither party noriced the force that broke camp at Megara and moved swiftly across the passes behind them. The Thebans and Athenians no longer expected Kleombrotos to cross Kithairon, and the fact that he did so came as a shock.

Second Thoughts

The events of Kleombrotos' winter campaign and its immediate after-math were of great significance to the course of the war to follow. All sources agree that, before his march, Athenian officers and men had been willing to volunteer their support to Thebes, and there is no reason


to doubt those sources that report that this unofficial voluntary aid was immediately followed by a public decree of direct military support. The diplomatic basis for this action can only have been an assertion on the part of the Athenians that they were enforcing the King's Peace by guaranteeing the autonomy of Thebes. They were, to use the words formally inscribed by the Athenians just a year later, taking action "so that the Lakedaimonians would allow the Greeks to be free and autonomous, to live in peace, possessing their own land in security." This action could not have been undertaken in a state of naive optimism, for in view of Sparta's recent history of intervention at Olynthos, at Phleious, and at Thebes itself, the Athenians, like the Thebans, surely foresaw a strong Spartan military response. But they thought that they had an answer to this. Through their speedy and massive support of the Theban uprising, in combination with a blockade of the way across Kithairon, they felt that they had assured that the garrison could be expelled without the least likelihood of coming to blows with the Peloponnesian army.[17]

After Kleombrotos' campaign, however, Athenian enthusiasm for the Theban cause suddenly evaporated. Xenophon reports the trial and condemnation, to death and to exile, of the two generals who had been instrumental in bringing Athenian support to Thebes. Plutarch confirms this report and adds that a treaty of alliance with Thebes was repudiated. Xenophon identifies the motive for this reaction as fear, brought about when "the Athenians beheld the power of the Lakedaimonians, and that the war was no longer at Corinth, but that the Lakedaimonians were now passing Attica and invading the territory of Thebes."[18] We cannot be-


lieve that the mere advent of "the power of the Lakedaimonians," so clearly foreseeable, was responsible for the abrupt reversal of Athenian policy. The fact that its arrival did prove to be the undoing of the Athenian supporters of Thebes must indicate that Kleombrotos had succeeded where all had expected he would not. In view of Kleombrotos' general inactivity after his arrival in Boiotia, a fact that Xenophon does not fail to criticize, the gravity of this development for the cause of the Thebans and the Athenians is not immediately apparent. Once again, the sequence of events points to the source of Athenian fears at this time.

Kleombrotos' mission was to lift the siege of the Kadmeia and to put down the anti-Spartan uprising in Thebes. For this he had arrived too late. The Spartan garrison commanders, having evacuated the Kadmeia on terms of capitulation, had met Kleombrotos and delivered the bad news to him while he was still in the Megarid. Nevertheless, Kleombrotos pressed on, and after breaking through a Theban guard force in the Dryos Kephalai pass, he entered Boiotia. Kleombrotos' first moves were to confirm the control of friendly forces in the towns of Plataia and Thespiai. Then he entered Theban territory and encamped at Kynos Kephalai, on the boundaries of Theban land toward Thespiai, about six kilometers from Thebes. There he remained, Xenophon informs us, for about sixteen days, without undertaking any overt military actions against the Thebans. What could his purpose have been?

With anti-Spartan forces turned out at full strength and numerous Athenian reinforcements still at Thebes (Diodoros 15.27.4), there was little chance of success in an assault. In the dead of winter, with no advance preparations in the surrounding communities, there were no re-sources available to support a circumvallation and siege of Thebes. Like-wise, there was little in the countryside worth destroying, and still less forage available for the sustenance of Kleombrotos' army. From a military standpoint, then, not much could be done at the moment. But with proper preparations, a noose could be tightened around Thebes in the coming spring.

Despite sympathizers in neighboring communities, Thebes was still alone among Boiotian towns in its resistance to Sparta. Only the Athenians had openly declared their support for Thebes, and in this, as soon as Kleombrotos' army arrived, they probably began to equivocate. An exchange of declarations must have occupied much of Kleombrotos' time at Kynos Kephalai. Kleombrotos would have declared Spartan intentions to be only to punish the wrongdoers, the murderers of the The-ban polemarchs.[19] The Athenians would have declared that they were


present only to assure the restoration of freedom and autonomy to the Thebans, in accordance with the treaty with the king sworn by all parties in 386, which had been violated when the Spartans seized the Kadmeia in 382.[20] The Athenians may have added (as they certainly genuinely felt) that there was no justification for the Spartans to make war on them over this issue. As the purposes of the two sides were mutually exclusive, there was an impasse. The Spartans were prepared to seek a military solution, but it would have been clear to Kleombrotos that it would be folly to begin hostilities at that time, when conditions were not favorable. Moreover, the Athenian declaration of peaceable intentions must al-ready have suggested to Kleombrotos that Sparta might not have to fight both Thebes and Athens over this issue. Certainly, if he took hostile action against Thebes at this point, with an Athenian army present, he would have forced the Athenians into war. There was every reason to wait for spring before advancing beyond Kynos Kephalai.

Kleombrotos therefore took measures to assure that Thebes remained isolated among Sparta's Boiotian allies. The chief action Kleombrotos is known to have taken at this time was the establishment of Sphodrias as Spartan harmost at Thespiai, with a substantial force, "a third part of the contingents of each of the allies," according to Xenophon (Hellenika 5.4.15), as well as money for the raising of still more mercenary troops. Diodoros (15.29.6) reports that Sphodrias' army at the time of his attack on Attica numbered more than ten thousand men.[21] Among the duties charged to this force must have been the establishment of a suitable garrison at Plataia and the assurance of support to Tanagra. Thebes was thereby ringed by hostile bases. If only Athenian support could be cut off, Thebes would be completely isolated. A directive to see to military measures that would achieve this end must have been among Kleombrotos' orders to Sphodrias.

During the sixteen days that the Peloponnesian army lay encamped at Kynos Kephalai, Kleombrotos and Sphodrias must have given considerable thought to the subject of Athenian military support for Thebes and how it might be severed. One of the principal activities of Kleombrotos at this time, therefore, must have been the gathering of intelligence. Spies and scouts reconnoitered routes across the Attic frontier and Athenian positions along them. The Athenian presence in the mountains of the frontier was worrisome to the Spartans not just because of the vital support it provided to Thebes, but also because it threatened to


sever Sparta's overland route into Boiotia. The danger was clearly recognized by Kleombrotos, who knew what it meant to fight for passage through Kithairon. In fact, Kleombrotos' decision to withdraw from Boiotia by the longer and more arduous route via Kreusis to Aigosthena was probably taken in view of the threatening strength of Athenian forces under Chabrias in the passes of Kithairon, especially after Kleombrotos' army was reduced by the substantial force left at Thespiai, which probably included all of the peltasts brought by Kleombrotos.[22] These would be needed for the mountain campaign now beginning on the Boiotian frontier.

In view of these circumstances, after securing the Boiotian towns around Thebes, the highest priority for Sphodrias and his army was to gain and maintain control of the Kithairon passes. After this was done, he could contemplate how most effectively he could seal Thebes off from Athens.

The slow but inexorable development of these events sent a chill to the Athenians. Support for the Theban uprising must have been granted because the Athenians believed that a strong ally could thereby be gained without undue risk to themselves. Athenian and mercenary forces dispatched to Thebes and to Kithairon were supposed to assure the success of the uprising and to prevent the passage of a Peloponnesian army through Kithairon. The uprising had succeeded, but so had the Peloponnesian army, and now the mountains of the Attic frontier, which were supposed to be defensive bastions for Attica and Boiotia, were being convened into the forward outposts of strong Peloponnesian forces based close to those mountains. The beginning of summer would bring a predictable invasion of Boiotia from the Peloponnese, and unless the Athenians successfully disentangled themselves from Thebes and repudiated their involvement in the uprising, Athens would be embroiled in a war on the defensive, in a decidedly less secure position than had been anticipated a few months earlier. And if any of these points were not immediately dear to the Athenians, it is safe to assume that the Spar-tans lost no time in sending embassies to Athens to remonstrate and threaten, furthering their efforts to isolate Thebes, now well under way thanks to the patience and foresight of Kleombrotos.

It is no wonder that the mood at Athens was angry and that a majority could now be persuaded to condemn the two generals responsible for military operations that winter. It would be interesting to know the charges on which the generals were tried. Xenophon implies that their


unauthorized complicity with the Theban conspirators was the basis of the accusations against them. They might well have been singled out as the initiators of what now appeared to be a disastrous policy, but there was another aspect of their role that laid them open to condemnation. The two generals were surely responsible for providing the Athenian assembly with a military assessment of the situation at the moment when the Thebans appeared to announce their uprising and to appeal for support. Having long given thought to the situation and now requiring swift assent to their plans, the generals must have optimistically affirmed that, with a strong Athenian commitment, the garrison on the Kadmeia could be reduced and that by guarding Kithairon any relief force from the Peloponnese could be held at bay in the Megarid. Now they were called to account. Although accusations must have been preferred by those known to disapprove of the entire proposition of supporting Thebes, the basis of the charge must have been not complicity, but incompetence. The generals had failed to live up to their promises, and they had left Athens in a dangerously exposed situation.


While these events were transpiring in the weeks following Kleombrotos' campaign, Sphodrias had decided on the most effective means of isolating Thebes from Athens. The task of closing a long frontier to the passage of enemy forces was very much more formidable than the task of keeping a single route open for the passage of one's own forces. Sphodrias therefore decided to stop the Athenians at their source, to hold Athens at bay, so to speak, by capturing Peiraieus. It was a strategically brilliant solution to his dilemma, and one, moreover, which would allow him to take capital advantage of the access to the Kithairon passes that he had by now secured. For, as events would prove, neither Chabrias and his peltasts nor any other force was on watch in the field at that time. They had all most likely been withdrawn to the Athenian garrison forts at Oinoe, Panakton, and Eleusis, while the Athenian political and military leadership was passing through a crisis in Athens. Athens and Sparta were not yet at war, after all, and a Spartan diplomatic mission in Athens at the time indicated to the Athenians that the Spartans still wanted to exchange words rather than blows.[23]


Because Athenian troops had already stood to arms against the Peloponnesians on Kithairon and at Thebes and had already, in fact or to outward appearances, joined in the fighting that led to the surrender of the Peloponnesian garrison at Thebes, the fact that Sparta and Athens were not yet formally at war might have escaped Sphodrias. Or, to give him more credit, he took an entirely practical view of the situation (as had his Athenian counterparts earlier that winter) and recognized that if war had not yet formally begun, it certainly would do so by the beginning of summer, and he ought, therefore, to fulfill his charge as effectively as possible by striking first. In the aftermath, when Sphodrias was brought to trial at Sparta, his acquittal was secured when Agesilaos arrived at precisely this assessment of the situation, announcing that "Sparta has need of such soldiers" (Xenophon Hellenika 5.4.32).

In the event, Sphodrias' plan failed only because it was too ambitious. His plan was to march, under the cover of night, from Thespiai to Peiraieus, where the recently rebuilt gates did not yet have doors. Starting from Thespiai rather than Plataia, so as to avoid having any hint of his intentions reported to the Athenians, he set out after an early supper on a march of about seventy-five kilometers. Some twelve hours or so later, dawn's light found him in the plain of Eleusis, still at least twenty kilo-meters short of his objective. By that time, the alarm had been sounded at Athens, and the Athenians were standing to arms in the city and at Peiraieus. Xenophon makes it clear that the approach of Sphodrias' army was reported not by any signal relay but by individuals who had chanced to meet the force in the night and had fled in haste to bring the news to the city. Furthermore, Sphodrias' contempt of any Athenian forces that might have been stationed in the garrison forts near the frontiers is demonstrated by the fact that after dawn had lifted the cover of surprise from his mission, he turned his attention to rounding up flocks and breaking into houses in the countryside as he withdrew. He had most definitely caught the Athenians unprepared.[24]


Although Sphodrias failed to achieve his goal, the shock of his at-tack must have stunned the Athenians into a momentary stupor of disbelief and bewilderment. How could this have happened? Were they not making every concession demanded by the Spartans to separate themselves from Thebes? The Spartan ambassadors then in Athens, likewise stunned, disavowed any knowledge of the attack and were believed by the Athenians when they promised that its perpetrator would be brought to justice. Yet even before the outcome of the trial of Sphodrias at Sparta became known weeks later, shock gave way to anger at Athens as the adherents of the Theban cause once again gained the ear of the demos, as Xenophon reports:

Among the Athenians, meanwhile, the Boiotizers were pointing out to the people that the Lakedaimonians had not only not punished, but had even praised Sphodrias, because he had plotted against Athens. As a result, the Athenians put doors on the Peiraieus gates, set about building ships, and gave support to the Boiotians with full enthusiasm.[25]

Only a few weeks earlier, the Athenians had moved to distance themselves from Thebes in view of the manifest vulnerability of Attica to "the power of the Lakedaimonians." Now, after heated debate, the Athenians signaled a decisive change of course by a pair of resolutions: first, that the Spartans could be held to be in violation of the peace treaty of 386, the so-called King's Peace; and second, that the Thebans should be allies of the Athenians.[26] Despite the fact that Attica was no less vulnerable


now than it had been before Sphodrias' attack, the Athenians were once again on the path to war with Sparta. Something more than welling anger must have occurred to the Athenians in the meantime to make this shift of opinion possible. Influential Athenians, the supporters of Thebes, must now have been listening to the advice of a military man who knew the frontier area and who had considerable experience in devising defensive works in anticipation of powerful armies.

Reckoning the Balance

In the spring of 378, Spartan forces held the passes of Kithairon open for a possible invasion of Attica, and Sphodrias' raid provided proof enough that what the Spartans could do, they would do. The Spartans had at their disposal an allied army of some 30,000 infantry, the vast majority of them hoplites. This force was roughly double what the Athenians could raise under the pressure of war in Attica. The Athenians might have been able to call up as many as 10,000 hoplites, and these could be augmented by perhaps 2,000 mercenaries of various arms and an unknown number of citizen light-armed infantry, in all hardly likely to exceed 16,000 infantry, if even near that amount. A Theban contingent might increase the total force by some 3,000 to 4,000 infantry; but recognizing that some portion of the Athenian force would have to stand guard on the walls of Athens, Peiraieus, and the garrison forts, by the most optimistic count the Thebans and Athenians could expect to march out at barely half the potential strength of the Peloponnesians in the event of an invasion of Attica.[27]

Just as Perikles had recognized in 432/1, it would have been the height of folly to meet the Peloponnesians in the field with such odds. The Periklean alternative, however, was equally unacceptable. The Athenians could not afford to withdraw within their walls as they had done in 431, for then they were able to rely on their imperial revenues and


capital reserves to provide for the import of essential foodstuffs and ma-tériel and to sustain their primarily naval war effort. Now they had neither imperial revenues nor significant reserves, and their war effort had to include a plan to support their major ally, Thebes, in a land campaign.

Necessity was the inspiration for novel solutions, both for the generation of revenue without empire and for the prosecution of a land campaign while decidedly outnumbered on land. The two concerns were directly connected, for the primary method of raising revenue by direct taxation in wartime, the eisphora , was based on the evaluation of the real property of the Athenians, the greater part of which consisted of land and houses outside of the walls of the city. Reliance on the eisphora for revenue therefore required measures to protect the property of the Athenians in the countryside. The importance of the eisphora to the Athenians at this time is demonstrated by the fundamental reorganization of the eisphora system that took place in 378. In that year, the taxable property of Attica was reassessed, and a new and more efficient method of converting it into revenue was instituted.[28] Reliance on eisphorai made the Athenians so much the more vulnerable to Peloponnesian might on land than they were in 431, since repeated invasion possibly, and hostile occupation certainly, would destroy a major revenue base for the state. Other military considerations aside, therefore, this demonstrated concern with eisphorai is inconceivable unless the Athenians at the same time had a plan for the defense of Attica against Peloponnesian invasion.

In the winter of 379/8, Theban and Athenian commanders had already recognized the utility of the Kithairon massif on the Attic-Boiotian-Megarian frontier as a barrier against Peloponnesian armies. Now, in the spring of 378, the Spartans were in control of the chief passes through that mountainous frontier. To the Thebans, this meant that they would have to confront the Peloponnesian army at the borders of their own land, in the open and gently rolling hill country of the Asopos basin, terrain that Mardonios had chosen a century earlier as suitable for pitting his numerically superior army against the forces of the Greeks. The terrain gave few and only slight local advantages to weaker defending forces. These constraints gave birth in the spring of 378 to the remarkable Theban stockade and earthwork, closing off the


most accessible parts of Theban territory along a line at least twenty kilometers long.[29] On the Athenian side, the way now lay open for Agesilaos to follow literally in the footsteps of his father, to enter the plain of Eleusis, and to proceed with a general invasion of Attica. The plain of Athens was shielded from Eleusis by the substantial ridge of Aigaleos, and east of this barrier lay approximately 90 percent of the cultivable land and more than 90 percent of the demes of Attica. Only one opening through this barrier was suitable for the passage of an invading army. This was the Aigaleos-Parnes gap, which was precisely the route used by Archidamos in 431.[30] Here the Dema wall was constructed in the spring of 378.

Chabrias, whose election to the generalship is reported by Diodoros in the spring of 378, immediately upon the declaration of war on Sparta, is the only general of this year known to us to have had prior experience in the field. Since his experience included the construction of stockades, entrenchments, and other fortifications along the Egyptian-Palestinian frontier, and since he emerged later in 378 as the commander responsible for Athenian support to Thebes and was generally the most renowned commander on the Athenian-Theban side in the campaigns around Thebes in 378 and 377, it is highly probable that Chabrias was directly responsible for the design and construction of both the Dema wall and the Theban stockade.[31]

In terms of Chabrias' prior experience, the Theban stockade and earthworks bore a much closer resemblance than the Dema wall to the fieldworks he had supervised in the flat delta land of Egypt. How closely they may have resembled each other we do not know, from the brief accounts that survive. It is clear, however, that the Egyptian works contained many elements inappropriate to the Greek setting, in particular, channels to divert water and to flood the landward approaches to fortified positions. The sheer scale of these undertakings is, however, a re-


markable feature common to both projects, and there can be no doubt that so ambitious a scheme at Thebes in Boiotia was envisioned and encouraged by Chabrias' experience in Egypt.

In terms of scale, the Dema wall, a mere three kilometers in length, was by far the less ambitious undertaking. But its short length was offset by the more intractable building material it required. Here no trenches could be dug, mounds piled, or stakes set. The wall had to be built out of limestone, hewn out of bedrock on the spot, with the mass of the wall heaped up by hand but with the larger stones of the wall face dressed at least roughly by masons with some skill. The plan of this wall, crossing more undulating and precipitous ground than either the Theban or the Egyptian works, called for different principles in laying out its course and in developing its tactical refinements. The chief refinement here—not an innovation but a local adaptation—was the frequency of sally ports, which were to be used exclusively by foot troops, whereas on Theban terrain allowances had to be made for the regular deployment of cavalry. Here again, Chabrias' Egyptian service provided him with no precedents for these details in the Dema wall. But Chabrias' practical experience in forming and leading troops in the typical landscapes of Greece provided all the precedent needed for planning these features. The modulations from long and narrow wall-sections across steep ground to short and massive sections on level ground correspond to the proportionate depths and widths of each platoon, or lochos , as it might be arrayed across such a landscape.[32] Likewise, the course of the wall corresponds to the most sensible line for drawing up a defending force across the terrain in this pass.

Construction of the Dema wall must have been carried out in the space of a few days, certainly less than a week, by a military call-up of all able-bodied citizens and residents of Athens. Such a mass levy, consisting of

(Thucydides 4.90.1) had been deployed to Delion in 424, where well over ten thousand , mostly unarmed, had turned out in this for the purpose of constructing the fortifications of Delion, which were mostly completed in the space of two and a half days (Thucydides 4.90, 94). A similar expedition was sent out from Athens to Corinth in 391 for


the purpose of rebuilding the long walls from Corinth to Lechaion. The force was

, en masse, and included stonemasons and carpenters (many of whom may have been foreigners or metics), and it completed the west long wall, facing Spartan forces at Sikyon, "in a few days," while the east wall was completed "in a more leisurely manner" (Xenophon Hellenika 4.4.18).[33] The stonemasons and carpenters of 391 were those who were at that time finishing the restoration of the circuit walls of Peiraieus. In the years that followed, after first rebuilding their own ruinous long walls, the Athenians also rebuilt substantial portions of the circuit of Athens, walls which had not been destroyed in 404 but were now in need of refurbishing. In view of the fact that Peiraieus did not yet have doors on its gates by the spring of 378, it is possible that this refurbishing work had also proceeded slowly and had only just been completed, if it even was complete, by 378. In any event, the general stylistic resemblance between the masonry of certain of the more care-fully worked portions of the Dema wall and the masonry of the early fourth-century (so-called Kononian) phase of the city walls of Athens can now be explained by their close contemporaneity.[34]

Simultaneously, the system of lookout and signal towers noted in chapter 3 was constructed. It is significant that no tower that can be associated with the system by its form and plan was constructed any farther into the western mountains than the Velatouri tower. This tower, with Plakoto, was an intermediary between the garrison forts of Panakton and Oinoe on the frontiers and Eleusis and the rest of Attica, and these forts marked the limits of Athenian control of the frontier area at the beginning of the summer of 378. Beyond them lay a skirmishing zone, where both sides would contend for control of the passes but where, in the spring of 378, the Spartans momentarily held the advantage.

Agesilaos and the Campaign of 378

The war known to us as the Boiotian War was surely referred to as the Theban War by the Spartans.[35] It had begun with a slaughter of Spartan


supporters at Thebes, and retribution for those murders was the justification for Sparta's military reaction. The primary objective of the Spartans in the spring of 378 was the same as it had been under Kleombrotos: to isolate and reduce Thebes. Unlike Athens, Thebes was landlocked and surrounded by hostile bases. The Spartans had every reason to hope that the preparations made by Kleombrotos could now be brought to fruition. By denying the Thebans the produce of their land and by over-whelming them in numbers if they chose to come out and fight, the Spartans could expect to grind them down, by siege if necessary, as they had recently done to the Phleiasians and Olynthians.[36]

If Athens had been forced to stand aloof from Thebes, as had seemed possible until the raid of Sphodrias backfired, there is every reason to believe that the beginning of summer would have seen the beginning of the Peloponnesian siege of Thebes. Now the situation was more complicated. Athenian support for Thebes was a significant obstacle, but not an insuperable one. Combined Athenian and Theban forces were by no means equal to the Peloponnesian army, but they were strong enough to prevent Thebes from being easily invested. Proof of this, if proof were needed, was furnished by the fieldworks under preparation around Thebes. This, and all other defensive preparations undertaken by their foes, would not have gone unnoticed by the Spartans.

With the adherence of Athens to the Theban side, the Spartan strategy for the war necessarily changed. Now the Spartans had to pre-pare to engage the combined forces of Thebes and Athens in the open field. If that could be done at an opportune moment, then the Spartans could still reasonably hope that the strength of their forces would tell and that the armies, and the resolve, of the Thebans and Athenians would be broken. The situation called for considerable skill and, more than that, the nerve to press home, at the right moment, a frontal attack that was bound to be bloody on both sides. On both counts, the long experience of Agesilaos recommended him as the commander for this campaign. Skill as a commander Agesilaos had amply demonstrated in all his previous campaigns. He had outgeneraled his enemies on many occasions, especially in the course of his Asian campaigns of 396-394, for which, according to Diodoros (15.31.3-4), Agesilaos' leadership was acclaimed. Of requisite nerve Agesilaos had given signal proof at Koro-


neia sixteen years earlier, when he had had the opportunity to allow the Theban army to flee, but instead he had deliberately led his phalanx into a collision with the Thebans in an effort to destroy them outright.[37] Such resolve was needed now, if Sparta was to break the link between Athens and Thebes and to begin the blockade of Thebes in earnest.

The defeat of Thebes, therefore, was the ultimate objective of Agesilaos' campaign. But if Agesilaos could weaken Thebes by first attacking Athens, there would be every reason to do so. Agesilaos had given ample demonstration in the past of his ability to deceive his foes about his immediate objective, attacking where he was least expected.[38] The Athenians had to be prepared for that possibility. If they were not, Agesilaos could easily plan to include the devastation of at least a portion of Attica in his campaign, with the immediate hope that he might divert the Athenians away from Thebes or even overman and cut up the Athenians in the field.

The demonstration of preparedness by the Athenians forestalled such a strategy. Through their signal system, the Athenians were assured of timely information about the movement of Agesilaos' army. More important, the Dema wall displayed what the Athenians were pre-pared to do in the event of an invasion of Attica. Numbers, speed, and ingenuity might gain the plain of Eleusis for Agesilaos, but none of these qualities would allow him to pass beyond it into the greater part of Attica. The Athenians, in other words, were making a clear demonstration of what they were prepared to give up in exchange for limiting Peloponnesian depredations to a tolerable and ineffectual minimum. The Dema position was an exceedingly strong one—much stronger by nature than the protracted line of the Theban stockade—and his spies would surely inform Agesilaos of its strength. Knowing its strength and knowing that the Athenians would make light of whatever else the Peloponnesian army might do west of this position, Agesilaos was strongly discouraged from opening his offensive with an invasion of Attica.

The decision to proceed directly against Thebes in the summer campaign of 378 was thus the most logical one, for there Spartan preparations were the strongest and there, though the Thebans and Athenians had gone to great lengths to attempt to redress the balance, his foes were clearly the most vulnerable.

Agesilaos could not assume that passage through Kithairon would be easy, regardless of the advantages enjoyed by the Spartans in having one


end of the route anchored in the allied territory of Megara and the other end secured by a garrison at Plataia and an army at Thespiai. Though their patrols might move through Kithairon regularly, and lookouts could keep watch over the approaches, control of the heights could be challenged by the enemy at any moment. No moment was more likely for a challenge than when the Peloponnesian levy was on its way.

The army at Thespiai was the principal operational force in Boiotia for the Spartans, and patrols across Kithairon likely originated from it. Movements from Thespiai were no doubt closely watched by the The-bans, who could expect that preparations for the arrival of Agesilaos' army would be observed first at Thespiai. Agesilaos therefore took care to secure the Kithairon passes from the Megarian side in order to assure that no advance warning of preparations for his arrival would be given. He arranged for a mercenary force, temporarily diverted for this purpose from their employment at Kletor in Arkadia, to precede him from the Peloponnese to Kithairon. If the Athenians and Thebans had been expecting to challenge him during his crossing, he successfully headed them off by this maneuver. As a further precaution, Agesilaos also seems to have moved his army from the Isthmus across Kithairon with greater speed than was usual for a force of its size.[39]

The employment of the mercenaries from Kletor had a further strategic value to Agesilaos. They were to take control of the passage through Kithairon not only for Agesilaos' passage into Boiotia but also to remain there for the duration of his campaign, assuring him of a safe passage out of Boiotia afterward. He did not want to be forced to take the difficult route via Kreusis and Aigosthena, as had Kleombrotos, nor to risk surprise by any strong enemy force gathered in his rear. Freed of this concern, he could concentrate the maximum numbers of the Peloponnesian army, both that accompanying him and that already at Thespiai, on the task awaiting him at Thebes.

Chabrias and the Campaign of 378

Sometime between mid-May and mid-June 378, Agesilaos arrived at Thespiai. There he allowed his men a few days' rest while he received reports and prepared to lead his army agaist the Thebans. Now com-


bined with the force left by Kleombrotos, Agesilaos' army numbered 1,500 cavalry and over 28,000 infantry, at least 20,000 of which were hoplites. The assembly and preparation of Agesilaos' full force also allowed the Thebans time to position themselves in readiness behind their fieldworks and to effect their own union with the army brought by Chabrias.[40]

Diodoros remarks that "when the Athenians learned of the arrival of the Lakedaimonians in Boiotia, they went straight to the support of Thebes" (15.32.2). Given the urgency of timely support for the Thebans, we may assume that the intelligence was carried by visual signal relay from outposts on the frontier to Chabrias' camp at the Dema. Chabrias, the mastermind of the defensive strategy now deployed against Agesilaos' host, was effective commander of the Athenian force. His term of of-rice as Athenian strategos had technically not yet begun, however, so command officially resided with the strategos Demeas, son of Demades.[41] The force under the command of these two men consisted of both mercenary and citizen hoplites, 5,000 in round numbers, almost certainly mercenary peltasts in addition to that number, and 200 Athenian cavalrymen (Diodoros 15.32.2; see also appendix III). The force set out from its camp behind the Dema wall and proceeded by the most direct route to Thebes. This led northwest past Phyle and Panakton, across the Skourta plain, and down into the Asopos valley, entering Theban territory some-where in the vicinity of Skolos. The total distance by this route from the


Dema to Thebes is just over sixty kilometers. To judge by comparison to Sphodrias' march, this distance could be accomplished in a single day only with great difficulty, if the army was on the move for twelve to fourteen hours. More likely, the march was divided over two days, especially since the arrival of the Peloponnesians in Boiotia was probably signaled only toward the end of their last day of march. A short march in the evening followed by a long march the next day would seem to be the most likely way for Chabrias to have brought his supporting force to the Thebans. The resulting assembly of the Thebans and their allies was an army that numbered hardly more than 12,000 hoplites, perhaps 5,000 to 6,000 light-armed infantry, and at least 1,700 cavalry.[42]

Agesilaos set out from Thespiai along the route previously used by Kleombrotos, moving into the upper Asopos valley to enter Theban territory at Kynos Kephalai. There he was held up for several days along the line of the Theban stockade by defensive maneuvers of the Thebans described by Xenophon. Eventually, when the Theban routine had be-come familiar to Agesilaos, he succeeded in crossing the stockade by surprising the defenders in an early morning march.

Through discreet omissions, Xenophon provides a consistently favor-able impression of Agesilaos' skill in this campaign. According to Xenophon, Agesilaos distinguished himself first by crossing the troublesome stockade and then by devastating Theban fields "up to the city." There-after, he withdrew to Thespiai, and after arranging affairs there, he crossed Kithairon to Megara, where his army was disbanded. Other sources provide different perspectives, and of the events neglected by Xenophon, the most significant in this campaign was the encounter between Chabrias and Agesilaos, which is described by Diodoros and other sources dependent upon Ephoros.[43]

The event was a face-off and not a battle, but it was remarkable from the Theban and Athenian perspective because it demonstrated the in-ability, or the unwillingness, of Agesilaos to commit his army to pitched battle against vastly outnumbered defenders. Credit for this defensive victory is given to Chabrias, whose fame is attested not only by the acclamations he is said to have received on this occasion, according to Ephoros, but also by the account of Demosthenes, who recites this encounter


as the first in a list of notable achievements of Chabrias (although it is chronologically not the first), remembered soon after the death of that distinguished general.[44]

The encounter between Chabrias and Agesilaos took place immediately after Agesilaos had led his army across the stockade and into Theban territory. The penetration of their defenses by the Peloponnesians meant that the Thebans and Athenians had either to withdraw to Thebes or to take up a new defensive stance unprotected by any fortifications. They adopted the latter course, although it meant that Agesilaos might have his pitched battle if he chose to attack.

The Theban and Athenian army arrayed itself along the crest of a long and gently sloping hill to face the phalanx of the Peloponnesians, which approached from below. Action was begun by Agesilaos, who sent his skirmishers against the enemy formation, "testing their disposition to fight" (Diodoros 15.32.4). These men were easily dispersed by the Theban and Athenian light troops counterattacking from higher ground. Although our sources do not mention them in this connection, the more numerous Theban and Athenian cavalry probably also aided in neutralizing the Peloponnesian light troops, as well as their cavalry, since the terrain of the battlefield was everywhere well suited for cavalry. The result, in any event, was that the two phalanxes now stood face-to-face, ready to advance to battle.

This moment was the creation of Spartan strategy, and battle now was imperative if the war against Thebes were to succeed. As he had done sixteen years earlier, Agesilaos began his advance to battle against the Thebans and their allies, leading the Spartans at the fight end of his line. On the former occasion, the two armies were roughly a match in numbers. Now it was clear to all that Agesilaos led the superior force. The orderly advance of the Spartans, "a solid mass of bronze and scar-let," as Xenophon described it in 394 (Agesilaos 2.7), was intended to intimidate—it was arrayed

, "in a terrifying manner," according to Diodoros, speaking of 378 (15.32.4). In 394, Agesilaos achieved his intended effect, for the Argives arrayed opposite him broke and ran before he ever closed with them. Now he had Chabrias, with his mercenaries and his Athenians, facing him.

The front rank of the Theban force, holding the right half of the


allied line, was composed of Gorgidas' elite corps, the Sacred Band, who made their debut on the battlefield that day. The front rank of the Athenian force holding the left half of the line must likewise have been made up of an elite corps, in this case Chabrias' seasoned mercenary hoplites.[45] The success of the following maneuver is incomprehensible otherwise.

Moving up the gradual slope, Agesilaos must have looked anxiously for a sign that the enemy was about to lose heart, a sign that would encourage his allies to press home their attack just as he knew the Spar-tans would, following his lead. In a moment, his own will was broken by an incredible sight.

When the opposing lines were still separated by at least two hundred meters, but when the moment of commitment was fast approaching, the troops led by Chabrias, "as if by a single word of command," suddenly removed their shields from their shoulders, propped them against their knees, and stood at ease, with their spear butts resting on the ground, points straight up in the air. Gorgidas commanded his men to adopt the same stance. The maneuver was probably performed only by the front rank. Its unison required the confidence of a well-drilled team. Its execution by the entire army would have been both unduly risky and exceedingly difficult in the close order of a mass formation with its nerves at the breaking point. In fact, Polyainos reports that the maneuver was executed in place of the expected command to charge, indicating that it came at the moment when an army needed to steel its resolve to fight by acting rather than by passively awaiting the enemy's charge, which was a sure formula for panic and flight. The effect of this maneuver by the elite front rank was threefold: it reassured the ranks behind that the men at the front were united in obedience to their commanders; it pre-vented a precipitate charge, which could have dangerously weakened the formation of the allies; and it signaled to the Peloponnesians that neither the Thebans nor the Athenians were going to give way, but that


they were all of one mind and well prepared to take up their arms, close ground, and fight it out at the decisive moment. Before that moment came, Agesilaos commanded the trumpeter to sound the retreat.[46]

The Peloponnesian phalanx was withdrawn to the level plain, where it stood in formation for some time, offering the Thebans and Athenians their chance to initiate battle. No one could expect the Thebans and Athenians to attack the more numerous Peloponnesians on ground that favored their numbers, however, so Agesilaos offered the inducement of showing the Thebans the devastation of their land. None of this had the effect Agesilaos desired. Although the Peloponnesian phalanx there-after moved unchallenged across the flat land south of Thebes, skirmishing between light troops and cavalry on both sides must have been vigorous, and it is hard to believe that the Peloponnesians had the better of any such engagements. The reason is the superior numbers of the The-ban and Athenian cavalry, who had already taken their toll on the Peloponnesian cavalry and peltasts even before Agesilaos had crossed the stockade. Diodoros reports that Agesilaos' army returned to Thespiai in possession of "a great quantity of spoils" (15.32.6). Xenophon, perhaps here closer to the truth, is content to report that Agesilaos "cut and burned," or "devastated" Theban fields (Hellenika 5.4.41; Agesilaos 2.22).

Although he never mentions Chabrias in this campaign and never describes the battle that almost was, Xenophon does allude to the stand-off in his encomium of Agesilaos when he observes that, after crossing the stockade, Agesilaos "offered to do battle with the Thebans both in the plain and in the hills, if they chose to fight" (Agesilaos 2.22). By this, Xenophon acknowledges what Ephoros recorded, namely, that Agesilaos himself declined to initiate battle despite his strength. He had failed to achieve the most essential objective of the campaign against Thebes, and without a blow he had even allowed his army to be turned back in the face of an inferior enemy. That failure was remarked upon at the time:

The Spartan advisers, who accompanied Agesilaos, and his officers ex-pressed to him their surprise that Agesilaos, who reputedly was a man of


energy and had the larger and more powerful force, should have avoided a decisive contest with the enemy.[47]

Agesilaos' response, according to Diodoros and Xenophon, was to assert that the Lakedaimonians had won the victory without a blow, for though he, as the invader, had offered to do battle, the defenders had declined to fight and had allowed him to plunder Theban land, granting to him the sign of the unchallenged victor. This, however, was mere exculpation on the part of Agesilaos, a sop to discouraged comrades and allies, and encomiastic hyperbole on the part of Xenophon. The more important consideration, also acknowledged by Agesilaos, was that men who displayed such resolve as his enemies would not yield to intimidation and would fight it out, at great cost to both sides. Knowing his own army and understanding the tactical situation, Agesilaos judged that the risk of defeat to the Spartan side was too great.[48] His judgment on that score deserves full credit.

Chabrias had trumped Agesilaos. Although he and his men, facing the Spartans, might well have broken and run, avoiding the consequences of battle and knowing that the consequences of flight were more remote for them than for the Thebans, he and they had stood firm and had preserved intact the vital link between Thebes and Athens that now held Sparta at bay. Their failure to stop Agesilaos from laying waste to a part of Theban land was trivial by comparison to Agesilaos' failure to break that link. The stand near Thebes was proof in action of the resourceful-ness and the resolve of Chabrias and his allies to deny the Spartans the benefit of their strength in numbers, the very source of Spartan power. This was the same resolve that the Dema wall demonstrated in stone.

Frustrated at his first attempt, Agesilaos was compelled to recognize that instead of holding a tighter noose around Thebes, Spartan forces in Boiotia would now themselves have to endure the assaults of the more confident Thebans. The fortification of Thespiai, Agesilaos' last act be-fore leaving Boiotia in 378, was an open acknowledgment of this state of affairs.[49]


The Campaign of 377

Agesilaos left a new harmost at Thespiai, Phoibidas, and with him probably the same portion of the Peloponnesian levy that Kleombrotos had previously left, only rotating the allied contingents so that all might have their share of duty on the Boiotian front. In addition to keeping Kithairon open, Phoibidas' mission was much the same as that of Agis at Dekeleia some thirty-odd years earlier, to make war (

, Thucydides 7.27.4) by doing as much damage as he could to Theban property. This was a mutual preoccupation, and the Thebans likewise raided the territory of Thespiai and that of Sparta's other allies in the area. Probably toward the end of the summer of 378, the Thebans came out in force against Phoibidas, plundering Thespian territory and eventually routing Phoibidas' troops, slaying Phoibidas himself in the process.[50]

Xenophon remarks that this event encouraged not only the Thebans but also their supporters in other Boiotian cities, many of whom moved to Thebes, while at the same time it led to a growing need for support on the part of the friends of Sparta in Boiotia. Still, according to Xenophon, the Spartans did no more than replace Phoibidas with a new commander, who came to Thespiai with a Spartan mora . Numerically, this reinforcement amounted perhaps to no more than a replacement of the numbers lost with Phoibidas. Symbolically, it represented a deepening commitment on the part of the Spartans, for it was probably the first Lakedaimonian contingent to be committed to garrison duty alongside the allies in Boiotia. Sparta's allies felt the need for more than symbolic reinforcement, but at this point, the Spartans could do little more to support them. The new commander evidently had a more immediate worry. He had brought his force into Boiotia by ship across the Corinthian gulf. This suggests that after the death of Phoibidas, the Thebans and, possibly, the Athenians were encouraged to take the offensive on Kithairon. If this was the case, the new Spartan commander would be preoccupied with the restoration of Spartan control of Kithairon.[51]

With the coming of spring, the Spartan strongholds in Boiotia were in much the same state, in material terms, as they had been a year be-


fore. In terms of morale, especially among Boiotian allies, the Spartan cause was beginning to suffer and badly needed some conspicuous success in the field to buoy it. Agesilaos had to devise some way of achieving a more decisive victory in this campaign. For all the same reasons contemplated in 378, a campaign in Attica could be ruled out as unprofitable. Knowing now how the Theban-Athenian forces operated, how-ever, Agesilaos could see a way by which he might yet be able to achieve his goal of breaking this union. It required timing, surprise, and advance preparation.

As in 378, the Kithairon passes had to be strongly guarded before the approach of his army to assure that no Athenian force could dislodge his men before his own arrival. The dispatch of a supplementary force from the Peloponnese could satisfy such a requirement this year just as well as it had in the previous year. However, Agesilaos' plan required a different arrangement. He sent word to the commander at Thespiai to occupy the passes with the force already at his disposal (Xenophon Hellenika 5.4.47). This procedure had the advantage of allowing Agesilaos to join the army from Thespiai to his own without first going to Thespiai. It had the disadvantage of removing the extra garrison force from the pass upon his entry into Boiotia, making his return trip potentially more difficult. Agesilaos' primary concern, however, was to make head-way against Thebes during this campaign, and for this purpose, he required all available forces to accompany him. As will be seen, Agesilaos had specific plans for an additional force this season which precluded his leaving a strong force on Kithairon.

The arrangements for crossing Kithairon worked well, and Agesilaos arrived at Plataia at the end of a day's march with his force at full strength. Word was sent ahead to Thespiai that all preparations were to be made for the arrival of his army: a market was to be prepared for their provisioning, and such ambassadors as wished to have an audience with him should await him there. The Thebans were evidently taken in by these preparations and assembled their force at Kynos Kephalai, as they had the previous year, in anticipation of Agesilaos' approach from Thespiai. But here Agesilaos deceived his opponents by leaving Plataia at an unexpected hour in an unexpected direction. An early march at dawn the next morning enabled Agesilaos once again to penetrate the Theban stockade at an undefended point at Skolos, far to the east of Kynos Kephalai. It also placed his army directly astride the route of Chabrias' march to Thebes on the very day that Chabrias' army would come to the aid of the Thebans.[52]


No source even hints that Agesilaos intended to intercept the Athenians on this occasion. That this was his purpose can only be deduced from circumstantial evidence, but that evidence is compelling. Not only was Agesilaos in the right place at the right time to catch Chabrias and the Athenians, but such a stratagem was precisely what Agesilaos needed in order to avoid a repetition of the previous campaign's frustration. Further circumstantial evidence, moreover, suggests that Agesilaos had in mind to dose the routes between Thebes and Athens as a result of this campaign.

The reason no source mentions this stratagem is, most likely, that it did not even come close to working. The Athenians at this time were nothing if not vigilant. Scouts and lookouts from Panakton, or in advance of Chabrias' own force, would have had no difficulty spotting in time the danger that lay in their path. The Asopos valley is wide, and the land between Thebes and Tanagra is dissected by many hills and ravines. An army could not guard all possible ways. Theban cavalry was probably the first force to approach Agesilaos from Kynos Kephalai, and it was strong enough to discourage a wide dispersal of Agesilaos' army. If Agesilaos did position his army in a central location—and Skolos was perhaps the most suitable such position—in expectation of moving quickly to intercept Chabrias wherever he might attempt to pass, Chabrias need only have waited for the cover of night to make his passage possible without significant interference. In any event, within two or three days of Agesilaos' arrival at Skolos, the Athenians had success-fully united with the Thebans.[53]

In Xenophon's narrative, Agesilaos' entry into Theban territory at Skolos was followed by his movement farther to the east, to the borders of Tanagraian territory, for the purpose of devastating Theban land in this quarter.[54] Further devastation was not what was needed in this campaign, however, and there is good reason to believe that Agesilaos' accomplishments even in this regard were greatly exaggerated by Xenophon for the benefit of his hero's reputation. Destruction of the enemy's force in the field was what was needed, and this Agesilaos knew could only be done by dividing his opponents or by catching them before they


had united. His failure to intercept Chabrias was probably soon apparent to him. To have achieved it, Agesilaos would have needed as much advance intelligence specifically in this quarter of the Attic-Boiotian frontier as the Athenians had. Only by turning Tanagra into a second major base of Spartan operations could this have been accomplished.

Xenophon informs us that Agesilaos "devastated Theban territory to the east of Thebes as far as the territory of the Tanagraians; for at that time Hypatodoros and his associates, friends of the Lakedaimonians, still held Tanagra. After this he returned" (Hellenika 5.4.49). Aside from devastation, Xenophon gives no reason for Agesilaos' march in this direction. His reference to the friends of Sparta in power at Tanagra suggests that they had some relevance to his campaign, but as it stands, their mention serves only to inform us why Agesilaos desisted from plundering when he reached the borders of the Tanagraia. Xenophon's prior mention (Hellenika 5.4.46) of the growing need for support among the friends of Sparta in Boiotian cities adds to the suspicion that Agesilaos did more than just turn back once he reached the frontier with Tanagra. Actual evidence of his purpose emerges from a reference to the harmost Panthoidas and a strong force (

) under his command at Tanagra, whose defeat in battle is mentioned in passing by Plutarch (Pelopidas 15.4). Although it is dangerous to base an argument on Xenophon's omissions, it seems unlikely that Panthoidas was stationed at Tanagra before Agesilaos' campaign of 377, for in that case (and especially in light of Hellenika 5.4.46) Xenophon ought to have mentioned him and his garrison, and not merely Hypatodoros, in de-scribing how Tanagra was disposed toward Sparta. It seems reasonable to conclude, therefore, that Xenophon, whether deliberately or through ignorance, mistook Agesilaos' incidental activity (devastation) for his primary purpose and failed to report that Agesilaos had installed Panthoidas with a strong garrison at Tanagra. This must have been part of the original plan of his campaign, and it demonstrates that Agesilaos was still thinking of the future and how an increased presence in this quarter might yet shift the balance decisively in favor of Sparta in the war against Thebes.[55]

Agesilaos' return westward from Tanagra was marked by a second encounter with the Thebans and Athenians not unlike his first. This


time, however, the two sides did come to blows, although only after their opposing phalanxes had broken formation in a complicated series of feints and pursuits. I have discussed the setting and sequence of these events in detail elsewhere.[56] Here the only matter of consequence is to note that the action resulted in the Thebans erecting a trophy after repelling the Peloponnesians and slaying one or more Spartans in the process. Xenophon makes a partial and grudging admission of the Theban success but points out that Agesilaos encamped after the battle on precisely the same eminence, the hill known as Graos Stethos, on which the Thebans and Athenians had originally arrayed themselves in an effort to prevent Agesilaos' passage. Xenophon could not overlook any symbolic victory in describing Agesilaos' accomplishments, no matter how short of their intended goal they might have fallen.

On the following day, according to Xenophon, Agesilaos withdrew to Thespiai, achieving nothing more against the Thebans, except that his Olynthian cavalry, in a rearguard action, cut down a number of Theban peltasts who had pressed their pursuit too far in advance of their hoplite support. In the course of this minor incident, Xenophon makes a passing reference to Chabrias (Hellenika 5.4.54). This is the only point at which Xenophon mentions that Chabrias, or any other Athenian, was fighting alongside the Thebans. To have given Chabrias his due would have meant revealing Agesilaos' shortcomings. Chabrias is mentioned here only to point out how he failed to support the peltasts in an incident that, in fact, rather contrasts the peltasts' hotheaded enthusiasm with Chabrias' cautious discipline at the sight of Agesilaos' retreat.

Once again, Agesilaos had failed to make his strength in arms tell against the Thebans and Athenians, and this year he had still more Spartan and Peloponnesian dead to bury outside of Thespiai.[57] Allies and supporters of Sparta, in Agesilaos' army and elsewhere, were becoming demonstrably discouraged. Agesilaos now found that he had to intervene in the domestic politics of Thespiai to halt a schism that threatened to lead to civil war in that city. Disaffection for the war among the ranks of Agesilaos' army is anecdotal. One such anecdote, preserved by Polyainos, seems to describe Agesilaos' withdrawal from Boiotia on this oc-


casion, when he had to cross Kithairon without a friendly force holding the passes for him:

Agesilaos, when he had drawn up his army in battle order and saw that they had no will to fight, withdrew. The way out was through a pass in the mountains, in which he expected the Boiotians to attack. Therefore he ordered the Lakedaimonians to lead the van, and the allies to bring up the rear, so that when the enemy attacked the rear guard they would have reason to fight bravely.[58]


When Agesilaos departed from Boiotia in 377, he must have held some hope that the next season could yet see the Spartans in a stronger position in Boiotia. That could only be achieved by even greater commitments of manpower year-round to the war on this front. The process of escalation had already begun in 378 with the dispatch of a Spartan mora to Thespiai, and now it had been furthered by the installation of Panthoidas and a Peloponnesian force ("numerous," according to Plutarch Pelopidas 15.4, but of unknown size) at Tanagra. In his visit to the authorities in Megara after he had disbanded the allies, Agesilaos was probably concerned above all with securing more vigorous Megarian support in patrolling and guarding Kithairon.[59] For Agesilaos knew that the forces he had left in Boiotia would now have their hands full with other tasks.

If another Peloponnesian invasion the following year was to have any better chance of success than Agesilaos had had, the Spartans would have to establish their dominance in the Asopos valley before the next


spring. Counting Peloponnesian league contingents, Boiotian allies, and mercenaries, the Spartans must now have had far more than ten thou-sand men at their disposal in Boiotia, although the largest parts of these forces were divided between Thespiai and Tanagra. By combined actions, they might perhaps achieve against the Thebans alone what Agesilaos and the full Peloponnesian levy could not achieve against the The-bans and Athenians together. Failing any decisive battle, Agesilaos could hope that, with a major force now based at Tanagra, the Spartans would be in a better position to intercept Chabrias the following summer. In the meantime, these men would more vigorously carry on the war through plundering raids, in part to contribute to their own maintenance, while defending their allies' lands. In this process, they would gain familiarity with the terrain and perhaps establish their own system of lookouts and intimidate or even eliminate some of the Athenian advanced watchposts.

The Thebans and Athenians were fully cognizant of these developments, and to judge by the results they achieved, we may assume that they responded in kind by concentrating their own forces and by taking the initiative away from the Spartans. The rout of the Spartans at Tanagra, resulting in the death of Panthoidas, sometime between the summers of 377 and 375 (Plutarch Pelopidas 15.4), was a product of their energetic response to the Spartan buildup. Plutarch attributes this success to the Thebans, as he does in every encounter of this war mentioned in his life of Pelopidas. Like the defeat of Phoibidas at Thespiai in 378, this rout might have been the outcome of a Theban expedition against Tanagra, but we cannot rule out the possibility that the Athenians had some part in it. The Athenians must certainly have viewed the gathering of forces at Tanagra as worrisome, and if they did not actually join the Thebans in neutralizing this threat, they at least responded by making sure that their garrisons and watchposts in the countryside, the

(Xenophon Hellenika 6.2.1), were prepared to react to any movement the Spartans might make against them.

In practical terms, this would have consisted of the appropriate placement of the watchposts and the sufficient strength of the garrisons. The Athenian garrison most directly concerned with any threat emanating from Tanagra and affecting Theban-Athenian communications was Panakton. If the fortress at Phyle was already built—and these circumstances provide the earliest, and possibly the most plausible, occasion for the construction of this fort—then its garrison would also have been affected. Further west, the deme and fortress at Oinoe, beside the route from Kithairon to Eleusis, must have been a central point of assembly and supply for forces guarding the northwestern frontier, while the most remote Athenian garrison post lay in the pass at Eleutherai. In this


quarter, too, there was no less need for vigilance now than there had been in the spring of 378.[60]

These garrisons dose to the frontiers did not have to match the man-power at the disposal of the Spartans just across the frontier, since signal relays to Eleusis and to Athens could summon relief in an emergency. But they did have to be strong enough both to maintain more or less continuous patrols and to assure that any surprise assault by the Spartan forces would have a negligible chance of success. The Athenians might not have felt at ease, however, with merely adequate garrisons under such circumstances. They probably felt the need to have strong forces ready on the frontiers for both defensive purposes, to respond immediately to any raid into the countryside or attack on a position, and for offensive purposes, to carry the war in the "off season" against the neigh-boring allies of Sparta and their Spartan garrisons. As long as the Athenians had the means, there was every incentive to make sure that war took a higher toll on the property and persons of the enemy than on Attica and Athenians. The total manpower requirements for the defense of the countryside, although impossible to calculate with any precision, must therefore have amounted to a considerable burden. A number on the order of 2,500 men would have been an absolute minimum figure for the year-round garrisoning of all of these posts and Eleusis as well.[61]


If, as I suggest, the Athenians were not satisfied with absolute minimums, the garrison force could have been double or even triple that number.

The Closing of Kithairon

In one quarter of the frontier, we know that the Athenians were as active as the Thebans after the campaign of 377. The passage from Polyainos quoted above suggests that Agesilaos, upon his withdrawal, had been subjected to harassment on his way through Kithairon. This was the foreseeable consequence of his need to concentrate all available man-power in reinforcing Spartan allies in Boiotia. If the Megarians had been asked to assume responsibility for guarding Kithairon, they failed to do so, and the balance that had begun to swing against the Spartans at the time of Agesilaos' withdrawal had been turned decisively against them by the spring of 376. For by the time that Kleombrotos, replacing the ailing Agesilaos, approached Kithairon to make his crossing into Boiotia with the Peloponnesian army in 376, a Theban and Athenian force held the heights of Kithairon and was able to prevent his crossing (the ascent of the main road from the Megarid is shown in figure 41).[62]

Xenophon's account of this affair represents only the climax of a process that must have involved a prolonged and energetic struggle by both sides to control Kithairon. Whatever actions might have gone on in the months before Kleombrotos' march, the moment of his arrival in the Megarid was crucial and was probably accompanied or immediately pre-ceded by an attempt to dislodge the Thebans and Athenians launched by the Spartan forces in Boiotia. It is hard to believe that Kleombrotos would not have made as much of an effort as Agesilaos to secure the passes before him, although Xenophon's silence on the matter would imply, to Kleombrotos' disgrace, that he did not. But Kleombrotos was not inexperienced with this route and could not have proceeded in ignorance of the situation ahead of him, and it is difficult to believe that he could have been as negligent or as timorous as Xenophon makes him out to be. In view of his own experience on Kithairon and his careful preparations in Boiotia during the winter of 378, and in view of Spartan experience in the preceding two campaigns, Kleombrotos must surely have ordered the commander at Thespiai to make every effort to clear


the passes for his arrival. This time, however, the Thebans and Athenians held the upper hand, and the attempt failed.[63]

The closing of Kithairon was a major turning point in the war. It marked the achievement of what Theban and Athenian strategists two and a half years earlier had believed was feasible. Now it was a reality: Peloponnesian forces could no longer proceed overland into Boiotia and could likewise probably be prevented from entering Attica. Now, however, unlike the situation optimistically forecast in the winter of 379/8, the Spar-tans had strong forces based north of Kithairon. The allies could in no way afford to relax their vigilance, on Kithairon or in Boiotia, after the repulse of Kleombrotos.

For the Athenians, in fact, the repulse of Kleombrotos marked the beginning of more intensive pressures on themselves. For in 376, the Spartans and their allies shifted their offensive strategy away from Boiotia, where for the time being they had to content themselves with a war of raids and skirmishes while holding on to their allies and strongholds, to a naval strategy intended to cripple Athens. In the autumn of 376, Chabrias won even greater glory than he had in Boiotia by leading the Athenians in the naval victory at Naxos that put a stop to Spartan plans to blockade Athens by sea. But beginning this summer, if not even earlier in the war, the Athenians had to endure raids against their coasts and coastal shipping by Spartan forces operating out of Aigina. These circumstances required almost as much vigilance along the seaboard as along the land frontier.[64]

The Spartans had meanwhile not yet completely lost hope of making headway in the war against Thebes. Xenophon informs us that, in the spring of 375, preparations were under way to transport a Peloponnesian army across the Corinthian gulf into Boiotia and that the Thebans prevailed upon the Athenians to forestall that event by sending a naval


expedition under Timotheos around the Peloponnese to Kerkyra and the mouth of the Corinthian gulf. This expedition had the desired effect, momentarily diverting Spartan naval forces to the waters of Akarnania, where Timotheos dealt the Spartans a second blow to their naval aspirations in the battle of Alyzeia.[65]

The Thebans were now doubly benefiting from the support of the Athenians. Athenian forces on the Kithairon frontier were instrumental in deterring any attempt at an overland invasion this season, and Athenian naval forces had for the time being prevented the Spartans from conveying their army directly into Boiotia by sea. Encouraged by the course of events, "the Thebans were boldly campaigning against the neighboring cities of Boiotia and were in the process of recovering control of them" (Hellenika 5.4.63). One sign of the vigor of the Thebans was the notable victory of Pelopidas over more numerous Spartan forces at Tegyra early in the year. Substantive gains made at about the same time were the subjection of Thespiai and Tanagra to Theban domination.[66]

By the midsummer of 375, the Thebans had even begun to carry the war against the Phokians, who were allies of Sparta. The Spartans, in turn, with the fleet withdrawn from Akarnania, conveyed Kleombrotos with two-thirds of the Peloponnesian levy across the Corinthian gulf into Phokis. Kleombrotos began to assemble an even larger allied army around his force from the Peloponnese, and for the moment he checked the progress of the Thebans, prompting them to prepare for an invasion now to come from the west.[67] Under these circumstances, not long after midsummer, the Athenians and Spartans came to terms of peace.

The Peace of 375

Xenophon describes the peace of 375 as an agreement between Athens and Sparta and as the product of Athenian initiative:


The Lakedaimonians and their allies were gathering together with the Phokians, and the Thebans had withdrawn to their own country and were guarding the passes. As for the Athenians, since they saw the Thebans were growing in power through their support, and were making no financial contribution toward the fleet, while they themselves were being worn down by war levies [eisphorai ], and by raids from Aigina, and by guarding the countryside [

], conceived a desire to put an end to the war, and sending ambassadors to Lakedaimon, they made peace.[68]

There is no reason to doubt any of the information Xenophon provides in this instance. The various considerations listed by Xenophon that led the Athenians to prefer peace at this moment are confirmed elsewhere, and other accounts demonstrate that the peace of 375 served Athenian interests above all others. Although the other combatants had reasons enough to support a cessation of hostilities at this time (a peace initiative could not succeed otherwise), the moment was of most immediate concern to the Athenians. The report of Diodoros that peace was brought at the initiative of the Persian king so that he might more readily gain the service of a large army of mercenaries for his campaign against Egypt deserves no more credit than his account of the occasion for the recall of Chabrias at the beginning of the war. In both instances, the interests of the Persian king coincided with those of Athens, and now the Athenians themselves were ready to introduce the wishes, if not even the emissaries, of the king into the process of negotiation to further their own agenda. But the king's ponderous and retarded preparations for war on Egypt can have had little immediate bearing on the peace process of 375, especially by comparison to the urgency felt by the Athenians at this moment.[69]


The reasons for that urgency are those listed by Xenophon, and their priority is, by and large, in the order that he gives them. "The Thebans were growing in power through their support." The combustible dichotomy of Athenian opinion about the advisability of cooperating with Thebes had been amply demonstrated in the double volte-face that took place between the campaigns of Kleombrotos and Agesilaos in 378. After Kleombrotos, the Athenians were prepared to leave the Thebans to face Sparta alone. Only the providential failure of Sphodrias changed their minds. Thereafter they became committed to the Thebans for their mutual preservation. Now, after the failure of Kleombrotos in 376 and the naval victories of Chabrias and Timotheos in 376 and 375, the preservation of both was amply assured. The longer the fighting went on, however, the greater were the gains made by the Thebans. The last thing that the Athenians wanted out of their alliance with Thebes was to make it the vehicle for the Theban restoration of the Boiotian confederacy. That was rapidly beginning to happen in 375, so it was time for the Athenians to halt the process.[70]

Diodoros' account of the Thebans' disaffection with the form of this peace treaty is to be believed and not discounted as a doublet of the later and more famous Theban complaint of 371.[71] The treaty was made by


Athens and Sparta, and the remaining warring states would have been included in it only as allies of the two mutually acknowledged great powers.[72] Theban disapproval was the inevitable result of an agreement made between the Spartans, who had gone to war to crush the independent Thebans, and the Athenians, whose championship of Thebes was motivated only by the desire to check the power and influence of Sparta and who did not wish to promote the growth of Theban power and influence. It was, in other words, a treaty explicitly designed to hold the Thebans in check. No wonder, then, that in discussion preliminary to ratification of the treaty by the allies of Athens, Epameinondas announced the refusal of the Thebans to endorse the treaty under any name other than "the Boiotians," that is, as the leaders of all Boiotia (or at least those parts of it now under Theban control). By the remonstrance of Kallistratos and the vote of all other Athenian allies, the Thebans were denied this privilege and were judged to be excluded from the treaty, according to Diodoros (15.38.3). Isokrates informs us that after their exclusion, the Thebans yielded to the consequences of their isolation and came to be included in the peace as allies of Athens (Plataikos 37; cf. 21-22, 33). As in 371, the isolation of Thebes must have meant that it would be left now, with no Athenian support, to face the Spartan army gathered in Phokis. The Thebans were not yet in so strong a position in Boiotia as they would be in 371, so after registering their protest, they submitted to form and endorsed the treaty as "the Thebans." In fact, as their actions in the coming years were to demonstrate, their dominance in Boiotia was in no way diminished by this concession.[73]

The fact that the Thebans "were making no financial contribution toward the fleet" is an amplification of the first concern of the Athenians listed by Xenophon, since in 375 the Athenian fleet had actively contributed to strengthening the Theban position in Boiotia. It also introduces the following concern, which identifies the Athenians alone as bearing the expense of the naval campaign. In fact, none of the allies of Athens at this time made any regular contribution to the maintenance of a


fleet.[74] The eisphorai imposed upon the residents of Attica yielded the funds by which fleets were manned, but they were never enough to maintain them on campaign for long. The Athenians relied upon the ingenuity of their commanders and counted on their success in battle to provide what the state could not. Xenophon notes the financial straits of Timotheos after his victory in Akarnania, when "he kept sending for money from Athens; for he needed a great deal, inasmuch as he had a great many ships" (Hellenika 5.4.66). Years after the event, Isokrates turned this difficulty to Timotheos' account, by claiming that Timotheos had achieved his victory at a cost to the city of only thirteen talents—pay for only thirteen days.[75] The austerity that lay behind this meager allowance is emphasized by Demosthenes:

You know how it stood with our city in the last war with the Lakedaimonians when it seemed unlikely that you could dispatch a fleet. You know that vetches were sold for food. But when you did dispatch it, you obtained peace on your own terms.[76]

This austerity was not the brink of either financial collapse or starvation, although a shortage of cash may well have been hitting home with those liable to pay the eisphora . "Raids from Aigina," preying primarily upon the shipping along the Attic coast, must have created some hard-ship among those whose livelihoods depended upon the mercantile activity of Peiraieus, further reducing the availability of cash. Raids affecting the maritime commerce of Peiraieus also directly affected the Athenian state, which depended heavily upon harbor dues and the metics


tax for its routine administrative budget.[77] The cost of foodstuffs generally went up, as Demosthenes' comment indicates, but there is no reason to posit a serious shortage. There had been a scare in 376, when the Black Sea grain fleet had been held up by Spartan naval activity, but that momentary worry was soon resolved.[78] Although it is impossible to quantify these difficulties, on balance it seems safe to say that the feeling at Athens was one of growing resentment at having to endure hard-ships—bearable hardships, however—in a cause that now promised, in the long run, to benefit others more than themselves.

The last item mentioned on Xenophon's list, "guarding the countryside" (

, literally, "watches of the countryside") was burdensome to the Athenians precisely because it was the most considerable item in their war budget. An excerpt from Didymos' commentary on Demosthenes makes explicit in what this burden consisted:

Concerning this peace it is once again Philochoros who has a discussion, saying that it was very similar to that of the Lakonian Antalkidas, and that [the Athenians] gladly accepted it because they were exhausted by the cost of maintaining mercenary troops and had for some time been worn down by the war. This was the occasion that the altar of Peace was built.[79]

The mercenaries of Chabrias had been a significant factor in Athenian planning and strategy since before the outbreak of the war. Nowhere are their numbers given, but we may estimate that Chabrias had, at a minimum, something on the order of 550 to 1,600 men under his leadership at the time of the Theban uprising in 379/8 (see appendix III). The force of mercenaries employed by the Athenians 'would certainly have grown over the course of the war. In 377, immediately following Agesilaos' second campaign, Chabrias went to the support of Athens' new Euboian allies by making an expedition into the Histiaiotis, where he established a garrison to press the war against Oreos, still allied with Sparta.[80] This garrison was probably mostly, if not entirely, a mercenary


force, and although it must have become self-supporting either through plunder or by maintenance provided by Euboian allies, it was a force brought by an Athenian commander, initially at Athenian expense. This expedition took place at a moment when, by virtue of the installation of Panthoidas at Tanagra, the Athenians had even more reason to be vigilant along their frontiers when the Thebans and Athenians were together making the plans that would lead to the closing of Kithairon to the Spartans the following spring.

A great number of mercenaries must therefore have been available to the Athenians at this time. As discussed earlier, I have estimated that at least 2,500 men were needed to garrison the fortresses and outposts of Attica, and the number was very likely significantly higher.[81] Garrison and patrol duty and raiding the enemy provided the most cost-effective employment for mercenary troops when they were not being used on campaign, and Chabrias' mercenaries had had field experience along this frontier since before the outbreak of the war. These men, certainly augmented by citizen troops and possibly by additional mercenaries, must have formed the frontier garrison force. If this force, mercenary and citizen, hoplite and peltast, numbered only 2,500, then at this time it would have been costing the Athenian state roughly one hundred talents a year.[82] Although the Athenians could offset or defer much of the


expense through various means, even this minimum estimated cost of garrisoning Attica represented the most substantial recurrent item in the military budget of Athens over the course of the war.[83] The Athenian preoccupation with mercenaries, moreover, is attested indirectly through the association of the peace of 375 with the Persian king's interest in hiring mercenaries. Having assembled a substantial force of mercenaries on their home soil, the Athenians required an immediate outlet for their smooth transfer out of Attica as soon as peace was arranged. As with Chabrias' withdrawal from Egypt in 379, the Athenians found Pharnabazos amenable to their needs.[84]

The peace treaty of 375 was cause for joy and thanksgiving on the part of the Athenians. It was celebrated by the institution of an annual sacri-


fice to Peace on an altar founded for the occasion[85] By all accounts, it was remembered as the most glorious outcome for the Athenians in all of their wars with Sparta. Twenty years later, Isokrates spoke of this as a peace

that so transformed the relative positions of the two cities that, from that day on, we commemorate it in sacrifice as having benefited the city more than any other peace. For since that time no one has seen a Lakedaimonian fleet sailing this side of cape Malea, nor Lakedaimonian infantry making an expedition across the Isthmus.[86]

This war had enabled the Athenians to bring into existence a new naval confederacy, with themselves as its leader. Secured by victories in two great sea battles, the Athenians saw this confederacy as a rebirth of Athenian ascendancy and the end of unchallenged Spartan domination in much of Greece and the Aegean. For some time previously, the Athenians had felt, as Isokrates expressed it on the eve of this war, that "formerly our city justly held sovereignty of the sea and now not unjustly lays claim to the hegemony."[87] Now, with things so advantageously arranged by this peace, it is easy to understand why the Athenians celebrated their achievement of hegemony. For that status, though not formally acknowledged in the terms of the treaty, was a de facto product of the treaty that so opportunely concluded the war of 378-375.[88]


In 379, on the eve of the Boiotian war, Xenophon remarked, "The Athenians were left destitute of allies, while on the other hand  . . . it seemed that [the Lakedaimonians] had at length established their empire most excellently and securely."[89] In the winter of 379/8, bold schemes had


been launched at Thebes and at Athens to upset the supremacy of Sparta. At the heart of the strategy lay the recognition that an overwhelming land army such as Sparta possessed could be rendered ineffectual by holding key mountain passes against it. Success depended upon a well-coordinated plan of deployment which could anticipate the movements of the enemy. The dangers involved in failure were considerable, and there were limits to how far the Athenians would expose themselves for the sake of the adherence of Thebes. The Spartans were able to demonstrate those dangers to the Athenians when, beyond all expectation, they crossed Kithairon after the liberation of Thebes and proved that they could still make war in Boiotia or in Attica. Demonstration and diplomacy brought the Spartans to within an ace of achieving their goal of isolating Thebes. Only a bungled attempt to make the ultimate demonstration of Spartan power forced the Athenians to enter the war in alliance with Thebes.

The achievements of the Athenians in the war that followed were an often-remembered inspiration to the next generation:

Some of you have been told, others know and remember, how formidable the Spartans were, not many years ago, and yet how at the call of honor and duty you played a part not unworthy of your country, and entered the lists against them in defence of your rights. I remind you of this, Athenians, because I want you to know and realize that, as no danger can assail you while you are on your guard, so if you are remiss no success can attend you. Learn a lesson from the former strength of the Lakedaimonians, which you mastered by strict attention to your affairs.[90]

Strict attention to needs and capabilities had been the way out of dire straits in 378. The result became a model for the conduct of territorial defense, reflected in the writings of Aeneas Tacticus, who probably marched with Agesilaos in 378 and 377, and of Plato, with whom Chabrias was later to associate in the Academy.[91] Under the guidance of


Chabrias in the spring of 378, a strategy was developed by which the strength of the Lakedaimonians might be neutralized along a second line of defense, after the Spartans had brought their army through the Kithairon passes. The Dema wall assured that Attica would be only minimally affected by an invasion of the Peloponnesian army, while a network of lookout and signal posts enabled the Athenians to support their frontier garrisons against raids and to dispatch their forces to the right place at the right time. That this system was never put to the ultimate test was a tribute to its efficacy. The Spartans preferred to concentrate their efforts on the Theban and Athenian army at Thebes, where their strength could be more effectively brought to bear. Yet even there, on the one occasion when the Spartans nearly succeeded in breaking the enemy, Chabrias, facing Agesilaos, proved, in the words of Aristides, to be "the most fearsome commander."[92] In perhaps the most remarkable feat of generalship in the history of Greek warfare, Chabrias was able to project, through the expert drill of his men, a confidence in the face of overwhelming odds that, in effect, neutralized those odds. In a land war with no land battles, the Spartans could not win.

Because the effects of the peace of 375 were overtaken a few years later by the consequences of the battle of Leuktra, the genius of Chabrias never achieved the fame that later came to Epameinondas. Chabrias nevertheless received his due from posterity. "Recall," Demosthenes later eulogized, "how skillfully, as your commander, he drew up your ranks at Thebes to face the whole power of the Peloponnese."[93] This image was called to mind often enough by the statues of Chabrias in his famous pose of disdainful contemplation of the enemy, one of which stood in the Athenian Agora.[94] Although he preferred to omit an account of this episode


from his history, Xenophon later did acknowledge that Chabrias "was regarded as a very good general."[95] And though Xenophon avoided it, the comparison between Chabrias and Agesilaos was made by others. An anecdote recounted by Polyainos, referring to another occasion early in the career of Chabrias, has Agesilaos himself accord Chabrias the ultimate tribute, exclaiming, "A most excellent general is Chabrias!"[96]

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