Boiotia in the Fourth Century B.C.

Boiotia in the Fourth Century B.C.

Boiotia in the Fourth Century B.C.

Boiotia in the Fourth Century B.C.

Synopsis

The region of Boiotia was one of the most powerful regions in Greece between the Peloponnesian War and the rise of Macedonian power under Philip II and Alexander the Great. Its influence stretched across most of the Greek mainland and, at times, across the Aegean; its fourth-century leaders were of legendary ability. But the Boiotian hegemony over Greece was short lived, and less than four decades after the Boiotians defeated the Spartans at the battle of Leuktra in 371 B.C., Alexander the Great destroyed Thebes, Boiotia's largest city, and left the fabric of Boiotian power in tatters.

Boiotia in the Fourth Century B.C. works from the premise that the traditional picture of hegemony and great men tells only a partial story, one that is limited in the diversity of historical experience. The breadth of essays in this volume is designed to give a picture of the current state of scholarship and to provide a series of in-depth studies of particular evidence, experience, and events. These studies present exciting new perspectives based on recent archaeological work and the discovery of new material evidence. And rather than turning away from the region following the famous Macedonian victory at Chaironeia in 338 B.C., or the destruction of Thebes three years later, the scholars cover the entire span of the century, and the questions posed are as diverse as the experiences of the Boiotians: How free were Boiotian communities, and how do we explain their demographic resilience among the catastrophes? Is the exercise of power visible in the material evidence, and how did Boiotians fare outside the region? How did experience of widespread displacement and exile shape Boiotian interactivity at the end of the century? By posing these and other questions, the book offers a new historical vision of the region in the period during which it was of greatest consequence to the wider Greek world.

Excerpt

Samuel D. Gartland

The study of the history of the fourth century B.C. in Boiotia has been dominated by interest in Thebes. the century witnessed the apparently sudden rise and dramatic fall of the city, and its legendary leaders have always been alluring to historians and undoubtedly provide rare glamour in Boiotian studies. This collection seeks to place this traditional focus on hegemony and great men in a wider context. This approach is based on the belief that the orthodox pre sen ta tion of that ephemeral primacy, apparently made possible only by a single great generation of leaders, often obscures more in ter est ing and important trends and developments in the region.

In tandem with the lack of glamour attached to anything in Boiotia other than Epameinondas and Pelopidas, the fourth century is often considered the less attractive half of the so-called Classical era. However much successive generations of scholarship have moved away from viewing the fifth century as the apogee of Greek civilization, that period still has a strong hold on modern approaches to Greek history, particularly with regard to the mainland. To the undergraduate, too, used to the simplified oppositions of the fifth century (Greeks/barbarians, Athens/Sparta, land/sea, democracy/oligarchy), the fourth century can be something of an unpredictable, polyvalent anticlimax, with Boiotia acting mischievously to complicate these binaries. the reassuring authority of Herodotus and Thucydides is replaced by a series of overlapping literary sources whose inadequacies are more obvious, if no greater, than those of their fifth-century predecessors. These writers were themselves well aware of the difficulties in imposing a framework on the events of the century; even Xenophon, a man of great intellectual range and well versed in the vicissitudes of Greek power, gave up writing fourth-century history in frustration after the inconclusive battle of Mantineia in 362 B.C., which he . . .

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