Strabo, Geography (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Str.].
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Ephorus declares the superiority of Bœotia over the bordering nations not only in this respect, but also because it alone has three seas adjoining it, and a great number of harbours. At the Criss$ean and Corinthian Gulfs it received the commodities of Italy, Sicily, and Africa. Towards Eubœa the sea-coast branches off on each side of the Euripus; in one direction towards Aulis and Tanagrica, in the other, to Salganeus and Anthedon; on one side there is an open sea to Egypt, and Cyprus, and the islands; on the other to Macedonia, the Propontis, and the Hellespont. He adds also that Eubœa is almost a part of Bœotia, because the Euripus is very narrow, and the opposite shores are brought into communication by a bridge of two plethra in length. [Note]

For these reasons he praises the country, and says, that it has natural advantages for obtaining supreme command, but that from want of careful education and learning, even those who were from time to time at the head of affairs did not long maintain the ascendency they had acquired, as appears from the example of Epaminondas; at his death the Thebans immediately lost the supremacy they had just acquired. This is to be attributed, says Ephorus, to their neglect of learning, and of intercourse with mankind, and to their exclusive cultivation of military virtues. It must be added also, that learning and knowledge are peculiarly useful in dealing with Greeks, but in the case of Barbarians, force is preferable to reason. In fact the Romans in early times, when carrying on war with savage nations, did not require such accomplishments, but from the time that they began to be concerned in transactions with more civilized people, they applied themselves to learning, and so established universal dominion.

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3. Bœotia was first occupied by Barbarians, Aones, and Temmices, a wandering people from Sunium, by Leleges, and Hyantes. Then the Phœnicians, who accompanied Cadmus, possessed it. He fortified the Cadmeian land, and transmitted the government to his descendants. The Phœnicians founded Thebes, and added it to the Cadmeian territory. They preserved their dominion, and exercised it over the greatest part of the Bœotians till the time of the expedition of the Epigoni. At this period they abandoned Thebes for a short time, but returned again. In the same manner when they were ejected by Thracians and Pelasgi, they established their rule in Thessaly together with the Arnœi for a long period, so that all the inhabitants obtained the name of Bœotians. They returned afterwards to their own country, at the time the æolian expedition was preparing at Aulis in Bœotia which the descendants of Orestes were equipping for Asia. After having united the Orchomenian tract to Bœotia (for formerly they did not form one community, nor has Homer enumerated these people with the Bœotians, but by themselves, calling them Minyæ) with the assistance of the Orchomenians they drove out the Pelasgi, who went to Athens, a part of which city is called from this people Pelasgic. The Pelasgi however settled below Hymettus. The Thracians retreated to Parnassus. The Hyantes founded Hyampolis in Phocis. 9.2.4

Ephorus relates that the Thracians, after making treaty with the Bœotians, attacked them by night, when encamped in a careless manner during a time of peace. The Thracians when reproached, and accused of breaking the treaty, replied, that they had not broken it, for the conditions were by day, whereas they had made the attack by night, whence the common proverb, a Thracian shuffle.

The Pelasgi and the Bœotians also went during the war to consult the oracle. He cannot tell, he says, what answer was given to the Pelasgi, but the prophetess replied to the Bœotians that they would prosper by committing some act of impiety. The messengers sent to consult the oracle suspecting the prophetess of favouring the Pelasgi on account of their relationship, (for the temple had originally belonged to the Pelasgi,) seized the woman, and threw her upon a burning pile, considering, that whether her conduct bad been right or

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wrong, in either case they were right; for if she had uttered a deceitful answer she was duly punished; but if not, they had only complied with the command of the oracle. Those in charge of the temple did not like to put to death, particularly in the temple, the perpetrators of this act without a formal judgment, and therefore subjected them to a trial. They were summoned before the priestesses, who were also the prophetesses, being the two survivors out of the three. The Bœotians alleged that there was no law permitting women to act as judges; an equal number of men were therefore chosen. The men acquitted; the women condemned. As the votes were equal, those for acquittal prevailed. Hence at Dodona it is to the Bœotians only that men deliver oracles. The prophetesses however give a different meaning to the answer of the oracle, and say, that the god enjoins the Bœotians to steal the tripods used at home, and to send them annually to Dodona. This they did, for they were in the habit of carrying away by night some of the dedicated tripods, which they concealed in their clothes, in order to convey them clandestinely as offerings to Dodona. 9.2.5

After this they assisted Penthilus in sending out the æolian colony, and despatched a large body of their own people with him, so that it was called the Bœotian colony.

A long time afterwards the country was devastated during the war with the Persians at Platææ. They afterwards so far recovered their power, that the Thebans, having vanquished the Lacedæmonians in two battles, [Note] disputed the sovereignty of Greece. Epaminondas, however, was killed, and they were disappointed in their hope of obtaining this supremacy. They, nevertheless, fought in defence of the Greeks against the Phocæans, who had plundered their common temple. Reduced by this war, and by the Macedonians, at the time they invaded Greece, they lost their city, which was afterwards restored to them, and rebuilt by the Macedonians themselves, who had razed it. [Note] From that period to our own

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times their affairs have continued to decline, nor do they retain the appearance even of a considerable village. Other cities (of Bœotia) have experienced a similar fate, with the exception of Tanagra and Thespiæ, which in comparison with Thebes are in a tolerable condition.

Strabo, Geography (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Str.].
<<Str. 9.1.23 Str. 9.2.4 (Greek English(2)) >>Str. 9.2.9

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