The Rise and Fall of Classical Thebes and its Sacred Band


The Rise and Fall of Classical Thebes and its Sacred Band


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The huge role played by Thebes in shaping 4th-century BC Greece has been obscured by Xenophon, who hated the Thebans and did his best to exclude them from Hellenica, his history of his own times. Xenophon never spoke of the Theban Sacred Band, an infantry corps made up of male lovers, leading one recent scholar to claim they never existed.

Thanks to evidence from Plutarch and the excavation of the Band's mass grave—recorded in drawings only recently uncovered—we can restore some of the missing pieces of Thebes's brief term as superpower of Greece.




Ancient History, Greek and Roman through Late Antiquity | History


James Romm is an author, reviewer, and the James H. Ottaway Jr. Professor of Classics at Bard College in Annandale, NY. He specializes in ancient Greek and Roman culture and civilization. His reviews and essays have appeared in The Wall Street Journal, the London Review of Books, the Daily Beast, and other venues. His book The Sacred Band: Three Hundred Theban Lovers Fighting to Save Greek Freedom was published in June 2021.


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The Rise and Fall of Classical Thebes and its Sacred Band