I've writen two books about Greece and Rome, introducing each civilization with their most famous authors woven into the narrative. Check them out on their own website!


Human sacrifice, debauched tyrants, and The Sacred Band of Thebes are all woven together in Plutarch's Life of Pelopidas, friend of Epaminondas and great Theban general.

Full show notes: https://plutarch.life/pelopidas

Important People

Epaminondas – Best friend of Pelopidas and philosopher-soldier-statesman of Thebes, Epaminondas is best known for his work on the battlefield in defeating the Spartans not just once, but nearly every time he meets them in pitched battle. 

Charon – The major leader of the democratic restoration inside of Thebes. His house provides the rendezvous point and he leads one of the two groups that assassinate the four tyrants put in place by Sparta. 

Philip of Macedon – The future king of Macedon who will solidify the generational instability Macedon has experienced for so long. In this life, he makes a brief appearance as one of thirty hostages who spends time in Thebes with a friend of Epaminondas, Pammenes. Philip brings all his first-hand experience of Theban military success back with him to Macedon. 

Alexander of Pherae – Tyrant over a polis in Thessaly begins spreading his power and conquering neighboring cities, who call on Thebes for protection against the tyrant. This man famously leaves a tragedy so that his subjects, who have never seen him cry, won't see how moved he is by actors on a stage. 

Important Places

Tegyra – 375 BC – Pelopidas's first real defeat of Spartan troops, it is this battle's success that encourages him to make the Sacred Band their own fighting unit, rather then spreading them throughout the phalanx. 

Leuctra – 371 BC – The first battle that humiliates the Spartans, showing the entire Greek world that Thebes is the dominant power under who two talented generals, Pelopidas and Epaminondas. 

Mantineia – 362 BC – Another succesful battle which Epaminondas fights without Pelopidas, who had died a couple years earlier. Because Epaminondas dies of wounds from this battle, the Theban hegemony over Greece dies with him and the poleis fight with each other with no clear leader until Macedon marches down from the North (338 BC). 

Support the show

Leave a Comment