Leuktra: Philip inspired by indecisve draw?

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agesilaos
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Leuktra: Philip inspired by indecisve draw?

Post by agesilaos »

Leuktra: Stewards’ Enquiry Split from taktije thread; by cut and paste, hope everyone fairly represented

Agesilaos wrote

.... and Epaminondas forming up fifty deep at Leuktra, depth clearly mattered and this is not a question of ‘line versus column’, which is a horse and musket debate concerning the fire power of the line v the shock value of a column; this is a case of deep and shallow phalanxes fighting in the same way with the same weapons; the Spartans had no missiles to hurl at the oncoming Thebans other than sharp words. Nor were the Greeks alone in finding depth beneficial, when pikes returned to general use we find them fighting in great depth, fifty being typical even when developments in firearms led to less massive pike blocks they generally still formed and fought ten deep.

Xenophon countered

If you think ‘line versus column’ is a horse and musket debate only, you are sadly mistaken – it has applied all through military history, and if you think that depth is a good thing in hoplite warfare, I suggest you read all of Xenophon, who was a real Hoplite general. His views on depth are quite scathing, see e.g. Cyropaedia VI.3.22:-
“And do you think, Cyrus,” said one of the generals, “that drawn up with lines so shallow we shall be a match for so deep a phalanx?” ( the lochoi are drawn up in files 12 deep, which would fight 6x6 in close order)
“When phalanxes are too deep to reach the enemy with weapons,” answered Cyrus, “how do you think they can either hurt their enemy or help their friends?
[23] For my part, I would rather have these hoplites who are arranged in columns a hundred deep drawn up ten thousand deep; for in that case we should have very few to fight against. According to the depth that I shall give my line of battle, I think I shall bring the entire line into action and make it everywhere mutually helpful.”
....and he was right, of course, because in fact no Theban column broke through a Spartan line. At Tegyra, after the fall of their leaders, the Spartans deliberately opened up to let the Theban column escape, and at Leuktra, similarly it was the death of the King and the leading Spartiates around him that caused the Spartans to fall back – the Theban column did not break the Spartan line, 6 deep. At Second Mantinea, the Thebans caused the Mantineans to flee before contact, but the battle ended in a draw when Epaminondas was killed.

Agesilaos;
Alot to reply to, but I cannot allow this myth that the Spartans were not shattered by the Theban column at Leuktra to continue. It is true that Xenophon, the arch Lakonophile enters into his own 'special pleading' to say that the spartans must have put up a fight because they would not otherwise have been able to recover the body of Kleombrotos (Hellenika VI ixff for his bowdlerised account). Plutarch 'Pelopidas 20 gives the reason for this; the Sacred Band (as Lochos is normally translated here) ran ahead of the main body and caught the Spartans before they could either extend their flank or contract it; they were outnumbered until Epaminondas arrived with the depth of the column (embolon) and the Spartans were shattered and fled.
The casualties tell their own story, the greater part come when a phalanx breaks the Spartiates suffered 57% losses (400 from 700) and the engaged wing 1000 from 2400 (four 600 strong morai) or 42% these are not likely from a long even fight they are a rout.

Xenophon:
agesilaos wrote:Alot to reply to, but I cannot allow this myth that the Spartans were not shattered by the Theban column at Leuktra to continue.
Myth? I do wish you would cite references for your bald assertions. Essentially we have two versions of Leuktra, what we may term a 'pro-Spartan' one given by Xenophon ( which is the more complete one ) and a 'pro-Theban' given by the patriotic Boeotian Plutarch in his 'Pelopidas', and another, somewhat inaccurate, brief account in Diodorus [XV.53 ff], clearly written from a Boeotian source. Diodorus [XV.56.2] suggests that after a long and stubborn fight, the Spartans "fled in utter rout" and Plutarch [Pelopidas XXIII.4] says there was "such a flight and slaughter of the Spartan as had never been seen before".
It is true that Xenophon, the arch Lakonophile enters into his own 'special pleading' to say that the spartans must have put up a fight because they would not otherwise have been able to recover the body of Kleombrotos (Hellenika VI ixff for his bowdlerised account).

Easy to see you are hardly an objective observer ! If Xenophon's account is 'bowdlerised', then that of Diodorus and Plutarch is even more so ! Even so, Diodorus acknowledges that the fight was a long one and that the Lacedaemonians were forced back "only with great difficulty"[ XV.56]. Xenophon[Hell VI.4.14] tells us the "beheaded snake", bereft of command, "gave way" to the Theban masses ( without, be it noted, having their line broke) withdrew in orderly fashion behind the ditch of their camp, and debated whether to renew the battle, but ultimately acknowledged defeat in the usual way - requesting the return of their dead. That the battle was indecisive in a military sense, and the defeat due to the shock of so many 'Homioi/aristocrats' dying, is certain. Despite this, Sparta quickly rallied and recovered under Archidamus - and the defeated army remained in Boeotia, a continuing threat, until a truce was negotiated under Jason of Pherae.
Plutarch 'Pelopidas 20 gives the reason for this; the Sacred Band (as Lochos is normally translated here) ran ahead of the main body and caught the Spartans before they could either extend their flank or contract it; they were outnumbered until Epaminondas arrived with the depth of the column (embolon) and the Spartans were shattered and fled.
The casualties tell their own story, the greater part come when a phalanx breaks the Spartiates suffered 57% losses (400 from 700) and the engaged wing 1000 from 2400 (four 600 strong morai) or 42% these are not likely from a long even fight they are a rout.

Again, where do you get this stuff ? None of our sources says the Lacedaemonians were "shattered" - what Boeotian propaganda had to say I have quoted above. Xenophon's account is to be preferred, because after the battle the Lacedaemonian army was still intact, still in its camp, and still a threat to Thebes until a truce was negotiated. Moreover Xenophon and Diodorus are broadly agreed on the shape of the fight - it was a long struggle, and bitter, as the Spartans attempted to recover their mortally wounded King, just like the struggle around Leonidas, the last King to die in battle. There is also Polyaenus' famous anecdote of Epaminondas shouting "grant me one pace forward, and we'll have victory". [II.3.2]. Evidently at that point, not only had the Theban column failed to 'shatter' the Spartan line, they were unable even to push them back.

As to casualties, you rightly point to the fact that it was the death of so many 'homioi/aristocrats' about their King that shocked those present, and later the city itself, for they were all officers. I don't agree your numbers though, especially for the strength of the 'morai'. This was the cause of their defeat - the beheading of the snake. However, if we step back and take an overall view of the casualties, a rather different picture emerges. Peter Krentz did an analysis of hoplite battle casualties ( 1985) and concluded that typically, the winning side suffered something of the order of 5% casualties or less on average, and the loser of the order of 14% casualties killed, with a ratio of winner to loser of 1:2 through 1:3. Overall, Leuktra conforms to this, with 300 or so Boeotian casualties(5%), and 1,000 or so Lacedaemonian ones, but mostly Spartans ( 10%) This is less than the average 14% - and so was not particularly 'bloody' at all. This points to an orderly withdrawal, as do subsequent events, and therefore Xenophon's account is the most reliable. There was no 'rout', no 'shattering' other than in Boeotian propaganda. From a military standpoint, it was an indecisive battle - though the deaths of the King and many of the 'Homioi' was a deep psychological shock that would ultimately lead to Sparta's demise..

Xenophon added
The Thebans, it seems, were just as secretive as the Spartans about matters military. We are told the depth of their columns only twice. Delium where Thuc IV.93,25 says they were "...drawn up in the order in which they intended to fight." i.e. battle or close order, and that this was 25 shields deep. The other is Leuktra, where Xenophon tells us the Spartans were 12 deep ( evidently in open order) and that the Thebans were in "...massed formation at least 50 shields deep."[Xen Hell VI.4.12] and since he is comparing like with like, these must have been in open order too. We are not told their depth at Nemea, simply that they were "..exceedingly deep" , according to the disapproving Xenophon[Xen Hell IV.2.18]

From the two examples we have, it would appear the Thebans formed up 50 deep, halving to 25 in close order, entirely consistent with all the other evidence for combat taking place in half-files in close order.

Thucydides does not appear to have been what might be termed 'a military man', and doesn't comment on depths in any of his battle descriptions....which would be superfluous given the audience he was writing for in any event.

Agesilaos:

This is not so surprising, I suppose, since you describe one of history's most decisive battles as indecisive! And how by some rather lame 'special pleading'; Xenophon is clear that only the Theban left and Lakedaimonian right actually engaged, so these are the only forces to consider when judging the proportion of casualties. There were four Morai on the Spartan side, those which Kleombrotos had been sent with to Phokis (Hell.VI 1); a mora had sixteen enomotiai according to Xenophon Lak.Pol 11 iv
ἑκάστη δὲ τῶν ὁπλιτικῶν μορῶν ἔχει πολέμαρχον ἕνα, λοχαγοὺς τέτταρας, πεντηκοντῆρας ὀκτώ, ἐνωμοτάρχους ἑκκαίδεκα.

Thus a mora has 576 men, working on a twelve deep file this is 48 files, four such 192 which allowing for a certain rounding of figures gives 400 Spartiate officers, who presumably form the file leaders and closers a la Sokrates of Xenophon's Memorabilia's description. The 300 Spartiates over are the Hippeis which are attested separately at the battle. 400 died which looks like all the front rank and two thirds of the Hippeis, a further 600 of the leavening fell, which makes 1,000 from 2,300 or 43.5% but this was no rout As for you 300 alleged Theban casualties, if you want them then you will have to accept the 4,000 Spartan casualties claimed by the same source (or twice the numbers they started with!); Diodoros is pretty worthless, as his source Ephoros, was found to be by Polybios XII 25f. Pausanias (IX 13 v-vi) gives the Theban casualties as 47, probably from 2,000 or 2.03%. Looks pretty decisive to me, the effects were; Spartan hegemony was instantly broken the next campaigning season saw the allies at the gates of Sparta, Messenia liberated and Megaloppolis founded. Better check that grip on reality

Xenophon:
This is not so surprising, I suppose, since you describe one of history's most decisive battles as indecisive! And how by some rather lame 'special pleading'; Xenophon is clear that only the Theban left and Lakedaimonian right actually engaged, so these are the only forces to consider when judging the proportion of casualties.

Once again, you do not appear to have read what I wrote, viz: "From a military standpoint, it was an indecisive battle -- though the deaths of the King and many of the 'Homioi' was a deep psychological shock that would ultimately lead to Sparta's demise.."

The battle changed nothing, militarily it was a draw - the Lakedaemonian army was intact in its camp, still threatening Thebes, though its attack was now blunted. The Thebans dared not attack the camp, nor offer further battle, but cast about for allies. Jason of Pherae came, but despite Theban urgings would not agree to attack the Lakedaemonians ( a likely expensive proposition, and probably for political reasons too ). Archidamus son of Agesilaos duly relieved the army, and they went home at the end of the campaigning season. The main effect was political and psychological - the Arcadians of Mantinea and Tegea broke their alliance with Sparta, and urged the Thebans to invade the Peloponnese. Sparta promptly invaded Arcadia. King Agesilaos kept the field until mid-winter, hoping for a chance to avenge Leuktra, but the reluctant Thebans didn't deliver their promised aid. Agesilaos was ultimately forced to withdraw, harried by the Arcadians ( the scenario of his famous 'anastrophe' manouevre to withdraw intact). The brave Boeotians turned up at Mantinea after Agesilaos had gone home. It was only the following year, with more Spartan allies coming over, that with overwhelming numbers a reluctant Epaminondas invaded Lakonia - the first time in six centuries that this had happened. Incidently, the Thebans couldn't have "been at the gates" of Sparta - she had no walls nor gates at this time. The open city was successfully defended and Epaminondas withdrew - more indecisive fighting. The following year, 369 BC, the Boeotians invaded the Peloponnese again to no avail, and the year after, the Spartans won an overwhelming military victory over the Arcadians at the "Tearless battle", but this was politically indecisive as the Arcadians built Megalopolis to block the invasion route...... The indecisive struggle continued until 362 BC, when Epaminondas came for the last time. After a failed thrust at Sparta, there occurred the indecisive battle of second Mantinea, where Epaminondas was killed. The struggle petered out.

The real reason Sparta's centuries long hegemony of the Peloponnese came to an end was the splitting away of Arcadia, which cut Sparta off from its Messenian helots, in turn weakening her irretrievably. In the short term Leuktra did not change the military situation by one iota, precisely because the Lakedaemonian army was NOT 'shattered'. It remained intact with only the Spartiate homioi badly mauled. As I said, it was only many years later that the political/psychological effects that could be traced back to Leuktra became apparent.....

There were four Morai on the Spartan side, those which Kleombrotos had been sent with to Phokis (Hell.VI 1); a mora had sixteen enomotiai according to Xenophon Lak.Pol 11 iv
ἑκάστη δὲ τῶν ὁπλιτικῶν μορῶν ἔχει πολέμαρχον ἕνα, λοχαγοὺς τέτταρας, πεντηκοντῆρας ὀκτώ, ἐνωμοτάρχους ἑκκαίδεκα.


Thus a mora has 576 men, working on a twelve deep file this is 48 files, four such 192 which allowing for a certain rounding of figures gives 400 Spartiate officers, who presumably form the file leaders and closers a la Sokrates of Xenophon's Memorabilia's description. The 300 Spartiates over are the Hippeis which are attested separately at the battle. 400 died which looks like all the front rank and two thirds of the Hippeis, a further 600 of the leavening fell, which makes 1,000 from 2,300 or 43.5% but this was no rout



I would dispute your numbers here, which come from the pseudo-Xenophon's "Constitution." ( it would give a number for the whole Spartan army of less than 3,500 - an impossibly small number.) There are very good reasons for thinking the 'Mora' of this period numbered 32 enomotia, but here is not the place to discuss numbers of a 'Mora' that would naturally fluctuate with age-classes called up. Your numbers should be doubled and your percentages halved. I would agree that some 700 or so of the 1,000 Spartiates present fell - the largest number to die in a single day in Sparta's history - which was disastrous enough.
As for you 300 alleged Theban casualties, if you want them then you will have to accept the 4,000 Spartan casualties claimed by the same source (or twice the numbers they started with!); Diodoros is pretty worthless, as his source Ephoros, was found to be by Polybios XII 25f. Pausanias (IX 13 v-vi) gives the Theban casualties as 47, probably from 2,000 or 2.03%.

The casualties reports vary quite significantly. The fact that one side knows its own casualties (Thebans: 300) does not mean that they have the remotest idea about their enemies beyond the wildest propaganda speculation (Spartans 4,000? - roughly the total present). Boeotian sources seem to admit 300 casualties dead, and Spartan sources 1,000 dead. These admitted casualties are the most likely accurate.
Looks pretty decisive to me, the effects were; Spartan hegemony was instantly broken the next campaigning season saw the allies at the gates of Sparta, Messenia liberated and Megaloppolis founded. Better check that grip on reality
As so often, this is incorrect in every detail:
1) The Spartan hegemony was not "instantly broken". All that Leuktra [371 BC] had achieved militarily was to gain Thebes some time. The end of that season saw not one but two Lacedaemonian armies in the field threatening Boeotia ( she was outnumbered by just one). Fortunately the time gained allowed Jason of Pherae to arrive with a large Thessalian army, which deterred any further Spartan offensive that year, along with the lateness of the season. ( see above) The problem was that Jason had his own agenda, and he negotiated a 'truce' for his own ends. The fate of Thebes was still balanced on a knife edge. Next year saw Arcadia throw off Spartan hegemony, perhaps in part inspired by the knowledge that Sparta's elite 'homioi' were no longer invincible... and it was that which changed everything, not the battle of Leuktra 'per se'.

2) The next campaigning season did NOT see the allies at Sparta's non-existent gates. It was King Agesilaos who took the offensive, and hung on in Arcadia well into next winter. The promised Boeotian help only materialised after Agesilaos went home ( see above). Only in the winter of 370/369 BC did the allies venture into Lacadaemon. Messenia was not immediately liberated, but had to wait until 369 BC.

3) Megalopolis was not founded in the campaigning season of Leuktra, but after the heavy defeat of the Arcadians at the "Tearless battle", some 3 years later [368 BC] and of course such a large city was not built overnight, but over the course of years....

Perhaps it is Agesilaos who should "get a grip on reality". A good start would be to check his information and start giving references......

Leuktra changed nothing militarily in the short term, nor even the medium term, but in the long term Sparta's ultimate demise could be traced back to the psychological effects on other Greeks of the ending of Spartan 'invincibility'.

From a military standpoint Leuktra was 'indecisive' - as Epaminondas knew only too well, hence his subsequent caution.

Xenophon again

The Lakedaemonian army did not 'decamp immediately'. It remained in place for weeks at least - long enough for Thebes to send ambassadors to Athens for aid, and subsequently to Jason to be begged to come to Thebes aid, and for him to march there, and then to Theban dismay, refuse to join an attack on the Spartans. Apart from his own agenda, he had a clear respect for their fighting ability [Xen VI.4.23]. He then negotiated a truce. Long enough too for Archidamus to gather an army of relief, and march as far north as Megara. You are also showing a certain military naivete regarding the circumstances of their eventual departure. Certainly their departure was quick and secretive. And of course it was from fear of Theban treachery. Their commander would have been a fool to depart any other way, and the Lakedaemonians might otherwise have shared the fate of the British under Col. Monro as they withdrew under a truce from Fort William Henry in 1757 ( depicted in the film "Last of the Mohicans" ). Few commanders in history have fallen for this one, and it has been standard military practice all over the world that in 'breaking contact' with the enemy, it should be done as secretly as possible....think Gallipoli, or HMS Amethyst in the Yangtze incident. Trusting the truce would have been absolute folly, as Col. Munro discovered to his cost...

Agesilaos:
Strange that you don’t reference any of the alleged ‘reasons’ for doubling the size of a mora; but if you want to discard that part of ‘Lak.Pol’ why trust any of it? Just as Polybios is now not as competent as Xenophon, now Xenophon is to be dubbed Pseudo and dimissed, but only in parts i.e. those parts that do not suit; as a method it is lamentable.

So let’s assume you are right (a massive suspension of disbelief for some I am sure) in this case a mora of 1152 would be 96 files 12 deep, four of these 384 files; since there are only c.400 Spartiates once the Hippeis are taken into account this means that only the front rank were Spartiates, so much for Sokrates brick wall, but it gets better because you insist they fought six deep, now only every other man in the front rank is a Spartiate, bit of a leaky wall? Again these 768 files would occupy 768 yards. The Theban ‘embolon’ was 50 deep and perhaps 2,300 or so strong, counting the Sacred Band as separate from the city levy, which is a frontage of 46 yards, if Kleombrotos’ line was 16 times as long as the Thebans’ he must have been a real dunce to suppose he had to manoeuvre to outflank them! My version, half the numbers and double the depth ie the one Xenophon states, still leaves the Spartans with a frontage four times as long. This in turn would indicate that Epaminondas was targeting the Spartan King directly intending only to strike one mora. The Theban cavalry would prevent any out flanking on his left and the other Boeotians must have been in close enough attendance to face off the other morai. And yet more than one mora’s worth of Spartiates fell; did they take it in turns to face the Thebans? The only possibility is a rout probably with the Spartiates standing (the accounts, which are suspect talk of ‘wounds on the front’). So my figures are right, the maths don’t lie.

Similarly the founding of Megalopolis, the invasion of Lakonia etc are contingent upon the victory at Leuktra and may, thus be fairly seen as consequences thereof.

Just who are these Boeotian sources? Granted Plutarch is one, but he does not give the casualties, although he gives the Spartan strength a 10,000 hoplites and 1,000 cavalry; Diodoros the Sicilian most probably used Ephoros the Kymaian who praises the Spartans rather more than a pro-Boeotian would, in fact his a worthless agglomeration of literary confection. Pausanias may have been a Lydian, but he has a detailed description IX 13 ii-xii, in which he names all seven Boetarchs for instance and his figures for the dead are more than a thousand Lakedaimonians, the same as Xenophon, and forty-seven Thebans; at IX16 v he views the shields of Spartans who fell in the Temple of Demeter. Xenophon famously fails to name Epaminondas here and at VII 5 viii only praises his taking up camp in Tegaea! The famously qualified military man was clearly ignorant of the tactical innovation which had laid Sparta low, conversely it was just his bias that prevented him giving a Theban any credit. Best be wary of his judgements, then.

I know Sparta had no Gates as such it is just a turn of phrase.

Agesilaos again
There is something amiss with the idea that the Spartan army remained for weeks in Boeotia threatening Thebes. Xenophon supplies some facts;

1) A messenger was sent to Sparta after the bodies had been recovered under a truce and he arrived during the last day of the Gymnopaedia and there was a days delay while the news was communicated VI 4 xvi.
2) The Thebans sent both to Athens and Jason of Pherai who was in Phokis VI 4 xxi
3) That the Spartans sneaked away from Leuktra as soon as Jason had established a further Truce, VI 4 xxv
4) The troops sent from Sparta met the defeated at Aegosthena near Megara, VI 4 xxvi

We can add a few more facts from Googlemaps;

1) The distance from Sparta to Megara is 75 miles
2) That from Leuktra to Megara is 58 miles
Thus the messenger had to travel 128 miles, let us say a two day trip. The force under Archidamos has to cover 75 miles which could be covered in two days but we would be safer to allow three and add a day for the gathering of the troops, so six days.

The defeated Spartans had to travel 58 miles or two days’ march. It would seem that they ‘threatened Thebes’ from behind their palisade for a full four days! Time enough for Jason’s lightning march across Phokis and a day’s negotiation.

One should also note that the Spartans sneaked away without their allies for whom they have to wait at Megara VI 4 xxvi.

This is all in Xenophon, rather different from the picture our Xenophon paints!.

Paralus
It is clear that the Spartan army did little 'threatening' at all whilst a runner was sent to the ehpors. Equally clear is that the Spartans could not trust in those allies present with them who, as Xenophon notes, were having discourse with the Thebans. They could not fight and they could not leave hoping that the allies would stand by them. Thus, on conclusion of the truce, the Spartans decamp as soon as it is dark - allies or not - and head home shields between legs.

The ancient Xenophon's account of Leuktra is most unsatisfying. For the greater part it is a list of excuses for the catastrophic defeat in the field of Spartan arms. These excuses range from the drinking of Kleombrodos - who had to be talked into fighting - and his officers; the baggage handlers being forced (by the Spartans!!) to add "mass" to the Theban army (!); the weakness of the Spartan cavalry; the disposition of the Spartan infantry resulting "in the phalanx being not more than twelve men deep" whilst the Thebans were at least fifty deep and, finally, sheer outrageous fortune. Eveything went in Thebes' favour and everything against Sparta. Xenophon could not bring himself to describe the military innovation which destroyed the Spartan myth nor even to name the two Thebans involved. Far better to excuse than to expound.

Agesilaos had isolated Thebes on the battlefield: no allies outside of the Boeotian confederation. He expected the Spartan army to crush them. In the event, the Spartan army itself was crushed and the blame, inevitably, must fall on Kleombrotos the wine drinker and Theban lover who had to be convinced to fight.

Xenophon

I didn't go into Spartan military organisation because to do so would be a digression on a digression, and is hardly an overly relevant subject to Hellenistic manuals.

A slip on my part; it is not the "lacedaemonian Constitution" that is by 'Pseudo-Xenophon' but rather the "Athenian Constitution". My Bad.

To adopt such a black and white position as you suggest would be folly. We do not discard all of Thucydides because he is demonstrably wrong about Mantinea. The fact that a source gets one, or even a few things wrong, is no reason to assume everything in that source is wrong.

Your next lengthy paragraph is again completely wrong. The fact that the 'pempadarch'/platoon sergeant fought alongside his 'Spartiate' officer in the front rank does not make for a 'leaky wall' any more than it would today. The four Spartan 'morai' would have numbered around 4,780, drawn up 6 deep for battle, or a frontage of 800 or so shields/yards - so we are all but agreed. The 4,000 or so Thebans, 25 deep in close order in their column would have numbered some 160 shields/yards, concentrated against the part of the line where Kleombrotos stood. That Mora would have had a frontage of 192 or so shields, plus perhaps another 25 shields/yards for the Hippeis. This would be consistent with Epaminondas' tactic of 'cutting off the snake's head'. On this much at least we agree. There is no rout, as I have previously demonstrated - how could there be if the Spartiates all fell "with their wounds to their front"??
( a 'topos' meaning no-one ran and was struck down from behind).

The founding of Megalopolis, some 3 years later had little or nothing to do with Leuktra, and everything to do with the defection of the Arcadians as Spartan allies - due to the ascendancy of the 'anti-spartan' factions, and the subsequent defeat of the Arcadians at "The Tearless Battle". There is no evidence to suggest the change in Arcadian politics had anything to do with Leuktra, and any link is just modern assumption based on hindsight.

Give me a reference that says Arcadia asserted its independence because of Leuktra, even by implication?

Following Leuktra, the 'King's Peace' which guaranteed the independence of the cities was re-affirmed by all save Thebes, and it was on this basis that Mantinea and Tegea began to assert their independence [XH VI.5.3-9]. Confrontation with Sparta was the result, and Arcadia's understandable plea for Boeotian help - which was NOT forthcoming so long as Agesilaos was in the field, right into mid-winter.

Leuktra was no 'decisive victory', The lakedaemonian army was not 'shattered' or destroyed ( indeed its caualties were swiftly replaced), as subsequent Theban actions demonstrate only too well !!
The famously qualified military man was clearly ignorant of the tactical innovation which had laid Sparta low, conversely it was just his bias that prevented him giving a Theban any credit. Best be wary of his judgements, then.


And just what "tactical innovation" would that be ? Xenophon may be biased, but so are you. Best be wary of your judgements then, I think, and doubly wary of discounting Xenophon,bias and all, who was around at the time and knew a good deal more of 'phalanx warfare' than any modern...

Agesilaos;
No sources or argumentation only assertion and incidentally doubling the Theban numbers too. The only statement of Theban strength is the 6,000 in the worthless account of Diodoros. Despite that it may not be far from the mark; Thebes had provided 2,000 hoplites to the Federal Army in the late fifth century and populations seem to be on the decline in the Fourth although Sparta is a very special case and should be discounted as the factors affecting the dwindling numbers of homoioi did not apply elsewhere. At the Nemea ten Athenian Tribes supply 6,000, Korinth 3,000 and Boeotia less Orchomenos, 5,000 as opposed to 8,000, 5,000 and Boeotia a putative 10,000 (according to Federal rules, but the Athenians ought to be 10,000 too). It has to be said that the situation was rather different too but one would expect a full levy from Korinth and the Spartan allies of whom the Sikyonians supply 1,500 as opposed to 3,000 and the Tegaians 1,200 against 1,500 (working from the fact that they faced four of the ten Athenian tribes (600 per tribe 16 deep = 150 files times eight is 1200). Xen Hell. IV 16ff. Making 4,000 for the left wing embolon in 371 somewhat hopeful.

Ditto
And just what "tactical innovation" would that be ?

That would be massing the best troops in depth on the left to face the enemy’s best troops, co-ordination with the cavalry, and the oblique advance protecting his weaker right. As for bias, I chose to be ‘Agesilaos’ not ‘Pelopidas’, I just don’t let my personal feelings obscure the facts (too much!).

Xenophon
Agesilaos wrote:
agesilaos wrote:There is something amiss with the idea that the Spartan army remained for weeks in Boeotia threatening Thebes. Xenophon supplies some facts;

1) A messenger was sent to Sparta after the bodies had been recovered under a truce and he arrived during the last day of the Gymnopaedia and there was a days delay while the news was communicated VI 4 xvi.
2) The Thebans sent both to Athens and Jason of Pherai who was in Phokis VI 4 xxi
3) That the Spartans sneaked away from Leuktra as soon as Jason had established a further Truce, VI 4 xxv
4) The troops sent from Sparta met the defeated at Aegosthena near Megara, VI 4 xxvi

An excellent idea of Agesilaos, to make at least a rough estimate of how long the Lacedaemonian army likely remained in Boeotia, still threatening Thebes.

Before doing so, we need to make a few minor corrections.

2) The desperate Thebans firstly sent to Athens, where they were spurned. Only subsequent to their embassy's return did they send to Jason,([XH VI.4.20] "The Thebans now sent in all haste to their ally Jason...") who was evidently not in Phocis, but north of it, or perhaps in the border districts[XH VI.4.21] "... in fact he took his mercenary force and his bodyguard of cavalry and, although the Phocians were engaged in a bitter warfare against him, proceeded by land through their country into Boeotia, appearing in many of their towns before it was reported to them that he was on the march. At any rate, before they could gather troops together ...”

Had he been in central Phocis, for example, then all the cities would have long since been mobilised.

3) The Spartans did not "sneak away", they simply took the standard precautions when breaking off from an enemy - see my earlier comments on Gallipoli, Col Munro at Ticonderoga etc. To do otherwise would have been military folly.
We can add a few more facts from Googlemaps;

1) The distance from Sparta to Megara is 75 miles


I make the distance Sparta to Aegosthena, just south of the Cithaeron range, using an ancient Greece overlay on Google Earth to be about 140 to 150 miles/225 to 240 kilometres aprox.
2) That from Leuktra to Megara is 58 miles


Similarly I make Leuktra to Aegosthena in the territory of Megara 12-15 miles/19-24 km aprox, via the Cithaeron pass which we are told the Lacedaemonians took.

The distance from Thebes to Athens is 43 miles/70 km aprox. A messenger on horseback, without relays of horses ( no Persian Royal Road here ! ) could expect to cover 20-30 miles per day. A specially trained horse perhaps 50 miles or more a day.
Thus the messenger had to travel 128 miles, let us say a two day trip. The force under Archidamos has to cover 75 miles which could be covered in two days but we would be safer to allow three and add a day for the gathering of the troops, so six days.

The defeated Spartans had to travel 58 miles or two days’ march. It would seem that they ‘threatened Thebes’ from behind their palisade for a full four days! Time enough for Jason’s lightning march across Phokis and a day’s negotiation.


We can now refine Agesilaos’ estimates somewhat. First the embassy to Athens. In view of the urgency, we may allow perhaps just one day to get the 43 miles to Athens. The messenger was immediately rebuffed by the Athenian Council (XH VI.4.19) and left. His return journey on a tired horse we may allow 2 days for. A messenger was then despatched to Jason for which we should allow at least 2 days to cross Phocis, some 75 miles or more roughly. He then undertook a forced march across Phocis back to Thebes, which would have taken something like 3 days, assuming no time taken to prepare for the march. He then negotiated a truce between Boeotians and Lacedaemonians which probably took at least two days. So the minimum time the Lacedaemonians remained in their camp was 10 days, or more likely a little longer.

Meanwhile, a messenger went to Sparta, about 150-160 miles via the safer central route down the Peloponnese ( avoiding dangerous Argos and the shorter coastal route) – 3 to 4 days, plus a day or two to mobilise and prepare the army. Archidamus then marched by the central route, picking up Tegean and Mantinean allies on the way, and assuming forced march rates, could have reached Aegosthena, (roughly 140 -150 miles) in 4 or 5 days – which again comes to about 10 days minimum. There, the two Lacedaemonian armies rendezvoused, the encamped army having marched 12-15 miles over the range by night.
One should also note that the Spartans sneaked away without their allies for whom they have to wait at Megara VI 4 xxvi.
I fear Agesilaos has rather misread Xenophon. The Polemarchs ordered that “....all troops should have their baggage packed..” and it was the whole army which headed off on their night march, which would have seen them at Aegosthena some 12-15 miles over the mountains next morning. The allies for whom Archidamus waited were other Peloponnesian allies who weren’t picked up on the forced march, and were following on (XH VI.4.18). Once the whole army was together, Archidamus returned via Corinth, where he disbanded the allies for that season, and returned home.

And what of Epaminondas and the Boeotian army during this ten days or more ? They did not dare attack the Lacedaemonians until Jason arrived, and evidently felt they could not do so without his help. Nor did they surround the Spartan camp, or interdict their lines of communications, for messengers came and went and probably supplies too. They may have retired to Thebes, but more probably stayed in their camp at Leuktra, in their “Mexican stand-off” with the Lakedaemonians for the next 10 days minimum,or more likely a little longer. They clearly dared not take any offensive action, beyond guarding the route to Thebes, a wholly defensive act. Once Jason’s truce was in place, they took no further action whatever, but went home.

Clearly Leuktra was a classic “indecisive” battle in a military sense, despite the efforts of some historians to paint it otherwise, with both armies back home, and the 'status quo' unchanged.

And next season ? Anti-Spartan factions took control of some of the Arcadian cities, and asserted their independence. Naturally they appealed for help to Thebes. King Agesilaos took the field, and campaigned well into the following mid-winter, grimly hoping Epaminondas and his Boeotians would answer Arcadian pleas and give him a chance to avenge Leuktra. The Thebans timidly waited until Agesilaos returned home before poking their noses into the Peoloponnese.....evidently they didn't think they had won a 'decisive victory'.

Paralus
An excellent idea of Agesilaos, to make at least a rough estimate of how long the Lacedaemonian army likely remained in Boeotia, still threatening Thebes.
The forum name is clearly well chosen: read one Xenophon, read 'em all. This - "the Lacedaemonian army likely remained in Boeotia, still threatening Thebes" - is something of a religious mantra. The argument is based solely on a description of the Theban forces who are painted as being thoroughly incontinent at the prospect of their defeated foe. Secondly we are treated to the picture of these same incontinent Thebans sending "desperately" to both Athens and Jason of Pherai for aid against these encamped and resolute Spartans. One wonders just how these timid creatures managed to win Leuktra and give the Spartans a caning in the process!

Unsaid is the fact that the Spartans - utterly defeated as the realists amongst them recognised - sat squat within their encampment and moved not one inch whilst "threatening" Thebes. Unmentioned by Xenophon of Brisvegas is the fact that these Thebans were outnumbered somewhat severely. The only figures we have for the armies are 11,000 for the Spartans and 6,000 for the Boeotians (Plut. Pel. 20.1; Diod. 15.52.2). These two sources have already been marginalised as 'pro-Theban' (and if that is so, Xenophon reads as "sir the dog ate my hoplites") but there is nothing in those figures to really question. Spartan armies sent to Boeotia in the immediate years prior this campaign number 18,000 or so (Diod. 15.32.1; 34.1). As for Thebes, this was a full citizen levy and those Boeotian allies still with her.

Which brings us to the next point. Agesilaos had played his hand well. In the discussions over the peace between Sparta and the Athenian Confederacy, Agesilaos had neatly isolated Thebes. After Athens renounced war and agreed, Thebes was utterly alone; her former ally (along with her confederacy) now on the sidelines. Agesilaos and Sparta expected that this would be a decimation of the hated Thebes. As it turned out, Thebes won and, in the process, dealt the Spartan core of the army a fearful belting. The surprise of the 'backs against the wall' victory is palpable.The Theban command, in receipt of a request for a truce to collect the dead, can only have expected that the Spartans will have sent to Sparta for aid / advice as well. Their first thought is to send to Athens - that flighty, erstwhile ally - to restore the former alliance. Athens, only too well aware that a dominant Thebes was not a welcome prospect, declined any interest. Their second was to send to Jason to ask for alliance against the Spartans. If there were to be further campaigning - especially with expected reinforcements from the Peloponnese, alliances were crucial: Thebes could not carry such a war alone (Philip did no such thing either decades later).

As for Thebes' supposed craven indolence in waiting "until Agesilaos returned home before poking their noses into the Peoloponnese" this, as Xenophon of Brisvegas would say, is to utterly ignore the military and political realities. Thebes, having just fought a battle for its existence, was in no position to invade the Peloponnese. Such an invasion could never take place until Thebes had an ironclad alliance in place that would supply the necessary manpower. As just explained, she did not possess that manpower on her own. That would be the purview of Epameinondas in the aftermath.

Whatever else might be said, the disasters that enveloped Sparta over the following few years can all be laid at the door of Leuktra. There could be no decent land alliance and grand campaign against Sparta without it. This was no mora defeated by Iphikrates' peltasts nor was it Shpacteria. This was a comprehensive and catestrophic defeat of homoioi arms in pitched battle. It was, for Sparta, the Titanic's iceberg: the SS Lakadaemonia ,while still afloat, was on severely limited time and its allied passengers were inevitably abandoning ship.

Agesilaos
Paralus has dealt with the Rhetorical flourishes, so I can concentrate on the actual argument in a spirit of co-operative enquiry. First I have to confess to a massive cock up, the distance from Sparti to Aigosthena is 203 km which is 126 miles ( I use the ‘Get Directions’ app on Google maps set to pedestrian to get these distances) let’s just set some down
1) Thisvi – Aliki 16km/10miles (Thisbae – Kreusis)
2) Aliki – Leuktry 21km /13 miles
3) Leuktry - Athens 76 km/47 miles
4) Leuktry – Sparti 239 km/148 miles
5) Sparti – Aigosthena 203 km/126 miles
6) Sparti – Marathonas 260 km/162 miles
The one missing distance is from Kreusis to Aigosthena and with good reason. There is no pass available to move to Aigosthena from Aliki (nor Paralia Livadostratas, which is where some maps locate Kreusis but this lacks any route to Thisvi whence Kleombrotos moved on Kreusis). Xenophon tells us that the Spartans returned to Kreusis (VI 4 xxv). As both Kreusis and Aigosthena are ports 13 miles apart by sea. Kleombrotos had captured twelve triereis and these may have been used to ferry the army to Aigosthena.

Twelve ships could only carry 600 men, though, which on my figures would make three trips (4 morai at 600 plus 300 hippeis minus 1,000 battle losses) with 50 men per ship. The round trip @ 5mph would take about five hours, so the Spartan contingent could be shipped out in a day (two if you want larger numbers), the allies would have to wait or trust the truce and march.

Another factor to consider in whether the whole army decamped at nightfall or just the Lakedaimonians, is the length of time it would take for extracastrementation and the length of the marching column.

1) Spartans alone @ 1700 on a four cubit interval and four abreast (they were retracing a mountainous route unlikely to allow a wider frontage) 850 metres. Allowing a march rate of 2mph (we are told they moved off in the dark, in fear and by a difficult road; Xenophon seems to make this the road to Aigosthena from Kreusis but there is no such road), the tail would be 16 minutes from the head of the column and the whole could reach Kreusis by daybreak
2) If they were 4,400, 2.2 km the length of the column is now 41 minutes.
3) The whole army, assuming 9,000 would stretch for 4.5 km and be 1 and a half hours long
4) None of these include servants who might double the lengths

I remain to be convinced that when Xenophon describes Archidamus as waiting for all the allies to assemble he means those due to join the new expedition. The relevant states all lay en route viz
And the Tegeans served with him zealously; for the followers of Stasippus were still alive, who were favourable to the Lacedaemonians and had no slight power in their own state. Likewise the Mantineans from their villages1 supported him2 stoutly; for they chanced to be under an aristocratic government. Furthermore, the Corinthians, Sicyonians, Phliasians, and Achaeans followed him with all zeal, and other states also sent out soldiers. And the Tegeans served with him zealously; for the followers of Stasippus were still alive, who were favourable to the Lacedaemonians and had no slight power in their own state. Likewise the Mantineans from their villages supported him stoutly; for they chanced to be under an aristocratic government. Furthermore, the Corinthians, Sicyonians, Phliasians, and Achaeans followed him with all zeal, and other states also sent out soldiers. IV 4 xviii
The passage concerning the sending of an embassy to Jason reads
But to Jason, who was their ally, the Thebans sent in haste, urging him to come to their aid; for they were debating among themselves how the future would turn out.
πρὸς μέντοι Ἰάσονα, σύμμαχον ὄντα, ἔπεμπον σπουδῇ οἱ Θηβαῖοι, κελεύοντες βοηθεῖν, διαλογιζόμενοι πῇ τὸ μέλλον ἀποβήσοιτο.
The word you have as ‘Now’ is μέντοι which means ‘indeed, however or to be sure’, which, since they sent to him in all haste would make both embassies leave at the same time.

This makes the mission to Athens less important to the timings; two days to get to Jason seems fine but if his forced march only proceeds at 25 miles a day he is hardly busting a gut, assuming you still believe an average march was 21 miles. I would think two days again would be nearer the mark, he has a small professional force and he traversed Phokis before they could muster (I agree he must have been on the border). I see no reason for the Truce not to have been concluded in a day, neither side was strong enough to be keen on renewed fighting.

Pausanias IX 14 i has
After the battle Epaminondas for a while, having proclaimed that the other Peloponnesians should depart home, kept the Lacedaemonians cooped up in Leuctra. But when reports came that the Spartans in the city were marching to a man to the help of their countrymen at Leuctra, Epaminondas allowed his enemy to depart under a truce, saying that it would be better for the Boeotians to shift the war from Boeotia to Lacedaemon.

It may be that the allies were no longer present when the Truce was settled. That the orders to be prepared to march were given by the polemarchs at dinner and were changed at short notice may point to the Spartans alone being involved, the allies would be unlikely to dine with their masters, I think and I am sure the camps were separate (though that may be a dream).

There may only be five days before the Spartans withdrew, then and one for them to either be shipped to Aigosthena or march along a coastal track. Can the six days fit with the relief expedition.

The messenger bearing the sad tidings has 148 miles to travel, two and a half days at 60 miles per day, unlike the Theban he would be able to exchange mounts as he would have been a Spartan officer. The mustering of the army need not have taken longer than a day; the Spartan troops were already gathered for the Gymnopaedia, messengers would be sent to the allies to muster en route as soon as the decision to move had been taken, the army could move on the morning of the fourth day after the battle and march the 126 miles to Aigosthena in three days; the Spartan army had marched the 160 miles to Marathon in that time and this was a similar emergency.
Last edited by agesilaos on Sun Aug 03, 2014 8:33 am, edited 4 times in total.
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agesilaos
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Re: Leuktra: Philip inspired by indecisve draw?

Post by agesilaos »

Xenophon
Paralus wrote:It is clear that the Spartan army did little 'threatening' at all whilst a runner was sent to the ehpors. Equally clear is that the Spartans could not trust in those allies present with them who, as Xenophon notes, were having discourse with the Thebans. They could not fight and they could not leave hoping that the allies would stand by them. Thus, on conclusion of the truce, the Spartans decamp as soon as it is dark - allies or not - and head home shields between legs.
I don't think this is correct, certainly if you are referring to the immediate aftermath of Leuktra. I cannot find a reference to any of the Spartan allies "having discourse with the Thebans." It will be remembered that many of the surviving Spartans were in favour of renewing the battle, but XH VI.4.15 goes on to say : "....perceiving that the allies were one and all without heart for fighting, while some of them were not even displeased at what had taken place...." and the Spartans then formally conceded the battle by asking for the return of their dead. No mention of any discourse with the Thebans, and despite their demoralisation caused by the death of Kleombrotus and so many Spartiatae, the allies and mercenaries remained disciplined and under orders.

Furthermore, your military naivete is showing again if you think having an intact Lacedaemonian army outnumbering yours camped on your doorstep some 10 miles from Thebes isn't "threatening". Its mere existence is a threat, even if it was licking some severe wounds. Some might think that made the beast all the more dangerous. The Boeotarchs wouldn't agree with you, as their immediate attempts to summon allies shows.

Whence comes this idea of the two of you that the Lacedaemonians somehow separated from their allies and mercenaries ?

Oh, and its a bit rich accusing me of making 'rhetorical flourishes when you use expressions such as "and head home shields between legs"
The ancient Xenophon's account of Leuktra is most unsatisfying. For the greater part it is a list of excuses for the catastrophic defeat in the field of Spartan arms. These excuses range from the drinking of Kleombrodos - who had to be talked into fighting - and his officers; the baggage handlers being forced (by the Spartans!!) to add "mass" to the Theban army (!); the weakness of the Spartan cavalry; the disposition of the Spartan infantry resulting "in the phalanx being not more than twelve men deep" whilst the Thebans were at least fifty deep and, finally, sheer outrageous fortune. Eveything went in Thebes' favour and everything against Sparta. Xenophon could not bring himself to describe the military innovation which destroyed the Spartan myth nor even to name the two Thebans involved. Far better to excuse than to expound.

I do not consider Xenophon's account a "list of excuses". That the hitherto invincible Spartiates/Homioi were defeated, and with such heavy casualties, required some explaining. Furthermore, without it we would have pretty much only secondary tales based on Theban propaganda. Xenophon seeks to explain the "why" of the astonishing defeat and expounds on this, and his account makes considerable sense. As he rightly says; "But in the battle, at any rate, everything turned out badly for the Lacedaemonians, while for the other side everything went prosperously, even to the gifts of fortune/luck."

The weakness of the Spartan cavalry, and their being driven back through their own phalanx, thus disordering it, was a factor. So was the attempt to outflank the Theban column, which went wrong. So was the mortal wounding of Kleombrotus. The depth of twelve was not a factor - indeed Xenophon expounds what should have happened to the Theban column when it was outflanked in his Cyropaedia. The point about the civilians being driven back to the camp by the Lacedaemonian allies and peltasts is valid too, for skulking among them were "others who did not want to fight" i.e. deserting soldiers, now forced back into the ranks. The 'military innovation' credited to Epaminondas - the massed column and oblique attack was not an innovation at all - both had been seen on Greek battlefields before.

The real innovation was the deliberate attempt to "cut off the head of the snake" [Polyainos II.3.15]. Rather than fight a conventional battle, a deliberate assault on the Spartan command group was to be attempted, to which end the Thebans unusually posted themselves on the left. This tactic worked brilliantly, thanks to some fortunate elements such as the disordering of the Spartan phalanx, and Pelopidas' initiative in attacking before the Spartans could complete their outflanking manouevre.

As to Xenophon not naming Epaminondas and Pelopidas, it is unlikely that his Spartan sources knew of them. Epaminondas was officially just one of the seven Boeotarchs in command, and Pelopidas merely the junior commander of the "Hieros Lochos". ( Xenophon doesn't mention the junior commander of the "Hippeis" either, nor the commanders of the four Spartan "Morai", save those who fell.)
Agesilaos had isolated Thebes on the battlefield: no allies outside of the Boeotian confederation. He expected the Spartan army to crush them. In the event, the Spartan army itself was crushed and the blame, inevitably, must fall on Kleombrotos the wine drinker and Theban lover who had to be convinced to fight.

More correctly, no allies among the signatories to the "King's Peace" - Jason of Pherae in Thessaly is specifically called an (existing) ally of Thebes [XH VI.4.20].
The Lacedaemonian army was not "crushed" - it suffered less than a 1,000 casualties overall, a light "butcher's bill" for a major battle. It continued as a dangerous 'threat-in-being', and its demoralisation could only be temporary.It could and did recover.
And who else could be held responsible for the defeat, other than Kleombrotus ? Though I'll grant you that some of the blame must lie with Agesilaos. Kleombrotus' weakness as a commander was known, and in addition, according to Plutarch 'Agesilaos' 28, it was he who insisted on not recalling Kleombrotus from Phocis.

Xenophon
No sources or argumentation only assertion and incidentally doubling the Theban numbers too. The only statement of Theban strength is the 6,000 in the worthless account of Diodoros. Despite that it may not be far from the mark; Thebes had provided 2,000 hoplites to the Federal Army in the late fifth century and populations seem to be on the decline in the Fourth although Sparta is a very special case and should be discounted as the factors affecting the dwindling numbers of homoioi did not apply elsewhere. At the Nemea ten Athenian Tribes supply 6,000, Korinth 3,000 and Boeotia less Orchomenos, 5,000 as opposed to 8,000, 5,000 and Boeotia a putative 10,000 (according to Federal rules, but the Athenians ought to be 10,000 too). It has to be said that the situation was rather different too but one would expect a full levy from Korinth and the Spartan allies of whom the Sikyonians supply 1,500 as opposed to 3,000 and the Tegaians 1,200 against 1,500 (working from the fact that they faced four of the ten Athenian tribes (600 per tribe 16 deep = 150 files times eight is 1200). Xen Hell. IV 16ff. Making 4,000 for the left wing embolon in 371 somewhat hopeful.

This was in part for brevity, in part to avoid diving off into yet another digression, and partly because I thought you would be familiar with the reasoning behind the estimated numbers, which are not just mine. We are simply not given numbers in our primary sources, and about the only thing secondary sources agree on is that the Boeotians were outnumbered.
We must therefore resort to estimates. In her 'hour of peril' we should expect Thebes to put up a 'maximum effort'. At
the Nemea the Boeotians, less Orchomenus, had fielded some 5,000 hoplites [XH IV.2.17] and at the last major battle between the two - Koroneia in 394 BC, some 23 years before - an estimated 6,000 under 6 Boeotarchs. [Diod XV.53.2] It looks, then, as if a 'Boeotarchy' ( yes, I just made that term up, for convenience ! ), like an Athenian 'Taxis' normally numbered about a thousand hoplites, but like the 'Taxis' could be considerably more if the 'senior' age groups were called up, as here [Diod XV.52.2.]. I'd agree with you that Diodorus' 6,000 Theban hoplites who march from the city is certainly possible and plausible.

At Leuktra the six Boeotarchs were joined by a seventh ( Bachkylidas; Diod XV.53.3; Paus IX.13.3) recalled from guarding a pass. The most conservative estimate for the Boeotian army would therefore be 7,000 hoplites. Three of these 'Boeotarchies' would likely have come from the other three Federal units of the league, leaving the remaining four from Thebes itself, thus conservatively at least 4,000 Theban hoplites, and maybe 6,000.[Frontinus gives 4,000 Boeotians, which may reflect the actual Theban numbers]

Whilst on the subject of numbers we might as well have a stab at guessing Lakedaimonian numbers too. There were four 'Morai' present, numbering some 4,480 hoplites plus probably the 300 'Hippeis'.( I don't propose to digress into why the 'Mora' were this number here) and some 4-500 cavalry. There were also mercenaries, Phokian peltasts, some Arcadians [Paus VIII.6.2] and troops including cavalry from Phlious and Heraklea. If these made up the customary "levy of the allies" i.e. two thirds, then we have something under 5,000 Spartans, some 3,000 allies plus mercenaries. This is consistent with Plutarch's totals of 10,000 plus 1,000 cavalry for the Lakedaemonian army, and them outnumbering the Boeotians ( 7-9,000 plus light troops and perhaps 700 cavalry ).

Agesilaos
Epameinondas, having conscripted for the battle all Thebans of military age and the other Boeotians who were willing and qualified, led forth from Thebes his army, numbering in all not more than six thousand. Diodoros XV 51 ii
Not solely a Theban levy then, but an army total of 6,000. Again, that there were twice the number of Spartans is crucial in your attempt to minimize the proportionate casualties but it is a digression to establish this, against the evidence of Xenophon it has to be said.

Even if you want to add 2,000 old codgers and striplings they are irrelevant as only the left wing embolon fought and that was composed of the best troops in the army, so they would have been with the unengaged centre and right.

There is no direct statement that the allies encamped separately but cf VI 4 xxiv
With such words, then, he endeavoured to dissuade the Thebans from making the final venture; to the Lacedaemonians, on the other hand, he pointed out what manner of thing a defeated army was, and what an army victorious. “And if you wish,” he said, “to forget the disaster which has befallen you, I advise you first to recover your breath and rest yourselves, and then, after you have become stronger, go into battle against men who are unconquered. But now,” he said, “be well assured that even among your allies there are those who are holding converse1 with the enemy about a treaty of friendship with them; by all means, then, try to obtain a truce. And I am myself eager for this,” he said, “out of a desire to save you, both because of my father's friendship with you and because I am your diplomatic agent.”

It is hard to see how the allies could be treating with the enemy and the Spartans not notice if they were all in one camp.

Paralus
Xenophon wrote:I don't think this is correct, certainly if you are referring to the immediate aftermath of Leuktra. I cannot find a reference to any of the Spartan allies "having discourse with the Thebans."
Then you need to read the text of Xenophon a little closer (6.4.24 - Jason of Pherae):
And know too that some of your allies are at this moment discussing treaties of friendship with your enemies.
Xenophon wrote:It will be remembered that many of the surviving Spartans were in favour of renewing the battle, but XH VI.4.15 goes on to say : "....perceiving that the allies were one and all without heart for fighting, while some of them were not even displeased at what had taken place...." and the Spartans then formally conceded the battle by asking for the return of their dead. No mention of any discourse with the Thebans, and despite their demoralisation caused by the death of Kleombrotus and so many Spartiatae, the allies and mercenaries remained disciplined and under orders.

Oh dear. See above regarding the "discourse". "Many" of the surviving Spartans? I believe it is actually "some". But let's not quibble because the "many" were quickly silenced by the surviving polemarchs who saw that "nearly a thousand of the Spartans had died, which included about four hundred homoioi..."
Xenophon wrote:Furthermore, your military naivete is showing again if you think having an intact Lacedaemonian army outnumbering yours camped on your doorstep some 10 miles from Thebes isn't "threatening". Its mere existence is a threat, even if it was licking some severe wounds. Some might think that made the beast all the more dangerous. The Boeotarchs wouldn't agree with you, as their immediate attempts to summon allies shows.

Yet again - to your convenience or, perhaps, naivete - you ignore the wider political picture. Thebes, shorn of all allies, had just fought and, surprisingly, won a battle for survival. This was no offensive campaign; it was a battle of defense against a numerically superior invader. Your entire view is that the initiative was constantly with the Thebans; that they should always be doing something. This is absolutely incorrect. It was a defensive battle in the face of an invading army well in excess of Thebes' numbers. More in terms of Artemesion or Marathon.
Xenophon wrote:I do not consider Xenophon's account a "list of excuses". That the hitherto invincible Spartiates/Homioi were defeated, and with such heavy casualties, required some explaining. Furthermore, without it we would have pretty much only secondary tales based on Theban propaganda. Xenophon seeks to explain the "why" of the astonishing defeat and expounds on this, and his account makes considerable sense. As he rightly says; "But in the battle, at any rate, everything turned out badly for the Lacedaemonians, while for the other side everything went prosperously, even to the gifts of fortune/luck."

Oh dear II. Of course it is a list of excuses. It is, as I wrote, "the Thebans ate my hoplites miss". In a purely military or tactical sense, Xenophon is utterly uninterested in the reasons for the Spartan catastrophe. He is far more interested in the wine consumption of Kleombrotos and his officers and the turns of outrageous fortune that so sunk his heroes rather than the tactics that won the battle. Yes Xenophon 'explains' the 'why' and that explanation is little more than excuses. He does not care to closely examine the seminal battle of his time and his account shows this. His information is utterly Spartan and his text littered with "they say". Agesialos' hatred of Thebes is also Xenophon's. Compare, for example, Xenophon's description of Agesilaos' actions and victorious maneuvers at Koroneia where he is duly interested in how the king achieved his victory over the hated Thebans.
Xenophon wrote:The point about the civilians being driven back to the camp by the Lacedaemonian allies and peltasts is valid too, for skulking among them were "others who did not want to fight" i.e. deserting soldiers, now forced back into the ranks.

Oh dear III. Polyaenus (2.3.3) says that the Thespians left after Epameinondas told those who did not wish to fight to leave. They apparently left with the camp followers and were forced back by the Spartans. Clearly these 'deserters' pressed into the Theban "mass", were crucial to the Spartan defeat. Really...
Xenophon wrote:As to Xenophon not naming Epaminondas and Pelopidas, it is unlikely that his Spartan sources knew of them. Epaminondas was officially just one of the seven Boeotarchs in command, and Pelopidas merely the junior commander of the "Hieros Lochos". ( Xenophon doesn't mention the junior commander of the "Hippeis" either, nor the commanders of the four Spartan "Morai", save those who fell.)

Oh dear IV. This, really, is simply not credible, not to mention 'special pleading'. The assertion that Xenophon, writing a history of his time, did not know of these men because his Spartan sources didn't know of them is absolutely ridiculous. Xenophon well knew them: they were not only the leading men of Thebes but also the hated enemy of his hero Agesilaos. Ancient Biographers wrote accounts of these men yet Xenophon is unaware because his "Spartan sources" are unlikely to have known of them??!! Xenophon deigns only to introduce Pelopidas as the filthy Thebean mediser at 7.1.33-37. Now, I wonder why that might be? I'm afraid, Xenophon of Brisvegas, that your partisan stripes are well on show!!
Xenophon wrote:More correctly, no allies among the signatories to the "King's Peace" - Jason of Pherae in Thessaly is specifically called an (existing) ally of Thebes [XH VI.4.20].
Exactly what I wrote: Agesilaos, through the peace process, had isolated Thebes. Her allies (aside from those she still wanted to sign for - the Boeotian towns) were all signatories. That Jason was outside this agreement is eminently possible but debatable. He was not at Leuktra.

Xenophon
And just what "tactical innovation" would that be ?


That would be massing the best troops in depth on the left to face the enemy’s best troops, co-ordination with the cavalry, and the oblique advance protecting his weaker right. As for bias, I chose to be ‘Agesilaos’ not ‘Pelopidas’, I just don’t let my personal feelings obscure the facts (too much!)
.


As I said previously a couple of posts ago, a massed column, and an attack 'obliquely' by one wing leading were not tactical innovations I think 'co-ordination' with the cavalry is to credit Epaminondas with something that he couldn't possibly predict and which occurred fortuitously.

Agesilaos
One good thing about a bit of argy-bargy is that some new details can be thrown up in the melee. One such is the location of Aigosthena, something well established by archaeology and epigraphy; this site is to quote ‘Megara; the political history of a Greek city state to 336 BC’ by R P Legon, Cornell Uni Press, 181, ‘Aegosthena, though possessing an excellent protected harbour, was isolated between Pateras and Cithaeron at the northeastern extremity of the Megarid, and was at least as difficult to reach from Megara as from Southern Boeotia.’ (page 32/3). So why did Archdamos go there?

I think the answer lies in the note at Hell. VI 4 xviii
ἐπλήρουν δὲ καὶ τριήρεις αὐτοί τε οἱ Λακεδαιμόνιοι καὶ Κορίνθιοι, καὶ ἐδέοντο καὶ Σικυωνίων συμπληροῦν, ἐφ᾽ ὧν διενοοῦντο τὸ στράτευμα διαβιβάζειν.
Meanwhile the Lacedaemonians themselves and the Corinthians manned triremes and requested the Sicyonians also to help them in so doing, intending to carry the army across the gulf on these ships. Carlton Brownson

It might be assumed that the strateuma/expedition which was to be ferried across the Gulf was the ‘Relief Force’ but nothing prevents it meaning the ex-Kleombrotos’ force. Aigosthena is the closest port to Kreusis whither the defeated Spartans retreated but small and difficult to access for the Relief Force which would have marched passed the much finer harbour at Lechaion where the Korinthian and Sikyonian contingents would gather for such a move.

It follows that if the Spartans knew the defeated troops were looking to withdraw to Aigosthena that that news had been imparted by the messenger who arrived during the Gymnopaideia, which in turn means that the Spartans had decided to pull out immediately after the battle. Further the Relief Force was intended purely as an escort from Aigosthena and was never intended to continue hostilities; despite Xenophon’s shouting about how keen the Achaians etc were stoutly loyal it would seem that the government of the time was rather more cautious.

How could Xenophon miss this out? Well he may have chosen to gloss over it or there may well be a lacuna in our text. VI 4 25- 26
ἐπεὶ δ᾽ ἐδείπνησαν, πρὶν καθεύδειν παραγγείλαντες ἀκολουθεῖν, ἡγοῦντο εὐθὺς ἀφ᾽ ἑσπέρας τὴν διὰ Κρεύσιος, τῷ λαθεῖν πιστεύοντες μᾶλλον ἢ ταῖς σπονδαῖς. 26] μάλα δὲ χαλεπῶς πορευόμενοι, οἷα δὴ ἐν νυκτί τε καὶ ἐν φόβῳ ἀπιόντες καὶ χαλεπὴν ὁδόν, εἰς Αἰγόσθενα τῆς Μεγαρικῆς ἀφικνοῦνται. ἐκεῖ δὲ περιτυγχάνουσι τῷ μετὰ Ἀρχιδάμου στρατεύματι.
But when the men had dined and before they went to rest, the polemarchs gave the order to follow, and led the way immediately upon the fall of evening by the road through Creusis, trusting to secrecy more than to the truce. [26] And proceeding with very great difficulty, since they were withdrawing at night and in fear and by a hard road, they arrived at Aegosthena in the territory of Megara.
The emboldened phrase clearly looks back to the actual night time withdrawl, yet the text as it stands grafts the fear and the hard road and the night onto the whole journey to Aigosthena. Something, probably only a line seems to have dropped out between ὁδόν, and εἰς.

Paralus
agesilaos wrote:One good thing about a bit of argy-bargy is that some new details can be thrown up in the melee. One such is the location of Aigosthena, something well established by archaeology and epigraphy; this site is to quote ‘Megara; the political history of a Greek city state to 336 BC’ by R P Legon, Cornell Uni Press, 181, ‘Aegosthena, though possessing an excellent protected harbour, was isolated between Pateras and Cithaeron at the northeastern extremity of the Megarid, and was at least as difficult to reach from Megara as from Southern Boeotia.’ (page 32/3). So why did Archdamos go there?
Yes, lots of little tidbits. Aigosthena would seem to be identified as the modern Πόρτο Γερμενό / Porto Germeno. This is, even today, 'isolated' and if one were to be traveling on foot (as the Spartans were from Leuktra), a difficult march indeed as Xenophon (of Athens) describes it to be. It is also a difficult march from Megara (or Athens for that matter) as Legon states above. Xenophon lists the pro-Spartan allies who joined the force from Sparta and goes on to say that "the Spartans themselves and the Corinthians manned triremes, and they asked the Sicyonians to sail with them, because they intended to use their ships to carry the troops across the gulf" (Hell. 6.4.18) as Agesilaos notes above. I disagree that this was for the survivors of Kleombrotos' force, Xenophon's text indicates that it is the troops under Archidamaos that are to be so transported for it is these that the entire passage is discussing. It also seems odd that the force would march to Aigostheni and then request ships from the Sicyonians and Corinthians to ferry the survivors from Kleombrotos' force. It is far more simple that this is Archidamos' force, assembled at Corinth, which is ferried to Aigostheni.

Archidamos, then, had no intention of taking the normal route via the Megarid into Boeotia via Cithaeron; he would assemble his force on Corinth and sail across the gulf to Aigosthena. It is also to be noted that Megara is not mentioned in the list of 'enthusiastic' allies with Archidamos. As well, at the time of the force's dispatch, Sparta is unlikely to be certain of just how their partner in 'peace', Athens, stood in regard the recent defeat. The Ehpors and Archidamos would seem to be taking no chances and it would seem that the force was, indeed, not likely a new invasion force; rather one of secure and escort.

From this either Archidamos must have known this to be the route the defeated force would take or it is a rather monumental coincidence that the two forces meet at an isolated harbour at the northeastern extremity of the gulf Archidamos chose to sail across. Thus it must also follow that Archidamos was not waiting for the allied contingents of his own force at Aigosthema but for those of the defeated one. It rather beggars belief that the Spartan king would assemble the Corinthians and Sycionians and sail across the gulf without the Tegeans, Mantinieans, Phleiasians and Achaeans who would then face the difficult march through the western Megarid to this isolated port. Not to mention the fact that the Spartan king and his force had just marched through the very territory of those allies so enthusiastic to join him.
Last edited by agesilaos on Sun Aug 03, 2014 8:39 am, edited 3 times in total.
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agesilaos
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Re: Leuktra: Philip inspired by indecisve draw?

Post by agesilaos »

Xenophon
Paralus wrote:
Xenophon wrote:An excellent idea of Agesilaos, to make at least a rough estimate of how long the Lacedaemonian army likely remained in Boeotia, still threatening Thebes.
The forum name is clearly well chosen: read one Xenophon, read 'em all. This - "the Lacedaemonian army likely remained in Boeotia, still threatening Thebes" - is something of a religious mantra. The argument is based solely on a description of the Theban forces who are painted as being thoroughly incontinent at the prospect of their defeated foe. Secondly we are treated to the picture of these same incontinent Thebans sending "desperately" to both Athens and Jason of Pherai for aid against these encamped and resolute Spartans. One wonders just how these timid creatures managed to win Leuktra and give the Spartans a caning in the process!

I always smile to myself whenever Paralus' posts start to consist of more sarcasm and rhetoric, or 'colourful phraseology' than facts.....it is a sure barometer that he is on the back foot. I have already explained why an army which outnumbers yours, sitting in a fortified camp on your city's doorstep, less than 10 miles away is an obvious 'threat-in-being'...even when defeated and demoralised. Especially when those enemies were Spartans, who did not lose their reputation overnight, as was proven by subsequent events and the "Tearless Battle".

I'm glad we agree that the Thebans were themselves somewhat surprised by their unexpected victory - won only, as Xenophon says, with every possible advantage, and every possible disadvantage to the Lakedaemonians. They were only too well aware that they weren't out of the woods by any means, hence their "hasty" appeals for allies. In addition, the Lakedaemonians weren't the only ones with luke-warm allies - that recent Spartan ally Thespiae for one, and there were others. [Paus IX.13.8]
Unsaid is the fact that the Spartans - utterly defeated as the realists amongst them recognised - sat squat within their encampment and moved not one inch whilst "threatening" Thebes. Unmentioned by Xenophon of Brisvegas is the fact that these Thebans were outnumbered somewhat severely. The only figures we have for the armies are 11,000 for the Spartans and 6,000 for the Boeotians (Plut. Pel. 20.1; Diod. 15.52.2). These two sources have already been marginalised as 'pro-Theban' (and if that is so, Xenophon reads as "sir the dog ate my hoplites") but there is nothing in those figures to really question. Spartan armies sent to Boeotia in the immediate years prior this campaign number 18,000 or so (Diod. 15.32.1; 34.1). As for Thebes, this was a full citizen levy and those Boeotian allies still with her
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Yes, I have already pointed out that both sides were in a 'Mexican stand-off" and that each relied on the appearance of fresh forces to break the deadlock. Which fact alone demonstrates that Leuktra was 'indecisive', as the Thebans themselves recognised. ( which I'll return to anon)

From a different context, I will quote Thucydides:
"They might seem to have been worsted by Fortune but in spirit they (the Spartans) were still the same" [V.75.3]
As to numbers, I have already referred to the general consensus on that score, and outlined the reasoning, namely some 10,000 or so Lakedaemonians and 1,000 cavalry; and 7-9,000 Boeotians with 7-800 cavalry. We are told that of the Boeotian command, 3 Boeotarchs were for giving battle,(Epaminonds, Malgis and Xenocrates) and 3 not (Damocleidus, Damophilos and Simangelus) who were in favour of withdrawing to the city and being besieged. If the numbers were really 11,000 to 6,000 - almost two-to-one - there would have been no question of offering battle. The split argues strongly that the Thebans were outnumbered, but not significantly so. The deadlock was broken by the arrival of the seventh Boeotarch (Brachyllides) and his troops, who voted for battle.[Paus IX.13.6 ]
Which brings us to the next point. Agesilaos had played his hand well. In the discussions over the peace between Sparta and the Athenian Confederacy, Agesilaos had neatly isolated Thebes. After Athens renounced war and agreed, Thebes was utterly alone; her former ally (along with her confederacy) now on the sidelines. Agesilaos and Sparta expected that this would be a decimation of the hated Thebes. As it turned out, Thebes won and, in the process, dealt the Spartan core of the army a fearful belting. The surprise of the 'backs against the wall' victory is palpable.The Theban command, in receipt of a request for a truce to collect the dead, can only have expected that the Spartans will have sent to Sparta for aid / advice as well. Their first thought is to send to Athens - that flighty, erstwhile ally - to restore the former alliance. Athens, only too well aware that a dominant Thebes was not a welcome prospect, declined any interest. Their second was to send to Jason to ask for alliance against the Spartans. If there were to be further campaigning - especially with expected reinforcements from the Peloponnese, alliances were crucial: Thebes could not carry such a war alone (Philip did no such thing either decades later).
With which I'd pretty much agree, despite the exaggeration of the magnitude of the defeat, and as I have already pointed out, Jason appears to have been an existing ally.
"As for Thebes' supposed craven indolence in waiting until Agesilaos returned home before poking their noses into the Peoloponnese" this, as Xenophon of Brisvegas would say, is to utterly ignore the military and political realities. Thebes, having just fought a battle for its existence, was in no position to invade the Peloponnese. Such an invasion could never take place until Thebes had an ironclad alliance in place that would supply the necessary manpower. As just explained, she did not possess that manpower on her own. That would be the purview of Epameinondas in the aftermath.

...But Thebes did have just such an alliance. The two major Arcadian cities of Tegea and Mantinea ( not to mention Argos and Elis) could field more men than the Spartans, and alone could challenge Sparta as the forced retreat of Agesilaos from an awkward situation demonstrated [XH VI.5.18]. The Thebans arrival gave them overwhelming numbers - though they could not have been the 50,000-70,000 of Diodorus [XVI.62.5] and Plutarch Agesilaos XXXI.1 and Pelopidas [XXIV.2], but perhaps might have been no more than 30,000 or so. The Lakedaemonians could probably only muster less than half that figure. Epaminondas' caution in coming to the Arcadians aid is wholly unjustified....but perhaps again illustrates that their reputation still stood high.
Whatever else might be said, the disasters that enveloped Sparta over the following few years can all be laid at the door of Leuktra. There could be no decent land alliance and grand campaign against Sparta without it. This was no mora defeated by Iphikrates' peltasts nor was it Shpacteria. This was a comprehensive and catestrophic defeat of homoioi arms in pitched battle. It was, for Sparta, the Titanic's iceberg: the SS Lakadaemonia ,while still afloat, was on severely limited time and its allied passengers were inevitably abandoning ship.

I don't believe that is so. It is a 'modern topos' using plenty of hindsight. At the time, second Mantinea and the death of Epaminondas undid everything Leuktra stood for. The Arcadians, Achaeans, and Elians were all back in the Spartan fold, and allied to Athens. Thereafter Thebes and Sparta, both exhausted, did little or nothing until Philip's much later appearance in the Phokian War.

Agesilaos
Paralus, I agree that the impression given is that the Relief Force is intended to be ferried across the Gulf BUT, were that the case they would not march passed easily accessible ports to the isolated outpost of Aigosthena, when any Achaian port or better still Lechaion was available; I can only see the destination of Aigosthena making sense if one is ferrying troops in relay from Kreusis, from which it would be the nearest friendly port; its difficult access would also be a defensive bonus.

Now, we are told that the Spartans sent triereis, presumably from Gytheion, a journey of about 275 miles or three days at a constant 5 mph, which fits well with the army's march of three days, since they would not have delayed for a day but set off the evening before the army marched. One also has to wonder why the Spartans would tax their own small fleet with such a periplous when they had allied ships aplenty on the Gulf if this was a ferrying job for the newly raised army; sufficient threat of itself to encourage loyalty. I would think that the Spartan ships were there to ensure the Sikyonians and Korinthians stayed onside and also to reassure the demoralised survivors of Leuktra. I do not doubt that the messenger from Leuktra communicated the doubtful enthusiasm of the allies there and the Ephors took precautions; I cannot imagine they were sitting back imagining a draw going to extra time which they'd win on penalties! This really was the hoplite equivalent of Germany's 7-1 thrashing of Brazil, in this case Scolari (Kleombrotos) died of wounds.

Aigosthena makes no sense unless it was the pre-planned place of withdrawl communicated to the ephors by the messenger from the defeated force; which means they were in no doubt that they were thoroughly beaten despite Xenophon's bravura, 'Shall we go again, sir?' Springs to mind from the Light Brigade in 1854.

The only access to Boeotia for a force sailing from Aigosthena would be the Phokian pass that Kleombrotos' stronger force had found too well defended of the bridgehead at Kreusis which afforded a difficult route to Leuktra which was now covered, strategic nonsense were anything offensive intended.

Paralus
I don't see the 'relief' army marching past more serviceable ports as I don't see that army marching to Aigosthena. Yes the Spartans 'themselves' manned ships, so too the Corinthians and the Sicyonians. Xenophon says this was because they intended to use these ships to convey the troops across the gulf. Again, the only troops being discussed here are those with Archidamos. Archidamos marched his force to Corinth in my view from whence the assembled ships transported the force across the gulf to Aigosthena. The allies will have been picked up on the march.

We are then told that the defeated Spartan force endured a difficult march south from Leuktra via Kreusis to Aigosthena - "eventually arrived at Aigosthena" where it "met up with the force that had been sent out with Archidamos". So Archidamos is at Aigosthena when the defeated arrive. There is no indication that ships were ever intended to convey the defeated to Aigosthena in that. Rather there is every indication that the intended plan was exactly what Xenophon says: the defeated would take the "hard road" via Kreusis heading for Agesthena. Such then implies that Aigsothena was the appointed place (or area) that the two would meet up. Also, one could hardly describe sailing from Kreusis to Aigosthena - essentially from one bay, around the peninsular, to the next - as sailing "across the gulf". On the other hand, one could definitely describe sailing from Lechaion (or Sikyon) to Aigosthena as transporting troops "across the gulf".

Having met up at Aigosthena, the united force then dispenses with the triremes and marches back to Corinth where it is disbanded. Athens' decision to stay out of hostilities is very likely known by then and it was perhaps decided that troops should simply march back rather than be relayed by ship in groups.

Agesilaos
The question that remains is 'Why Aigosthena?' A small port difficuly of access ; the maintrouble here is that we are reliant upon Xenophon, a biased source, he is clearly at fault with the battle, which as you say is a series of excuses, Lechaion makes much more sense for a northward thrust. I see a retreat noticed to the ephors and supported by them by the naval deployment (there were no Theban ships in the area) a clear indication that the men on the ground recognised their defeat and were requesting support for their withdrawl.

Great photos by system1988 see Taktike thread.


Xenophon
agesilaos wrote:"...The one missing distance is from Kreusis to Aigosthena and with good reason. There is no pass available to move to Aigosthena from Aliki (nor Paralia Livadostratas, which is where some maps locate Kreusis but this lacks any route to Thisvi whence Kleombrotos moved on Kreusis). Xenophon tells us that the Spartans returned to Kreusis (VI 4 xxv). As both Kreusis and Aigosthena are ports 13 miles apart by sea. Kleombrotos had captured twelve triereis and these may have been used to ferry the army to Aigosthena. "

My ancient Greece overlay over Google Earth shows a road some 8 miles long between Creusis and Aegosthena, crossing the peninsula ( the modern road follows the same route ).Ships would have to go the long way, sailing around. We would expect such a route to have existed in ancient times, especially since ancient roads often followed pre-historic tracks, and sea-communications could be cut by adverse weather.The idea that 12 triereis could transport the army, even just the Spartans, is just not credible for obvious reasons. Apart from anything else it contradicts Xenophon, who specifically tells us the whole army went by land :
"... the polemarchs gave orders that after dining all should have their baggage packed and ready with the purpose of setting out during the night, in order that at daybreak they might be climbing Cithaeron. But when the men had dined and before they went to rest, the polemarchs gave the order to follow, and led the way immediately upon the fall of evening by the road through Creusis, trusting to secrecy more than to the truce..And proceeding with very great difficulty, since they were withdrawing at night and in fear and by a hard road, they arrived at Aegosthena in the territory of Megara. There they fell in with the army under Archidamus. And after waiting there until all the allies had joined him, Archidamus led back the whole army together as far as Corinth; from there he dismissed the allies and led the citizen troops back home."

We may dispense therefore with Agesilaos' calculations and hypothesis of the Spartans fleeing in 12 ships and abandoning their allies - it is simply untenable, as well as contradicting what we are told by Xenophon.
I remain to be convinced that when Xenophon describes Archidamus as waiting for all the allies to assemble he means those due to join the new expedition. The relevant states all lay en route viz
And the Tegeans served with him zealously; for the followers of Stasippus were still alive, who were favourable to the Lacedaemonians and had no slight power in their own state. Likewise the Mantineans from their villages1 supported him2 stoutly; for they chanced to be under an aristocratic government. Furthermore, the Corinthians, Sicyonians, Phliasians, and Achaeans followed him with all zeal, and other states also sent out soldiers. And the Tegeans served with him zealously; for the followers of Stasippus were still alive, who were favourable to the Lacedaemonians and had no slight power in their own state. Likewise the Mantineans from their villages supported him stoutly; for they chanced to be under an aristocratic government. Furthermore, the Corinthians, Sicyonians, Phliasians, and Achaeans followed him with all zeal, and other states also sent out soldiers. IV 4 xviii
The reference to Stasippus (pro-Spartan) still being alive foreshadows the subsequent struggle and triumph of the anti-Spartan faction a year or so later, and the declaration of Arcadian independence. The specified states were indeed all 'en route' - they help us identify Archidamus' route - but note that "other states also sent out soldiers", who must have followed on behind. Again, exactly what we would expect, for Archidamus was hardly going to wait for every last ally to come in.
"The passage concerning the sending of an embassy to Jason reads
But to Jason, who was their ally, the Thebans sent in haste, urging him to come to their aid; for they were debating among themselves how the future would turn out.
πρὸς μέντοι Ἰάσονα, σύμμαχον ὄντα, ἔπεμπον σπουδῇ οἱ Θηβαῖοι, κελεύοντες βοηθεῖν, διαλογιζόμενοι πῇ τὸ μέλλον ἀποβήσοιτο.


The word you have as ‘Now’ is μέντοι which means ‘indeed, however or to be sure’, which, since they sent to him in all haste would make both embassies leave at the same time.

That they left simultaneously is hardly likely. A better translation would be:
(the Theban request is rejected) "..and so he left Athens. However/Nevertheless, the Thebans sent in all haste to their ally Jason urging him to come to their aid; for they were debating among themselves how the future would turn out...."

The events clearly occur after the return of the failed embassy - apart from anything else, they could hardly hold a debate until the outcome was known.
This makes the mission to Athens less important to the timings; two days to get to Jason seems fine but if his forced march only proceeds at 25 miles a day he is hardly busting a gut, assuming you still believe an average march was 21 miles. I would think two days again would be nearer the mark, he has a small professional force and he traversed Phokis before they could muster (I agree he must have been on the border). I see no reason for the Truce not to have been concluded in a day, neither side was strong enough to be keen on renewed fighting.


I think this an impossibly tight schedule. Jason would have had to consider the Thebans plea against what he was currently engaged in, supply his men for the march ( no time for foraging on a forced march), strike camp and set off, that might take a day in itself, which we have made no allowance for, so even if we allow 2 days for the actual march, the MINIMUM total, allowing for no other possible delays, for the period that the Lakedaemonians lay before Thebes is still ten days or so, and probably closer to two weeks. Also, truce negotiations are never quick affairs. It is incorrect that neither side wished to renew fighting. The Thebans did - they wanted to fight a "decisive" battle, obviously recognising that Leuktra had been indecisive [XH VI.4.24]

Consider that Jason had to arrive, listen to Theban arguments and even plans for an attack and argue those proposals down, negotiate with the Thebans as to what terms they might agree to a Truce on, obtain safe conduct from the Lakedaemonians, speak to them, only after which did the Spartans ask him to negotiate a Truce, negotiate with them on their proposed terms, then go to and fro with the inevitable haggling.....all that is very unlikely to have occurred in a single day, and even two days must be a minimal estimate.

After the Truce is agreed, the same night the Lakedaemonians decide to decamp, wisely deciding not to rely on the truce but depart secretly under the cover of night, as we have seen. And "if 'twere done, t'were best done quickly" ( to quote MacBeth). An elementary precaution would be a piece of dis-information as to this departure, in case some treacherous deserter looks to claim a reward from the enemy, so the Polemarchs say they will leave late in the night, so as to be on the slopes of Cithaeron at daybreak. In fact they leave immediately after dinner and head in a completely different direction, to Creusis [XH VI.4.24]. All standard military precautions.
Pausanias IX 14 i has
After the battle Epaminondas for a while, having proclaimed that the other Peloponnesians should depart home, kept the Lacedaemonians cooped up in Leuctra. But when reports came that the Spartans in the city were marching to a man to the help of their countrymen at Leuctra, Epaminondas allowed his enemy to depart under a truce, saying that it would be better for the Boeotians to shift the war from Boeotia to Lacedaemon.


It may be that the allies were no longer present when the Truce was settled. That the orders to be prepared to march were given by the polemarchs at dinner and were changed at short notice may point to the Spartans alone being involved, the allies would be unlikely to dine with their masters, I think and I am sure the camps were separate (though that may be a dream).

Pausanias account is a fine piece of rationalisation, and spin drawn from a pro-Theban source, obviously, and allowing Epaminondas an apochryphal 'bon mot' as well!

I find Xenophon's version, with the truce being imposed by Jason's refusal to attack the Lakedaemonians, far more credible.
The words given by Pausanias to Epaminondas are plausible, but do you really think the allies would listen to the enemy, or meekly obey their wishes, or that the Spartans would let them ? Humbug !
In any event, the evidence suggests the united army stayed together, joined Archidamus, and marched to Corinth, where the allies were formally dismissed.
There may only be five days before the Spartans withdrew, then and one for them to either be shipped to Aigosthena or march along a coastal track. Can the six days fit with the relief expedition.

Completely impossible - see above and my post July 15, and they certainly didn't travel by ship.

There is no mention, or implication of separate camps ( a potential military disaster, allowing piecemeal attacks on each camp, not to mention the risk of a wholesale 'going over' to the Thebans - though that was never going to happen in fact.)

With no evidence whatsoever for separate camps, which is based on a presumption that Spartan allies were communicating with the Thebans, a very dubious claim by Jason, made for obvious reasons, which would have been difficult from inside a single stockaded camp, it would appear your self-diagnosis of a dream is correct.

A small digression on this. Let us reckon that while Xenophon's speeches are not verbatim, they still preserve the essence, or gist of what was said. Jason makes the shrewd claim to the Spartans that "..some, even among your own allies, are already negotiating with the enemy about a pact of friendship.".

How likely is this? Pacts or treaties of friendship are not negotiated by contingents of soldiers in the field, but are the prerogative of sovereign states. Is it likely that in the 10-14 days or so available that word could have gotten back to the cities in the Peloponnese, that they then considered and debated their positions, and that their pro-Spartan rulers would get an embassy to Thebes to put out feelers? Not very likely then.

But to quote Mandy Rice-Davies again : "Well he would say that wouldn't he". The same applies to Pausanias' report of Epaminondas "..proclaimed that the other Pelopponesians should depart home."

Such posturing was to be expected, and doubtless no-one believed it for a minute.


The messenger bearing the sad tidings has 148 miles to travel, two and a half days at 60 miles per day, unlike the Theban he would be able to exchange mounts as he would have been a Spartan officer. The mustering of the army need not have taken longer than a day; the Spartan troops were already gathered for the Gymnopaedia, messengers would be sent to the allies to muster en route as soon as the decision to move had been taken, the army could move on the morning of the fourth day after the battle and march the 126 miles to Aigosthena in three days; the Spartan army had marched the 160 miles to Marathon in that time and this was a similar emergency.


Once again, this is an impossibly tight schedule because Agesilaos does not consider the detail. The distance along the Spartan messenger's route is roughly 150-160 two dimensional map miles. Whilst we use this for convenience, military planners allow that digital distances are often 10-15% shorter than actual three dimensional ones on the ground, for various reasons. In addition, we have had the problem of the measurers waypoints not following twists and turns leading to shortening. ( see discussion of length of Euphrates on a different thread). Still, 2.5 days or 3 days is much of a muchness - though I think 60 miles a day in Greece is stretching it a bit. The messenger evidently arrived late in the afternoon ( the Ephors allowed a theatre performance to continue). The next day was a day of mourning, after which the Ephors took action ["The next step taken by the Ephors...XH VI.4.17 ]. So at least a full day's delay after the messenger's arrival.

That the army was ready to march instantly is an impossibility, even if every man was in the city. Try reckoning how long it takes to spread a message by word of mouth to thousands of men, even with town criers. These then have to go home, get their gear ready and report to their mustering points. I can't see the army marching out that same day. Far more likely it was dawn next day.
As to comparisons with the Marathon march, that was a mere 2,000 men, and did not involve picking up allies en route - with doubtless delay each time a contingent was picked up, and over rather different terrain.

Agesilaos
Just to clear a couple of points. I did not trace a route, as per the Xenophon thread but used the route finder app which gives the actual road distance so there is no need to factor in an extra 10%; I have sent the detailed map of the area to you and you should be able to see that there really is no route to Aigosthena, the overlay cannot be accurate. If it were then we would be looking at a winding mountainous track, in single file the retreating army would stretch for 20km once the train is factored in, that's a day's march.

You seem to have ignored the fact that Xenophon imples the journey to Aigosthena took one night and was conducted in fear on a hard road; this timescale is certainly nonsense, the journey to Kreusis would fill the night. You also ignore the point of meeting at Aigosthena; this rendevous must have been conveyed by the initial messenger and so the force that you want to be' threatening Thebes' was already planning to bug out. Nor was there 'a day of mourning' all Xenophon says is that those whose relatives had survived were miserable whilst the relative of the dead were happy.

The march to Marathon covered the same route for the most part nor would two maorai and the remnants come to more than 2,000 (two morai 1,200 five age groups from four morai 16 x 4 x 5 = 320, total 1,520).

System 1988

The modern name of Kreusis is Livadostrata, a name the Katalanoi gave to the area and it means "riva d' ostria- the side of the southern wind"

Xenophon
Epameinondas, having conscripted for the battle all Thebans of military age and the other Boeotians who were willing and qualified, led forth from Thebes his army, numbering in all not more than six thousand. Diodoros XV 51 ii

Not solely a Theban levy then, but an army total of 6,000. Again, that there were twice the number of Spartans is crucial in your attempt to minimize the proportionate casualties but it is a digression to establish this, against the evidence of Xenophon it has to be said.

Like almost all commentators, I suggest Diodorus has been misinterpreted by some. He may have summoned all the Boeotian League troops, but the army he led forth from Thebes can only have consisted of the Theban contribution - the other contingents coming from Orchomenus , Hysiae, Thespiae, Tanagra and various smaller places. ( It is unlikely that Thebes would let thousands of hostile Boeotians within its walls, or feed and house them - most of these cities had fought Theban hegemony, and only come under her sway some three years before in 374 BC. Plataea had been razed in 373 BC, Thespiae in 371 not long after Leuktra ( in part because of their refusal to fight and attempted desertion at Leuktra) and Orchomenus in 364 BC.)
The contingents would have met up probably in the vicinity of Leuktra.

That there were actually twice as many Spartans has nothing to do with "minimising" proportionate casualties at Leuktra - it is all but certain as can be that this was so from much earlier. In this instance it is consistent with the evidence of Plutarch on numbers at Leuktra, for he tells us there were 10,000 plus 1,000 on the Spartan side, and since allies tended to amount to two thirds or so of the the Lakedaemonian contingent, that implies, since we know that 35 age classes had been called out, the four citizen 'Morai' ( Homioi and Hypomeiones) numbered some 4,480 hoplites plus the 300 Hippeis, plus perhaps 4-500 cavalry ( see also my post 16 July).

The number of enomotia ( 16) given in the 'Constitution' has been shown to be erroneous - possibly a copyists error, or else an attempt to 'correct' the number to match the 16 enomotia of Thucydides - who knows his figures are wrong.
Even if you want to add 2,000 old codgers and striplings they are irrelevant as only the left wing embolon fought and that was composed of the best troops in the army, so they would have been with the unengaged centre and right
.

The left wing was composed of the Thebans i.e "the picked men/epilektoi", it was the Thebans who were the pick of the army Diod XV.55.2, and the "old codgers and striplings" are most likely to have been in the middle and rear ranks of the 50 deep phalanx. It is the reluctant allies who form the centre and right.

This, in fact has some bearing on the 'files and half-files question'. There were almost 1,000 Lakedaemian killed,including 400 Spartiates/Homioi, to say nothing of wounded. On a frontage of only 80 ( your numbers and formation, 4,000 x 50 deep), that means each Theban killed over a dozen Spartans, or half-a-dozen each if we allow the second rank to participate !!!! Credible? No way !!

With 6,000 Theban hoplites, we have a frontage of 120 killing 1,000 - still over 8 each !

If on the other hand, there were 6,000 Theban hoplites who closed up to 25 deep, we have a frontage of 240, and the number falls to four per Theban, or two allowing for second rank participation.....much more credible ! Especially if we may allow that allied lochoi adjacent to the Theban column likely took part.
There is no direct statement that the allies encamped separately but cf VI 4 xxiv
With such words, then, he endeavoured to dissuade the Thebans from making the final venture; to the Lacedaemonians, on the other hand, he pointed out what manner of thing a defeated army was, and what an army victorious. “And if you wish,” he said, “to forget the disaster which has befallen you, I advise you first to recover your breath and rest yourselves, and then, after you have become stronger, go into battle against men who are unconquered. But now,” he said, “be well assured that even among your allies there are those who are holding converse1 with the enemy about a treaty of friendship with them; by all means, then, try to obtain a truce. And I am myself eager for this,” he said, “out of a desire to save you, both because of my father's friendship with you and because I am your diplomatic agent.”


It is hard to see how the allies could be treating with the enemy and the Spartans not notice if they were all in one camp.
I agree ! But you have things back-to-front, I suggest. I dealt with this earlier ( see my post July 20th) as to why ( assuming Xenophon isaccurately reporting the gist of what was said) Jason would say this - even though it is very unlikely to be true.
They would have been in one camp, and overtures to the Thebans from allied contingents unlikely for this and the other reasons I referred to.

Paralus
Methinks Xenophon (of Brisvegas) "doth protest too much" to 'return Bard'. Nothing precludes the allies making overtures to the Thebans. There are countless notations in the sources of interaction between opposing camps before and after battle. The most (in)famous example being Eumenes who was handed over without him suspecting Teutamos had done the deal.

On the matter of the allies and their negotiations, Xenophon (of Athens) can, of course, only be preserving the gist of anything that Jason might have said; anything he records can only be second hand at very best. 'Pacts of friendship' need not (and do not here) mean alliances made and signed on the spot. Deals were indeed done on the spot and the Spartans were seemingly quite good at it themselves (see Derkylidas' many truces in the field and Agesilaos' entreaties of frienship and truce in the same field). All it need mean is that some of the allies (those not displeased obviously) were negotiating their own way out of Boeotia without consulting the Spartans.

The surviving polemarchs had obviously decided that renewing the battle was not on and they at no stage looked to do so. Had they decided to retreat, as Agesilaos has postulated and I agree, advice to do so from Jason coupled with notification of treacherous allies, not at all displeased with the result, serve that very well. One might say that is the Spartans' "Mandy Rice-Davies" moment. As does the fear of Theban treachery. Truces, as far as I can recall, were generally observed. I cannot recall a truce made after battle (in the 'Classical' period) that was not kept (Sparta and Athens actually kept a 'false peace' for a year before that of Nikias; the truce contracted at Pylos). In fact, I cannot call to mind (mind you I haven't looked) an instance where an army was attacked after having negotiated a truce on the field. Harking back to Derkylidas above, it would appear Spartans seemed to trust most everyone in these truces even the barbarian Persian. Thebes, though, cannot be trusted.

Agesilaos
I am going to confine myself to the strength of the Spartan Mora, which seems crucial and does not involve linguistics.

We have several sources for Spartan unit organisation and strength;
1) Herodotos tells us that at Plataia they supplied 5,000 men in an unspecified number of ‘lochoi’ IX 28 ii.
2) Thukydides V 68 iii gives a lochos of four pentekostyes each of four enomotiai of 32 for a strength of 512.
3) Xenophon Lak Pol gives a Mora of four lochoi each of two pentekostyes each of two enomotiai of 36 for 576
4) Plutarch Pelopidas 17 iv-v gives the strengths given by Ephoros – 500, Kallisthenes – 700 and Polybios among others – 900.

Now Xenophon of Oz posits,
The number of enomotia ( 16) given in the 'Constitution' has been shown to be erroneous - possibly a copyists error, or else an attempt to 'correct' the number to match the 16 enomotia of Thucydides - who knows his figures are wrong.

Now this is worse than disinformation – the query about the text refers to the number of Lochagoi – four- whereas Xen. Hell. VII 4 xx and 5 x, would imply that a lochos was half a mora in that the army previously described as six morai is now twelve lochoi. The emendation is forced, however as Lak.Pol is concerned with the pre-Leuktra army and it is likely that the crushing defeat and massive loss of citizens necessitated an organisational reform. Not only that the suggested change does not alter the sixteen enomotiai. It is somewhat naïve to suggest that a later copyist would correct the figure of sixteen enomotiai to match Thukydides yet leave the eight Pentekontereis, as opposed to four, and the four lochagoi rather than one.

Nor is it difficult to see how Ephoros and Theopompos arrive at their figures; Ephoros, a careless and lazy researcher has merely taken Thukydides’ figure for a ‘lochos’ as a ‘mora’ whereas Theopompos has researched the organisation correctly but used the theoretical strength of forty; one from each age group as the basis for his enomotia, hence 16 x 40 = 640, which he has rounded up, or, and this is very likely, Plutarch derived his figures from Polybios, whom he quotes as giving 900 and those of Ephoros and Theopompos come from Polybios’ criticism of them and the Megapolitan is improving his case (as usual). Why should Polybios make the ‘mora’ 900? Simple, his Spartans had been re-armed as sarrisa-armed phalangites and the unit had been reformed like much else by Kleomenes III.

So, The only source that implies a strength of more than 600 is Polybios who is comparing oranges to apples. Maybe you would care to name and shame the div that says Lak Pol ‘has been shown to be wrong’.

Nor are your proportions for Spartan expeditionary forces correct, though if you double Spartan numbers everytime that is unsurprising; Diodoros, whom you like to accept has Agesilaos proceed into Boeotia with five ‘morai’ of 500 and a total army of 18,000 a ratio of 7.2 allies per Spartan, XV 32 i
Agesilaüs led forth his army and reached Boeotia accompanied by all the soldiers, amounting to more than eighteen thousand, in which were the five divisions of Lacedaemonians. Each division contained five hundred men.

What has to be remembered is that these figures come from Ephoros (demonstrated by the use of his strength for the ‘morai’) we should adjust them, so that the five morai are 576 as per Lak Pol. So the ratio changes to 2880/18,000 16% Lakedaimonian; apply this to the 10,000 at Leuktra and you get a predicted 1,600 Lakedaimonians whereas the four morai alone would give 2,300, plus the hippeis, this force was overstrength by 50% vis-à-vis the Lakonian element, no doubt due to its small size, unless the pro-Theban Plutarch is reducing the size of the enemy in a really un-Greek way!!!

Paralus
It is intriguing that sources other than Xenophon are regarded as "rationalisation, and spin based on pro-Theban sources" (Pausanis) and dismissed as pro-Theban in general. This does not preclude picking those bits that cohere with the espoused view though. Xenophon (the Athenian) is, though, held up as the very epitome of source integrity. That the fellow was an arch Loconophile and that such may infuse his narrative seems to pass notice. Even this source, though, is questioned when not cohering to the view: his reporting of Jason's advice that the allies were conversing with the Thebans, for example, is "a very dubious claim". All else - including Xenophin's portrait of the Theban's incontinent search for aid against the defeated Spartans - is acceptable though.

Xenophon
Paralus wrote:It is intriguing that sources other than Xenophon are regarded as "rationalisation, and spin based on pro-Theban sources" (Pausanis) and dismissed as pro-Theban in general. This does not preclude picking those bits that cohere with the espoused view though. Xenophon (the Athenian) is, though, held up as the very epitome of source integrity. That the fellow was an arch Loconophile and that such may infuse his narrative seems to pass notice. Even this source, though, is questioned when not cohering to the view: his reporting of Jason's advice that the allies were conversing with the Thebans, for example, is "a very dubious claim". All else - including Xenophin's portrait of the Theban's incontinent search for aid against the defeated Spartans - is acceptable though.

I grow very tired of 'sniping' personal attacks of this nature on my posts, especially when, as here they are completely false and intended purely to throw discredit on what I say. Indeed the whole post is purely spiteful and unfairly attacks my integrity.

If I point out that the sources for a particular passage in Pausanias are 'pro-Theban', that is merely an observation on that passage, it does not mean I "dismiss" Pausanias or ANY source. ( an example of the 'testis unis, testis nullus' fallacy, and another example of Agesialos' false suggestion that if one rejects part,why not reject the whole). Nor do I hold up Xenophon as the "very epitome of source integrity" - these are Paralus' weasel words, for you will not find them in any post of mine. It is also wrong to call Xenophon an "arch-laconophile", for whilst he may be pro-Spartan, he is quite capable of criticising them and their actions, and for that matter praising Thebans and their actions. That he is an 'arch laconophile' is another modern trope, thoughtlessly repeated.

As to Xenophon's reporting of Jason's claim that :
But now,” he said, “be well assured that even among your allies there are those who are holding converse with the enemy about a treaty of friendship with them;

I consider this "a very dubious claim" of Jason's because:

1. Whilst outposts, watering parties and deserters might 'converse' with the enemy, they do not negotiate "Treaties of Friendship"; nor do subordinate allies and their contingent commanders- who don't even have the power to negotiate a binding truce between the foes, let alone a Treaty of Friendship, between their own cities and Thebes.

2. It is exactly what Jason might be expected to say in HIS efforts to negotiate a truce. His accusation is very vague. A crude attempt to sow discord which even the ever-suspicious Spartans did not react to.

3. Such negotiations are not really credible, unless, as Agesilaos wrongly concludes, the allies were in a separate camp, unlikely in itself - and for which there is no evidence whatsoever.

4. The allied contingents remain loyal and obedient to orders. Only after the army is disbanded and goes home is there any sedition, which breaks out politically among some of the Arcadian allies the next year.

5. Would Jason know of such sensitive, secret negotiations if they were true? The Thebans would be unlikely to tell him, and if such delicate negotiations were true, the last thing Thebes would want is to have them betrayed immediately to the Spartans - the repercussions would be awful; which of course would be great if the accusations were false, as they so obviously are, but believed.

Note that I did not rule out Jason's claim, merely considered it unlikely......

Finally, I am criticised for weighing up and deciding what is probable and likely in what I am supposed to regard as the "very epitome of source integrity" and what is not. A complete contradiction in the space of a short post. I am both criticised for placing too much faith in Xenophon, who is after all our best source on Leuktra and the history of this period, and then for not swallowing everything he says, or rather has Jason say. No historian unequivocally accepts everything in a source, and if Paralus and Agesilaos took this approach, and I know they do not, then they would be very gullible indeed. Why therefore make such obvious false accusations in personal attacks on my integrity ?

Perhaps a further sign of desperation in debate?

Finally, I would sincerely hope that no reader here reading my posts for themselves would believe this sort of thing.

Paralus
Xenophon wrote:I grow very tired of 'sniping' personal attacks of this nature on my posts, especially when, as here they are completely false and intended purely to throw discredit on what I say. Indeed the whole post is purely spiteful and unfairly attacks my integrity.

I am sorry that you find it 'sniping', 'spiteful' or an attack on your integrity; apologies for that was not the intention.

The point is that throughout your posts you have done exactly what you say has been done to yourself to Plutarch, Diodorus and Pausanias. At beginning matters were somewhat balanced:
Xenophon wrote:what we may term a 'pro-Spartan' one given by Xenophon ( which is the more complete one ) and a 'pro-Theban' given by the patriotic Boeotian Plutarch in his 'Pelopidas', and another, somewhat inaccurate, brief account in Diodorus [XV.53 ff], clearly written from a Boeotian source.

So all accounts are somewhat biased to one side or the other. As the thread wore on sources aside from Xenophon were more biased than he ("If Xenophon's account is 'bowdlerised', then that of Diodorus and Plutarch is even more so !"). These sources then became vehicles for Theban "propaganda" ("what Boeotian propaganda had to say I have quoted above…"). That view is then neatly expressed in what might be termed a 'summary statement':
Xenophon wrote:I do not consider Xenophon's account a "list of excuses". That the hitherto invincible Spartiates/Homioi were defeated, and with such heavy casualties, required some explaining. Furthermore, without it we would have pretty much only secondary tales based on Theban propaganda.

By this time in the thread then, the sources outside of Xenophon are "secondary tales based on Theban propaganda". All the while the Thebans are presented as "timid" and "desperate"; a description informed by Xenophon's theme. Were either Diodorus, Plutarch or Pausanias alive today, they might well consider that this recurrent theme was intended purely to throw discredit on what what they've recorded.

For the record, whilst those sources immediately above are not free of bias (if only for the more primary source material they chose) Xenophon is hardly free himself of such bias. Yes the Athenian does criticise Sparta (Spartans far more than 'Sparta'). It is the subject and nature of those occasional critiques which matter. Spartans are most often criticised when they disappoint for an admirer is often the most disappointed when the idealised do not meet expectations. Sphodrias comes to mind for his attempt on the Piraeus as well as Phoebidas (and there are others but I am not at home and cannot check). Spartan irreligious acts attract his criticism (both those previous would also come under that).

All of that said, if it can be said (and I do not agree) that the sources outside of Xenophon are "pretty much only secondary tales based on Theban propaganda", Xenophon's account of Leuktra is still, at bottom, a list of excuses for the shocking Spartan failure.

Agesilaos
The left wing was composed of the Thebans i.e "the picked men/epilektoi", it was the Thebans who were the pick of the army Diod XV.55.2, and the "old codgers and striplings" are most likely to have been in the middle and rear ranks of the 50 deep phalanx. It is the reluctant allies who form the centre and right.

This, in fact has some bearing on the 'files and half-files question'. There were almost 1,000 Lakedaemian killed,including 400 Spartiates/Homioi, to say nothing of wounded. On a frontage of only 80 ( your numbers and formation, 4,000 x 50 deep), that means each Theban killed over a dozen Spartans, or half-a-dozen each if we allow the second rank to participate !!!! Credible? No way !!

With 6,000 Theban hoplites, we have a frontage of 120 killing 1,000 - still over 8 each !

If on the other hand, there were 6,000 Theban hoplites who closed up to 25 deep, we have a frontage of 240, and the number falls to four per Theban, or two allowing for second rank participation.....much more credible ! Especially if we may allow that allied lochoi adjacent to the Theban column likely took part.

Diodoros is the only source for this emergency levy and he first counts the whole army as 6,000 and then states that
. 2 He selected from the entire army the bravest men and stationed them on one wing, intending to give to the finish with them himself.

This at the very reference you quote, are you proposing that when Diodoros says ‘from the whole army’ he really means from the Thebans alone and that those selected were not really the bravest? The point is pretty moot, however as Diodoros’ account should be consigned to the bin in toto; he has Kleombrotos leave Leuktra only to meet Archidamos and join armies to fight, most likely his source, Ephoros credited the Lakedaimonians with 40,000 men, the figure found in Polyainos. This mass then fills the plain and attacks in a crescent shape, rather than deployed obliquely or advancing only with the left wing the Boeotian right retreats while the left charges at the double, Kleombrotos is slain rather than being taken from the field alive; this is fiction and literary trope of no merit as Polybios commented XII 25f iiiff
. 3 But when he describes the battle of Leuctra between the Thebans and Lacedaemonians, or that at Mantinea between the same peoples, the battle in which Epaminondas lost his life, if we pay attention to every detail and look at the former and reformation of the armies during the actual battle, he provokes our laughter and seems perfectly inexperienced in such things and never to have seen a battle. 4 It is true that the battle of Leuctra, a special affair in which only one part of the army was engaged, does not make the writer's ignorance very conspicuous, but while the battle of Mantinea has the appearance of being described with much detail and military science, the description is quite imaginary, and the battle was not in the least understood by the writer. 5 This becomes evident if we get a correct idea of the ground and then number the movements he describes as being carried out on it.

You have my figures wrong, rather than a front of 80 it is only 40 files wide in my view as I count only 2,000 Thebans with the Sacred Band forming the cutting edge or front seven ranks; they face the hippeis 12 deep on a 25 man front and only 8 of each flanking mora. This leaves 40 files on the Theban left flank and fully 136 on the right. That they did not intervene could be down to two things the presence of supporting troops that would take them in flank if they attempted to flank the ‘embolon’ or the collapse coming more quickly than they could react, or a combination of both factors.

Rather than increase Theban numbers unrealistically the simple answer to the high kill rate is that the Spartans broke and ran back across the ditch of their camp where they stood in its shelter; which is how the casualty stats stack up 2,600 Lakedaimonians lose 1,000, 38% losses to 2,000 Thebans losing 49 (taking Pausanias’ figure) 2.45% ; this screams rout, with the Spartan casualties maximised due to the attendant Theban cavalry and the Theban casualties lessened by the speed of the collapse (5% might be considered a more average loss for the victors in a prolonged struggle). Once the King was down along with his officers the Spartans broke as Epaminondas and the deep column hit; they were already in a mess having had their own cavalry flee through them according to Xenophon or being caught in the midst of an out flanking move that had been countermanded according to Plutarch Pelopidas
23 1 In the battle, while Epaminondas was drawing his phalanx obliquely towards the left, in order that the right wing of the Spartans might be separated as far as possible from the rest of the Greeks, and that he might thrust back Cleombrotus by a fierce charge in column with all his men-at arms, the enemy understood what he was doing and began to change their formation; 2 they were opening up their right wing and making an encircling movement, in order to surround Epaminondas and envelop him with their numbers. But at this point Pelopidas darted forth from his position, and with his band of three hundred on the run, came up before Cleombrotus had either extended his wing or brought it back again into its old position and closed up his line of battle, so that the Lacedaemonians were not standing in array, but moving confusedly about among each other when his onset reached them.

If you have to treble the likely strength of the embolon, to such an extent that with the allies the Boeotians will outnumber the Lakedaimonian army the idea is clearly flawed.
Last edited by agesilaos on Sun Aug 03, 2014 8:48 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Leuktra: Philip inspired by indecisve draw?

Post by Paralus »

That would seem to be a hell of a lot of work. Well done laddie. A suggestion if I may? Perhaps if we embolden (or embolon...) the participant's names? That might make things easier to follow.

A good thing it has its own thread: there is much to say on Leuktra and Xenophon's account of it. There is also much to say on his trustworthiness as a witness for what transpired as a result of it. Now, before anything else is written, such a critique does not ipso facto mean that Xenophon is not 'the best' continuous narrative source for the period; he is that if only for the reason that he is the fullest (in this regard it is a pity that "P" - the Hellenica Oxyrhynchia - has not survived). Like every other source, Xenophon's biases must be considered when reading his work. Whilst his attitude to Thebes and Sparta is not quite to be equated with Fox News' attitude to Democrats and Republicans in the modern US, he is not that far removed to see the metaphor as completely inapt. It is worth considering what future historians would make of latter twentieth century US politics if the only source available was Fox News. As it is we do have other sources available to run a 'check' on Xenophon. Strikingly, "P" is sometimes very at odds with Xenophon and such should give one pause.

But that is all for later as one must sally forth to watch the full levy of the NSW Waratahs do Super Rugby semi-final battle with the ACT Brumbies on the battlefield of the Sydney Football Stadium. I sincerely hope the Tah's ἔμβολον attack method continues to pay dividends. Once more unto the pint good friends....
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Re: Leuktra: Philip inspired by indecisve draw?

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Re: Leuktra: Philip inspired by indecisve draw?

Post by agesilaos »

I just want to explore the possibility of a naval evacuation again, since both google maps and the KGB show only goat tracks and a tour shows that there is not a continuous coastal route. If we take Plutarch’s figures for the Spartan force we have 9,000 surviving soldiers, servants must bring this back to 15,000 or so including the surviving cavalry and we ought to factor in the wounded, possibly another 1,000 unless the full Spartiates stood alone and gave the rest enough time to get back to camp before the pursuit could catch them. None of these are stated to have been abandoned.

The route to Kreusis is mountainous, I think we must consider the road there now entirely modern as Xenophon mentions the difficulty of the road VI 4 xxvi, and this must be the road to Kreusis since he adds that they were withdrawing at night and in fear. Since they left at sunset and we know the Gymnopaideia was being celebrated, which is a summer festival, there were probably ten hours of night available for the withdrawl.

From the Theban trophy to the present mountain road is one mile, say a half hour’s march at night, then there are six miles to Kreusis so three hours, but this is only the vanguard. If the column was three abreast and at four cubit average spacing then we have 15,000/3 =5,000, x 2m = a ten kilometre, six and a quarter mile column so three hours from head to tail, this is a good night’s march factoring in the wounded and the sudden order to move out which must have occasioned some delay. The whole march to Aigosthena cannot have been completed by the whole army in one night. Which casts doubt on the accuracy of Xenophon’s statement; this need not be anything than carelessness on his part, of course.

But it is unlikely that the goat tracks would accommodate more than a single file and there are at least two climbs of 1 in 2 (50% gradient). The length of the column thus trebles making the head nine hours from the tail with a bottleneck leaving Kreusis. The march to Aigosthena is eight miles or four hours (the terrain would not permit an average of three mph and the troops will be marching without sleep too, if they attempt the whole journey in one).

So, a likely reconstruction of a single march would see the march start at 19:00 hrs the head of the column would reach Kreusis three and one half hours later : 22:30; the tail would join them at 03:00 by which time in which time the head would have travelled a further seven miles (11.265 km) which would see 5,600 men on the road to Aigosthena, they might reach their destination at 03:30 and 1,600 men would have arrived at the end of each hour. In theory then the Spartans could have made it in the night to Aigosthena after a night march of nine and a half hours. The whole column would not have come in until 13:30, eighteen and a half hours after setting out with no real halts.
Even if one dislikes a naval option this is a two stage march realistically, the first stage to Kreusis in eight hours followed by a day and a night’s rest and then a fourteen hour march to Aigosthena for the whole army but a four hour one for the individual.
On balance I find the naval option more attractive, I cannot see Archidamos being transported by fleet to Aigosthena whence there is only a difficult route to Boeotia and for which the time saving, vis-à-vis a march would be minimal. The aim would be to get the survivors away from potential Theban action as soon as possible and have them escorted home.
When you think about, it free-choice is the only possible option.
system1988
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Re: Leuktra: Philip inspired by indecisve draw?

Post by system1988 »

I add a subtitle to my reply

"The Beotarch Xenocrates deserved an epigram (after being dead of course)..."
agesilaos wrote: As to numbers, I have already referred to the general consensus on that score, and outlined the reasoning, namely some 10,000 or so Lakedaemonians and 1,000 cavalry; and 7-9,000 Boeotians with 7-800 cavalry. We are told that of the Boeotian command, 3 Boeotarchs were for giving battle,(Epaminonds, Malgis and Xenocrates) and 3 not (Damocleidus, Damophilos and Simangelus) who were in favour of withdrawing to the city and being besieged. If the numbers were really 11,000 to 6,000 - almost two-to-one - there would have been no question of offering battle. The split argues strongly that the Thebans were outnumbered, but not significantly so. The deadlock was broken by the arrival of the seventh Boeotarch (Brachyllides) and his troops, who voted for battle.[Paus IX.13.6 ]
And now for the material proof of the existence of Beotarch Xenocrates:

In the Thebes archaeological museum the epigraph of the tombstone of the Beotarch Xenocrates is on display.

Here is the link

http://s1246.photobucket.com/user/IamSy ... t=3&page=1

The translation of the tombstone epigram (the link below)

http://books.google.gr/books?id=ZfZhWwd ... 82&f=false

It is proven that Xenocrates wanted the battle to happen so much that he chose(?) to be on the frontlines along with 2 other comrades of his and it seems that all 3 of them held an ancient trophy. (This brings to memory the ancient shield carried by Avreas when Alexander ascended the staircase in order to face the Malli, causing him great injury.)

Judging from this alone we can see how much of a demanding task facing the Spartans would be.

Best

Pauline


PS

I hope that posting all those epigraphs doesn't have a boredom or is out of sync with the rest of the replies and posts. I just happen to be closer to the material culture of what you all discuss.
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agesilaos
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Re: Leuktra: Philip inspired by indecisve draw?

Post by agesilaos »

Can't believe I've never seen this before!
When you think about, it free-choice is the only possible option.
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