THEBES, the principal city of Beotia, in ancient Greece, was situated in the southern part of the country, on the slopes of Mount Teumessus, and between two streams, the Dirce and the Ismenus. According to the prevalent tradition, Thebes was founded by a colony of Phenicians under Cadmus (q.v.), after whom the city was called Cadmeia a name subiequently restricted to the citadel; 'but passing over the long series of pictur esque and tragic myths that have given it its prehistoric fame (in which the central figure is (Edipus), we first catch a quasi-authentic glimpse of Theban history in the 8th c. B.C., when one Philolaus, a Corinthian, settled in the place, and drew up a code of laws for the inhabitants. It is not till near the end of the 6th c. B.c., however, that we reach a purely historical period—the earliest well-attested event being the dispute between Thebes and another Beotian city, Plattem, which involved the former city in an unsuc cessful war with Athens. Henceforth, the relations of Thebes and Athens were, except for brief intervals, marked by bitter enmity. During the Persian war Thebes shame fully sided with the Asiatic invader, and, iu consequence, lost much of her power and prestige. Athens proposed to deprive her of her supremacy over the Beotian confed eracy; but Sparta, always jealous, even to spitefulness, of her Attic rival, interfered, and positively forced the other Beotian cities to acknowledge anew their unworthy mistress. When the Peloponnesian war broke out, Thebes took part with Sparta, and at its close, was eager for the destruction of Athens; but soon after it became jealous of the over grown power of its ally, and gave a friendly welcome and shelter to those Athenians whom the oppression of the Thirty Tyrants (q.v.) compelled to abandon their city. It
was from Thebes that Thrasyhulus and his co-patriots started on their famous expedi tion for the deliverance of Athens, accompanied by a body of Theban citizens. A keen and bitter antagonism now sprung up between Thebes and Sparta, which, after many vicissitudes, ended in a great military struggle (3.79-362 B.C.), in which the former city, under the heroic guidance of Epaminondas (q.v.), achieved a brilliant triumph, and for a time held the position of the foremost power in Greece. It was now the time for Athens to revive her ancient animosities; and for a while they had free play. At length the eloquence of Demosthenes induced both states to unite in opposition to the encroach ments of Philip of Macedon; but it was too late; and in 338 B. c. the battle of Chmroneia crushed the liberties of Greece. After Philip's death the Thebans made a fierce but unsuccessful effort to regain their freedom. Their city was taken by Alexander, who levelled it to the ground, and sold the entire population—men, women, and children— into slavery. For 20 years it remained an utter desolation; but in 315 tic. it was rebuilt by Cassander, who gathered into it all the Thebans he could find in Greece. It was again destroyed by the Romans, and did not recover till about the decline of the empire_ During the 11th and 12th centuries it was the seat of a considerable population engaged in the manufacture of silk; but under the Turks it again declined, though it has still a modern representative, Thebes, or Thiva, with a pop. of 9,000. Scarcely a single relic of antiquity has survived the ravages of time.