Thebes, City of Legends

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Thebes, City of Legends

Postby Quintus Aurelius Orcus on Sat Jun 19, 2004 10:24 am

Khairete

During the summer I will be working on a new part of the Hellenic cities project where I will cover about anything I can find on Thebes (on the net as in books).
I will post it here in this thread. Thebes does have produced some important people like Hesiodos, Plutarchus (even though he was more born in Charonea and died there) and the mythical Herakles.
If anyone has found some interesting sites about the history of Thebes except Sicyon.com and crystallinks.com, please share it with the rest of us. I will be conducting a search on the net about it as in the library, but any help with this search is appreciated.

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Postby Curio Agelastus on Mon Jun 21, 2004 12:26 am

Salve Romule,

2 questions about the Hellenic Thebes: Firstly, is the Thebes of the Athens-Sparta-Thebes balance of power in the 6th-4th centuries BC the same as the Thebes that was said to have been razed by Diomodes and the second Seven Against Thebes? Secondly, what precipitated the decline of the Thebes that was rejuvenated by Epaminondas?

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Postby Quintus Aurelius Orcus on Mon Jun 21, 2004 7:23 pm

Salve Curio

to answer your first question. I don't think so. Thebes along with all other major cities in Hellas were destroyed in one or another around 1200-1100 B.C. At least, that is what my sources are telling me an di'm still gathering information.
To answer your second question: I'm not sure. But my guess is that the alliance between Sparta and Athens was strong enough to break Thebes. I have to look it up.

vale

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Thebes; City of Legends: introduction

Postby Quintus Aurelius Orcus on Mon Jul 05, 2004 9:23 pm

Hi
This is the introduction of my essay on Thebes. In the next couple of days I will post the next part of that essay.
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Introduction


Thebes, the legendary place where the demi-god Herakles (Hercules for the Romans) was said to have been born, it is also the place of birth of many important people like Hesiodos (who wrote a different version of the family tree and cosmology than Homeros), Pindaros, Plutarchos, Teiresias and Epameinondas. For a short period in time Thebes flourished under Epameinondas in economy, politics and military. Epameinondas went with a well-armed and trained army and marched against the invincible Sparta and won the battle.
Thebes is located Northwest of Athens in the central region of Boeotia in eastern Hellas. It is a region of furtile and well-watered soils, but a heavy atmosphere is also present. Thebes formed a league among Boeotian cities, dismantled the Pelopponesian League. Thebes was to enter history as the city that defeated Sparta. After the death of Epameinondas, it slipped back into the back and was eventually defeated and destroyed by Alexander’s forces in the 2nd half of the 4th century B.C.
Thebes is a city that shows up allot in Hellenic mythology. Several sons of Zeus were born there like Herakles, Zetes and Amphion. Dionysos passed through there with his Maenads and torn apart Pentheos the king of Thebes. Even the foundation of Thebes as a mythical version, very much likes the foundation of the city of Athens. Kadmos, originally a Phoenician, went to look for his missing sister Europe, founded Thebes on the city where Thebes is now. Ofcourse the city was first given its name after its founder. Zeus who made her his wife on Crete and gave birth to Minos among others abducted his sister. Kadmos came to the location along with other fellow travellers. There he found a dragon that he killed and from its teeth which was thrown on the ground, sprung several soldiers. He threw some rocks in their midst and a battle erupted from which only a few survived. The noble families of Thebes, named themselves after these surviving soldiers.
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History of Thebes (2nd millenia-1100 B.C.)

Postby Quintus Aurelius Orcus on Tue Aug 03, 2004 9:49 pm

History of Thebes ‘2nd millennia – 1100 B.C.)

The myth of the foundation of Kadmos does posses more truth than most myths. Kadmos as his sister Europe originally came from the Middle East, the area of the Phoenicians. Kadmos wasn’t the only Phoenician who went out to found a new colony which was the main purpose of the journey. The only question that remain is, did Europe, the sister really exist and if so, did he look for her as the myths tell us. Than why did she leave her home? One of many questions that arise, when putting the mythical foundation of Thebes in historical accuracy. But like most myths, this myth has some fictional elements. Some say that they brought writing to Hellas, but than according to some, Phoenician writing wasn’t invented until 11 B.C. One thing is clear though, than Phoenician and Hellenic writings have shown similarities. But rather or not the Phoenician Kadmos and his crew brought the alphabet to Hellas is another matter. It is more likely that by coming out of isolation and extensive trading with other cultures like those of the Phoenicians might have been the reason why the alphabet came to Hellas. From what we know is that the Phoenician Kadmos arrived at the site of what is now Thebes around 1500 B.C. and the place wasn’t uninhabited. Along with the Minyans, the Ektenians are the oldest inhabitants of Boeotia. The Ektenians were the original people living in Boeotia while the Minyans came from the shores of the Black Sea, from a city called Kolchis. The Minyans founded the city Orchomenos. This city dominated the landscape of Boeotia for several centuries. They were in possession of the greatest land during the Archaic period. Orchomenos was among the first cities to use coins. The Minyans irrigated a large area around the kopais by using water from the rivers Kophisos and Melanas. They also build a canal that was 133 feet wide and 16 feet deep. After a while, the political domination of Orchomenos shifted into the hands of the Thebans.
During the 13th century B.C. a lot of things happened to the Bronze Age kingdoms that would change the landscape for good. The Hittite empire was overrun by unknown foes. Possibly the same enemy than overran the Hellenic kingdoms. By than Thebes was already destroyed once in the beginning of the 13th century when Adrastos and his army levelled the city to the ground. This fact seems to support the historical accuracy of the myth of the 7 against Thebes. But like all myths, a portion (small or big) was eventually fictionalized. Like all major Hellenic cities, Thebes became weaker with the centuries and went through a dark age that lasted from 1100 B.C. up to 800 B.C. In the 13th century B.C. a palace was built in honour of Kadmos and was named after the founder of Thebes: the Kadmeia. Kadmeia was probably the original name for Thebes, like Kekropia was one of the first names of Athens. Inside the palace, there were fresco’s found similar to those of Crete, showing the Minoan influences on Hellas even after the Minoan civilisation disappeared. This palace was uncovered in the early years of the 20th century by A. Keramopoullos (1906-1929). During the 1960’s there were other excavations by archaeologists who discovered Theban archives written in Linear- B. They also found the treasury room, armoury room and the stirrup jars.

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Theban history (1100- Hellenistic period)

Postby Quintus Aurelius Orcus on Sat Aug 14, 2004 3:45 pm

Salvete

I know it took long and although this part is far from complete, any suggestions and tips are welcome and appreciated. The translation is going slow.
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Theban history (1100 B.C.- Hellenistic period)


After a dark period in the hellenic history that lasted from 1100 B.C. until around 800 B.C., Hellas began to restore from those 3 centuries of unrest and chaos. Thepopulation began to grew again since the Mycenean period. During these dark centuries, there could be human sacrifices performed. The religion hasn’t changed much. It was still an integral part of the daily life like it was during the Mycenean period. The Gods weren’t that all changed since the time of the Myceneans. I think that the anthropomorphic character of the Gods truly come along with Homeros and Hesiodos. Hesiodos and Homeros were the two poets who are responsible for the image of the gods that lasted up to today in art and literature. They created anthropomorphic deities who were human and let them self be guided by their emotions. Hesiodos and Homeros created two different family trees of the gods, and the family tree of the gods with the Orphics were also different.
In the field of politics, there were some changes made. The polis was a city-state who was settled around an acropolis. The nobility, the aristocracy along with the king ruled over the people. In the 5th century, Athens abolished the tyranny in its government, and tyrants never rose to power anywhere in Hellas. The title tyrant didn’t have a bad connotation as it does now. Tyrants were sole rulers. It was only through a mercenary army and powerful foreign friends, that it made possible for the tyrants to rise to power in Asia Minor.
In the 6th century B.C., Thebes secured an alliance with an neighbouring city-state (polis) and gained through that alliance an dominating position in Boeotia. Agriculture was the foremost source of wealth in Hellas and the most peasants worked on land for themselves or for the aristocracy. Through heritage, dividing the land into many pieces land for several heirs, or through marriage a wealthy family could suddenly become poor if there were to many heirs. Slavery was not unknown in Hellas. Most slaves were POW’s, free men taking captive only to be sold. In the archaic period, the Hellenes adapted the Phoenician alphabet to theirs by changing things. Of course it was more complicated than just changing letters.
The role of women in the public life was severely limited. Hellas had rules and regulations for everything, including the roles for women and men. In most city-states women had as much rights as a slave. Normally a woman married to a man who was in his 30’s while she was 16 or older. This was primarily done to make sure that the children she gave birth to in their marriage would be of the husband and not of someone else. Back than, they didn’t have tests to find out who the father is, so a virgin girl of 16 years old is the right choice to make sure that she would not give birth to children of someone else during their marriage. Only in Sparta, women had more rights than Athenian women. Women had the right to manage the lands ad wealth of her husband while he as away on either business or war. The choice of who she would marry usually lies with the father. Hellas being a patriarchal society, the father had the final word on who would marry his daughter or daughters. The suitors presented the dowries to the future father in law and from those dowries, the father made his choice. Sometimes his change could be influenced by how useful a son-in law would be later on.
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Boeotian League

Postby Quintus Aurelius Orcus on Mon Sep 13, 2004 12:15 pm

Boeotian League


Archaic Thebes had always enjoyed good relations with Athens. That was until the situation where Plataea, one of the important cities in Boeotia was not happy with the League and asked for protection from Sparta. King Kleomenes of Sparta denied but advised to ask help from Athens. This way Sparta could avoid war with Thebes- not that it was afraid of going to war. Far from it. They may not have been involved in that to many wars, but their reputation was one to fear. The Plataeans surrendered their city to Athens during a public ceremony to strengthen their case. Not long after, the Thebans sent their troops to Plataea to conquer it. A counteroffensive of the Athenians was to be expected if the Corinthians did not get involved. The terms of the agreement were not accepted by the Thebans who were out for war. They thought they could easily win the war, but it turned into a complete military defeat with the attack on the Athenians. They wanted to regain their honour by calling all their allies in the Peloponnesus to fight on their side against the Athenians. They only forgot to mention the real motives of the war. When these came out, many allies withdrew themselves from the war: Corinthe, because of their understanding with Athens. So the Boeotian army along with the Chalkidian army marched on. They attacked the Athenian troops. Attica was now invaded from 3 sides, but the Athenians attack them from the Street of Euripos. Thousands died that day and 700 Boeotians were captured. The war ended with another military failure for Boeotia and another victory for Athens. The Athenians retaliated against the Chalkidians for fighting alongside Thebes. Again, the Athenians conquered. The Boeotian as the Chalkidian prisoners of war were brought to Athens. The war was soon ended afterwards by both sides.
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Theban Social Structure

Postby Quintus Aurelius Orcus on Thu Sep 23, 2004 11:31 pm

Theban Social structure:

There isn’t known much of the social structure except what has survived. Like most societies, they clearly had upper classes and lower classes. The ordinary citizens worked usually for the rich on the land, etc… These ordinary people had to raise and educate their own children. With the nobility, children were educated by third parties. Like Athenian women, Theban women probably did not enjoy much rights and freedom. They could not give their opinions on matters of the state or religion. They could attend them as funerals, marriages and were allowed to visit their female neighbours for a short period of time. There is a possibility that there were also companion women in Thebes. Since I did not find anything relating to Thebes on this matter, I can only speculate. These companion ladies gave men companionship and were well educated to be able to participate in discussions. Sex was not excluded. From the age of 12-14 boys and girls were taken under the wings of an older person. An adult male for a boy, an adult female for a girl. Those adult persons must mentor those kids and teach them everything there is to know about everything they know: including love and sex. This does not necessarily mean that there was a sexual relationship. Boys were separated from girls during this time and were expected to listen to what their mentor had to say. Most of the time, the two became friends and sometimes even lovers as homosexuality, bisexuality and heterosexuality were normal things to them as heterosexuality is to us nowadays, even though there are still a lot of people out there who are homophobic and this reflects on our entertainment. You would find rarely a hero in a action flick or blockbuster flick that portrays the man or women as bisexual or homosexual. They didn’t do this with Achilles in Troy. They made him from a bisexual warrior to a heterosexual warrior. It still shows that major audiences still have biases towards homosexuality.
Anyway the relationship between the boy and the adult male was to prepare the boy to adulthood and life in the real world. Girls were educated at home. This does not imply that they couldn’t write or read. Most women could read and write. The hetaerae were companion women who went to special schools to be educated as the most interesting conversation partner for men who could afford to pay them. In most Greek city-states, when young, the boys stayed at home, helping in the fields, sailing, and fishing. At age 6 or 7, they went to school. Ancient Greek children played with many toys, including rattles, little clay animals, horses on 4 wheels that could be pulled on a string, yo-yo's, and terra-cotta dolls.
Birds, dogs, goats, tortoises, and mice were all popular pets! Cats, however, were not!
Greek houses, in the 6th and 5th century B.C., were made up of two or three rooms, built around an open air courtyard, built of stone, wood, or clay bricks. Larger homes might also have a kitchen, a room for bathing, a men's dining room, and perhaps a woman's sitting area.
Although the Greek women were allowed to leave their homes for only short periods of time, they could enjoy the open air, in the privacy of their courtyard. Much of ancient Greek family life centred around the courtyard.
The ancient Greeks loved stories and fables. One favourite family activity was to gather in the courtyard to hear these stories, told by the mother or father. In their courtyard, Greek women might relax, chat, and sew. Most meals were enjoyed in the courtyard. Greek cooking equipment was small and light and could easily be set up there. On bright, sunny days, the women probably sheltered under a covered area of their courtyard, as the ancient Greeks believed a pale complexion was a sign of beau

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Greek Food

Postby Quintus Aurelius Orcus on Thu Sep 23, 2004 11:34 pm

Food:

Food in Ancient Greece consisted of grains, wheat, barley, fruit, vegetables, breads, and cake. Greeks also ate grapes, seafood of all kinds, and drank wine. The Greeks ate the same food as the Asian people. For example, the Ancient Greeks would eat domesticated animals. Fish, seafood, and home-made wine were very popular food items. In some of the larger Greek city-states, meat could be purchased in cook shops. Meat was rarely eaten, and was used mostly for religious sacrifices.

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Greek clothing and hair styles

Postby Quintus Aurelius Orcus on Thu Sep 23, 2004 11:34 pm

Greek Clothing and hair styles

Greek clothing was very simple. Men and women wore linen in the summer and wool in the winter. The ancient Greeks could buy cloth and clothes in the agora, the marketplace, but that was expensive.
Most families made their own clothes, which were simple tunics and warm cloaks, made of linen or wool, dyed a bright colour, or bleached white. Clothes were made by the mother, her daughters, and female slaves.
They were often decorated to represent the city-state in which they lived. The ancient Greeks were very proud of their home city-state. Now and then, they might buy jewelry from a traveling peddler, hairpins, rings, and earrings, but only the rich could afford much jewelry. Both men and women in ancient Athens, and in most of the other city-states, used perfume, made by boiling flowers and herbs.
The first real hat, the broad-brimmed petasos, was invented by the ancient Greeks! It was worn only for traveling. A chin strap held it on, so when it was not needed, as protection from the weather, it could hang down ones back. Both men and women enjoyed using mirrors and hairbrushes. Hair was curled, arranged in interesting and carefully designed styles, and held in place with scented waxes and lotions.
Women kept their hair long, in braids, arranged on top of their head, or wore their hair in ponytails. Headbands, made of ribbon or metal, were very popular. Blond hair was rare. Greek admired the blonde look and many tried bleaching their hair. Men cut their hair short and, unless they were soldiers, wore beards.
Barber shops first became popular in ancient Greece, and were an important part of the social life of many ancient Greek males. In the barber shop, the men exchanged political and sports news, philosophy, and gossip!
Dance was very important to the ancient Greeks. They believed that dance improved both physical and emotional health. Rarely did men and women dance together. Some dances were danced by men and others by women. There were more than 200 ancient Greek dances; comic dances, warlike dances, dances for athletes and for religious worship, plus dances for weddings, funerals, and celebrations. Dance was accompanied by music played on lyres, flutes, and a wide variety of percussion instruments such as tambourines, cymbals and castanets.


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