Teiresias, the most famous soothsayer of Greece, was born at Thebes. He was the son of Eueres and Chariclo, descendant of Udaeus of Sparti.
He was blind and there are many stories for the cause of his blindness. The most wide accepted tradition was that at age seven the Gods blinded him, because he revealed certain things, men ought not to know.
According to another tradition, he was blinded after he saw goddess Athena taking bath. Athena threw water in his eyes and thus blinded him. His mother, after the event, begged the goddess to restore her son's sight, but Athena was unable to do this and instead gave him a staff, which made him walk like having vision. She also gave him knowledge of the language of birds.
Another story made Hera responsible for his blindness, when in a dispute between her and Zeus, he went against her. In order to compensate him, Zeus gave him a longer life (seven or nine times greater than the usual life of men) and the gift of prophecy. Hesiod says also to have been changed for seven years into a woman.
Teiresias played a very important part in the legends of Thebes. In Seven against Thebes, he told the people that the city would be saved, only if Menoekeus, son of Kreon, would give his life. The youth rushed and slew himself in front of the gate and indeed after this, Thebes was saved.
In the war of the Epigonoi, he advised Thebans to come into negotiations and get out of the city, because there was nothing that would change the decision of the Gods.
Teiresias was captured by the Epigonoi, together with his daughter Manto, a prophetess, and they were placed to serve Apollo, at Delphi. He died at Aliartos, at the spring Tilphousa, and was buried there.
The legend says, that after his death, Persephone made an exception and let him have his intellect and memory unimpaired in Hades.
In Homer's Odyssey, he is pictured in the underworld, with his golden staff, still having the power of prophecy and it is to him that Odysseus goes, in order to find his way home.
In Thebes they honored him by a cenotaph and in Orchomenos they had an Oracle, where people went to receive prophecies.
Hesiod, the epic poet second only to Homer in importance, was born at Ascra in Boeotia, near the mount Hellikon. The exact date of his birth is not known, but it is estimated around 800 BC. Since this is a mere estimation, it is probable that his poems are contemporary of Homer's.
Three poems of Hesiod have been preserved, though in the ancient times many others bore his name.
The poems are: Work and days, highly valued by the ancients for its ethical teaching, the Theogony, where a lot of information about the local traditions of Gods and the origin of the world is given and the Shield of Herakles, an epic combat between the hero Herakles and his adversary Kyknos.
His works, though not on a par to Homer, kept teaching Greeks for centuries and contain the sperms of lyric, iambic and elegiac poetry. There are many stories about his death. His tomb was displayed at Orchomenos.
He was the son of Daiphantos, who belonged to the ancient and noble family of Aigidae. He was taught music early in his age by his father, who was famous flute player and by the eminent musicians Agathocles and Apollodoros, at Athens. He lived most of his life at Thebes and Delphi, where the oracle arranged to pronounce hymns to Gods.
When he died, no one believed that his shadow from Delphi had gone and the priests every night before dinner had a herald to announce around the Oracle "Pindar is coming to have diner with the Gods" and thus they were inviting the dead to enter the temple, where two tables with food, one for Apollo and one for Pindar had been prepared (the so-called Theoxenia).
Thebans were calling him "the eagle of Thebes" and they compared him with the roar of the river.
Pindar, during his life, was honored among all the Greek cities for his poems and he was invited often by tyrants and monarchs to their courts, especially by Amyntas of Macedon, Arkesilaos of Kyrene, Theron of Agrigentum and Hieron of Syracuse, where he lived from 476 to 472 BC.
In 438 BC, at the age of eighty years old, he died in the theater of Argos, at the time he was reciting one of his poems.
Athenians had honored him by making him ambassador (proxenos) and erected a bronze statue after his death. He was fined by Thebans, for glorifying an enemy city, Athens, but later they made a temple near his house, in order to honor him.
Pindar wrote an enormous number of poems, which the Alexandrian scholars divided in seventeen books. His poetry included dithyrambs, paeans, scholia, encomia, prosodia, treni, parthenia, and epinicia, the last being the only surviving work of his, from the others we have only few fragments.
Epinicia were songs celebrating the victors of games and they were sang by a chorus usually at the scene of the victory or during the feast given after the victor had returned home. The epinicia contained 14 Olympian, 12 Pythian, 11 Nemean and 8 Isthmian odes.
The poetry of Pindar is characterized by sublimity of thought and magnificence and they include warm religious sentiments. Expression, metre and harmonious thought characterize also his poems.
He received an excellent education in music, vocal and instrumental and also dancing. He was also trained in gymnastics, where he strove for skill and stamina. He was fortunate to possess all the qualities Greeks valued. He studied philosophy with the Pythagorian philosopher Lysis of Tarentum, who had settled at Thebes and he had constant philosophical conversations with Theban Simias and the Tarentine Spintharos, both pupils of Socrates.
He was a close friend with Pelopidas and their friendship grew even bigger, when at a battle with Arcadians, in 385 BC, Epameinondas saved the seven times wounded Pelopidas, after a hard struggle, receiving many wounds and putting his own life in great danger. He was ready to fall also from the woods when Agesipolis the king of Sparta rushed and saved both beyond any expectation.
His moral qualities were in accord with the intellectual ones.
A courageous man, he was averse to cruelty and unnecessary bloodshed. So when he captured the Sikyonian town of Phoebia, in which many Boeotian fugitives had been gathered, he did not kill them, as was the Theban law, but he assigned them new nationality, any the fugitives preferred, and set them free. He had no personal ambitions, except to serve his country as better as he could.
In 367 BC, four years later after his great victory at Leuktra, he was appointed to serve as mere hoplite in an expedition of the Theban army, to rescue Pelopidas, who had been captured by the tyrant of Pherae, Alexander. When the expedition got into great difficulties, the generals appointed him head of the army and Epameinondas rescuing the army returned to Thebes, where he was appointed Boetarch. Immediately he returned to Thessaly with an army and forced the release of his friend.
He was indifferent in money or fame and when the archon of Thessaly offered him fifty talents, though he was in need of money for an expedition in Thessaly, he did not take them, because he did not want to shame his country and borrowed the money from friends.
When Artaxerxes offered him money to accept his propositions, Epameinondas refused and said to the envoy: "if the propositions of Artaxerxes are in accord with the interests of my country, I do not need money to accept them, but if they are opposite with the interests of my country, all the gold of his kingdom would not persuade me to betray my homeland. You who tried to bribe me without knowing my character I forgive you but you must leave the town immediately before you corrupt others."
In all his expeditions under his leadership Thebans never plundered, though his allies did. In a battle when one of his officers sold a captive for money, he said to him: "give me back your shield and go away, your hands have been polluted and they are not worth to keep it, to defend your fatherland".
Though a grown man, he was not known at Thebes, nor he had played an active role in her affairs. It was after the revolution against Sparta, that his country offered him an office. He was one of the most eloquent Greeks, though Spintharos said, that he never met any other, who understood more and talk less.
He died at the battle of Mantinea, in 362 BC. Diodoros tell us, that when Thebans found great resistance from Lacedaimonians, Epameinondas went at the front in order to encourage them. He first threw his javelin and killed the Lacedaimonian commander, then alone turned and killed with his sword several warriors. His moves were watched by the enemy, who threw him a multitude of arrows. Epameinondas avoided them with his shield and quick moves, but some entered his body and when that happened, he took them out and was still fighting, until a spear thrown with great force pierced his chest.
It is said that before his death and with the spear in his chest, he was waiting the outcome of the battle and when they told him that the Thebans were victorious, he asked if certain commanders were alive. When he was given a negative answer, he told them to make piece. The hill, where he was carried, was full of soldiers when he gave the order to take off the spear to die and then someone told him "you die Epameinonda without leaving children", he answered "by Zeus this is not true. I leave two undying daughters, the victory at Leuktra and the victory at Mantinea".
His last words were "I have lived long enough" and then after a small pause said "for I die unconquered".
He was buried on the place where the armies met and on his grave they placed a pillar and a shield with a dragon in relief, the emblem of Sparti.
Pelopidas was born at Thebes, around 410 BC. His father Hippokles, belonged to the very few in number, rich aristocrats of Thebes. In his youth, he inherited from him a very large fortune, which he used for the good of his homeland. We don't know if Epameinondas played a role in this, but without draining his fortune, he helped others in need, spending for himself no more than an ordinary man.
When his friends learned that he gave a big part of his fortune to help the poor of Thebes, they told him to stop doing this, otherwise he would become one of them. At this time a very poor man, called Nikodemos, was passing and Pelopidas showing him, told them "money are needed to the blind and lame Nikodemos, who is unable to work and not to me".
He used to say that riches only with virtue are useful. In another instance he remarked: "I would be ashamed to spend more money than a poor Theban".
He was very close to his elder friend Epameinondas, from his youth, but their friendship was reinforced after a battle against the Arcadians, in 385 BC, when seven times wounded fell on the ground. Epameinondas rushed to protect his friend, receiving also many wounds by a spear on his breast and from a sword in his arm. When he was also ready to fall, Agesipolis, king of Spartans, came and saved both their lives, beyond all expectations.
He was like Epameinondas, indifferent in money and fame.
In 379 BC, he was one of the leading men, who plotted for the freedom of his city, which was occupied by the Spartans. For his actions, he was elected Boeotarch of Thebes (chief magistrate) and leader of the Sacred Band. It was him who defeated the Spartans for the first time at Tegyra, with an army only half in number.
Pelopidas loved his homeland, more than anything else and he was not taking care of himself in the battles. In one expedition, his wife with tears in her eyes knowing his impulsive character, asked him to take care of himself. Pelopidas answered "obligation of the leader is to take care of the lives of others and not his".
In 371 BC, again he distinguished himself in the battle of Leuktra, when leading the Sacred Band, the Theban army defeated Sparta.
Pelopidas also showed skill in diplomacy, when he was sent to Persia, to nominate Thebes as the leader of Greece. (Persia was the mediator in the city-states of Greece, after the peace of Antalkidas). Pelopidas was successful in his mission and Messene, as well Amphipolis were declared independent and Thebes was appointed the head of Greece.
In an expedition in Thessaly, Pelopidas was seized from Alexander, tyrant of Pherae, but he was released after two expeditions by the Thebans.
Showing total disregard for his life, he was killed in 364 BC, in a combat, in which he defeated Alexander at Kynos Kephalae.
The Greek author Plutarch was born at Chaeronea of Boeotia, about 50 AD. He was the son of Aristoboulos, who belonged to a noble and rich family, and was himself a philosopher and biographer. Plutarch received a fine education, studying under the peripatetic Ammonios of Athens, where he learned mathematics and philosophy.
After his studies he traveled widely in Greece and finally came to Rome, where he settled for some years. In Rome gave public lectures of philosophy and was responsible for the education of the future emperor Adrian. He then returned to his birthplace Chaeronea, where he wrote an immense amount of works.
He wrote mainly biography and his works influenced strongly the evolution of essay and historical writing.
Plutarch is mainly known for the Parallel lives, a series of biographies, where he compares the noble lives of Greeks and Romans.
In this work, he draws from a very big amount of sources and displays his personal great and deep knowledge. He also makes it clear that he does not write history but only examines the character and personality of the men.
His other famous work Moralia (Ethica), which was valued greatly by the Byzantines scholars, comprises from about 60 essays, that deal with various topics mainly philosophical and ethical.
In Chaeronea, he was holding the office of Archon and he was priest of Pythian Apollo. Late in his life, he was named governor of Greece, by emperor Adrian.
He died around 120 AD, in Chaeronea, his native town.
Herakles was the greatest and most celebrated hero in ancient Greece. He was born at Thebes and was the child of Zeus andAlkmene. Before his birth, Zeus announced to the gods, that a descendant of Perseus would be born, a hero destined to rule over the Perseides. Hera, the wife of Zeus, hating the unborn, delayed his birth and hastened the birth of Eurystheus, who inherited the throne of Perseus. Later when Herakles was born, she sent two snakes to his crypt, which Herakles struggled them.
When Herakles reached manhood, he waged war against the kingdom of Orchomenos in Boeotia, to whom Thebes was paying heavy tributes. Herakles won the war and in gratitude king Creon of Thebes gave him his daughter, Megara. For many years Herakles lived happily with his wife and had three children with her, but in a fit of madness, which Hera sent to him, he killed them all.
To expiate himself from this horrible act, he visited Delphi and God Apollo ordered him to go to the king of Tiryns, Eurystheus and perform ten heroic feats. When his last labor ended (he actually made twelve), Apollo declared that he would be immortal.
Herakles had many other adventures and among them was the battle of Giants, in which he helped his father Zeus to defeat the Giants, in the battle for the control of mount Olympus.
When Herakles wore the cloak Deianira gave him, the balm burnt his flesh and in order to end his suffering, he ordered his friend to prepare a big pile of wood, on top of the mount Oete. He went by himself in his funeral pyre, when a cloud with lightning descended from the sky and Athena with her chariot carried him to Olympus, where he was welcomed as one of the immortals.
Who borns at thebes