n Akroterion - Why did the Thebans defeat the normally militarily superior Spartans at the Battle of Leuctra (371 BC)? : CASA essay

Volume 56, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 0303-1896
  • E-ISSN: 2079-2883
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The battle of Leuctra was fought in 371 BC and represents a turning point in Greek history. For a long time the Spartans had held military dominance on any battlefield they entered, but this battle put an end to that dominance. It has been said that the Theban general, Epaminondas, applied revolutionary tactics to defeat the Spartans (Cawkwell 1972), but Hanson (1988) disputes this claim and gives different reasons as to why the Spartans lost. I believe not enough thought has been given as to the Spartan loss at Leuctra. Even if Hanson (1988), Cawkwell (1972) and Krentz (1985) give various suggestions for Sparta's loss at Leuctra, there are still numerous other factors influencing a battle that have not been considered in enough detail by them. I will be analyzing the translated texts of Xenophon (Xen. 6.3-15), Pausanias (Paus. 9.13.2-12) and Plutarch ( 20-23). While analyzing these texts I shall keep in mind that Pausanias and Plutarch were not alive at the time of the battle and when they wrote, they were being influenced by the 'Epaminondas tradition' and not the culture at the time of the battle.

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