Holy Company (Thebes)

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The Holy Company ( ancient Greek ἱερὸς λόχος hieros lochos ) was an elite unit of the ancient Theban armed forces, which consisted of 150 male lovers and was founded by the Theban general Gorgidas . It represented the core of the Theban phalanx .

Only lovers were chosen, supposedly in order to maximize the cohesion of the group. In fact, the combat strength of the unit is more likely to have arisen from the fact that the members were professional soldiers - the only full-time citizen hoplites apart from those of Sparta . So they combined the professional aspect of the mercenary with that of the ancient citizen , who was motivated by ideals . This second aspect should be strengthened by the strong bond with the personal comrade in arms and the fighting strength and loyalty in combat should be increased. A few decades later, the idea found a counterpart in Alexander the Great's Companions on Foot .

Even under Gorgidas, the Holy Company formed an elite unit within the Theban troops. Later under Pelopidas , after the Holy Company had triumphed at Tegyra , they became a kind of personal bodyguard of Pelopidas and played an important role in the Greek infantry for 33 years . In the Battle of Leuctra , too, the Holy Company played a major role in Thebes' victory over Sparta .

The Holy Company was defeated and almost completely destroyed (up to 46 men) in the Battle of Chaironeia - the battle with which Philip II of Macedonia ended the independence of the Greek city-states .


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