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Pelopidas (* around 410 BC in Greek Thebes ; † 364 BC near Kynoskephalai) was a Theban general and statesman. The son of Hippoklos, together with Epameinondas, laid the foundation for Thebes' supremacy in Greece.

Live and act

382 BC Pelopidas was driven out of Thebes by the oligarchs supported by Sparta and had to flee to Athens . From there, however, he could 379 BC. Return to Thebes and recapture the Kadmeia from the Spartans.

371 BC He refused to make peace with Sparta. As a result, Sparta sent an army with about 7,000 hoplites and 300 mounted men. The Theban army had around 7,000 to 8,000 hoplites and 1,000 horsemen. Due to the crooked order of battle developed by the Theban general Epameinondas, Thebes succeeded in defeating the Spartans in the battle of Leuctra . The Holy Company led by Pelopidas played a major role in this victory.

Around 368 BC However, Pelopidas was captured during a campaign by the Thebans against the Thessalian tyrant Alexander of Pherai . He was freed from Epameinondas the following year. 367/366 BC He went as an envoy to the court of the Persian great king , from whom he achieved the recognition of Thebes as the new power of order in Greece. His attempts, similar to Sparta 20 years earlier in the King's Peace , to enforce a universal peace guaranteed by Persia for all Greek cities under Theban hegemony , failed, however.

364 BC BC Pelopidas defeated Alexander of Pherai in the battle of the Kynoskephalai in Thessaly . Pelopidas himself fell in this battle.

Sources and reception

There are practically no contemporary sources on the Vita des Pelopidas. Only in the 1st century BC The Roman historiographer and biographer Cornelius Nepos devotes himself to the Theban in a vita. Right at the beginning, Nepos emphasized two challenges to the biography of Pelopidas: On the one hand, Pelopidas was not known to a broader public even in his time and was only known to historical researchers; on the other hand, his biography threatened to become a reproduction of the history of events; In addition, the representation must aim to show what a great man Pelopidas was.

A little later, Plutarch puts his biography of Pelopidas alongside the Roman Marcellus . From his point of view, the two are united by the fact that both would have died in an unreasonable way. The challenges of a biography of Pelopidas as well as other Greek statesmen are shown here in an imprecise description of origin and youth. Above all, Plutarch emphasizes the amicable relationship with Epameinondas.


  • Beck, Hans: sv Pelopidas. In: The New Pauly. Encyclopedia of Antiquity IX, 2000, 499-500.
  • Buckler, John: Plutarch on the Trials of Pelopidas and Epameinondas (369 BC). In: Classical Philology 73, 1978, 36-42.
  • Devoto, Jacobo: Pelopidas and Kleombrotos at Leuktra. In: The Ancient History Bulletin 3, 1989, 115-118.
  • Georgiadou, Aristoula: A philological and historical commentary on the "Life of Pelopidas" by Plutarch , Stuttgart 1997 (Univ. Of Illinois, Diss. 1990).
  • Manuwald, Gesine: "The second man in Thebes". To the Pelopidas vita of Cornelius Nepos. In: Hermes. Journal for Classical Philology 131, 2004, 441–455.
  • Reincke, Gerhard: sv Pelopidas. In: Paulys Realencyclopädie der classischen Antiquity Science XIX 1, 1937, 375-380.
  • Westlake, Henry D .: The Source of Plutarch's Pelopidas. In: The Classical Quarterly 33, 1939, 11-22.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. a b Cornelius Nepos: Pelopidas, 1,1 .
  2. Plutarch: Pelopidas 2 .
  3. Plutarch: Pelopidas 3 .
  4. Plutarch: Pelopidas 4 .