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Boeotia

Boeotia (bēō´shə), region of ancient Greece. It lay N of Attica, Megaris, and the Gulf of Corinth. The early inhabitants were from Thessaly. A number of small cities scattered over the rough country—mountainous in the south, hilly in the north—may have had a sort of confederacy before the Boeotian League was formed (c.7th cent. BC). Thebes dominated the region and the league. The rival cities were Orchomenus, Plataea, and Thespiae. The history of Boeotia is largely a record of the vain attempts of these cities to escape the domination of Thebes and the attempts of Thebes to prevent encroachment on the region by others of the great city-states. Boeotia, therefore, was the scene of various important battles—Plataea, Leuctra, Coronea, and Chaeronea. After the defeat of the Persians at Plataea (479), the Greeks besieged Thebes for aiding the Persians, and the Boeotian League was disbanded. The league was temporarily revived in 457 BC before being defeated in the same year by Athens, which briefly attached the Boeotian cities to the Athenian empire. Thebes returned to power at the head of the league in 446. Later, after the victory of Epaminondas over the Spartans, the history of Boeotia was completely absorbed into that of Thebes. Boeotia was the home of the poets Hesiod and Pindar.

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Boeotia

Boeotia a region of ancient Greece, of which the chief city was Thebes, according to legend founded by Cadmus. Boeotia was traditionally proverbial among Athenians for the dullness and stupidity of its inhabitants.

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Boeotia

Boeotia

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Cattle Lands . A region in central Greece bordering on Attica, Boeotia was named after its large cattle pastures. The area consisted of the two plains of Orchomenos and Thebes, both of which were good wheat land. In the second half of the sixth century, a Boeotian League of many small towns came into being and issued a common coinage. In the Classical Period (480-323 b.c.e.) the number of cities and towns had shrunk to about a dozen, controlled in varying degrees by the largest city, Thebes.

War Prosperity. On the whole the Boeotians were a self-contained agricultural people who did not share the overseas expansion of Greece. Boeotian farms were prosperous, and the land was regarded as rich. The Boeotians profited from the economic difficulties of Athens, their neighbor to the southeast, during the Second Peloponnesian War (431-404 b.c.e.), when the Spartans occupied the Attic plain, making it possible for Athenian slaves to desert to Boeotia. The Boeotians made money by selling the slaves; they also made inroads into Attica, capturing quantities of military equipment and looting the estates of the wealthier Athenians. The pillaged property, combined with a sound agricultural economy and the acquisition of the city of Plataea from Athens, created a considerable prosperity and a rise in the population in the fourth century.

Source

Simon Hornblower, The Greek World 479-323 BC (London & New York: Methuen, 1983).

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