The Ancient Library

Scanned text contains errors.

On this page: Pelops



For this, Epaminondas and Pelopidas were im­peached afterwards by their enemies at Thebes, but were honourably acquitted. [epaminondas ; menecleidas.] Early in b. c. 368, the Thessa­lians who were suffering under the oppression oi Alexander of Pherae, applied for aid to Thebes. The appeal was responded to, and Pelopidas, being entrusted with the command of the expedition, occu­pied Larissa, and received the submission of the ty­rant, who had come thither for the purpose, but who soon after sought safety in flight, alarmed at the indignation shown by Pelopidas at the tales he heard of his cruelty and profligacy. From Thessaly Pelopidas advanced into Macedonia, to arbitrate between alexander II. and Ptolemy of Alorus. Having accommodated their differences, he took away with him, as hostages for the continuance of tranquillity, thirty boys of the noblest families, among whom, according to Plutarch and Diodorus, was the famous Philip, the father of Alexander the Great. [philippus II.] In the course of the same year Pelopidas was sent again into Thessaly, in consequence of fresh complaints against Alex­ander of Pherae; but he went simply as an ambassador, not expecting any opposition, and unprovided with a military force. Meanwhile Alexander, the Macedonian king, had been mur­dered by Ptolemy of Alorus ; and Pelopidas, being applied to by the loyalists to aid them against the usurper, hired some mercenaries and marched into Macedonia. If we may believe Plutarch, Ptolemy seduced his soldiers from him by bribes, and yet, alarmed by his name and reputation, met him sub­missively, and promised to be a faithful ally of Thebes, and to keep the throne for Perdiccas and Philip, the brothers of the late king, placing in his hands at the same time his son Philoxenus and fifty of his friends, as hostages for the fulfilment of his engagement. After this, Pelopidas, offended at the desertion of his mercenaries, marched with a body of Thessalians, whom he had collected, against Pharsalus, where he heard that most of the property of the delinquents was placed, as well as their wives and children. While he was before the town, Alexander of Pherae presented himself, and Pelopidas, thinking that lie had come to give an account of his conduct, went to meet him, ac­companied by a few friends and unarmed. The tyrant seized him, and confined him closely at Pherae, where he remained till his liberation, in b. c. 367, by a Theban force under Epaminondas. During his imprisonment he is said to have treated Alexander with defiance, and to have exasperated his wife Thebe against him. In the same year in which he was released he was sent as ambassador to Susa, to counteract the Lacedaemonian and Athenian negotiations at the Persian court. His fame had preceded him, and he was received with marked distinction by the king, and obtained, as far as Persia could grant it, all that he asked for, viz. that Messenia should be independent, that the Athenians should lay up their ships, and that the Thebans should be regarded as hereditary friends af the king. For himself, Pelopidas re­fused- all the presents which Artaxerxes offered him, and, according to Plutarch (Artax. 22), avoided during his mission all that to a Greek mind would appear to be unmanly marks of ho­mage.

In b. c. 364, the Thessalian towns, those espe­cially of Magnesia and Phthiotis, again applied to


Thebes for protection against Alexander, and Pe­lopidas was appointed to aid them. His forces, however, were dismayed by an eclipse of the sun (June 13), and, therefore, leaving them behind, he took with him into Thessaly only 300 horse, having set out amidst the warnings of the soothsayers. On his arrival at Pharsalus he collected a force which he deemed sufficient, and marched against Alexander, treating lightly the great disparity of numbers, and remarking that it was better as it was, since there would be more for him to conquer. According to Diodorus, he found the tyrant occu­pying a commanding position on the heights of Cynoscephalae. Here a battle ensued, in which Pelopidas drove the enemy from their ground, but lie himself was slain as, burning with resentment, he pressed rashly forward to attack Alexander in person. The Thebans and Thessalians made great lamentations for his death, and the latter, having earnestly requested leave to bury him, celebrated his funeral with extraordinary splendour. They honoured his memory also with statues and golden crowns, and gave more substantial proofs of their gratitude by presents of large estates to his chil­dren.

Pelopidas has been censured, obviously with justice, for the rashness, unbecoming a general, which he exhibited in his last battle ; and we may well believe that, on more occasions than this, his fiery temperament betrayed him into acts character­ istic rather of the gallant soldier than of the prudent commander. His success at the court of Artaxerxes would lead us to ascribe to him considerable skill in diplomacy ; but some deduction must be made from this in consideration of the very favourable circumstances under which his mission was under­ taken, and the prestige which accompanied him in consequence of the high position of his country at that period, and the recent humiliation of Sparta. Certainly, however, this very power of Thebes, unprecedented and short-lived as it was, was owing mainly to himself and to Epaminondas. But these are minor points. Viewing him as a man, and taking him all in all, Pelopidas was truly one of nature's noblemen; and, if he was inferior to Epaminondas in powers of mind and in command­ ing strength of character, he was raised above ordi­ nary men by his disinterested patriotism, his un- calculating generosity, and, not least, by his cordial, affectionate, unenvying admiration of his greater friend. (Plut. Pelopidas, Reg. et Imp. Apoph. p. 61, ed. Tauchn. ; Diod. xv. 62, &c., 67, 71, 75, 80, 81 ; Wess. ad loc.; Xen. Hell. vii. 1. §§ 33, &c. ; Ael. V. H. xi. 9, xiv. 38 ; Paus. ix. 15 ; Polyb. vi. 43, Fragm. Hist. xv. ; Corn. Nep. Pelopidas.') [alexander of Pherae; epami­ nondas.] [E. E.]

PELOPS. (IleAoiJ/.) L A grandson of Zeus, and son of Tantalus and Dione, the daughter of Atlas. (Hygin. Fab. 83 ; Enrip. Orest. init.) As he was thus a great-grandson of Cronos, he is called by Pindar Kpfoios (#/. iii. 41), though it may also contain an allusion to Pluto, the mother of Tantalus, who was a daughter of Cronos. [pluto.] Some writers call the mother of Pelops Euryanassa or Clytia. (Schol. ad Eurip. Orest. 5, 11 ; Tzetz ad Lye. 52 ; comp. Apostol. Centur. xviii. 7.) He was married to Hippodameia, by whom he became the father of Atreus (Letreus, Paus. vi. 22. § 5), Thyestes, Dias, Cynosurus, Corinthius, Hippalmus (Hippalcmus or Hippal-

About | First



page #  
Search this site
All non-public domain material, including introductions, markup, and OCR © 2005 Tim Spalding.
Ancient Library was developed and hosted by Tim Spalding of