Cornelius Nepos

XVI. Pelopidas

1. Pelopidas Thebanus, magis historicis quam vulgo notus. Cuius de virtutibus dubito quem ad modum exponam, quod vereor, si res explicare incipiam, ne non vitam eius enarrare, sed historiam videar scribere; sin tantum modo summas attigero, ne rudibus Graecarum litterarum minus dilucide appareat quantus fuerit ille vir. Itaque utrique rei occurram, quantum potuero, etmedebor cum satietati tum ignorantiae lectorum.

2Phoebidas Lacedaemonius cum exercitum Olynthum duceret iterque per Thebas faceret, arcem oppidi, quae Cadmea nominatur, occupavit impulsu paucorum Thebanorum, qui adversariae factioni quo facilius resisterent, Laconum rebus studebant, idque 3suo privato, non publico fecit consilio. Quo facto eum Lacedaemonii ab exercitu removerunt pecuniaque multarunt, neque eo magis arcem Thebanis reddiderunt, quod susceptis inimicitiis satius ducebant eos obsideri quam liberari; nam post Peloponnesium bellum Athenasque devictas cum Thebanis sibi rem esse existimabant et eos esse solos qui 4adversus resistere1 auderent. Hac mente amicis suis summas potestates dederant alteriusque factionis principes partim interfecerant, alios in exsilium eiecerant; in quibus Pelopidas hic, de quo scribere exorsi sumus, pulsus patria carebat.


XVI. Pelopidas

XVI. Pelopidas

1. Pelopidas, the Theban, is better known to historians than to the general public. I am in doubt how to give an account of his merits; for I fear that if I undertake to tell of his deeds, I shall seem to be writing a history rather than a biography; but if I merely touch upon the high points, I am afraid that to those unfamiliar with Grecian literature it will not be perfectly clear how great a man he was. Therefore I shall meet both difficulties as well as I can, having regard both for the weariness and the lack of information of my readers.1

When Phoebidas, the Lacedaemonian, was leading his army to Olynthus and went by way of Thebes, he382 b.c. took possession of the citadel of the town, called the Cadmea, at the instigation of a few Thebans, who, in order the more easily to resist the party of their opponents, espoused the cause of the Lacedaemonians; but he did this on his own initiative and not at the direction of his state. Because of this act the Lacedaemonians deprived him of his command and condemned him to pay a fine, but for all that they did not return the citadel to the Thebans, thinking that, having incurred their enmity, it was better to keep them in a state of siege than to free them. Indeed, after the Peloponnesian war and the defeat of Athens they looked upon the Thebans as rivals and as the only people that would dare to resist them. Owing to this feeling, they had given the highest offices at Thebes to their sympathizers, and had either put to death or exiled the leading men of the opposite faction. Among these this Pelopidas, about whom I have begun to write, had been driven from his native land into exile.

DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.cornelius_nepos-book_great_generals_foreign_nations_pelopidas.1929