Epaminondas was a Theban general and statesman who transformed Thebes,
leading it out of Spartan subjugation into a preeminent position in
Greek geopolitics. In the process he broke Spartan military power with
his victory at Leuctra and liberated the Messenian
helots—Peloponnesian Greeks who had been enslaved under Spartan rule
for some 200 years. Epaminondas reshaped the political map of Greece,
fragmented old alliances, created new ones, and supervised the
construction of entire cities. He was militarily influential as well;
he invented several major battlefield tactics. Cicero once called him
"the first man of Greece", but Epaminondas has fallen into relative
obscurity in modern times. The changes he wrought on the Greek
political order did not long outlive him, as the cycle of shifting
hegemonies and alliances continued unabated. Just 27 years after his
death, a recalcitrant Thebes was obliterated by Alexander the Great.
Thus Epaminondas—who had been praised in his time as an idealist and
liberator—is today largely remembered for a decade (371 to 362 BC) of
campaigning that sapped the strength of the great land powers of
Greece and paved the way for the Macedonian conquest.
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Today's selected anniversaries:
The USS Maine exploded and sank in Havana, Cuba, killing more than 260
people in a tragedy that precipitated the Spanish-American War.
General Tomoyuki Yamashita led the Japanese forces to capture the so
called "impregnable fortress" of Singapore.
The British pound sterling and the Irish pound were decimalised on
what is called Decimal Day.
The Soviet Union officially announced that all of its troops had
withdrawn from Afghanistan.
Millions around the world took part in the largest mass protest
movement in history against the impending invasion of Iraq.
Wikiquote of the day:
"I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us
with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forego their
use." -- Galileo Galilei