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THE THEBAN FRIENDS
ALTHOUGH all the Greek cities were to be free by the
treaty of Antalcidas, the Spartans kept the Messenians
under their sway; and, as they were still the most
powerful people in Greece, they saw that the other
cities did not infringe upon their rights in any way.
Under pretext of keeping all their neighbors in order,
the Spartans were always under arms, and on one
occasion even forced their way into the city of Thebes.
The Thebans, who did not expect them, were not ready to
make war, and were in holiday dress.
 They were all in
the temple, celebrating the festival of Demeter, the
harvest goddess; and when the Spartans came thus upon
them, they were forced to yield without striking a
single blow, as they had no weapons at hand.
The Spartans were so afraid lest the best and richest
citizens should try to make the people revolt, that
they exiled them all from Thebes, allowing none but the
poor and insignificant to remain.
To keep possession of the city which they had won by
this trick, the Spartans put three thousand of their
best warriors in the citadel, with orders to defend and
hold it at any price.
Among the exiled Thebans there was a noble and wealthy
man called Pelopidas. He had been sorely wounded in
a battle some time before, and would have died had he
not been saved by a fellow-citizen named
Epaminondas, who risked his own life in the rescue.
This man, too, was of noble birth, and was said to be a
descendant of the men who had sprung from the dragon
teeth sown by Cadmus, the founder of Thebes.
Epaminondas however, was very poor; and wealth had no
charms for him, for he was a disciple of Pythagoras, a philosopher who was almost as celebrated as Socrates.
Now, although Epaminondas was poor, quiet, and
studious, and Pelopidas was particularly fond of noise
and bustle, they became great friends and almost
inseparable companions. Pelopidas, seeing how good and
generous a man his friend was, did all he could to be
like him, and even gave up all his luxurious ways to
live plainly too.
He therefore had plenty of money to spare, and this he
spent very freely for the good of the poor. When
former friends asked why he no longer cared for his
riches, he pointed to a poor cripple near by, and said
that money was of importance only to unhappy men like
that one, who could do nothing for themselves.