|The Story of the Greeks|
|by Helene A. Guerber|
| Elementary history of Greece, made up principally of stories about persons, giving at the same time a clear idea of the most important events in the ancient world and calculated to enforce the lessons of perseverance, courage, patriotism, and virtue that are taught by the noble lives described. Beginning with the legends of Jason, Theseus, and events surrounding the Trojan War, the narrative moves on to present the contrasting city-states of Sparta and Athens, the war against Persia, their conflicts with each other, the feats of Alexander the Great, and annexation by Rome. Ages 10-14 |
THE BATTLE OF MANTINEA
WHEN Epaminondas heard that his friend Pelopidas was dead,
he grieved sorely; but nevertheless, knowing that his
country had need of him, he vigorously continued his
preparations to meet and conquer the Spartan army.
The battle promised to be hard fought; for while
Epaminondas, the victor of Leuctra, led the Thebans,
Agesilaus, the hero of countless battles, was again at
the head of the Spartan army. The Thebans pressed
forward so eagerly, however, that the two armies met at
Mantinea, in the central part of the Peloponnesus.
In spite of Agesilaus' courage and experience, and the
well-known discipline of the Spartan troops, the
Thebans again won a splendid victory over their foes.
Their joy, however, was turned to mourning when they
heard that Epaminondas had been mortally wounded just
as the battle was drawing to an end.
A spear had pierced his breast; and as he sank to
ground, some of his followers caught him, bore him away
tenderly in their arms, and carefully laid him down
under a tree on a neighboring hillside. As soon as he
opened his eyes, he eagerly asked how the army was
Gently raising him so that he could see the
battlefield, his friends pointed out the Spartan army
in full flight, and the Thebans masters of the field.
Epaminondas sank back with a sigh of relief, but soon
roused himself again to ask whether his shield were
It was only when he had seen it that he would allow the
doctors to examine his wound. They found the head of a
barbed spear sunk deep into his breast, and said that
it must be pulled out. Still they hesitated to draw it
out, for they feared that the rush of blood would kill
Epaminondas, therefore, bade them leave it alone,
although he was suffering greatly; and then he called
for his assistant generals, to give them a few
important orders. The friends standing around him sadly
told him that both had fallen in the battle, and could
no longer execute his commands. When Epaminondas heard this
unwelcome news, he realized that there was no one left
who could replace him, and maintain the Theban
supremacy: so he advised his fellow-countrymen to seize
the favorable opportunity to make peace with the
When he had thus done all in his power to provide for
the future welfare of his native city, Epaminondas drew
out the spear from his wound with his own hand, for he
saw that his friends were afraid to touch it.
As the doctors had foreseen, there was a great rush of
blood, and they soon saw that Epaminondas had only
 a few minutes to live. His friends wept over him, and one
of them openly expressed his regret that Epaminondas
left no children.
These words were heard by the dying hero, who opened
his eyes once more, and gently said, "Leuctra and
Mantinea are daughters enough to keep my name alive!"
This saying has proved true; for these two great
victories are put down in every Greek history, and are
never spoken of except in connection with the noble
general who won them in behalf of his country, and died
on the field when the last victory was secured.
In memory of Epaminondas, their greatest citizen and
general, the Thebans erected a monument on the
battlefield, and engraved his name upon it, with an
image of the dragon from whose teeth his ancestors had
The Thebans, remembering his dying wish, then proposed
a peace, which was gladly accepted by all the Greek
states, for they were exhausted by the almost constant
warfare they had kept up during many years.
Hundreds of additional titles available for
online reading when you join Gateway to the Classics