Happy Fourth of July, America!
The same date is also the anniversary of the battle of Mantinea (362 BC), in which the Theban leader Epaminondas inflicted his second (after Leuctra) decisive defeat on the Spartans. A victory, one could have hoped at the time, for the democratic city-states of Attica and Boeotia.
Previously, warlike Sparta had overcome Athens and gone even further, crossing the Hellespont and seizing Persian territory in modern Anatolia. Now they were bottled up again in their Peloponnesian peninsula.
Bur alas for Thebes! Epaminondas died at Mantinea, together with his two possible successors, and when the weakened city of Thebes requested the help of the Macedonian Philip II in the quarrel with their neighbouring Phocians, they found an ally more dangerous than their foe.
In Athens Demosthenes, the greatest of orators, stirred his fellow citizens to resist Philip and persuaded Thebes to join them. Thus Athens lost her liberty; but it was worse for the Thebans, who when they revolted in 335 BC were all slaughtered or enslaved, and the city razed.
Who today is Sparta, who Thebes, and who the Macedonians? And who are the fatal orators?