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Battle of Leuctra, 371 BC

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Epaminondas versus Cleombrotus: A Theban army under Epaminondas undertakes a daring new formation against a feared Spartan army under Cleombrotus. Will this new formation alter the traditional hoplite warfare? Click on images below to view; first image opens video presentation and second image opens PowerPoint presentation. | Legend |
 

 
 The Spartan reputation was hit hardest of all in this clash for Greece, deciding one of few decisive wars in the ancient history of the peninsula.
 
Hanson argued in “The Leuctra Mirage” that the battle was not a masterpiece and that Epaminondas deserves less credit. He emphasizes the intoxication of the Spartan soldiers and the simplicity of Epaminondas’ oblique attack formation. Hanson’s analysis should not be discredited by any means for it counterbalances the opposing literature which holds this battle up on par with Cannae and Cambrai in tactical innovation. Epaminondas won a great victory for Thebes but his new formation did not dismantle traditional hoplite warfare in a single battle; he was killed at Mantinea attempting to mirror Leuctra.
 
 
 
Leuctra is technically the first battle I animated although the movements were continuous and there were no narrations triggers or landscape. I animated Leuctra as a way to determine if PowerPoint was sufficient to accomplish what I wanted to do. As it turns out, it was. Then, months later when I was completing Season II, I realized that Season I was forever going to be shorter than the others and this was unnecessary. So rather than skipping the number “I” in the animations’ titles as a tribute, I hastily animated the battle at my present standards to satisfy my Prussian needs for order and conformity.
 
- Jonathan Webb
 
Works Consulted
 
Davis, Paul K. 100 Decisive Battles from Ancient Times to the Present. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999.
 
Goodenough, Simon. Tactical Genius in Battle. Oxford: Phodian Press, 1979.
 
Hanson, Victor Davis. “The Leuctra Mirage.” Military History Quarterly 2.2 (1990): 54-59.
 
United States Military Academy History Department. “Atlas for Ancient Warfare.” United States Military Academy. http://www.dean.usma.edu/history/web03/atlases/AncientWarfare/index.htm (accessed Sep. 23, 2009).
 
Warry, John. Warfare in the Classical World. London: Salamander, 1980.

Images

Athenian hoplite: http://www.twcenter.net/forums/downloads.php?do=file&id=1225
 
Cavalry: http://strategicsimulations.net/catalog/default.php?cPath=26
 
Epamindondas: http://www.leme.pt/historia/palavras/
 
Peltast: http://uoregon.edu/~klio/maps/gr/peltast2.jpg 
 
Spartan hoplite: http://forums.totalwar.org/vb/showthread.php?t=76046
 

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  1. 6 Comments to “Battle of Leuctra, 371 BC”

  2. Why did the spartan army not try to push its left wing into the weak centre of Theban army ?

    By Daniel on Jan 3, 2010 at 6:34 pm

  3. Answer to Daniel’s question: Epaminondas had given his center and right wing the order to gradually retreat in order to avoid heavy fighting. If Sparta’s allies in the left had, at that point, tried to chase after them and to suddenly mass their forces against the Theban center they would have a) lost the cohesion and order of their phalanx and b) left their left wing unprotected and provided the Theban right wing with a change to overlap their left.

    By Ville on Mar 3, 2010 at 8:23 am

  4. Par Exellence! I’ve always thought PowerPoint a very suitable application to showcase the tactical linear progression of battle in the ancient era. I hope to develop a few of my own for Cannae and a few others I’ve been endeavoring with.

    Keep up the good work!

    Robby

    By Robby House on Nov 2, 2011 at 5:47 am

  5. Why didn’t the Spartans shift soldiers from their left and center to aid the right flank? Was it because they were intoxicated or because it just wasn’t proper?

    By "Nerftenant" on Jul 15, 2012 at 1:07 pm

  6. This is the first I’ve heard about Spartan hoplites being pissed at this battle. No arguments, just never heard of this previously. I have always wondered about the Theban victory from attack in echelon, and this site answers my questions pretty well. Good demo.

    By PsychoBob on Jul 28, 2013 at 10:02 pm

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  2. Sep 15, 2012: Battleof leuctra | Janeltaylor

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