In greco Leûktra, località della Beozia, in prossimità di Tespie, dove nel luglio del 371 aC gli Spartani di Cleombroto II furono battuti dai Tebani di Epaminonda. Quest'ultimo, utilizzando il “battaglione sacro” e attuando una lotta nuova, il cosiddetto schieramento obliquo caratterizzato dal rafforzamento dell'ala sinistra, attaccò e travolse l'ala destra spartana.
La battaglia di Leuttra, in cui lo stesso Cleombroto trovò la morte, segnò la fine dell'invincibilità della fanteria oplitica spartana e della stessa egemonia di Sparta. Notizie sull'odierna Leuttra sono disponibili in inglese.
Battaglia di Leuttra
A Lèuttra, un villaggio della Beozia, il re spartano Cleombroto II attaccò l'esercito dei Tebani, che stavano imponendo la loro egemonia alle poleis beote (371 aC). Il comandante tebano Epaminonda decise di utilizzare solo truppe tebane e volontari: congedò invece i soldati alleati, che non apparivano determinati a combattere valorosamente. Decisivo risultò il battaglione sacro tebano.
Nella battaglia Epaminonda sperimentò la bontà della sua falange obliqua, attaccando da sinistra verso destra. Infatti era consuetudine che la destra attaccasse la sinistra tentando, in tal modo, di aggirare il nemico. I Tebani invece rafforzarono l'ala sinistra fino a una profondità di 50 uomini e attaccarono l'ala destra con l'intento di sfondare il fronte nemico. Di solito l'attacco dell'ala destra spartana risultava decisivo, ma a Leuttra esso s'infranse contro lo schieramento dei Beoti. La cavalleria tebana aggirò le truppe nemiche: gli Spartani, con sorpresa di tutta la Grecia, vennero pesantemente sconfitti, subirono gravi perdite e lo stesso re Cleombroto morì in battaglia. La battaglia fu vinta dai Tebani, che così posero termine all'egemonia spartana.
The Battle of Leuctra (or Leuktra) was a battle fought between the Thebans and the Spartans and their respective allies amidst the post-Corinthian War conflict. The battle took place in the neighbourhood of Leuctra, a village in Boeotia in the territory of Thespiae. Theban victory weakened Sparta’s immense influence over the Greek peninsula which Sparta had gained since its victory in the Peloponnesian War. Theban supremacy in Greece was short-lived as it was subsequently lost to Macedonian invaders led by Philip II.
At the beginning of the 4th Century BC, the cities of Thebes and Sparta were engaged in a political feud and sporadic warfare as the Spartans sought to maintain their position as the predominant Greek city-state while the Thebans struggled to expand their own influence. One of the principal issues between the two powers involved the region of Boeotia, which was under the political influence of Thebes. The dispute came to a head when a coalition of Boeotian city-states appealed to Sparta to free them from Theban political control. The Spartans demanded that the Thebans disband their army of occupation. The Thebans refused, and so the Spartan King Cleombrotus II marched to war from Phocis. Rather than take the expected, easy route into Boeotia through the usual defile, the Spartans marched over the hills via Thisbae and took the fortress of Creusis (along with twelve Theban warships) before the Thebans were aware of their presence. It was here that a Peloponnesian army, about 10,000–11,000 strong, which had invaded Boeotia from Phocis, was confronted by a Boeotian levy of perhaps 6,000–7,000 soldiers under Epaminondas. In spite of inferior numbers and the doubtful loyalty of his Boeotian allies, Epaminondas offered battle on the plain before the town.
The battle opened with the Spartans' mercenary peltasts (slingers, javeliniers, and/or skirmishers) attacking and driving back the Boeotian camp followers and others who were reluctant to fight. There followed a cavalry engagement, in which the Thebans drove their enemies off the field. Initially, the Spartan infantry were sent into disarray when their retreating cavalry hopelessly disrupted Cleombrotus's attempt to outflank the Theban phalanx, and were themselves caught on their flank by Pelopidas and the Sacred Band of Thebes. The decisive issue was then fought out between the Theban and Spartan foot.
The normal practice of the Spartans (and, indeed, the Greeks generally) was to establish their heavily armed infantry in a solid mass, or phalanx, some eight to twelve men deep. This was considered to allow for the best balance between depth (the pushing power it provided) and width (i.e., area of coverage of the phalanx's front battle line). The infantry would advance together so that the attack flowed unbroken against their enemy. In order to combat the phalanx's infamous right-hand drift, Greek commanders traditionally placed their most experienced, highly regarded and, generally, deadliest troops on the right wing as this was the place of honour. By contrast, the shakiest and/or least influential troops were often placed on the left wing. In Sparta the place of honour was held on the right wing of the phalanx. Here the hippeis, an elite force numbering 300 men, and the king of Sparta would stand.
Top: Traditional hoplite order of battle and advance. Bottom: Epaminondas's strategy at Leuctra. The strong left wing advanced while the weak right wing retreated. The red blocks show the placement of the elite troops within each phalanx.
In a major break with tradition, Epaminondas massed his cavalry and a fifty-deep column of Theban infantry on his left wing, and sent forward this body against the Spartan right. His shallower and weaker center and right wing columns were drawn up so that they were progressively further to the right and rear of the proceeding column, in the so-called Echelon formation. The footsoldiers engaged, and the Spartans' twelve-deep formation on their right wing could not sustain the heavy impact of their opponents' 50-deep column. A brief pushing match ensued, wherein the Spartans attempted to hold back the gigantic mass of the Thebans and the Sacred Band until they were literally run over by the enormous column. The Spartan right was hurled back with a loss of about 1,000 men, of whom 400 were Spartan citizens, including the king Cleombrotus. By the time the Theban center and right columns advanced to the point of engaging the enemy, the Spartan right had been devastated. Seeing their right wing beaten, the rest of the Peloponnesians, who were essentially unwilling participants, retired and left the enemy in possession of the field. The arrival of a Thessalian army under Jason of Pherae persuaded a relieving Spartan force under Archidamus not to heap folly on folly and to withdraw instead, while the Thebans were persuaded not to continue the attack on the surviving Spartans.
The battle is of great significance in Greek history, and, by extension, European history. Epaminondas not only broke away from the traditional tactical methods of his time, but marked a revolution in military tactics, affording the first known instance of an oblique infantry deployment and one of the first deliberate concentrations of attack upon the vital point of the enemy's line. The new tactics of the phalanx, introduced by Epaminondas, employed for the first time in the history of war the modern principle of local superiority of force.
The use of these tactics by Epaminondas was, perhaps, a direct result of the use of some similar maneuvers by Pagondas, his countryman, during the Battle of Delium. Further, Philip II of Macedon, who studied and lived in Thebes, was no doubt heavily influenced by the battle to develop his own, highly effective approach to tactics and armament. In turn, his son Alexander would go on to develop his father's theories to an entirely new level.
Historians Victor Davis Hanson and Donald Kagan, among others, have argued that Epaminondas' so-called "oblique formation" was not an intentional and preconceived innovation in infantry tactics, but was rather a clever response to circumstances. Because Epaminondas had stacked his left wing to a depth of fifty shields, the rest of his units were naturally left with far fewer troops than normal. This means that their maintenance of a depth of eight to twelve shields had to come at the expense of either number of companies or their width. Because Epaminondas was already outnumbered, he had no choice but to form fewer companies and march them diagonally toward the much longer Spartan line in order to engage as much of it as possible. Hanson and Kagan's argument is therefore that the tactic was more dilatory than anything else. Whatever its motivation, the fact remains that the tactic did represent an innovation and was undoubtedly highly effective.
The battle's political effects were far-reaching: the losses in material strength and prestige (prestige being an inestimably important factor in the Peloponnesian War) sustained by the Spartans at Leuctra and subsequently at the Battle of Mantinea were key in depriving them forever of their supremacy in Greece. Therefore, the battle permanently altered the Greek balance of power, as Sparta was deprived of her former prominence and was reduced to a second-rate power among the Greek city states.
Leuctra was a village in ancient Greece, in Boeotia, seven miles southwest of Thebes. It is primarily known today as the site of the important 371 BC Battle of Leuctra in which the Thebans, under Epaminondas, defeated the Spartans. The Spartan hegemony was fallen after that battle, and the Thebans became a new power within the Hellenic world, until the rise of Macedon. A modern Greek village (whose name is often transcribed "Lefktra" in accordance with modern Greek pronunciation) is now part of the municipality of Plataies.
Lefktra is a traditional Greek village of Central Greece (Roumeli), located in the foothill of Kithairon (300 meters attribute). The population of Lefktra is 1,300 people nowadays. Thebes (the capital town of county Thivon) is sixteen kilometers away and Athens 70 km away, from the old national road. There are bus lines from Thebes to Lefktra and vice versa daily, and from Athens to Lefktra at the weekends. Residents' main occupations are agriculture and stockbreeding. There is a traditional Greek hospitality. Livadostra and Koromili beaches are ten minutes away by car.
Municipality of Lefktra, Kapareli, Plataies and Melisoxori
Kapareli and Lefktra were separate municipalities, and Plataies and Melisoxori as well were separate communities, until 1997, when the ministry of internal affairs decided to make a town unification. The town seat is based in Kapareli for population reasons and the new Municipality took the name of Plataies for historical reasons. These communities approximately six miles (9 Km)are away from each other.