b.c. Conspiracy of the knights of Orchomenus against Thebes–destruction of Orechomenus by the Thebans.
It was during this period–while Epaminondas was absent with the fleet, and while Pelopidas was engaged in that Thessalian campaign from whence he never returned–that the Thebans destroyed Orchomenus. That city, the second in the Bœotian federation, had always been disaffected towards Thebes; and the absence of the two great leaders, as well as of a large Theban force in Thessaly, seems to have been regarded by the Orchomenian Knights or Horsemen (the first and richest among the citizens, 300 in number) as a favourable moment for attack. Some Theban exiles took part in this scheme, with a view to overthrow the existing government; and a day, appointed for a military review near Thebes, was fixed for execution. A large number of conspirators joined, with apparent ardour. But before the day arrived, several of them repented and betrayed the plot to the Bœotarchs; upon which the Orchomenian horsemen were seized, brought before the Theban assembly, condemned to death, and executed. But besides this, the resolution was taken to destroy the town, to kill the male adults, and to sell the women and children into slavery. This barbarous decree was executed, though probably a certain fraction found means to escape, forming the kernel of that population which was afterwards restored. The full measure of ancient Theban hatred was thus satiated; a hatred, tracing its origin even to those mythical times whenThebes was said to have paid tribute to Orchomenus.