This is Avery and Vanessa’s City.
Thebes was a city that was first documented in the Mycenaean Bronze Age. While it was smaller than Athens, Corinth and Sparta, it still held great importance. The city is situated on a plain between lake Yliki (ancient Hylica) to the North, and the Cithaenon mountains, which divide Boeotia from Attica, to the South. It also had abundant springs of water, most famous in antiquity being called Pirce, and the fertile plain in the vicinity was well irrigated. The city was located a little north of Athens, and most importantly was situated on a low plateau which helped provide security for the city. The fertile plains and abundant water supply made this environment different from the rest of the mountainous and barren Greek mainland.
In 1700 BCE, the settlement of Thebes became more populated and showed signs of advancement, and in 14th century BCE- during the Mycenaean period- it reached its bronze age peak. Evidence of two story buildings that had wall paintings, greater defenses, workshops, and a stone aqueducts were all from this time. An earthquake and fire damage marked the end of this period. Thebes really came out of the ashes following the Dark Ages in Greece. In fact, it re-emerged as a influential Greek city-state that presented itself as a rival for Athens and Sparta. During the Persian war, Thebes eventually sided with Persia, which enraged many of the city states. Then, during the Peloponnesian war, Thebes changed roles and became an important protagonist, siding with Sparta against Athens. While Greece was in shambles after the Peloponnesian war, Thebes used its superior military to overtake Sparta and declare itself as the new dominant power. This newfound power was short lived, as Thebes failed to advance itself, and shortly later was destroyed by Philip of Macedon.
Unlike Athens, Thebes did not have a seaport to rely on for trade and goods. Instead, they worked more as a farming city, taking advantage of the fertile plains surrounding the city to produce staple goods. Evidence of food and wool production, and storage, dates back to 2500 BCE. However, signs of local and long distance trade is evident due to the presence of precious goods such as: gold, silver, and ivory. Clay Linear B tablets suggested that Thebes was also an important trading center for olive oil, wood, leather goods, and wool. Trade was most likely done by land, or by trading with a city such as Athens that had a successful sea port. Cretan stirrup jars were found in Thebes, suggesting that trade contacts had spread across the Aegean.
Thebes: Mythology & its Role in Greek Drama
Thebes was the common setting for many Greek myths and Athenian tragedies. It was where Oedipus the King was set, and also was where Hercules was from. Greek drama used Thebes as the setting for plays about important issues that effected their communities. Using a different city instead of their own, this allowed people to project their problems to a place far away, so that they could openly discuss them. This allowed more Athenian tragedies to take place, and also had a positive learning effect.