The Epitaph of Leuktra (CEG II 632) and Its Ancient Meaning(s)


  • Salvatore Tufano



Epameinondas, Thebes, Funerary Inscription, Political Opposition, Battle of Leuktra, Cassander, Xenokrates


The paper reassesses the political interpretation of CEG II 632, the so-called ‘Epitaph of Leuktra’, as an inscription testifying to the existence of a political opposition to Epameinondas. A short introduction sets the ground for the existence of political parties both in the koinon dismantled by the Peace of Antalkidas (386 BC) and, in new forms, in the new federal institutions developed after 379/8 BC. In order to argue for the aforementioned reading of CEG II 632, a first section then comments on the literary witnesses to one of the names mentioned on the inscription, Xenokrates: rather than being a convinced ally to Epameinondas, it can be claimed there are hints of a political disagreement between the two men. A second section offers an explanation for the later rewriting of the text in the aftermath of the refoundation of Thebes in 316/5 BC. The inscription was possibly used as a proof to corroborate the renovated career of the families of the people mentioned in the first three lines. In sum, the discussion attempts at shedding light on political opposition in fourth-century Thebes, throughout the political history of the city.