Boeotia, sometimes alternatively Latinised as Boiotia, or Beotia
(/biˈoʊʃiə, -ʃə/; Greek: Βοιωτία, Modern
Greek: [vi.oˈti.a], Ancient Greek: [bojɔːtía]; modern
transliteration Voiotía, also Viotía, formerly Cadmeis), is one of
the regional units of Greece. It is part of the region of Central
Greece. Its capital is Livadeia, and its largest city is Thebes.
Boeotia was also a region of ancient Greece, since before the 6th
3 Legends and literature
4.1 Fifth century BC
4.2 Boeotian League
4.3 Fourth century BC
4.4 Hellenistic period
4.5 Middle Ages and later
5 Archaeological sites
6 Pejorative term
9 Natives of Boeotia
10 See also
13 External links
Map of ancient Boeotia.
Boeotia lies to the north of the eastern part of the Gulf of Corinth.
It also has a short coastline on the Gulf of Euboea. It bordered on
Megaris (now West Attica) in the south,
Attica in the southeast,
Euboea in the northeast,
Opuntian Locris (now part of Phthiotis) in
the north and
Phocis in the west.
The main mountain ranges of
Mount Parnassus in the west,
Mount Helicon in the southwest,
Cithaeron in the south and
the east. Its longest river, the Cephissus, flows in the central part,
where most of the low-lying areas of
Boeotia are found.
Lake Copais was a large lake in the center of Boeotia. It was drained
in the 19th century.
Lake Yliki is a large lake near Thebes.
The earliest inhabitants of Boeotia, associated with the city of
Orchomenus, were called Minyans. Pausanias mentions that Minyans
established the maritime Ionian city of Teos, and occupied the
Lemnos and Thera. The
Argonauts were sometimes referred to
as Minyans. Also, according to legend the citizens of Thebes paid an
annual tribute to their king Erginus. The
Minyans may have been
proto-Greek speakers, but although most scholars today agree that the
Mycenean Greeks descended from the
Minyans of the Middle Helladic
period, they believe that the progenitors and founders of Minyan
culture were an autochthonous group. The early wealth and power of
Boeotia is shown by the reputation and visible Mycenean remains of
several of its cities, especially Orchomenus and Thebes.
The origin of the name "Boeotians" may lie in the mountain
Some toponyms and the common
Aeolic dialect indicate that the
Boeotians were related to the Thessalians. Traditionally, the
Boeotians are said to have originally occupied Thessaly, the largest
fertile plain in Greece, and to have been dispossessed by the
north-western Thessalians two generations after the
Fall of Troy
Fall of Troy (1200
BC). They moved south and settled in another rich plain, while others
filtered across the Aegean and settled on
Lesbos and in
Aeolis in Asia
Minor. Others are said to have stayed in Thessaly, withdrawing into
the hill country and becoming the perioikoi, ("dwellers around").
Though far from Anthela, which lay on the coast of
Malis south of
Thessaly in the locality of Thermopylae,
Boeotia was an early member
of the oldest religious
Amphictyonic League (Anthelian) because her
people had originally lived in Thessaly.
Legends and literature
Map showing ancient regions of central
Greece in relation to
Many ancient Greek legends originated or are set in this region. The
older myths took their final form during the Mycenean age (1600–1200
BC) when the
Mycenean Greeks established themselves in
Boeotia and the
city of Thebes became an important centre. Many of them are related to
the myths of Argos, and others indicate connections with Phoenicia,
Mycenean Greeks and later the Euboean Greeks established
Important legends related to
Muses of Mount Helicon
Ogyges and the Ogygian deluge
Cadmus, who was said to have founded Thebes and brought the alphabet
Dionysus and Semele
The Theban Cycle, including the myths of
Oedipus and the Sphinx, and
the Seven against Thebes
Antiope and her sons Amphion and Zethus
Orion was born in
Boeotia and said to have fathered 50 sons with a
local river god's daughters.
Many of these legends were used in plays by the tragic Greek poets,
Sophocles and Euripides:
Aeschylus's Seven Against Thebes
Oedipus at Colonus, and Antigone, known as
the Theban plays
Euripides's Bacchae, Phoenician Women, Suppliants, and Heracles
They were also used in lost plays such as Aeschylus's
Boeotia was also notable for the ancient oracular shrine of Trophonius
at Lebadea. Graea, an ancient city in Boeotia, is sometimes thought to
be the origin of the Latin word Graecus, from which English derives
Greece and Greeks.
The major poets
Pindar were Boeotians.
18th century map of ancient Boeotia.
Ruins of the Cadmeia, the central fortress of ancient Thebes.
Boeotia had significant political importance, owing to its position on
the north shore of the Gulf of Corinth, the strategic strength of its
frontiers, and the ease of communication within its extensive area. On
the other hand, the lack of good harbours hindered its maritime
The importance of the legendary
Minyae has been confirmed by
archaeological remains (notably the "Treasury of Minyas"). The
Boeotian population entered the land from the north possibly before
the Dorian invasion. With the exception of the Minyae, the original
peoples were soon absorbed by these immigrants, and the Boeotians
henceforth appear as a homogeneous nation.
Aeolic Greek was spoken in
In historical times, the leading city of
Boeotia was Thebes, whose
central position and military strength made it a suitable capital;
other major towns were Orchomenus, Plataea, and Thespiae. It was the
constant ambition of the Thebans to absorb the other townships into a
single state, just as
Athens had annexed the Attic communities. But
the outlying cities successfully resisted this policy, and only
allowed the formation of a loose federation which, initially, was
While the Boeotians, unlike the Arcadians, generally acted as a united
whole against foreign enemies, the constant struggle between the
cities was a serious check on the nation's development.
figures in history before the late 6th century BC. Previous to this,
its people are chiefly known as the makers of a type of geometric
pottery, similar to the
Dipylon ware of Athens. In about 519 BC, the
Plataea to the federating policy of Thebes led to the
Athens on behalf of the former; on this occasion, and
again in 507 BC, the Athenians defeated the Boeotian levy.
Fifth century BC
During the Persian invasion of 480 BC, Thebes assisted the invaders.
In consequence, for a time, the presidency of the Boeotian League was
taken from Thebes, but in 457 BC the Spartans reinstated that city as
a bulwark against Athenian aggression after the Battle of Tanagra.
Athens retaliated with a sudden advance upon Boeotia, and after the
victory at the
Battle of Oenophyta took control of the whole country,
taking down the wall the Spartans had built. With the victory the
Athenians also occupied Phocis, the original source of the conflict,
and Opuntian Locris. For ten years the land remained under Athenian
control, which was exercised through the newly installed democracies;
but in 447 BC the people revolted, and after a victory at the Battle
Coronea regained their independence.
Boeotian cup from Thebes painted with birds, 560–540 BC (Louvre).
Peloponnesian War the Boeotians fought zealously against
Athens. Though slightly estranged from
Sparta after the peace of
Nicias, they never abated their enmity against their neighbours. They
rendered good service at Syracuse and at the
Battle of Arginusae
Battle of Arginusae in
the closing years of the Pelopennesian War; but their greatest
achievement was the decisive victory at the
Battle of Delium
Battle of Delium over the
Athenian army (424 BC) in which both their heavy infantry and their
cavalry displayed unusual efficiency.
About this time the Boeotian League comprised eleven groups of
sovereign cities and associated townships, each of which elected one
Boeotarch or minister of war and foreign affairs, contributed sixty
delegates to the federal council at Thebes, and supplied a contingent
of about 1000 infantry and 100 cavalry to the federal army. A
safeguard against undue encroachment on the part of the central
government was provided in the councils of the individual cities, to
which all important questions of policy had to be submitted for
ratification. These local councils, to which the propertied classes
alone were eligible, were subdivided into four sections, resembling
the prytaneis of the Athenian council, which took it in turns to vote
on all new measures.
Boeotarchs were provided by Thebes, but by 395 BC Thebes was
providing four Boeotarchs, including two who had represented places
now conquered by Thebes such as Plataea, Scolus, Erythrae, and
Scaphae. Orchomenus, Hysiae, and
Tanagra each supplied one Boeotarch.
Thespiae, Thisbe, and Eutresis supplied two between them. Haliartus,
Coronea supplied one in turn, and so did Acraephnium,
Copia, and Chaeronea.
Fourth century BC
Boeotia took a prominent part in the
Corinthian War against Sparta,
especially in the battles of
Coronea (395-394 BC). This
change of policy was mainly due to the national resentment against
foreign interference. Yet disaffection against Thebes was now growing
Sparta fostered this feeling by insisting on the complete
independence of all the cities in the peace of Antalcidas (387 BC). In
Pelopidas restored Theban dominion and their control was never
significantly challenged again. Boeotian contingents fought in all the
Epaminondas against the Spartans, most notably at the
Battle of Leuctra
Battle of Leuctra in 371, and in the
Third Sacred War
Third Sacred War against Phocis
(356-346); while in the dealings with Philip of
Macedon the cities
merely followed Thebes.
The federal constitution was also brought into accord with the
democratic governments now prevalent throughout the land. Sovereign
power was vested in the popular assembly, which elected the Boeotarchs
(between seven and twelve in number), and sanctioned all laws. After
the Battle of Chaeroneia, in which the Boeotian heavy infantry once
again distinguished itself, the land never again rose to
The destruction of Thebes by
Alexander the Great
Alexander the Great (335) destroyed the
political energy of the Boeotians. They never again pursued an
independent policy, but followed the lead of protecting powers. Though
military training and organization continued, the people proved unable
to defend the frontiers, and the land became more than ever the
"dancing-ground of Ares". Though enrolled for a short time in the
Aetolian League (about 245 BC)
Boeotia was generally loyal to Macedon,
and supported its later kings against Rome. Rome dissolved the league,
but it was revived under Augustus, and merged with the other central
Greek federations in the Achaean synod. The death-blow to the
country's prosperity was dealt by the devastations during the First
Middle Ages and later
Save for a short period of prosperity under the Frankish rulers of
Athens (1205–1310), who repaired the katavothra and fostered
Boeotia long continued in a state of decay, aggravated by
occasional barbarian incursions. The first step towards the country's
recovery was not until 1895, when the outlets of Copais were again put
into working order.
Ancient theatre of Orchomenus.
In 1880–86, Heinrich Schliemann's excavations at Orchomenus (H.
Schliemann, Orchomenos, Leipzig 1881) revealed the tholos tomb he
called the "Tomb of Minyas", a Mycenaean monument that equalled the
"Tomb of Atreus" at
Mycenae itself. In 1893, A. de Ridder excavated
the temple of
Asklepios and some burials in the Roman necropolis. In
1903–05, a Bavarian archaeological mission under
Heinrich Bulle and
Adolf Furtwängler conducted successful excavations at the site.
Research continued in 1970–73 by the Archaeological Service under
Theodore Spyropoulos, uncovering the Mycenaean palace, a prehistoric
cemetery, the ancient amphitheatre, and other structures.
The Boeotian people, although they included great men like Pindar,
Pelopidas and Plutarch, were portrayed as
proverbially dull by the Athenians (cf. Boeotian ears incapable of
appreciating music or poetry and Hog-Boeotians, Cratinus.310).
The regional unit
Boeotia is subdivided into 6 municipalities. These
are (number as in the map in the infobox):
Thebes (Thiva, 4)
The lion of Chaeronea.
Boeotia was created as a prefecture in 1836 (Greek: Διοίκησις
Βοιωτίας), again in 1899 (Νομός Βοιωτίας) and
again in 1943; in all cases it was split from
Attica and Boeotia
Prefecture. As a part of the 2011 Kallikratis government reform, the
Boeotia was created out of the former prefecture
Boeotia. The prefecture had the same territory as the present regional
unit. At the same time, the municipalities were reorganised, according
to the table below.
Old municipalities & communities
The provinces were:
Livadeia Province - Livadeia
Thiva Province -
Boeotia is the home of the third largest pasta factory in Europe,
built by Misko, a member of Barilla Group..Also, some of the
biggest companies in
Greece and Europe have factories in this place.
Viohalco have factories in Oinofyta,Boeotia.
Greek National Road 1/E75, SE, E, NE
Greek National Road 3, S, E, Cen., W, NW
Greek National Road 27, W, SW
Greek National Road 44, E
Greek National Road 48, W
Natives of Boeotia
Luke the Evangelist
Luke the Evangelist (traditionally location of his death)
Scamander (mythological king)
List of settlements in Boeotia
^ Pausanias.Description of
^ Bibliotheke 2.4.11 records the origin of the Theban tribute as
recompense for the mortal wounding of Clymenus, king of the Minyans,
with a cast of a stone by a charioteer of
Menoeceus in the precinct of
Poseidon at Onchestus; the myth is also reported by Diodorus Siculus,
^ Cambitoglou & Descœudres 1990, p. 7 under "Excavations in
the Region of Pylos" by George S. Korrés.
^ Sylvain Auroux. History of the language sciences: an international
handbook on the evolution.
^ L. H .Jeffery (1976). Archaic Greece. The Greek city-states 700-500
BC. Ernest Benn Ltd. London & Tonbridge. pp. 71, 77
^ The Parian marble. Entry No 5: "When
Amphictyon son of
Thermopylae brought together those living round the temple and
named them Amphictyones; Entry No 6: Graeces-Hellenes 
^ L. H . Jeffery (1976). Archaic Greece. The Greek city states c.
700-500 B.C. Ernest Benn Ltd. London & Tonbridge pp. 72, 73
^ a b c d e f g One or more of the preceding
sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public
domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Boeotia". Encyclopædia
Britannica. 4 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
pp. 114–115. This cites as authorities:
Thucydides iv. 76-101
Xenophon, Hellenica, iii.-vii.
Strabo, pp. 400-412
Theopompus (or Cratippus) in the Oxyrhynchus Papyri, vol v. (London,
1908, No. 842, col 12
W. M. Leake, Travels in Northern Greece, chs. xi.-xix. (London, 1835)
H. F. Tozer, Geography of
Greece (London, 1873), pp. 233-238
W. Rhys Roberts, The Ancient Boeotians (Cambridge, 1895)
E. A. Freeman Federal Government (ed. 1893, London), ch. iv. § 2
B. V. Head, Historia Nomorum, pp. 291 sqq. (Oxford, 1887)
W. Larfeld, Sylloge Inscriptionum Boeoticarum (Berlin, 1883). (See
^ Fine, John VA (1983). The Ancient Greeks: A Critical History.
Harvard University Press. pp. 354–355.
^ Thucydides (v. 38), in speaking of the "four councils of the
Boeotians," is referring to the plenary bodies in the various states.
^ Nick Sekunda, The Ancient Greeks, p.27
^ The Merriam-Webster New Book of Word Histories, Merriam-Webster, 1
Jan 1991, p.360
^ a b "Kallikratis reform law text" (PDF).
^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 5 October 2010.
Retrieved 3 October 2010.
Victor Davis Hanson (1999). The Soul of Battle. New York: Simon &
Larson, Stephanie L. Tales of epic ancestry: Boiotian collective
identity in the late archaic and early classical periods (Historia
Einzelschriften, 197). Stuttgart: Franz Steiner, 2007. 238 p.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Boeotia.
Wikisource has the text of the 1905 New International Encyclopedia
Boeotia digital cultural encyclopedia". Foundation of the Hellenic
World. Archived from the original on 29 June 2012. Retrieved 9 July
Administrative division of the Central
15,549 km2 (6,004 sq mi)
547,390 (as of 2011)
25 (since 2011)
Regional unit of Boeotia
Regional unit of Euboea
Regional unit of Evrytania
Regional unit of Phocis
Regional unit of Phthiotis
Kostas Bakoyannis (since 2014)
Thessaly and Central Greece
Prefectures of Greece
Achaea and Elis
Argolis and Corinthia
Attica and Boeotia
Phocis and Locris
Phthiotis and Phocis
By year established
Achaea and Elis
Argolis and Corinthia
Attica and Boeotia
Phocis and Locris
Phthiotis and Phocis
a In Eastern Thrace or b Northern Epirus, outside present-day Greece.
c From 1971,
Attica consisted of four prefecture-level units: Athens,
East Attica, Piraeus and West Attica. From 1994,
Athens and Piraeus
were grouped into a single super-prefecture.
d From 1994, Drama / Kavala / Xanthi and Evros / Rhodope prefectures
were grouped into super-