Battle of Ceressus

Among 'Boeotian cities, Orchomenus had a long-standing, close and friendly relationship with Thessaly. The approach route to Boeotia from Thessaly led through friendly Orchomenian territory. An eager Thessaly, already concerned by Theban efforts to form a military league, readily seized upon a request for aid from Orchomenus as a pretext for invading Boeotia. Under their commander Lattamyas, some time around 570 B.C., the Thessalians marched into eastern Boeotia.

The invasion was opposed by the Boeotians, the members of the Theban-led military league. The membership consisted of the states that the Thebans thought of as �dwelling nearest� and �always fighting eagerly on their side�, namely those of Tanagra to the east, Coronea to the west, and Thespiae to the south, with Thebes itself being to the north.

The Thessalians got as far as Ceressus, a locality in Thespian territory. It lay near the main route south of Lake Copa�s between east and west Boeotia. The Thessalians, striking from Phocis by way of Orchomenian territory, were proceeding towards Thebes, skirting Lake Copa�s and by-passing Haliartus to the south. The Boeotians concentrated their forces at a defensible spot close to the route, while the Thespians provided supplies and materials. The Thessalians turned to deal with the enemy forces and were soundly beaten, losing Lattamyas in the process. They withdrew from Boeotia, and the victory by the Boeotians marked a beginning of freedom for the Greeks, a beginning only, since the liberation of various territories took some time to bring to pass.

As long as the Thessalians held Phocis, and Orchomenus were their friend, there was danger for the Boeotians. Athens on the other side of Boeotia was a Thessalian ally. Boeotia was still surrounded.. Some of the Boeotian states, such as Plataea, Lebadea, Anthedon, Copae and Oropus, were uncommitted. It would be to the advantage of the league to recruit as many Boeotian states as possible. Thebes and Thespiae were good friends and allies, and had been so for a long time.

Plutarch in his writing about the Roman 'Camila' makes reference to the Battle of Ceressus [1], in the following reference to it:

"To begin with then, it was on the fifth day of the month of Hippodromius (which the Athenians call Hecatombaeon) that the Boeotians won two illustrious victories which set the Greeks free: that at Leuctra, and that at Ceressus more than two hundred years earlier, when they conquered Lattamyas and the Thessalians."

Location

The location of Ceressus is unknow, it seems it was a settlement and was still around when Epaminondas captured it two hundred years later. It maybe that it was within a ten kilometer radius, north of the Thespians.

Go onto... The battle of the fetters

Refernces:

  • *1 'Moralia' 866F, Camillus 19.4 by Plutarch
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