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The tactics of Epaminondas: 371 BC

Epaminondas, a general fighting for Thebes, uses to brilliant tactical advantage the tendency of the left-wing of a phalanx to trail feebly behind. Facing a much larger Spartan army at Leuctra, in 371 BC, he makes his own phalanx massively strong on the left wing - fifty men deep instead of the twelve rows of the Spartan phalanx. He then advances in a staggered formation, left wing first, instead of the usual straight line. The right wing of the Spartan phalanx, its strongest part, is overwhelmed. The dispirited left wing, harried by Theban cavalry, turns and flees.

It is a famous victory against the odds (6000 Theban to 10,000 Spartan hoplites). It is also a major setback to Sparta's military reputation.

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