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A metropolitan titular see of Achaia Secunda. The city was founded by the Phoenician Cadmus in the sixteenth century B.C., afterwards made illustrious by the legends of Laius, Œdipus, and of Antigone, the rivalry of Eteocles and Polynices, and the unfortunate siege by the seven chiefs of Argos. After the taking of Troy, Thebes became the capital of Boeotia, but did not succeed in imposing its hegemony, for Athens supported certain towns in their opposition. Thebes allied itself to the Persians against the Greeks, but was conquered with them and submitted to Sparta, until its two generals Pelopidas and Epaminondas restored it to the first rank. The death of the latter before Mantinea in 363 B.C., opened a new series of misfortunes for the city. Conquered by Philip of Macedon, in 338 B.C., it revolted two years after and drew on itself the vengeance of Alexander who killed or sold all the inhabitants and destroyed all the houses save that of the poet Pindar. Rebuilt in 316 B.C., by Cassander, it was taken and retaken again. In the second century B.C., the acropolis alone was inhabited. In the Middle Ages the city was repeopled through the silk industry. In 1040 the Bulgarians took possession of it; six years after the Normans sacked it. In 1205 it was taken by Boniface III of Montferrat and assigned with Athens to Othon de la Roche; by marriage it passed later to the lords of Saint-Omer; one of them, Nicholas II, constructed the Frankish chateau of the Cadmi which was destroyed in 1311 by the Catalans. In 1364 the Turks took it in behalf of Frederick III of Sicily and later on their own account, but its neighbour, Livadia, soon supplanted it.

The first known bishop, Cleonicus, was at Nicaea in 325 (Gelzer, "Patrum nicaenorum nomina", LXIV). Le Quien (Oriens Christ., II, 207-11) quotes ten other titulars, among them: Julius at Sardica in 344; Anysius at Ephesus in 431; Architimus in 458; Marcianus in 867. At first a suffragan, Thebes was an autocephalous archbishopric at the beginning of the tenth century and until 970 (Gelzer, "Ungedruckte . . . Texte der Notitiae episcopatuum", 551, 571); about 1080 it was a metropolitan see (Le Quien, op. cit., II, 210); and about 1170 it numbered five suffragan sees (Gelzer, op. cit., 585). In 1833 Thebes was reduced to the rank of bishopric with the title of Boeotia; since 1882 the diocese has had the title of Thebes and Livadia. The bishop resides at Livadia and exercises his jurisdiction over the entire district of Boeotia. The city numbers 5000 inhabitants including the suburbs. Since 1210 it has had a Latin metropolis which became by degrees a titular. Eubel (Hierarchia catholica medii aevi, I, 508; II, 274, III, 331) mentions a number of bishops. During the Frankish occupation, the Franciscans had a custody named Thebae.


SANKEY, The Spartan and Theban Supremacies (London, 1877); MULLER, Gesch. Thebens (Leipzig, 1879); FABRICIUS, Theben (Fribourg, 1890); DURUY, Histoire des Grecs (3 vols., Paris, 1886).

About this page

APA citation. Vailhé, S. (1912). Thebes. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company.

MLA citation. Vailhé, Siméon. "Thebes." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 14. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1912. <>.

Transcription. This article was transcribed for New Advent by Thomas M. Barrett. Dedicated to the Poor Souls in Purgatory.

Ecclesiastical approbation. Nihil Obstat. July 1, 1912. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York.

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