Which Thebes?

Previously: Which Iberia?Which Alexandria?Which Albania?Which African Nation?Which Guinea?


This piece goes back to the original purpose of this series — distiguishing identical ancient place names attached to multiple locations. Thebes was an ancient Egyptian city, situated on the east bank of the river Nile, and the capital of many successive kingdoms of ancient Egypt during various periods of its ancient history. The archaeological remains of the city are recognized as Egyptian civilization at its height. The Greek poet Homer spoke of the wealth of Thebes in the Iliad, Book 9, written in the 8th Century BC): “in Egyptian Thebes the heaps of precious ingots gleam, the hundred-gated Thebes.”

Yet cities known as Thebes also existed on other areas of the Mediterranean. Thebes was also a Boeotian city-state in ancient Greece that played an important role in the fabric of Greek myth as the site of the stories of Oedipus, Dionysus and others. It was a major rival of Athens, sided with the Persians during the 480 BC invasion of Xerxes, and the Sacred Band of Thebes was an elite military unit that rivaled the warriors of Sparta. Today, the city remains as Thebes, a minor town in modern Greece.

The Greek city of Mycale was also called Thebes at Mycale. And then there was a place known as Thessalian Thebes, the location of which is not exactly understood, but may be at Phylace.

Finally, let’s not forget the United States — Thebes is also the name of a small town in Illinois. Thebes, like the city of Cairo, are both in Alexander County, which are all named after the respective Egyptian cities, and results in this part of southern Illinois being known as Little Egypt. Abraham Lincoln practiced law in the town, and Dred Scott was imprisoned in the courthouse jail.

About Curzon

Lord George Nathaniel Curzon (1859 - 1925) entered the British House of Commons as a Conservative MP in 1886, where he served as undersecretary of India and Foreign Affairs. He was appointed Viceroy of India at the turn of the 20th century where he delineated the North West Frontier Province, ordered a military expedition to Tibet, and unsuccessfully tried to partition the province of Bengal during his six-year tenure. Curzon served as Leader of the House of Lords in Prime Minister Lloyd George's War Cabinet and became Foreign Secretary in January 1919, where his most famous act was the drawing of the Curzon Line between a new Polish state and Russia. His publications include Russia in Central Asia (1889) and Persia and the Persian Question (1892). In real life, "Curzon" is a US citizen from the East Coast who has been a financial analyst, freelance translator, and university professor; he is currently on assignment in Tokyo.
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2 Responses to Which Thebes?

  1. Thomas says:

    Likewise, my Great- Grandfather helped to found and actually named the town of Paris, Indiana.

    He was inspired to do this because of his experiences during the First World War during which he was stationed in Paris, Louisiana.

    I”m glad I moved to big city Chattanooga when I had the chance.

  2. Kirk Sowell says:

    A quote from the Wikipedia page you linked to as an example of why one should never site Wikipedia as a source for anything other than perhaps a blog post:

    “…Dred Scott, a slave whose Supreme Court decision advanced black rights, was imprisoned in the courthouse jail.”