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.
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.