Memorial to the Sacred Band of in 404 BC, bands of guerilla troops fought with the Spartan troops, becoming fierce warriors. Pelopidas recaptured a Theban fortress in 379 BC and he assumed the command of the Sacred Band in which he fought alongside his former lover General Epaminondas.

The Sacred Band under Pelopidas fought the Spartans in Tegyra, vanquishing an army that was at least three times their number.

The Sacred Band was also responsible for the victory of Leuctra in 371 BC, called by Pausanias the most decisive battle ever fought by Greeks against Greeks. Leuctra established Theban independence from Spartan rule, and laid the groundwork for the expansion of Theban power.

The Sacred Band was eventually destroyed by Philip II of Macedon, who had been held as a hostage in Thebes, and had learned his military tactics there. The remainder of the Theban army fled when faced with the overwhelming forces of Philip and his son Alexander, but the Sacred Band, surrounded, held their ground and died where they stood. Only forty-six were taken alive.

Plutarch records the words of Philip, touring the field after the battle in his Life of Pelopidas: "lying all where they had faced the long spears of his phalanx, with their armour, and mingled one with another, he was amazed, and on learning that this was the band of lovers and beloved, shed tears and said, 'Perish miserably they who think that these men did or suffered aught disgraceful!'" Philip buried their bodies with honor, setting up the Lion of Chaeronea over them. The grave was excavated in 1881, confirming Plutarch's account.

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