The inhabitants of Sparta, who had counted confidently upon victory, were dismayed when they saw only a few of their soldiers return from the battle, and heard that the Thebans were pursuing them closely. Before they could collect new troops, the enemy marched boldly down into Laconia; and the women of Sparta now beheld the smoke of the enemy’s camp for the first time in many years. As there were neither walls nor fortifications of any kind, you can easily imagine that the inhabitants were in despair, and thought that their last hour had come.
If Epaminondas had been of a revengeful temper, he could easily have destroyed the city; but he was gentle and humane, and, remaining at a short distance from the place, he said that he would go away without doing the Spartans any harm, provided they would promise not to attack Thebes again, and to set the Messenians free.
These conditions were eagerly agreed to by the Spartans, who found themselves forced to take a secondary place once more. Athens had ruled Greece, and had been forced to yield to Sparta; but now Sparta was compelled in her turn to recognize the supremacy of Thebes.