Photograph of the Lion of Chaeronea . It was erected by the Thebans in memory of their dead after the battle of Chaeronea. Excavation of the tomb brought to light 254 skeletons, laid out in seven rows.
The Sacred Band of Thebes was an elite fighting unit within the ancient Theban army of the 4th century BC. The earliest surviving record of the Sacred Band by name was made in 324 BC. The unit was comprised of 150 male lovers. It was believed these men would make better warriors. Plutarch (46–120 AD) is the source of the most substantial surviving account of the Sacred Band. In his Life of Pelopidas Plutarch wrote, "Since the lovers, ashamed to be base in sight of their beloved, and the beloved before their lovers, willingly rush into danger for the relief of one another." The band was reportedly organized by the Theban commander Gorgidas in 378 BC. Male couples were originally dispersed throughout the ranks of the army. It was later decided to create a separate squad. The squad played a crucial role in the Battle of Leuctra. It was completely destroyed by Philip II of Macedon in the Battle of Chaeronea in 338 BC.