CHAERONEIA, or Chaeronea, an ancient town of Boeotia, said by some to be the Homeric Arne, situated about 7 m. W. of Orchomenus. Until the 4th century B.C. it was a dependency of Orchomenus, and at all times it played but a subordinate part in Boeotian politics. Its importance lay in its strategic position near the head of the defile which presents the last serious obstacle to an invader in central Greece. Two great battles were fought on this site in antiquity. In 338 B.C. Philip II. and Alexander of Macedon were confronted by a confederate host from central Greece and Peloponnese under the leadership of Thebes and Athens, which here made the last stand on behalf of Greek liberty. A hard-fought conflict, in which the Greek infantry displayed admirable firmness, was decided in favour of Philip through the superior organization of his army. In 86 B.C. the Roman general L. Cornelius Sulla defeated the army of Mithradates VI., king of Pontus, near Chaeroneia. The latter’s enormous numerical superiority was neutralized by Sulla’s judicious choice of ground and the steadiness of his legionaries; the Asiatics after the failure of their attack were worn down and almost annihilated. Chaeroneia is also notable as the birthplace of Plutarch, who returned to his native town in old age, and was held in honour by its citizens for many successive generations. Pausanias (ix. 40) mentions the divine honours accorded at Chaeroneia to the sceptre of Agamemnon, the work of Hephaestus (cf. Iliad, ii. 101). The site of the town is partly occupied by the village of Kapraena; the ancient citadel was known as the Petrachus, and there is a theatre cut in the rock. A colossal seated lion a little to the S.E. of the site marks the grave of the Boeotians who fell fighting against Philip; this lion was found broken to pieces; the tradition that it was blown up by Odysseus Androutsos is incorrect (see Murray, Handbook for Greece, ed. 5, 1884, p. 409). It has now been restored and re-erected (1905).
Authorities.—Thucydides iv. 76; Diodorus xvi. 85-86; Plutarch, Alexander, ch. 9; Sulla, chs. 16-19; Appian, Mithradatica, chs. 42-45; W. M. Leake, Travels in Northern Greece (London, 1835), ii. 112-117, 192-201; B. V. Head, Historia Numorum (Oxford, 1887), p. 292; J. Kromayer, Antike Schlachtfelder in Griechenland (Berlin, 1903), pp. 127-195; G. Sotiriades in Athen. Mitteil. 1903, pp. 301 ff.; 1905, p. 120; 1906, p. 39 Έφημ. Άρχαιολ., 1908, p. 65.