Let nobody say these men did or suffered anything shameful!
Philip II Argead, King of Macedon, father of Alexander the Great, builder of the army that Alexander used to become Lord of Asia and that then--in splintered pieces under his and his son's ex-generals and in turn their heirs the Antipatrids, Antigonids, Seleucids, Ptolemids, and others--dominated the Near East until the coming of the Romans in the second century BC, said this over the bodies of the Sacred Band of Thebes, who all lay dead in their places, killed by the attack of Philip's army at the Battle of Chaeronea.
The Sacred Band:
Sacred Band of Thebes - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia: The Sacred Band of Thebes (ancient Greek: Ἱερὸς Λόχος τῶν Θηβῶν; Hieròs Lókhos tôn Thebôn) was a troop of picked soldiers, consisting of 150 age-structured couples, which formed the elite force of the Theban army in the 4th century BCE. It was organised by the Theban commander Gorgidas in 378 BCE and played a crucial role in the Battle of Leuctra. It was completely annihilated, however, by Alexander the Great under Philip II of Macedon in the Battle of Chaeronea in 338 BCE.
Plutarch records that the Sacred Band was made up of male couples, the rationale being that lovers could fight more fiercely and cohesively than strangers with no ardent bonds. According to Plutarch's Life of Pelopidas, the inspiration for the Band's formation came from Plato's Symposium, wherein the character Phaedrus remarks,
And if there were only some way of contriving that a state or an army should be made up of lovers and their loves, they would be the very best governors of their own city, abstaining from all dishonour, and emulating one another in honour; and when fighting at each other's side, although a mere handful, they would overcome the world. For what lover would not choose rather to be seen by all mankind than by his beloved, either when abandoning his post or throwing away his arms? He would be ready to die a thousand deaths rather than endure this. Or who would desert his beloved or fail him in the hour of danger?
The Sacred Band originally was formed of picked men in couples, each lover and beloved selected from the ranks of the existing Theban citizen-army. The pairs consisted of the older "heniochoi", or charioteers, and the younger "paraibatai", or companions, who were all housed and trained at the city's expense. During their early engagements, in an attempt to bolster general morale, they were dispersed by Gorgidas throughout the front ranks of the Theban army.
After the Theban general Pelopidas recaptured the acropolis of Thebes in 379 BCE, he assumed command of the Sacred Band, in which he fought alongside his good friend Epaminondas. It was Pelopidas who formed these couples into a distinct unit: he "never separated or scattered them, but would stand [them with himself in] the brunt of battle, using them as one body." They became, in effect, the "special forces" of Greek soldiery, and the forty years of their known existence (378–338 BCE) marked the pre-eminence of Thebes as a military and political power in late-classical Greece.
The Sacred Band under Pelopidas fought the Spartans at Tegyra in 375 BCE, vanquishing an army that was at least three times its size. It was also responsible for the victory at Leuctra in 371 BCE, 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, but possibly also for Philip II's eventual victory.
Defeat came at the Battle of Chaeronea (338 BCE), the decisive contest in which Philip II of Macedon, with his son Alexander, extinguished the Theban hegemony. Alexander became the first to break through the Band's line, which had hitherto been thought invincible. The traditional hoplite infantry was no match for the novel long-speared Macedonian phalanx: the Theban army and its allies broke and fled, but the Sacred Band, although surrounded and overwhelmed, refused to surrender. It held its ground and fell where it stood. Plutarch records that Philip II, on encountering the corpses "heaped one upon another", understanding who they were, exclaimed,
Perish any man who suspects that these men either did or suffered anything unseemly.
In about 300 BCE, the town of Thebes erected a giant stone lion on a pedestal at the burial site of the Sacred Band. This was restored in the 20th Century and still stands today. Although Plutarch claims that all three hundred of the Band's warriors died that day, excavation of the burial site at the Lion Monument in 1890 turned up only 254 skeletons, arranged in seven rows.