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Epeius of Thespiae 

Born: 468 BC

Died: 424 BC

City/ region: Thespiae, Boeotia

Affiliation: Greek

Occupation: Professional hunter, Mercenary

Epeius was born to an Ascraian nobleman and his young wife, who died in child birth. Her slave took the child and abandoned him outside the city gates of Thespiae, at which point a passing hunter, Iphitus, picked up the child and raised him as his own. Iphitus had a son named Idus, an infant of a similar age to Epeius, and they grew up together as if true blood brothers.

From a very young age Epeius was taught the art of hunting and soon became an expert hunter with bow and a spear, hunting mainly deer and boar.

Although not of an age to join the army, Epeius and Idus were constantly called upon to fight as light infantry. Armed with two javelins their task was to harass the enemy formations and then fall back and taunt their enemies. They were both skilled at this, always being able to out run the advancing enemy, but one fatal day, after they had thrown their weapons, the enemy rushed forwards. Epeius and Idus ran with all their speed, but Idus did not run fast enough.

In 451 BC Epeius was inducted into the Thespian army and became a citizen solider, whilst bringing in money with his hunting. He was quickly able to afford the basic equipment needed to be a solider.

He was constantly away from home, spending more than days at a time in the mountains, hunting. Knowing he would have to rely on his wits and the wilderness to be kind to him, he decorated his shield with the wild fox of Hecate, thinking that the goddess of the wilderness would protect him. Knowing he would need more money in order to get the other pieces of equipment, he decided to use his many skills and experiences from his youth to fight as a mercenary, which he seemed to take a liking to.

However he was forced to give up this other occupation in order to look after his father, who had taken ill with a fever. He died when Epeius was eighteen.     

From an early age he was inspired by the tales his father told him of his grandfather, who fought alongside the Spartan 300 at Thermopylae in 480 BC, where he fell. This urged him to become the best warrior that he could, training intensely around the farm he grew up on. 

During the closing days of his life, he took part in the battle of Delium alongside 7000 hoplites in the Boeotian army after the Athenian invasion of Boeotia in 424 BC. In the opening stages of the battle, when the Boeotian left flank was enveloped by the Athenians, he followed the example of his grandfather, who made a stand with the 700 Thespians at Thermopylae. He held out and fought as part of the small Thespian contingent that stood their ground as the other forces routed. Unfortunately, despite fierce fighting alongside his comrades, he fell alongside the 500 other Boeotian warriors in the day’s fighting. 

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