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Ancient Greek Battle for Tegea (560 BC)

Herodotus’ account for the Tegean War (1.65-1.68) indicates that it was long and difficult for Sparta. It began under one pair of Kings, Leon and Agesicles but was concluded in the reigns of the next pair, Anaxandrides and Ariston. It is debatable then that the war must have lasted c590-580 B.C. and concluded c560-550 B.C.

The situation with the helots plagued on the Spartans mind, there were no plans for any far off conquests of new lands, but anxiety existed that if Sparta did not control the neighboring city-states, the city-states would come to invade the un-walled city of Sparta. Xenophobia existed, anything foreign was immediately suspected of treachery.

Though they had failed in previous attempts to defeat the Tegeas, the oracle predition of the ultimately victory spurred the Lacedaemonians on.

It is not sure how the truce happened between the two, but it was probably a number of small skirmishes and a few battles, but it is certain that Tegea moved away from any form of democracy and turned into an oligopoly, just like the Spartans would have wished. Sparta finally did win the last major confrontation between the two and forced or succumbed Tegea into political change. When they conquered their neighbor, Tegea, they set up a truce with them rather than annex their land and people. They demanded instead an alliance. Tegea would follow Sparta in all its foreign relationships, including wars, and would supply Sparta with a fixed amount of soldiers and equipment. In exchange, the Tegeans could remain an independent state. This was a brilliant move on the part of the Spartans. In a short time, Sparta had formed alliances with a huge number of states in the southern part of Greece.

Herodotus, describes a very fanciful version of the subjection of Tegea, in which the Spartans again consulted the Oracle at Delphi for a second time, he says:

“Throughout the whole of the early contest with the Tegeans, the Lacedaemonians met with nothing but defeats; but in the time of Kings Anaxandrides and Aristo, fortune had turned to their favor.

They asked of Delphi, “Which god they must propitiate to prevail in the war against the Tegeans”. The Pythoness said that before they could prevail, they must remove to Sparta the bones or Orestes, the son of Agamemnon. Another utterance of the Delphic oracle promised that Sparta would become ‘protector’ of Tegea.

A Spartan called Lichas who had traveled to Tegea, befriended a blacksmith working in his shop. The smith told him a story about wanting to dig a well but coming across a grave 7 cubits in length, after checking to see if the body was still in it (which the bones were) he reburied it again. At the time of the tale, this just seemed like another interesting story that friends would speak about. But in light of what the oracle had said repeated the story to his countrymen.

The Lacedaemonians quizzed Lichas who said he remembered the smithy had two bellows (which blows air into the furnace), which could relate to the line about the two winds. The hammer and anvil would do for the stroke and counterstroke, and the iron that was being wrought for the evil lying upon evil, iron was believed to have been discovered for the hurt of man.

The Spartans believed they had found Orestes.

Taxing Lichas to go back, the again entered Tegea and acquainted with his friend and ending up boarding with him. While there he secretly dug up the bone and headed back to Sparta.

Thus, believing that the oracle had been fulfilled every time the Spartans and the Tegeans made trial of each other’s skill in arms, the Spartans always had greatly the advantage. It should be noted that during the campaign of 479 B.C. at the Battle of Plataea, the Tegans were among the allies of the Lacedaemon and that they ‘traditionally’ had the privilege of taking the place of honor on the wing in the battle line. (Hdt 9.26.2)

So it seems that the war led not to the subjugation of Tegea, but to an alliance between that city and Lacedaemon. When the war had began, the Spartans may have hoped to treat Tegea as they had treated Messenia, they may have expected to absorb its territory and reduce its inhabitants to dependent status. But it did not turn out this way. There maybe a few reasons for this:

1) Tegea proved too tough to conquer, perhaps because of the difficulty of campaigning in the highland of Arcadia and too formidable to leave the Tegans unchecked, therefor an alliance was more exactable

2) The Delphic oracles utterances that Sparta was to be Tegeas ‘protector’, lead them away from a battle victory against Tegea. The Spartan’s were known to be very religious, and therefore not wanting to anger the gods.

3) The Spartans had just recently subjugated Messenia and the Spartan army was already responsible to make sure the Messenian’s did not successfully revolt. As the Messenians probably out numbered the Spartans 5 to 1 to subjugate Tegea as well would have made a chance of a successful revolt more likely.

4) Unlike the Messenias, Tegea stood between Sparta and Argos their eternal nemesis. To reduce Tegea to the value of helots would not be tenable to keep as the warriors of Argos could at anytime invade Tegea without the Spartans having any idea. Better to arm Tegea and leave the city as a ‘buffer’ between Sparta and Argos, almost like an advance post or early warning system in alarming the Spartans against any advance on Sparta.


Tegen’s Food Market, 1951

My father, Robert Freed Tegen, took this picture in November, 1951 in Two Rivers, Wisconsin.  We have no idea what branch of the family owned this store (so if you know, please contact us).  The original print is better then what is shown here.



Trip to Sülfeld, Germany

Sülfeld, Germany is just east of Oering.  It is a much larger town then and now.  You will find many Tegen’s that lived in Oering, got married in Sülfeld.  Sülfeld is probably an hour horse ride from Oering, 20 minutes by car.  It has a main (old) church and extensive graveyard. Sülfeld was probably considered the closest town to those that lived in Oering, since it is hard to tell what was available in Oering 300 years ago.

 DSCN1796 Lots of signs to find the towns.
 DSCN1797 This was part of the road that lead into Sülfeld from Oering.  Keep in mind, this was in January.  I will love to go back during the summer.
 DSCN1799a This was the main church in Sülfeld.  It is very old and probably the place that many Tegen/Teegen’s got married in.  There are grave stones all around the front, sides and back.  There are three dates along the face of the front tower. 1633 along the bottom, 1835 in the middle and 1906 along the top.  I have no idea what the dates represent.  It could be phases of construction or significant dates for the church or the town that it is in.
DSCN1817 Up the road from the church is a large cemetery.  When I first walked in, there was this stone to the left.  From what I could tell, it was common to have many names on one stone.  I also noticed that there were a lot of newer stones of the recently passed and fewer older stone markings.  It was an active cemetery, so I could only assume that if a family does not pay some kind of rent on ancestral plots, they get evicted.  Kind of sad, but it is a business like anything else.  I just hopped they kept records of the evicted plots.  It was a weekend, cold, dark, creepy, and I was losing the battle on language, so I did not try to ask.



Trip to Leezen, Germany

My trip to Oering actually started in Leezen, Germany.  Leezen is just north of Oering.  Probably 15 minutes by car.  Leezen and the surrounding area is the home of many TEEGEN’s from the 1700’s on.  Since there are just as many TEGEN’s in Oering from the same time frame, once can only guess which is the correct spelling since they both existed around the same area and time.  Leezen is the home of Hotel Teegen.  If you are going to visit, you need to stay there.  The Hotel is still owned by Teegen’s and Michael is a wonderful host and the food is just great.

leezen1 There are a couple of ways to get into Leezen.  I cam in from the east.  There are many ancestors that lived in Schwissel as well, but I did not connect the two until after I got back.
DSCN1709 This is the front of Hotel Teegen.  Restaurant and bar along the bottom and rooms above and along the back.  This branch of Teegen’s are in the database.
DSCN1712 No losing these keys.
DSCN1717 Lots of old photos around the hotel.  This photos looks to be from around 1920-1930’s.

Trip to Oering, Germany

I finally had the opportunity to visit the small village of Oering, Germany.  Oering is a farming village north of Hamburg, Germany.  Most of my direct ancestors come from this area, as well as many other Tegen/Teegen branches. I arrived there after a 5 hour drive from the Netherlands.  The drive on the autobahn was exhilarating.  It was January, so the weather was wet, snowy and very cold.  Here are some photos that I took.

DSCN1752 There is a small village center where there a few places to eat, buy groceries and get your hair done.  Because it was a Saturday and the dead of winter, only a couple of places were open.  I walked around mostly and took lots of photos.  Most of Germany speaks English really well; however, small villages like Oering, not so much.  So I was unable to ask questions and to find the one or two Tegen/Teegens that still live in the area.
DSCN1879 Oering has a town green next to the fire house (that was closed too).  It looks like a great place to have town and family outings during the warmer months.  The big stone object to the right is the town marker shown later below.
DSCN1778a This is the town marker that was probably at another location when the town got it’s name.  It is just next to the fire house.
DSCN1885 There is farm land all around the area.  These are typical roads that divide the various properties.  You can imagine that this is the view that most of the ancestors from the 1700’s saw as they worked and lived in the area.
DSCN1787 There are a lot of new and older buildings in the area.  Not certain what this building was used for, but it is off the town square going into the main part of the village.
DSCN1729 All the towns are really well marked.  After seeing this town name with so many of my ancestors, it was really neat to see it in person.
DSCN1761 This appears to be a main park or square to the village.  The fire house is the brick building in the background.  The square is fenced off with a fountain in the middle and a war memorial along the back.  The memorial recognizes those that lived in the town that were lost during WWII.

A close up on the stone below.

DSCN1768 An “E. TEGEN” born in 1919 died in 1942.  I could not find who this is, but someday we hope we can.
DSCN1790 This was a view into one of the many farms in the area.
DSCN1776a There are a fair number of trails.  This is one to the right of the town square and the war memorial.
DSCN1758 One can get use to the names of the places for all the ancestors.  It was a different thing to actually be at the places and see that all of these places were so close to one another.
DSCN1794 More signs of the surrounding area.  36 KM is only 22 miles.  Probably a days horse ride.