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By Plutarch

(died 401 B.C.E.)

Translated by John Dryden

Archidamus, the son of Zeuxidamus, having reigned gloriously over
the Lacedaemonians, left behind him two sons, Agis the elder, begotten
of Lampido, a noble lady, Agesilaus, much the younger, born of Eupolia,
the daughter of Melesippidas. Now the succession belonging to Agis
by law, Agesilaus, who in all probability was to be but a private
man, was educated according to the usual discipline of the country,
hard and severe, and meant to teach young men to obey their superiors.
Whence it was that, men say, Simonides called Sparta "the tamer of
men," because by early strictness of education they, more than any
nation, trained the citizens to obedience to the laws, and made them
tractable and patient of subjection, as horses that are broken in
while colts. The law did not impose this harsh rule on the heirs apparent
of the kingdom. But Agesilaus, whose good fortune it was to be born
a younger brother, was consequently bred to all the arts of obedience,
and so the better fitted for the government, when it fell to his share;
hence it was that he proved the most popular-tempered of the Spartan
kings, his early life having added to his natural kingly and commanding
qualities the gentle and humane feelings of a citizen. 

While he was yet a boy, bred up in one of what are called the flocks,
or classes, he attracted the attachment of Lysander, who was particularly
struck with the orderly temper that he manifested. For though he was
one of the highest spirits, emulous above any of his companions, ambitious
of pre-eminence in everything, and showed an impetuosity and fervour
of mind which irresistibly carried him through all opposition or difficulty
he could meet with; yet, on the other side, he was so easy and gentle
in his nature, and so apt to yield to authority, that though he would
do nothing on compulsion, upon ingenuous motives he would obey any
commands, and was more hurt by the least rebuke or disgrace than he
was distressed by any toil or hardship. 

He had one leg shorter than the other, but this deformity was little
observed in the general beauty of his person in youth. And the easy
way in which he bore (he being the first always to pass a jest upon
himself) went far to make it disregarded. And indeed his high spirit
and eagerness to distinguish himself were all the more conspicuous
by it, since he never let his lameness withhold him from any toil
or any brave action. Neither his statue nor picture are extant, he
never allowing them in his life, and utterly forbidding them to be
made after his death. He is said to have been a little man, of a contemptible
presence; but the goodness of his humour, and his constant cheerfulness
and playfulness of temper, always free from anything of moroseness
or haughtiness, made him more attractive, even to his old age, than
the most beautiful and youthful men of the nation. Theophrastus writes
that the Ephors laid a fine upon Archidamus for marrying a little
wife, "For," said they, "she will bring us a race of kinglets, instead
of kings." 

Whilst Agis, the elder brother, reigned, Alcibiades, being then an
exile from Athens, came from Sicily to Sparta; nor had he stayed long
there before his familiarity with Timaea, the king's wife, grew suspected,
insomuch that Agis refused to own a child of hers, which, he said,
was Alcibiades's, not his. Nor, if we may believe Duris, the historian,
was Timaea much concerned at it, being herself forward enough to whisper
among her helot maid-servants that the infant's true name was Alcibiades,
not Leotychides. Meanwhile it was believed that the amour he had with
her was not the effect of his love but of his ambition, that he might
have Spartan kings of his posterity. This affair being grown public,
it became needful for Alcibiades to withdraw from Sparta. But the
child Leotychides had not the honours due to a legitimate son paid
him, nor was he ever owned by Agis, till by his prayers and tears
he prevailed with him to declare him his son before several witnesses
upon his deathbed. But this did not avail to fix him in the throne
of Agis, after whose death Lysander, who had lately achieved his conquest
of Athens by sea, and was of the greatest power in Sparta, promoted
Agesilaus, urging Leotychides's bastardy as a bar to his pretensions.
Many of the other citizens, also, were favourable to Agesilaus, and
zealously joined his party, induced by the opinion they had of his
merits, of which they themselves had been spectators, in the time
that he had been bred up among them. But there was a man, named Diopithes,
at Sparta, who had a great knowledge of ancient oracles, and was thought
particularly skilful and clever in all points of religion and divination.
He alleged, that it was unlawful to make a lame man king of Lacedaemon,
citing in the debate the following oracle:- 

"Beware, great Sparta, lest there come of thee, 
Though sound thyself, an halting sovereignty: 
Troubles, both long and unexpected too, 
And storms of deadly warfare shall ensue." But Lysander was not wanting
with an evasion, alleging that if the Spartans were really apprehensive
of the oracle, they must have a care of Leotychides; for it was not
the limping foot of a king that the gods cared about, but the purity
of the Herculean family, into whose rights, if a spurious issue were
admitted, it would make the kingdom to halt indeed, Agesilaus likewise
alleged that the bastardy of Leotychides was witnessed to by Neptune,
who threw Agis out of bed by a violent earthquake, after which time
he ceased to visit his wife, yet Leotychides was born above ten months
after this. 

Agesilaus was upon these allegations declared king, and soon possessed
himself of the private estate of Agis, as well as his throne, Leotychides
being wholly rejected as a bastard. He now turned his attention to
his kindred by the mother's side, persons of worth and virtue, but
miserably poor. To them he gave half his brother's estate, and by
this popular act gained general good-will and reputation, in the place
of the envy and ill-feeling which the inheritance might otherwise
have procured him. What Xenophon tells us of him, that by complying
with, and, as it were, being ruled by his country, he grew into such
great power with them, that he could do what he pleased, is meant
to apply to the power he gained in the following manner with the Ephors
and Elders. These were at that time of the greatest authority in the
state; the former, officers annually chosen; the Elders, holding their
places during life; both instituted, as already told in the life of
Lycurgus, to restrain the power of the kings. Hence it was that there
was always from generation to generation a feud and contention between
them and the kings. But Agesilaus took another course. Instead of
contending with them, he courted them in all proceedings he commenced
by taking their advice, was always ready to go, nay almost run, when
they called him; if he were upon his royal seat, hearing causes, and
the Ephors came in, he rose to them; whenever any man was elected
into the Council of Elders he presented him with a gown and an ox.
Thus, whilst he made a show of deference to them, and of a desire
to extend their authority, he secretly advanced his own, and enlarged
the prerogatives of the kings by several liberties which their friendship
to his person conceded. 

To other citizens he so behaved himself as to be less blamable in
his enmities than in his friendships; for against his enemy he forbore
to take any unjust advantage, but his friends he would assist, even
in what was unjust. If an enemy had done anything praiseworthy, he
felt it shameful to detract from his due, but his friends he knew
not how to reprove when they did ill, nay, he would eagerly join with
them, and assist them in their misdeed, and thought all offices of
friendship commendable, let the matter in which they were employed
be what it would. Again, when any of his adversaries was overtaken
in a fault, he would be the first to pity him; and he soon entreated
to procure his pardon, by which he won the hearts of all men. Insomuch
that his popularity grew at last suspected by the Ephors, who laid
a fine on him, professing that he was appropriating the citizens to
himself who ought to be the common property of the state. For as it
is the opinion of philosophers, that could you take away strife and
opposition out of the universe, all the heavenly bodies would stand
still, generation and motion would cease in the mutual concord and
agreement of all things, so the Spartan legislator seems to have admitted
ambition and emulation among the ingredients of his commonwealth,
as the incentives of virtue, distinctly wishing that there should
be some dispute and competition among his men of worth, and pronouncing
the mere idle, uncontested, mutual compliance to unproved deserts
to be but a false sort of concord. And some think Homer had an eye
to this when he introduces Agamemnon well pleased with the quarrel
arising between Ulysses and Achilles, and with the "terrible words"
that passed between them, which he would never have done, unless he
had thought emulation and dissensions between the noblest men to be
of great public benefit. Yet this maxim is not simply to be granted,
without restriction, for if animosities go too far they are very dangerous
to cities and of most pernicious consequence. 

When Agesilaus was newly entered upon the government, there came news
from Asia that the Persian king was making great naval preparations,
resolving with a high hand to dispossess the Spartans of their maritime
supremacy. Lysander was eager for the opportunity of going over and
succouring his friends in Asia, whom he had there left governors and
masters of the cities, whose maladministration and tyrannical behaviour
was causing them to be driven out, and in some cases put to death.
He therefore persuaded Agesilaus to claim the command of the expedition,
and by carrying the war from Greece into Persia, to anticipate the
designs of the barbarian. He also wrote to his friends in Asia, that
by embassy they should demand Agesilaus for their captain. Agesilaus,
therefore, coming into the public assembly, offered his service, upon
condition that he might have thirty Spartans for captains and counsellors;
two thousand chosen men of the newly enfranchised helots, and allies
to the number of six thousand. Lysander's authority and assistance
soon obtained his request, so that he was sent away with the thirty
Spartans, of whom Lysander was at once the chief, not only because
of his power and reputation, but also on account of his friendship
with Agesilaus, who esteemed his procuring him this charge a greater
obligation than that of preferring him to the kingdom. 

Whilst the army was collecting to the rendezvous at Geraestus, Agesilaus
went with some of his friends to Aulis, where in a dream he saw a
man approach him, and speak to him after this manner: "O king of the
Lacedaemonians, you cannot but know that, before yourself, there hath
been but one general captain of the whole of the Greeks, namely, Agamemnon;
now, since you succeed him in the same office and command the same
men, since you war against the same enemies, and begin your expedition
from the same place, you ought also to offer such a sacrifice as he
offered before he weighed anchor." Agesilaus at the same moment remembered
that the sacrifice which Agamemnon offered was his own daughter, he
being so directed by the oracle. Yet was he not at all disturbed by
it, but as soon as he arose, he told his dream to his friends, adding
that he would propitiate the goddess with the sacrifices a goddess
must delight in, and would not follow the ignorant example of his
predecessor. He therefore ordered an hind to be crowned with chaplets,
and bade his own soothsayer perform the rite, not the usual person
whom the Boeotians, in ordinary course, appointed to that office.
When the Boeotian magistrates understood it, they were much offended,
and sent officers to Agesilaus to forbid his sacrificing contrary
to the laws of the country. These, having delivered their message
to him, immediately went to the altar and threw down the quarters
of the hind that lay upon it. Agesilaus took this very ill, and without
further sacrifice immediately sailed away, highly displeased with
the Boeotians, and much discouraged in his mind at the omen, boding
to himself an unsuccessful voyage and an imperfect issue of the whole

When he came to Ephesus, he found the power and interest of Lysander,
and the honours paid to him, insufferably great; all applications
were made to him, crowds of suitors attended at his door, and followed
upon his steps, as if nothing but the mere name of commander belonged,
to satisfy the usage, to Agesilaus, the whole power of it being devolved
upon Lysander. None of all the commanders that had been sent into
Asia was either so powerful or so formidable as he; no one had rewarded
his friends better, or had been more severe against his enemies; which
things having been lately done, made the greater impression on men's
minds, especially when they compared the simple and popular behaviour
of Agesilaus with the harsh and violent and brief-spoken demeanour
which Lysander still retained. Universal preference was yielded to
this, and little regard shown to Agesilaus. This first occasioned
offence to the other Spartan captains, who resented that they should
rather seem the attendants of Lysander, than the councillors of Agesilaus.
And at length Agesilaus himself, though not perhaps an envious man
in his nature, nor apt to be troubled at the honours redounding upon
other men, yet eager for honour and jealous of his glory, began to
apprehend that Lysander's greatness would carry away from him the
reputation of whatever great action should happen. He therefore went
this way to work. He first opposed him in all his counsels; whatever
Lysander specially advised was rejected, and other proposals followed.
Then whoever made any address to him, if he found him attached to
Lysander, certainly lost his suit. So also in judicial cases, any
one whom he spoke strongly against was sure to come off with success,
and any man whom he was particularly solicitous to procure some benefit
for might think it well if he got away without an actual loss.

These things being clearly not done by chance, but constantly and
of a set purpose, Lysander was soon sensible of them, and hesitated
not to tell his friends, that they suffered for his sake, bidding
them apply themselves to the king, and such as were more powerful
with him than he was. Such sayings of his seeming to be designed purposely
to excite ill-feeling, Agesilaus went on to offer himself a more open
affront, appointing him his meat-carver, and would in public companies,
scornfully say, "Let them go now and pay their court to my carver."
Lysander, no longer able to brook these indignities, complained at
last to Agesilaus himself, telling him that he knew very well how
to humble his friends. Agesilaus answered, "I know certainly how to
humble those who pretend to more power than myself." "That," replied
Lysander, "is perhaps rather said by you, than done by me: I desire
only that you will assign me some office and place in which I may
serve you without incurring your displeasure." 

Upon this Agesilaus sent him to the Hellespont, whence he procured
Spithridates, a Persian of the province of Pharnabazus, to come to
the assistance of the Greeks with two hundred horse and a great supply
of money. Yet his anger did not so come down, but he thenceforward
pursued the design of wresting the kingdom out of the hands of the
two families which then enjoyed it, and making it wholly elective;
and it is thought that he would on account of his quarrel have excited
a great commotion in Sparta, if he had not died in the Boeotian war.
Thus ambitious spirits in a commonwealth, when they transgress their
bounds, are apt to do more harm than good. For though Lysander's pride
and assumption was most ill-timed and insufferable in its display,
yet Agesilaus surely could have found some other way of setting him
right, less offensive to a man of his reputation and ambitious temper.
Indeed they were both blinded with the same passion, so as one not
to recognize the authority of his superior, the other not to bear
with the imperfections of his friend. 

Tisaphernes, being at first afraid of Agesilaus, treated with him
about setting the Grecian cities at liberty, which was agreed on.
But soon after finding a sufficient force drawn together, he resolved
upon war, for which Agesilaus was not sorry. For the expectation of
this expedition was great, and he did not think it for his honour
that Xenophon with ten thousand men should march through the heart
of Asia to the sea, beating the Persian forces when and how he pleased,
and that he at the head of the Spartans, then sovereigns both at sea
and land, should not achieve some memorable action for Greece. And
so to be even with Tisaphernes, he requites his perjury by a fair
stratagem. He pretends to march into Caria, whither, when he has drawn
Tisaphernes and his army, he suddenly turns back, and falls upon Phrygia,
takes many of their cities, and carries away great booty, showing
his allies that to break a solemn league was a downright contempt
of the gods, but the circumvention of an enemy in war was not only
just but glorious, a gratification at once and an advantage.

Being weak in horse, and discouraged by ill-omens in the sacrifices,
he retired to Ephesus, and there raised cavalry. He obliged the rich
men, that were not inclined to serve in person, to find each of them
a horseman armed and mounted, and there being many who preferred doing
this, the army was quickly reinforced by a body, not of unwilling
recruits for the infantry, but of brave and numerous horsemen. For
those that were not good at fighting themselves hired such as were
more military in their inclinations, and such as loved not horse-service
substituted in their places such as did. Agamemnon's example had been
a good one, when he took the present of an excellent mare to dismiss
a rich coward from the army. 

When by Agesilaus's order the prisoners he had taken in Phrygia were
exposed to sale, they were first stripped of their garments and then
sold naked. The clothes found many customers to buy them, but the
bodies being, from the want of all exposure and exercise, white and
tender-skinned, were derided and scorned as unserviceable, Agesilaus,
who stood by at the auction, told his Greeks, "These are the men against
whom ye fight, and these the things you will gain by it."

The season of the year being come, he boldly gave out that he would
invade Lydia; and this plain dealing of his was now mistaken for a
stratagem by Tisaphernes, who by not believing Agesilaus, having been
already deceived by him, overreached himself. He expected that he
should have made choice of Caria, as a rough country, not fit for
horse, in which he deemed Agesilaus to be weak, and directed his own
marches accordingly. But when he found him to be as good as his word,
and to have entered into the country of Sardis, he made great haste
after him, and by great marches of his horse, overtaking the loose
stragglers who were pillaging the country, he cut them off. Agesilaus
meanwhile, considering that the horse had outridden the foot, but
that he himself had the whole body of his own army entire, made haste
to engage them. He mingled his light-armed foot, carrying targets,
with the horse, commanding them to advance at full speed and begin
the battle, whilst he brought up the heavier-armed men in the rear.
The success was answerable to the design; the barbarians were put
to the rout, the Grecians pursued hard, took their camp, and put many
of them to the sword. The consequence of this victory was very great;
for they had not only the liberty of foraging the Persian country,
and plundering at pleasure, but also saw Tisaphernes pay dearly for
all the cruelty he had showed the Greeks, to whom he was a professed
enemy. For the King of Persia sent Tithraustes, who took off his head,
and presently dealt with Agesilaus about his return into Greece, sending
to him ambassadors to that purpose with commission to offer him great
sums of money. Agesilaus's answer was that the making of peace belonged
to the Lacedaemonians, not to him; as for wealth, he had rather see
it in his soldiers' hands than his own; that the Grecians thought
it not honourable to enrich themselves with the bribes of their enemies,
but with their spoils only. Yet, that he might gratify Tithraustes
for the justice he had done upon Tisaphernes, the common enemy of
the Greeks, he removed his quarters into Phrygia, accepting thirty
talents for his expenses. Whilst he was upon his march, he received
a staff from the government at Sparta, appointing him admiral as well
as general. This was an honour which was never done to any but Agesilaus,
who being now undoubtedly the greatest and most illustrious man of
his time, still, as Theopompus had said, gave himself more occasion
of glory in his own virtue and merit than was given him in this authority
and power. Yet he committed a fault in preferring Pisander to the
command of the navy, when there were others at hand both older and
more experienced; in this not so much consulting the public good as
the gratification of his kindred, and especially his wife, whose brother
Pisander was. 

Having removed his camp into Pharnabazus's province, he not only met
with great plenty of provisions, but also raised great sums of money,
and marching on to the bounds of Paphlagonia, he soon drew Cotys,
the king of it, into a league, to which he of his own accord inclined,
out of the opinion he had of Agesilaus's honour and virtue. Spithridates,
from the time of his abandoning Pharnabazus, constantly attended Agesilaus
in the camp whithersoever he went. This Spithridates had a son, a
very handsome boy, called Megabates, of whom Agesilaus was extremely
fond, and also a very beautiful daughter that was marriageable. Her
Agesilaus matched to Cotys, and taking of him a thousand horse, with
two thousand light-armed foot, he returned into Phrygia, and there
pillaged the country of Pharnabazus, who durst not meet him in the
field, nor yet trust to his garrisons, but getting his valuables together,
got out of the way and moved about up and down with a flying army,
till Spithridates, joining with Herippidas the Spartan, took his camp
and all his property. Herippidas being too severe an inquirer into
the plunder with which the barbarian soldiers had enriched themselves,
and forcing them to deliver it up with too much strictness, so disobliged
Spithridates with his questioning and examining that he changed sides
again, and went off with the Paphlagonians to Sardis. This was a very
great vexation to Agesilaus, not only that he had lost the friendship
of a gallant commander, and with him a considerable part of his army,
but still more that it had been done with the disrepute of a sordid
and petty covetousness, of which he always had made it a point of
honour to keep both himself and his country clear. Besides these public
causes, he had a private one, his excessive fondness for the son,
which touched him to the quick, though he endeavoured to master it,
and, especially in presence of the boy, to suppress all appearance
of it; so much so that when Megabates, for that was his name, came
once to receive a kiss from him, he declined it. At which, when the
young boy blushed and drew back, and afterward saluted him at a more
reserved distance, Agesilaus soon repenting his coldness, and changing
his mind, pretended to wonder why he did not salute him with the same
familiarity as formerly. His friends about him answered, "You are
in the fault, who would not accept the kiss of the boy, but turned
away in alarm; he would come to you again if you would have the courage
to let him do so." Upon this Agesilaus paused a while, and at length
answered, "You need not encourage him to it; I think I had rather
be master of myself in that refusal, than see all things that are
now before my eyes turned into gold." Thus he demeaned himself to
Megabates when present, but he had so great a passion for him in his
absence, that it may be questioned whether, if the boy had returned
again, all the courage he had would have sustained him in such another

After this Pharnabazus sought an opportunity of conferring with Agesilaus,
which Apollophanes of Cyzicus, the common host of them both, procured
for him. Agesilaus coming first to the appointed place, threw himself
down upon the grass under a tree, lying there in expectation of Pharnabazus,
who, bringing with him soft skins and wrought carpets to lie down
upon, when he saw Agesilaus's posture, grew ashamed of his luxuries,
and made no use of them, but laid himself down upon the grass also,
without regard for his delicate and richly dyed clothing. Pharnabazus
had matter enough of complaint against Agesilaus, and therefore, after
the mutual civilities were over, he put him in mind of the great services
he had done the Lacedaemonians in the Attic war, of which he thought
it an ill recompense to have his country thus harassed and spoiled
by those men who owed so much to him. The Spartans that were present
hung down their heads, as conscious of the wrong they had done to
their ally. But Agesilaus said, "We, O Pharnabazus, when we were in
amity with your master the king, behaved ourselves like friends, and
now that we are at war with him, we behave ourselves as enemies. As
for you, we must look upon you as a part of his property, and must
do these outrages upon you, not intending the harm to you, but to
him whom we wound through you. But whenever you will choose rather
to be a friend to the Grecians than a slave of the King of Persia,
you may then reckon this army and navy to be all at your command,
to defend both you, your country, and your liberties, without which
there is nothing honourable or indeed desirable among men." Upon this
Pharnabazus discovered his mind, and answered, "If the king sends
another governor in my room, I will certainly come over to you, but
as long as he trusts me with the government I shall be just to him,
and not fail to do my utmost endeavours in opposing you." Agesilaus
was taken with the answer and shook hands with him; and rising, said,
"How much rather had I have so brave a man my friend than my enemy."

Pharnabazus being gone off, his son staying behind, ran up to Agesilaus,
and smilingly said, "Agesilaus, I make you my guest;" and thereupon
presented him with a javelin which he had in his hand. Agesilaus received
it, and being much taken with the good mien and courtesy of the youth,
looked about to see if there were anything in his train fit to offer
him in return; and observing the horse of Idaeus, the secretary, to
have very fine trappings on, he took them off, and bestowed them upon
the young gentleman. Nor did his kindness rest there, but he continued
ever after to be mindful of him, so that when he was driven out of
his country by his brothers, and lived in exile in Peloponnesus, he
took great care of him and condescended even to assist him in some
love matters. He had an attachment for a youth of Athenian birth,
who was bred up as an athlete; and when at the Olympic games this
boy, on account of his great size and general strong and full-grown
appearance, was in some danger of not being admitted into the list,
the Persian betook himself to Agesilaus, and made use of his friendship.
Agesilaus readily assisted him, and not without a great deal of difficulty
effected his desires. He was in all other things a man of great and
exact justice, but when the case concerned a friend, to be strait-laced
in point of justice, he said, was only a colourable pretence of denying
him. There is an epistle written to Idrieus, Prince of Caria, that
is ascribed to Agesilaus; it is this: "If Nicias be innocent, absolve
him; if he be guilty, absolve him upon my account; however, be sure
to absolve him." This was his usual character in his deportment towards
his friends. Yet his rule was not without exception; for sometimes
he considered the necessity of his affairs more than his friend, of
which he once gave an example, when upon a sudden and disorderly removal
of his camp, he left a sick friend behind him, and when he called
loudly after him, and implored his help, turned his back, and said
it was hard to be compassionate and wise too. This story is related
by Hieronymus, the philosopher. 

Another year of the war being spent, Agesilaus's fame still increased,
insomuch that the Persian king received daily information concerning
his many virtues, and the great esteem the world had of his temperance,
his plain living, and his moderation. When he made any journey, he
would usually take up his lodging in a temple, and there make the
gods witnesses of his most private actions, which others would scarce
permit men to be acquainted with. In so great an army you should scarce
find a common soldier lie on a coarser mattress than Agesilaus: he
was so indifferent to the varieties of heat and cold that all the
seasons, as the gods sent them, seemed natural to him. The Greeks
that inhabited Asia were much pleased to see the great lords and governors
of Persia, with all the pride, cruelty, and luxury in which they lived,
trembling and bowing before a man in a poor threadbare cloak, and,
at one laconic word out of his mouth, obsequiously deferring and changing
their wishes and purposes. So that it brought to the minds of many
the verses of Timotheus- 

"Mars is the tyrant, gold Greece does not fear." 

Many parts of Asia now revolting from the Persians, Agesilaus restored
order in the cities, and without bloodshed or banishment of any of
their members re-established the proper constitution in the governments,
and now resolved to carry away the war from the seaside, and to march
further up into the country, and to attack the King of Persia himself
in his own home in Susa and Ecbatana; not willing to let the monarch
sit idle in his chair, playing umpire in the conflicts of the Greeks,
and bribing their popular leaders. But these great thoughts were interrupted
by unhappy news from Sparta; Epicydidas is from thence sent to remand
him home, to assist his own country, which was then involved in a
great war:- 

"Greece to herself doth a barbarian grow, 
Others could not, she doth herself o'erthrow." What better can we
say of those jealousies, and that league and conspiracy of the Greeks
for their own mischief, which arrested fortune in full career, and
turned back arms that were already uplifted against the barbarians,
to be used upon themselves, and recalled into Greece the war which
had been banished out of her? I by no means assent to Demaratus of
Corinth, who said that those Greeks lost a great satisfaction that
did not live to see Alexander sit in the throne of Darius. That sight
should rather have drawn tears from them, when they considered that
they had left that glory to Alexander and the Macedonians, whilst
they spent all their own great commanders in playing them against
each other in the fields of Leuctra, Coronea, Corinth, and Arcadia.

Nothing was greater or nobler than the behaviour of Agesilaus on this
occasion, nor can a nobler instance be found in story of a ready obedience
and just deference to orders. Hannibal, though in a bad condition
himself and, almost driven out of Italy, could scarcely be induced
to obey when he was called home to serve his country. Alexander made
a jest of the battle between Agis and Antipater, laughing and saying,
"So, whilst we were conquering Darius in Asia, it seems there was
a battle of mice in Arcadia." Happy Sparta, meanwhile, in the justice
and modesty of Agesilaus, and in the deference he paid to the laws
of his country; who, immediately upon receipt of his orders, though
in the midst of his high fortune and power, and in full hope of great
and glorious success, gave all up and instantly departed, "his object
unachieved," leaving many regrets behind him among his allies in Asia,
and proving by his example the falseness of that saying of Demostratus.
the son of Phaeax, "That the Lacedaemonians were better in public,
but the Athenians in private." For while approving himself an excellent
king and general, he likewise showed himself in private an excellent
friend and a most agreeable companion. 

The coin of Persia was stamped with the figure of an archer; Agesilaus
said, That a thousand Persian archers had driven him out of Asia meaning,
the money that had been laid out in bribing the demagogues and the
orators in Thebes and Athens, and thus inciting those two states to
hostility against Sparta. 

Having passed the Hellespont, he marched by land through Thrace, not
begging or entreating a passage anywhere, only he sent his messengers
to them to demand whether they would have him pass as a friend or
as an enemy. All the rest received him as a friend, and assisted him
on his journey. But the Trallians, to whom Xerxes is also said to
have given money, demanded a price of him, namely, one hundred talents
of silver and one hundred women. Agesilaus in scorn asked, Why they
were not ready to receive them? He marched on, and finding the Trallians
in arms to oppose him, fought them, and slew great numbers of them.
He sent the like embassy to the King of Macedonia, who replied, He
would take time to deliberate. "Let him deliberate," said Agesilaus,
"we will go forward in the meantime." The Macedonian, being surprised
and daunted the resolution of the Spartan, gave orders to let him
pass as a friend. 

When he came into Thessaly he wasted the country, because they were
in league with the enemy. To Larissa, the chief city of Thessaly,
he sent Xenocles and Scythes to treat of a peace, whom when the Larissaeans
had laid hold of, and put into custody, others were enraged, and advised
siege of the town; but he answered, That he valued either of those
men at more than the whole country of Thessaly. He therefore made
terms with them, and received his men again upon composition. Nor
need wonder at this saying of Agesilaus, since when he had news brought
him from Sparta, of several great captains in a battle near Corinth,
in which the slaughter fell upon other Greeks, and the Lacedaemonians
obtained a great victory with small loss, he did not appear at all
satisfied; but with a great sigh cried out, "O Greece, how many brave
men hast thou destroyed; who, if they had been preserved to so good
an use, had sufficed to have conquered all Persia!" Yet when the Pharsalians
grew troublesome to him, by pressing upon his army and incommoding
his passage, he led out five hundred horse, and in person fought and
routed them, setting up a trophy under the mount Narthacius. He valued
himself very much upon that victory, that with so small a number of
his own training, he had vanquished a body of men that thought themselves
the best horsemen of Greece. 

Here Diphridas, the Ephor, met him, and delivered his message from
Sparta, which ordered him immediately to make an inroad into Boeotia;
and though he thought this fitter to have been done at another time,
and with greater force, he yet obeyed the magistrates. He thereupon
told his soldiers that the day had come on which they were to enter
upon that employment for the performance of which they were brought
out of Asia. He sent for two divisions of the army near Corinth to
his assistance. The Lacedaemonians at home, in honour to him, made
proclamations for volunteers that would serve under the king to come
in and be enlisted. Finding all the young men in the city ready to
offer themselves, they chose fifty of the strongest, and sent them.

Agesilaus having gained Thermopylae, and passed quietly through Phocis,
as soon as he had entered Boeotia, and pitched his camp near Chaeronea,
at once met with an eclipse of the sun, and with ill news from the
navy, Pisander, the Spartan admiral, being beaten and slain at Cnidos
by Pharnabazus and Conon. He was much moved at it, both upon his own
and the public account. Yet lest his army, being now near engaging,
should meet with any discouragement, he ordered the messengers to
give out that the Spartans were the conquerors, and he himself putting
on garland, solemnly sacrificed for the good news, and sent portions
of the sacrifices to his friends. 

When he came near to Coronea, and was within view of the enemy, he
drew up his army, and giving the left wing to the Orchomenians, he
himself led the right. The Thebans took the right wing of their army,
leaving the left to the Argives. Xenophon, who was present, and fought
on Agesilaus's side, reports it to be the hardest-fought battle that
he had seen. The beginning of it was not so, for the Thebans soon
put the Orchomenians to rout, as also did Agesilaus the Argives. But
both parties having news of the misfortune of their left wings, they
betook themselves to their relief. Here Agesilaus might have been
sure of his victory had he contented himself not to charge them in
the front, but in the flank or rear; but being angry and heated in
the fight he would not wait the opportunity, but fell on at once,
thinking to bear them down before him. The Thebans were not behind
him in courage, so that the battle was fiercely carried on on both
sides, especially near Agesilaus's person, whose new guard of fifty
volunteers stood him in great stead that day, and saved his life.
They fought with great valour, and interposed their bodies frequently
between him and danger, yet could they not so preserve him, but that
he received many wounds through his armour with lances and swords,
and was with much difficulty gotten off alive by their making a ring
about him, and so guarding him, with the slaughter of many of the
enemy, and the loss of many of their own number. At length, finding
it too hard a task to break the front of the Theban troops, they opened
their own files, and let the enemy march through them (an artifice
which in the beginning they scorned), watching in the meantime the
posture of the enemy, who, having passed through, grew careless, as
esteeming themselves past danger, in which position they were immediately
set upon by the Spartans. Yet were they not then put to rout, but
marched on to Helicon, proud of what they had done, being able to
say that they themselves, as to their part of the army, were not worsted.

Agesilaus, sore wounded as he was, would not be borne to his tent
till he had been first carried about the field, and had seen the dead
conveyed within his encampment. As many of his enemies as had taken
sanctuary in the temple he dismissed. For there stood near the battlefield
the temple of Minerva the Itonian, and before it a trophy erected
by the Boeotians, for or victory which, under the conduct of Sparton,
their general, they obtained over the Athenians under Tolmides, who
himself fell in the battle. Next morning early, to make trial of the
Theban courage, whether they had any mind to a second encounter, he
commanded his soldiers to put on garlands on their heads, and play
with their flutes, and raise a trophy before their faces; but when
they, instead of fighting, sent for leave to bury their dead, he gave
it them; and having so assured himself of the victory, after this
he went to Delphi, to the Pythian games, which were then celebrating,
at which feast he assisted, and there solemnly offered the tenth part
of the spoils he had brought from Asia, which amounted to a hundred

Thence he returned to his own country, where his way and habits of
life quickly excited the affection and admiration of the Spartans;
for, unlike other generals, he came home from foreign lands the same
man that he went out, having not so learned the fashions of other
countries, as to forget his own, much less to dislike or despise them.
He followed and respected all the Spartan customs, without any change
either in the manner of his supping, or bathing, or his wife's apparel,
as if he had never travelled over the river Eurotas. So also with
his household furniture and his own armour, nay, the very gates of
his house were so old that they might well be thought of Aristodemus's
setting up. His daughter's Canathrum, says Xenophon, was no richer
than that of any one else. The Canathrum, as they call it, is a chair
or chariot made of wood, in the shape of a griffin, or tragelaphus,
on which the children and young virgins are carried in processions.
Xenophon has not left us the name of this daughter of Agesilaus; and
Dicaearchus expresses some indignation, because we do not know, he
says, the name of Agesilaus's daughter, nor of Epaminondas's mother.
But in the records of Laconia, we ourselves found his wife's name
to have been Cleora, and his two daughters to have been called Eupolia
and Prolyta. And you may also to this day see Agesilaus's spear kept
in Sparta, nothing differing from that of other men. 

there was a vanity he observed among the Spartans, about keeping running
horses for the Olympic games, upon which he found they much valued
themselves. Agesilaus regarded it as a display not of any real virtue,
but of wealth and expense; and to make this evident to the Greeks,
induced his sister, Cynisca, to send a chariot into the course. He
kept with him Xenophon, the philosopher, and made much of him, and
proposed to him to send for his children, and educate them at Sparta,
where they would be taught the best of all learning; how to obey,
and how to command. Finding on Lysander's death a large faction formed,
which he on his return from Asia had established against Agesilaus,
he thought it advisable to expose both him and it, by showing what
manner of a citizen he had been whilst he lived. To that end, finding
among his writings an oration, composed by Cleon the Halicarnassean,
but to have been spoken by Lysander in a public assembly, to excite
the people to innovations and changes in the government, he resolved
to publish it as an evidence of Lysander's practices. But one of the
Elders having the perusal of it, and finding it powerfully written,
advised him to have a care of digging up Lysander again, and rather
bury that oration in the grave with him; and this advice he wisely
hearkened to, and hushed the whole thing up and ever after forbore
publicly to affront any of his adversaries, but took occasions of
picking out the ringleaders, and sending them away upon foreign services.
He thus had means for exposing the avarice and the injustice of many
of them in their employments; and again when they were by others brought
into question, he made it his business to bring them off, obliging
them, by that means, of enemies to become his friends, and so by degrees
left none remaining. 

Agesipolis, his fellow-king, was under the disadvantage of being born
of an exiled father, and himself young, modest, and inactive, meddled
not much in affairs. Agesilaus took a course of gaining him over and
making him entirely tractable. According to the custom of Sparta,
the kings, if they were in town, always dined together. This was Agesilaus's
opportunity of dealing with Agesipolis, whom he found quick, as he
himself was, in forming attachments for young men, and accordingly
talked with him always on such subjects, joining and aiding him, and
acting as his confidant, such attachments in Sparta being entirely
honourable, and attended always with lively feelings of modesty, love
of virtue, and a noble emulation; of which more is said in Lycurgus's

Having thus established his power in the city, he easily obtained
that his half-brother Teleutias might be chosen admiral, and thereupon
making an expedition against the Corinthians, he made himself master
of the long walls by land, through the assistance of his brother at
sea. Coming thus upon the Argives, who then held Corinth, in the midst
of their Isthmian festival, he made them fly from the sacrifice they
had just commenced, and leave all their festive provision behind them.
The exiled Corinthians that were in the Spartan army desired him to
keep the feast, and to preside in the celebration of it. This he refused,
but gave them leave to carry on the solemnity if they pleased, and
he in the meantime stayed and guarded them. 

When Agesilaus marched off, the Argives returned and celebrated the
games over again, when some who were victors before became victors
a second time; others lost the prizes which before they had gained.
Agesilaus thus made it clear to everybody that the Argives must in
their own eyes have been guilty of great cowardice since they set
such a value on presiding at the games, and yet had not dared to fight
for it. He himself was of opinion that to keep a mean in such things
was best; he assisted at the sports and dances usual in his own country,
and was always ready and eager to be present at the exercises either
of the young men or of the girls, but things that many men used to
be highly taken with he seemed not at all concerned about. Callippides,
the tragic actor, who had a great name in all Greece and was made
much of once met and saluted him; of which when he found no notice
taken, he confidently thrust himself into his train, expecting that
Agesilaus would pay him some attention. When all that failed, he boldly
accosted him, and asked him whether he did not remember him? Agesilaus
turned, and looking him in the face, "Are you not," said he, "Callippides
the showman?" Being invited once to hear a man who admirably imitated
the nightingale, he declined, saying he had heard the nightingale
itself. Menecrates, the physician, having had great success in some
desperate diseases, was by way of flattery called Jupiter; he was
so vain as to take the name, and having occasion to write a letter
to Agesilaus, thus addressed it: "Jupiter Menecrates to King Agesilaus,
greeting." The king returned answer: "Agesilaus to Menecrates, health
and a sound mind." 

Whilst Agesilaus was in the Corinthian territories, having just taken
the Heraeum, he was looking on while his soldiers were carrying away
the prisoners and the plunder, when ambassadors from Thebes came to
him to treat of peace. Having a great aversion for that city, and
thinking it then advantageous to his affairs publicly to slight them,
he took the opportunity, and would not seem either to see them or
hear them speak. But as if on purpose to punish him in his pride,
before they parted from him, messengers came with news of the complete
slaughter of one of the Spartan divisions by Iphicrates, a greater
disaster than had befallen them for many years, and that the more
grievous because it was a choice regiment of full-armed Lacedaemonians
overthrown by a parcel of mere mercenary targeteers. Agesilaus leapt
from his seat, to go at once to their rescue, but found it too late,
the business being over. He therefore returned to the Heraeum and
sent for the Theban ambassadors to give them audience. They now resolved
to be even with him for the affront he gave them, and without speaking
one word of the peace, only desired leave to go into Corinth. Agesilaus,
irritated with this proposal, told them in scorn, that if they were
anxious to go and see how proud their friends were of their success
they should do it to-morrow with safety. Next morning, taking the
ambassadors with him, he ravaged the Corinthian territories, up to
the very gates of the city, where, having made a stand, and let the
ambassadors see that the Corinthians durst not come out to defend
themselves, he dismissed them. Then gathering up the small remainders
of the shattered regiment, he marched homewards, always removing his
camp before day, and always pitching his tents after night, that he
might prevent their enemies among the Arcadians from taking any opportunity
of insulting over their loss. 

After this, at the request of the Achaeans, he marched with them into
Acarnania, and there collected great spoils, and defeated the Acarnanians
in battle. The Achaeans would have persuaded him to keep his winter
quarters there, to hinder the Acarnanians from sowing their corn;
but he was of the contrary opinion, alleging that they would be more
afraid of a war next summer, when their fields were sown, than they
would be if they lay fallow. The event justified his opinion; for
next summer, when the Achaeans began their expedition again, the Acarnanians
immediately made peace with them. 

When Conon and Pharnabazus with the Persian navy were grown masters
of the sea, and had not only infested the coast of Laconia, but also
rebuilt the walls of Athens at the cost of Pharnabazus, the Lacedaemonians
thought fit to treat of peace with the King of Persia. To that end,
they sent Antalcidas to Tiribazus, basely and wickedly betraying the
Asiatic Greeks, on whose behalf Agesilaus had made the war. But no
part of this dishonour fell upon Agesilaus, the whole being transacted
by Antalcidas, who was his bitter enemy, and was urgent for peace
upon any terms, because war was sure to increase his power and reputation.
Nevertheless, once being told by way of reproach that the Lacedaemonians
had gone over to the Medes, he replied, "No, the Medes had come over
to the Lacedaemonians." And when the Greeks were backward to submit
to the agreement, he threatened them with war, unless they fulfilled
the King of Persia's conditions, his particular end in this being
to weaken the Thebans; for it was made one of the articles of peace
that the country of Boeotia should be left independent. This feeling
of his to Thebes appeared further afterwards, when Phoebidas, in full
peace, most unjustifiably seized upon the Cadmea. The thing was much
resented by all Greece, and not well liked by the Lacedaemonians themselves;
those especially who were enemies to Agesilaus required an account
of the action, and by whose authority it was done, laying the suspicion
of it at his door. Agesilaus resolutely answered, on the behalf of
Phoebidas, that the profitableness of the act was chiefly to be considered;
if it were for the advantage of the commonwealth, it was no matter
whether it were done with or without authority. This was the more
remarkable in him, because in his ordinary language he was always
observed to be a great maintainer of justice, and would commend it
as the chief of virtues, saying, that valour without justice was useless,
and if all the world were just, there would be no need of valour.
When any would say to him, the Great King will have it so, he would
reply, "How is he greater than I, unless he be juster?" nobly and
rightly taking, as a sort of royal measure of greatness, justice and
not force. And thus when, on the conclusion of the peace, the King
of Persia wrote to Agesilaus, desiring a private friendship and relations
of hospitality, he refused it, saying that the public friendship was
enough; whilst that lasted there was no need of private. Yet in his
acts he was not constant to his doctrine, but sometimes out of ambition,
and sometimes out of private pique, he let himself be carried away;
and particularly in this case of the Thebans, he not only saved Phoebidas,
but persuaded the Lacedaemonians to take the fault upon themselves,
and to retain the Cadmea, putting a garrison into it, and to put the
government of Thebes into the hands of Archias and Leontidas, who
had been betrayers of the castle to them. 

This excited strong suspicion that what Phoebidas did was by Agesilaus's
order, which was corroborated by after-occurrences. For when the Thebans
had expelled the garrison, and asserted their liberty, he, accusing
them of the murder of Archias and Leontidas, who indeed were tyrants,
though in name holding the office of Polemarchs, made war upon them.
He sent Cleombrotus on that errand, who was now his fellow-king, in
the place of Agesipolis, who was dead, excusing himself by reason
of his age for it was forty years since he had first borne arms, and
he was consequently exempt by the law; meanwhile the true reason was,
that he was ashamed, having so lately fought against tyranny in behalf
of the Phliasians, to fight now in defence of a tyranny against the

One Sphodrias, of Lacedaemon, of the contrary faction to Agesilaus,
was governor in Thespiae, a bold and enterprising man, though he had
perhaps more of confidence than wisdom. This action of Phoebidas fired
him, and incited his ambition to attempt some great enterprise, which
might render him as famous as he perceived the taking of the Cadmea
had made Phoebidas. He thought the sudden capture of the Piraeus,
and the cutting off thereby the Athenians from the sea, would be a
matter of far more glory. It is said, too, that Pelopidas and Melon,
the chief captains of Boeotia, put him upon it; that they privately
sent men to him, pretending to be of the Spartan faction, who, highly
commending Sphodrias, filled him with a great opinion of himself,
protesting him to be the only man in the world that was fit for so
great an enterprise. Being thus stimulated, he could hold no longer,
but hurried into an attempt as dishonourable and treacherous as that
of the Cadmea, but executed with less valour and less success; for
the day broke whilst he was yet in the Thriasian plain, whereas he
designed the whole exploit to have been done in the night. As soon
as the soldiers perceived the rays of light reflecting from the temples
of Eleusis, upon the first rising of the sun, it is said that their
hearts failed them; nay, he himself, when he saw that he could not
have the benefit of the night, had not courage enough to go on with
his enterprise; but having pillaged the country, he returned with
shame to Thespiae. An embassy was upon this sent from Athens to Sparta,
to complain of the breach of peace; but the ambassadors found their
journey needless, Sphodrias being then under process by the magistrates
of Sparta. Sphodrias durst not stay to expect judgment, which he found
would be capital, the city being highly incensed against him, out
of the shame they felt at the business, and their desire to appear
in the eyes of the Athenians as fellow-sufferers in the wrong, rather
than accomplices in its being done. 

This Sphodrias had a son of great beauty named Cleonymus, to whom
Archidamus, the son of Agesilaus, was extremely attached. Archidamus,
as became him, was concerned for the danger of his friend's father,
but yet he durst not do anything openly for his assistance, he being
one of the professed enemies of Agesilaus. But Cleonymus having solicited
him with tears about it, as knowing Agesilaus to be of all his father's
enemies the most formidable, the young man for two or three days followed
after his father with such fear and confusion that he durst not speak
to him. At last, the day of sentence being at hand, he ventured to
tell him that Cleonymus had entreated him to intercede for his father.
Agesilaus, though well aware of the love between the two young men,
yet did not prohibit it, because Cleonymus from his earliest years
had been looked upon as a youth of very great promise; yet he gave
not his son any kind or hopeful answer in the case, but coldly told
him that he would consider what he could honestly and honourably do
in it, and so dismissed him. Archidamus being ashamed of his want
of success, forbore the company of Cleonymus, whom he usually saw
several times every day. This made the friends of Sphodrias to think
his case desperate, till Etymocles, one of Agesilaus's friends, discovered
to them the king's mind; namely, that he abhorred the fact, but yet
he thought Sphodrias a gallant man such as the commonwealth much wanted
at that time. For Agesilaus used to talk thus concerning the cause,
out of a desire to gratify his son. And now Cleonymus quickly understood
that Archidamus had been true to him, in using all his interests with
his father; and Sphodrias's friend ventured to be forward in his defence.
The truth is, that Agesilaus was excessively fond of his children;
and it is to him the story belongs, that when they were little ones,
he used to make a horse of a stick, and ride with them; and being
caught at this sport by a friend, he desired him not to mention it
till he himself were the father of children. 

Meanwhile, Sphodrias being acquitted, the Athenians betook themselves
to arms, and Agesilaus fell into disgrace with the people; since to
gratify the whims of a boy he had been willing to pervert justice,
and make the city accessory to the crimes of private men, whose most
unjustifiable actions had broken the peace of Greece. He also found
his colleague, Cleombrotus, little inclined to the Theban war; so
that it became necessary for him to waive the privilege of his age,
which he before had claimed, and to lead the army himself into Boeotia;
which he did with variety of success, sometimes conquering, and sometimes
conquered; insomuch that receiving a wound in a battle, he was reproached
by Antalcidas, that the Thebans had paid him well for the lessons
he had given them in fighting. And, indeed, they were now grown far
better soldiers than ever they had been, being so continually kept
in training by the frequency of the Lacedaemonian expeditions against
them. Out of the foresight of which it was that anciently Lycurgus,
in three several laws, forbade them to make any wars with the same
nation, as this would be to instruct their enemies in the art of it.
Meanwhile, the allies of Sparta were not a little discontented at
Agesilaus, because this war was commenced not upon any fair public
ground of quarrel, but merely out of his private hatred to the Thebans;
and they complained with indignation that they, being the majority
of the army, should from year to year be thus exposed to danger and
hardship here and there, at the will of a few persons. It was at this
time, we are told, that Agesilaus, to obviate the objection, devised
this expedient, to show the allies were not the greater number. He
gave orders that all the allies, of whatever country, should sit down
promiscuously on one side, and all the Lacedaemonians on the other:
which being done, he commanded a herald to proclaim, that all the
potters of both divisions should stand out; then all the blacksmiths;
then all the masons; next the carpenters; and so he went through all
the handicrafts. By this time almost all the allies were risen, but
of the Lacedaemonians not a man, they being by law forbidden to learn
any mechanical business; and now Agesilaus laughed and said, "You
see my friends, how many more soldiers we send out than you do."

When he brought back his army from Boeotia through Megara, as he was
going up to the magistrate's office in the Acropolis, he was suddenly
seized with pain and cramp in his sound leg, and great swelling and
inflammation ensued. He was treated by a Syracusan physician, who
let him blood below the ankle; this soon eased his pain, but then
the blood could not be stopped, till the loss of it brought on fainting
and swooning; at length, with much trouble, he stopped it. Agesilaus
was carried home to Sparta in a very weak condition, and did not recover
strength enough to appear in the field for a long time after.

Meanwhile, the Spartan fortune was but ill; they received many losses
both by sea and land; but the greatest was that at Tegyrae, when for
the first time they were beaten by the Thebans in a set battle.

All the Greeks were, accordingly, disposed to a general peace, and
to that end ambassadors came to Sparta. Among these was Epaminondas,
the Theban, famous at that time for his philosophy and learning, but
he had not yet given proof of his capacity as a general. He, seeing
all the others crouch to Agesilaus, and court favour with him, alone
maintained the dignity of an ambassador, and with that freedom that
became his character made a speech in behalf not of Thebes only, from
whence he came, but of all Greece, remonstrating that Sparta alone
grew great by war, to the distress and suffering of all her neighbours.
He urged that a peace should be made upon just and equal terms, such
as alone would be a lasting one, which could not otherwise be done
than by reducing all to equality. Agesilaus, perceiving all the other
Greeks to give much attention to this discourse, and to be pleased
with it, presently asked him whether he thought it a part of this
justice and equality that the Boeotian towns should enjoy their independence.
Epaminondas instantly and without wavering asked him in return, whether
he thought it just and equal that the Laconian towns should enjoy
theirs. Agesilaus started from his seat and bade him once for all
speak out and say whether or not Boeotia should be independent. And
when Epaminondas replied once again with the same inquiry, whether
Laconia should be so, Agesilaus was so enraged that, availing himself
of the pretext, he immediately struck the name of the Thebans out
of the league, and declared war against them. With the rest of the
Greeks he made a peace, and dismissed them with this saying, that
what could be peaceably adjusted, should; what was otherwise incurable,
must be committed to the success of war, it being a thing of too great
difficulty to provide for all things by treaty. 

The Ephors upon this despatched their orders to Cleombrotus, who was
at that time in Phocis, to march directly into Boeotia, and at the
same time sent to their allies for aid. The confederates were very
tardy in their business and unwilling to engage, but as yet they feared
the Spartans too much to dare to refuse. And although many portents
and prodigies of ill-presage, which I have mentioned in the life of
Epaminondas, had appeared, and though Prothous, the Laconian, did
all he could to hinder it, yet Agesilaus would needs go forward, and
prevailed so, that the war was decreed. He thought the present juncture
of affairs very advantageous for their revenge, the rest of Greece
being wholly free, and the Thebans excluded from the peace. But that
this war was undertaken more upon passion than judgment the event
may prove; for the treaty was finished but the fourteenth of Scirophorion,
and the Lacedaemonians received their great overthrow at Leuctra on
the fifth of Hecatombaeon, within twenty days. There fell at that
time a thousand Spartans, and Cleombrotus their king, and around him
the bravest men of the nation; particularly the beautiful youth, Cleonymus,
the son of Sphodrias, who was thrice struck down at the feet of the
king, and as often rose, but was slain at the last. 

This unexpected blow, which fell so heavy upon the Lacedaemonians,
brought greater glory to Thebes than ever was acquired by any other
of the Grecian republics in their civil wars against each other. The
behaviour, notwithstanding, of the Spartans, though beaten, was as
great, and as highly to be admired, as that of the Thebans. And indeed,
if, as Xenophon says, in conversation good men even in their sports
and at their wine let fall many sayings that are worth the preserving,
how much more worthy to be recorded is an exemplary constancy of mind,
as shown both in the words and in the acts of brave men when they
are pressed by adverse fortune! It happened that the Spartans were
celebrating a solemn feast, at which many strangers were present from
other countries, and the town full of them, when this news of the
overthrow came. It was the gymnopaediae, and the boys were dancing
in the theatre, when the messengers arrived from Leuctra. The Ephors,
though they were sufficiently aware that this blow had ruined the
Spartan power, and that their primacy over the rest of Greece was
gone for ever, yet gave orders that the dances should not break off,
nor any of the celebration of the festival abate; but privately sending
the names of the slain to each family, out of which they were lost,
they continued the public spectacles. The next morning when they had
full intelligence concerning it, and everybody knew who were slain,
and who survived, the fathers, relatives, and friends of the slain
came out rejoicing in the market-place, saluting each other with a
kind of exultation; on the contrary, the fathers of the survivors
hid themselves at home among the women. If necessity drove any of
them abroad they went very dejectedly, with downcast looks and sorrowful
countenances. The women outdid the men in it; those whose sons were
slain openly rejoicing, cheerfully making visits to one another, and
meeting triumphantly in the temples; they who expected their children
home being very silent and much troubled. 

But the people in general, when their allies now began to desert them,
and Epaminondas, in all the confidence of victory, was expected with
an invading army in Peloponnesus, began to think again of Agesilaus's
lameness, and to entertain feelings of religious fear and despondency,
as if their having rejected the sound-footed, and having chosen the
halting king, which the oracle had specially warned them against,
was the occasion of all their distresses. Yet the regard they had
to the merit and reputation of Agesilaus so far stilled this murmuring
of the people that, notwithstanding it, they intrusted themselves
to him in this distress, as the only man that was fit to heal the
public malady, the arbiter of all their difficulties, whether relating
to the affairs of war or peace. One great one was then before them
concerning the runaways (as their name is for them) that had fled
out of the battle, who being many and powerful, it was feared that
they might make some commotion in the republic, to prevent the execution
of the law upon them for their cowardice. The law in that case was
very severe; for they were not only to be debarred from all honours,
but also it was a disgrace to intermarry with them; whoever met any
of them in the streets might beat him if he chose, nor was it lawful
for him to resist; they, in the meanwhile, were obliged to go about
unwashed and meanly dressed, with their clothes patched with divers
colours, and to wear their beards half shaved, half unshaven. To execute
so rigid a law as this, in a case where the offenders were so many,
and many of them of such distinction, and that in a time when the
commonwealth wanted soldiers so much as then it did, was of dangerous
consequence. Therefore they chose Agesilaus as a sort of new lawgiver
for the occasion. But he, without adding to or diminishing from or
any way changing the law, came out into the public assembly, and said
that the law should sleep for to-day, but from this day forth be vigorously
executed. By this means he at once preserved the law from abrogation
and the citizens from infamy; and that he might alleviate the despondency
and self-distrust of the young men, he made an inroad into Arcadia,
where, carefully avoiding all fighting, he contended himself with
spoiling the territory, and taking a small town belonging to the Mantineans,
thus reviving the hearts of the people, letting them see that they
were not everywhere unsuccessful. 

Epaminondas now invaded Laconia with an army of forty thousand, besides
light-armed men and others that followed the camp only for plunder,
so that in all they were at least seventy thousand. It was now six
hundred years since the Dorians had possessed Laconia, and in all
that time the face of an enemy had not been seen within their territories,
no man daring to invade them; but now they made their entrance, and
burnt and plundered without resistance the hitherto untouched and
sacred territory up to Eurotas and the very suburbs of Sparta; for
Agesilaus would not permit them to encounter so impetuous a torrent,
as Theopompus calls it, of war. He contented himself with fortifying
the chief parts of the city, and with placing guards in convenient
places, enduring meanwhile the taunts of the Thebans, who reproached
him by name as the kindler of the war, and the author of all that
mischief to his country, bidding him defend himself if he could. But
this was not all; he was equally disturbed at home with the tumults
of the city, the outcries and running about of the old men, who were
enraged at their present condition, and the women yet worse, out of
their senses with the clamours, and the fires of the enemy in the
field. He was also himself afflicted by the sense of his lost glory;
who, having come to the throne of Sparta when it was in its most flourishing
and powerful condition, now lived to see it laid low in esteem, and
all its great vaunts cut down, even that which he himself had been
accustomed to use, that the women of Sparta had never seen the smoke
of the enemy's fire. As it is said, also, that when Antalcidas, once
being in dispute with an Athenian about the valour of the two nations,
the Athenian boasted that they had often driven the Spartans from
the river Cephisus, "Yes," said Antalcidas, "but we never had occasion
to drive you from Eurotas." And a common Spartan of less note, being
in company with an Argive, who was bragging how many Spartans lay
buried in the fields of Argos, replied, "None of you are buried in
the country of Laconia." Yet now the case was so altered that Antalcidas,
being one of the Ephors, out of fear sent away his children privately
to the island of Cythera. 

When the enemy essayed to get over the river, and thence to attack
the town, Agesilaus, abandoning the rest, betook himself to the high
places and strongholds of it. But it happened Eurotas at that time
was swollen to a great height with snow that had fallen and made the
passage very difficult to the Thebans, not only by its depth, but
much more by its extreme coldness. Whilst this was doing, Epaminondas
was seen in the front of the phalanx, and was pointed out to Agesilaus,
who looked long at him, and said but these words, "O bold man!" But
when he came to the city, and would have fain attempted something
within the limits of it that might raise him a trophy there, he could
not tempt Agesilaus out of his hold, but was forced to march off again,
wasting the country as he went. 

Meanwhile, a body of long discontented and bad citizens, about two
hundred in number, having got into a strong part of the town called
the Issorion, where the temple of Diana stands, seized and garrisoned
it. The Spartans would have fallen upon them instantly; but Agesilaus,
not knowing how far the sedition might reach, bade them forbear, and
going himself in his ordinary dress, with but one servant, when he
came near the rebels, called out, and told them that they mistook
their orders; this was not the right place; they were to go, one part
of them thither, showing them another place in the city, and part
to another, which he also showed. The conspirators gladly heard this,
thinking themselves unsuspected of treason, and readily went off to
the places which he showed them. Whereupon Agesilaus placed in their
room a guard of his own; and of the conspirators he apprehended fifteen,
and put them to death in the night. But after this a much more dangerous
conspiracy was discovered of Spartan citizens, who had privately met
in each other's houses, plotting a revolution. These were men whom
it was equally dangerous to prosecute publicly according to law and
to connive at. Agesilaus took council with the Ephors, and put these
also to death privately without process; a thing never before known
in the case of any born Spartan. 

At this time, also, many of the helots and country people, who were
in the army, ran away to the enemy, which was a matter of great consternation
to the city. He therefore caused some officers of his, every morning,
before day, to search the quarters of the soldiers, and where any
man was gone, to hide his arms, that so the greatness of the number
might not appear. 

Historians differ about the cause of the Thebans' departure from Sparta.
Some say the winter forced them; as also that the Arcadian soldiers
disbanding, made it necessary for the rest to retire. Others say that
they stayed there three months, till they had laid the whole country
waste. Theopompus is the only author who says that when the Boeotian
generals had already resolved upon the retreat, Phrixus, the Spartan,
came to them, and offered them from Agesilaus ten talents to be gone,
so hiring them to do what they were already doing of their own accord.
How he alone should come to be aware of this I know not; only in this
all authors agree, that the saving of Sparta from ruin was wholly
due to the wisdom of Agesilaus, who in this extremity of affairs quitted
all his ambition and his haughtiness, and resolved to play a saving
game. But all his wisdom and courage was not sufficient to recover
the glory of it, and to raise it to its ancient greatness. For as
we see in human bodies, long used to a very strict and too exquisitely
regular diet, any single great disorder is usually fatal; so here
one stroke overthrew the whole state's long prosperity. Nor can we
be surprised at this. Lycurgus had formed a polity admirably designed
for the peace, harmony, and virtuous life of the citizens; and their
fall came from their assuming foreign dominion and arbitrary sway,
things wholly undesirable, in the judgment of Lycurgus, for a well-conducted
and happy state. 

Agesilaus being now in years, gave over all military employments;
but his son, Archidamus, having received help from Dionysius of Sicily,
gave a great defeat to the Arcadians, in the fight known by the name
of the Tearless Battle, in which there was a great slaughter of the
enemy without the loss of one Spartan. Yet this victory, more than
anything else, discovered the present weakness of Sparta; for heretofore
victory was esteemed so usual a thing with them that for their greatest
successes they merely sacrificed a cock to the gods. The soldiers
never vaunted, nor did the citizens display any great joy at the news;
even when the great victory, described by Thucydides, was obtained
at Mantinea, the messenger that brought the news had no other reward
than a piece of meat, sent by the magistrates from the common table.
But at the news of this Arcadian victory they were not able to contain
themselves; Agesilaus went out in procession with tears of joy in
his eyes to meet and embrace his son, and all the magistrates and
public officers attended him. The old men and the women marched out
as far as the river Eurotas, lifting up their hands, and thanking
the gods that Sparta was now cleared again of the disgrace and indignity
that had befallen her, and once more saw the light of day. Since before,
they tell us, the Spartan men, out of shame at their disasters, did
not dare so much as to look their wives in the face. 

When Epaminondas restored Messene, and recalled from all quarters
the ancient citizens to inhabit it, they were not able to obstruct
the design, being not in condition of appearing in the field against
them. But it went greatly against Agesilaus in the minds of his countrymen,
when they found so large a territory, equal to their own in compass,
and for fertility the richest of all Greece, which they had enjoyed
so long, taken from them in his reign. Therefore it was that the king
broke off treaty with the Thebans when they offered him peace, rather
than set his hand to the passing away of that country, though it was
already taken from him. Which point of honour had like to have cost
him dear; for not long after he was overreached by a stratagem, which
had almost amounted to the loss of Sparta. For when the Mantineans
again revolted from Thebes to Sparta, and Epaminondas understood that
Agesilaus was come to their assistance with a powerful army, he privately
in the night quitted his quarters of Tegea, and, unknown to the Mantineans,
passing by Agesilaus, marched toward Sparta, insomuch that he failed
very little of taking it empty and unarmed. 

Agesilaus had intelligence sent him by Euthynus, the Thespian, as
Callisthenes says, but Xenophon says by a Cretan; and immediately
despatched a horseman to Lacedaemon to apprise them of it, and to
let them know that he was hastening to them. Shortly after his arrival
the Thebans crossed the Eurotas. They made an assault upon the town,
and were received by Agesilaus with great courage, and with exertions
beyond what was to be expected at his years. For he did not now fight
with that caution and cunning which he formerly made use of, but put
all upon a desperate push; which, though not his usual method, succeeded
so well, that he rescued the city out of the very hands of Epaminondas,
and forced him to retire, and, at the erection of a trophy, was able,
in the presence of their wives and children, to declare that the Lacedaemonians
had nobly paid their debt to their country, and particularly his son
Archidamus, who had that day made himself illustrious, both by his
courage and agility of body, rapidly passing about by the short lanes
to every endangered point, and everywhere maintaining the town against
the enemy with but few to help him. 

Isadas, however, the son of Phoebidas, must have been, I think, the
admiration of the enemy as well as of his friends. He was a youth
of remarkable beauty and stature, in the very flower of the most attractive
time of life, when the boy is just rising into the man. He had no
arms upon him and scarcely clothes; he had just anointed himself at
home, when, upon the alarm, without further awaiting, in that undress,
he snatched a spear in one hand and a sword in the other, and broke
his way through the combatants to the enemies, striking at all he
met. He received no wound, whether it were that a special divine care
rewarded his valour with an extraordinary protection, or whether his
shape being so large and beautiful, and his dress so unusual, they
thought him more than a man. The Ephors gave him a garland; but as
soon as they had done so, they fined him a thousand drachmas for going
out to battle unarmed. 

A few days after this there was another battle fought near Mantinea,
in which Epaminondas, having routed the van of the Lacedaemonians,
was eager in the pursuit of them, when Anticrates, the Laconian, wounded
him with a spear, says Dioscorides; but the Spartans to this day call
the posterity of this Anticrates, swordsmen, because he wounded Epaminondas
with a sword. They so dreaded Epaminondas when living, that the slayer
of him was embraced and admired by all; they decreed honours and gifts
to him, and an exemption from taxes to his posterity, a privilege
enjoyed at this day by Callicrates, one of his descendants.

Epaminondas being slain, there was a general peace again concluded,
from which Agesilaus's party excluded the Messenians, as men that
had no city, and therefore would not let them swear to the league;
to which when the rest of the Greeks admitted them, the Lacedaemonians
broke off, and continued the war alone, in hopes of subduing the Messenians.
In this Agesilaus was esteemed a stubborn and headstrong man, and
insatiable of war, who took such pains to undermine the general peace,
and to protract the war at a time when he had not money to carry it
on with, but was forced to borrow of his friends and raise subscriptions,
with much difficulty, while the city, above all things, needed repose.
And all this to recover the one poor town of Messene, after he had
lost so great an empire both by sea and land, as the Spartans were
possessed of when he began to reign. 

But it added still more to his ill-repute when he put himself into
the service of Tachos, the Egyptian. They thought it too unworthy
of a man of his high station, who was then looked upon as the first
commander in all Greece, who had filled all countries with his renown,
to let himself out to hire to a barbarian, an Egyptian rebel (for
Tachos was no better), and to fight for pay, as captain only of a
band of mercenaries. If, they said, at those years of eighty and odd,
after his body had been worn out with age, and enfeebled with wounds,
he had resumed that noble undertaking, the liberation of the Greeks
from Persia, it had been worthy of some reproof. To make an action
honourable, it ought to be agreeable to the age and other circumstances
of the person; since it is circumstance and proper measure that give
an action its character, and make it either good or bad. But Agesilaus
valued not other men's discourses; he thought no public employment
dishonourable; the ignoblest thing in his esteem was for a man to
sit idle and useless at home, waiting for his death to come and take
him. The money, therefore, that he received from Tachos, he laid out
in raising men, with whom, having filled his ships, he took also thirty
Spartan counsellors with him, as formerly he had done in his Asiatic
expedition, and set sail for Egypt. 

As soon as he arrived in Egypt, all the great officers of the kingdom
came to pay their compliments to him at his landing. His reputation,
being so great, had raised the expectation of the whole country, and
crowds flocked in to see him; but when they found, instead of the
splendid prince whom they looked for, a little old man of contemptible
appearance, without ceremony lying down upon the grass, in coarse
and threadbare clothes, they fell into laughter and scorn of him,
crying out that the old proverb was now made good, "The mountain had
brought forth a mouse." They were yet more astonished at his stupidity,
as they thought it, who, when presents were made him of all sorts
of provisions, took only the meal, the calves, and the geese, but
rejected the sweetmeats, the confections, and perfumes: and when they
urged him to the acceptance of them, took them and gave them to the
helots in his army. Yet he was taken, Theophrastus tells us, with
the garlands they made of the papyrus, because of their simplicity,
and when he returned home, he demanded one of the king, which he carried
with him. 

When he joined with Tachos, he found his expectation of being general-in-chief
disappointed. Tachos reserved that place for himself, making Agesilaus
only captain of the mercenaries, and Chabrias, the Athenian, commander
of the fleet. This was the first occasion of his discontent, but there
followed others; he was compelled daily to submit to the insolence
and vanity of this Egyptian, and was at length forced to attend him
into Phoenicia, in a condition much below his character and dignity,
which he bore and put up with for a time, till he had opportunity
of showing his feelings. It was afforded him by Nectanabis, the cousin
of Tachos, who commanded a large force under him, and shortly after
deserted him, and was proclaimed king by the Egyptians. This man invited
Agesilaus to join his party, and the like he did to Chabrias, offering
great rewards to both. Tachos, suspecting it, immediately applied
himself both to Agesilaus and Chabrias, with great humility beseeching
their continuance in his friendship. Chabrias consented to it, and
did what he could by persuasion and good words to keep Agesilaus with
them. But he gave this short reply, "You, O Chabrias, came hither
a volunteer, and may go and stay as you see cause; but I am the servant
of Sparta, appointed to head the Egyptians, and therefore I cannot
fight against those to whom I was sent as a friend, unless I am commanded
to do so by my country." This being said, he despatched messengers
to Sparta, who were sufficiently supplied with matter both for dispraise
of Tachos and commendation of Nectanabis. The two Egyptians also sent
their ambassadors to Lacedaemon, the one to claim continuance of the
league already made, the other to make great offers for the breaking
of it, and making a new one. The Spartans having heard both sides,
gave in their public answer, that they referred the whole matter to
Agesilaus; but privately wrote to him to act as he should find it
best for the profit of the commonwealth. Upon receipt of his orders,
he at once changed sides, carrying all the mercenaries with him to
Nectanabis, covering, with the plausible pretence of acting for the
benefit of his country, a most questionable piece of conduct, which,
stripped of that disguise, in real truth was no better than downright
treachery. But the Lacedaemonians, who make it their first principle
of action to serve their country's interest, know not anything to
be just or unjust by any measure but that. 

Tachos, being thus deserted by the mercenaries, fled for it; upon
which a new king of the Mendesian province was proclaimed his successor,
and came against Nectanabis with an army of one hundred thousand men.
Nectanabis, in his talk with Agesilaus, professed to despise them
as newly raised men, who, though many in number, were of no skill
in war being most of them mechanics and tradesmen, never bred to war.
To whom Agesilaus answered, that he did not fear their numbers, but
did fear their ignorance, which gave no room for employing stratagem
against them. Stratagem only avails with men who are alive to suspicion,
and, expecting to be assailed, expose themselves by their attempts
at defence; but one who has no thought or expectation of anything,
gives as little opportunity to the enemy as he who stands stock-still
does to a wrestler. The Mendesian was not wanting in solicitations
of Agesilaus, insomuch that Nectanabis grew jealous. But when Agesilaus
advised to fight the enemy at once, saying it was folly to protract
the war and rely on time, in a contest with men who had no experience
in fighting battles, but with their great numbers might be able to
surround them, and cut off their communications by entrenchments,
and anticipate them in many matters of advantage, this altogether
confirmed him in his fears and suspicions. He took quite the contrary
course, and retreated into a large and strongly fortified town. Agesilaus,
finding himself mistrusted, took it very ill, and was full of indignation,
yet was ashamed to change sides back again, or to go away without
effecting anything, so that he was forced to follow Nectanabis into
the town. 

When the enemy came up, and began to draw lines about the town, and
to entrench, the Egyptian now resolved upon a battle out of fear of
a siege. And the Greeks were eager for it, provisions growing already
scarce in the town. When Agesilaus opposed it, the Egyptians then
suspected him much more, publicly calling him the betrayer of the
king. But Agesilaus, being now satisfied within himself, bore these
reproaches patiently, and followed the design which he had laid, of
over-reaching the enemy, which was this. 

The enemy were forming a deep ditch and high wall, resolving to shut
up the garrison and starve it. When the ditch was brought almost quite
round and the two ends had all but met, he took the advantage of the
night and armed all his Greeks. Then going to the Egyptian, "This,
young man, is your opportunity," said he, "of saving yourself, which
I all this while durst not announce, lest discovery should prevent
it; but now the enemy has, at his own cost, and the pains and labour
of his own men, provided for our security. As much of this wall as
is built will prevent them from surrounding us with their multitude,
the gap yet left will be sufficient for us to sally out by; now play
the man, and follow the example the Greeks will give you, and by fighting
valiantly save yourself and your army; their front will not be able
to stand against us, and their rear we are sufficiently secured from
by a wall of their own making." 

Nectanabis, admiring the sagacity of Agesilaus, immediately placed
himself in the middle of the Greek troops, and fought with them; and
upon the first charge soon routed the enemy. Agesilaus having now
gained credit with the king, proceeded to use, like a trick in wrestling,
the same stratagem over again. He sometimes pretended a retreat, at
other times advanced to attack their flanks, and by this means at
last drew them into a place enclosed between two ditches that were
very deep and full of water. When he had them at this advantage, he
soon charged them, drawing up the front of his battle equal to the
space between the two ditches, so that they had no way of surrounding
him, being enclosed themselves on both sides. They made but little
resistance; many fell, others fled and were dispersed. 

Nectanabis, being thus settled and fixed in his kingdom, with much
kindness and affection invited Agesilaus to spend his winter in Egypt,
but he made haste home to assist in wars of his own country, which
was, he knew, in want of money, and forced to hire mercenaries, whilst
their own men were fighting abroad. The king, therefore, dismissed
him very honourably, and among other gifts presented him with two
hundred and thirty talents of silver toward the charge of the war.
But the weather being tempestuous, his ships kept inshore, and passing
along the coast of Africa he reached an uninhabited spot called the
Port of Menelaus, and here, when his ships were just upon landing,
he expired, being eighty-four years old, and having reigned in Lacedaemon
forty-one. Thirty of which years he passed with the reputation of
being the greatest and most powerful man of all Greece, and was looked
upon as, in a manner, general and king of it, until the battle of
Leuctra. It was the custom of the Spartans to bury their common dead
in the place where they died, whatsoever country it was, but their
kings they carried home. The followers of Agesilaus, for want of honey,
enclosed his body in wax, and so conveyed him to Lacedaemon.

His son, Archidamus, succeeded him on his throne; so did his posterity
successively to Agis, the fifth from Agesilaus; who was slain by Leonidas
while attempting to restore the ancient discipline of Sparta.



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