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The philosopher Chrysippus, O Polycrates, quotes an ancient proverb, not as really it should be, apprehending, I suppose, that it sounded too harshly, but so as he thought it would run best, in these words:- "Who praise their fathers but the generous sons?" But Dionysodorus the Troezenian proves him to be wrong, and restores the true reading, which is thus:-
"Who praise their fathers but degenerate sons?" telling us that the proverb is meant to stop the mouth of those who, having no merit of their own, take refuge in the virtues of their ancestors, and make their advantage of praising them. But, as Pindar hath it-
"He that by nature doth inherit
From ancestors a noble spirit," as you do, who made your life the copy of the fairest originals of your family- such, I say, may take great satisfaction in being reminded, both by hearing others speak and speaking themselves, of the best of their progenitors. For they assume not the glory of praises earned by others out of any want of worth of their own, but affiliating their own deeds to those of their ancestors, give them honour as the authors both of their descent and manners. Therefore I have sent to you the life which I have written of your fellow-citizen and forefather, Aratus, to whom you are no discredit in point either of reputation or of authority, not as though you had not been most diligently concerning to inform yourself from the beginning concerning his actions, but that your sons, Polycrates and Pythocles, may both by hearing and reading become familiar with those family examples which it behooves them to follow and imitate. It is a piece of self-love, and not of the love of virtue, to imagine one has already attained to what is best.
The city of Sicyon, from the time that it first fell off from the pure and Doric aristocracy (its harmony being destroyed, and a mere series of seditions and personal contests of popular leaders ensuing), continued to be distempered and unsettled, changing from one tyrant to another, until, Cleon being slain, Timoclides and Clinias, men of the most repute and power amongst the citizens, were chosen to the magistracy. And the commonwealth now seeming to be in a pretty settled condition, Timoclides died, and Abantidas, the son of Paseas, to possess himself of the tyranny, killed Clinias, and, of his kindred and friends, slew some and banished others. He sought also to kill his son Aratus, whom he left behind him, being but seven years old. This boy in the general disorder getting out of the house with those that fled, and wandering about the city helpless and in great fear, by chance got undiscovered into the house of a woman who was Abantidas's sister, but married to Prophantus, the brother of Clinias, her name being Soso. She, being of a generous temper, and believing the boy had by some supernatural guidance fled to her for shelter, hid him in the house, and at night sent him away to Argos.
Aratus, being thus delivered and secured from this danger, conceived from the first and ever after nourished a vehement and burning hatred against tyrants, which strengthened with his years. Being therefore bred up amongst his father's acquaintance and friends at Argos with a liberal education, and perceiving his body to promise good health and stature, he addicted himself to the exercises of the palaestra, to that degree that he competed in the five games, and gained some crowns; and indeed in his statues one may observe a certain kind of athletic cast, and the sagacity and majesty of his countenance does not dissemble his full diet and the use of the hoe. Whence it came to pass that he less studied eloquence than perhaps became a statesman, and yet he was more accomplished in speaking than many believe, judging by the commentaries which he left behind him, written carelessly and, by the way, as fast as he could do it, and in such words as first came to his mind.
In the course of time, Dinias and Aristoteles the logician killed Abantidas, who used to be present in the market-place at their discussions, and to make one in them; till they taking the occasion, insensibly accustomed him to the practice, and so had opportunity to contrive and execute a plot against him. After him Paseas, the father of Abantidas, taking upon him the government, was assassinated by Nicocles, who himself set up for tyrant. Of him it is related that he was strikingly like Periander, the son of Cypselus, just as it is said that Orontes the Persian bore a great resemblance to Alcmaeon, the son of Amphiaraus, and that Lacedaemonian youth, whom Myrsilus relates to have been trodden to pieces by the crowd of those that came to see him upon that report, to Hector.
This Nicocles governed four months, in which, after he had done all kinds of mischief to the city, he very nearly let it fall into the hands of the Aetolians. By this time Aratus, being grown a youth, was in much esteem, both for his noble birth, and his spirit and disposition, which, while neither insignificant nor wanting in energy, were solid, and tempered with a steadiness of judgment beyond his years. For which reason the exiles had their eyes most upon him, nor did Nicocles less observe his motions, but secretly spied and watched him, not out of apprehension of any such considerable or utterly audacious attempt, but suspecting he held correspondence with the kings, who were his father's friends and acquaintance. And, indeed, Aratus first attempted this way; but finding that Antigonus, who had promised fair, neglected him and delayed the time, and that his hopes from Egypt and Ptolemy were long to wait for, he determined to cut off the tyrant by himself.
And first he broke his mind to Aristomachus and Ecdelus, the one an exile of Sicyon, the other, Ecdelus, an Arcadian of Megalopolis, a philosopher, and a man of action, having been the familiar friend of Arcesilaus the Academic at Athens. These readily consenting, he communicated with the other exiles, whereof some few, being ashamed to seem to despair of success, engaged in the design; but most of them endeavoured to divert him from his purpose, as one that for want of experience was too rash and daring.
Whilst he was consulting to seize upon some post in Sicyonia, from whence he might make war upon the tyrant, there came to Argos a certain Sicyonian, newly escaped out of prison, brother to Xenocles, one of the exiles, who, being by him presented to Aratus, informed him that that part of the wall over which he escaped was, inside, almost level with the ground, adjoining a rocky and elevated place, and that from the outside it might be scaled with ladders. Aratus, hearing this, despatches away Xenocles with two of his own servants, Seuthas and Technon, to view the wall, resolving, if possible, secretly and with one risk to hazard all on a single trial, rather than carry on a contest as a private man against a tyrant by long war and open force. Xenocles, therefore, with his companions, returning, having taken the height of the wall, and declaring the place not to be impossible or indeed difficult to get over, but that it was not easy to approach it undiscovered by reason of some small but uncommonly savage and noisy dogs belonging to a gardener hard by, he immediately undertook the business.
Now the preparation of arms gave no jealousy, because robberies and petty forays were at that time common everywhere between one set of people and another; and for the ladders, Euphranor, the machine-maker, made them openly, his trade rendering him unsuspected, though one of the exiles. As for men, each of his friends in Argos furnished him with ten apiece out of those few they had, and he armed thirty of his own servants, and hired some few soldiers of Xenophilus, the chief of the robber captains, to whom it was given out that they were to march into the territory of Sicyon to seize the king's stud; most of them were sent before, in small parties, to the tower of Polygnotus, with orders to wait there; Caphisias also was despatched beforehand lightly armed, with four others, who were, as soon as it was dark, to come to the gardener's house, pretending to be travellers, and procuring their lodging there, to shut up him and his dogs; for there was no other way to getting past. And for the ladders, they had been made to take in pieces, and were put into chests, and sent before, hidden upon wagons. In the meantime, some of the spies of Nicocles appearing in Argos, and being said to go privately about watching Aratus, he came early in the morning into the market-place, showing himself openly and conversing with his friends; then he anointed himself in the exercise ground, and, taking with him thence some of the young men that used to drink and spend their time with him, he went home; and presently after several of his servants were seen about the market-place, one carrying garlands, another buying flambeaux, and a third speaking to the women that used to sing and play at banquets, all of which things the spies observing were deceived, and said, laughing to one another. "Certainly nothing can be more timorous than a tyrant, if Nicocles, being master of so great a city and so numerous a force, stands in fear of a youth that spends what he has to subsist upon in his banishment in pleasures and day-debauches;" and, being thus imposed upon, they returned home.
But Aratus, departing immediately after his morning meal, and coming to his soldiers at Polygnotus's tower, led them to Nemea; where he disclosed to most of them, for the first time, his true design, making them large promises and fair speeches, and marched towards the city, giving for the word Apollo victorious, proportioning his march to the motion of the moon, so as to have the benefit of her light upon the way, and to be in the garden, which was close to the wall, just as she was setting. Here Caphisias to him, who had not secured the dogs, which had run away before he could catch them, but had only made sure of the gardener. Upon which most of the company being out of heart and desiring to retreat, Aratus encouraged them to go on, promising to retire in case the dogs were too troublesome; at the same time sending forward those that carried the ladders, conducted by Ecdelus and Mnasitheus, he followed them himself leisurely, the dogs already barking very loud and following the steps of Ecdelus and his companion. However, they got to the wall, and reared the ladders with safety. But as the foremost men were mounting them, the captain of the watch that was to be relieved by the morning guard passed on his way with the bell; and there were many lights, and a noise of people coming up. Hearing which, they clapt themselves close to the ladders, and so were unobserved; but as the other watch also was coming up to meet this, they were in extreme danger of being discovered. But when this also went by without observing them, immediately Mnasitheus and Ecdelus got upon the wall, and, possessing themselves of the approaches inside and out, sent away Technon to Aratus, desiring him to make all the haste he could.
Now there was no great distance from the garden to the wall and to the tower in which latter a large hound was kept. The hound did not hear their steps of himself, whether that he were naturally drowsy, or over-wearied the day before, but, the gardener's curs awaking him, he first began to growl and grumble in response, and then as they passed by to bark out aloud. And the barking was now so great, that the sentinel opposite shouted out to the dog's keeper to know why the dog kept such a barking, and whether anything was the matter; who answered, that it was nothing but only that his dog had been set barking by the lights of the watch and the noise of the bell. This reply much encouraged Aratus's soldiers, who thought the dog's keeper was privy to their design, and wished to conceal what was passing, and that many others in the city were of the conspiracy. But when they came to scale the wall, the attempt then appeared both to require time and to be full of danger, for the ladders shook and tottered extremely unless they mounted them leisurely and one by one, and time pressed, for the cocks began to crow, and the country people that used to bring things to the market would be coming to the town directly. Therefore Aratus made haste to get up himself, forty only of the company being already upon the wall and, staying but for a few more of those that were below, he made straight to the tyrant's house and the general's office, where the mercenary soldiers passed the night, and, coming suddenly upon them, and taking them prisoners without killing any one of them, he immediately sent to all his friends in their houses to desire them to come to him, which they did from all quarters. By this time the day began to break, and the theatre was filled with a multitude that were held in suspense by uncertain reports and knew nothing distinctly of what had happened, until a public crier came forward and proclaimed that Aratus, the son of Clinias, invited the citizens to recover their liberty.
Then at last assured that what they had so long looked for was come to pass, they pressed in throngs to the tyrant's gates to set them on fire. And such a flame was kindled, the whole house catching fire, that it was seen as far as Corinth; so that the Corinthians, wondering what the matter could be, were upon the point of coming to their assistance. Nicocles fled away secretly out of the city by means of certain underground passages, and the soldiers helping the Sicyonians to quench the fire, plundered the house. This Aratus hindered not, but divided also the rest of the riches of the tyrant amongst the citizens. In this exploit, not one of these engaged in it was slain, nor any of the contrary party, fortune so ordering the action as to be clear and free from civil bloodshed. He restored eighty exiles who had been expelled by Nicocles, and no less than five hundred who had been driven out by former tyrants and had endured a long banishment, pretty nearly, by this time, of fifty years' duration. These returning, most of them very poor, were impatient to enter upon their former possessions, and, proceeding to their several farms and houses, gave great perplexity to Aratus, who considered that the city without was envied for its liberty and aimed at by Antigonus, and within was full of disorder and sedition. Wherefore, as things stood, he thought it best to associate it to the Achaean community, and so, although Dorians, they of their own will took upon them the name and citizenship of the Achaeans, who at that time had neither great repute nor much power. For the most of them lived in small towns, and their territory was neither large nor fruitful, and the neighbouring sea was almost wholly without a harbour, breaking direct upon a rocky shore. But yet these above others made it appear that the Grecian courage was invincible, whensoever it could only have order and concord within itself and a prudent general to direct it. For though they had scarcely been counted as any part of the ancient Grecian power, and at this time it did not equal the strength of one ordinary city, yet by prudence and unanimity, and because they knew not how to envy and malign, but to obey and follow him amongst them that was most eminent for virtue, they not only preserved their own liberty in the midst of so many great cities, military powers, and monarchies, but went on steadily saving and delivering from slavery great numbers of the Greeks.
As for Aratus, he was in his behaviour a true statesman, high-minded, and more intent upon the public than his private concerns, a bitter hater of tyrants, making the common good the rule and law of his friendships and enmities. So that indeed he seems not to have been so faithful a friend, as he was a reasonable and gentle enemy, ready, according to the needs of the state, to suit himself on occasion to either side; concord between nations, brotherhood between cities, the council and the assembly unanimous in their votes, being the objects above all other blessings to which he was passionately devoted; backward, indeed, and diffident in the use of arms and often force, but in effecting a purpose underhand, and outwitting cities and potentates without observation, most politic and dexterous. Therefore, though he succeeded beyond hope in many enterprises which he undertook, yet he seems to have left quite as many unattempted, though feasible enough, for want of assurance. For it should seem, that as the sight of certain beasts is strong in the night but dim by day, the tenderness of the humours of their eyes not bearing the contact of the light, so there is also one kind of human skill and sagacity which is easily daunted and disturbed in actions done in the open day and before the world, and recovers all its self-possession in secret and covert enterprises; which inequality is occasioned in noble minds for want of philosophy, a mere wild and uncultivated fruit of a virtue without true knowledge coming up; as might be made out by examples.
Aratus, therefore, having associated himself and his city to the Achaeans, served in the cavalry, and made himself much beloved by his commanding officers for his exact obedience; for though he had made so large an addition to the common strength as that of his own credit and the power of his country, yet he was as ready as the most ordinary person to be commanded by the Achaean general of the time being, whether he were a man of Dynae, or of Tritaea, or any yet meaner town than these. Having also a present of five-and-twenty talents sent him from the king, he took them but gave them all to his fellow-citizens who wanted money, amongst other purposes, for the redemption of those who had been taken prisoners.
But the exiles being by no means to be satisfied, disturbing continually those that were in possession of their estates, Sicyon was in great danger of falling into perfect desolation; so that, having no hope left but in the kindness of Ptolemy, he resolved to sail to him, and to beg so much money of him as might reconcile all parties. So he set sail from Mothone beyond Malea, designing to make the direct passage. But the pilot not being able to keep the vessel up against a strong wind and high waves that came in from the open sea, he was driven from his course, and with much ado got to shore in Andros, an enemy's land, possessed by Antigonus, who had a garrison there. To avoid which he immediately landed, and, leaving the ship, went up into the country a good way from the sea, having along with him only one friend, called Timanthes; and throwing themselves into some ground thickly covered with wood, they had but an ill night's rest of it. Not long after, the commander of the troops came, and, inquiring for Aratus, was deceived by his servants, who had been instructed to say that he had fled at once over into the island of Euboea. However, he declared the ship, the property on board of her, and the servants, to be lawful prize, and detained them accordingly. As for Aratus, after some few days in his extremity, by good fortune a Roman ship happened to put in just at the spot in which he made his abode, sometimes peeping out to seek his opportunity, sometimes keeping close. She was bound for Syria; but going aboard, he agreed with the master to land him in Caria. In which voyage he met with no less danger on the sea than before. From Caria being after much time arrived in Egypt, he immediately went to the king, who had a great kindness for him, and had received from him many presents of drawings and paintings out of Greece. Aratus had a very good judgment in them, and always took care to collect and send him the most curious and finished works, especially those of Pamphilus and Melanthus.
For the Sicyonian pieces were still in the height of their reputation, as being the only ones whose colours were lasting; so that Apelles himself, even after he had become well known and admired, went thither, and gave a talent to be admitted into the society of the painters there, not so much to partake of their skill, which he wanted not, but of their credit. And accordingly Aratus, when he freed the city, immediately took down the representations of the rest of the tyrants, but demurred a long time about that of Aristratus, who flourished in the time of Philip. For this Aristratus was painted by Melanthus and his scholars, standing by a chariot, in which a figure of Victory was carried, Apelles himself having had a hand in it, as Polemon the geographer reports. It was an extraordinary piece, and therefore Aratus was fain to spare it for the workmanship, and yet, instigated by the hatred he bore the tyrants, commanded it to be taken down. But Neacles the painter, one of Aratus's friends, entreated him, it is said, with tears in his eyes, to spare it, and, finding he did not prevail with him, told him at last he should carry on his war with the tyrants, but with the tyrants alone: "Let therefore the chariot and the Victory stand, and I will take means for the removal of Aristratus;" to which Aratus consenting, Neacles blotted out Aristratus, and in his place painted a palm-tree, not daring to add anything else of his own invention. The feet of the defaced figure of Aristratus are said to have escaped notice, and to be hid under the chariot. By these means Aratus got favour with the king, who, after he was more fully acquainted with him, loved him so much the more, and gave him for the relief of his city one hundred and fifty talents; forty of which he immediately carried away with him, when he sailed to Peloponnesus, but the rest the king divided into instalments, and sent them to him afterwards at different times.
Assuredly it was a great thing to procure for his fellow-citizens a sum of money, a small portion of which had been sufficient, when presented by a king to other captains and popular leaders, to induce them to turn dishonest, and betray and give away their native countries to him. But it was a much greater, that by means of this money he effected a reconciliation and good understanding between the rich and poor, and created quiet and security for the whole people. His moderation, also, amidst so great power was very admirable. For being declared sole arbitrator and plenipotentiary for settling the questions of property in the case of the exiles, he would not accept the commission alone, but, associating with himself fifteen of the citizens, with great pains and trouble he succeeded in adjusting matters, and established peace and good-will in the city, for which good service, not only all the citizens in general bestowed extraordinary honours upon him, but the exiles, apart by themselves, erecting his statue in brass, inscribed on it these elegiac verses:-
"Your counsels, deeds, and skill for Greece in war
Known beyond Hercules's pillars are;
But we this image, O Aratus, gave,
Of you who saved us, to the gods who save,
By you from exile to our homes restored,
That virtue and that justice to record,
To which the blessing Sicyon owes this day
Of wealth that's shared alike, and laws that all obey."
By his success in effecting these things, Aratus secured himself from the envy of his fellow-citizens, on account of the benefits they felt he had done them; but King Antigonus being troubled in his mind about him, and designing either wholly to bring him over to his party, or else to make him suspected by Ptolemy, besides other marks of his favour shown to him, who had little mind to receive them, added this too, that, sacrificing to the gods in Corinth, he sent portions to Aratus at Sicyon, and at the feast, where were many guests, he said openly, "I thought this Sicyonian youth had been only a lover of liberty and of his fellow-citizens, but now I look upon him as a good judge of the manners and actions of kings. For formerly he despised us, and, placing his hopes further off, admired the Egyptian riches, hearing so much of their elephants, fleets, and palaces. But after seeing all these at a nearer distance, perceiving them to be but mere stage show and pageantry, he is now come over to us. And for my part I willingly receive him, and, resolving to make great use of him myself, command you to look upon him as a friend." These words were soon taken hold of by those that envied and maligned him, who strove which of them should, in their letters to Ptolemy, attack him with the worst calumnies, so that Ptolemy sent to expostulate the matter with him; so much envy and ill-will did there always attend the so much contended for, and so ardently and passionately aspired to, friendships of princes and great men.
But Aratus, being now for the first time chosen general of the Achaeans ravaged the country of Locris and Calydon, just over against Achaea and then went to assist the Boeotians with ten thousand soldiers, but came not up to them until after the battle near Chaeronea had been fought, in which they were beaten by the Aetolians, with the loss of Aboeocritus the Boeotarch, and a thousand men besides. A year after, being again elected general, he resolved to attempt the capture of the Acro-Corinthus, not so much for the advantage of the Sicyonians or Achaeans, as considering that by expelling the Macedonian garrison he should free all Greece alike from a tyranny which oppressed every part of her. Chares, the Athenian, having the good fortune to get the better, in a certain battle, of the king's generals, wrote to the people of Athens that this victory was "sister to that at Marathon." And so may this action be very safely termed sister to those of Pelopidas the Theban and Thrasybulus the Athenian, in which they slew the tyrants; except, perhaps, it exceed them upon this account, that it was not against natural Grecians, but against a foreign and stranger domination. The Isthmus, rising like a bank between the seas, collects into a single spot and compresses together the whole continent of Greece; and Acro-Corinthus, being a high mountain springing up out of the very middle of what here is Greece, whensoever it is held with a garrison, stands in the way and cuts off all Peloponnesus from intercourse of every kind, free passage of men and arms, and all traffic by sea and land, and makes him lord of all that is master of it. Wherefore the younger Philip did not jest, but said very true, when he called the city of Corinth "the fetters of Greece." So that this post was always much contended for, especially by the kings and tyrants; and so vehemently was it longed for by Antigonus, that his passion for it came little short of that of frantic love; he was continually occupied with devising how to take it by surprise from those that were then masters of it, since he despaired to do it by open force.
Therefore Alexander, who held the place, being dead, poisoned by him, as is reported, and his wife Nicaea succeeding in the government and the possession of Acro-Corinthus, he immediately made use of his son, Demetrius, and, giving her pleasing hopes of a royal marriage and of a happy life with a youth, whom a woman now growing old might well find agreeable, with this lure of his son he succeeded in taking her; but the place itself she did not deliver up, but continued to hold it with a very strong garrison, of which he seeming to take no notice, celebrated the wedding in Corinth, entertaining them with shows and banquets every day, as one that had nothing else in his mind but to give himself up for a while to indulgence in pleasure and mirth. But when the moment came, and Amoebeus began to sing in the theatre, he waited himself upon Nicaea to the play, she being carried in a royally decorated chair, extremely pleased with her new honour, not dreaming of what was intended. As soon, therefore, as they were come to the turning which led up to the citadel, he desired her to go on before him to the theatre, but for himself, bidding farewell to the music, farewell to the wedding, he went on faster than one would have thought his age would have admitted to the Acro-Corinthus, and, finding the gate shut, knocked with his staff, commanding them to open, which they within, being amazed, did. And having thus made himself master of the place, he could not contain himself for joy; but, though an old man, and one that had seen so many turns of fortune, he must needs revel it in the open streets and the midst of the market-place, crowned with garlands and attended with flute-women, inviting everybody he met to partake in his festivity. So much more does joy without discretion transport and agitate the mind than either fear or sorrow. Antigonus, therefore, having in this manner possessed himself of Acro-Corinthus, put a garrison into it of those he trusted most, making Persaeus the philosopher governor.
Now Aratus, even in the lifetime of Alexander, had made an attempt, but, a confederacy being made between Alexander and the Achaeans, he desisted. But now he started afresh, with a new plan of effecting the thing, which was this: there were in Corinth four brothers, Syrians born, one of whom, called Diocles, served as a soldier in the garrison, but the three others, having stolen some gold of the king's, came to Sicyon, to one Aegias, a banker, whom Aratus made use of in his business. To him they immediately sold part of their gold, and the rest, one of them, called Erginus, coming often thither, exchanged by parcels. Becoming, by this means, familiarly acquainted with Aegias, and being by him led into discourses concerning the fortress, he told him that in going up to his brother he had observed, in the face of the rock, a side cleft, leading to that part of the wall of the castle which was lower than the rest. At which Aegias joking with him and saying, "So, you wise man, for the sake of a little gold you have broken into the king's treasure; when you might, if you chose, get money in abundance for a single hour's work, burglary, you know, and treason being punished with the same death." Erginus laughed and told him then, he would break the thing to Diocles (for he did not altogether trust his other brothers), and, returning within a few days, he bargained to conduct Aratus to that part of the wall where it was no more than fifteen feet high, and to do what else should be necessary, together with his brother Diocles.
Aratus, therefore, agreed to give them sixty talents if he succeeded, but if he failed in his enterprise, and yet he and they came off safe, then he would give each of them a house and a talent. Now the threescore talents being to be deposited in the hands of Aegias for Erginus and his partners, and Aratus neither having so much by him, nor willing, by borrowing it from others, to give any one a suspicion of his design, he pawned his plate and his wife's golden ornaments to Aegias for the money. For so high was his temper, and so strong his passion for noble actions, that, even as he had heard that Phocion and Epaminondas were the best and justest of the Greeks, because they refused the greatest presents, and would not surrender their duty for money, so he now chose to be at the expense of this enterprise privately, and to advance all the cost out of his own property, taking the whole hazard on himself for the sake of the rest that did not so much as know what was doing. And who indeed can withhold, even now, his admiration for and his sympathy with the generous mind of one, who paid so largely to purchase so great a risk, and lent out his richest possessions to have an opportunity to expose his own life, by entering among his enemies in the dead of the night, without desiring any other security for them than the hope of a noble success.
Now the enterprise, though dangerous enough in itself, was made much more so by an error happening through mistake in the very beginning. For Technon, one of Aratus's servants, was sent away to Diocles, that they might together view the wall. Now he had never seen Diocles, but made no question of knowing him by the marks Erginus had given him of him; namely, that he had curly hair, a swarthy complexion, and no beard. Being come, therefore, to the appointed place, he stayed waiting for Erginus and Diocles outside the town, in front of the place called Ornis. In the meantime, Dionysius, elder brother to Erginus and Diocles, who knew nothing at all of the matter, but much resembled Diocles, happened to pass by. Technon, upon this likeness, all being in accordance with what he had been told, asked him if he knew Erginus; and on his replying that he was his brother, taking it for granted that he was speaking with Diocles, not so much as asking his name or staying for any other token, he gave him his hand, and began to discourse with him and ask him questions about matters agreed upon with Erginus. Dionysius, cunningly taking the advantage of his mistake, seemed to understand him very well, and returning towards the city, led him on, still talking, without any suspicion. And being now near the gate, he was just about to seize on him when by chance again Erginus met them, and, apprehending the cheat and the danger beckoned to Technon to make his escape, and immediately both of them, betaking themselves to their heels, ran away as fast as they could to Aratus, who for all this despaired not, but immediately sent away Erginus to Dionysius to bribe him to hold his tongue. And he not only effected that, but also brought him along with him to Aratus. But when they had him, they no longer left him at liberty, but binding him, they kept him close shut up in a room, whilst they prepared for executing their design.
All things being now ready, he commanded the rest of his forces to pass the night by their arms, and taking with him four hundred chosen men, few of whom knew what they were going about, he led them to the gates by the temple of Juno. It was the midst of summer and the moon was at full, and the night so clear without any clouds, that there was danger lest the arms glistening in the moonlight should discover them. But as the foremost of them came near the city, a mist came off from the sea, and darkened the city itself and the outskirts about it. Then the rest of them, sitting down, put off their shoes, because men both make less noise and also climb surer if they go up ladders barefooted, but Erginus, taking with him seven young men dressed like travellers, got unobserved to the gate, and killed the sentry with the other guards. And at the same time the ladders were clapped to the walls, and Aratus, having in great haste got up a hundred men, commanded the rest to follow as they could, and immediately drawing up his ladders after him, he marched through the city with his hundred men towards the castle, being already overjoyed that he was undiscovered, and not doubting of the success. But while still they were some way off, a watch of four men came with a light, who did not see them, because they were still in the shade of the moon, but were seen plainly enough themselves as they came on directly towards them. So withdrawing a little way amongst some walls and plots for houses, they lay in wait for them; and three of them they killed. But the fourth, being wounded in the head with a sword, fled, crying out that the enemy was in the city. And immediately the trumpets sounded, and all the city was in an uproar at what had happened, and the streets were full of people running up and down, and many lights were seen shining both below in the town, and above in the castle, and a confused noise was to be heard in all parts.
In the meantime, Aratus was hard at work struggling to get up the rocks, at first slowly and with much difficulty, straying continually from the path, which lay deep, and was overshadowed with the crags, leading to the wall with many windings and turnings; but the moon immediately, and as if by miracle, it is said, dispersing the clouds, shone out and gave light to the most difficult part of the way, until he got to that part of the wall he desired, and there she overshadowed and hid him, the clouds coming together again. Those soldiers whom Aratus had left outside the gate, near Juno's temple, to the number of three hundred, entering the town, now full of tumult and lights, and not knowing the way by which the former had gone, and finding no track of them, slunk aside, and crowded together in one body under a flank of the cliff that cast a strong shadow, and there stood and waited in great distress and perplexity. For, by this time, those that had gone with Aratus were attacked with missiles from the citadel, and were busy fighting, and a sound of cries of battle came down from above, and a loud noise, echoed back and back from the mountain sides, and therefore confused and uncertain whence it proceeded, was heard on all sides. They being thus in doubt which way to turn themselves, Archelaus, the commander of Antigonus's troops, having a great number of soldiers with him, made up towards the castle with great shouts and noise of trumpets to fall upon Aratus's people, and passed by the three hundred, who, as if they had risen out of an ambush, immediately charged him, killing the first they encountered, and so affrighted the rest, together with Archelaus, that they put them to flight and pursued them until they had quite broken and dispersed them about the city. No sooner were these defeated, but Erginus came to them from those that were fighting above, to acquaint them that Aratus was engaged with the enemy, who defended themselves very stoutly, and there was a fierce conflict at the very wall, and need of speedy help. They therefore desired him to lead them on without delay, and, marching up, by their shouts made their friends understand who they were, and encouraged them; and the full moon, shining on their arms, made them, in the long line by which they advanced, appear more in number to the enemy than they were; and the echo of the night multiplied their shouts. In short, falling on with the rest, they made the enemy give way, and were masters of the castle and garrison, day now beginning to be bright, and the rising sun shining out upon their success. By this time, also, the rest of his army came up to Aratus from Sicyon, the Corinthians joyfully receiving them at the gates and helping them to secure the king's party.
And now, having put all things into a safe posture, he came down from the castle to the theatre, an infinite number of people crowding thither to see him and to hear what he would say to the Corinthians. Therefore drawing up the Achaeans on each side of the stage-passages, he came forward himself upon the stage, with his corselet still on, and his face showing the effects of all his hard work and want of sleep, so that his natural exultation and joyfulness of mind were overborne by the weariness of his body. The people, as soon as he came forth, breaking out into great applauses and congratulations, he took his spear in his right hand, and, resting his body upon it with his knee a little bent, stood a good while in that posture, silently receiving their shouts and acclamations, while they extolled his valour and wondered at his fortune; which being over, standing up, he began an oration in the name of the Achaeans, suitable to the late action, persuading the Corinthians to associate themselves to the Achaeans, and withal delivered up to them the keys of their gates, which had never been in their power since the time of King Philip. Of the captains of Antigonus, he dismissed Archelaus, whom he had taken prisoner, and Theophrastus, who refused to quit his post, he put to death. As for Persaeus, when he saw the castle was lost, he had got away to Cenchreae, where, some time after, discoursing with one that said to him that the wise man only is a true general, "Indeed," he replied, "none of Zeno's maxims once pleased me better than this, but I have been converted to another opinion by the young man of Sicyon." This is told by many of Persaeus. Aratus immediately after made himself master of the temple of Juno and haven of Lechaeum, seized upon five-and-twenty of the king's ships, together with five hundred horses and four hundred Syrians: these he sold. The Achaeans kept guard in the Acro-Corinthus with a body of four hundred soldiers, and fifty dogs with as many keepers.
The Romans, extolling Philopoemen, called him the last of the Grecians, as if no great man had ever since his time been bred amongst them. But I should call this capture of the Acro-Corinthus the last of the Grecian exploits, being comparable to the best of them, both for the daringness of it, and the success, as was presently seen by the consequences. For the Megarians, revolting from Antigonus, joined Aratus, and the Troezenians and Epidaurians enrolled themselves in the Achaean community, and issuing forth for the first time, he entered Attica, and passing over into Salamis, he plundered the island, turning the Achaean force every way, as if it were just let loose out of prison and set at liberty. All freemen whom he took he sent back to the Athenians without ransom, as a sort of first invitation to them to come over to the league. He made Ptolemy become a confederate of the Achaeans, with the privilege of command both by sea and land. And so great was his power with them, that since he could not by law be chosen their general every year, yet every other year he was, and by his counsels and actions was in effect always so. For they perceived that neither riches nor reputation, nor the friendship of kings, nor the private interest of his own country, nor anything else was so dear to him as the increase of the Achaeans' power and greatness. For he believed that the cities, weak individually, could be preserved by nothing else but a mutual assistance under the closest bond of the common interest, and, as the members of the body live and breathe by the union of all in a single natural growth, and on the dissolution of this, when once they separate, pine away and putrefy, in the same manner are cities ruined by being dissevered, as well as preserved when, as the members of one great body, they enjoy the benefit of that province and counsel that govern the whole.
Now being distressed to see that, whereas the chief neighbouring cities enjoyed their own laws and liberties, the Argives were in bondage, he took counsel for destroying their tyrant, Aristomachus, being very desirous both to pay his debt of gratitude to the city where he had been bred up, by restoring it its liberty, and to add so considerable a town to the Achaeans. Nor were there some wanting who had the courage to undertake the thing, of whom Aeschylus and Charimenes the soothsayer were the chief. But they wanted swords; for the tyrant had prohibited the keeping of any under a great penalty. Therefore Aratus, having provided some small daggers at Corinth and hidden them in the pack-saddles of some pack-horses that carried ordinary ware, sent them to Argos. But Charimenes letting another person into the design, Aeschylus and his partners were angry at it, and henceforth would have no more to do with him, and took their measures by themselves, and Charimenes, on finding this, went, out of anger, and informed against them, just as they were on their way to attack the tyrant; however, the most of them made a shift to escape out of the market-place, and fled to Corinth. Not long after, Aristomachus was slain by some slaves, and Aristippus, a worse tyrant than he, seized the government. Upon this, Aratus, mustering all the Achaeans present that were of age, hurried away to the aid of the city, believing that he should find the people ready to join with him. But the greater number being by this time habituated to slavery and content to submit, and no one coming to join him, he was obliged to retire, having moreover exposed the Achaeans to the charge of committing acts of hostility in the midst of peace; upon which account they were sued before the Mantineans, and, Aratus not making his appearance, Aristippus gained the cause, and had damages allowed him to the value of thirty minae. And now hating and fearing Aratus, he sought means to kill him, having the assistance herein of King Antigonus; so that Aratus was perpetually dogged and watched by those that waited for an opportunity to do this service. But there is no such safeguard of a ruler as the sincere and steady good-will of his subjects, for where both the common people and the principal citizens have their fears not of, but for, their governor, he sees with many eyes and hears with many ears whatsoever is doing. Therefore I cannot but here stop short a little in the course of my narrative to describe the manner of life which the so much envied arbitrary power and the so much celebrated and admired pomp and pride of absolute government obliged Aristippus to lead.
For though Antigonus was his friend and ally, and though he maintained numerous soldiers to act as his body-guard, and had not left one enemy of his alive in the city, yet he was forced to make his guards encamp in the colonnade about his house; and for his servants, he turned them all out immediately after supper, and then shutting the doors upon them, he crept up into a small upper chamber, together with his mistress, through a trap-door, upon which he placed his bed, and there slept after such a fashion, as one in his condition can be supposed to sleep, that is, interruptedly and in fear. The ladder was taken away by the woman's mother, and locked up in another room; in the morning she brought it again, and putting it to, called up this brave and wonderful tyrant, who came crawling out like some creeping thing out of its hole. Whereas Aratus, not by force of arms, but lawfully and by his virtue, lived in possession of a firmly settled command, wearing the ordinary coat and cloak, being the common and declared enemy of all tyrants, and has left behind him a noble race of descendants surviving among the Grecians to this day; while those occupiers of citadels and maintainers of body-guards, who made all this use of arms and gates and bolts to protect their lives, in some few cases perhaps escaped like the bare from the hunters; but in no instance have we either house or family, or so much as a tomb to which any respect is shown, remaining to preserve the memory of any one of them.
Against this Aristippus, therefore, Aratus made many open and many secret attempts, whilst he endeavoured to take Argos, though without success; once, particularly, clapping scaling ladders in the night to the walls, he desperately got up upon it with a few of his soldiers, and killed the guards that opposed him. But the day appearing, the tyrant set upon him on all hands, whilst the Argives, as if it had not been their liberty that was contended for, but some Nemean game going on for which it was their privilege to assign the prize, like fair and impartial judges, sat looking on in great quietness. Aratus, fighting bravely, was run through the thigh with a lance, yet he maintained his ground against the enemy till night, and, had he been able to go on and hold out that night also, he had gained his point; for the tyrant thought of nothing but flying, and had already shipped most of his goods. But Aratus, having no intelligence of this, and wanting water, being disabled himself by his wound, retreated with his soldiers.
Despairing henceforth to do any good this way, he fell openly with his army into Argolis, and plundered it, and in a fierce battle with Aristippus near the river Chares, he was accused of having withdrawn out of the fight, and thereby abandoned the victory. For whereas one part of his army had unmistakably got the better, and was pursuing the enemy at a good distance from him, he yet retreated in confusion into his camp, not so much because he was overpressed by those with whom he was engaged, as out of mistrust of success and through a panic fear. But when the other wing, returning from the pursuit, showed themselves extremely vexed, that though they had put the enemy to flight and killed many more of his men than they had lost, yet those that were in a manner conquered should erect a trophy as conquerors, being much ashamed he resolved to fight them again about the trophy, and the next day but one drew up his army to give them battle. But, perceiving that they were reinforced with fresh troops, and came on with better courage than before, he durst not hazard a fight, but retired and sent to request a truce to bury his dead. However, by his dexterity in dealing personally with men and managing political affairs, and by his general favour, he excused and obliterated this fault, and brought in Cleonae to the Achaean association, and celebrated the Nemean games at Cleonae, as the proper and more ancient place for them. The games were also celebrated by the Argives at the same time, which gave the first occasion to the violation of the privilege of safe conduct and immunity always granted to those that came to compete for the prizes, the Achaeans at that time selling as enemies all those they caught going through their country after joining in the games at Argos. So vehement and implacable a hater was he of the tyrants.
Not long after, having notice that Aristippus had a design upon Cleonae, but was afraid of him, because he then was staying in Corinth, he assembled an army by public proclamation, and commanding them to take along with them provisions for several days, he marched to Cenchreae, hoping by this stratagem to entice Aristippus to fall upon Cleonae, when he supposed him far enough off. And so it happened, for he immediately brought his forces against it from Argos. But Aratus, returning from Cenchreae to Corinth in the dusk of the evening, and setting posts of his troops in all the roads, led on the Achaeans, who followed in such good order and with so much speed and alacrity, that they were undiscovered by Aristippus, not only whilst upon their march, but even when they got, still in the night, into Cleonae, and drew up in order of battle. As soon as it was morning, the gates being opened and the trumpets sounding, he fell upon the enemy with great cries and fury, routed them at once, and kept close in pursuit, following the course which he most imagined Aristippus would choose, there being many turns that might be taken. And so the chase lasted as far as Mycenae, where the tyrant was slain by a certain Cretan called Tragiscus, as Dinias reports. Of the common soldiers, there fell above fifteen hundred. Yet though Aratus had obtained so great a victory and that too without the loss of a man, he could not make himself master of Argos, nor set it at liberty, because Agias and the younger Aristomachus got into the town with some of the king's forces, and seized upon the government. However, by this exploit he spoiled the scoffs and jests of those that flattered the tyrants, and in their raillery would say that the Achaean general was usually troubled with a looseness when he was to fight a battle, that the sound of a trumpet struck him with a drowsiness and a giddiness, and that when he had drawn up his army and given the word, he used to ask his lieutenants and officers whether there was any further need of his presence now the die was cast, and then went aloof, to await the result at a distance. For indeed these stories were so generally listened to, that, when the philosophers disputed whether to have one's heart beat and to change colour upon any apparent danger be an argument of fear, or rather of some distemperature and chilliness of bodily constitution, Aratus was always quoted as a good general who was always thus affected in time of battle.
Having thus despatched Aristippus, he advised with himself how to overthrow Lydiades, the Megalopolitan, who held usurped power over his country. This person was naturally of a generous temper, and not insensible of true honour, and had been led into this wickedness, not by the ordinary motives of other tyrants, licentiousness and rapacity, but being young, and stimulated with the desire of glory, he had let his mind be unwarily prepossessed with the vain and false applauses given to tyranny, as some happy and glorious thing. But he no sooner seized the government, than he grew weary of the pomp and burden of it. And at once emulating the tranquillity and fearing the policy of Aratus, he took the best resolutions, first, to free himself from hatred and fear, from soldiers and guards, and, secondly, to be the public benefactor of his country. And sending for Aratus, he resigned the government, and incorporated his city into the Achaean community. The Achaeans, applauding this generous action, chose him their general; upon which, desiring to outdo Aratus in glory, amongst many other uncalled-for things, he declared war against the Lacedaemonians; which Aratus opposing was thought to do it out of envy; and Lydiades was the second time chosen general, though Aratus acted openly against him, and laboured to have the office conferred upon another. For Aratus himself had the command every other year, as has been said. Lydiades, however, succeeded so well in his pretensions, that he was thrice chosen general, governing alternately, as did Aratus; but at last, declaring himself his professed enemy, and accusing him frequently to the Achaeans, he was rejected, and fell into contempt, people now seeing that it was a contest between a counterfeit and a true, unadulterated virtue, and, as Aesop tells us that the cuckoo once, asking the little birds why they flew away from her, was answered, because they feared she would one day prove a hawk, so Lydiades's former tyranny still cast a doubt upon the reality of his change.
But Aratus gained new honour in the Aetolian war. For the Achaeans resolving to fall upon the Aetolians on the Megarian confines, and Agis also, the Lacedaemonian king, who came to their assistance with an army, encouraging them to fight, Aratus opposed this determination. And patiently enduring many reproaches, many scoffs and jeerings at his soft and cowardly temper, he would not, for any appearance of disgrace, abandon what he judged to be true common advantage, and suffered the enemy to pass over Geranea into Peloponnesus without a battle. But when, after they passed by, news came that they had suddenly captured Pellene, he was no longer the same man, nor would he hear of any delay, or wait to draw together his whole force, but marched towards the enemy, with such as he had about him, to fall upon them, as they were indeed now much less formidable through the intemperances and disorders committed in their success. For as soon as they entered the city, the common soldiers dispersed and went hither and thither into the houses, quarrelling and fighting with one another about the plunder, and the officers and commanders were running about after the wives and daughters of the Pellenians, on whose heads they put their own helmets, to mark each man his prize, and prevent another from seizing it. And in this posture were they when news came that Aratus was ready to fall upon them. And in the midst of the consternation likely to ensue in the confusion they were in before all of them heard of the danger, the outmost of them, engaging at the gates and in the suburbs with the Achaeans, were already beaten and put to flight, and as they came headlong back, filled with their panic those who were collecting and advancing to their assistance.
In this confusion, one of the captives, daughter of Epigethes, a citizen of repute, being extremely handsome and tall, happened to be sitting in the temple of Diana, placed there by the commander of the band of chosen men, who had taken her and put his crested helmet upon her. She, hearing the noise, and running out to see what was the matter, stood in the temple gates, looking down from above upon those that fought, having the helmet upon her head; in which posture she seemed to the citizens to be something more than human, and struck fear and dread into the enemy, who believed it to be a divine apparition; so that they lost all courage to defend themselves. But the Pellenians tell us that the image of Diana stands usually untouched, and when the priestess happens at any time to remove it to some other place, nobody dares look upon it, but all turn their faces from it; for not only is the sight of it terrible and hurtful to mankind, but it makes even the trees, by which it happens to be carried, become barren and cast fruit. This image, therefore, they say, the priestess produced at that time, and holding it directly in the faces of the Aetolians, made them lose their reason and judgment. But Aratus mentions no such thing in his commentaries, but saying that having put to flight the Aetolians, and falling in pell-mell with them into the city, he drove them out by main force, and killed seven hundred of them. And the action was extolled as one of the most famous exploits, and Timanthes the painter made a picture of the battle, giving by his composition a most lively representation of it.
But many great nations and potentates combining against the Achaeans, Aratus immediately for friendly arrangements with the Aetolians, and, making use of the assistance of Pantaleon, the most powerful man amongst them, he not only made a peace, but an alliance between them and the Achaeans. But being desirous to free the Athenians, he got into disgrace and ill-repute among the Achaeans, because, notwithstanding the truce and suspension of arms made between them and the Macedonians, he had attempted to take the Piraeus. He denies this fact in his commentaries, and lays the blame on Erginus, by whose assistance he took Acro-Corinthus, alleging that he upon his own private account attacked the Piraeus, and his ladders happening to break, being hotly pursued, he called out upon Aratus, as if present, by which means deceiving the enemy he got safely off. This excuse, however, sounds very improbable; for it is not in any way likely that Erginus, a private man and a Syrian stranger, should conceive in his mind so great an attempt, without Aratus at his back, to tell him how and when to make it, and to supply him with the means. Nor was it twice or thrice, but very often, that, like an obstinate lover, he repeated his attempts on the Piraeus, and was so far from being discouraged by his disappointments, that his missing his hopes but narrowly was an incentive to him to proceed the more boldly in a new trial. One time amongst the rest, in making his escape through the Thrasian plain, he put his leg out of joint, and was forced to submit to many operations with the knife before he was cured, so that for a long time he was carried in a litter to the wars.
And when Antigonus was dead, and Demetrius succeeded him in the kingdom, he was more bent than ever upon Athens, and in general quite despised the Macedonians. And so, being overthrown in battle near Phylacia by Bithys, Demetrius's general, and there being a very strong report that he was either taken or slain, Diogenes, the governor of the Piraeus, sent letters to Corinth, commanding the Achaeans to quit that city, seeing Aratus was dead. When these letters came to Corinth, Aratus happened to be there in person, so that Diogenes's messengers being sufficiently mocked and derided, were forced to return to their master. King Demetrius himself also sent a ship, wherein Aratus was to be brought to him in chains. And the Athenians, exceeding all possible fickleness of flattery to the Macedonians, crowned themselves with garlands upon the first news of his death. And so in anger he went at once and invaded Attica, and penetrated as far as the Academy, but then suffering himself to be pacified he did no further act of hostility. And the Athenians afterwards, coming to a due sense of his virtue when upon the death of Demetrius they attempted to recover their liberty, called him to their assistance; although at that time another person was general of the Achaeans, and he himself had long kept his bed with a sickness, yet rather than fail the city in a time of need, he was carried thither in a litter, and helped to persuade Diogenes the governor to deliver up the Piraeus, Munychia, Salamis, and Sunium to the Athenians in consideration of a hundred and fifty talents, of which Aratus himself contributed twenty to the city. Upon this, the Aeginetans and the Hermionians immediately joined the Achaeans, and the greatest part of Arcadia entered their confederacy; and the Macedonians being occupied with various wars upon their own confines and with their neighbours, the Achaean power, the Aetolians also being in alliance with them, rose to great height.
But Aratus, still bent on effecting his old project, and impatient that tyranny should maintain itself in so near a city as Argos, sent to Aristomachus to persuade him to restore liberty to that city, and to associate it to the Achaeans, and that, following Lydiades's example, he should rather choose to be the general of a great nation, with esteem and honour, than the tyrant of one city, with continual hatred and danger. Aristomachus slighted not the message, but desired Aratus to send him fifty talents, with which he might pay off the soldiers. In the meantime, whilst the money was providing, Lydiades, being then general, and extremely ambitious that this advantage might seem to be of his procuring for the Achaeans, accused Aratus to Aristomachus, as one that bore an irreconcilable hatred to the tyrants, and, persuading him to commit the affair to his management, he presented him to the Achaeans. But there the Achaean council gave a manifest proof of the great credit Aratus had with them and the good-will they bore him. For when he, in anger, spoke against Aristomachus's being admitted into the association, they rejected the proposal, but when he was afterwards pacified and came himself and spoke in its favour, they voted everything cheerfully and readily, and decreed that the Argives and Phliasians should be incorporated into their commonwealth, and the next year they chose Aristomachus general. He, being in good credit with the Achaeans, was very desirous to invade Laconia, and for that purpose sent for Aratus from Athens. Aratus wrote to him to dissuade him as far as he could from that expedition, being very unwilling the Achaeans should be engaged in a quarrel with Cleomenes, who was a daring man, and making extraordinary advances to power. But Aristomachus resolving to go on, he obeyed and served in person, on which occasion he hindered Aristomachus from fighting a battle when Cleomenes came upon them at Pallantium; and for this act was accused by Lydiades, and, coming to an open conflict with him in a contest for the office of general, he carried it by the show of hands, and was chosen general the twelfth time.
This year, being routed by Cleomenes, near the Lycaeum, he fled, and, wandering out of the way in the night, was believed to be slain; and once more it was confidently reported so throughout all Greece. He, however, having escaped this danger and rallied his forces, was not content to march off in safety, but making a happy use of the present conjuncture, when nobody dreamed of any such thing, he fell suddenly upon the Mantineans, allies of Cleomenes, and, taking the city, put a garrison into it, and made the stranger inhabitants free of the city; procuring, by this means, those advantages for the beaten Achaeans, which being conquerors, they would not easily have obtained. The Lacedaemonians again invading the Megalopolitan territories, he marched to the assistance of the city, but refused to give Cleomenes, who did all he could to provoke him to it, opportunity of engaging him in a battle, nor could be prevailed upon by the Megalopolitans, who urged him to it extremely. For besides that by nature he was ill-suited for set battles, he was then much inferior in numbers, and was to deal with a daring leader, still in the heat of youth, while he himself, now past the prime of courage and come to a chastised ambition, felt it his business to maintain by prudence the glory which he had obtained, and the other was only aspiring to by forwardness and daring.
So that though the light-armed soldiers had sallied out and driven the Lacedaemonians as far as their camp, and had come even to their tents, yet would not Aratus lead his men forward, but, posting himself in a hollow water-course in the way thither, stopped and prevented the citizens from crossing this. Lydiades, extremely vexed at what was going on, and loading Aratus with reproaches, entreated the horse that, together with him, they would second them that had the enemy in chase, and not let a certain victory slip out of their hands, nor forsake him that was going to venture his life for his country. And being reinforced with many brave men that turned after him, he charged the enemy's right wing, and routing it followed the pursuit without measure or discretion, letting his eagerness and hopes of glory tempt him on into broken ground, full of planted fruit-trees and cut up with broad ditches, where, being engaged by Cleomenes, he fell, fighting gallantly the noblest of battles, at the gate of his country. The rest, flying back to their main body and troubling the ranks of the full-armed infantry, put the whole army to the rout. Aratus was extremely blamed, being suspected to have betrayed Lydiades, and was constrained by the Achaeans, who withdrew in great anger, to accompany them to Aegium, where they called a council, and decreed that he should no longer be furnished with money, nor have any more soldiers hired for him, but that, if he would make war, he should pay them himself.
This affront he resented so far as to resolve to give up the seal and lay down the office of general; but upon second thoughts he found it best to have patience, and presently marched with the Achaeans to Orchomenus and fought a battle with Megistonus, the stepfather of Cleomenes, where he got the victory, killing three hundred men and taking Megistonus prisoner. But whereas he used to be chosen general every other year, when his turn came and he was called to take upon him that charge, he declined it, and Timoxenus was chosen in his stead. The true cause of which was not the pique he was alleged to have taken at the people, but the ill circumstances of the Achaean affairs. For Cleomenes did not now invade them gently and tenderly as hitherto, as one controlled by the civil authorities, but having killed the Ephors, divided the lands, and made many of the stranger residents free of the city, he was responsible to no one in his government; and therefore fell in good earnest upon the Achaeans, and put forward his claim to the supreme military command. Wherefore Aratus is much blamed, that in a stormy and tempestuous time, like a cowardly pilot, he should forsake the helm when it was even perhaps his duty to have insisted, whether they would or no, on saving them; or if he thought the Achaean affairs desperate, to have yielded all up to Cleomenes, and not to have let Peloponnesus fall once again into barbarism with Macedonian garrisons, and Acro-Corinthus be occupied with Illyric and Gaulish soldiers, and, under the specious name of confederates, to have made those masters of the cities whom he had held it his business by arms and by policy to baffle and defeat, and, in the memoirs he left behind him, loaded with reproaches and insults. And say that Cleomenes was arbitrary and tyrannical, yet was he descended from the Heraclidae, and Sparta was his country, the obscurest citizens of which deserved to be preferred to the generalship before the best of the Macedonians by those that had any regard to the honour of Grecian birth. Besides, Cleomenes sued for that command over the Achaeans as one that would return the honour of that title with real kindnesses to the cities; whereas Antigonus, being declared absolute general by sea and land, would not accept the office unless Acro-Corinthus were by special agreement put into his hands, following the example of Aesop's hunter; for he would not get up and ride the Achaeans, who desired him so to do, and offered their backs to him by embassies and popular decrees, till, by a garrison and hostages, they had allowed him to bit and bridle them. Aratus exhausts all his powers of speech to show the necessity that was upon him. But Polybius writes, that long before this and before there was any necessity, apprehending the daring temper of Cleomenes, he communicated secretly with Antigonus, and that he had beforehand prevailed with the Megalopolitans to press the Achaeans to crave aid from Antigonus. For they were the most harassed by the war, Cleomenes continually plundering and ransacking their country. And so writes also Phylarchus, who, unless seconded by the testimony of Polybius, would not be altogether credited; for he is seized with enthusiasm when he so much as speaks a word of Cleomenes, and as if he were pleading, not writing a history, goes on throughout defending the one and accusing the other.
The Achaeans, therefore, lost Mantinea, which was recovered by Cleomenes, and being beaten in a great fight near Hecatombaeum, so general was the consternation, that they immediately sent to Cleomenes to desire him to come to Argos and take the command upon him. But Aratus, as soon as he understood that he was coming, and was got as far as Lerna with his troops, fearing the result, sent ambassadors to him, to request him to come accompanied with three hundred only, as to friends and confederates, and, if he mistrusted anything, he should receive hostages. Upon which Cleomenes, saying this was mere mockery and affront, went away, sending a letter to the Achaeans full of reproaches and accusation against Aratus. And Aratus also wrote letters against Cleomenes; and bitter revilings and railleries were current on both hands, not sparing even their marriages and wives. Hereupon Cleomenes sent a herald to declare war against the Achaeans, and in the meantime missed very narrowly of taking Sicyon by treachery. Turning off at a little distance, he attacked and took Pellene which the Achaean general abandoned, and not long after took also Pheneus and Penteleum. Then immediately the Argives voluntarily joined with him, and the Philiasians received a garrison, and in short nothing among all their new acquisitions held firm to the Achaeans. Aratus was encompassed on every side with clamour and confusion; he saw the whole of Peloponnesus shaking hands around him, and the cities everywhere set in revolt by men desirous of innovations.
Indeed no place remained quiet or satisfied with the present condition; even amongst the Sicyonians and Corinthians themselves, many were well known to have had private conferences with Cleomenes, who long since, out of desire to make themselves masters of their several cities, had been discontented with the present order of things. Aratus, having absolute power given him to bring these to consign punishment, executed as many of them as he could find at Sicyon, but going about to find them out and punish them at Corinth also, he irritated the people, already unsound in feeling and weary of the Achaean government. So collecting tumultuously in the temple of Apollo, they sent for Aratus, having determined to take or kill him before they broke out into open revolt. He came accordingly, leading his horse in his hand, as if he suspected nothing. Then several leaping up and accusing and reproaching him, with mild words and a settled countenance he bade them sit down, and not stand crying out upon him in a disorderly manner, desiring also, that those that were about the door might be let in, and saying so, he stepped out quietly, as if he would give his horse to somebody. Clearing himself thus of the crowd, and speaking without discomposure to the Corinthians that he met, commanding them to go to Apollo's temple, and being now, before they were aware, got near to the citadel, he leaped upon his horse, and commanding Cleopater, the governor of the garrison, to have a special care of his charge, he galloped to Sicyon, followed by thirty of his soldiers, the rest leaving him and shifting for themselves. And not long after, it being known that he was fled, the Corinthians pursued him, but not overtaking him, they immediately sent for Cleomenes and delivered up the city to him, who, however, thought nothing they could give was so great a gain, as was the loss of their having let Aratus get away. Nevertheless, being strengthened by the accession of the people of the Acte, as it is called, who put their towns into his hands, he proceeded to carry a palisade and lines of circumvallation around the Acro-Corinthus.
But Aratus being arrived at Sicyon, the body of the Achaeans there flocked to him, and, in an assembly there held, he was chosen general with absolute power, and he took about him a guard of his own citizens, it being now three-and-thirty years since he first took a part in public affairs among the Achaeans, having in that time been the chief man in credit and power of all Greece; but he was now deserted on all hands, helpless and overpowered, drifting about amidst the waves and danger on the shattered hulk of his native city. For the Aetolians, whom he applied to, declined to assist him in his distress, and the Athenians who were well affected to him were diverted from lending him any succour by the authority of Euclides and Micion. Now whereas he had a house and property in Corinth, Cleomenes meddled not with it, nor suffered anybody else to do so, but calling for his friends and agents, he bade them hold themselves responsible to Aratus for everything, as to him they would have to render their account; and privately he sent to him Tripylus, and afterwards Megistonus, his own stepfather, to offer him, besides several other things, a yearly pension of twelve talents, which was twice as much as Ptolemy allowed him, for he gave him six; and all that he demanded was to be declared commander of the Achaeans, and together with them to have the keeping of the citadel of Corinth. To which Aratus returning answer that affairs were not so properly in his power as he was in the power of them, Cleomenes, believing this a mere evasion, immediately entered the country of Sicyon, destroying all with fire and sword, and besieged the city three months, whilst Aratus held firm, and was in dispute with himself whether he should call in Antigonus upon condition of delivering up the citadel of Corinth to him; for he would not lend him assistance upon any other terms.
In the meantime the Achaeans assembled at Aegium, and called for Aratus; but it was very hazardous for him to pass thither, while Cleomenes was encamped before Sicyon; besides, the citizens endeavoured to stop him by their entreaties, protesting that they would not suffer him to expose himself to so evident danger, the enemy being so near; the women, also, and children hung about him, weeping and embracing him as their common father and defender. But he, having comforted and encouraged them as well as he could, got on horseback, and being accompanied with ten of his friends and his son, then a youth, got away to the seaside, and finding vessels there waiting off the shore, went on board of them and sailed to Aegium to the assembly; in which it was decreed that Antigonus should be called in to their aid, and should have the Acro-Corinthus delivered to him. Aratus also sent his son to him with the other hostages. The Corinthians, extremely angry at this proceeding, now plundered his property, and gave his house as a present to Cleomenes.
Antigonus being now near at hand with his army, consisting of twenty thousand Macedonian foot and one thousand three hundred horse, Aratus, with the members of council, went to meet him by sea, and got, unobserved by the enemy, to Pegae, having no great confidence either in