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Agesilaus by Xenophon

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Etext prepared by John Bickers, jbickers@templar.actrix.gen.nz.


By Xenophon

Translation by H. G. Dakyns

Dedicated To
Rev. B. Jowett, M.A.
Master of Balliol College
Regius Professor of Greek in the University of Oxford

Xenophon the Athenian was born 431 B.C. He was a
pupil of Socrates. He marched with the Spartans,
and was exiled from Athens. Sparta gave him land
and property in Scillus, where he lived for many
years before having to move once more, to settle
in Corinth. He died in 354 B.C.

The Agesilaus summarises the life of his Spartan
friend and king, whom he met after the events of
the Anabasis.


This was typed from Dakyns' series, "The Works of Xenophon," a
four-volume set. The complete list of Xenophon's works (though
there is doubt about some of these) is:

Work Number of books

The Anabasis 7
The Hellenica 7
The Cyropaedia 8
The Memorabilia 4
The Symposium 1
The Economist 1
On Horsemanship 1
The Sportsman 1
The Cavalry General 1
The Apology 1
On Revenues 1
The Hiero 1
The Agesilaus 1
The Polity of the Athenians and the Lacedaemonians 2

Text in brackets "{}" is my transliteration of Greek text into
English using an Oxford English Dictionary alphabet table. The
diacritical marks have been lost.


An Encomium

The date of Agesilaus's death is uncertain--360 B.C. (Grote,
"H. G." ix. 336); 358 B.C. (Curt. iv. 196, Eng. tr.)


To write the praises of Agesilaus in language equalling his virtue and
renown is, I know, no easy task; yet must it be essayed; since it were
but an ill requital of pre-eminence, that, on the ground of his
perfection, a good man should forfeit the tribute even of imperfect

As touching, therefore, the excellency of his birth, what weightier,
what nobler testimony can be adduced than this one fact? To the
commemorative list of famous ancestry is added to-day the name[1]
Agesilaus as holding this or that numerical descent from Heracles, and
these ancestors no private persons, but kings sprung from the loins of
kings. Nor is it open to the gainsayer to contend that they were kings
indeed but of some chance city. Not so, but even as their family holds
highest honour in their fatherland, so too is their city the most
glorious in Hellas, whereby they hold, not primacy over the second
best, but among leaders they have leadership.

[1] Or, "even to-day, in the proud bead-roll of his ancestry he stands
commemorated, in numerical descent from Heracles."

And herein it is open to us to praise both his fatherland and his
family. It is notable that never throughout these ages has Lacedaemon,
out of envy of the privilege accorded to her kings, tried to dissolve
their rule; nor ever yet throughout these ages have her kings strained
after greater powers than those which limited their heritage of
kingship from the first. Wherefore, while all other forms of
government, democracies and oligarchies, tyrannies and monarchies,
alike have failed to maintain their continuity unbroken, here, as the
sole exception, endures indissolubly their kingship.[2]

[2] See "Cyrop." I. i. 1.

And next in token of an aptitude for kingship seen in Agesilaus,
before even he entered upon office, I note these signs. On the death
of Agis, king of Lacedaemon, there were rival claimants to the throne.
Leotychides claimed the succession as being the son of Agis, and
Agesilaus as the son of Archidamus. But the verdict of Lacedaemon
favoured Agesilaus as being in point of family and virtue
unimpeachable,[3] and so they set him on the throne. And yet, in this
princeliest of cities so to be selected by the noblest citizens as
worthy of highest privilege, argues, methinks conclusively, an
excellence forerunning exercise of rule.[4]

[3] For this matter see "Hell." III. iii. 1-6; V. iv. 13; Plut.
"Ages." iii. 3 (Cloigh, iv. 3 foll.); Paus. iii. 3.

[4] See Aristides ("Rhet." 776), who quotes the passage for its
measured cadence.

And so I pass on at once to narrate the chief achievements of his
reign, since by the light of deeds the character of him who wrought
them will, if I mistake not, best shine forth.

Agesilaus was still a youth[5] when he obtained the kingdom, and he
was still but a novice in his office when the news came that the king
of Persia was collecting a mighty armament by sea and land for the
invasion of Hellas. The Lacedaemonians and their allies sat debating
these matters, when Agesilaus undertook to cross over into Asia. He
only asked for thirty Spartans and two thousand New Citizens,[6]
besides a contingent of the allies six thousand strong; with these he
would cross over into Asia and endeavour to effect a peace; or, if the
barbarian preferred war, he would leave him little leisure to invade

[5] B.C. 399; according to Plut. ("Ages." ad fin.) he was forty-three,
and therefore still "not old." See "Hell." III. iv. 1 for the
startling news, B.C. 396.

[6] For the class of Neodamodes, see Arnold's note to Thuc. v. 34
(Jowett, "Thuc." ii. 307); also Thuc. vii. 58; "Hell." I. iii. 15.

The proposal was welcomed with enthusiasm on the part of many. They
could not but admire the eagerness of their king to retaliate upon the
Persian for his former invasions of Hellas by counter-invasion on his
own soil. They liked the preference also which he showed for attacking
rather than awaiting his enemy's attack, and his intention to carry on
the war at the expense of Persia rather than that of Hellas; but it
was the perfection of policy, they felt, so to change the arena of
battle, with Asia as the prize of victory instead of Hellas. If we
pass on to the moment when he had received his army and set sail, I
can conceive no clearer exposition of his generalship than the bare
narration of his exploits.

The scene is Asia, and this his first achievement. Tissaphernes had
sworn an oath to Agesilaus on this wise: if Agesilaus would grant him
an armistice until the return of certain ambassadors whom he would
send to the king, he (Tissaphernes) would do his utmost to procure the
independence of the Hellenic cities in Asia. And Agesilaus took a
counter oath: without fraud or covin to observe the armistice during
the three months[7] necessary to that transaction. But the compact was
scarcely made when Tissaphernes gave the lie to the solemn undertaking
he had sworn to. So far from effecting peace, he begged the King to
send him a large armament in addition to that which he already had. As
to Agesilaus, though he was well aware of these proceedings, he
adhered loyally to the armistice.

[7] See Grote, "H. G." x. 359; "Hell." III. iv. 5.

And for myself, I look upon this as the first glorious achievement of
the Spartan. By displaying the perjury of Tissaphernes he robbed him
of his credit with all the world; by the exhibition of himself in
contrast as a man who ratified his oath and would not gainsay an
article of his agreement, he gave all men, Hellenes and barbarians
alike, encouragement to make covenant with him to the full extent of
his desire.

When Tissaphernes, priding himself on the strength of that army which
had come down to aid him, bade Agesilaus to be gone from Asia or to
prepare for war,[8] deep was the vexation depicted on the faces of the
Lacedaemonians there present and their allies, as they realised that
the scanty force of Agesilaus was all too small to cope with the
armaments of Persia. But the brow of their general was lit with joy as
gaily he bade the ambassadors take back this answer to Tissaphernes:
"I hold myself indebted to your master for the perjury whereby he has
obtained to himself the hostility of heaven, and made the gods
themselves allies of Hellas." And so without further pause he
published a general order to his soldiers to pack their baggage and
prepare for active service; and to the several cities which lay on the
line of march to Caria, the order sped to have their markets in
readiness; while to the men of Ionia and the Aeolid and the Hellespont
he sent despatches bidding them send their contingents to Ephesus to
join in the campaign.

[8] Lit. "When Tissaphernes, priding himself . . . bade Agesilaus be
gone . . . deep was the annoyance felt."

Tissaphernes meanwhile was influenced by the fact that Agesilaus had
no cavalry, and that Caria was a hilly district unsuited for that arm.
Moreover, as he further bethought him, Agesilaus must needs be wroth
with him for his deceit. What could be clearer, therefore, than that
he was about to make a dash at the satrap's home in Caria? Accordingly
he transported the whole of his infantry into Caria and marched his
cavalry round the while into the plain of the Maeander, persuaded that
he would trample the Hellenes under the hoofs of his horses long
before they reached the district where no cavalry could operate.

But Agesilaus, instead of advancing upon Caria, turned right about and
marched in the direction of Phrygia. Picking up the various forces
that met him on his progress, he passed onwards, laying city after
city at his feet, and by the suddenness of his incursion capturing
enormous wealth.

Here was an achievement which showed the genius of a general, as all
agreed. When once war as declared, and the arts of circumvention and
deceit were thereby justified, he had proved Tissaphernes to be a very
bade in subtlety;[9] and with what sagacity again did he turn the
circumstances to account for the enrichment of his friends. Owing to
the quantity of wealth captured, precious things were selling for a
mere song. Thereupon he gave his friends warning to make their
purchases, adding that he should at once march down to the sea-coast
at the head of his troops. The quartermasters meanwhile received
orders to make a note of the purchasers with the prices of the
articles, and to consign the goods. The result was that, without prior
disbursement on their part, or detriment to the public treasury, his
friends reaped an enormous harvest. Moreover, when deserters came with
offers to disclose hidden treasures, and naturally enough laid their
proposal before the king himself, he took care to have the capture of
these treasures effected by his friends, which would enable them to do
a stroke of business, and at the same time redound to their prestige.
For this reason he was not long in discovering many an eager aspirant
to his friendship.

[9] See below, xi. 4; "Mem." III. i. 6; IV. ii. 15; "Cyrop." I. vi.
31; Plut. "Ages." xi. (Clough, iv. 10).

But a country pillaged and denuded of inhabitants would not long
support an army. That he felt. A more perennial source of supply was
surely to be found in waving cornfields and thickly clustering
homesteads. So with infinite pains he set himself not merely to crush
his foes by force, but also to win them to his side by gentleness. In
this spirit he often enjoined upon his soldiers to guard their
captives as fellow-men rather than take vengeance upon them as
evildoers;[10] or, on a change of quarters, if aware of little
children left behind by the dealers (since the men often sold them in
the belief that it would be impossible to carry them away and rear
them), he would show concern in behalf of these poor waifs and have
them conveyed to some place of safety; or he would entrust them to the
care of fellow-prisoners also left behind on account of old age; in no
case must they be left to ravening dogs and wolves. In this way he won
the goodwill not only of those who heard tell of these doings but of
the prisoners themselves. And whenever he brought over a city to his
side, he set the citizens free from the harsher service of a bondsman
to his lord, imposing the gentler obedience of a freeman to his ruler.
Indeed, there were fortresses impregnable to assault which he brought
under his power by the subtler force of human kindness.

[10] See Grote, vol. ix. p. 365 foll.

But when, in Phrygia even, the freedom of his march along the flats
was hampered by the cavalry of Pharnabazus, he saw that if he wished
to avoid a skulking warfare under cover, a force of cavalry was
indispensable. Accordingly he enlisted the wealthiest members of every
city in those parts to breed and furnish horses; with this saving
clause, however: that the individual who furnished a horse and arms
with a good rider should be exempt from service himself. By this means
he engendered an eagerness to discharge the obligation, not unlike
that of the condemned man, casting about to discover some one to die
in his place.[11] He further ordered some of the states themselves to
furnish contingents of mounted troopers, and this in the conviction
that from such training-centres he would presently get a pick of
cavaliers proud of their horsemanship. And thus once more he won
golden opinions by the skill with which he provided himself with a
body of cavalry in the plenitude of strength and ripe for active

[11] Instead of the plain {zetoie} of the parallel passage ("Hell."
III. iv. 15) the encomiast prefers the poetical {masteuoi}.

On the approach of early spring[12] he collected his whole armament at
Ephesus, and set himself to the work of training it. With that object
he proposed a series of prizes: one set for the cavalry squadron which
rode best, another for the heavy infantry divisions which presented
the best physique, another again for various light troops, peltasts,
and bowmen, which showed themselves most efficient in their respective

[12] B.C. 395; see "Hell." III. iv. 16; Plut. "Marcel." (Clough, ii.
262); Polyb. xii. 20, 7.

Thereupon it was a sight to see the gymnasiums thronged with warriors
going through their exercises, the racecourses crowded with troopers
on prancing steeds, the archers and the javelin men shooting at the
butts. Nay, the whole city in which he lay was transformed into a
spectacle itself, so filled to overflowing was the market-place with
arms and armour of every sort, and horses, all for sale. Here were
coppersmiths and carpenters, ironfounders and cobblers, painters and
decorators--one and all busily engaged in fabricating the implements
of war; so that an onlooker might have thought the city of Ephesus
itself a gigantic arsenal. It would have kindled courage in the breast
of a coward to see the long lines of soldiers, with Agesilaus at their
head, all garlanded as they marched in proud procession from the
gymnasiums and dedicated their wreaths to our Lady Artemis. Since,
where these three elements exist--reverence towards heaven, practice
in military affairs, and obedience to command--all else must needs be
full of happy promise.

But seeing that contempt for the foe is calculated to infuse a certain
strength in face of battle, he ordered his criers to strip naked the
barbarians captured by his foraging parties, and so to sell them. The
soldiers who saw the white skins of these folk, unused to strip for
toil, soft and sleek and lazy-looking, as of people who could only
stir abroad in carriages, concluded that a war with women would
scarcely be more formidable. Then he published a further order to the
soldiers: "I shall lead you at once by the shortest route to the
stronghold[13] of the enemy's territory. Your general asks you to keep
yourselves on the alert in mind and body, as men about to enter the
lists of battle on the instant."

[13] Or, "the richest parts of the country," viz. Lydia; Plut. "Ages."

But Tissaphernes was persuaded that this was all talk on his part for
the purpose of outwitting him a second time: now certainly Agesilaus
would make an incursion into Caria. So once again the satrap
transported his infantry over into that country just has he had done
before, and as before he posted his cavalry in the plain of the

This time, however, Agesilaus was true to his word. In accordance with
his published order he advanced straight upon the region of Sardis,
and, during a three days' march through a country where not an enemy
was to be seen, provided his army with abundant supplies. On the
fourth day the enemy's cavalry came up. The Persian general ordered
the commandant of his baggage train to cross the Pactolus and encamp,
whilst his troopers, who had caught sight of the camp followers of the
Hellenes scattered in search of booty, put many of them to the sword.
Agesilaus, aware how matters were going, ordered his cavalry to the
rescue, and the Persians on their side, seeing the enemy's supports
approaching, collected and formed up in line to receive them with the
serried squadrons of their cavalry. And now Agesilaus, conscious that
his enemy's infantry had not as yet arrived, whilst on his side no
element in his preparation was lacking, felt that the moment was come
to join battle if he could. Accordingly he sacrificed and advanced
against the opposing lines of cavalry. A detachment of heavy infantry,
the ten-years-service men, had orders to close with them at the run,
while the light infantry division were told to show them the way at a
swinging pace. At the same time he passed the order along the line of
his cavalry to charge in reliance of the support of himself and the
main body in their rear. Charge they did, these troopers, and the pick
of Persian cavalry received them bravely, but in face of the conjoint
horror of the attack they swerved, and some were cut down at once in
the river-bed, while others sought safety in flight. The Hellenes
followed close on the heels of the flying foe, and captured his camp.
Here the peltasts, not unnaturally, fell to pillaging, whereupon
Agesilaus formed a cordon of troops, round the property of friends and
foes alike, and so encamped.

Presently hearing that the enemy were in a state of disorder, the
result of every one holding his fellow responsible for what had
happened, he advanced without further stay on Sardis. Having arrived,
he fell to burning and ravaging the suburbs, while at the same time he
did not fail to make it known by proclamation that those who asked for
freedom should join his standard; or if there were any who claimed a
right of property in Asia he challenged them to come out and meet her
liberators in fair fight and let the sword decide between them.
Finding that no one ventured to come out to meet him, his march became
for the future a peaceful progress. All around him he beheld Hellenes
who formerly were forced to bow the knee to brutal governors now
honoured by their former tyrants, while those who had claimed to enjoy
divine honours were so humbled by him that they scarce dared to look a
Hellene in the face. Everywhere he saved the territory of his friends
from devastation, and reaped the fruits of the enemy's soil to such
good effect that within two years he was able to dedicate as a tithe
to the god at Delphi more than one hundred talents.[14]

[14] = 25,000 pounds nearly.

It was then that the Persian king, believing that Tissaphernes was to
blame for the ill success of his affairs, sent down Tithraustes and
cut off the satrap's head. After this the fortunes of the barbarians
grew still more desperate, whilst those of Agesilaus assumed a bolder
front. On all side embassies from the surrounding nations came to make
terms of friendship, and numbers even came over to him, stretching out
eager arms to grasp at freedom. So that Agesilaus was now no longer
the chosen captain of the Hellenes only, but of many Asiatics.

And here we may pause and consider what a weight of admiration is due
to one who, being now ruler over countless cities of the continent,
and islands also (since the state had further entrusted the navy to
his hands), just when he had reached this pinnacle of renown and
power, and might look to turn to account his thronging fortunes; when,
too, which overtops all else, he was cherishing fond hopes to dissolve
that empire which in former days had dared to march on Hellas;--at
such a moment suffered himself not to be overmastered by these
promptings, but on receipt of a summons of the home authorities to
come to the assistance of the fatherland, obeyed the mandate of his
state as readily[15] as though he stood confronted face to face with
the Five in the hall of ephors; and thus gave clear proof that he
would not accept the whole earth in exchange for the land of his
fathers, nor newly-acquired in place of ancient friends, nor base
gains ingloriously purchased rather than the perilous pursuit of
honour and uprightness.[16]

[15] Cf. Hor. "Od." III. v. 50.

[16] See Pindar, "Olymp." vi. 14.

And, indeed, glancing back at the whole period during which he
remained in the exercise of his authority, no act of deeper
significance in proof of his kingly qualities need be named than this.
He found the cities which he was sent out to govern each and all a
prey to factions, the result of constitutional disturbances consequent
on the cessation of the Athenian empire, and without resort to exile
or sanguinary measures he so disposed them by his healing presence
that civil concord and material prosperity were permanently
maintained. Therefore it was that the Hellenes in Asia deplored his
departure,[17] as though they had lost, not simply a ruler, but a
father or bosom friend, and in the end they showed that their
friendship was of no fictitious character. At any rate, they
voluntarily helped him to succour Lacedaemon, though it involved, as
they knew, the need of doing battle with combatants of equal prowess
with themselves. So the tale of his achievements in Asia has an end.

[17] See Plut. "Ages." xv.


He crossed the Hellespont and made his way through the very tribes
traversed by the Persian[1] with his multitudinous equipment in former
days, and the march which cost the barbarian a year was accomplished
by Agesilaus in less than a single month. He did not want to arrive a
day too late to serve his fatherland. And so passing through Macedonia
he arrived in Thessaly, and here the men of Larissa, Crannon,
Scotussa, and Pharsalus, who were allies of the Boeotians, and indeed
all the Thessalians, with the exception of those who were in exile at
the time, combined to dog his steps and do him damage. For a while he
led his troops in a hollow square, posting one half of his cavalry in
the van and the other half on his rear, but finding his march hindered
by frequent attacks of the Thessalians on his hindmost divisions, he
sent round the mass of his cavalry from the vanguard to support his
rear, reserving only his personal escort.[2] And now in battle order
the rival squadrons faced each other; when the Thessalians, not liking
a cavalry engagement in face of heavy infantry, wheeled and step by
step retreated; their opponents with much demureness following. Then
Agesilaus, detecting the common error under which both parties
laboured, sent round his own bodyguard of stalwart troopers with
orders to their predecessors (an order they would act upon themselves)
to charge the enemy at full gallop and not give him a chance to rally.
The Thessalians, in face of this unexpected charge, either could not
so much as rally, or in the attempt to do so were caught with their
horses' flanks exposed to the enemy's attack. Polycharmus, the
Pharsalian, a commandant of cavalry, did indeed succeed in wheeling,
but was cut down with those about him sword in hand. This was the
signal for a flight so extraordinary that dead and dying lined the
road, and the living were captured wholesale, nor was a halt made
until the pursuers reached Mount Narthacius. Here, midway between Pras
and Narthacius, Agesilaus erected a trophy, and here for the moment he
halted in unfeigned satisfaction at his exploit, since it was from an
antagonist boasting the finest cavalry in the world that he had
wrested victory with a body of cavalry organised by himself.

[1] I.e. "Xerxes."

[2] I.e. "the Three hundred." See Thuc. v. 72; "Pol. Lac." xiii. 6.

Next day, crossing the mountain barrier of Achaea Phthiotis, his march
lay through friendly territory for the rest of the way as far as the
frontiers of Boeotia. Here he found the confederates drawn up in
battle line. They consisted of the Thebans, the Athenians, the
Argives, the Corinthians, the Aenianians, the Euboeans, and both
divisions of the Locrians.[3] He did not hesitate, but openly before
their eyes drew out his lines to give them battle. He had with him a
division[4] and a half of Lacedaemonians, and from the seat of war
itself the allied troops of the Phocians and the men of Orchomenus
only, besides the armament which he had brought with him from Asia.

[3] See "Hell." IV. ii. 7.

[4] Lit. "mora."

I am not going to maintain that he ventured on the engagement in spite
of having far fewer and inferior forces. Such an assertion would only
reveal the senselessness of the general[5] and the folly of the writer
who should select as praiseworthy the reckless imperilling of mighty
interests. On the contrary, what I admire is the fact that he had
taken care to provide himself with an army not inferior to that of his
enemy, and had so equipped them that his cohorts literally gleamed
with purple and bronze.[6] He had taken pains to enable his soldiers
to undergo the fatigue of war, he had filled their breasts with a
proud consciousness that they were equal to do battle with any
combatants in the world, and what was more, he had infused a wholesome
rivalry in those about him to prove themselves each better than the
rest. He had filled all hearts with sanguine expectation of great
blessings to descend on all, if they proved themselves good men. Such
incentives, he thought, were best calculated to arouse enthusiasm in
men's souls to engage in battle with the enemy. And in this
expectation he was not deceived.

[5] Lit. "Agesilaus."

[6] See "Cyrop." VI. iv. 1.

I proceed to describe the battle, for in certain distinctive features
it differed from all the battles of our day. The contending forces met
on the plain of Coronea, Agesilaus and his troops approaching from the
Cephisus, the Thebans and their allies from the slopes of the Helicon.
These masses of infantry, as any eye might see, were of duly balanced
strength, while as near as could be the cavalry on either side was
numerically the same. Agesilaus held the right of his own army, and on
his extreme left lay the men of Orchomenus. On the opposite side the
Thebans themselves formed their own right and the Argives held their
left. While the two armies approached a deep silence prevailed on
either side, but when they were now a single furlong's[7] space apart
the Thebans quickened to a run, and, with a loud hurrah, dashed
forward to close quarters. And now there was barely a hundred yards[8]
between them, when Herippidas, with his foreign brigade, rushed
forward from the Spartan's battle lines to meet them. This brigade
consisted partly of troops which had served with Agesilaus ever since
he left home, with a portion of the Cyreians, besides Ionians,
Aeolians, and their neighbours on the Hellespont. All these took part
in the foward rush of the attack just mentioned, and coming within
spear-thrust they routed that portion of the enemy in front of them.
The Argives did not even wait for Agesilaus and his division, but fled
towards Helicon, and at that moment some of his foreign friends were
on the point of crowning Agesilaus with the wreath of victory, when
some one brought him word that the Thebans had cut through the
division from Orchomenus and were busy with the baggage-train.
Accordingly he at once deployed his division and advanced by
counter-march against them. The Thebans on their side, seeing that
their allies had scattered on Helicon, and eager to make their way
back to join their friends, began advancing sturdily.

[7] Lit. "a stade."

[8] Lit. "three plethra."

To assert that Agesilaus at this crisis displayed real valour is to
assert a thing indisputable, but for all that the course he adopted
was not the safest. It was open to him to let the enemy pass in their
effort to rejoin their friends, and that done to have hung upon their
heels and overmastered their rear ranks, but he did nothing of the
sort: what he did was, to crash front to front against the Thebans.
And so with shields interlocked they shoved and fought and fought and
shoved, dealing death and yielding life. There was no shouting, nor
yet was there even silence, but a strange and smothered utterance,
such as rage and battle vent.[9] At last a portion of the Thebans
forced their way through towards Helicon, but many were slain in that

[9] Or, "as the rage and fury of battle may give vent to." See
"Cyrop." VII. i. 38-40. A graphic touch omitted in "Hell." IV.
iii. 19.

Victory remained with Agesilaus. Wounded himself, they bore him back
to his own lines, when some of his troopers came galloping up to tell
him that eighty of the enemy had taken refuge with their arms[10]
under cover of the Temple,[11] and they asked what they ought to do.
He, albeit he had received wounds all over him, having been the mark
of divers weapons, did not even so forget his duty to God, and gave
orders to let them go whithersoever they chose, nor suffered them to
be ill-treated, but ordered his bodyguard of cavalry to escort them
out of reach of danger.

[10] I.e. "they had kept their arms."

[11] See Plut. "Ages." xix.; Paus. ix. 34.

And now that the battle had ceased, it was a sight to see where the
encounter took place, the earth bedabbled with gore, the dead lying
cheek by jowl, friend and foe together, and the great shields hacked
and broken to pieces, and the spears snapped asunder, the daggers
lying bare of sheaths, some on the ground, some buried in the bodies,
some still clutched in the dead men's hands. For the moment then,
seeing that it was already late in the day, they dragged together the
corpses of their slain apart from those of the enemy[12] and laid them
within the lines, and took their evening meal and slept; but early
next morning Agesilaus ordered Gylis, the polemarch, to marshal the
troops in battle order and to set up a trophy, while each man donned a
wreath in honour of the god, and the pipers piped. So they busied
themselves, but the Thebans sent a herald asking leave to bury their
dead under cover of a truce. And so it came to pass that a truce was
made, and Agesilaus departed homewards, having chosen, in lieu of
supreme greatness in Asia, to rule, and to be ruled, in obedience to
the laws at home.

[12] Reading, {tous ek ton polemion nekrous}, after Weiske.

It was after this[13] that his attention was drawn to the men of
Argos. They had appropriated Corinth, and were reaping the fruits of
their fields at home. The war to them was a merry jest. Accordingly he
marched against them; and having ravaged their territory throughout,
he crossed over by the pass[14] down upon Corinth and captured the
long walls leading to Lechaeum. And so having thrown open the gates of
Peloponnese he returned home in time for the Hyacinthia,[15] where, in
the post assigned to him by the master of the chorus, he shared in the
performance of the paean in honour of the god.

[13] B.C. 393.

[14] {kata ta stena}. See "Hell." IV. iv. 19. {kata Tenean}, according
to Koppen's emendation.

[15] See Grote, "H. G." v. 208; Herod. ix. 7; "Hell." IV. v. 10.

Later on, it being brought to his notice that the Corinthians were
keeping all their cattle safely housed in the Peiraeum, sowing the
whole of that district, and gathering in their crops; and, which was a
matter of the greatest moment, that the Boeotians, with Creusis as
their base of operations, could pour their succours into Corinth by
this route--he marched against Peiraeum. Finding it strongly guarded,
he made as if the city of Corinth were about to capitulate, and
immediately after the morning meal shifted his ground and encamped
against the capital. Under cover of night there was a rush from
Peiraeum to protect the city, which he was well aware of, and with
break of day he turned right about and took Peiraeum, defenceless as
it lay, capturing all that it contained, with the various fortresses
within; and having so done retired homewards.

After these exploits[16] the Achaeans were urgent for an alliance, and
begged him to join them in an expedition against Acarnania. In the
course of this the Acarnanians attacked him in a defile. Storming the
heights above his head with his light troops,[17] he gave them battle,
and slew many of them, and set up a trophy, nor stayed his hand until
he had united the Acarnanians, the Aetolians, and the Argives,[18] in
friendship with the Achaeans and alliance with himself.

[16] B.C. 390-389?

[17] See "Hell." IV. vi. 9-11, where it is expressly stated that the
action was won by the Spartan hoplites. See Hartman, "An. Xen."
(cap. xi. "De Agesilao libello"), p. 263, for other discrepancies
between the historian and the encomiast.

[18] See perhaps "Hell." IV. iv. 19; vii. 2 foll.

When the enemy, being desirous of peace, sent an embassy, it was
Agesilaus who spoke against the peace,[19] until he had forced the
states of Corinth and of Thebes to welcome back those of them who, for
Lacedaemon's sake, had suffered banishment.

[19] I.e. "of Antalcidas, B.C. 387." See "Hell." V. i. 36; Grote, "H.
G." ix. 537 note.

And still later,[20] again, he restored the exiles of the Phliasians,
who had suffered in the same cause, and with that object marched in
person against Phlius, a proceeding which, however liable to censure
on other grounds, showed unmistakable attachment to his party.[21]

[20] B.C. 383 and 380; see "Hell." V. ii. 10; iii. 10.

[21] See "Hell." V. iii. 16.

Thus, when the adverse faction had put to death those of the
Lacedaemonians then in Thebes, he brought succour to his friends, and
marched upon Thebes.[22] Finding the entire country fenced with ditch
and palisading, he crossed Cynoscephalae[23] and ravaged the district
right up to the city itself, giving the Thebans an opportunity of
engaging him in the plain or upon the hills, as they preferred. And
once more, in the ensuing year,[24] he marched against Thebes, and now
surmounting these palisades and entrenchments at Scolus,[25] he
ravaged the remainder of Boeotia.

[22] B.C. 378.

[23] See "Hell." V. iv. 34 foll.; for the site see Breitenbach, ad

[24] B.C. 377.

[25] See "Hell." V. iv. 47.

Hitherto fortune had smiled in common upon the king himself and upon
his city. And as for the disasters which presently befell, no one can
maintain that they were brought about under the leadership of
Agesilaus. But the day came when, after the disaster which had
occurred at Leuctra, the rival powers in conjunction with the
Mantineans fell to massacring his friends and adherents[26] in Tegea
(the confederacy between all the states of Boeotia, the Arcadians, and
the Eleians being already an accomplished fact). Thereupon, with the
forces of Lacedaemon alone,[27] he took the field, and thus belied the
current opinion that it would be a long while before the
Lacedaemonians ventured to leave their own territory again. Having
ravaged the country of those who had done his friends to death, he was
content, and returned home.

[26] Or intimates.

[27] B.C. 370. See "Hell."VI. v. 21.

After this Lacedaemon was invaded by the united Arcadians, Argives,
Eleians, and Boeotians, who were assisted by the Phocians, both
sections of the Locrians, the Thessalians, Aenianians, Acarnanians,
and Euboeans; moreover, the slaves had revolted and several of the
provincial cities;[28] while of the Spartans themselves as many had
fallen on the field of Leuctra as survived. But in spite of all, he
safely guarded the city, and that too a city without walls and
bulwarks. Forbearing to engage in the open field, where the gain would
lie wholly with the enemy, he lay stoutly embattled on ground where
the citizens must reap advantage; since, as he doggedly persisted, to
march out meant to be surrounded on every side; whereas to stand at
bay where every defile gave a coign of vantage, would give him mastery

[28] Lit. "perioecid"; see Plut. "Ages." xxxii. (Clough, iv. 39);
"Hell." VI. v. 32.

[29] Is this parallel to "Hell." VII. v. 10, or "Hell." VI. v. 28?
According to the historian, Agesilaus adopted similar tactics on
both occasions (in B.C. 369 and B.C. 362 alike). The encomiast
after his manner appears to treat them as one. Once and again his
hero "cunctando restituit rem," but it was by the same strategy.

After the invading army had retired, no one will gainsay the sound
sense of his behaviour. Old age debarred him from active service on
foot or horse, and what the city chiefly needed now, he saw, was
money, if she looked to gain allies. To the task therefore of
providing that he set himself. Everything that could be done by
stopping at home he deftly turned his hand to; or when the call arose
and he could better help his country by departure he had no false
pride; he set off on foreign service, not as general, but as
ambassador. Yet on such embassy he achieved acts worthy of the
greatest general. Autophradates[30] was besieging Ariobarzanes,[31]
who was an ally of Sparta, in Assos; but before the face of Agesilaus
he fled in terror and was gone. Cotys,[32] besieging Sestos, which
still adhered to Ariobarzanes, broke up the siege and departed
crestfallen. Well might the ambassador have set up a trophy in
commemoration of the two bloodless victories. Once more, Mausolus[33]
was besieging both the above-named places with a squadron of one
hundred sail. He too, like, and yet unlike, the former two, yielded
not to terror but to persuasion, and withdrew his fleet. These, then,
were surely admirable achievements, since those who looked upon him as
a benefactor and those who fled from before him both alike made him
the richer by their gifts.

[30] Satrap of Lydia.

[31] Satrap of Propontis or Hellespontine Phrygia.

[32] Satrap of Paphlagonia, king of Thrace. Iphicrates married his
daughter. See Grote, "H. G." x. 410.

[33] Satrap of Caria.

Tachos,[34] indeed, and Mausolus gave him a magnificent escort; and,
for the sake of his former friendship with Agesilaus, the latter
contributed also money for the state of Lacedaemon; and so they sped
him home.

[34] King of Egypt.

And now the weight of, may be, fourscore years was laid upon him,[35]
when it came under his observation that the king of Egypt,[36] with
his hosts of foot and horse and stores of wealth, had set his heart on
a war with Persia. Joyfully he learned that he himself was summoned by
King Tachos, and that the command-in-chief of all the forces was
promised to him. By this one venture he would achieve three objects,
which were to requite the Egyptian for the benefits conferred on
Lacedaemon; to liberate the Hellenes in Asia once again; and to
inflict on the Persian a just recompense, not only for the old
offences, but for this which was of to-day; seeing that, while
boasting alliance with Sparta, he had dictatorially enjoined the
emancipation of Messene.[37] But when the man who had summoned him
refused to confer the proffered generalship, Agesilaus, like one on
whom a flagrant deception has been practised, began to consider the
part he had to play. Meanwhile a separate division[38] of the Egyptian
armies held aloof from their king. Then, the disaffection spreading,
all the rest of his troops deserted him; whereat the monarch took
flight and retired in exile to Sidon in Phoenicia, leaving the
Egyptians, split in faction, to choose to themselves a pair of
kings.[39] Thereupon Agesilaus took his decision. If he helped
neither, it meant that neither would pay the service-money due to his
Hellenes, that neither would provide a market, and that, whichever of
the two conquered in the end, Sparta would be equally detested. But if
he threw in his lot with one of them, that one would in all likelihood
in return for the kindness prove a friend. Accordingly he chose
between the two that one who seemed to be the truer partisan of
Hellas, and with him marched against the enemy of Hellas and conquered
him in a battle, crushing him. His rival he helped to establish on the
throne, and having made him a friend to Lacedaemon, and having
acquired vast sums besides, he turned and set sail homewards, even in
mid-winter, hastening so that Sparta might not lie inactive, but
against the coming summer be alert to confront the foe.

[35] Or, "But to pass on, he was already, may be, eighty years of age,
when it came under his observation. . . ."

[36] This same Tachos.

[37] See "Hell." VII. i. 36; iv. 9.

[38] I.e. "the army under Nectanebos." See Diod. xv. 92; Plut. "Ages."
xxxvii. (Clough, iv. 44 foll.)

[39] I.e. "Nectanebos and a certain Mendesian."


Such, then, is the chronicle of this man's achievements, or of such of
them as were wrought in the presence of a thousand witnesses. Being of
this sort they have no need of further testimony; the mere recital of
them is sufficient, and they at once win credence. But now I will
endeavour to reveal the excellence indwelling in his soul, the motive
power of his acts, in virtue of which he clung to all things
honourable and thrust aside all baseness.

Agesilaus showed such reverence for things divine that even his
enemies regarded his oaths and solemn treaties as more to be relied on
than the tie of friendship amongst themselves. These same men, who
would shrink from too close intercourse with one another, delivered
themselves into the hands of Agesilaus without fear. And lest the
assertion should excite discredit, I may name some illustrious
examples. Such was Spithridates the Persian, who knew that
Pharnabazus,[1] whilst negotiating to marry the daughter of the great
king, was minded to seize his own daughter unwedded. Resenting such
brutality, Spithridates delivered up himself, his wife, his children,
and his whole power, into the hands of Agesilaus. Cotys[2] also, the
ruler of Paphlagonia, had refused to obey a summons from the king,
although he sent him the warrant of his right hand;[3] then fear came
upon him lest he should be seized, and either be heavily fined or die
the death; yet he too, simply trusting to an armistice, came to the
camp of Agesilaus and made alliance, and of his own accord chose to
take the field with Agesilaus, bringing a thousand horsemen and two
thousand targeteers. Lastly, Pharnabazus[4] himself came and held
colloquy with Agesilaus, and openly agreed that if he were not himself
appointed general-in-chief of the royal forces he would revolt from
the king. "Whereas, if I do become general," he added, "I mean to make
war upon you, Agesilaus, might and main," thus revealing his
confidence that, say what he might, nothing would befall him contrary
to the terms of truce. Of so intrinsic a value to all, and not least
to a general in the field, is the proud possession of an honest and
God-fearing character, known and recognised. Thus far, as touching the
quality of piety.

[1] See "Hell." III. iv. 10; Plut. "Ages." xi. (Clough, iv. 9).

[2] See "Hell." IV. i. 3; Plut. "Ages." xi. (Clough, iv. 13).

[3] Diod. xvi. 34.

[4] See "Hell." IV. i. 37.


To speak next of his justice[1] in affairs of money. As to this, what
testimony can be more conclusive than the following? During the whole
of his career no charge of fraudulent dealing was ever lodged against
Agesilaus; against which set the many-voiced acknowledgmment of
countless benefits received from him. A man who found pleasure in
giving away his own for the benefit of others was not the man to rob
another of his goods at the price of infamy. Had he suffered from this
thirst for riches it would have been easier to cling to what belonged
to him than to take that to which he had no just title. This man, who
was so careful to repay debts of gratitude, where[2] the law knows no
remedy against defaulters, was not likely to commit acts of robbery
which the law regards as criminal. And as a matter of act Agesilaus
judged it not only wrong to forgo repayment of a deed of kindness,
but, where the means were ample, wrong also not to repay such debts
with ample interest.

[1] See Muller and Donaldson, "Hist. Gk. Lit." ii. 196, note 2.

[2] Or, "a state of indebtedness beyond the reach of a tribunal." See
"Cyrop." I. ii. 7.

The charge of embezzlement, could it be alleged, would no less outrage
all reason in the case of one who made over to his country the benefit
in full of grateful offerings owed solely to himself. Indeed the very
fact that, when he wished to help the city or his friends with money,
he might have done so by the aid of others, goes a long way to prove
his indifference to the lure of riches; since, had he been in the
habit of selling his favour, or of playing the part of benefactor for
pay, there had been no room for a sense of indebtedness.[3] It is only
the recipient of gratuitous kindness who is ever ready to minister to
his benefactor, both in return for the kindness itself and for the
confidence implied in his selection as the fitting guardian of a good
deed on deposit.[4]

[3] Or, "no one would have felt to owe him anything."

[4] See "Cyrop." VI. i. 35; Rutherford, "New Phrynichus," p. 312.

Again, who more likely to put a gulf impassable between himself and
the sordid love of gain[5] than he, who nobly preferred to be stinted
of his dues[6] rather than snatch at the lion's share unjustly? It is
a case in point that, being pronounced by the state to be the rightful
heir to his brother's[7] wealth, he made over one half to his maternal
relatives because he saw that they were in need; and to the truth of
this assertion all Lacedaemon is witness. What, too, was his answer to
Tithraustes when the satrap offered him countless gifts if he would
but quit the country? "Tithraustes, with us it is deemed nobler for a
ruler to enrich his army than himself; it is expected of him to wrest
spoils from the enemy rather than take gifts."

[5] Or, "base covetousness."

[6] Or reading, {sun auto to gennaio} (with Breitenbach), "in
obedience to pure generosity." See "Cyrop." VIII. iii. 38.

[7] I.e. Agis. See Plut. "Ages." iv.


Or again, reviewing the divers pleasures which master human beings, I
defy any one to name a single one to which Agesilaus was enslaved:
Agesilaus, who regarded drunkenness as a thing to hold aloof from like
madness, and immoderate eating like the snare of indolence. Even the
double portion[1] allotted to him at the banquet was not spent on his
own appetite; rather would be make distribution of the whole,
retaining neither portion for himself. In his view of the matter this
doubling of the king's share was not for the sake of surfeiting, but
that the king might have the wherewithal to honour whom he wished. And
so, too, sleep[2] he treated not as a master, but as a slave,
subservient to higher concerns. The very couch he lay upon must be
sorrier than that of any of his company or he would have blushed for
shame, since in his opinion it was the duty of a leader to excel all
ordinary mortals in hardihood, not in effeminacy. Yet there were
things in which he was not ashamed to take the lion's share, as, for
example, the sun's heat in summer, or winter's cold. Did occasion ever
demaned of his army moil and toil, he laboured beyond all others as a
thing of course, believing that such ensamples are a consolation to
the rank and file. Or, to put the patter compendiously, Agesilaus
exulted in hard work: indolence he utterly repudiated.

[1] See "Pol. Lac." xv. 4. See J. J. Hartman, "An. Xen." 257.

[2] See Hom. "Il." ii. 24, {ou khro pannukhion eudein boulephoron
andra}, "to sleep all night through beseemeth not one that is a
counsellor."--W. Leaf.

And, as touching the things of Aphrodite, if for nothing else, at any
rate for the marvel of it, the self-restraint of the man deserves to
be put on record. It is easy to say that to abstain from that which
excites no desire is but human; yet in the case of Megabates, the son
of Spithridates, he was moved by as genuine a love as any passionate
soul may feel for what is lovely. Now, it being a national custom
among the Persians to salute those whom they honour with a kiss,
Megabates endeavoured so to salute Agesilaus, but the latter with much
show of battle, resisted--"No kiss might he accept."[3] I ask whether
such an incident does not reveal on the face of it the self-respect of
the man, and that of no vulgar order.[4] Megabates, who looked upon
himself as in some sense dishonoured, for the future endeavoured not
to offend in like sort again.[5] Whereupon Agesilaus appealed to one
who was his comrade to persuade Megabates again to honour him with his
regard; and the comrade, so appealed to, demanding, "If I persuade
him, will you bestow on him a kiss?" Agesilaus fell into a silence,
but presently exclaimed: "No, by the Twins, not if I might this very
instant become the swiftest-footed, strongest, and handsomest of
men.[6] And as to that battle I swear by all the gods I would far
rather fight it over again than that everything on which I set my eyes
might turn to gold."[7]

[3] See Plut. "Ages." (Clough, iv. p. 13 foll.)

[4] Reading, {kai lian gennikon}; or, "a refinement of self-respect,"
"a self-respect perhaps even over-sensitive."

[5] Lit. "made no further attempt to offer kisses."

[6] See Plut. "Ages." ii. (Clough, iv. p. 2): "He is said to have been
a little man of a contemptible presence."

[7] See Plut. "Ages." xi. (Clough, iv. p. 14); "Parall. Min." v; Ovid.
"Met." xi. 102 foll.

What construction some will put upon the story I am well aware, but
for myself I am persuaded that many more people can master their
enemeis than the foes we speak of.[8] Doubtless such incidents when
known to but few may well be discredited by many, but here we are in
the region of establishing facts, seeing that the more illustrious a
man is the less can his every act escape notice. As to Agesilaus no
eye-witness has ever reported any unworthy behaviour, nor, had he
invented it, would his tale have found credence, since it was not the
habit of the king, when abroad, to lodge apart in private houses. He
always lay up in some sacred place, where behaviour of the sort was
out of the question, or else in public, with the eyes of all men
liable to be called as witnesses to his sobriety. For myself, if I
make these statements falsely against the knowledge of Hellas, this
were not in any sense to praise my hero, but to dispraise myself.

[8] Or, "than the seductions in question."


Nor, in my opinion, were those obscure proofs of courage and true
manliness which he furnished by his readiness ever to wage war against
the strongest enemies, whether of Sparta or of Hellas, placing himself
in the forefront of the contests decided on. If the enemy cared to
join issue in fair field he would not chance upon a victory won by
panic, but in stubborn battle, blow for blow, he mastered him; and set
up trophies worthy of the name, seeing that he left behind him
imperishable monuments of prowess, and bore away on his own body
indelible marks of the fury with which he fought;[1] so that, apart
from hearsay, by the evidence of men's eyes his valour stood approved.

[1] Or, "visible signs of the spirit," etc. See Plut. "Ages." xxxvi.

And amongst these we must not deem them trophies alone which he
actually set up, but reckon the many campaigns which he undertook,
since they were victories truly, even when the enemy refused to
encounter him, victories devoid of danger, yet fraught with even more
solid advantage to the state of Sparta and her fellow-combatants; just
as in our games we crown as victor him who walks over the field[2] no
less than him who conquers by dint of battle.

[2] Or, "without striking a blow." Lit. "without the dust of the
arena, 'sine pulvere.'" See Thuc. iv. 73, {akoniti}.

And to speak next of his wisdom,[3] I suppose there is not one of all
his doings but must illustrate it;--this man whose bearing towards his
fatherland was such that by dint of implicit obedience [he grew to so
greate a height of power],[4] whose zeal in the service of his
comrades won for him the unhesitating attachment of his friends, who
infused into the hearts of his soldiers a spirit, not of discipline
only, but of self-devotion to their chief. And yet surely that is the
strongest of all battle-lines[5] in which obedience creates tactical
efficieny, and alacrity in the field springs out of loyal affection
for the general.

[3] Or, "his sagacity."

[4] The words {pleiston iskhue} are supplied from Plutarch ("Ages."
iv.), who quotes the passage, "What Xenophon tells us of him, that
by complying with, and, as it were, ruled by his country, he grew
into such great power with them, that he could do what he pleased,
is meant," etc. (Clough, iv. p. 4). The lacuna in the MS. was
first noted, I believe, by Weiske. See Breitenbach's note ad loc.

[5] See "Cyrop." VII. i. 30; "Econ." xxi. 7.

Enemies he had to cope with, who had little excuse to disparage,
however much they might be compelled to hate their opponent, seeing
that he was for ever contriving to give his allies some advantage over
them--by sheer deception, if occasion offered; now anticipating them
if speed were requisite; now skulking in corners if concealment
served; in all points observing one rule of behaviour to his friends
and another towards his foes. By turning night into day and day into
night[6] he drew so close a veil of mystery over his movements that
frequently there was no saying where he was, or whither he would go,
or what he might do next. The fastnesses of the enemy he transformed
into so many weaknesses,[7] passing this one by, and scaling that, and
stealing like a thief into a third.

[6] See "Hell." VI. i. 15; "Pol. Lac." v. 7; "Cyrop." I. v. 12.

[7] Or, "the strongholds of the enemy might to all intents and
purposes have been open places."

When he was on the march, and was well aware that an enemy might, if
he chose, deliver battle, his habit was to lead his troops in compact
battle order ready to confront emergencies, with soft, slow step,
advancing, as it were, with maidenly demureness,[8] for in such
procedure, as he believed, lay the secret of true calm, engendering a
dauntless self-assurance, imperturbable, unerring, impervious to
treacherous assault. Therefore by such behaviour he was a terror to
the enemy, whilst he infused courage and strength in the hearts of his
friends, so that throughout his life he continued to be a man whom his
foes dared not despise, whom his fellow-citizens cared not to arraign,
within the circle of his friends held blameless, the idol and
admiration of the outer world.[9]

[8] See above, ii. 3; "Pol. Lac." iii. 5.

[9] Cf. Tacitus's phrase concerning Titus, "deliciae humani generis."


To describe his patriotism[1] point by point in detail were a tedious
story, since, as I suppose, there is not one of his several
achievements but must finally resolve itself into that. For, to put it
briefly, we all know well that where Agesilaus expected in any way to
benefit his country there was no toil he shrank from, no danger he
avoided, no money he stinted, no excuse whether of age or body he
admitted, but deemed it ever the true function of a good king[2] to
shower blessings to the utmost on the subjects of his rule.

[1] Lit. "love for his own city."

[2] Or, "regarded it as the cardinal virtue of a real prince." See
"Mem." III. ii. 3.

And for my part I hold it as chief among the magnificent benefits so
conferred by him upon his country that, being the most powerful member
of the state, he made no secret of his absolute submission to the
laws,[3] since what lesser man, seeing the king's obedience, would
take[4] on himself to disobey? Who, in discontentment at his own poor
lot, would venture on revolution, knowing that the king himself could
condescend to constitutional control? And that, too, a king who bore
himself towards political opponents with a paternal mildness.[5] If he
rebuked them sharply for their misdemeanours, he none the less
honoured their high endeavours, and proved himself a present help to
them in time of trouble.[6] No citizen could be his personal foe; of
that he was assured. His desire was to commend them one and all alike,
counting the common salvation of all a gain, and reckoning it as a
loss if even a mean man perished. For thus he reasoned, nor made a
secret of the conclusion he had come to: so long as her citizens
continued tranquilly adherent to the laws the happiness of Sparta was
secure.[7] And for the rest Sparta would once again be strong on that
day when the states of Hellas should learn wisdom.

[3] Or, "he was at the same time the most obvious in his allegiance to
the laws."

[4] Lit. "would have taken on himself . . . would have ventured on

[5] Lit. "as a father to his children."

[6] Or, "and was ready to stand by their side in time of trouble."

[7] Or, "For this was the clear tenor of his thought, that by tranquil
continuance within the laws the citizens of Sparta might secure
her happiness. And as to power, Sparta, etc." See "Mem." II. vi.

And if, by admission, it is noble for every Hellene to be a lover of
his fellow-Hellenes, yet we must fare far afield to find another
instance of a general who, expecting to sack some city, would have
refused to seize the prize; or who regarded victory in a war waged
against fellow-Hellenes as a species of calamity. Yet this man when a
message was brought him concerning the battle at Corinth,[8] in which
but eight Lacedaemonians had fallen, but of their opponents ten
thousand nearly, showed no sign of exultation, but sighed, saying,
"Alas for Hellas! since those who now lie in their graves, were able,
had they lived, to conquer the hosts of Asia."[9] Again, when some
Corinthian exiles informed him that their city was ripe for surrender,
and showed him the engines by which they were confident they would
take the walls, he refused to make the assault, saying that Hellene
cities ought not to be reduced to slavery, but brought back to a
better mind,[10] and added, "For if we lop off our offending members,
haply we may deprive ourselves of the means to master the barbarians."

[8] B.C. 394. See "Hell." IV. ii. 9-23; Diod. xiv. 83; Grote, "H. G."
ix. 429.

[9] Lit. "all the barbarians."

[10] See "Econ." i. 23.

Again, if it is a sacred duty to hate the Persian, who of old set out
on a campaign to enslave Hellas; the Persian, who to-day makes
alliance with these (no matter to him which the party, provided it
will help him to work the greater mischief[11]); or gives presents to
those (who will take them and do the greatest harm to his foes the
Hellenes); or else concocts a peace that shall presently involve us in
internecine war, as he anticipates:--but why dwell on facts so patent?
--I ask, did ever Hellene before Agesilaus so enter heart and soul
upon his duty; whether it were to help some tribe to throw off the
Persian yoke, or to save from destruction a revolted district, or if
nothing else, at any rate to saddle the Persian with such troubles of
his own that he should cease to trouble Hellas? An ardent hater of
Persia surely was he, who, when his own country was at war with
Hellenes, did not neglect the common good of Hellas, but set sail to
wreak what harm he might upon the barbarians.[12]

[11] Or, "the worse the mischief he can work, the better the side."

[12] See Isocr. "Ep." ix. "To Archidamus," S. 11-14.


To turn to another side, that grace of manner which was his, claims
more than passing recognition. Here was a man to whom honour was
vouchsafed and power present, and who, to crown all else, held in his
hands the sceptre of sovereignty--a kingship not plotted against, but
respected and beloved. Yet there was no trace of arrogance to be seen
in him, but of tender affection and courteous service to his friends
proof in abundance without seeking. Witness the zest with which he
shared in the round of lovers' talk;[1] the zeal with which he threw
himself into the serious concerns[2] of friends. By dint of a hopeful
and cheery disposition and unflagging gaiety of heart he attracted to
his side a throng of visitors, who came, not simply for the
transaction of some private interest, but rather to pass away the day
in pleasant sort. Though little apt himself to use high-swelling
words, it did not annoy him to hear others sounding their own praises,
which he regarded as a harmless weakness, the pledge at least of high
endeavour[3] in the future.

[1] See "Hell." V. iii. 20; "Cyrop." I. iv. 27; "Econ." ii. 7; Plut.
"Ages." ii.; xx.; Lyc. xx.

[2] Or, "he would discuss graver matters, according to the humour of
his friends."

[3] Or, "of courageous conduct," "noble manhood."

But that he was capable of lofty sentiment and at the right season
must not be overlooked. Thus when a letter reached him from the king
(I speak of that which was brought by the Persian agent in company
with Calleas[4] of Lacedaemon, proposing terms of hospitality and
friendship with the Persian monarch), he disdained to accept it,
telling the bearer to take back to the king this answer: "He need not
be at pains to send him letters in private, but if he could prove
himself a friend to Lacedaemon and the well-wisher of Hellas he should
have no cause to blame the ardour of his friendship," but added, "if
your king be detected plotting, let him not think to find a friend in
me. No, not if he sends me a thousand letters." For my part, then, I
hold it praiseworthy that, by comparison with pleasing his fellow-
Hellenes, Agesilaus scorned such friendship. And this, too, among his
tenets I find admirable: the truer title to self-congratulation
belonged not to the millionaire, the master of many legions, but to
him rather, who, being himself a better man, commanded the allegience
of better followers.

[4] See "Hell." IV. i. 15; Plut. "Apophth. Lac." p. 777; Grote, "H.
G." x. 402.

And this, in proof of mental forecast, I must needs praise in him.
Holding to the belief that the more satraps there were who revolted
from the king the surer the gain to Hellas, he did not suffer himself
to be seduced, either by gifts or by the mightiness in his power, to
be drawn into bonds of friendship with the king, but took precaution
rather not to abuse their confidence who were willing to revolt.

And lastly, as beyond all controversy admirable, note this contrast:
First, the Persian, who, believing that in the multitude of his riches
he had power to lay all things under his feet, would fain have swept
into his coffers all the gold and all the silver of mankind: for him,
and him alone, the costliest and most precious things of earth. And
then this other, who contrariwise so furnished his establishment as to
be totally independent of every adventitious aid.[5] And if any one
doubts the statement, let him look and see with what manner of
dwelling-place he was contented; let him view the palace doors: these
are the selfsame doors, he might well imagine, which Aristodemus,[6]
the great-great-grandson of Heracles, took and set up in the days of
the return. Let him endeavour to view the furniture inside; there he
will perceive how the king feasted on high holy days; and he will hear
how the king's own daughter was wont to drive to Amyclae in a public
basket-carriage.[7] Thus it was that by the adjustment of expenditure
to income he was never driven to the commission of any unjust deed for
money's sake. And yet if it be a fine thing to hold a fortress
impregnable to attck, I count it a greater glory that a man should
hold the fortress of his soul inviolable against the assaults of
riches, pleasures, fears.

[5] Or, "of all such external needs."

[6] See Herod. vi. 52.

[7] See Plut. "Ages." xix. (Clough, iv. p. 23); the words {e thugater
autou} were supplied from this passage by Casaubon.


I will here state to what extent the style of living which he
presented stands out in striking contrast to the ostentatious manner
of the Persian.[1] In the first place, if the latter made a solemn
affectation of being but seldom seen, Agesilaus delighted to live in
the eye of day, believing that seclusion might accord well enough as a
screen for shameless conduct, but to a life of nobleness and beauty[2]
heaven's light added new ornament.[3] And next, if the one prided
himself on being unapproachable, the other rejoiced in being
accessible to all the world; the one, with his airs and graces, was
pleased to transact business slowly, the other was never so happy as
when he could satisfy the demands of a petitioner without waste of

[1] Or, "how he presented his own manner in antithesis to the false
pretences of the Persian." For {alazoneia} see "Mem." I. vii. 1;
Aristot. "N. E." iv. 7; Theophr. "Char." vi.

[2] Lit. "a life striving towards beauteousness."

[3] Or, "added but greater lustre."

[4] Lit. "could satisfy and dismiss his petitioners without delay."

Again, it is worthy of observation how much easier and simpler to
satisfy was the standard of comfort which the Spartan aimed at.[5] For
the Persian, men must compass sea and land to discover some beverage
which he will care to drink; he needs ten thousand pastrycooks to
supply the kick-shaws he will deign to eat; and to procure him the
blessing of sleep no tongue can describe what a world of trouble must
be taken. But Agesilaus was a lover of toil, and therefore not so
dainty; the meanest beverage was sweet to his lips, and pleasant
enough to his taste was the chance fare of the moment; and for the
purpose of refreshing slumber every place alike conducive. It was not
merely that to fare thus gave him pure pleasure, but in the sense of
contrast lay a double satisfaction. Here was he roaming earth freely
in the midst of a world of delight,[6] and there lay the Persian,
under his eyes, who to escape a life of pain must drag together from
the uttermost parts of earth the separate ingredients for his
pleasure. It was another source of joy that to himself it was given to
confront the appointed order of the universe[7] without pain; while
through weakness of soul his rival, it was plain to see, was driven to
flee away from heat and cold, and to shape his life, not by the
pattern of brave men, but of some mean and defenceless animal.[8]

[5] See Herod. i. 135, for the luxury of the Persians and for the
refinements of civilisation. See "Mem." II. i. 10; "Cyrop." VIII.
i. 40.

[6] Or, "in a round of festivity."

[7] See Plut. "Ages." xiv. (Clough, iv. p. 17); "Apophth. Lac." p.
102; Eur. "Supp." 214, 215.

{de ou truphomen, theou kataskeuen bio
dontos toiauten, oisin ouk arkei tade};

[8] Or, "the most defenceless of God's creatures." Lit. "the weakest
of animals."

And what a fine trait this was in him, and betokening how lofty a
sentiment, that, being content to adorn his own house with works and
possessions suited to a man, and being devoted to the breeding of dogs
and horses in large numbers for the chase and warfare, he persuaded
his sister Cynisca to rear chariot horses,[9] and thus by her
victory[10] showed that to keep a stud of that sort, however much it
might be a mark of wealth, was hardly a proof of manly virtue. And
surely in the following opinion we may discern plainly the generosity
of him who entertained it. To win victories over private persons in a
chariot race does not add one tittle to a man's renown. He, rather,
who holds his city dear beyond all things else, who has himself sunk
deep into the heart of her affections, who has obtained to himself all
over the world a host of friends and those the noblest, who can outdo
his country and comrades alike in the race of kindliness, and his
antagonists in vengeance--such a man may, in a true sense, be said to
bear away the palm of victory in conquests noble and magnificent;
living and in death to him belongs transcendent fame.

[9] I.e. "for the games."

[10] I.e. "at Olympia." Cynisca, according to Pausanias (iii. 8), was
the first woman who won a prize at Olympia. See also Plut. "Ages."
xx. (Clough, iv. p. 23).


It is as possessiong qualities such as these that I praise Agesilaus.
And in these matters he was not like a man who chances upon a treasure
and thereby becomes wealthier, albeit none the more skilful in
economy; nor yet like him who, when a plague has fallen upon an enemy,
wrests a victory, whereby he may add to his reputation for success,
but not for strategy. Rather was his example that of one who in each
emergency will take the lead; at a crisis where toil is needful, by
endurance; or in the battle-lists of bravery by prowess; or when the
function of the counsellor is uppermost, by the soundness of his
judgment. Of such a man I say, he has obtained by warrant indefeasible
the title peerless.

And if, as a means towards good workmanship, we count among the noble
inventions of mankind the rule and the plummet,[1] no less happily
shall we, who desire to attain a manly excellence, find in the virtue
of Agesilaus a pattern and example. He was God-fearing, he was just in
all his dealings, sound of soul and self-controlled. How then shall we
who imitate him become his opposite, unholy, unjust, tyrannical,
licentious? And, truth to say, this man prided himself, not so much on
being a king over others as on ruling himself,[2] not so much on
leading his citizens to attack the enemy as on guiding them to embrace
all virtue.

[1] See Aeschin. "c. Ctes." p. 52, 25; Plat. "Phileb." 56 B.

[2] See Plut. "Apophth. Lac." p. 104.

Yet let it not be supposed, because he whom we praise has finished
life, that our discourse must therefore be regarded as a funeral
hymn.[3] Far rather let it be named a hymn of praise, since in the
first place it is only the repetition, now that he is dead, of a tale
familiar to his ears when living. And in the next place, what is more
remote from dirge and lamentation than a life of glory crowned by
seasonable death? What more deserving of song and eulogy than
resplendent victories and deeds of highest note? Surely if one man
rather than another may be accounted truly blest, it is he who, from
his boyhood upwards, thirsted for glory, and beyond all contemporary
names won what he desired; who, being gifted with a nature most
emulous of honour, remained from the moment he was king unconquered;
who attained the fullest term of mortal life and died without
offence[4] committed, whether as concerning those at whose head he
marched, or as towards those others against whom he fought in war.

[3] See Symonds' "Greek Poets," ch. v.

[4] As to the word {anamartetos} so translated, see Breitenbach, Exc.
ad x. 4 of his edition.


It only remains for me, under the form of headings,[1] to review the
topic of this great man's virtue, in hopes that thus his eulogy may
cling to the memory more lastingly.

[1] Or, as others think, "in a summary."

Agesilaus reverenced the shrines and sacred places even of the enemy.
We ought, he said, to make the gods our allies on hostile no less than
on friendly soil.

He would do no violence to a suppliant, no, not even if he were his
own foe; since how irrational must it be to stigmatise robbers of
temples as sacrilegious and yet to regard him who tears the suppliant
from the altar as a pious person.

One tenet he never wearied of repeating: the gods, he said, are not
less pleased with holy deeds than with pure victims.

In the day of his prosperity his thoughts were not raised higher than
befits a man; he gave thanks to the gods; and offered more victims
when he had nothing to fear than he registered vows in time of

He was accustomed in the midst of anxiety to wear an aspect of gaiety,
but, when the victory was won, of gentleness.

Amongst friends his warmest greeting was reserved, not for the most
powerful, but for the most ardent; and if he hated, it was not him
who, being evil entreated, retaliated, but one who, having had
kindness done to him, seemed incapable of gratitude.

He rejoiced when sordid greed was rewarded with poverty; and still
more if he might himself enrich a righteous man, since his wish was to
render uprightness more profitable than iniquity.

He made it a practice to associate with all kinds of people, but to be
intimate only with the best.

As he listened to the praise of this man, or the censure of another,
he felt that he learnt quite as much about the character of the
speakers themselves as of those whom they discussed.

To be cheated by a friend was scarcely censurable, but he could find
no comdemnation strong enough for him who was outwitted by a foe. Or
again, to dupe the incredulous might argue wit, but to take in the
unsuspecting was veritably a crime.

The praise of a critic who had courage to point out his defects
pleased him; and plainness of speech excited in him no hostility. It
was against the cunning rather of the secretive person that he guarded
himself, as against a hidden snare.

The calumniator he detested more than the robber or the thief, in
proportion as the loss of friends is greater than the loss of

[2] Mr. R. W. Taylor aptly quotes "Othello," III. iii. 157--

"Who steals my purse steals trash; 'tis something, nothing;
'Twas mine, 'tis his, and has been slave to thousands;
But he that filches from me my good name
Robs me of that which not enriches him
And makes me poor indeed."

The errors of private persons he bore with gently, but those of rulers
he looked upon as grave; since the mischief wrought in the one case
was so small, and so large in the other. The proper attribute of
royalty was, he maintained, not an avoidance of responsibility, but a
constant striving after nobleness.[3]

[3] On the word {kalokagathia} so translated, see Demosth. 777, 5.

Whilst he would not suffer any image[4] of his bodily form to be set
up (though many wished to present him with a statue), he never ceased
elaborating what should prove the monument of his spirit, holding that
the former is the business of a statuary, the latter of one's self.
Wealth might procure the one, he said, but only a good man could
produce the other.

[4] See Plut. "Ages." ii. (Clough, iv. p. 2); also Plut. "Ap. Lac." p.
115; ib. p. 103; Cic. "ad Div." V. xii. 7.

As for riches, he employed them not with justice merely, but with
liberality, holding that for a just man it is sufficient if he let
alone the things of others, but of a liberal man it is required that
he should take of his own and give to supply another's needs.

He was ever subject to religious fear,[5] believing that no man during
his lifetime, however well he lives, can be counted happy; it is only
he who has ended his days with glory of whom it can be said that he
has attained at last to blessedness.[6]

[5] See "Cyr." III. iii. 58, and for the word {deisidaimon}, see Jebb,
"Theophr. Char." p. 263 foll.; Mr. Ruskin, Preface to "Bibl.
Past." vol. i. p. xxv.

[6] See Herod. i. 34; Soph. "Oed. Tyr." 1529; and Prof. Jebb's note ad

In his judgment it was a greater misfortune to neglect things good and
virtuous, knowing them to be so, than in ignorance. Nor was he
enamoured of any reputation, the essentials of which he had not
laboriously achieved.[7]

[7] Or, "for which he did not qualify himself by the appropriate

He was one of the small band, as it seemed to me, who regard virtue,
not as a thing to be patiently endured,[8] but as a supreme enjoyment.
At any rate, to win the praise of mankind gave him a deeper pleasure
than the acquisition of wealth; and he preferred to display courage
far rather in conjunction with prudence than with unnecessary risks,
and to cultivate wisdom in action more than by verbal discussion.

[8] Or, "as a system of stoical endurance," "a kind of stoicism." But
we must not let Xenophon, who is a Socratic, talk of the Stoa. If
we knew certainly that the chapter was a much later production,
the language would be appropriate enough.

Very gentle to his friends, to his enemies he was most terrible.
Whilst he could hold out against toil and trouble with the best,
nothing pleased him better than yielding to his comrades. But passion
was kindled in him by beauty of deed rather than of person.[9]

[9] Or, "beauteous deeds rather than bodily splendour."

Skilled in the exercise of self-command in the midst of external
welfare, he could be stout of heart enough in stress of danger.

Urbanity he practised, not with jest and witticisim, but by the
courtesy of his demeanour.

In spite of a certain haughtiness, he was never overbearing, but rich
in saving common sense. At any rate, while pouring contempt upon
arrogance, he bore himself more humbly than the most ordinary man. In
fact, what he truly took a pride in was the simplicity of his own
attire, in contrast with the splendid adornment of his troops; or,
again, in the paucity of his own wants, combined with a bountiful
liberality towards his friends.

Besides all this, as an antagonist he could hit hard enough, but no
one ever bore a lighter hand when the victory was won.[10]

[10] Lit. "he was the heaviest of antagonists and the lightest of

The same man, whom an enemy would have found it hard to deceive, was
pliability itself in the concerns of his friends. Whilst for ever
occupied in laying these on a secure foundation, he made it a
ceaseless task to baffle the projects of the national foe.

The epithets applied to him are significant. His relatives found in
him a kinsman who was more than kind. To his intimates he appeared as
a friend in need who is a friend indeed. To the man who had done him
some service, of tenacious memory. To the victim of injustice, a
knight-errant. And to those who had incurred danger by his side, a
saviour second only to the gods.

It was given to this man, as it appears to me, to prove exceptionally
that though strength of body may wax old the vigour of a man's soul is
exempt from eld. Of him, at any rate, it is true that he never shrank
from the pursuit of great and noble objects, so long as[11] his body
was able to support the vigour of his soul. Therefore his old age
appeared mightier than the youth of other people. It would be hard to
discover, I imagine, any one who in the prime of manhood was as
formidable to his foes as Agesilaus when he had reached the limit of
mortal life. Never, I suppose, was there a foeman whose removal came
with a greater sense of relief to the enemy than that of Agesilaus,
though a veteran when he died. Never was there a leader who inspired
stouter courage in the hearts of fellow-combatants than this man with
one foot planted in the grave. Never was a young man snatched from a
circle of loving friends with tenderer regret than this old graybeard.

[11] Reading, {megalon kai kalon ephiemenos, eos kai to soma, k.t.l.}
See Breitenbach.

The benefactor of his fatherland, absolutely to the very end; with
bounteous hand, even in the arms of death, dealing out largesse[12] to
the city which he loved. And so they bore him home to his eternal
resting-place;[13] this hero, who, having raised to himself many a
monument of his valour over the broad earth, came back to find in the
land of his fathers a sepulture worthy of a king.[14]

[12] See above, ii. 31.

[13] See for this remarkable phrase, Diod. i. 51.

[14] See "Pol. Lac." xv. 9.

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