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Plutarch's Lives

Part 26 out of 35

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sake of liberty, he should not only commend, but admire their
courage, and would himself be their leader and companion too,
till they had put to the proof the utmost fortune of their
country; which was not Utica or Adrumetum, but Rome, and she had
often, by her own greatness, raised herself after worse
disasters. Besides, as there were many things that would conduce
to their safety, so chiefly this, that they were to fight against
one whose affairs urgently claimed his presence in various
quarters. Spain was already revolted to the younger Pompey; Rome
was unaccustomed to the bridle, and impatient of it, and would
therefore be ready to rise in insurrection upon any turn of
affairs. As for themselves, they ought not to shrink from the
danger; and in this might take example from their enemy, who so
freely exposes his life to effect the most unrighteous designs,
yet never can hope for so happy a conclusion, as they may promise
themselves; for notwithstanding the uncertainty of war, they will
be sure of a most happy life, if they succeed, or a most glorious
death, if they miscarry. However, he said, they ought to
deliberate among themselves, and he joined with them in praying
the gods that in recompense of their former courage and goodwill,
they would prosper their present determinations. When Cato had
thus spoken, many were moved and encouraged by his arguments, but
the greatest part were so animated by the sense of his
intrepidity, generosity, and goodness, that they forgot the
present danger, and as if he were the only invincible leader, and
above all fortune, they entreated him to employ their persons,
arms, and estates, as he thought fit; for they esteemed it far
better to meet death in following his counsel, than to find their
safety in betraying one of so great virtue. One of the assembly
proposed the making a decree, to set the slaves at liberty; and
most of the rest approved the motion. Cato said, that it ought
not to be done, for it was neither just nor lawful; but if any of
their masters would willingly set them free, those that were fit
for service should be received. Many promised so to do; whose
names he ordered to be enrolled, and then withdrew.

Presently after this, he received letters from Juba and Scipio.
Juba, with some few of his men, was retired to a mountain, where
he waited to hear what Cato would resolve upon; and intended to
stay there for him, if he thought fit to leave Utica, or to come
to his aid with his troops, if he were besieged. Scipio was on
shipboard, near a certain promontory, not far from Utica,
expecting an answer upon the same account. But Cato thought fit
to retain the messengers, till the three hundred should come to
some resolution,

As for the senators that were there, they showed great
forwardness, and at once set free their slaves, and furnished
them with arms. But the three hundred being men occupied in
merchandise and money-lending, much of their substance also
consisting in slaves, the enthusiasm that Cato's speech had
raised in them, did not long continue. As there are substances
that easily admit heat, and as suddenly lose it, when the fire is
removed, so these men were heated and inflamed, while Cato was
present; but when they began to reason among themselves, the
fear they had of Caesar, soon overcame their reverence for Cato
and for virtue. "For who are we," said they, "and who is it we
refuse to obey? Is it not that Caesar, who is now invested with
all the power of Rome? and which of us is a Scipio, a Pompey, or
a Cato? But now that all men make their honor give way to their
fear, shall we alone engage for the liberty of Rome, and in Utica
declare war against him, before whom Cato and Pompey the Great
fled out of Italy? Shall we set free our slaves against Caesar,
who have ourselves no more liberty than he is pleased to allow?
No, let us, poor creatures, know ourselves, submit to the victor,
and send deputies to implore his mercy." Thus said the most
moderate of them; but the greatest part were for seizing the
senators, that by securing them, they might appease Caesar's
anger. Cato, though he perceived the change, took no notice of
it; but wrote to Juba and Scipio to keep away from Utica, because
he mistrusted the three hundred.

A considerable body of horse, which had escaped from the late
fight, riding up towards Utica, sent three men before to Cato,
who yet did not all bring the same message; for one party was for
going to Juba, another for joining with Cato, and some again were
afraid to go into Utica. When Cato heard this, he ordered Marcus
Rubrius to attend upon the three hundred, and quietly take the
names of those who of their own accord set their slaves at
liberty, but by no means to force anybody. Then, taking with him
the senators, he went out of the town, and met the principal
officers of these horsemen, whom he entreated not to abandon so
many Roman senators, nor to prefer Juba for their commander
before Cato, but consult the common safety, and to come into the
city, which was impregnable, and well furnished with corn and
other provision, sufficient for many years. The senators,
likewise, with tears besought them to stay. Hereupon the
officers went to consult their soldiers, and Cato with the
senators sat down upon an embankment, expecting their resolution.
In the meantime comes Rubrius in great disorder, crying out, the
three hundred were all in commotion, and exciting revolt and
tumult in the city. At this all the rest fell into despair,
lamenting and bewailing their condition. Cato endeavored to
comfort them, and sent to the three hundred, desiring them to
have patience. Then the officers of the horse returned with no
very reasonable demands. They said, they did not desire to serve
Juba, for his pay, nor should they fear Caesar, while they
followed Cato, but they dreaded to be shut up with the Uticans,
men of traitorous temper, and Carthaginian blood; for though they
were quiet at present, yet as soon as Caesar should appear,
without doubt they would conspire together, and betray the
Romans. Therefore, if he expected they should join with him, he
must drive out of the town or destroy all the Uticans, that he
might receive them into a place clear both of enemies and
barbarians. This Cato thought utterly cruel and barbarous; but
he mildly answered, he would consult the three hundred.

Then he returned to the city, where he found the men, not framing
excuses, or dissembling out of reverence to him, but openly
declaring that no one should compel them to make war against
Caesar; which, they said, they were neither able nor willing to
do. And some there were who muttered words about retaining the
senators till Caesar's coming; but Cato seemed not to hear this,
as indeed he had the excuse of being a little deaf. At the same
time came one to him, and told him the horse were going away.
And now, fearing lest the three hundred should take some
desperate resolution concerning the senators, he presently went
out with some of his friends, and seeing they were gone some way,
he took horse, and rode after them. They, when they saw him
coming, were very glad, and received him very kindly, entreating
him to save himself with them. At this time, it is said, Cato
shed tears, while entreating them on behalf of the senators, and
stretching out his hands in supplication. He turned some of
their horses' heads, and laid hold of the men by their armor,
till in fine he prevailed with them, out of compassion, to stay
only that one day, to procure a safe retreat for the senators.
Having thus persuaded them to go along with him, some he placed
at the gates of the town, and to others gave the charge of the
citadel. The three hundred began to fear they should suffer for
their inconstancy, and sent to Cato, entreating him by all means
to come to them; but the senators flocking about him, would not
suffer him to go, and said they would not trust their guardian
and savior to the hands of perfidious traitors.

For there had never, perhaps, been a time when Cato's virtue
appeared more manifestly; and every class of men in Utica could
clearly see, with sorrow and admiration, how entirely free was
everything that he was doing from any secret motives or any
mixture of self-regard; he, namely, who had long before resolved
on his own death, was taking such extreme pains, toil, and care,
only for the sake of others, that when he had secured their
lives, he might put an end to his own. For it was easily
perceived, that he had determined to die, though he did not let
it appear.

Therefore, having pacified the senators, he complied with the
request of the three hundred, and went to them alone without any
attendance. They gave him many thanks, and entreated him to
employ and trust them for the future; and if they were not Catos,
and could not aspire to his greatness of mind, they begged he
would pity their weakness; and told him, they had determined to
send to Caesar and entreat him, chiefly and in the first place,
for Cato, and if they could not prevail for him, they would not
accept of pardon for themselves, but as long as they had breath,
would fight in his defense. Cato commended their good
intentions, and advised them to send speedily, for their own
safety, but by no means to ask anything in his behalf; for those
who are conquered, entreat, and those who have done wrong, beg
pardon; for himself, he did not confess to any defeat in all his
life, but rather, so far as he had thought fit, he had got the
victory, and had conquered Caesar in all points of justice and
honesty. It was Caesar that ought to be looked upon as one
surprised and vanquished; for he was now convicted and found
guilty of those designs against his country, which he had so long
practiced and so constantly denied. When he had thus spoken, he
went out of the assembly, and being informed that Caesar was
coming with his whole army, "Ah," said he, "he expects to find us
brave men." Then he went to the senators, and urged them to make
no delay, but hasten to be gone, while the horsemen were yet in
the city. So ordering all the gates to be shut, except one
towards the sea, he assigned their several ships to those that
were to depart, and gave money and provision to those that
wanted; all which he did with great order and exactness, taking
care to suppress all tumults, and that no wrong should be done to
the people.

Marcus Octavius, coming with two legions, now encamped near
Utica, and sent to Cato, to arrange about the chief command.
Cato returned him no answer; but said to his friends, "Can we
wonder all has gone ill with us, when our love of office survives
even in our very ruin?" In the meantime, word was brought him,
that the horse were going away, and were beginning to spoil and
plunder the citizens. Cato ran to them, and from the first he
met, snatched what they had taken; the rest threw down all they
had gotten, and went away silent, and ashamed of what they had
done. Then he called together all the people of Utica, and
requested them upon the behalf of the three hundred, not to
exasperate Caesar against them, but all to seek their common
safety together with them. After that, he went again to the
port, to see those who were about to embark; and there he
embraced and dismissed those of his friends and acquaintance whom
he had persuaded to go. As for his son, he did not counsel him
to be gone, nor did he think fit to persuade him to forsake his
father. But there was one Statyllius, a young man, in the flower
of his age, of a brave spirit, and very desirous to imitate the
constancy of Cato. Cato entreated him to go away, as he was a
noted enemy to Caesar, but without success. Then Cato looked at
Apollonides, the stoic philosopher, and Demetrius, the
peripatetic; "It belongs to you," said he, "to cool the fever of
this young man's spirit, and to make him know what is good for
him." And thus, in setting his friends upon their way, and in
dispatching the business of any that applied to him, he spent
that night, and the greatest part of the next day.

Lucius Caesar, a kinsman of Caesar's, being appointed to go
deputy for the three hundred, came to Cato, and desired he would
assist him to prepare a persuasive speech for them; "And as to
you yourself," said he, "it will be an honor for me to kiss the
hands and fall at the knees of Caesar, in your behalf." But Cato
would by no means permit him to do any such thing; "For as to
myself," said he, "if I would be preserved by Caesar's favor, I
should myself go to him; but I would not be beholden to a tyrant,
for his acts of tyranny. For it is but usurpation in him to
save, as their rightful lord, the lives of men over whom he has
no title to reign. But if you please, let us consider what you
had best say for the three hundred." And when they had continued
some time together, as Lucius was going away, Cato recommended to
him his son, and the rest of his friends; and taking him by the
hand, bade him farewell.

Then he retired to his house again, and called together his son
and his friends, to whom he conversed on various subjects; among
the rest, he forbade his son to engage himself in the affairs of
state. For to act therein as became him, was now impossible; and
to do otherwise, would be dishonorable. Toward evening he went
into his bath. As he was bathing, he remembered Statyllius, and
called out aloud, "Apollonides, have you tamed the high spirit of
Statyllius, and is he gone without bidding us farewell?" "No,"
said Apollonides, "I have said much to him, but to little
purpose; he is still resolute and unalterable, and declares he is
determined to follow your example." At this, it is said, Cato
smiled, and answered, "That will soon be tried."

After he had bathed, he went to supper, with a great deal of
company; at which he sat up, as he had always used to do ever
since the battle of Pharsalia; for since that time he never lay
down, but when he went to sleep. There supped with him all his
own friends and the magistrates of Utica.

After supper, the wine produced a great deal of lively and
agreeable discourse, and a whole series of philosophical
questions was discussed. At length they came to the strange
dogmas of the stoics, called their Paradoxes; and to this in
particular, That the good man only is free, and that all wicked
men are slaves. The peripatetic, as was to be expected, opposing
this, Cato fell upon him very warmly; and somewhat raising his
voice, he argued the matter at great length, and urged the point
with such vehemence, that it was apparent to everybody, he was
resolved to put an end to his life, and set himself at liberty.
And so, when he had done speaking, there was a great silence, and
evident dejection. Cato, therefore, to divert them from any
suspicion of his design, turned the conversation, and began again
to talk of matters of present interest and expectation, showing
great concern for those that were at sea, as also for the others,
who, traveling by land, were to pass through a dry and barbarous

When the company was broke up, he walked with his friends, as he
used to do after supper, gave the necessary orders to the
officers of the watch, and going into his chamber, he embraced
his son and every one of his friends with more than usual warmth,
which again renewed their suspicion of his design. Then laying
himself down, he took into his hand Plato's dialogue concerning
the soul. Having read more than half the book, he looked up, and
missing his sword, which his son had taken away while he was at
supper, he called his servant, and asked, who had taken away his
sword. The servant making no answer, he fell to reading again;
and a little after, not seeming importunate, or hasty for it, but
as if he would only know what was become of it, he bade it be
brought. But having waited some time, when he had read through
the book, and still nobody brought the sword, he called up all
his servants, and in a louder tone demanded his sword. To one of
them he gave such a blow in the mouth, that he hurt his own hand;
and now grew more angry, exclaiming that he was betrayed and
delivered naked to the enemy by his son and his servants. Then
his son, with the rest of his friends, came running, into the
room, and falling at his feet, began to lament and beseech him.
But Cato raising up himself, and looking fiercely, "When," said
he, "and how did I become deranged, and out of my senses, that
thus no one tries to persuade me by reason, or show me what is
better, if I am supposed to be ill-advised? Must I be disarmed,
and hindered from using my own reason? And you, young man, why
do not you bind your father's hands behind him, that when Caesar
comes, he may find me unable to defend myself? To dispatch
myself I want no sword; I need but hold my breath awhile, or
strike my head against the wall."

When he had thus spoken, his son went weeping out of the chamber,
and with him all the rest, except Demetrius and Apollollides, to
whom, being left alone with him, he began to speak more calmly.
"And you," said he, "do you also think to keep a man of my age
alive by force, and to sit here and silently watch me? Or do you
bring me some reasons to prove, that it will not be base and
unworthy for Cato, when he can find his safety no other way, to
seek it from his enemy? If so, adduce your arguments, and show
cause why we should now unlearn what we formerly were taught, in
order that rejecting all the convictions in which we lived, we
may now by Caesar's help grow wiser, and be yet more obliged to
him, than for life only. Not that I have determined aught
concerning myself, but I would have it in my power to perform
what I shall think fit to resolve; and I shall not fail to take
you as my advisers, in holding counsel, as I shall do, with the
doctrines which your philosophy teaches; in the meantime, do not
trouble yourselves; but go tell my son, that he should not compel
his father to what he cannot persuade him to." They made him no
answer, but went weeping out of the chamber. Then the sword
being brought in by a little boy, Cato took it, drew it out, and
looked at it; and when he saw the point was good, "Now," said he,
"I am master of myself;" and laying down the sword, he took his
book again, which, it is related, he read twice over. After this
he slept so soundly, that he was heard to snore by those that
were without.

About midnight, he called up two of his freedmen, Cleanthes, his
physician, and Butas, whom he chiefly employed in public
business. Him he sent to the port, to see if all his friends had
sailed; to the physician he gave his hand to be dressed, as it
was swollen with the blow he had struck one of his servants. At
this they all rejoiced, hoping that now he designed to live.

Butas, after a while, returned, and brought word they were all
gone except Crassus, who had stayed about some business, but was
just ready to depart; he said, also, that the wind was high, and
the sea very rough. Cato, on hearing this, sighed, out of
compassion to those who were at sea, and sent Butas again, to see
if any of them should happen to return for anything they wanted,
and to acquaint him therewith.

Now the birds began to sing, and he again fell into a little
slumber. At length Butas came back, and told him, all was quiet
in the port. Then Cato, laying himself down, as if he would
sleep out the rest of the night, bade him shut the door after
him. But as soon as Butas was gone out, he took his sword, and
stabbed it into his breast; yet not being able to use his hand so
well, on account of the swelling, he did not immediately die of
the wound; but struggling, fell off the bed, and throwing down a
little mathematical table that stood by, made such a noise, that
the servants, hearing it, cried out. And immediately his son and
all his friends came into the chamber, where seeing him lie
weltering in his blood, great part of his bowels out of his body,
but himself still alive and able to look at them, they all stood
in horror. The physician went to him, and would have put in his
bowels, which were not pierced, and sewed up the wound; but Cato,
recovering himself, and understanding the intention, thrust away
the physician, plucked out his own bowels, and tearing open the
wound, immediately expired.

In less time than one would think his own family could have known
this accident, all the three hundred were at the door. And a
little after, the people of Utica flocked thither, crying out
with one voice, he was their benefactor and their savior, the
only free and only undefeated man. At the very same time, they
had news that Caesar was coming; yet neither fear of the present
danger, nor desire to flatter the conqueror, nor the commotions
and discord among themselves, could divert them from doing honor
to Cato. For they sumptuously set out his body, made him a
magnificent funeral, and buried him by the seaside, where now
stands his statue, holding a sword. And only when this had been
done, they returned to consider of preserving themselves and
their city.

Caesar had been informed that Cato stayed at Utica, and did not
seek to fly; that he had sent away the rest of the Romans, but
himself, with his son and a few of his friends, continued there
very unconcernedly, so that he could not imagine what might be
his design. But having a great consideration for the man, he
hastened thither with his army. When he heard of his death, it
is related he said these words, "Cato, I grudge you your death,
as you have grudged me the preservation of your life." And,
indeed, if Cato would have suffered himself to owe his life to
Caesar, he would not so much have impaired his own honor, as
augmented the other's glory. What would have been done, of
course we cannot know, but from Caesar's usual clemency, we may
guess what was most likely.

Cato was forty-eight years old when he died. His son suffered no
injury from Caesar; but, it is said, he grew idle, and was
thought to be dissipated among women. In Cappadocia, he stayed
at the house of Marphadates, one of the royal family there, who
had a very handsome wife; and continuing his visit longer than
was suitable, he made himself the subject of various epigrams;
such as, for example,

Tomorrow, (being the thirtieth day),
Cato, 't is thought, will go away;

Porcius and Marphadates, friends so true,
One Soul, they say, suffices for the two,

that being the name of the woman, and so again,

To Cato's greatness every one confesses,
A royal Soul he certainly possesses.

But all these stains were entirely wiped off by the bravery of
his death. For in the battle of Philippi, where he fought for
his country's liberty against Caesar and Antony, when the ranks
were breaking, he, scorning to fly, or to escape unknown, called
out to the enemy, showed himself to them in the front, and
encouraged those of his party who stayed; and at length fell, and
left his enemies full of admiration of his valor.

Nor was the daughter of Cato inferior to the rest of her family,
for sober-living and greatness of spirit. She was married to
Brutus, who killed Caesar; was acquainted with the conspiracy,
and ended her life as became one of her birth and virtue. All
which is related in the life of Brutus.

Statyllius, who said he would imitate Cato, was at that time
hindered by the philosophers, when he would have put an end to
his life. He afterward followed Brutus, to whom he was very
faithful and very serviceable, and died in the field of Philippi.


The fable of Ixion, who, embracing a cloud instead of Juno,
begot the Centaurs, has been ingeniously enough supposed to have
been invented to represent to us ambitious men, whose minds,
doting on glory, which is a mere image of virtue, produce
nothing that is genuine or uniform, but only, as might be
expected of such a conjunction, misshapen and unnatural actions.
Running after their emulations and passions, and carried away by
the impulses of the moment, they may say with the herdsmen, in
the tragedy of Sophocles,

We follow these, though born their rightful lords,
And they command us, though they speak no words.

For this is indeed the true condition of men in public life,
who, to gain the vain title of being the people's leaders and
governors, are content to make themselves the slaves and
followers of all the people's humors and caprices. For as the
look-out men at the ship's prow, though they see what is ahead
before the men at the helm, yet constantly look back to the
pilots there, and obey the orders they give; so these men
steered, as I may say, by popular applause, though they bear the
name of governors, are in reality the mere underlings of the
multitude. The man who is completely wise and virtuous, has no
need at all of glory, except so far as it disposes and eases his
way to action by the greater trust that it procures him. A
young man, I grant, may be permitted, while yet eager for
distinction, to pride himself a little in his good deeds; for
(as Theophrastus says) his virtues, which are yet tender and, as
it were, in the blade, cherished and supported by praises, grow
stronger, and take the deeper root. But when this passion is
exorbitant, it is dangerous in all men, and in those who govern
a commonwealth, utterly destructive. For in the possession of
large power and authority, it transports men to a degree of
madness; so that now they no more think what is good, glorious,
but will have those actions only esteemed good that are
glorious. As Phocion, therefore, answered king Antipater, who
sought his approbation of some unworthy action, "I cannot be
your flatterer, and your friend," so these men should answer the
people, "I cannot govern, and obey you." For it may happen to
the commonwealth, as to the serpent in the fable, whose tail,
rising in rebellion against the head, complained, as of a great
grievance, that it was always forced to follow, and required
that it should be permitted by turns to lead the way. And
taking the command accordingly, it soon indicted by its
senseless courses mischiefs in abundance upon itself, while the
head was torn and lacerated with following, contrary to nature,
a guide that was deaf and blind. And such we see to have been
the lot of many, who, submitting to be guided by the
inclinations of an uninformed and unreasoning multitude, could
neither stop, nor recover themselves out of the confusion.

This is what has occurred to us to say, of that glory which
depends on the voice of large numbers, considering the sad
effects of it in the misfortunes of Caius and Tiberius Gracchus,
men of noble nature, and whose generous natural dispositions
were improved by the best of educations, and who came to the
administration of affairs with the most laudable intentions; yet
they were ruined, I cannot say by an immoderate desire of glory,
but by a more excusable fear of disgrace. For being excessively
beloved and favored by the people, they thought it a discredit
to them not to make full repayment, endeavoring by new public
acts to outdo the honors they had received, and again, because
of these new kindnesses, incurring yet further distinctions;
till the people and they, mutually inflamed, and vieing thus
with each other in honors and benefits, brought things at last
to such a pass, that they might say that to engage so far was
indeed a folly, but to retreat would now be a shame.

This the reader will easily gather from the story. I will now
compare with them two Lacedaemonian popular leaders, the kings
Agis and Cleomenes. For they, being desirous also to raise the
people, and to restore the noble and just form of government,
now long fallen into disuse, incurred the hatred of the rich and
powerful, who could not endure to be deprived of the selfish
enjoyments to which they were accustomed. These were not indeed
brothers by nature, as the two Romans, but they had a kind of
brotherly resemblance in their actions and designs, which took a
rise from such beginnings and occasions as I am now about to

When the love of gold and silver had once gained admittance into
the Lacedaemonian commonwealth, it was quickly followed by
avarice and baseness of spirit in the pursuit of it, and by
luxury, effeminacy, and prodigality in the use. Then Sparta
fell from almost all her former virtue and repute, and so
continued till the days of Agis and Leonidas, who both together
were kings of the Lacedaemonians.

Agis was of the royal family of Eurypon, son of Eudamidas, and
the sixth in descent from Agesilaus, who made the expedition
into Asia, and was the greatest man of his time in Greece.
Agesilaus left behind him a son called Archidamus, the same who
was slain at Mandonium, in Italy, by the Messapians, and who
was then succeeded by his eldest son Agis. He being killed by
Antipater near Megalopolis, and leaving no issue, was succeeded
by his brother Eudamidas; he, by a son called Archidamus; and
Archidamus, by another Eudamidas, the father of this Agis of
whom we now treat.

Leonidas, son of Cleonymus, was of the other royal house of the
Agiadae, and the eighth in descent from Pausanias, who defeated
Mardonius in the battle of Plataea. Pausanias was succeeded by
a son called Plistoanax; and he, by another Pausanias, who was
banished, and lived as a private man at Tegea; while his eldest
son Agesipolis reigned in his place. He, dying without issue,
was succeeded by a younger brother, called Cleombrotus, who left
two sons; the elder was Agesipolis, who reigned but a short
time, and died without issue; the younger, who then became king,
was called Cleomenes, and had also two sons, Acrotatus and
Cleonymus. The first died before his father, but left a son
called Areus, who succeeded, and being slain at Corinth, left
the kingdom to his son Acrotatus. This Acrotatus was defeated,
and slain near Megalopolis, in a battle against the tyrant
Aristodemus; he left his wife big with child, and on her being
delivered of a son, Leonidas, son of the above-named Cleonymus,
was made his guardian, and as the young king died before
becoming a man, he succeeded in the kingdom.

Leonidas was a king not particularly suitable to his people.
For though there were at that time at Sparta a general decline
in manners, yet a greater revolt from the old habits appeared in
him than in others. For having lived a long time among the
great lords of Persia, and been a follower of king Seleucus, he
unadvisedly thought to imitate, among Greek institutions and in
a lawful government, the pride and assumption usual in those
courts. Agis, on the contrary, in fineness of nature and
elevation of mind, not only far excelled Leonidas, but in a
manner all the kings that had reigned since the great Agesilaus.
For though he had been bred very tenderly, in abundance and even
in luxury, by his mother Agesistrata and his grandmother
Archidamia, who were the wealthiest of the Lacedaemonians, yet
before the age of twenty, he renounced all indulgence in
pleasures. Withdrawing himself as far as possible from the
gaiety and ornament which seemed becoming to the grace of his
person, he made it his pride to appear in the coarse Spartan
coat. In his meals, his bathings, and in all his exercises, he
followed the old Laconian usage, and was often heard to say, he
had no desire for the place of king, if he did not hope by means
of that authority to restore their ancient laws and discipline.

The Lacedaemonians might date the beginning of their corruption
from their conquest of Athens, and the influx of gold and silver
among them that thence ensued. Yet, nevertheless, the number of
houses which Lycurgus appointed being still maintained, and the
law remaining in force by which everyone was obliged to leave
his lot or portion of land entirely to his son, a kind of order
and equality was thereby preserved, which still in some degree
sustained the state amidst its errors in other respects. But
one Epitadeus happening to be ephor, a man of great influence,
and of a willful, violent spirit, on some occasion of a quarrel
with his son, proposed a decree, that all men should have
liberty to dispose of their land by gift in their lifetime, or
by their last will and testament. This being promoted by him to
satisfy a passion of revenge, and through covetousness consented
to by others, and thus enacted for a law, was the ruin of the
best state of the commonwealth. For the rich men without
scruple drew the estates into their own hands, excluding the
rightful heirs from their succession; and all the wealth being
centered upon a few, the generality were poor and miserable.
Honorable pursuits, for which there was no longer leisure, were
neglected; and the state was filled with sordid business, and
with hatred and envy of the rich. There did not remain above
seven hundred of the old Spartan families, of which perhaps one
hundred might have estates in land, the rest were destitute
alike of wealth and of honor, were tardy and unperforming in the
defense of their country against its enemies abroad, and eagerly
watched the opportunity for change and revolution at home.

Agis, therefore, believing it a glorious action, as in truth it
was, to equalize and repeople the state, began to sound the
inclinations of the citizens. He found the young men disposed
beyond his expectation; they were eager to enter with him upon
the contest in the cause of virtue, and to fling aside, for
freedom's sake, their old manner of life, as readily as the
wrestler does his garment. But the old men, habituated and more
confirmed in their vices, were most of them as alarmed at the
very name of Lycurgus, as a fugitive slave to be brought back
before his offended master. These men could not endure to hear
Agis continually deploring the present state of Sparta, and
wishing she might be restored to her ancient glory. But on the
other side, Lysander, the son of Libys, Mandroclidas, the son of
Ecphanes, together with Agesilaus, not only approved his design,
but assisted and confirmed him in it. Lysander had a great
authority and credit with the people; Mandroclidas was esteemed
the ablest Greek of his time to manage an affair and put it in
train, and, joined with skill and cunning, had a great degree of
boldness. Agesilaus was the king's uncle, by the mother's side;
an eloquent man, but covetous and voluptuous, who was not moved
by considerations of public good, but rather seemed to be
persuaded to it by his son Hippomedon, whose courage and signal
actions in war had gained him a high esteem and great influence
among the young men of Sparta, though indeed the true motive
was, that he had many debts, and hoped by this means to be freed
from them.

As soon as Agis had prevailed with his uncle, he endeavored by
his mediation to gain his mother also, who had many friends and
followers, and a number of persons in her debt in the city, and
took a considerable part in public affairs. At the first
proposal, she was very averse, and strongly advised her son not
to engage in so difficult and so unprofitable an enterprise.
But Agesilaus endeavored to possess her, that the thing was not
so difficult as she imagined, and that it might, in all
likelihood, redound to the advantage of her family; while the
king, her son, besought her not for money's sake to decline
assisting his hopes of glory. He told her, he could not pretend
to equal other kings in riches, the very followers and menials
of the satraps and stewards of Seleucus or Ptolemy abounding
more in wealth than all the Spartan kings put together; but if
by contempt of wealth and pleasure, by simplicity and
magnanimity, he could surpass their luxury and abundance, if he
could restore their former equality to the Spartans, then he
should be a great king indeed. In conclusion, the mother and
the grandmother also were so taken, so carried away with the
inspiration, as it were, of the young man's noble and generous
ambition, that they not only consented, but were ready on an
occasions to spur him on to a perseverance, and not only sent to
speak on his behalf with the men with whom they had an interest,
but addressed the other women also, knowing well that the
Lacedaemonian wives had always a great power with their
husbands, who used to impart to them their state affairs with
greater freedom than the women would communicate with the men in
the private business of their families. Which was indeed one
of the greatest obstacles to this design; for the money of
Sparta being most of it in the women's hands, it was their
interest to oppose it, not only as depriving them of those
superfluous trifles, in which through want of better knowledge
and experience, they placed their chief felicity, but also
because they knew their riches were the main support of their
power and credit.

Those, therefore, who were of this faction, had recourse to
Leonidas, representing to him, how it was his part, as the elder
and more experienced, to put a stop to the ill-advised projects
of a rash young man. Leonidas, though of himself sufficiently
inclined to oppose Agis, durst not openly, for fear of the
people, who were manifestly desirous of this change; but
underhand he did all he could to discredit and thwart the
project, and to prejudice the chief magistrates against him, and
on all occasions craftily insinuated, that it was as the price
of letting him usurp arbitrary power, that Agis thus proposed to
divide the property of the rich among the poor, and that the
object of these measures for canceling debts, and dividing the
lands, was, not to furnish Sparta with citizens, but purchase
him a tyrant's body-guard.

Agis, nevertheless, little regarding these rumors, procured
Lysander's election as ephor; and then took the first occasion
of proposing through him his Rhetra to the council, the chief
articles of which were these: That every one should be free from
their debts; all the lands to be divided into equal portions,
those that lay betwixt the watercourse near Pellene and Mount
Taygetus, and as far as the cities of Malea and Sellasia, into
four thousand five hundred lots, the remainder into fifteen
thousand; these last to be shared out among those of the country
people who were fit for service as heavy-armed soldiers, the
first among the natural born Spartans; and their number also
should be supplied from any among the country people or
strangers who had received the proper breeding of freemen, and
were of vigorous, body and of age for military service. All
these were to be divided into fifteen companies, some of four
hundred, and some of two, with a diet and discipline agreeable
to the laws of Lycurgus.

This decree being proposed in the council of Elders, met there
with opposition; so that Lysander immediately convoked the great
assembly of the people, to whom he, Mandroclidas, and Agesilaus
made orations, exhorting them that they would not suffer the
majesty of Sparta to remain abandoned to contempt, to gratify a
few rich men, who lorded it over them; but that they should call
to mind the oracles in old time which had forewarned them to
beware of the love of money, as the great danger and probable
ruin of Sparta, and, moreover, those recently brought from the
temple of Pasiphae. This was a famous temple and oracle at
Thalamae; and this Pasiphae, some say, was one of the daughters
of Atlas, who had by Jupiter a son called Ammon; others are of
opinion it was Cassandra, the daughter of king Priam, who, dying
in this place, was called Pasiphae, as the revealer of oracles
to all men. Phylarchus says, that this was Daphne, the daughter
of Amyclas, who, flying from Apollo, was transformed into a
laurel, and honored by that god with the gift of prophecy. But
be it as it will, it is certain the people were made to
apprehend, that this oracle had commanded them to return to
their former state of equality settled by Lycurgus. As soon as
these had done speaking, Agis stood up, and after a few words,
told them he would make the best contribution in his power to
the new legislation, which was proposed for their advantage. In
the first place, he would divide among them all his patrimony,
which was of large extent in tillage and pasture; he would also
give six hundred talents in ready money, and his mother,
grandmother, and his other friends and relations, who were the
richest of the Lacedaemonians, were ready to follow his example.

The people were transported with admiration of the young man's
generosity, and with joy, that after three hundred years'
interval, at last there had appeared a king worthy of Sparta.
But, on the other side, Leonidas was now more than ever averse,
being sensible that he and his friends would be obliged to
contribute with their riches, and yet all the honor and
obligation would redound to Agis. He asked him then before them
all, whether Lycurgus were not in his opinion a wise man, and a
lover of his country. Agis answering he was, "And when did
Lycurgus," replied Leonidas, "cancel debts, or admit strangers
to citizenship, -- he who thought the commonwealth not secure
unless from time to time the city was cleared of all
strangers?" To this Agis replied, "It is no wonder that
Leonidas, who was brought up and married abroad, and has
children by a wife taken out of a Persian court, should know
little of Lycurgus or his laws. Lycurgus took away both debts
and loans, by taking away money; and objected indeed to the
presence of men who were foreign to the manners and customs of
the country, not in any case from an ill-will to their persons,
but lest the example of their lives and conduct should infect
the city with the love of riches, and of delicate and luxurious
habits. For it is well known that he himself gladly kept
Terpander, Thales, and Pherecycles, though they were strangers,
because he perceived they were in their poems and in their
philosophy of the same mind with him. And you that are wont to
praise Ecprepes, who, being ephor, cut with his hatchet two of
the nine strings from the instrument of Phrynis, the musician,
and to commend those who afterwards imitated him, in cutting the
strings of Timotheus's harp, with what face can you blame us,
for designing to cut off superfluity and luxury and display from
the commonwealth? Do you think those men were so concerned only
about a lute-string, or intended anything else than to check in
music that same excess and extravagance which rule in our
present lives and manners, and have disturbed and destroyed all
the harmony and order of our city?"

From this time forward, as the common people followed Agis, so
the rich men adhered to Leonidas. They be sought him not to
forsake their cause; and with persuasions and entreaties so far
prevailed with the council of Elders, whose power consisted in
preparing all laws before they were proposed to the people, that
the designed Rhetra was rejected, though but by only one vote.
Whereupon Lysander, who was still ephor, resolving to be
revenged on Leonidas, drew up an information against him,
grounded on two old laws: the one forbids any of the blood of
Hercules to raise up children by a foreign woman, and the other
makes it capital for a Lacedaemonian to leave his country to
settle among foreigners. Whilst he set others on to manage this
accusation, he with his colleagues went to observe the sign,
which was a custom they had, and performed in this manner.
Every ninth year, the ephors, choosing a starlight night, when
there is neither cloud nor moon, sit down together in quiet and
silence, and watch the sky. And if they chance to see the
shooting of a star, they presently pronounce their king guilty
of some offense against the gods, and thereupon he is
immediately suspended from all exercise of regal power, till he
is relieved by an oracle from Delphi or Olympia.

Lysander, therefore, assured the people, he had seen a star
shoot, and at the same time Leonidas was cited to answer for
himself. Witnesses were produced to testify he had married an
Asian woman, bestowed on him by one of king Seleucus's
lieutenants; that he had two children by her, but she so
disliked and hated him, that, against his wishes, flying from
her, he was in a manner forced to return to Sparta, where, his
predecessor dying without issue, he took upon him the
government. Lysander, not content with this, persuaded also
Cleombrotus to lay claim to the kingdom. He was of the royal
family, and son-in-law to Leonidas; who, fearing now the event
of this process, fled as a suppliant to the temple of Minerva of
the Brazen House, together with his daughter, the wife of
Cleombrotus; for she in this occasion resolved to leave her
husband, and to follow her father. Leonidas being again cited,
and not appearing, they pronounced a sentence of deposition
against him, and made Cleombrotus king in his place.

Soon after this revolution, Lysander, his year expiring, went
out of his office, and new ephors were chosen, who gave Leonidas
assurance of safety, and cited Lysander and Mandroclidas to
answer for having, contrary to law, canceled debts, and designed
a new division of lands. They, seeing themselves in danger, had
recourse to the two kings, and represented to them, how
necessary it was for their interest and safety to act with
united authority and bid defiance to the ephors. For, indeed,
the power of the ephors, they said, was only grounded on the
dissensions of the kings, it being their privilege, when the
kings differed in opinion, to add their suffrage to whichever
they judged to have given the best advice; but when the two
kings were unanimous, none ought or durst resist their
authority, the magistrate, whose office it was to stand as
umpire when they were at variance, had no call to interfere when
they were of one mind. Agis and Cleombrotus, thus persuaded,
went together with their friends into the market-place, where,
removing the ephors from their seats, they placed others in
their room of whom Agesilaus was one; proceeding then to arm a
company of young men, and releasing many out of prison; so that
those of the contrary faction began to be in great fear of their
lives; but there was no blood spilt. On the contrary, Agis,
having notice that Agesilaus had ordered a company of soldiers
to lie in wait for Leonidas, to kill him as he fled to Tegea,
immediately sent some of his followers to defend him, and to
convey him safely into that city.

Thus far all things proceeded prosperously, none daring to
oppose; but through the sordid weakness of one man these
promising beginnings were blasted, and a most noble and truly
Spartan purpose overthrown and ruined, by the love of money.
Agesilaus, as we said, was much in debt, though in possession of
one of the largest and best estates in land; and while he gladly
joined in this design to be quit of his debts, he was not at all
willing to part with his land. Therefore he persuaded Agis,
that if both these things should be put in execution at the same
time, so great and so sudden an alteration might cause some
dangerous commotion; but if debts were in the first place
canceled, the rich men would afterwards more easily be
prevailed with to part with their land. Lysander, also, was of
the same opinion, being deceived in like manner by the craft of
Agesilaus; so that all men were presently commanded to bring in
their bonds, or deeds of obligation, by the Lacedaemonians
called Claria, into the market-place, where being laid together
in a heap, they set fire to them. The wealthy, money-lending
people, one may easily imagine, beheld it with a heavy heart;
but Agesilaus told them scoffingly, his eyes had never seen so
bright and so pure a flame.

And now the people pressed earnestly for an immediate division
of lands; the kings also had ordered it should be done; but
Agesilaus, sometimes pretending one difficulty, and sometimes
another, delayed the execution, till an occasion happened to
call Agis to the wars. The Achaeans, in virtue of a defensive
treaty of alliance, sent to demand succors, as they expected
every day that the Aetolians would attempt to enter
Peloponnesus, from the territory of Megara. They had sent
Aratus, their general, to collect forces to hinder this
incursion. Aratus wrote to the ephors, who immediately gave
order that Agis should hasten to their assistance with the
Lacedaemonian auxiliaries. Agis was extremely pleased to see
the zeal and bravery of those who went with him upon this
expedition. They were for the most part young men, and poor;
and being just released from their debts and set at liberty, and
hoping on their return to receive each man his lot of land, they
followed their king with wonderful alacrity. The cities through
which they passed, were in admiration to see how they marched
from one end of Peloponnesus to the other, without the least
disorder, and, in a manner, without being heard. It gave the
Greeks occasion to discourse with one another, how great might
be the temperance and modesty of a Laconian army in old time,
under their famous captains Agesilaus, Lysander, or Leonidas,
since they saw such discipline and exact obedience under a
leader who perhaps was the youngest man all the army. They saw
also how he was himself content to fare hardly, ready to undergo
any labors, and not to be distinguished by pomp or richness of
habit or arms from the meanest of his soldiers; and to people in
general it was an object of regard and admiration. But rich men
viewed the innovation with dislike and alarm, lest haply the
example might spread, and work changes to their prejudice in
their own countries as well.

Agis joined Aratus near the city of Corinth, where it was still
a matter of debate whether or no it were expedient to give the
enemy battle. Agis, on this occasion, showed great forwardness
and resolution, yet without temerity or presumption. He
declared it was his opinion they ought to fight, thereby to
hinder the enemy from passing the gates of Peloponnesus, but,
nevertheless, he would submit to the judgment of Aratus, not
only as the elder and more experienced captain, but as he was
general of the Achaeans, whose forces he would not pretend to
command, but was only come thither to assist them. I am not
ignorant that Baton of Sinope, relates it in another manner; he
says, Aratus would have fought, and that Agis was against it;
but it is certain he was mistaken, not having read what Aratus
himself wrote in his own justification, that knowing the people
had wellnigh got in their harvest, he thought it much better to
let the enemy pass, than put all to the hazard of a battle. And
therefore, giving thanks to the confederates for their
readiness, he dismissed them. And Agis, not without having
gained a great deal of honor, returned to Sparta, where he found
the people in disorder, and a new revolution imminent, owing to
the ill government of Agesilaus.

For he, being now one of the ephors, and freed from the fear
which formerly kept him in some restraint, forbore no kind of
oppression which might bring in gain. Among other things, he
exacted a thirteenth month's tax, whereas the usual cycle
required at this time no such addition to the year. For these
and other reasons fearing those whom he injured, and knowing how
he was hated by the people, he thought it necessary to maintain
a guard, which always accompanied him to the magistrate's
office. And presuming now on his power, he was grown so
insolent, that of the two kings, the one he openly contemned,
and if he showed any respect towards Agis, would have it thought
rather an effect of his near relationship, than any duty or
submission to the royal authority. He gave it out also, that he
was to continue ephor the ensuing year.

His enemies, therefore, alarmed by this report, lost no time in
risking an attempt against him; and openly bringing hack
Leonidas from Tegea, reestablished him in the kingdom, to which
even the people, highly incensed for having been defrauded in
the promised division of lands, willingly consented. Agesilaus
himself would hardly have escaped their fury, if his son,
Hippomedon, whose manly virtues made him dear to all, had not
saved him out of their hands, and then privately conveyed him
from the city.

During this commotion, the two kings fled, Agis to the temple of
the Brazen House, and Cleombrotus to that of Neptune. For
Leonidas was more incensed against his son-in-law; and leaving
Agis alone, went with his soldiers to Cleombrotus's sanctuary,
and there with great passion reproached him for having, though
he was his son-in-law, conspired with his enemies, usurped his
throne, and forced him from his country. Cleombrotus, having
little to say for himself, sat silent. His wife, Chilonis, the
daughter of Leonidas, had chosen to follow her father in his
sufferings; for when Cleombrotus usurped the kingdom, she
forsook him, and wholly devoted herself to comfort her father in
his affliction; whilst he still remained in Sparta, she remained
also, as a suppliant, with him, and when he fled, she fled with
him, bewailing his misfortune, and extremely displeased with
Cleombrotus. But now, upon this turn of fortune, she changed in
like manner, and was seen sitting now, as a suppliant, with her
husband, embracing him with her arms, and having her two little
children beside her. All men were full of wonder at the piety
and tender affection of the young woman, who, pointing to her
robes and her hair, both alike neglected and unattended to, said
to Leonidas, "I am not brought, my father, to this condition you
see me in, on account of the present misfortunes of Cleombrotus;
my mourning habit is long since familiar to me. It was put on
to condole with you in your banishment; and now you are restored
to your country, and to your kingdom, must I still remain in
grief and misery? Or would you have me attired in my royal
ornaments, that I may rejoice with you, when you have killed,
within my arms, the man to whom you gave me for a wife? Either
Cleombrotus must appease you by mine and my children's tears, or
he must suffer a punishment greater than you propose for his
faults, and shall see me, whom he loves so well, die before him.
To what end should I live, or how shall I appear among the
Spartan women, when it shall so manifestly be seen, that I have
not been able to move to compassion either a husband or a
father? I was born, it seems, to participate in the ill fortune
and in the disgrace, both as a wife and a daughter, of those
nearest and dearest to me. As for Cleombrotus, I sufficiently
surrendered any honorable plea on his behalf, when I forsook him
to follow you; but you yourself offer the fairest excuse for his
proceedings, by showing to the world that for the sake of a
kingdom, it is just to kill a son-in-law, and be regardless of a
daughter." Chilonis, having ended this lamentation, rested her
face on her husband's head, and looked round with her weeping
and woebegone eyes upon those who stood be fore her.

Leonidas, touched with compassion, withdrew a while to advise
with his friends; then returning, bade Cleombrotus leave the
sanctuary and go into banishment; Chilonis, he said, ought to
stay with him, it not being just she should forsake a father
whose affection had granted to her intercession the life of her
husband. But all he could say would not prevail. She rose up
immediately, and taking one of her children in her arms, gave
the other to her husband; and making her reverence to the altar
of the goddess, went out and followed him. So that, in a word,
if Cleombrotus were not utterly blinded by ambition, he must
surely choose to be banished with so excellent a woman rather
than without her to possess a kingdom.

Cleombrotus thus removed, Leonidas proceeded also to displace
the ephors, and to choose others in their room; then he began to
consider how he might entrap Agis. At first, he endeavored by
fair means to persuade him to leave the sanctuary, and partake
with him in the kingdom. The people, he said, would easily
pardon the errors of a young man, ambitious of glory, and
deceived by the craft of Agesilaus. But finding Agis was
suspicious, and not to be prevailed with to quit his sanctuary,
he gave up that design; yet what could not then be effected by
the dissimulation of an enemy, was soon after brought to pass by
the treachery of friends.

Amphares, Damochares, and Arcesilaus often visited Agis, and he
was so confident of their fidelity that after a while he was
prevailed with to accompany them to the baths, which were not
far distant, they constantly returning to see him safe again in
the temple. They were all three his familiars; and Amphares had
borrowed a great deal of plate and rich household stuff from
Agesistrata, and hoped if he could destroy her and the whole
family, he might peaceably enjoy those goods. And he, it is
said, was the readiest of all to serve the purposes of Leonidas,
and being one of the ephors, did all he could to incense the
rest of his colleagues against Agis. These men, therefore,
finding that Agis would not quit his sanctuary, but on occasion
would venture from it to go to the bath, resolved to seize him
on the opportunity thus given them. And one day as he was
returning, they met and saluted him as formerly, conversing
pleasantly by the way, and jesting, as youthful friends might,
till coming to the turning of a street which led to the prison,
Amphares, by virtue of his office, laid his hand on Agis, and
told him, "You must go with me, Agis, before the other ephors,
to answer for your misdemeanors." At the same time, Damochares,
who was a tall, strong man, drew his cloak tight round his neck,
and dragged him after by it, whilst the others went behind to
thrust him on. So that none of Agis's friends being near to
assist him, nor anyone by, they easily got him into the prison,
where Leonidas was already arrived, with a company of soldiers,
who strongly guarded all the avenues; the ephors also came in,
with as many of the Elders as they knew to be true to their
party, being desirous to proceed with some resemblance of
justice. And thus they bade him give an account of his actions.
To which Agis, smiling at their dissimulation, answered not a
word. Amphares told him, it was more seasonable to weep, for
now the time was come in which he should be punished for his
presumption. Another of the ephors, as though he would be more
favorable, and offering as it were an excuse, asked him whether
he was not forced to what he did by Agesilaus and Lysander. But
Agis answered, he had not been constrained by any man, nor had
any other intent in what he did, but only to follow the example
of Lycurgus, and to govern conformably to his laws. The same
ephor asked him, whether now at least he did not repent his
rashness. To which the young man answered, that though he were
to suffer the extremest penalty for it, yet he could never
repent of so just and so glorious a design. Upon this they
passed sentence of death on him, and bade the officers carry him
to the Dechas, as it is called, a place in the prison where they
strangle malefactors. And when the officers would not venture
to lay hands on him, and the very mercenary soldiers declined
it, believing it an illegal and a wicked act to lay violent
hands on a king, Damochares, threatening and reviling them for
it, himself thrust him into the room.

For by this time the news of his being seized had reached many
parts of the city, and there was a concourse of people with
lights and torches about the prison gates, and in the midst of
them the mother and the grandmother of Agis, crying out with a
loud voice, that their king ought to appear, and to be heard and
judged by the people. But this clamor, instead of preventing,
hastened his death; his enemies fearing, if the tumult should
increase, he might be rescued during the night out of their

Agis, being now at the point to die, perceived one of the
officers bitterly bewailing his misfortune; "Weep not, friend,"
said he, "for me, who die innocent, by the lawless act of wicked
men. My condition is much better than theirs." As soon as he
had spoken these words, not showing the least sign of fear, he
offered his neck to the noose.

Immediately after he was dead, Amphares went out of the prison
gate, where he found Agesistrata, who, believing him still the
same friend as before, threw herself at his feet. He gently
raised her up, and assured her, she need not fear any further
violence or danger of death for her son, and that if she
pleased, she might go in and see him. She begged her mother
might also have the favor to be admitted, and he replied, nobody
should hinder it. When they were entered, he commanded the
gate should again be locked, and Archidamia, the grandmother, to
be first introduced; she was now grown very old, and had lived
all her days in the highest repute among her fellows. As soon
as Amphares thought she was dispatched, he told Agesistrata she
might now go in if she pleased. She entered, and beholding her
son's body stretched on the ground, and her mother hanging by
the neck, the first thing she did was, with her own hands, to
assist the officers in taking down the body; then covering it
decently, she laid it out by her son's, whom then embracing, and
kissing his cheeks, "O my son," said she, "it was thy too great
mercy and goodness which brought thee and us to ruin."
Amphares, who stood watching behind the door, on hearing this,
broke in, and said angrily to her, " Since you approve so well
of your son's actions, it is fit you should partake in his
reward." She, rising up to offer herself to the noose, said
only, "I pray that it may redound to the good of Sparta."

And now the three bodies being exposed to view, and the fact
divulged, no fear was strong enough to hinder the people from
expressing their abhorrence of what was done, and their
detestation of Leonidas and Amphares, the contrivers of it. So
wicked and barbarous an act had never been committed in Sparta,
since first the Dorians inhabited Peloponnesus; the very enemies
in war, they said, were always cautious of spilling the blood of
a Lacedaemonian king, insomuch that in any combat they would
decline, and endeavor to avoid them, from feelings of respect
and reverence for their station. And certainly we see that in
the many battles fought betwixt the Lacedaemonians and the other
Greeks, up to the time of Philip of Macedon, not one of their
kings was ever killed, except Cleombrotus, by a javelin-wound,
at the battle of Leuctra. I am not ignorant that the Messenians
affirm, Theopompus was also slain by their Aristomenes; but the
Lacedaemonians deny it, and say he was only wounded.

Be it as it will, it is certain at least that Agis was the first
king put to death in Lacedaemon by the ephors, for having
undertaken a design noble in itself and worthy of his country,
at a time of life when men's errors usually meet with an easy
pardon. And if errors he did commit, his enemies certainly had
less reason to blame him, than had his friends for that gentle
and compassionate temper which made him save the life of
Leonidas, and believe in other men's professions.


Thus fell Agis. His brother Archidamus was too quick for
Leonidas, and saved himself by a timely retreat. But his
wife, then mother of a young child, he forced from her own
house, and compelled Agiatis, for that was her name, to marry
his son Cleomenes, though at that time too young for a wife,
because he was unwilling that anyone else should have her,
being heiress to her father Glylippus's great estate; in
person the most youthful and beautiful woman in all Greece,
and well-conducted in her habits of life. And therefore,
they say, she did all she could that she might not be
compelled to this new marriage. But being thus united to
Cleomenes, she indeed hated Leonidas, but to the youth showed
herself a kind and obliging wife. He, as soon as they came
together, began to love her very much, and the constant
kindness that she still retained for the memory of Agis,
wrought somewhat of the like feeling in the young man for
him, so that he would often inquire of her concerning what
had passed, and attentively listen to the story of Agis's
purpose and design. Now Cleomenes had a generous and great
soul; he was as temperate and moderate in his pleasures as
Agis, but not so scrupulous, circumspect, and gentle. There
was something of heat and passion always goading him on, and
an impetuosity and violence in his eagerness to pursue
anything which he thought good and just. To have men obey
him of their own freewill, he conceived to be the best
discipline; but, likewise, to subdue resistance, and force
them to the better course, was, in his opinion, commendable
and brave.

This disposition made him dislike the management of the city.
The citizens lay dissolved in supine idleness and pleasures;
the king let everything take its own way, thankful if nobody
gave him any disturbance, nor called him away from the
enjoyment of his wealth and luxury. The public interest was
neglected, and each man intent upon his private gain. It was
dangerous, now Agis was killed, so much as to name such a
thing as the exercising and training of their youth; and to
speak of the ancient temperance, endurance, and equality, was
a sort of treason against the state. It is said also that
Cleomenes, whilst a boy, studied philosophy under Sphaerus,
the Borysthenite, who crossed over to Sparta, and spent some
time and trouble in instructing the youth. Sphaerus was one
of the first of Zeno the Citiean's scholars, and it is likely
enough that he admired the manly temper of Cleomenes and
inflamed his generous ambition. The ancient Leonidas, as
story tells, being asked what manner of poet he thought
Tyrtaeus, replied, "Good to whet young men's courage;" for
being filled with a divine fury by his poems, they rushed
into any danger. And so the stoic philosophy is a dangerous
incentive to strong and fiery dispositions, but where it
combines with a grave and gentle temper, is most successful
in leading it to its proper good.

Upon the death of his father Leonidas, he succeeded, and
observing the citizens of all sorts to be debauched, the rich
neglecting the public good, and intent on their private gain
and pleasure, and the poor distressed in their own homes, and
therefore without either spirit for war or ambition to be
trained up as Spartans, that he had only the name of king,
and the ephors all the power, he was resolved to change the
present posture of affairs. He had a friend whose name was
Xenares, his lover, (such an affection the Spartans express
by the term, being inspired, or imbreathed with); him he
sounded, and of him he would commonly inquire what manner of
king Agis was, by what means and by what assistance he began
and pursued his designs. Xenares, at first, willingly
compiled with his request, and told him the whole story, with
all the particular circumstances of the actions. But when he
observed Cleomenes to be extremely affected at the relation,
and more than ordinarily taken with Agis's new model of the
government, and begging a repetition of the story, he at
first severely chid him, told him he was frantic, and at last
left off all sort of familiarity and intercourse with him,
yet he never told any man the cause of their disagreement,
but would only say, Cleomenes knew very well. Cleomenes,
finding Xenares averse to his designs, and thinking all
others to be of the same disposition, consulted with none,
but contrived the whole business by himself. And considering
that it would be easier to bring about an alteration when the
city was at war, than when in peace, he engaged the
commonwealth in a quarrel with the Achaeans, who had given
them fair occasions to complain. For Aratus, a man of the
greatest power amongst all the Achaeans, designed from the
very beginning to bring all the Peloponnesians into one
common body. And to effect this was the one object of all
his many commanderships and his long political course; as he
thought this the only means to make them a match for their
foreign enemies. Pretty nearly all the rest agreed to his
proposals, only the Lacedaemonians, the Eleans, and as many
of the Arcadians as inclined to the Spartan interest,
remained unpersuaded. And so as soon as Leonidas was dead,
he began to attack the Arcadians, and wasted those especially
that bordered on Achaea, by this means designing to try the
inclinations of the Spartans, and despising Cleomenes as a
youth, and of no experience in affairs of state or war. Upon
this, the ephors sent Cleomenes to surprise the Athenaeum,
near Belbina, which is a pass commanding an entrance into
Laconia and was then the subject of litigation with the
Megalopolitans. Cleomenes possessed himself of the place,
and fortified it, at which action Aratus showed no public
resentment, but marched by night to surprise Tegea and
Orchormenus. The design failed, for those that were to
betray the cities into his hands, turned afraid; so Aratus
retreated, imagining that his design had been undiscovered.
But Cleomenes wrote a sarcastic letter to him, and desired to
know, as from a friend, whither he intended to march at
night; and Aratus answering, that having heard of his design
to fortify Belbina, he meant to march thither to oppose him,
Cleomenes rejoined, that he did not dispute it, but begged to
be informed, if he might be allowed to ask the question, why
he carried those torches and ladders with him.

Aratus laughing at the jest, and asking what manner of youth
this was, Damocrates, a Spartan exile, replied, "If you have
any designs upon the Lacedaemonians, begin before this young
eagle's talons are grown." Presently after this, Cleomenes,
encamping in Arcadia with a few horse and three hundred foot,
received orders from the ephors, who feared to engage in the
war, commanding him home; but when upon his retreat Aratus
took Caphyae, they commissioned him again. In this
expedition he took Methydrium, and overran the country of the
Argives; and the Achaeans, to oppose him, came out with an
army of twenty thousand foot and one thousand horse, under
the command of Aristomachus. Cleomenes faced them at
Pallantium, and offered battle, but Aratus, being cowed by
his bravery, would not suffer the general to engage, but
retreated, amidst the reproaches of the Achaeans, and the
derision and scorn of the Spartans, who were not above five
thousand. Cleomenes, encouraged by this success, began to
speak boldly among the citizens, and reminding them of a
sentence of one of their ancient kings, said, it was in vain
now that the Spartans asked, not how many their enemies were,
but where they were. After this, marching to the assistance
of the Eleans, whom the Achaeans were attacking, falling upon
the enemy in their retreat near the Lycaeum, he put their
whole army to flight, taking a great number of captives, and
leaving many dead upon the place; so that it was commonly
reported amongst the Greeks that Aratus was slain. But
Aratus, making the best advantage of the opportunity,
immediately after the defeat marched to Mantinea, and before
anybody suspected it, took the city, and put a garrison into
it. Upon this, the Lacedaemonians being quite discouraged,
and opposing Cleomenes's designs of carrying on the war, he
now exerted himself to have Archidamus, the brother of Agis,
sent for from Messene, as he, of the other family, had a
right to the kingdom ; and besides, Cleomenes thought that
the power of the ephors would be reduced, when the kingly
state was thus filled up, and raised to its proper position.
But those that were concerned in the murder of Agis,
perceiving the design, and fearing that upon Archidamus's
return they should be called to an account, received him on
his coming privately into town, and joined in bringing him
home, and presently after murdered him. Whether Cleomenes
was against it, as Phylarchus thinks, or whether he was
persuaded by his friends, or let him fall into their hands,
is uncertain; however, they were most blamed, as having
forced his consent.

He, still resolving to new model the state, bribed the ephors
to send him out to war; and won the affections of many others
by means of his mother Cratesiclea, who spared no cost and
was very zealous to promote her son's ambition; and though of
herself she had no inclination to marry, yet for his sake,
she accepted, as her husband, one of the chiefest citizens
for wealth and power. Cleomenes, marching forth with the
army now under his commend, took Leuctra, a place belonging
to Megalopolis; and the Achaeans quickly coming up to resist
him with a good body of men commanded by Aratus, in a battle
under the very walls of the city some part of his army was
routed. But whereas Aratus had commanded the Achaeans not to
pass a deep watercourse, and thus put a stop to the pursuit,
Lydiadas, the Megalopolitan, fretting at the orders, and
encouraging the horse which he led, and following the routed
enemy, got into a place full of vines, hedges, and ditches;
and being forced to break his ranks, began to retire in
disorder. Cleomenes, observing the advantage, commanded the
Tarentines and Cretans to engage him, by whom, after a brave
defense, he was routed and slain. The Lacedaemonians, thus
encouraged, fell with a great shout upon the Achaeans, and
routed their whole army. Of the slain, who were very many,
the rest Cleomenes delivered up, when the enemy petitioned
for them; but the body of Lydiadas he commanded to be brought
to him; and then putting on it a purple robe, and a crown
upon its head, sent a convoy with it to the gates of
Megalopolis. This is that Lydiadas who resigned his power as
tyrant, restored liberty to the citizens, and joined the city
to the Achaean interest.

Cleomenes, being very much elated by this success, and
persuaded that if matters were wholly at his disposal, he
should soon be too hard for the Achaeans, persuaded
Megistonus, his mother's husband, that it was expedient for
the state to shake off the power of the ephors, and to put
all their wealth into one common stock for the whole body;
thus Sparta, being restored to its old equality, might aspire
again to the command of all Greece. Megistonus liked the
design, and engaged two or three more of his friends. About
that time, one of the ephors, sleeping in Pasiphae's temple,
dreamed a very surprising dream; for he thought he saw the
four chairs removed out of the place where the ephors used to
sit and do the business of their office, and one only set
there; and whilst he wondered, he heard a voice out of the
temple, saying, "This is best for Sparta." The person
telling Cleomenes this dream, he was a little troubled at
first, fearing that he used this as a trick to sift him, upon
some suspicion of his design, but when he was satisfied that
the relater spoke truth, he took heart again. And carrying
with him those whom he thought would be most against his
project, he took Heraea and Alsaea, two towns in league with
the Achaeans, furnished Orchomenus with provisions, encamped
before Mantinea, and with long marches up and down so
harassed the Lacedaemonians, that many of them at their own
request were left behind in Arcadia, while he with the
mercenaries went on toward Sparta, and by the way
communicated his design to those whom he thought fittest for
his purpose, and marched slowly, that he might catch the
ephors at supper.

When he was come near the city, he sent Euryclidas to the
public table, where the ephors supped, under pretense of
carrying some message from him from the army; Therycion,
Phoebis, and two of those who had been bred up with
Cleomenes, whom they call mothaces, followed with a few
soldiers; and whilst Euryclidas was delivering his message to
the ephors, they ran upon them with their drawn swords, and
slew them. The first of them, Agylaeus, on receiving the
blow, fell and lay as dead; but in a little time quietly
raising himself, and drawing himself out of the room, he
crept, without being discovered, into a little building which
was dedicated to Fear, and which always used to be shut, but
then by chance was open; and being got in, he shut the door,
and lay close. The other four were killed, and above ten
more that came to their assistance; to those that were quiet
they did no harm, stopped none that fled from the city, and
spared Agylaeus, when he came out of the temple the next day.

The Lacedaemonians have not only sacred places dedicated to
Fear, but also to Death, Laughter, and the like Passions.
Now they worship Fear, not as they do supernatural powers
which they dread, esteeming it hurtful, but thinking their
polity is chiefly kept up by fear. And therefore, the
ephors, Aristotle is my author, when they entered upon their
government, made proclamation to the people, that they should
shave their mustaches, and be obedient to the laws, that the
laws might not be hard upon them, making, I suppose, this
trivial injunction, to accustom their youth to obedience even
in the smallest matters. And the ancients, I think, did not
imagine bravery to be plain fearlessness, but a cautious fear
of blame and disgrace. For those that show most timidity
towards the laws, are most bold against their enemies; and
those are least afraid of any danger who are most afraid of a
just reproach. Therefore it was well said that

A reverence still attends on fear;

and by Homer,

Feared you shall be, dear father, and revered;

and again,

In silence fearing those that bore the sway;

for the generality of men are most ready to reverence those
whom they fear. And, therefore, the Lacedaemonians placed
the temple of Fear by the Syssitium of the ephors, having
raised that magistracy to almost royal authority.

The next day, Cleomenes proscribed eighty of the citizens,
whom he thought necessary to banish, and removed all the
seats of the ephors, except one, in which he himself designed
to sit and give audience; and calling the citizens together,
he made an apology for his proceedings, saying, that by
Lycurgus the council of Elders was joined to the kings, and
that that model of government had continued a long time, and
no other sort of magistrates had been wanted. But
afterwards, in the long war with the Messenians, when the
kings, having to command the army, found no time to
administer justice, they chose some of their friends, and
left them to determine the suits of the citizens in their
stead. These were called ephors, and at first behaved
themselves as servants to the kings; but afterwards, by
degrees, they appropriated the power to themselves and
erected a distinct magistracy. An evidence of the truth of
this was the custom still observed by the kings, who, when
the ephors send for them, refuse, upon the first and the
second summons, to go, but upon the third, rise up and attend
them. And Asteropus, the first that raised the ephors to
that height of power, lived a great many years after their
institution. So long, therefore, he continued, as they
contained themselves within their own proper sphere, it had
been better to bear with them than to make a disturbance.
But that an upstart, introduced power should so far subvert
the ancient form of government as to banish some kings,
murder others, without hearing their defense, and threaten
those who desired to see the best and most divine
constitution restored in Sparta, was not to be borne.
Therefore, if it had been possible for him, without
bloodshed, to free Lacedaemon from those foreign plagues,
luxury, sumptuosity, debts, and usury, and from those yet
more ancient evils, poverty and riches, he should have
thought himself the happiest king in the world, to have
succeeded, like an expert physician, in curing the diseases
of his country without pain. But now, in this necessity,
Lycurgus's example favored his proceedings, who being neither
king nor magistrate, but a private man, and aiming at the
kingdom, came armed into the market-place, so that king
Charillus fled in alarm to the altar. He, being a good man,
and a lover of his country, readily concurred in Lycurgus's
designs, and admitted the revolution in the state. But, by
his own actions, Lycurgus had nevertheless borne witness that
it was difficult to change the government without force and
fear, in the use of which he himself, he said, had been so
moderate as to do no more than put out of the way those who
opposed themselves to Sparta's happiness and safety. For the
rest of the nation, he told them, the whole land was now
their common property; debtors should be cleared of their
debts, and examination made of those who were not citizens,
that the bravest men might thus be made free Spartans, and
give aid in arms to save the city, and "We" he said, "may no
longer see Laconia, for want of men to defend it, wasted by
the Aetolians and Illyrians."

Then he himself first, with his step-father, Megistonus, and
his friends, gave up all their wealth into one public stock,
and all the other citizens followed the example. The land
was divided, and everyone that he had banished, had a share
assigned him; for he promised to restore all, as soon as
things were settled and in quiet. And completing the number
of citizens out of the best and most promising of the
country people, he raised a body of four thousand men; and
instead of a spear, taught them to use a surissu, with both
hands, and to carry their shields by a band, and not by a
handle, as before. After this, he began to consult about
the education of the youth, and the Discipline, as they call
it; most of the particulars of which, Sphaerus, being then at
Sparta, assisted in arranging; and, in a short time, the
schools of exercise and the common tables recovered their
ancient decency and order, a few out of necessity, but the
most voluntarily, returning to that generous and Laconic way
of living. And, that the name of monarch might give them no
jealousy, he made Euclidas, his brother, partner in the
throne; and that was the only time that Sparta had two kings
of the same family.

Then, understanding that the Achaeans and Aratus imagined
that this change had disturbed and shaken his affairs, and
that he would not venture out of Sparta and leave the city
now unsettled in the midst of so great an alteration, he
thought it great and serviceable to his designs, to show his
enemies the zeal and forwardness of his troops. And,
therefore, making an incursion into the territories of
Megalopolis, he wasted the country far and wide, and
collected a considerable booty. And, at last, taking a
company of actors, as they were traveling from Messene, and
building a theater in the enemy's country, and offering a
prize of forty minae in value, he sat spectator a whole day;
not that he either desired or needed such amusement, but
wishing to show his disregard for his enemies, and by a
display of his contempt, to prove the extent of his
superiority to them. For his alone, of all the Greek or
royal armies, had no stage-players, no jugglers, no dancing
or singing women attending it, but was free from all sorts of
looseness, wantonness, and festivity; the young men being for
the most part at their exercises, and the old men giving them
lessons, or, at leisure times, diverting themselves with
their native jests, and quick Laconian answers; the good
results of which we have noticed in the life of Lycurgus.

He himself instructed all by his example; he was a living
pattern of temperance before every man's eyes; and his course
of living was neither more stately, nor more expensive, nor
in any way more pretentious, than that of any of his people.
And this was a considerable advantage to him in his designs
on Greece. For men when they waited upon other kings, did
not so much admire their wealth, costly furniture, and
numerous attendance, as they hated their pride and state,
their difficulty of access, and imperious answers to their
addresses. But when they came to Cleomenes, who was both
really a king, and bore that title, and saw no purple, no
robes of state upon him, no couches and litters about him for
his ease, and that he did not receive requests and return
answers after a long delay and difficulty, through a number
of messengers and doorkeepers, or by memorials, but that he
rose and came forward in any dress he might happen to be
wearing, to meet those that came to wait upon him, stayed,
talked freely and affably with all that had business, they
were extremely taken, and won to his service, and professed
that he alone was the true son of Hercules. His common every
day's meal was in an ordinary room, very sparing, and after
the Laconic manner; and when he entertained ambassadors or
strangers, two more couches were added, and a little better
dinner provided by his servants, but no savoring sauces or
sweetmeats; only the dishes were larger, and the wine more
plentiful. For he reproved one of his friends for
entertaining some strangers with nothing but barley bread and
black broth, such diet as they usually had in their phiditia;
saying, that upon such occasions, and when they entertained
strangers, it was not well to be too exact Laconians. After
the table was removed, a stand was brought in, with a brass
vessel full of wine, two silver bowls which held about a pint
apiece, a few silver cups, of which he that pleased might
drink, but wine was not urged on any of the guests. There
was no music, nor was any required; for he entertained the
company himself, sometimes asking questions, sometimes
telling stories; and his conversation was neither too grave
or disagreeably serious, nor yet in any way rude or
ungraceful in its pleasantry. For he thought those ways of
entrapping men by gifts and presents, which other kings use,
dishonest and inartificial; and it seemed to him to be the
most noble method, and most suitable to a king, to win the
affections of those that came near him, by personal
intercourse and agreeable conversation, since between a
friend and a mercenary the only distinction is, that we gain
the one by one's character and conversation, the other by
one's money.

The Mantineans were the first that requested his aid; and
when he entered their city by night, they aided him to expel
the Achaean garrison, and put themselves under his
protection. He restored them their polity and laws, and the
same day marched to Tegea; and a little while after, fetching
a compass through Arcadia, he made a descent upon Pherae, in
Achaea, intending to force Aratus to a battle, or bring him
into disrepute, for refusing to engage, and suffering him to
waste the country. Hyperbatas at that time was general, but
Aratus had all the power amongst the Achaeans. The Achaeans,
marching forth with their whole strength, and encamping in
Dymae, near the Hecatombaeum, Cleomenes came up, and thinking
it not advisable to pitch between Dymae, a city of the
enemies, and the camp of the Achaeans, he boldly dared the
Achaeans, and forced them to a battle, and routing their
phalanx, slew a great many in the fight, and took many
prisoners, and thence marching to Langon, and driving out the
Achaean garrison, he restored the city to the Eleans.

The affairs of the Achaeans being in this unfortunate
condition, Aratus, who was wont to take office every other
year, refused the command, though they entreated and urged
him to accept it. And this was ill done, when the storm was
high, to put the power out of his own hands, and set another
to the helm. Cleomenes at first proposed fair and easy
conditions by his ambassadors to the Achaeans, but afterward
he sent others, and required the chief command to be settled
upon him; in other matters offering to agree to reasonable
terms, and to restore their captives and their country. The
Achaeans were willing to come to an agreement upon those
terms, and invited Cleomenes to Lerna, where an assembly was
to be held; but it happened that Cleomenes, hastily marching
on, and drinking water at a wrong time, brought up a quantity
of blood, and lost his voice; therefore being unable to
continue his journey, he sent the chiefest of the captives to
the Achaeans, and, putting off the meeting for some time,
retired to Lacedaemon.

This ruined the affairs of Greece, which was just beginning
in some sort to recover from its disasters, and to show some
capability of delivering itself from the insolence and
rapacity of the Macedonians. For Aratus, (whether fearing or
distrusting Cleomenes, or envying his unlooked-for success,
or thinking it a disgrace for him who had commanded
thirty-three years, to have a young man succeed to all his
glory and his power, and be head of that government which he
had been raising and settling so many years,) first
endeavored to keep the Achaeans from closing with Cleomenes;
but when they would not hearken to him, fearing Cleomenes's
daring spirit, and thinking the Lacedaemonians' proposals to
be very reasonable, who designed only to reduce Peloponnesus
to its old model, upon this he took his last refuge in an
action which was unbecoming any of the Greeks, most
dishonorable to him, and most unworthy his former bravery and
exploits. For he called Antigonus into Greece, and filled
Peloponnesus with Macedonians, whom he himself, when a youth,
having beaten their garrison out of the castle of Corinth,
had driven from the same country. And there had been
constant suspicion and variance between him and all the
kings, and of Antigonus, in particular, he has said a
thousand dishonorable things in the commentaries he has left
behind him. And though he declares himself how he suffered
considerable losses, and underwent great dangers, that he
might free Athens from the garrison of the Macedonians, yet,
afterwards, he brought the very same men armed into his own
country, and his own house, even to the women's apartment.
He would not endure that one of the family of Hercules, and
king of Sparta, and one that had reformed the polity of his
country, as it were, from a disordered harmony, and retuned
it to the plain Doric measure and rule of life of Lycurgus,
should be styled head of the Tritaeans and Sicyonians; and
whilst he fled the barley-cake and coarse coat, and which
were his chief accusations against Cleomenes, the extirpation
of wealth and reformation of poverty, he basely subjected
himself, together with Achaea, to the diadem and purple, to
the imperious commands of the Macedonians and their satraps.
That he might not seem to be under Cleomenes, he offered
sacrificers, called Antigonea, in honor of Antigonus, and
sang paeans himself, with a garland on his head, to the
praise of a wasted, consumptive Macedonian. I write this not
out of any design to disgrace Aratus, for in many things he
showed himself a true lover of Greece, and a great man, but
out of pity to the weakness of human nature, which in
characters like this, so worthy and in so many ways disposed
to virtue, cannot maintain its honors unblemished by some
envious fault.

The Achaeans meeting again in assembly at Argos, and
Cleomenes having come from Tegea, there were great hopes that
all differences would be composed. But Aratus, Antigonus and
he having already agreed upon the chief articles of their
league, fearing that Cleomenes would carry all before him,
and either win or force the multitude to comply with his
demands, proposed, that having three hundred hostages put
into his hands, he should come alone into the town, or bring
his army to the place of exercise, called the Cyllarabium,
outside the city, and treat there.

Cleomenes, hearing this, said, that he was unjustly dealt
with; for they ought to have told him so plainly at first,
and not now he was come even to their doors, show their
jealousy, and deny him admission. And writing a letter to
the Achaeans about the same subject, the greatest part of
which was an accusation of Aratus, while Aratus, on the other
side, spoke violently against him to the assembly, he hastily
dislodged, and sent a trumpeter to denounce war against the
Achaeans, not to Argos, but to Aegium, as Aratus writes, that
he might not give them notice enough to make provision for
their defense. There had also been a movement among the
Achaeans themselves, and the cities were eager for revolt;
the common people expecting a division of the land, and a
release from their debts, and the chief men being in many
places ill-disposed to Aratus, and some of them angry and
indignant with him, for having brought the Macedonians into
Peloponnesus. Encouraged by these misunderstandings,
Cleomenes invaded Achaea, and first took Pellene by surprise,
and beat out the Achaean garrison, and afterwards brought
over Pheneus and Penteleum to his side. Now the Achaeans,
suspecting some treacherous designs at Corinth and Sicyon,
sent their horse and mercenaries out of Argos, to have an eye
upon those cities, and they themselves went to Argos, to
celebrate the Nemean games. Cleomenes, advertised of this
march, and hoping, as it afterward fell out, that upon an
unexpected advance to the city, now busied in the solemnity
of the games, and thronged with numerous spectators, he
should raise a considerable terror and confusion amongst
them, by night marched with his army to the walls, and taking
the quarter of the town called Aspis, which lies above the
theater, well fortified, and hard to be approached, he so
terrified them that none offered to resist, but they agreed
to accept a garrison, to give twenty citizens for hostages,
and to assist the Lacedaemonians, and that he should have the
chief command.

This action considerably increased his reputation and his
power; for the ancient Spartan kings, though they many ways
endeavored to effect it, could never bring Argos to be
permanently theirs. And Pyrrhus, the most experienced
captain, though he entered the city by force, could not keep
possession, but was slain himself, with a considerable part
of his army. Therefore they admired the dispatch and
contrivance of Cleomenes; and those that before derided him,
for imitating, as they said, Solon and Lycurgus, in releasing
the people from their debts, and in equalizing the property
of the citizens, were now fain to admit that this was the
cause of the change in the Spartans. For before they were
very low in the world, and so unable to secure their own,
that the Aetolians, invading Laconia, brought away fifty
thousand slaves; so that one of the elder Spartans is
reported to have said, that they had done Laconia a kindness
by unburdening it; and yet a little while after, by merely
recurring once again to their native customs, and reentering
the track of the ancient discipline, they were able to give,
as though it had been under the eyes and conduct of Lycurgus
himself, the most signal instances of courage and obedience,
raising Sparta to her ancient place as the commanding state
of Greece, and recovering all Peloponnesus.

When Argos was captured, and Cleonae and Phlius came over, as
they did at once, to Cleomenes, Aratus was at Corinth,
searching after some who were reported to favor the Spartan
interest. The news, being brought to him, disturbed him very
much; for he perceived the city inclining to Cleomenes, and
willing to be rid of the Achaeans. Therefore he summoned the
citizens to meet in the Council Hall, and slipping away
without being observed to the gate, he mounted his horse that
had been brought for him thither, and fled to Sicyon. And
the Corinthians made such haste to Cleomenes at Argos, that,
as Aratus says, striving who should be first there, they
spoiled all their horses; he adds that Cleomenes was very
angry with the Corinthians for letting him escape; and that
Megistonus came from Cleomenes to him, desiring him to
deliver up the castle at Corinth, which was then garrisoned
by the Achaeans, and offered him a considerable sum of money,
and that he answered, that matters were not now in his power,
but he in theirs. Thus Aratus himself writes. But
Cleomenes, marching from Argos, and taking in the
Troezenians, Epidaurians, and Hermioneans, came to Corinth,
and blocked up the castle, which the Achaeans would not
surrender; and sending for Aratus's friends and stewards,
committed his house and estate to their care and management;
and sent Tritymallus, the Messenian, to him a second time,
desiring that the castle might be equally garrisoned by the
Spartans and Achaeans, and promising to Aratus himself double
the pension that he received from king Ptolemy. But Aratus,
refusing the conditions, and sending his own son with the
other hostages to Antigonus, and persuading the Achaeans to
make a decree for delivering the castle into Antigonus's
hands, upon this Cleomenes invaded the territory of the
Sicyonians, and by a decree of the Corinthians, accepted
Aratus's estate as a gift.

In the meantime, Antigonus, with a great army, was passing
Geranea; and Cleomenes, thinking it more advisable to fortify
and garrison, not the isthmus, but the mountains called Onea,
and by a war of posts and positions to weary the Macedonians,
rather than to venture a set battle with the highly
disciplined phalanx, put his design in execution, and very
much distressed Antigonus. For he had not brought victuals
sufficient for his army; nor was it easy to force a way
through, whilst Cleomenes guarded the pass. He attempted by
night to pass through Lechaeum, but failed, and lost some
men; so that Cleomenes and his army were mightily encouraged,
and so flushed with the victory, that they went merrily to
supper; and Antigonus was very much dejected, being driven,
by the necessity he was in, to most unpromising attempts. He
was proposing to march to the promontory of Heraeum, and
thence transport his army in boats to Sicyon, which would
take up a great deal of time, and require much preparation
and means. But when it was now evening, some of Aratus's
friends came from Argos by sea, and invited him to return,
for the Argives would revolt from Cleomenes. Aristoteles was
the man that wrought the revolt, and he had no hard task to
persuade the common people; for they were all angry with
Cleomenes for not releasing them from their debts as they
expected. Accordingly, obtaining fifteen hundred of
Antigonus's soldiers, Aratus sailed to Epidaurus; but
Aristoteles, not staying for his coming, drew out the
citizens, and fought against the garrison of the castle; and
Timoxenus, with the Achaeans from Sicyon, came to his

Cleomenes heard the news about the second watch of the night,
and sending for Megistonus, angrily commanded him to go and
set things right at Argos. Megistonus had passed his word
for the Argives' loyalty, and had persuaded him not to banish
the suspected. Therefore, dispatching him with two thousand
soldiers, he himself kept watch upon Antigonus, and
encouraged the Corinthians, pretending that there was no
great matter in the commotions at Argos, but only a little
disturbance raised by a few inconsiderable persons. But when
Megistonus, entering Argos, was slain, and the garrison could
scarce hold out, and frequent messengers came to Cleomenes
for succors, he, fearing least the enemy, having taken Argos,
should shut up the passes, and securely waste Laconia, and
besiege Sparta itself, which he had left without forces,
dislodged from Corinth, and immediately lost that city; for
Antigonus entered it, and garrisoned the town. He turned
aside from his direct march, and assaulting the walls of
Argos, endeavored to carry it by a sudden attack and then,
having collected his forces from their march, breaking into
the Aspis, he joined the garrison, which still held out
against the Achaeans; some parts of the city he scaled and
took, and his Cretan archers cleared the streets. But when
he saw Antigonus with his phalanx descending from the
mountains into the plain, and the horse on all sides entering
the city, he thought it impossible to maintain his post, and,
gathering together all his men, came safely down, and made
his retreat under the walls, having in so short a time
possessed himself of great power, and in one journey, so to
say, having made himself master of almost all Peloponnesus,
and now lost all again in as short a time. For some of his
allies at once withdrew and forsook him, and others not long
after put their cities under Antigonus's protection. His
hopes thus defeated, as he was leading back the relics of his
forces, messengers from Lacedaemon met him in the evening at
Tegea, and brought him, news of as great a misfortune as
that which he had lately suffered, and this was the death of
his wife, to whom he was so attached, and thought so much of
her, that even in his most successful expeditions, when he
was most prosperous, he could not refrain, but would ever now
and then come home to Sparta, to visit Agiatis.

This news afflicted him extremely, and he grieved, as a young
man would do, for the loss of a very beautiful and excellent
wife; yet he did not let his passion disgrace him, or impair
the greatness of his mind, but keeping his usual voice, his
countenance, and his habit, he gave necessary orders to his
captains, and took the precautions required for the safety of
Tegea. Next morning he came to Sparta, and having at home
with his mother and children bewailed the loss, and finished
his mourning, he at once devoted himself to the public
affairs of the state.

Now Ptolemy, the king of Egypt, promised him assistance, but
demanded his mother and children for hostages. This, for
some considerable time, he was ashamed to discover to his
mother; and though he often went to her on purpose, and was
just upon the discourse, yet he still refrained, and kept it
to himself; so that she began to suspect, and asked his
friends, whether Cleomenes had something to say to her, which
he was afraid to speak. At last, Cleomenes venturing to tell
her, she laughed aloud, and said, "Was this the thing that
you had so often a mind to tell me, and were afraid? Make
haste and put me on shipboard, and send this carcass where it
may be most serviceable to Sparta, before age destroys it
unprofitably here." Therefore, all things being provided for
the voyage, they went by land to Taenarus, and the army
waited on them. Cratesiclea, when she was ready to go on
board, took Cleomenes aside into Neptune's temple, and
embracing him, who was much dejected, and extremely
discomposed, she said, "Go to, king of Sparta; when we come
forth at the door, let none see us weep, or show any passion
that is unworthy of Sparta, for that alone is in our own
power; as for success or disappointment, those wait on us as
the deity decrees." Having thus said, and composed her
countenance, she went to the ship with her little grandson,
and bade the pilot put at once out to sea. When she came to
Egypt, and understood that Ptolemy entertained proposals and
overtures of peace from Antigonus, and that Cleomenes, though
the Achaeans invited and urged him to an agreement, was
afraid, for her sake, to come to any, without Ptolemy's
consent, she wrote to him, advising him to do that which was
most becoming and most profitable for Sparta, and not, for
the sake of an old woman and a little child, stand always in
fear of Ptolemy. This character she maintained in her

Antigonus, having taken Tegea, and plundered Orchomenus and
Mantinea, Cleomenes was shut up within the narrow bounds of
Laconia; and making such of the helots as could pay five
Attic pounds, free of Sparta, and, by that means, getting
together five hundred talents, and arming two thousand after
the Macedonian fashion, that he might make a body fit to
oppose Antigonus's Leucaspides he undertook a great and
unexpected enterprise. Megalopolis was at that time a city
of itself as great and as powerful as Sparta, and had the
forces of the Achaeans and of Antigonus encamping beside it;
and it was chiefly the Megalopolitans' doing, that Antigonus
had been called in to assist the Achaeans. Cleomenes,
resolving to snatch the city (no other word so well suits so
rapid and so surprising an action), ordered his men to take
five days' provision, and marched to Sellasia, as if he
intended to ravage the country of the Argives; but from
thence making a descent into the territories of Megalopolis,
and refreshing his army about Rhoeteum, he suddenly took the
road by Helicus, and advanced directly upon the city. When
he was not far off the town, he sent Panteus, with two
regiments, to surprise a portion of the wall between two
towers, which he learnt to be the most unguarded quarter of
the Megalopolitans' fortifications, and with the rest of his
forces he followed leisurely. Panteus not only succeeded at
that point, but finding a great part of the wall without
guards, he at once proceeded to pull it down in some places,
and make openings through it in others, and killed all the
defenders that he found. Whilst he was thus busied,
Cleomenes came up to him, and was got with his army within
the city, before the Megalopolitans knew of the surprise.
When, after some time, they learned their misfortune, some
left the town immediately, taking with them what property
they could; others armed, and engaged the enemy; and through
they were not able to beat them out, yet they gave their
citizens time and opportunity safely to retire, so that there
were not above one thousand persons taken in the town, all
the rest flying, with their wives and children, and escaping
to Messene. The greater number, also, of those that armed
and fought the enemy, were saved, and very few taken, amongst
whom were Lysandridas and Thearidas, two men of great power
and reputation amongst the Megalopolitans; and therefore the
soldiers, as soon as they were taken, brought them to
Cleomenes. And Lysandridas, as soon as he saw Cleomenes afar
off, cried out, "Now, king of Sparta, it is in your power, by
doing a most kingly and a nobler action than you have
already performed, to purchase the greatest glory." And
Cleomenes, guessing at his meaning, replied, "What,
Lysandridas, you will not surely advise me to restore your
city to you again?" "It is that which I mean," Lysandridas
replied, "and I advise you not to ruin so brave a city, but
to fill it with faithful and steadfast friends and allies, by
restoring their country to the Megalopolitans, and being the
savior of so considerable a people." Cleomenes paused a
while, and then said, "It is very hard to trust so far in
these matters; but with us let profit always yield to glory."
Having said this, he sent the two men to Messene with a
herald from himself, offering the Megalopolitans their city
again, if they would forsake the Achaean interest, and be on
his side. But though Cleomenes made these generous and
humane proposals, Philopoemen would not suffer them to break
their league with the Achaeans; and accusing Cleomenes to the
people, as if his design was not to restore the city, but to
take the citizens too, he forced Thearidas and Lysandridas to
leave Messene.

This was that Philopoemen who was afterward chief of the
Achaeans and a man of the greatest reputation amongst the
Greeks, as I have refuted in his own life. This news coming
to Cleomenes, though he had before taken strict care that the
city should not be plundered, yet then, being in anger, and
out of all patience, he despoiled the place of all the
valuables, and sent the statues and pictures to Sparta; and
demolishing a great part of the city, he marched away for
fear of Antigonus and the Achaeans; but they never stirred,
for they were at Aegium, at a council of war. There Aratus
mounted the speaker's place, and wept a long while, holding
his mantle before his face; and at last, the company being
amazed, and commanding him to speak, he said, "Megalopolis is
destroyed by Cleomenes." The assembly instantly dissolved,
the Achaeans being astounded at the suddenness and greatness
of the loss; and Antigonus, intending to send speedy succors,
when he found his forces gather very slowly out of their
winter-quarters, sent them orders to continue there still;
and he himself marched to Argos with a small body of men.
And now the second enterprise of Cleomenes, though it had the
look of a desperate and frantic adventure, yet in Polybius's
opinion, was done with mature deliberation and great
foresight. For knowing very well that the Macedonians were
dispersed into their winter-quarters, and that Antigonus with
his friends and a few mercenaries about him wintered in
Argos, upon these considerations he invaded the country of
the Argives, hoping to shame Antigonus to a battle upon
unequal terms, or else, if he did not dare to fight, to bring
him into disrepute with the Achaeans. And this accordingly
happened. For Cleomenes wasting, plundering, and spoiling
the whole country, the Argives, in grief and anger at the
loss, gathered in crowds at the king's gates, crying out that
he should either fight, or surrender his command to better
and braver men. But Antigonus, as became an experienced
captain, accounting it rather dishonorable foolishly to
hazard his army and quit his security, than merely to be
railed at by other people, would not march out against
Cleomenes, but stood firm to his convictions. Cleomenes, in
the meantime, brought his army up to the very walls, and
having without opposition spoiled the country, and insulted
over his enemies, drew off again.

A little while after, being informed that Antigonus designed
a new advance to Tegea, and thence to invade Laconia, he
rapidly took his soldiers, and marching by a side road,
appeared early in the morning before Argos, and wasted the
fields about it. The corn he did not cut down, as is usual,
with reaping hooks and knives, but beat it down with great
wooden staves made like broadswords, as if, in mere contempt
and wanton scorn, while traveling on his way, without any
effort or trouble, he spoiled and destroyed their harvest.
Yet when his soldiers would have set Cyllabaris, the exercise
ground, on fire, he stopped the attempt, as if he felt, that
the mischief he had done at Megalopolis had been the effects
of his passion rather than his wisdom. And when Antigonus,
first of all, came hastily back to Argos, and then occupied
the mountains and passes with his posts, he professed to
disregard and despise it all; and sent heralds to ask for the
keys of the temple of Juno, as though he proposed to offer
sacrifice there and then return. And with this scornful
pleasantry upon Antigonus, having sacrificed to the goddess
under the walls of the temple, which was shut, he went to
Phlius; and from thence driving out those that garrisoned
Oligyrtus, he marched down to Orchomenus. And these
enterprises not only encouraged the citizens, but made him
appear to the very enemies to be a man worthy of high
command, and capable of great things. For with the strength
of one city, not only to fight the power of the Macedonians
and all the Peloponnesians, supported by all the royal
treasures, not only to preserve Laconia from being spoiled,
but to waste the enemy's country, and to take so many and
such considerable cities, was an argument of no common skill
and genius for command.

But he that first said that money was the sinews of affairs,
seems especially in that saying to refer to war. Demades,
when the Athenians had voted that their galleys should be
launched and equipped for action, but could produce no money,
told them, "The baker was wanted first, and the pilot after."
And the old Archidamus, in the beginning of the Peloponnesian
war, when the allies desired that the amount of their
contributions should be determined, is reported to have
answered, that war cannot be fed upon so much a day. For as
wrestlers, who have thoroughly trained and disciplined their
bodies, in time tire down and exhaust the most agile and most
skillful combatant, so Antigonus, coming to the war with
great resources to spend from, wore out Cleomenes, whose
poverty made it difficult for him to provide the merest
sufficiency of pay for the mercenaries, or of provisions for
the citizens. For, in all other respects, time favored
Cleomenes; for Antigonus's affairs at home began to be
disturbed. For the barbarians wasted and overran Macedonia
whilst he was absent, and at that particular time a vast army
of Illyrians had entered the country; to be freed from whose
devastations, the Macedonians sent for Antigonus, and the
letters had almost been brought to him before the battle was
fought; upon the receipt of which he would at once have
marched away home, and left the Achaeans to look to
themselves. But Fortune, that loves to determine the
greatest affairs by a minute, in this conjuncture showed such
an exact niceness of time, that immediately after the battle
in Sellasia was over, and Cleomenes had lost his army and his
city, the messengers came up and called for Antigonus. And

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