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Plutarch: Life of Cleomenes

Chapters 1 - 22

Translated by John & William Langhorne (1770). A few words and spellings have been changed.
The chapter numbers are shown in red.

Cleomenes lived from about 260 to 219 B.C. He was king of Sparta from 235 to 222 B.C.


[1] After Agis was put to death, Leonidas intended the same fate for his brother Archidamus; but that prince saved himself by a timely retreat. However, his wife Agiatis, who was newly brought to bed, was forced by the tyrant from her own home, and given to his son Cleomenes. Cleomenes was not quite come to years of maturity, but his father was not willing that any other man should have the lady; 2 for she was daughter to Gylippus, and heiress to his great estate; and in beauty, as well as happiness of temper and conduct, superior to all the women of Greece. 3 She left nothing unattempted to prevent her being forced into this match, but found all her efforts ineffectual. Therefore, when she was married to Cleomenes, she made him a good and affectionate wife, though she hated his father. Cleomenes was passionately fond of her from the first, and his attachment to his wife made him sympathise with her in the mournful remembrance of Agis. He would often ask her for the history of that unfortunate prince, and listen with great attention to her account of his sentiments and designs.

4 Cleomenes was ambitious of glory, and had a native greatness of mind. Nature had, moreover, disposed him to temperance and simplicity of manners as much as Agis, but he had not his calmness and moderation. His spirit had an ardour in it; and there was an impetuosity in his pursuit of honour, or whatever appeared to him under that character. 2 He thought it was most glorious to reign over a willing people; but, at the same time, he thought it not inglorious to overcome their reluctance, and bring them against their inclinations into what was good and salutary.

[2] He was not satisfied with the prevailing manners and customs of Sparta. He saw that ease and pleasure were the chief aims of the people; that the king paid but little regard to public concerns, and, if nobody gave him any disturbance, chose to spend his time in the enjoyments of affluence and luxury ; that individuals, entirely actuated by self-interest, paid no attention to the business of the state any farther than they could turn it to their own advantage. And what rendered the prospect still more melancholy, it appeared dangerous to make any mention of training the youth to strong exercises and strict temperance, to persevering fortitude and universal equality, since the proposing of these things cost Agis his life.

2 It is said too, that Cleomenes was instructed in philosophy, at a very early period of life, by Sphaerus of Borysthenes, who came to Lacedaemon, and taught the youth with great diligence and success. 3 Sphaerus was one of the principal disciples of Zenon of Citium; and it seems that he admired that strength of genius he found in Cleomenes, and added fresh incentives to his love of glory. 4 We are informed that, when Leonidas of old was asked, " What he thought of the poetry of Tyrtaeus?" he said, " I think it well calculated to excite the courage of our youth; 5 for the enthusiasm with which it inspires them makes them fear no danger in battle." 6 So the Stoic philosophy may put persons of great and fiery spirits upon enterprises that are too desperate; but, in those of a grave and mild disposition, it will produce all the good effects for which it was designed.

[3] When Leonidas died, and Cleomenes came to the crown, he observed that all ranks of men were utterly corrupted. The rich had an eye only to private profit and pleasure, and utterly neglected the public interest. The common people, on account of the meanness of their circumstances, had no spirit for war, or ambition to instruct their children in the Spartan exercises. Cleomenes himself had only the name of king, while the power was in the hands of the Ephors. 2 He, therefore, soon began to think of changing the present state of affairs. He had a friend called Xenares, united to him by such an affection as the Spartans called inspiration. Him he first sounded; inquiring of him what kind of prince Agis was ; by what steps, and with what associates, he came into the way he took. 3 Xenares at first consented readily enough to satisfy his curiosity, and gave him an exact narrative of the proceedings. 4 But when he found that Cleomenes interested himself deeply in the affair, and took such an enthusiastic pleasure in the new schemes of Agis, as to desire to hear them again and again, he reproved his immoderate inclinations, and at last entirely left his company. However, he did not acquaint anyone with the cause of their misunderstanding; but only said, " Cleomenes knew very well." 5 As Xenares so strongly opposed the king's project, he thought others must be as little disposed to come into it; and therefore he concerted the whole matter by himself. 6 In the persuasion that he could more easily effect his intended change in time of war than of peace, he embroiled his country with the Achaeans, who had indeed given sufficient occasion of complaint : 7 for Aratus, who was the leading man among them, had laid it down as a principle, from the beginning of his administration, to reduce all Peloponnesus to one body. This was the end he had in view in his numerous expeditions, and in all the proceedings of government, during the many years he held the reins in Achaea. And, indeed, he was of opinion, that this was the only way to secure Peloponnesus against its enemies without. 8 He had succeeded with most of the states of that peninsula; the Lacedaemonians and Eleans, and such of the Arcadians as were in the Lacedaemonian interest, were all that stood out. Upon the death of Leonidas, he commenced hostilities against the Arcadians, particularly those who bordered upon the Achaeans ; by this means designing to try how the Lacedaemonians stood inclined. As for Cleomenes, he despised him as a young man without experience.

[4] The Ephors, however, sent Cleomenes to seize Athenaeum near Belbina. This place is one of the keys of Laconia, and was then in dispute between the Spartans and Megalopolitans. 2 Cleomenes accordingly took it and fortified it. Aratus made no remonstrance, but marched by night to surprise Tegea and Orchomenus. 3 However, the persons who had promised to betray those places to him found their hearts fail them when they came to the point; and he retired, undiscovered as he thought. Upon this, Cleomenes wrote to him, in a familiar way, desiring to know, "Whether he marched the night before." 4 Aratus answered, " That, understanding his design to fortify Belbina, the intent of his last motion was to prevent that measure." Cleomenes humorously replied, " I am satisfied with the account of your march; but should be glad to know where those torches and ladders were marching." 5 Aratus could not help laughing at the jest; and he asked what kind of man this young prince was ? Democrates, a Lacedaemonian exile, answered," If you design doing anything against the Spartans, you must do it quickly, before the spurs of this cockerel be grown."

6 Cleomenes, with a few horse and 3000 foot, was now posted in Arcadia. The Ephors, apprehensive of a war, commanded him home; and he obeyed. 7 But finding that, in consequence of this retreat, Aratus had taken Caphyae, they ordered him to take the field again. 8 Cleomenes made himself master of Methydrium, and ravaged the territories of Argos. Whereupon the Achaeans marched against him with 20,000 foot and 1000 horse, under the command of Aristomachus. 9 Cleomenes met him at Pallantium, and offered him battle. But Aratus, intimidated by this instance of the young prince's spirit, dissuaded the general from engaging, and retreated. This retreat exposed Aratus to reproach among the Achaeans, and to scorn and contempt among the Spartans, whose army consisted not of more than 5000 men. 10 Cleomenes, elevated with his success, began to talk in a higher tone among the people, and bade them remember an expression of one of their ancient kings, who said, " The Lacedaemonians seldom inquired the number of their enemies, but the place where they could be found."

[5] After this, he went to the assistance of the Eleans, against whom the Achaeans had now turned their arms. He attacked the latter at Lycaeum, as they were in retreat, and put them entirely to the rout; not only spreading terror through their whole army, but killing great numbers, and making many prisoners. It was even reported among the Greeks, that Aratus was of the number of the slain. Aratus, availing himself in the best manner of the opportunity, with the troops that attended him in his flight, marched immediately to Mantineia, and coming upon it by surprise, took it, and secured it for the Achaeans.

2 The Lacedaemonians, greatly dispirited at this loss, opposed Cleomenes in his inclination for the war. He therefore bethought himself of calling Archidamus, the brother of Agis, from Messene, to whom, in the other family, the crown belonged; for he imagined that the power of the Ephors would not be so formidable when the kingly government, according to the Spartan constitution, was complete, and had its proper weight in the scale. 3 The party that had put Agis to death perceiving this, and dreading vengeance from Archidamus, if he should be established on the throne, took this method to prevent it. They joined in inviting him to come privately to Sparta, and even assisted him in his return ; but they assassinated him immediately after. Whether it was against the consent of Cleomenes, as Phylarchus thinks, or whether his friends persuaded him to abandon that unhappy prince, we cannot take upon us to say. 4 The greatest part of the blame, however, fell upon those friends who, if he gave his consent, were supposed to have pressed him into it.

[6] By this time he was resolved to carry his intended changes into immediate execution, and therefore he bribed the Ephors to permit him to renew the war. 2 He gained also many others by the assistance of his mother Cratesicleia, who liberally supplied him with money, and joined in his schemes of glory. Nay, it is said, that, though disinclined to marry again, for her son's sake she accepted a man who had great interest and authority among the people.

3 One of his first operations was, the going to seize Leuctra, which is a place within the territory of Megalopolis. The Achaeans hastened to its relief, under the command of Aratus ; and a battle was fought under the walls, in which part of the Lacedaemonian army was beaten. 4 But Aratus stopping the pursuit at a defile which was in the way, Lydiades, the Megalopolitan, offended at the order, encouraged the cavalry under his command to pursue the advantage they had gained; by which means he entangled them among vineyards, ditches, and other enclosures, where they were forced to break their ranks, and fell into great disorder. Cleomenes, seeing his opportunity, commanded the Tarentines and Cretans to fall upon them; and Lydiades, after great exertions of valour, was defeated and slain. 5 The Lacedaemonians, thus encouraged, returned to the action with shouts of joy, and routed the whole Achaean army. After a considerable carnage, a truce was granted the survivors, and they were permitted to bury their dead; 6 but Cleomenes ordered the body of Lydiades to be brought to him. He clothed it in robes of purple, and put a crown upon its head; and, in this attire, he sent it to the gates of Megalopolis. 7 This was that Lydiades who restored liberty to the city in which he was tyrant, and united it to the Achaean league.

[7] Cleomenes, greatly elated with this victory, thought, if matters were once entirely at his disposal in Sparta, the Achaeans would no longer be able to stand before him. For this reason he endeavoured to convince his father-in-law, Megistonus, that the yoke of the Ephors ought to be broken, and an equal division of property to be made ; by means of which equality, Sparta would resume her ancient valour , and once more rise to the empire of Greece. 2 Megistonus complied, and the king then took two or three other friends into the scheme.

3 About that time, one of the Ephors had a surprising dream, as he slept in the temple of Pasiphae. He thought that, in the court where the Ephors used to sit for the dispatch of business, four chairs were taken away, and only one left. And as he was wondering at the change, he heard a voice from the sanctuary, which said " This is best for Sparta." 4 The magistrate related this vision of his to Cleomenes, who at first was greatly disconcerted, thinking that some suspicion had led him to sound his intentions. But when he found that there was no fiction in the case he was the more confirmed in his purpose; 5 and taking with him such of the citizens as he thought most likely to oppose it, he marched against Heraea and Alsaea, two cities belonging to the Achaean league, and took them. After this, he laid in a store of provisions at Orchomenus, and then besieged Mantineia. At last he so harassed the Lacedaemonians by a variety of long marches, that most of them desired to be left in Arcadia ; and he returned to Sparta with the mercenaries only. 6 On the way he communicated his design to such of them as he believed most attached to his interest, and advanced slowly, that he might come upon the Ephors as they were at supper.

[8] When he approached the town, he sent Eurycleidas before him to the hall where those magistrates used to dine, upon pretence of his being charged with some message relative to the army. He was accompanied by Therycion and Phoebis, and two other young men who had been educated with Cleomenes, and whom the Spartans call Samothracians. These were at the head of a small party. 2 While Eurycleidas was holding the Ephors in discourse, the others ran upon them with their drawn swords. They were all slain but Agylaeus, 3 and he was then thought to have shared the same fate ; for he was the first man that fell ; but in a little time he conveyed himself silently out of the room, and crept into a little building, which was the temple of Fear. The temple was generally shut up, but then happened to be open. When he was got in, he immediately barred the door. 4 The other four were dispatched outright; and so were above ten more who came to their assistance. Those who remained quiet received no harm ; nor were any hindered from departing the city. Indeed, Agylaeus himself was spared, when he came the next day out of the temple.

[9] The Lacedaemonians have not only temples dedicated to Fear, but also to Death, to Laughter, and many of the passions. 2 Nor do they pay homage to Fear, as one of the noxious and destroying demons, but they consider it as the best cement of society. 3 Hence it was that the Ephors (as Aristotle tells us), when they entered upon their office, caused proclamation to be made, that the people should shave the upper lip, and be obedient to the laws, that they might not be under the necessity of having recourse to severity. As for the shaving of the upper lip, in my opinion, all the design of that injunction is, to teach the youth obedience in the smallest matters. 4 And it seems to me, that the ancients did not think that valour consists in the exemption from fear; but on the contrary, in the fear of reproach, and the dread of infamy; 5 for those who stand most in fear of the law act with the greatest intrepidity against the enemy; and they who are most anxious for their reputation look with the least concern upon other dangers. 6 Therefore one of the poets said well,
Ingenuous shame resides with fear.
Hence Homer makes Helen say to her father-in-law, Priamus:
Before thy presence, father, I appear,
With conscious shame and reverential fear.

And, in another place, he says, the Greek troops
With fear and silence on their chiefs attend.
7 For reverence, in vulgar minds, is generally the concomitant of fear. And, therefore, the Lacedaemonians placed the temple of Fear near the hall where the Ephors used to eat, to show that their authority was nearly equal to the regal.

[10] Next day Cleomenes proscribed 80 of the citizens, whom he thought it necessary to expel; and he removed all the seats of the Ephors except one, in which he designed to sit himself, to hear causes and dispatch other business. 2 Then he assembled the people, in order to explain and defend what he had done. His speech was to this effect :- "The administration was put by Lycurgus into the hands of the kings and the senate, and Sparta was governed by them a long time, without any occasion for other magistrates. 3 But as the Messenian war was drawn out to a great length, and the kings, having the armies to command, had not leisure to attend to the decision of causes at home, they chose some of their friends to be left as their deputies for that purpose under the title of Ephors, or inspectors. 4 At first they behaved as substitutes and as servants to the kings; but, by little and little, they got the power into their own hands, and insensibly erected their office into an independent magistracy. 5 A proof of this is a custom which has obtained till this time, that when the Ephors sent for the king, he refused to hearken to the first and second message, and did not attend them till they sent a third. Asteropus was the first of the Ephors who raised their office to that height of authority many ages after their creation. 6 While they kept within the bounds of moderation, it was better to endure than to remove them; but when, by their usurpations, they destroyed the ancient form of government ; when they deposed some kings, put others to death without any form of trial, and threatened those princes who desired to see the divine constitution of their country in its original lustre, they became absolutely insupportable. 7 Had it been possible, without the shedding of blood, to have exterminated those pests which they had introduced into Lacedaemon, such as luxury, superfluous expense, debts, usury, and those more ancient evils, poverty and riches, I should then have thought myself the happiest of kings. In curing the ills of my country, I should have been considered as the physician whose lenient hand heals without giving pain. 8 But for what necessity has obliged me to do I have the authority of Lycurgus, who, though neither king nor magistrate, but only a private. man, took upon him to act as a king, and appeared publicly in arms. The consequence of which was, that Charilaus, the reigning prince, in great consternation, fled to the altar. 9 But being a mild and patriotic king, he soon entered into the designs of Lycurgus, and accepted his new form of government. Therefore the proceedings of Lycurgus are an evidence that it is next to impossible to remodel a constitution without the terror of an armed force. 10 For my own part, I have applied that remedy with great moderation ; only ridding myself of such as opposed the true interest of Lacedaemon. 11 Among the rest, I shall make a distribution of all the lands, and clear the people of their debts. Among the strangers I shall select some of the best and ablest, that they may be admitted citizens of Sparta, and protect her with their arms; and that we may no longer see Laconia a prey to the Aetolians and Illyrians for want of a sufficient number of inhabitants concerned for its defence."

[11] When he had finished his speech, he was the first to surrender his own estate into the public stock. His father-in-law Megistonus, and his other friends, followed his example, The rest of the citizens did the same, and then the land was divided. 2 He even assigned lots for each of the persons whom he had driven into exile, and declared that they should all be recalled when tranquillity had once more taken place. 3 Having filled up the number of citizens out of the best of the inhabitants of the neighbouring countries, he raised a body of 4000 foot, whom he taught to use the two-handed pike, instead of the javelin, and to hold their shields by a handle, and not by a ring as before. Then he applied himself to the education of the youth, and formed them with all the strictness of the Lacedaemonian discipline ; 4 in the course of which he was much assisted by Sphaerus. Their schools of exercise and their refectories were soon brought into that good order which they had of old, some being reduced to it by compulsion, but the greatest part coming voluntarily into that noble training peculiar to Sparta. 5 However, to prevent any offence that might be taken at the name of monarchy, he made his brother Eucleidas his partner in the throne; and this was the only time that the Spartans had two kings of the same family,

[12] He observed that the Achaeans, Aratus, and the principal men among them, were persuaded that the late change had brought the Spartan affairs into a doubtful and unsettled state ; and that he would not quit the city while it was in such a ferment. He therefore thought it would be both to its honour and utility to show the enemy how readily his troops would obey him ; 2 in consequence of which he entered the Megalopolitan territories, where he spread desolation, and made a very considerable booty. 3 In one of his last marches he seized a company of actors who were on the road from Messene ; upon which he built a stage in the enemy's country, proposed a prize of 40 minae to the best performer, and spent one day in seeing them. Not that he set any great value on such diversions, but he did it by way of insult upon the enemy, to show his superiority by this mark of contempt ; 4 for among the Greek and royal armies, his was the only one which had not a train of players, jugglers, singers, and dancers, of both sexes. No intemperance or buffoonery, no public shows or feasts, except on the late occasion, were ever seen in his camp. The young men passed the greatest part of their time in the exercises, and the old men in teaching them. The hours of leisure were amused with cheerful discourse, which had all the smartness of Laconic repartee. 5 The benefits of this type of training are described in the life of Lycurgus.

[13] The king himself was the best teacher. Plain and simple in his retinue and diet, assuming no manner of pomp above a common citizen, he set a glorious example of sobriety. This was no small advantage to his affairs in Greece. 2 When the Greeks addressed themselves to other kings, they did not so much admire their wealth and magnificence, as execrate their pride and spirit of ostentation, their difficulty of access, and harshness of behaviour to all who had business at their courts. 3 But when they applied to Cleomenes, who not only bore the title, but had all the great qualities of a king, they saw no purple or robes of state, no rich carriages, no gauntlet of pages nor door-keepers to be run. Nor had they their answer, after great difficulties, from the mouth of secretaries: but they found him in an ordinary habit, ready to meet them and offer them his hand. He received them with a cheerful countenance, and entered into their business with the utmost ease and freedom. This engaging manner gained their hearts, and they declared he was the only worthy descendant of Heracles.

4 His common supper was short and truly Laconic. There were only couches for three people; but when he entertained ambassadors or strangers, two more couches were added, and the table was a little better furnished by the servants. Not that any curious dessert was added; only the dishes were larger, and the wine more generous ; 5 for he blamed one of his friends for setting nothing before strangers but the coarse cake and black broth which they ate in their common refectories. " When we have strangers to entertain," he said, " we need not be such very exact Lacedaemonians." 6 After supper a three-legged stand was brought in, upon which were placed a brass bowl full of wine, two silver pots that held about a pint and a half a-piece, and a few cups of the same metal. Such of the guests as were inclined to drink made use of these vessels, for the cup was not pressed upon any man against his will. 7 There was no music or other extraneous amusement ; nor was any such thing wanted. He entertained his company very agreeably with his own conversation ; sometimes asking questions, and sometimes telling stories. His serious discourse was perfectly free from moroseness, and his mirth from petulance and rudeness. 8 The arts which other princes used of drawing men to their purpose by bribery and corruption he looked upon as both iniquitous and impolitic. 9 But to engage and fix people in his interest by the charms of conversation, without fraud or guile, appeared to him an honourable method, and worthy of a king. For he thought this the true difference between a hireling and a friend - that the one is gained by money, and the other by an obliging behaviour.

[14] The Mantineians were the first who applied for his assistance. They admitted him into their city in the night, and having with his help expelled the Achaean garrison, put themselves under his protection. He re-established their laws and ancient form of government, and retired the same day to Tegea. 2 From thence he went round through Arcadia, and marched down to Pharae in Achaea; intending by this movement either to bring the Achaeans to a battle, or make them look upon Aratus in a mean light, for giving up the country, as it were, to his destroying sword.

3 Hyperbatas was indeed general at that time, but Aratus had all the authority. 4 The Achaeans assembled all their forces, and encamped in the territory of Dymae, near Hecatombaeum, upon which Cleomenes marched up to them, though it was thought a rash step for him to take post between Dymae, which belonged to the enemy, and the Achaean camp. 5 However, he boldly challenged the Achaeans, and indeed forced them to battle, in which he entirely defeated them, killed great numbers upon the spot, and took many prisoners. Langon was his next object, from which he expelled an Achaean garrison, and then put the town into the hands of the Eleans.

[15] When the Achaean affairs were in this ruinous state, Aratus, who used to be general every other year, refused the command, though they pressed him strongly to accept it. But certainly it was wrong, when such a storm was raging, to quit the helm, and leave the direction to another. 2 The first demands of Cleomenes appeared to the Achaean deputies moderate enough; afterwards he insisted on having the command himself. In other matters; he said, he should not differ with them, for he would restore them both the prisoners and their lands. 3 The Achaeans agreed to a truce on these conditions, and invited Cleomenes to Lerna, where a general assembly of their state was to be held. But Cleomenes hastening his march too much, heated himself, and then very imprudently drank cold water; the consequence of which was, that he threw up a great quantity of blood, and lost the use of his speech. 4 He therefore sent the Achaeans the most respectable of the prisoners, and, putting off the meeting, retired to Lacedaemon.

[16] This ruined the affairs of Greece. Had it not been for this, she might have recovered out of her present distress, and have maintained herself against the insolence and rapacity of the Macedonians. 2 Aratus either feared or distrusted Cleomenes, or envied his unexpected success. He thought it intolerable that a young man, newly sprung up, should rob him at once of the honour and power which he had been in possession of for 33 years, and come into a government which had been growing so long under his auspices. For this reason, he first tried what his interest and powers of persuasion would do to keep the Achaeans from closing with Cleomenes ; 3 but they were prevented from attending to him by their admiration of the great spirit of Cleomenes, and their opinion that the demands of the Spartans were not unreasonable, who only desired to bring Peloponnesus back to its ancient model. Aratus then undertook a thing which would not have become any man in Greece, but in him was particularly dishonourable, and unworthy of all his former conduct, both in diplomacy and in warfare. He called Antigonus into Greece and filled Peloponnesus with Macedonians, 4 though in his youth he had expelled them, and rescued the citadel of Corinth out of their hands. He was even an enemy to all kings, and was equally hated by them. Antigonus in particular, he loaded with a thousand reproaches, as appears from the writings he has left behind him. 5 He boasts that he had encountered and overcome innumerable difficulties in order to deliver Athens from a Macedonian garrison; and yet he brought those very Macedonians, armed as they were, into his own country, into his own house, and even into the women's apartment. 6 At the same time he could not bear that a Spartan king, a descendant of Heracles, who wanted only to restore the ancient constitution of his country, to correct its broken harmony, and bring it back to the sober Doric tone which Lycurgus had given it - he could not bear that such a prince should be declared general of the Sicyonians and Tritaeans. 7 While he avoided the coarse cake and short cloak, and, what he thought the greatest grievance in the whole system of Cleomenes, the abolishing of riches and the making poverty a more supportable thing, he made Achaea truckle to the diadem and purple of Macedonians and of Asiatic grandees. To shun the appearance of submission to Cleomenes, he offered sacrifices to the divinity of Antigonus, and with a garland on his head, sung paeans in honour of a rotten Macedonian. 8 These things we say not in accusation of Aratus (for in many respects he was a great man and worthy of Greece), we mean only to point out with compassion the weakness of human nature, which, in dispositions the best formed to virtue, can produce no excellence without some taint of imperfection.

[17] When the Achaeans assembled again at Argos, and Cleomenes came down from Tegea to meet them, the Greeks entertained great hopes of peace. 2 But Aratus, who had already settled the principal points with Antigonus, fearing that Cleomenes, either by his obliging manner of treating, or by force, would gain all he wanted of the people, proposed," That he should take 300 hostages for the security of his person, and enter the town alone; or if he did not approve of that proposal, should come to the place of exercise without the walls, called Cyllarabium, and treat there at the head of his army." 3 Cleomenes remonstrated that these proceedings were very unjust. He said, " They should have made him these proposals at first, and not now, when he was come to their gates, distrust and shut him out." 4 He therefore wrote the Achaeans a letter on this subject, almost filled with complaints of Aratus; and the applications of Aratus to the people were little more than invectives against the king of Sparta. The consequence of this was, that the latter quickly retired, and sent a herald to declare war against the Achaeans. This herald, according to Aratus, was sent, not to Argos, but to Aegium; in order that the Achaeans might be entirely unprepared. 5 There were at this time great commotions among the members of the Achaean league, and many towns were ready to fall off; for the common people hoped for an equal distribution of lands, and to have their debts cancelled, while the better sort in general were displeased at Aratus, and some of them highly provoked at his bringing the Macedonians into Peloponnesus.

6 Encouraged by these misunderstandings, Cleomenes entered Achaea, where he first took Pellene by surprise, and dislodged the Achaean garrison. Afterwards he made himself master of Pheneus and Penteleium. 7 As the Achaeans were apprehensive of a revolt at Corinth and Sicyon, they sent a body of cavalry and some mercenaries from Argos to guard against any measures tending that way, and went themselves to celebrate the Nemean games at Argos. Upon this, Cleomenes hoping, what really proved the case, that if he could come suddenly upon the city while it was filled with multitudes assembled to partake of the diversions, he should throw all into the greatest confusion, marched up to the walls by night, 8 and seized the quarter called Aspis, which lay above the theatre, notwithstanding its difficulty of access. This struck them with such terror that not a man thought of making any resistance; they agreed to receive a garrison, and gave twenty of the citizens as hostages for their acting as allies to Sparta, and following the standard of Cleomenes as their general.

[18] This action added greatly to the fame and authority of that prince; for the ancient kings of Sparta, with all their endeavours, could never fix Argos in their interest; and Pyrrhus, one of the ablest generals in the world, though he forced his way into the town, could not hold it, but lost his life in the attempt, and a great part of his army was cut in pieces. 2 Hence the dispatch and keenness of Cleomenes were the more admired, and they who before had laughed at him for declaring he would tread in the steps of Solon and Lycurgus, in the cancelling of debts, and in an equal division of property, were now fully persuaded that he was the sole cause of all the change in the spirit and success of the Spartans. 3 In both respects they were so contemptible before and so little able to help themselves, that the Aetolians made an inroad into Laconia, and carried off 50,000 slaves. On which occasion, one of the old Spartans said " the enemy had done them a kindness, in taking such a heavy charge off their hands." 4 Yet they had no sooner returned to their primitive customs and discipline, than, as if Lycurgus himself had restored his polity, and invigorated it with his presence, they had given the most extraordinary instances of valour and obedience to their magistrate, in raising Sparta to its ancient superiority in Greece, and recovering Peloponnesus.

[19] Cleonae and Phlius came in the same tide of success with Argos. Aratus was then making an inquisition at Corinth into the conduct of such as were reported to be in the Lacedaemonian interest. 2 But when the news of their late losses reached him, and he found that the city was falling off to Cleomenes, and wanted to get rid of the Achaeans, he was not a little alarmed. In this confusion he could think of no better expedient than that of calling the citizens to council, and, in the meantime, he stole away to the gate. 3 A horse being ready for him there, he mounted and fled to Sicyon. 4 The Corinthians were in such haste to pay their compliments to Cleomenes, that, Aratus tells us, they killed or spoiled all their horses. He acquaints us also, that Cleomenes highly blamed the people of Corinth for suffering him to escape. 5 Nevertheless, he adds that Megistonus came to him on the part of that prince, and offered to give him large sums if he would deliver up the citadel of Corinth, where he had an Achaean garrison. He answered, " That affairs did not then depend upon him, but he must be governed by their circumstances." So Aratus himself writes.

6 Cleomenes, in his march from Argos, added the Troezenians, the Epidaurians, and Hermionians to the number of his friends and allies, and then went to Corinth, 7 and drew a line of circumvallation about the citadel, which the Achaeans refused to surrender. However, he sent for the friends and stewards of Aratus, and ordered them to take care of his house and effects in that city. 8 He likewise sent again to that general by Tritymallus the Messenian, and proposed that the citadel should be garrisoned, half with Achaeans and half with Lacedaemonians, offering, at the same time, to double the pension he had from Ptolemaeus, king of Egypt. 9 As Aratus, instead of accepting these conditions, sent his son and other hostages to Antigonus, and persuaded the Achaeans to give orders that the citadel of Corinth should be put into the hands of that prince, Cleomenes immediately ravaged the territories of Sicyon, and in pursuance of a decree of the Corinthians, seized on the whole estate of Aratus. [20] After Antigonus had passed Geraneia with a great army, Cleomenes thought it more advisable to fortify the Onaean mountains than the Isthmus, and by the advantage of his post to tire out the Macedonians, rather than hazard a pitched battle with a veteran phalanx. 2 Antigonus was greatly perplexed at this plan of operations. For he had neither laid in a sufficient quantity of provisions, nor could he easily force the pass by which Cleomenes had sat down. 3 He attempted one night, indeed, to get into Peloponnesus by the port of Lechaeum, but was repulsed with loss.

Cleomenes was much encouraged with this success, and his troops went to their evening's refreshments with pleasure. Antigonus, on the other hand, was extremely dispirited; for he saw himself in so troublesome a situation that it was scarcely possible to find any resources which were not extremely difficult. 4 At last he determined to move to the promontory of Heraeum, and from thence to transport his troops to Sicyon ; but that required a great deal of time and very considerable preparations. 5 However, the evening after, some of the friends of Aratus arrived from Argos by sea, being sent to acquaint him that the Argives were revolting from Cleomenes, and purposed to invite him to that city. 6 Aristoteles was the author of the defection, and he had found no great difficulty in persuading the people into it, because Cleomenes had not cancelled their debts, as he had given them room to hope. 7 Upon this Aratus, with 1500 men whom he had from Antigonus, sailed to Epidaurus. 8 But Aristoteles, not waiting for him, assembled the townsmen, and with the assistance of Timoxenus and a party of Achaeans from Sicyon attacked the citadel.

[21] Cleomenes getting intelligence of this about the second watch of the night, sent for Megistonus, and, in an angry tone, ordered him to the relief of Argos, for it was he who had principally undertaken for the obedience of the Argives, and by that means prevented the expulsion of such as were suspected. 2 Having despatched Megistonus upon this business, the Spartan prince watched the motions of Antigonus, and endeavoured to dispel the fears of the Corinthians, assuring them it was no great thing that had happened at Argos, but only an inconsiderable tumult. 3 Megistonus got into Argos, and was slain in a skirmish there; the garrison was hard pressed, and messenger after messenger sent to Cleomenes. Upon this he was afraid that the enemy, after they had made themselves masters of Argos, would block up the passages against him, and then go and ravage Laconia at their pleasure, and besiege Sparta itself, which was left without defence. He therefore decamped from Corinth, 4 the consequence of which was the loss of that town; for Antigonus immediately entered it, and placed a garrison there. 5 In the meantime, Cleomenes, having collected his forces, which were scattered in their march, attempted to scale the walls of Argos ; but failing in that enterprise, he broke open the vaults under the quarter called Aspis, gained an entrance that way, and joined his garrison, which still held out against the Achaeans. After this he took some other quarters of the city by assault, and ordering the Cretan archers to ply their bows, cleared the streets of the enemy. 6 But when he saw Antigonus descending with his infantry from the heights into the plain, and his cavalry already pouring into the city, he thought it impossible to maintain his post. 7 He had now no other resource but to collect all his men, and retire along the walls, which he accordingly did without loss. Thus, after achieving the greatest things in a short space of time, and making himself master of almost all Peloponnesus in one campaign, he lost all in less time than he gained it; 8 some cities immediately withdrawing from his alliance, and others surrendering themselves not long after to Antigonus.

[22] Such was the ill success of this expedition. And what was no less a misfortune, as he was marching home, messengers from Lacedaemon met him in the evening near Tegea, and informed him of the death of his wife. His affection and esteem for Agiatis was so great that amidst the current of his happiest success, he could not stay from her a whole campaign, but often repaired to Sparta. 2 No wonder, then, that a young man, deprived of so beautiful and virtuous a wife, was extremely affected with her loss. Yet his sorrow did not debase the dignity of his mind. He spoke in the same accent; he preserved the same dress and look; he gave his orders to his officers, and provided for the security of Tegea.

3 Next morning he entered Lacedaemon; and after paying a proper tribute to grief at home with his mother and his children, he applied himself to the concerns of state. 4 Ptolemaeus, king of Egypt, agreed to furnish him with aid, but it was on condition that he sent him his mother and children as hostages. This circumstance he knew not how to communicate to his mother; and he often attempted to mention it to her, but could not go forward. She began to suspect that there was something which he was afraid to open to her, and she asked his friends what it might be. 5 At last he ventured to tell her; upon which she laughed very pleasantly, and said, "Was this the thing which you have so long hesitated to express ? Why do not you immediately put us on board a ship, and send this carcase of mine where you think it maybe of most use to Sparta, before age renders it good for nothing, and sinks it into the grave ?"

6 When everything was prepared for the voyage, they went by land to Taenarus, the army conducting them to that port. Cratesicleia being on the point of taking ship, took Cleomenes alone into the temple of Poseidon, where, seeing him in great emotion and concern, she threw her arms about him, 7 and said, " King of the Lacedaemonians, take care that, when we go out, no one perceive us weeping, or doing anything unworthy of Sparta. This alone is in our power; the event is in the hands of God." 8 After she had given him this advice, and composed her countenance, she went on board, with her little grandson in her arms, and ordered the pilot to put to sea as soon as possible.

9 Upon her arrival in Egypt, she understood that Ptolemaeus had received ambassadors from Antigonus, and seemed to listen to his proposals; and, on the other hand, she was informed that Cleomenes, though invited by the Achaeans to a truce, was afraid, on her account, to put an end to the war without Ptolemaeus' consent. In this difficulty she wrote to her son, to desire him " to do what he thought most advantageous and honourable for Sparta, and not, for the sake of an old woman and a child, to live always in fear of Ptolemaeus." 10 So great was the behaviour of Cratesicleia under adverse fortune.

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