The Ancient Library

Scanned text contains errors.



of life he was not inferior to Agis, but superior to him in energy, and less scrupulous about the means by which his good designs might be accom­plished. His mind was further stirred up to manliness and ambition by the instructions of the Stoic philosopher Sphaerus of Borysthenes, who visited Sparta. To this was added the influence of his mother Cratesicleia. It was not long, there­fore, before Cleomenes had formed the design of restoring the ancient Spartan discipline, and the death of his father, whom he succeeded (b. c. 236), put him in a position to attempt his projected re­form ; but he saw that careful preparations must first be made, and that Sparta was not to be re­stored by the means which Agis had employed. Instead of repeating the vain attempt of Agis to form a popular party against the Ephors, the im­possibility of which was proved by the refusal of Xenares, one of his most intimate friends, to aid his efforts, he perceived that the regeneration of Sparta must be achieved by restoring to her her old renown in war, and by raising her to the supremacy of Greece ; and then that, the restored strength of the state being centred in him as its leader, he might safely attempt to crash the power of the Ephors. It was thus manifest that his policy must be war, his enemy the Achaean league. Lydiadas, the former tyrant of Megalopolis, fore­saw the danger which the league might apprehend from Cleomenes ; but the counsels of Aratus, who was blind to this danger, prevailed; and the pro­posal of Lydiadas, to make the first attack on Sparta, was rejected.

The first movement of Cleomenes was to seize suddenly and by treachery the Arcadian cities, Tegea, Mantineia, and Orchomenus, which had recently united themselves with the Aetolians, who, instead of resenting the injury, confirmed Cleomenes in the possession of them. The reason of this was, that the Aetolians had already con­ceived the project of forming an alliance with Macedonia and Sparta against the Achaean league. It is probable that they even connived at the seizure of these towns by Cleomenes, who thus secured an excellent position for his operations against the league before commencing war with it. Aratus, who was now strategos, at last perceived the danger which threatened from Sparta, and, with the other chiefs of the Achaean league, he re­solved ?not to attack the Lacedaemonians, but to resist any aggression they might make. About the beginning of the year 227 b. c., Cleomenes, by the order of the Ephors, seized the little town of Belbina, and fortified the temple of Athena near it. This place commanded the mountain pass on the high road between Sparta and Megalopolis, and was at that period claimed by both cities, though anciently it had belonged to Sparta. Aratus made no complaint at its seizure, but attempted to get possession of Tegea and Orchomenus by treachery. But, when he marched out in the night to take possession of them, the conspirators, who were to deliver up the towns, lost courage. The attempt was made known to Cleomenes, who wrote in ironical terms of friendship to ask Aratus whither he had led his army in the night ? " To prevent your fortifying Belbina," was the reply. " Pray then, if you have no objection," retorted Cleomenes, " tell us why you took with you lights and scaling ladders." By this correspondence Aratus found out with whom he had to do. The


Spartans, on the other hand, were satisfied witli the important advantage which they had gained in the fortification of Belbina ; and Cleomenes, who was in Arcadia with only three hundred foot and a few horse, was recalled by the Ephors. His back was no sooner turned than Aratus seized Caphyae, near Orchomenus. The Ephors imme­diately sent back Cleomenes, who took Methydrion, and made an incursion into the territories of Argos. About this time Aristomachus succeeded Aratus as strategos of the Achaean league (in May, 227, b. c.), and to this period perhaps should be referred the declaration of war against Cleomenes by the council of the Achaeans, which is mentioned by Polybius. Aristomachus collected an army of 20,000 foot and 1000 horse, with which he met Cleomenes near Palantium ; and, though the latter had only 5000 men, they were so eager and brave that Aratus persuaded Aristomachus to decline battle. The fact is, that the Achaeans were never a warlike people, and Aratus was very probably right in thinking that 20,000 Achaeans were no match for 5000 Spartans. But the moral effect of this affair was worth more than a victory to Cleo­menes. In May, 226, Aratus again became stra­tegos, and led the Achaean forces against Elis. The Eleans applied to Sparta for aid, and Cleo­menes met Aratus on his return, at the foot of Mount Lycaeum, in the territory of Megalopolis, and defeated him with great slaughter. It was at first reported that Aratus was killed; but he had only fled ; and, having rallied part of his army, he took Mantineia by a sudden assault, and revolu­tionized its constitution by making the metoeci citizens. The effect of this change was the forma­tion of an Achaean party in the town.

Cleomenes had not yet taken any open steps against the Ephors, though he could not but be an ob­ject of suspicion to them ; they were however in a dif­ficult position. The spirit of Agis still lived in the Spartan youth ; and Cleomenes, at the head of his victorious army, was too strong to be crushed like Agis. Secret assassination might have been em­ployed—and when was a Spartan ephor heard of who would have scrupled to use it ?—but then they would have lost the only man capable of carrying on the war, and Sparta must have fallen into the position of a subordinate member of the Achaean league. They appear, however, to have taken advantage of the loss of Mantineia to make a trace with the Achaeans. (Paus. viii. 27. § 10.) Cleomenes now took measures to strengthen himself against them. These measures are differently represented by Phylarchus, the panegyrist of Cleomenes, whom Plutarch seems on the whole to have followed, and by Polybius and Pausanias, who followed Aratus and other Achaean writers. At the death of Agis, his infant son, Eurydamidas, was left in the hands of his mother, Agiatis; and Archidamus, the brother of Agis, fled into Messenia, according to the statement of Plutarch, which, from the nature of the case, is far more probable than the account of Polybius (v. 37. § 2, viii. 1. § 3), that Archi­damus fled at a later period, through fear of Cleo­menes. Eurydamidas was now dead, poisoned, it was said, by the Ephors, and that too, according to Pausanias (ii. 9. § 1), at the instigation of Cleomenes. The falsity of this last statement is proved by the silence of Polybius, who never spares Cleomenes, but it may serve to shew how recklessly he was abused by some of the Achaean

About | First



page #  
Search this site
All non-public domain material, including introductions, markup, and OCR © 2005 Tim Spalding.
Ancient Library was developed and hosted by Tim Spalding of