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After ravaging Laconia unmolested for thirty days, Philopoemen returned home covered with glory, and was received by his countrymen with so much applause and distinction as to give umbrage to Flamininus, who did not feel flattered by the parallels that were drawn between him and Philopoemen. Shortly after these events Nabis was slain by the Aetolians. Philopoemen thereupon hastened to Sparta, which he found in a state of great confusion, and partly by force, partly by persuasion, made the city join the Achaean league.
The state of Greece did not afford Philopoemen much further opportunity for the display of his military abilities. He had been obliged to relinquish his fond dream of making the Achaeans a really independent power; for the Romans were now in fact the masters of Greece, and Philopoemen clearly saw that it would be an act of madness to offer open resistance to their authority. At the same time he perceived that there was a mean between servile submission and actual war ; and as the Romans still recognised in words the independence of the league, Philopoemen offered a resolute resistance to all their encroachments upon the liberties of his country, whenever he could do so without affording the Romans any pretext for war. The remainder of Philopoemen's life was chiefly spent in endeavours of this kind, and he accordingly became an object of suspicion to the Roman senate. It was in pursuance of this policy that we find Philopoemen advising the Achaeans to remain quiet during the war between Antiochus and the Romans in Greece ; and when Diophanes, who was general of the league in B. c. 191, eagerly availed himself of some disturbances in Sparta to make war upon the city, and was encouraged in his purpose by Flamininus, Philopoemen, after he had in vain endeavoured to persuade him to continue quiet, hastened to Sparta, and by his private influence healed the divisions that had broken out there ; so that when the Achaean army arrived before the gates, Diophanes found no pretext for interfering. The Spartans were so grateful for the services which he had rendered them on this occasion, that they offered him a present of a hundred and twenty talents, which he at once declined, bidding them keep it for the purpose of gaining over bad men to their side, and not attempt to corrupt with money good men who were already their friends.
In b.c. 189 Philopoemen was again elected general of the league. He introduced in this year a change of some importance in the constitution of the league, by transferring the place of assembly from Aegium, which" had hitherto possessed this privilege exclusively, to the other cities of the league in rotation. This innovation was intended to deprive the old Achaean towns of their exclusive privileges, and to diffuse the power more equally among the other cities of the league. Meantime, fresh disturbances had broken out at Sparta. The party there which had shown itself so grateful to Philopoemen was probably the one which he had placed at the head of affairs when he annexed Sparta to the league ; but the great body of the inhabitants, who had been established in the place by Nabis and the other tyrants, were opposed to Philopoemen and the league. They especially dreaded lest by Philopoemen's influence the exiles should be restored, who had been expelled by the tyrants, and whose property they held at present.
This party now obtained the upper hand, put to death thirty of Philopoemen's friends, and renounced their connection with the league. As soon as the Achaeans heard of these proceedings, they declared war against Sparta; and both Achaeans and Spartans laid their case before the Roman consul Fulvius Nobilior, who was then at Elis. Fulvius commanded them to send an embassy to Rome, and to abstain from war till they should learn the pleasure of the senate. The senate gave them an evasive answer, which the Achaeans interpreted as a permission to prosecute the war. They accordingly re-elected Philopoemen general in b. c. 188. He forthwith marched against Sparta, which was unable to resist his forces, and was compelled to submit at discretion. The way in which he treated the unhappy city is a blot upon the memory of Philopoemen, and Was a violation of those prudent principles which he had hitherto recommended, and had always acted upon himself; since his conduct gave the Romans a further pretext for interfering in the affairs of Greece. But his passions were roused by the recent execution of his friends, and he could not resist the opportunity of exacting from Sparta ample vengeance for all the wrongs she had formerly inflicted upon Megalopolis. He put to death eighty of the leading men in Sparta, commanded all the inhabitants who had received the franchise from the tyrants to leave the country by a certain day, razed the walls and fortifications of the city, abolished the institutions of Lycurgus, and compelled the citizens to adopt the Achaean laws in their stead. The exiles were likewise restored ; and three thousand citizens, who had not left the city by the day specified, were apprehended and sold as slaves, and the money arising from their sale was employed in building a colonnade at Megalopolis, which had been in ruins since the destruction of the city by Cleomenes. Philopoemen despatched Nicodemus to Rome to justify his conduct, but the senate expressed their disapprobation of his measures ; and Q. Caecilius Metellus, who was sent on a mission into Greece in b. c. 185, censured still more strongly the treatment which Sparta had experienced.
In b.c. 183 Philopoemen was elected general of the league for the eighth time ; it is probable that he held the office for the seventh time in b. c. 187, though it is not expressly mentioned (comp. Clinton, F. H. ad ann. 187). Philopoemen was now seventy years of age, and was lying sick of a fever at Argos, when he heard that Deinocrates, who was a personal enemy of his, and who was secretly supported by Flamininus, had induced Messene to dissolve its connection with the league. Notwithstanding his illness, he immediately hastened to Megalopolis, hastily collected a body of cavalry, and pressed forward to Messene. He fell in with Deinocrates, whom he attacked and put to flight; but a fresh body of Messenian troops having come up, he was obliged to retire, and while he was keeping in the rear in order to protect the retreat of his troops, he was stunned by a fall from his horse, and fell into the hands of the Messenians. Deinocrates had him dragged into Messene with his hands tied behind his back, and afterwards exposed him to the public gaze in the theatre ; but perceiving that the people began to feel sympathy at his misfortunes, he hurried him into a narrow dungeon, and on the second night