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- Plutarch's Lives (Clough)/Life of Agesilaus
Plutarch's Lives (Clough)/Comparison of Pericles with Fabius
Archidamus ,the son of Zeuxidamus, having reigned gloriously over the Lacedaemonians, left behind him two sons, Agis the elder, begotten of Lampido, a noble lady, Agesilaus, much the younger, born of Eupolia, the daughter of Melesippidas. Now the succession belonging to Agis by law, Agesilaus, who in all probability was to be but a private man, was educated according to the usual discipline of the country, hard and severe, and meant to teach young men to obey their superiors.
Whence it was that, men say, Simonides called Sparta "the tamer of men," because by early strictness of education, they, more than any nation, trained the citizens to obedience to the laws, and made them tractable and patient of subjection, as horses that are broken in while colts.
The law did not impose this harsh rule on the heirs apparent of the kingdom. But Agesilaus, whose good fortune it was to be born a younger brother, was consequently bred to all the arts of obedience, and so the better fitted for the government, when it fell to his share; hence it was that he proved the most popular-tempered of the Spartan kings, his early life having added to his natural kingly and commanding qualities the gentle and humane feelings of a citizen.
He had one leg shorter than the other, but this deformity was little observed in the general beauty of his person in youth. And the easy way in which he bore it, he being the first always to pass a jest upon himself, went far to make it disregarded.
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And indeed his high spirit and eagerness to distinguish himself were all the more conspicuous by it, since he never let his lameness withhold him from any toil or any brave action.
Neither his statue nor picture are extant, he never allowing them in his life, and utterly forbidding them to be made after his death. He is said to have been a little man, of a contemptible presence; but the goodness of his humor, and his constant cheerfulness and playfulness of temper, always free from anything of moroseness or haughtiness, made him more attractive, even to his old age, than the most beautiful and youthful men of the nation.
Theophrastus writes, that the Ephors laid a fine upon Archidamus for marrying a little wife, "For" said they, "she will bring us a race of kinglets, instead of kings.
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Nor, if we may believe Duris, the historian, was Timaea much concerned at it, being herself forward enough to whisper among her helot maid-servants, that the infant's true name was Alcibiades, not Leotychides. Meanwhile it was believed, that the amour he had with her was not the effect of his love but of his ambition, that he might have Spartan kings of his posterity.
This affair being grown public, it became needful for Alcibiades to withdraw from Sparta. But the child Leotychides had not the honors due to a legitimate son paid him, nor was he ever owned by Agis, till by his prayers and tears he prevailed with him to declare him his son before several witnesses upon his death-bed.
But this did not avail to fix him in the throne of Agis, after whose death Lysander, who had lately achieved his conquest of Athens by sea, and was of the greatest power in Sparta, promoted Agesilaus, urging Leotychides's bastardy as a bar to his pretensions.
Many of the other citizens, also, were favorable to Agesilaus and zealously joined his party, induced by the opinion they had of his merits, of which they themselves had been spectators, in the time that he had been bred up among them.
But there was a man, named Diopithes, at Sparta, who had a great knowledge of ancient oracles, and was thought particularly skillful and clever in all points of religion and divination. Beware, great Sparta, lest there come of thee Though sound thyself; an halting sovereignty; Troubles, both long and unexpected too, And storms of deadly warfare shall ensue. Agesilaus likewise alleged, that the bastardy of Leotychides was witnessed to by Neptune, who threw Agis out of bed by a violent earthquake, after which time he ceased to visit his wife, yet Leotychides was born above ten months after this.
Agesilaus was upon these allegations declared king, and soon possessed himself of the private estate of Agis, as well as his throne, Leotychides being wholly rejected as a bastard.
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He now turned his attention to his kindred by the mother's side, persons of worth and virtue, but miserably poor.
To them he gave half his brother's estate, and by this popular act gained general good-will and reputation, in the place of the envy and ill-feeling which the inheritance might otherwise have procured him. What Xenophon tells us of him, that by complying with, and, as it were, being ruled by his country, he grew into such great power with them, that he could do what he pleased, is meant to apply to the power he gained in the following manner with the Ephors and Elders.
These were at that time of the greatest authority in the State; the former, officers annually chosen; the Elders, holding their places during life; both instituted, as already told in the life of Lycurgus, to restrain the power of the kings.
Hence it was that there was always from generation to generation, a feud and contention between them and the kings.
But Agesilaus took another course. Thus, whilst he made show of deference to them, and of a desire to extend their authority, he secretly advanced his own, and enlarged the prerogatives of the kings by several liberties which their friendship to his person conceded.
To other citizens he so behaved himself, as to be less blamable in his enmities than in his friendships; for against his enemy he forbore to take any unjust advantage, but his friends he would assist, even in what was unjust.
If an enemy had done anything praiseworthy, he felt it shameful to detract from his due, but his friends he knew not how to reprove when they did ill, nay, he would eagerly join with them, and assist them in their misdeed, and thought all offices of friendship commendable, let the matter in which they were employed be what it would.
Again, when any of his adversaries was overtaken in a fault, he would be the first to pity him, and be soon entreated to procure his pardon, by which he won the hearts of all men. Insomuch that his popularity grew at last suspected by the Ephors, who laid a fine on him, professing that he was appropriating the citizens to himself, who ought to be the common property of the State.
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And some think Homer had an eye to this, when he introduces Agamemnon well pleased with the quarrel arising between Ulysses and Achilles  , and with the "terrible words" that passed between them, which he would never have done, unless he had thought emulations and dissensions between the noblest men to be of great public benefit. Yet this maxim is not simply to be granted, without restriction, for if animosities go too far, they are very dangerous to cities, and of most pernicious consequence.
When Agesilaus was newly entered upon the government, there came news from Asia, that the Persian king was making great naval preparations, resolving with a high hand to dispossess the Spartans of their maritime supremacy. Lysander was eager for the opportunity of going over and succoring his friends in Asia, whom he had there left governors and masters of the cities, whose mal-administration and tyrannical behavior was causing them to be driven out, and in some cases put to death.
He therefore persuaded Agesilaus to claim the command of the expedition, and by carrying the war far from Greece into Persia, to anticipate the designs of the barbarian. He also wrote to his friends in Asia, that by embassy they should demand Agesilaus for their captain. Lysander's authority and assistance soon obtained his request, so that he was sent away with the thirty Spartans, of whom Lysander was at once the chief, not only because of his power and reputation, but also on account of his friendship with Agesilaus, who esteemed his procuring him this charge a greater obligation, than that of preferring him to the kingdom.
Yet was he not at all disturbed at it, but as soon as he arose, he told his dream to his friends, adding, that he would propitiate the goddess with the sacrifices a goddess must delight in, and would not follow the ignorant example of his predecessor.
He therefore ordered a hind to be crowned with chaplets, and bade his own soothsayer perform the rite, not the usual person whom the Boeotians, in ordinary course, appointed to that office.
When the Boeotian magistrates understood it, they were much offended, and sent officers to Agesilaus, to forbid his sacrificing contrary to the laws of the country. These having delivered their message to him, immediately went to the altar, and threw down the quarters of the hind that lay upon it. When he came to Ephesus, he found the power and interest of Lysander, and the honors paid to him, insufferably great; all applications were made to him, crowds of suitors attended at his door, and followed upon his steps, as if nothing but the mere name of commander belonged, to satisfy the usage, to Agesilaus, the whole power of it being devolved upon Lysander.
None of all the commanders that had been sent into Asia was either so powerful or so formidable as he; no one had rewarded his friends better, or had been more severe against his enemies; which things having been lately done, made the greater impression on men's minds, especially when they compared the simple and popular behavior of Agesilaus, with the harsh and violent and brief-spoken demeanor which Lysander still retained. Universal deference was yielded to this, and little regard shown to Agesilaus.
This first occasioned offense to the other Spartan captains, who resented that they should rather seem the attendants of Lysander, than the councilors of Agesilaus. And at length Agesilaus himself, though not perhaps all envious man in his nature, nor apt to be troubled at the honors redounding upon other men, yet eager for honor and jealous of his glory, began to apprehend that Lysander's greatness would carry away from him the reputation of whatever great action should happen.
He therefore went this way to work. He first opposed him in all his counsels; whatever Lysander specially advised was rejected, and other proposals followed. Then whoever made any address to him, if he found him attached to Lysander, certainly lost his suit. These things being clearly not done by chance, but constantly and of a set purpose, Lysander was soon sensible of them, and hesitated not to tell his friends, that they suffered for his sake, bidding them apply themselves to the king, and such as were more powerful with him than he was.
Such sayings of his seeming to be designed purposely to excite ill feeling, Agesilaus went on to offer him a yet more open affront, appointing him his meat-carver; and would in public companies scornfully say, "Let them go now and pay their court to my carver. Agesilaus answered, "I know certainly how to humble those who pretend to more power than myself.
Upon this Agesilaus sent him to the Hellespont, whence he procured Spithridates, a Persian of the province of Pharnabazus, to come to the assistance of the Greeks with two hundred horse, and a great supply of money.
Thus ambitious spirits in a commonwealth, when they transgress their bounds, are apt to do more harm than good. Indeed they were both blinded with the same passion, so as one not to recognize the authority of his superior, the other not to bear with the imperfections of his friend.
Tisaphernes being at first afraid of Agesilaus, treated with him about setting the Grecian cities at liberty, which was agreed on. But soon after finding a sufficient force drawn together, he resolved upon war, for which Agesilaus was not sorry.
For the expectation of this expedition was great, and he did not think it for his honor, that Xenophon with ten thousand men should march through the heart of Asia to the sea, beating the Persian forces when and how he pleased, and that he at the head of the Spartans, then sovereigns both at sea and land, should not achieve some memorable action for Greece.
And so to be even with Tisaphernes, he requites his perjury by a fair stratagem. He pretends to march into Caria, whither when he had drawn Tisaphernes and his army, he suddenly turns back, and falls upon Phrygia, takes many of their cities, and carries away great booty, showing his allies, that to break a solemn league was a downright contempt of the gods, but the circumvention of an enemy in war was not only just but glorious, a gratification at once and an advantage.
Being weak in horse, and discouraged by ill omens in the sacrifices, he retired to Ephesus, and there raised cavalry. He obliged the rich men, that were not inclined to serve in person, to find each of them a horseman armed and mounted; and there being many who preferred doing this, the army was quickly reinforced by a body, not of unwilling recruits for the infantry, but of brave and numerous horsemen.
Agamemnon's example had been a good one, when he took the present of an excellent mare, to dismiss a rich coward from the army. When by Agesilaus's order the prisoners he had taken in Phrygia were exposed to sale, they were first stripped of their garments, and then sold naked.
The clothes found many customers to buy them, but the bodies being, from the want of all exposure and exercise, white and tender-skinned, were derided and scorned as unserviceable.
Agesilaus, who stood by at the auction, told his Greeks, "These are the men against whom ye fight, and these the things you will gain by it. The season of the year being come, he boldly gave out that he would invade Lydia; and this plaindealing of his was now mistaken for a stratagem by Tisaphernes, who, by not believing Agesilaus, having been already deceived by him, overreached himself.
He expected that he should have made choice of Caria, as a rough country, not fit for horse, in which he deemed Agesilaus to be weak, and directed his own marches accordingly. But when he found him to be as good as his word, and to have entered into the country of Sardis, he made great haste after him, and by great marches of his horse, overtaking the loose stragglers who were pillaging the country, he cut them off.
Agesilaus meanwhile, considering that the horse had outridden the foot, but that he himself had the whole body of his own army entire, made haste to engage them.
The success was answerable to the design; the barbarians were put to the rout, the Grecians pursued hard, took their camp, and put many of them to the sword.
CONTENTS OF VOLUME II.
The consequence of this victory was very great; for they had not only the liberty of foraging the Persian country, and plundering at pleasure, but also saw Tisaphernes pay dearly for all the cruelty he had showed the Greeks, to whom he was a professed enemy. For the king of Persia sent Tithraustes, who took off his head, and presently dealt with Agesilaus about his return into Greece, sending to him ambassadors to that purpose, with commission to offer him great sums of money.
Yet, that he might gratify Tithraustes for the justice he had done upon Tisaphernes, the common enemy of the Greeks, he removed his quarters into Phrygia, accepting thirty talents for his expenses. Whilst he was upon his march, he received a staff from the government at Sparta, appointing him admiral as well as general. This was an honor which was never done to any but Agesilaus, who being now undoubtedly the greatest and most illustrious man of his time, still, as Theopompus has said, gave himself more occasion of glory in his own virtue and merit than was given him in this authority and power.
Yet he committed a fault in preferring Pisander to the command of the navy, when there were others at hand both older and more experienced; in this not so much consulting the public good, as the gratification of his kindred, and especially his wife, whose brother Pisander was.
Plutarch's Lives (Clough)/Life of Agesilaus
Spithridates, from the time of his abandoning Pharnabazus, constantly attended Agesilaus in the camp whithersoever he went. This Spithridates had a son, a very handsome boy, called Megabates, of whom Agesilaus was extremely fond, and also a very beautiful daughter, that was marriageable. Her Agesilaus matched to Cotys, and taking of him a thousand horse, with two thousand light-armed foot, he returned into Phrygia, and there pillaged the country of Pharnabazus, who durst not meet him in the field, nor yet trust to his garrisons, but getting his valuables together, got out of the way and moved about up and down with a flying army, till Spithridates joining with Herippidas the Spartan, took his camp, and all his property.
Herippidas being too severe an inquirer into the plunder with which the barbarian soldiers had enriched themselves, and forcing them to deliver it up with too much strictness, so disobliged Spithridates with his questioning and examining, that he changed sides again, and went off with the Paphlagonians to Sardis.
This was a very great vexation to Agesilaus, not only that he had lost the friendship of a valiant commander, and with him a considerable part of his army, but still more that it had been done with the disrepute of a sordid and petty covetousness, of which he always had made it a point of honor to keep both himself and his country clear. At which when the young boy blushed and drew back, and afterward saluted him at a more reserved distance, Agesilaus soon repenting his coldness, and changing his mind, pretended to wonder why he did not salute him with the same familiarity as formerly.
His friends about him answered, "You are in the fault, who would not accept the kiss of the boy, but turned away in alarm; he would come to you again, if you would have the courage to let him do so. After this, Pharnabazus sought an opportunity of conferring with Agesilaus, which Apollophanes of Cyzicus, the common host of them both, procured for him. Agesilaus coming first to the appointed place, threw himself down upon the grass under a tree, lying there in expectation of Pharnabazus, who, bringing with him soft skins and wrought carpets to lie down upon, when he saw Agesilaus's posture, grew ashamed of his luxuries and made no use of them, but laid himself down upon the grass also, without regard for his delicate and richly dyed clothing.
The Spartans that were present hung down their heads, as conscious of the wrong they had done to their ally. But Agesilaus said, "We, O Pharnabazus, when we were in amity with your master the king, behaved ourselves like friends, and now that we are at war with him, we behave ourselves as enemies.
As for you, we must look upon you as a part of his property, and must do these outrages upon you, not intending the harm to you, but to him whom we wound through you. But whenever you will choose rather to be a friend to the Grecians, than a slave of the king of Persia, you may then reckon this army and navy to be all at your command, to defend both you, your country, and your liberties, without which there is nothing honorable, or indeed desirable among men.
Pharnabazus being gone off, his son, staying behind, ran up to Agesilaus, and smilingly said, "Agesilaus, I make you my guest;" and thereupon presented him with a javelin which he had in his hand.
He had an attachment for a youth of Athenian birth, who was bred up as an athlete; and when at the Olympic games this boy, on account of his great size and general strong and full-grown appearance, was in some danger of not being admitted into the list,  the Persian betook himself to Agesilaus, and made use of his friendship.
Agesilaus readily assisted him, and not without a great deal of difficulty effected his desires. He was in all other things a man of great and exact justice, but when the case concerned a friend, to be straitlaced in point of justice, he said, was only a colorable presence of denying him.
There is an epistle written to Idrieus, prince of Caria, that is ascribed to Agesilaus; it is this: "If Nicias be innocent, absolve him; if he be guilty, absolve him upon my account; however be sure to absolve him.
Yet his rule was not without exception; for sometimes he considered the necessity of his affairs more than his friend, of which he once gave an example, when upon a sudden and disorderly removal of his camp, he left a sick friend behind him, and when he called loudly after him, and implored his help, turned his back, and said it was hard to be compassionate and wise too.
This story is related by Hieronymus, the philosopher.