When so great a war on land and sea was threatening the tyrant, though on a true estimate of his own strength and that of the enemy he
could see almost no hope of success, he nevertheless did not neglect his preparations for war, but summoned from Crete a thousand of their chosen youths, in addition to a thousand who were already with him; he had also in his force three thousand mercenaries and ten thousand of his own countrymen along with the rural guards, and he fortified the city with a moat and rampart.
To prevent any internal disorder, he held the people in check with terror and severe punishments, since he could not hope that they would wish well to a tyrant.
Since he entertained suspicions regarding certain citizens, he led out his entire force into a plain —they call it Dromos —and
stacking arms bade the Spartans to be summoned to a meeting and surrounded the gathering with armed guards.
Then he made some brief opening remarks, showing why he should be pardoned in such an emergency, when he feared everything and guarded against everything, and that it was to their own interest, if the present state of affairs made him suspect certain citizens, that these persons should be prevented from making any attempt upon him rather than punished for making the attempt;
he would accordingly hold certain persons under guard until the storm which was threatening should pass; when the enemy was driven off —and there was less danger from them if only internal treachery could be prevented —he
would at once release them; after this he ordered the [p. 487]
names of about eighty of the most prominent young1
men to be read, and each one, as he answered to his name, was turned over to the guards; during the next night he put them all to death.
Then some of the Ilotae,2
a rural people, who had been country-dwellers from remote antiquity, were charged with trying to desert, driven with whips through all the streets, and put to death. By thus inspiring fear he stunned the minds of the crowd and prevented any attempt at revolution.
He kept his troops within the walls, thinking himself unequal to the enemy, if he should dare to risk a battle, and fearing to leave the city while all men's minds were in such suspense and uncertainty.