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I will next point out the contrast between his behaviour and the imposture of the Persian king. In the first place the Persian thought his dignity required that he should be seldom seen: Agesilaus delighted to be constantly visible, believing that, whereas secrecy was becoming to an ugly career, the light shed lustre on a life of noble purpose. [2] In the second place, the one prided himself on being difficult of approach: the other was glad to make himself accessible to all. And the one affected tardiness in negotiation: the other was best pleased when he could dismiss his suitors quickly with their requests granted. [3]

In the matter of personal comfort, moreover, it is worth noticing how much simpler and how much more easily satisfied were the tastes of Agesilaus. The Persian king has vintners scouring every land to find some drink that will tickle his palate; an army of cooks contrives dishes for his delight; and the trouble his lackeys take that he may sleep is indescribable. But Agesilaus, thanks to his love of toil, enjoyed any drink that was at hand and any food that came his way; and any place was good enough to give him soft repose. [4] Nor was he happy only in this behaviour: he was also proud to reflect that, while he was surrounded with good cheer, he saw the barbarian constrained to draw from the ends of the world the material for his enjoyment, if he would live without discomfort. [5] And it cheered his heart to know that he could accommodate himself to the divine ordering of the world, whereas he saw his rival shunning heat and shunning cold through weakness of character, imitating the life, not of brave men, but of the weakest of the brutes. [6]

Surely, too, he did what was seemly and dignified when he adorned his own estate with works and possessions worthy of a man, keeping many hounds and war horses, but persuaded his sister Cynisca to breed chariot horses, and showed by her victory that such a stud marks the owner as a person of wealth, but not necessarily of merit.1 [7] How clearly his true nobility comes out in his opinion that a victory in the chariot race over private citizens would add not a whit to his renown; but if he held the first place in the affection of the people, gained the most friends and best all over the world, outstripped all others in serving his fatherland and his comrades and in punishing his adversaries, then he would be victor in the noblest and most splendid contests, and would gain high renown both in life and after death.

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    • Xenophon, Hiero, 11.5
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