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The Mantineans Turn Over their City to the Lacedaemonians

But they still saw certain dangers ahead from intestine disorders, and the hostile designs of the Aetolians and Lacedaemonians; they subsequently, therefore, sent envoys to the league asking for a guard for their town. The request was granted: and three hundred of the league army were selected by lot to form it. These men on whom the lot fell started for Mantinea; and, abandoning their native cities and their callings in life, remained there to protect the lives and liberties of the citizens. Besides them, the league despatched two hundred mercenaries, who joined the Achaean guard in protecting the established constitution. But this state of things did not last long: an insurrection broke out in the town, and the Mantineans called in the aid of the Lacedaemonians; delivered the city into their hands; and put to death the garrison sent by the league. It would not be easy to mention a grosser or blacker act of treachery. Even if they resolved to utterly set at nought the gratitude they owed to, and the friendship they had formed with, the league; they ought at least to have spared these men, and to have let every one of them depart under some terms or another: for this much it is the custom by the law of nations to grant even to foreign enemies. But in order to satisfy Cleomenes and the Lacedaemonians of their fidelity in the policy of the hour, they deliberately, and in violation of international law, consummated a crime of the most impious description. To slaughter and wreak vengeance on the men who had just before taken their city, and refrained from doing them the least harm, and who were at that very moment engaged in protecting their lives and liberties,—can anything be imagined more detestable? What punishment can be conceived to correspond with its enormity? If one suggests that they would be rightly served by being sold into slavery, with their wives and children, as soon as they were beaten in war; it may be answered that this much is only what, by the laws of warfare, awaits even those who have been guilty of no special act of impiety. They deserved therefore to meet with a punishment even more complete and heavy than they did; so that, even if what Phylarchus mentions did happen to them, there was no reason for the pity of Greece being bestowed on them: praise and approval rather were due to those who exacted vengeance for their impious crime. But since, as a matter of fact, nothing worse befell the Mantineans than the plunder of their property and the selling of their free citizens into slavery, this historian, for the mere sake of a sensational story, has not only told a pure lie, but an improbable lie. His wilful ignorance also was so supreme, that he was unable to compare with this alleged cruelty of the Achaeans the conduct of the same people in the case of Tegea, which they took by force at the same period, and yet did no injury to its inhabitants. And yet, if the natural cruelty of the perpetrators was the sole cause of the severity to Mantinea, it is to be presumed that Tegea would have been treated in the same way. But if their treatment of Mantinea was an exception to that of every other town, the necessary inference is that the cause for their anger was exceptional also.

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