When the Argives and their allies saw the enemy they took up a steep and hardly assailable1
position, and arranged themselves in order of battle.
The Lacedaemonians instantly charged them, and had proneeded within a javelin or stone's throw when one of the elder Spartans, seeing the strength of the ground which they were attacking, called out to Agis that he was trying to mend one error by another; he meant to say that his present mistaken forwardness was intended to repair the discredit of his former retreat.
And, either in consequence of this exclamation or because2
some new thought suddenly struck him3
, he withdrew his army in haste without actually engaging. He marched back into the district of Tegea, and proceeded to turn the water into the Mantinean territory.
This water is a constant source of war between the Mantineans and Tegeans, on account of4
the great harm which is done5
to one or other of them according to the direction which the stream takes. Agis hoped that the Argives and their allies when they heard of this movement would come down from the hill and try to prevent it; he could then fight them on level ground.
Accordingly he stayed about the water during the whole day, diverting the stream. Now the Argives and their confederates were at first amazed at the sudden retreat of their enemies when they were so near, and did not know what to think. But when the Lacedaemonians had retired and disappeared from view, and they found themselves standing still and not pursuing, they once more began to blame their own generals. Their cry was that they had already let the Lacedaemonians slip when they had them at a disadvantage close to Argos; and now they were running away and no one pursued them;
the enemy were just allowed to escape, while their own army was quietly betrayed. The commanders were at first bewildered by the outcry; but soon they quitted the hill, and advancing into the plain took up a position with the intention of attacking.