As Pharnabazus and his friends were going away, his son, who was left behind, ran up to Agesilaüs and said with a smile:
‘I make thee my guest-friend, Agesilaüs,’ and offered him a javelin which he held in his hand. Agesilaüs accepted it, and being delighted with the fair looks and kindly bearing of the boy, looked round upon his companions to see if any one of them had anything that would do for a return-gift to a fair and gallant friend;
and seeing that the horse of Idaeus, his secretary, had a decorated head-gear, he quickly took this off and gave it to the youth. Nor afterwards did he cease to remember him, but when, as time went on, the youth was robbed of his home by his brothers and driven into exile in Peloponnesus, he paid him much attention. He even gave him some assistance in his love affairs.
For the Persian was enamoured of an Athenian boy, an athlete, who, owing to his stature and strength, was in danger of being ruled out of the lists at Olympia. He therefore had recourse to Agesilaüs with entreaties to help the boy, and Agesilaüs, wishing to gratify him in this matter also, with very great difficulty and with much trouble effected his desires.
Indeed, although in other matters he was exact and law-abiding, in matters of friendship he thought that rigid justice was a mere pretext.
At any rate, there is in circulation a letter of his to Hidrieus the Carian, which runs as follows:
‘As for Nicias, if he is innocent, acquit him; if he is guilty, acquit him for my sake; but in any case acquit him.’ Such, then, was Agesilaüs in most cases where the interests of his friends were concerned; but sometimes he used a critical situation rather for his own advantage. Of this he gave an instance when, as he was decamping in some haste and confusion, he left his favourite behind him sick. The sick one besought him loudly as he was departing, but he merely turned and said that it was hard to be compassionate and at the same time prudent. This story is related by Hieronymus the philosopher.