When Conon and Pharnabazus with the Great King's fleet were masters of the sea and were ravaging the coasts of Laconia, and after the walls of Athens had been rebuilt with the money which Pharnabazus furnished,
the Lacedaemonians decided to make peace with the king of Persia. To that end, they sent Antalcidas to Tiribazus,
and in the most shameful and lawless fashion handed over to the King the Greeks resident in Asia, in whose behalf Agesilaüs had waged war. Agesilaüs, therefore, could have had no part at all in this infamy.
For Antalcidas was his enemy, and put forth all his efforts to make the peace because he saw that the war enhanced to the utmost the reputation and power of Agesilaüs. Notwithstanding this, to one who remarked that the Lacedaemonians were favouring the Medes, Agesilaüs replied that the Medes were the rather favouring the Lacedaemonians.
Moreover, by threatening with war the Greeks who were unwilling to accept the peace, he forced them all to abide by the terms which the Persian dictated,
more especially on account of the Thebans, his object being to make them weaker by leaving Boeotia independent of Thebes. This he made clear by his subsequent behaviour. For when Phoebidas committed the foul deed of seizing the Cadmeia
in a time of perfect peace, and all the Greeks were indignant and the Spartans displeased at the act,
and when especially those who were at variance with Agesilaüs angrily asked Phoebidas by whose command he had done this thing, thereby turning suspicion upon Agesilaüs, he did not scruple to come to the help of Phoebidas, and to say openly that they must consider whether the act itself was serviceable or not; for that which was advantageous to Sparta might well be done independently, even if no one ordered it.
And yet in his discourse he was always declaring that justice was the first of the virtues; for valour was of no use unless justice attended it, and if all men should be just, there would be no need of valour. And to those who said,
‘This is the pleasure of the Great King,’ he would say,
‘How is he greater than I unless he is also more just?’, rightly and nobly thinking that justice must be the royal measure wherewith relative greatness is measured.
And when, after the peace was concluded, the Great King sent him a letter proposing guest-friendship, he would not accept it, saying that the public friendship was enough, and that while that lasted there would be no need of a private one. Yet in his acts he no longer observed these opinions, but was often carried away by ambition and contentiousness, and particularly in his treatment of the Thebans.
For he not only rescued Phoebidas from punishment, but actually persuaded Sparta to assume responsibility for his iniquity and occupy the Cadmeia on its own account, besides putting the administration of Thebes into the hands of Archias and Leontidas, by whose aid Phoebidas had entered and seized the acropolis.