Of course this gave rise at once to a suspicion that while Phoebidas had done the deed, Agesilaüs had counselled it; and his subsequent acts brought the charge into general belief. For when the Thebans expelled the Spartan garrison and liberated their city,
he charged them with the murder of Archias and Leontidas, who were really tyrants, though polemarchs in name, and levied war upon them.
And Cleombrotus, who was king now that Agesipolis was dead, was sent into Boeotia with an army; for Agesilaüs, who had now borne arms for forty years, and was therefore exempt by law from military service, declined this command. He was ashamed, after having recently made war upon the Phliasians in behalf of their exiles,
to be seen now harrying the Thebans in the interests of their tyrants.
Now, there was a certain Lacedaemonian named Sphodrias, of the party opposed to Agesilaüs, who had been appointed harmost at Thespiae. He lacked neither boldness nor ambition, but always abounded in hopes rather than in good judgement. This man, coveting a great name, and considering that Phoebidas had made himself famous far and near by his bold deed at Thebes, was persuaded that it would be a far more honourable and brilliant exploit for him to seize the Peiraeus on his own account and rob the Athenians of access to the sea, attacking them unexpectedly by land.
It is said, too, that the scheme was devised by Pelopidas and Melo, chief magistrates at Thebes.
They privily sent men to him who pretended to be Spartan sympathizers, and they, by praising and exalting Sphodrias as the only man worthy to undertake so great a task, urged and incited him into an act which was no less lawless and unjust than the seizure of the Cadmeia, though it was essayed without courage or good fortune.
For full daylight overtook him while he was yet in the Thriasian plain, although he had hoped to attack the Peiraeus by night. It is said also that his soldiers saw a light streaming from certain sanctuaries at Eleusis, and were filled with shuddering fear. Their commander himself lost all his courage, since concealment was no longer possible, and after ravaging the country a little, retired disgracefully and ingloriously to Thespiae.
Hereupon men were sent from Athens to Sparta to denounce Sphodrias. They found, however, that the magistrates there had no need of their denunciation, but had already indicted Sphodrias on a capital charge. This charge he determined not to meet, fearing the wrath of his countrymen, who were ashamed in the presence of the Athenians, and wished to be thought wronged with them, that they might not be thought wrongdoers with Sphodrias.