Now Sphodrias had a son, Cleonymus, who was still a boy and fair to look upon, and of whom Archidamus, the son of King Agesilaüs, was enamoured. In this crisis Archidamus naturally sympathized with his favourite because of the peril in which his father stood, but he was unable to aid and assist him openly, since Sphodrias was one of the opponents of Agesilaüs.
But when Cleonymus came to him in tears and begged him to mollify Agesilaüs, from whom he and his father had most to fear, for three or four days he was restrained by awe and fear from saying anything to Agesilaüs as he followed him about; but finally, when the trial was near at hand, he plucked up courage to tell him that Cleonymus had begged him to intercede for his father.
Now Agesilaüs, although he knew of the love of Archidamus, had not put a stop to it, since Cleonymus, from his early boyhood, had given special promise of becoming an earnest and worthy man. At this time, however, he did not permit his son to expect any advantage or kindness in answer to his prayer; he merely said, as he went away, that he would consider what was the honourable and fitting course in the matter.
Archidamus was therefore mortified, and ceased to visit Cleonymus, although before this he had done so many times a day. As a consequence, the friends of Sphodrias also were more in despair of his case, until Etymocles, one of the friends of Agesilaüs, conferred with them and disclosed the mind of the king, namely, that he blamed to the utmost what Sphodrias had done, but yet thought him a brave man, and saw that the city needed just such soldiers.
For this was the way in which Agesilaüs always spoke about the trial, in his desire to gratify his son, so that Cleonymus was at once aware of the zealous efforts of Archidamus in his behalf, and the friends of Sphodrias had courage at last to come to his help. It is a fact also that Agesilaüs was excessively fond of his children, and a story is told of his joining in their childish play. Once, when they were very small, he bestrode a stick, and was playing horse with them in the house, and when he was spied doing this by one of his friends, he entreated him not to tell any one, until he himself should be a father of children.