Epaminondas entered Laconia with his allies, having no fewer than forty thousand men-at-arms. Many light armed and unarmed troops also followed him for the sake of plunder, so that a horde of seventy thousand, all told, made this incursion into Laconia.
For a period of no less than six hundred years the Dorians had been living in Lacedaemon, and this was the first time in all that period that enemies had been seen in the country; before this, none had ventured there. But now they burst into an unravaged and inviolate land, and burned and plundered as far as the river and the city, and no one came out against them.
For Agesilaüs would not suffer the Lacedaemonians to fight against such a
‘billowy torrent of war,’ to use the words of Theopompus, but surrounded the central and most commanding parts of the city with his men-at-arms, while he endured the boastful threats of the Thebans, who called upon him by name and bade him come out and fight for his country, since he had caused her misfortunes by lighting up the flames of war.
But this was not the worst. Agesilaüs was still more harassed by the tumults and shrieks and running about throughout the city, where the elder men were enraged at the state of affairs, and the women were unable to keep quiet, but were utterly beside themselves when they heard the shouts and saw the fires of the enemy.
He was also distressed at the thought of what his fame would be, because he had taken command of the city when she was greatest and most powerful, and now saw her reputation lowered, and her proud boast made empty, which boast he himself also had often made, saying that no Spartan woman had ever seen the smoke of an enemy's fires. It is said also that Antalcidas, when an Athenian was disputing with him over the valour of the two peoples and said,
‘Yet we have often driven you away from the Cephisus,’ replied:
‘But we have never driven you away from the Eurotas.’
And a similar retort was made by a Spartan of lesser note to the Argive who said,
‘Many of you lie buried in the lands of Argos’; the Spartan answered:
‘But not a man of you in the lands of Laconia.’