Now, however, they say that Antalcidas, who was an ephor, secretly sent his children away to Cythera, so full of fear was he. But Agesilaüs, when the enemy tried to cross the Eurotas and force their way to the city, abandoned the rest of it and drew up his forces in front of its central and lofty precincts.
Now, the Eurotas at this time was flowing at its fullest and deepest, since snows had fallen, and its current, even more from its coldness than its violence, was very troublesome to the Thebans. As Epaminondas was fording it at the head of his phalanx, certain ones pointed him out to Agesilaüs, and he, we are told, after fixing his gaze upon him and watching him for a long time, said but these words:
‘O adventurous man!’
Epaminondas was ambitious to join battle in the city and set up a trophy of victory there, but since he could neither force nor tempt Agesilaüs out of his positions, he withdrew and began to ravage the country. Meanwhile, about two hundred of the Lacedaemonians who had long been disaffected and mutinous banded together and seized the Issorium, where the temple of Artemis stands, a well-walled and inaccessible spot.
The Lacedaemonians wished to make a dash upon them at once, but Agesilaüs, fearing their insurrection, ordered the rest to keep quiet, while he himself, wearing his cloak and attended by a single servant, went towards them, crying out that they had misunderstood his orders; for he had not commanded them to assemble in that place, nor in a body, but some yonder (pointing to another spot), and some in another part of the city.
They were delighted to hear this, supposing that their design was undiscovered, and, breaking up, went off to the places which he ordered them to occupy. Then Agesilaüs at once summoned other troops and took possession of the Issorium, after which he arrested about fifteen of the conspirators who had been gathered there, and put them to death in the night.
He was also informed of another and a larger conspiracy of Spartans, who met secretly in a house and there plotted revolution. It was impracticable either to bring these men to trial in a time of so much confusion, or to overlook their plots. Accordingly, Agesilaüs conferred with the ephors, and then put these men also to death without process of law, although no Spartan had ever before met with such a death.
At this time, also, many of the provincials and Helots who had been enrolled in the army ran away from the city and joined the enemy, and this caused very deep discouragement. Agesilaüs therefore instructed his servants to go every morning before it was light to the barracks and take the arms of the deserters and hide them, that their numbers might not be known.
As for the reason why the Thebans withdrew from Laconia, most writers say that it was because winter storms came on and the Arcadians began to melt away and disband; others, because they had remained there three entire months and thoroughly ravaged most of the country;
but Theopompus says that when the Theban chief magistrates had already determined to take their army back, Phrixus, a Spartan, came to them, bringing ten talents from Agesilaüs to pay for their withdrawal, so that they were only doing what they had long ago decided to do, and had their expenses paid by their enemies besides.