Thus the enterprise of the kings was making good progress and no one tried to oppose or hinder them, when one man, Agesilaüs, upset and ruined everything. He allowed a most shameful disease of avarice to wreck a most noble and most truly Spartan plan.
For since he was an exceedingly large owner of valuable land, but owed huge sums of money, being unable to pay his debts and unwilling to give up his lands, he persuaded Agis that if both his projects should be carried through at the same time the resulting convulsion in the state would be great; but that if the men of property should first be won over by a remission of their debts, they would afterwards accept the distribution of land contentedly and quietly.
This was also the opinion of Lysander, who was deceived in like manner by Agesilaüs. So they caused the mortgages (the Spartans call them
‘klaria,’ or allotment pledges) to be brought into the market-place, heaped them altogether, and set fire to them. As the flames rose, the men of wealth and the lenders of money went away with heavy hearts; but Agesilaüs, as if in mockery of them, declared that his eyes had never seen a brighter or purer flame than that.
And now the multitude demanded also that the land should at once be divided, and the kings gave orders that this should be done; but Agesilaüs would always interpose some obstacle or make some excuse, and so consumed time until it became the duty of Agis to head a military expedition, when the Achaeans, who were their allies, sent for aid from Sparta. For the Aetolians were expected to invade Peloponnesus by way of Megara; and Aratus, the general of the Achaeans, in an effort to prevent this, was assembling a force and wrote a letter to the ephors.