When she heard her son's plea, she was at first amazed, and tried to stop the young man from attempting what she thought was neither possible nor profitable; but Agesilaüs tried to show her that the king's project would be feasible and its accomplishment advantageous, and the king himself besought his mother to contribute her wealth for the advancement of his ambition and glory. For in the matter of property, he said, he could not equal the other kings
(since the servants and slaves of the satraps and overseers of Ptolemy and Seleucus had larger possessions than all the kings of Sparta put together); but if in self-restraint, simplicity, and magnanimity he should surpass their luxury, and thereby establish equality and community of possession among his citizens, he would win the name and fame of a really great king. The women, lifted up by the young man's high ambition, were so changed in their purposes, and possessed, as it were, by so great an inspiration to take the noble course,
that they joined in urging and hastening on the projects of Agis, sent for their friends among the men and invited them to help, and held conference with the women besides, since they were well aware that the men of Sparta were always obedient to their wives, and allowed them to meddle in public affairs more than they themselves were allowed to meddle in domestic concerns.
Now, at this time the greater part of the wealth of Sparta was in the hands of the women, and this made the work of Agis a grievous and difficult one.
For the women were opposed to it, not only because they would be stripped of the luxury which, in the general lack of higher culture, made their lives seem happy, but also because they saw that the honour and influence which they enjoyed in consequence of their wealth would be cut off. So they had recourse to Leonidas, and besought him, since he was an older man, to withstand Agis and hinder what he was trying to accomplish.
Leonidas, accordingly, was desirous of aiding the rich, but he feared the people, who were eager for a revolution. He therefore made no open opposition to Agis, but secretly sought to damage his undertaking and bring it to nought by slandering him to the chief magistrates, declaring that he was purchasing a tyranny by offering to the poor the property of the rich, and by distribution of land and remission of debts was buying a large body-guard for himself, not many citizens for Sparta.