For this reason Artaxerxes, although he always held other Spartans in abomination, and considered them, as Deinon tells us, the most shameless of all mankind, showed great affection for Antalcidas when he came up to Persia. On one occasion he actually took a wreath of flowers, dipped it in the most costly ointment, and sent it to Antalcidas after supper; and all men wondered at the kindness.1
But Antalcidas was a fit person, as it would seem, to be exquisitely treated and to receive such a wreath, now that he had danced away among the Persians the fair fame of Leonidas and Callicratidas. For Agesilaüs, as it would appear, when someone said to him:
‘Alas for Greece, now that the Spartans are medizing,’ replied,
‘Are not the Medes the rather spartanizing?’ However, the wittiness of the speech could not remove the shame of the deed, and the Spartans lost their supremacy in the disastrous battle of Leuctra,2
though the glory of Sparta had been lost before that by this treaty.
So long, then, as Sparta kept the first place in Greece, Artaxerxes treated Antalcidas as his guest and called him his friend; but after the Spartans had been defeated at Leuctra, they fell so low as to beg for money, and sent Agesilaüs to Egypt, while Antalcidas went up to Artaxerxes to ask him to supply the wants of the Lacedaemonians.
The king, however, so neglected and slighted and rejected him that, when he came back home, being railed at by his enemies, and being in fear of the ephors, he starved himself to death.
Ismenias the Theban also, and Pelopidas, who had just been victorious in the battle of Leuctra, went up to the king.3
Pelopidas did nothing to disgrace himself; but Ismenias, when ordered to make the obeisance to the king, threw his ring down on the ground in front of him, and then stooped and picked it up, thus giving men to think that he was making the obeisance.
With Timagoras the Athenian, however, who sent to him by his secretary, Beluris, a secret message in writing, the king was so pleased that he gave him ten thousand darics, and eighty milk cows to follow in his train because he was sick and required cow's milk; and besides, he sent him a couch, with bedding for it, and servants to make the bed (on the ground that the Greeks had not learned the art of making beds), and bearers to carry him down to the sea-coast, enfeebled as he was.
Moreover, during his presence at court, he used to send him a most splendid supper, so that Ostanes, the brother of the king, said:
‘Timagoras, remember this table; it is no slight return which thou must make for such an array.’ Now this was a reproach for his treachery rather than a reminder of the king's favour. At any rate, for his venality, Timagoras was condemned to death by the Athenians.4