Such was the result of his expedition, and he was leading his army home, when, as it was already evening and he was near Tegea, messengers from Sparta came with tidings of a fresh and even greater calamity, the death of his wife. It was because of her that even in his most successful campaigns he could not endure to the end, but would continually be coming home to Sparta, out of love for Agiatis and in supreme devotion to her.
Of course, then, he was smitten with grief, as was natural for a young man who had lost a most beautiful and most sensible wife, but he did not allow his suffering to shame or betray the loftiness of his thought or the greatness of his spirit. He maintained his usual speech, dress, and bearing, gave the customary orders to his captains, and took thought for the safety of Tegea.
Next morning he returned to Sparta, and after duly mourning his loss with his mother and children at home, he at once engaged in the measures which he planned for the public good.
Now, Ptolemy the king of Egypt promised him aid and assistance, but demanded his mother and his children as hostages. For a long time, therefore, he was ashamed to tell his mother, and though he often went to her and was at the very point of letting her know, he held his peace, so that she on her part became suspicious and enquired of his friends whether there was not something which he wished to impart to her but hesitated to do so.
Finally, when Cleomenes plucked up courage to speak of the matter, his mother burst into a hearty laugh and said:
‘Was this the thing which thou wast often of a mind to tell me but lost thy courage? Make haste, put me on board a vessel, and send this frail body wheresoever thou thinkest it will be of most use to Sparta, before old age destroys it sitting idly here.’
Accordingly, when all things were ready, they came to Taenarus by land, while the army escorted them under arms. And as Cratesicleia was about to embark, she drew Cleomenes aside by himself into the temple of Poseidon, and after embracing and kissing him in his anguish and deep trouble, said:
‘Come, O king of the Lacedaemonians, when we go forth let no one see us weeping or doing anything unworthy of Sparta. For this lies in our power, and this alone; but as for the issues of fortune, we shall have what the Deity may grant.’ After saying this, she composed her countenance and proceeded to the ship with her little grandson, and bade the captain put to sea with all speed.
And when she was come to Egypt, and learned that Ptolemy was entertaining embassies and proposals from Antigonus, and heard that although the Achaeans invited Cleomenes to make terms with them, he was afraid on her account to end the war without the consent of Ptolemy, she sent word to him that he must do what was fitting and advantageous for Sparta, and not, because of one old woman and a little boy, be ever in fear of Ptolemy. Such, then, as we are told, was the bearing of Cratesicleia in her misfortunes.