At last the disaster became clear to the citizens, and some of them at once fled the city, taking with them what property they could lay hands on, while others banded together under arms, resisting and assaulting the enemy. These they were not strong enough to eject from the city, but they afforded a safe escape to the citizens who wished to flee, so that not more than a thousand persons were taken in the place all the rest, together with their wives and children, succeeded in escaping to Messene.
Moreover, the greater part of those who tried to save the city by fighting got off alive; but a few of them, all told, were captured, among whom were Lysandridas and Thearidas, men of the greatest reputation and influence in Megalopolis. Therefore the soldiers had no sooner seized them than they brought them to Cleomenes. Then Lysandridas, when he saw Cleomenes from afar, cried out with a loud voice and said:
‘It is in thy power now, O king of the Lacedaemonians, to display an action fairer and more worthy of a king than any that has preceded it, and thereby win men's highest esteem.’
But Cleomenes, conjecturing what the speaker wished, said:
‘What meanest thou, Lysandridas? Thou surely canst not bid me give your city back again to you.’ To which Lysandridas replied:
‘Indeed, that is just what I mean, and I advise thee in thine own interests not to destroy so great a city, hut to fill it with friends and allies who are trusty and true by giving back to the Megalopolitans their native city and becoming the preserver of so large a people.’
Accordingly, after a short silence, Cleomenes said:
‘It is difficult to believe that all this will happen, but with us let what makes for good repute always carry the day, rather than what brings gain.’ And with these words he sent the two men off to Messene attended by a herald from himself, offering to give back their city to the Megalopolitans on condition that they renounce the Achaean cause and be his friends and allies.
However, although Cleomenes made this benevolent and humane offer, Philopoemen would not allow the Megalopolitans to break their pledges to the Achaeans, but denounced Cleomenes on the ground that he sought, not so much to give their city back to its citizens, as rather to get the citizens with their city1
; then he drove Thearidas and Lysandridas out of Messene. This was that Philopoemen who afterwards became the leader of the Achaeans and won the greatest fame among the Greeks, as I have written in his own Life.