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25. When tidings of these things were brought to Cleomenes, although he had taken strict care that the city should be inviolate and unharmed, so that no one took even the least thing without being detected, he was now so incensed and embittered that he plundered it, and sent its statues and pictures off to Sparta; then, after completely demolishing most and the largest portions of the city, he marched back towards home, being in fear of Antigonus and the Achaeans. [2] But these did nothing. For they were holding a general assembly at Aegium; and here Aratus, after mounting the bema, wept for a long time, holding his mantle before his face; and when his audience was amazed and bade him speak, he told them that Megalopolis had been destroyed by Cleomenes. Then the assembly at once broke up, the Achaeans being filled with consternation at the swiftness and magnitude of the calamity. [3] Antigonus at first attempted to give aid, but afterwards, since his forces came up to him but slowly from their winter quarters, he ordered them to remain where they were, while he himself proceeded to Argos, having only a few soldiers with him.

And this was the reason why the next attempt of Cleomenes, which was thought to be a deed of extravagant and frantic daring, was really made with great forethought, as Polybius says.1 [4] For Cleomenes knew that the Macedonians were dispersed among the cities in their winter quarters, and that Antigonus had only a few mercenaries with him at Argos, where he was spending the winter with his friends. Cleomenes therefore invaded the territory of Argos, calculating that Antigonus would either be shamed into fighting and would be overpowered, or, in case he did not venture to fight, would incur odium among the Argives. And this was what actually came to pass. For while Cleomenes was wasting the country and robbing it of all that was there, [5] the Argives, in distress, kept thronging the doors of the king and calling upon him with loud voices either to fight or yield the leadership to his betters. But Antigonus, as became a prudent general, considering that disgrace lay in taking unreasonable risks and throwing away his security, rather than in being abused by the outside rabble, would not go forth from the city, but stood by his previous plans. So Cleomenes came up to the very walls of the city with his army, wrought insolent havoc, and then withdrew unmolested.

1 ‘Most people thought this a hazardous and foolhardy step; but those who were capable of judging regarded the measure as at once safe and prudent’ (ii. 64, 1).

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  • Cross-references in notes from this page (1):
    • Polybius, Histories, 2.64
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