But at the death of Leonidas1
Cleomenes came to the throne, and saw that the citizens were by that time altogether degenerate. The rich neglected the common interests for their own private pleasure and aggrandizement; the common people, because of their wretched state at home, had lost all readiness for war and all ambition to maintain the ancient Spartan discipline; and he himself, Cleomenes, was king only in name, while the whole power was in the hands of the ephors.
He therefore at once determined to stir up and change the existing order of things, and as he had a friend, Xenares, who had been his lover (or inspirer
, as the Spartans say), he would make trial of his sentiments by inquiring in detail what sort of a king Agis had been, and in what way and with what assistants he had entered upon the course of action so fatal to him. At first Xenares was quite glad to recall those matters, and rehearsed the events at length and in detail;
but when it was apparent that Cleomenes took an unusual interest in the story, and was profoundly stirred by the innovations of Agis, and wished to hear about him over and over again, Xenares rebuked him angrily, calling him unsound in mind, and finally stopped visiting and conversing with him. To no one, however, did he tell the reason of their variance, but merely said that Cleomenes understood it.
And so Cleomenes, finding Xenares averse, and thinking that everybody else was of like mind with him, began to arrange his project all by himself. And because he thought that he could better bring about his reforms in time of war than in the midst of peace, he embroiled the state with the Achaeans, who were themselves giving grounds for complaint. For Aratus, the most powerful man among the Achaeans, was from the outset desirous of bringing all the Peloponnesians into one confederation, and this was the end pursued by him during his many generalships and his long political activity,
since he was of the opinion that in this way alone would they be safe from the attacks of their enemies without. Nearly all the other Peloponnesians adopted his views, but the Lacedaemonians, the Eleians, and the Arcadians who sided with the Lacedaemonians held aloof. Therefore, as soon as Leonidas was dead, Aratus began to harass the Arcadians, and ravaged the territories of those especially who were adjacent to Achaea. His object was to put the Lacedaemonians to the test, and he despised Cleomenes as a young and inexperienced man.