As for Cleomenes, he sailed from Cythera to Aegialia, another island, and put in there. As he was about to cross from thence to Cyrene, one of his friends, Therycion by name, a man who brought a large spirit to the conduct of affairs and was always somewhat lofty in his speech and grandiloquent, came to him privately and said:
‘The noblest death, O King, a death in battle, we have put away from us;
and yet all men heard us declare that Antigonus should not pass the king of Sparta except over his dead body. But a death that is second in virtue and glory is now still in our power. Whither do we unreasoningly sail, fleeing an evil that is near and pursuing one that is afar off? For if it is not shameful that the descendants of Heracles should be in subjection to the successors of Philip and Alexander, we shall spare ourselves a long voyage by surrendering to Antigonus, who is likely to surpass Ptolemy as much as Macedonians surpass Egyptians.
But if we cannot consent to be ruled by those who have conquered us in arms, wily should we make him our master who has not defeated us, thus showing ourselves inferior to two instead of one by running away from Antigonus and joining the flatterers of Ptolemy? Or, shall we say that it is on thy mother's account that we come to Egypt? Surely thou wilt make a noble spectacle for her, and one to awaken envy, when she displays her son to the wives of Ptolemy, a captive instead of a king, and a runaway.
Let us rather, while we are still masters of our own swords and can gaze upon the land of Laconia, here rid ourselves of Fortune's yoke, and make our peace with those who at Sellasia died in defence of Sparta, instead of sitting idly down in Egypt and asking every now and then whom Antigonus has left as satrap of Lacedaemon.’
Such were the words of Therycion, and to them Cleomenes replied:
‘It is the easiest possible step thou urgest, wretched man, and one that any man may take, this dying; and dost thou think thyself brave when thou art making a flight more shameful than the one preceding it?
Better men than we have given in to their enemies before this, having been betrayed by Fortune or overwhelmed by numbers. But he who in the face of toils and hardships, or of the censorious judgments of men, gives up the fight, is vanquished by his own weakness. For a self-inflicted death ought to be, not flight from action, but an action in itself. For it is shameful to die, as well as to live, for one's self alone. And yet it is to this that thou now invitest me in thine eagerness to be rid of present troubles, though beyond that thou wilt effect nothing that is honourable or useful.
I, however, think it right that neither thou nor I should abandon our hopes for our country; when these abandon us, death will be very easy if we wish it.’
To this Therycion made no reply, but as soon as he got an opportunity to leave Cleomenes, he turned aside along the sea-beach and slew himself.