But when it came to perils and battles, just as young horses long for their accustomed riders, and if they have others on their backs, are shy and wild, so the Achaean army, when someone other than Philopoemen was commander-in-chief,1
would be out of heart, would keep looking eagerly for him, and if he but came in sight, would at once be alert and efficient because of the courage he inspired. For they perceived that he was the one general whom their enemies were unable to face, and whose name and fame they feared, as was evident from what they did.
For Philip the king of Macedon, thinking that if Philopoemen could be got out of the way the Achaeans would again submit abjectly to his sway, secretly sent men to Argos who were to assassinate him; but the plot became known, and Philip was utterly condemned and hated among the Greeks.
Again, the Boeotians were besieging Megara and had hopes of its speedy capture, when suddenly a report reached their ears (and it was a false report) that Philopoemen was coming to the aid of the besieged and was close at hand; so they abandoned their scaling-ladders, which were already planted against the walls of the city, and fled away.
And once again, when Nabis, who succeeded Machanidas as tyrant of Sparta, suddenly seized Messene, it chanced that Philopoemen was out of office and had no force under his command; but since Lysippus, the commander-in-chief of the Achaeans, could not be persuaded by him to go to the rescue of the Messenians, because, as he said, the city was utterly lost now that the enemy were inside, Philopoemen himself went to their rescue, taking with him his fellow-citizens of Megalopolis, who did not wait for any law or commission, but followed the man whom nature had made superior as though he were always in command.
And when Nabis heard that Philopoemen was already close at hand, he did not wait for him to come up, although he was encamped in the city, but stole out by an opposite gate and led his forces off as fast as he could, thinking that he would be fortunate if he should escape; and he did escape, and Messene was set free.