All these things, then, made for the honour of Philopoemen; but his going away to Crete again at the request of the Gortynians, who wanted him to be their general in their war, brought calumny upon him, and it was said that when his native city was at war with Nabis, he was away, either to avoid fighting or to show kindness out of all season to others. And yet so continuously were the Megalopolitans under hostile attack all that time that they lived upon their walls and planted their grain in the streets, since their fields were ravaged and the enemy were encamped almost in their gates.
Philopoemen, however, was waging war in Crete all that while, and serving as general across the sea, and so afforded his enemies a chance to accuse him of running away from the war at home. But there were some who said that since the Achaeans chose other men as their generals and Philopoemen was without public office, he merely put the leisure which belonged to him at the service of the Gortynians when they asked him to be their leader.
For he was averse to inactivity, and wished to keep his skill as a commander in war, like any other possession, all the while in use and exercise. And he made this evident by what he once said about King Ptolemy. When certain persons were extolling that monarch because he carefully drilled his army day by day, and carefully and laboriously exercised himself in arms,
‘And yet who,’ said Philopoemen,
‘can admire a king of his years for always practising but never performing anything?’
The Megalopolitans, nevertheless, were displeased at this absence, and looking upon it in the light of a betrayal, undertook to make him an exile; but the Achaeans prevented this by sending to Megalopolis Aristaenus, their commander-in-chief, who, although politically at variance with Philopoemen, would not suffer sentence of condemnation to be passed upon him.
In consequence of this displeasure, Philopoemen was ignored by his fellow-citizens, and therefore induced many of their outlying villages to secede from them, instructing them to say that they did not belong to the city and were not under their rule; and when they made this plea, he openly supported them in their contention and helped them to raise a faction against the city in the assembly of the Achaeans. This, however, was at a later time.
In Crete he waged war in the service of the Gortynians; not the straightforward and honourable warfare of a Peloponnesian and Arcadian, but one in which he adopted the Cretan practices, and turning their tricks and wiles and stolen marches and ambuscades against themselves, speedily showed them that they were children opposing foolish and vain mischievousness to genuine military experience.