Such being their resolve, and Ptolemy, as chance would have it, making a visit to Canopus, in the first place word was sent about that Cleomenes had been set free by the king; and next, in view of a custom which the king had of sending presents and a banquet to those who were going to be released from imprisonment, the friends of Cleomenes in the city prepared and sent in to him an abundance of such things, thus completely deceiving the guards, who thought the king had sent them.
For Cleomenes made a sacrifice and gave the guards a bountiful share of his provisions, and then took his place at table with garlands on his head and feasted with his friends. We are told, too, that he set out upon his enterprise sooner than he had intended, because he learned that a slave who was privy to it had passed the night outside in company with a mistress. So fearing that his plans would be revealed, when noon came and he perceived that his guards were sleeping off their wine, he put on his tunic, opened the seam over his right shoulder, and with drawn sword sprang forth, accompanied by his friends, who were likewise arrayed, thirteen in number.
Hippitas, who was lame, joined in making the first onset with all his soul, but when he saw that he was a hindrance to the progress of his companions, he bade them kill him, and not ruin the enterprise by waiting for a useless fellow. As it chanced, however, an Alexandrine was leading a horse past the doors, so they seized the animal, put whippets on its back, and then rushed at full speed through the narrow streets of the city, summoning the throng to win their freedom.
These had enough courage, as it would seem, to admire and praise the daring of Cleomenes, but not a man was bold enough to follow and help him.
Well, then, as Ptolemy the son of Chrysermus was coming out of the palace, three of them straightway fell upon him and slew him; and as another Ptolemy, who had the city in his charge, was driving towards them in a chariot, they rushed to meet him, scattered his servants and mercenaries, dragged him from his chariot, and slew him.
Then they proceeded to the citadel, purposing to break open the prison and avail themselves of the multitude of prisoners. But the guards were too quick for them and barred the way securely, so that Cleomenes, baffled in this attempt also, roamed up and down through the city, not a man joining with him but everybody filled with fear and flying from him.
So, then, he desisted from his attempt, and saying to his friends,
‘It is no wonder, after all, that women rule over men who run away from freedom,’ he called upon them all to die in a manner worthy of their king and their past achievements. So Hippitas first, at his own request, was smitten down by one of the younger men, then each of the others calmly and cheerfully slew himself, except Panteus, the man who led the way in the capture of Megalopolis.1
He had once been the king's favourite, because in his youth he was most fair, and in his young manhood most amenable to the Spartan discipline; and now his orders were to wait until the king and the rest of the band were dead, and then to die himself. At last all the rest lay prostrate on the ground, and Panteus, going up to each one in turn and pricking him with his sword, sought to discover whether any spark of life remained. When he pricked Cleomenes in the ankle and saw that his face twitched, he kissed him, and then sat down by his side; at last the end came, and after embracing the king's dead body, he slew himself upon it.