Now the laying in of arms was nothing unusual, since almost everybody at that time indulged in robberies and predatory forays; and as for scaling-ladders, Euphranor the engineer made them openly, since his trade screened him from suspicion; and he too was one of the exiles.
As for men, each of the friends of Aratus in Argos furnished him with ten out of the few they had, and he himself equipped thirty of his own servants with arms. Through Xenophilus, the foremost of the robber captains, he also hired a few soldiers, to whom it was given out that a foray was to be made into the territory of Sicyon to seize the horses of Antigonus. And most of them were sent on ahead in small bands to the tower of Polygnotus, with orders to wait there.
Aratus also sent on in advance Caphisias, lightly armed, with four companions; their orders were to come to the gardener's when it was dark, pretending to be travellers, and after taking up quarters there for the night, to shut up him and his dogs; for there was no other way to get past them. The scaling-ladders, which could be taken apart, were packed in boxes, and thus concealed were sent on ahead in waggons.
In the meantime some spies of Nicocles appeared in Argos and were reported to be secretly going about and watching the movements of Aratus. As soon as it was day, therefore, Aratus left his house and showed himself openly in the market-place, conversing with his friends; then he anointed himself in the gymnasium, took with him from the palaestra some of the young men who were wont to drink and make holiday with him, and went back home; and after a little one of his servants was seen carrying garlands through the market-place, another buying lights, and another talking with the women that regularly furnished music of harp and flute at banquets.
When the spies saw all this, they were completely deceived, and with loud laughter said to one another:
‘Nothing, you see, is more timorous than a tyrant, since even Nicocles, though master of so great a city and so large a force, is in fear of a stripling who squanders on pleasures and mid-day banquets his means of subsistence in exile.’