When Dromocleides was archon in Athens
, the Romans elected as consuls Marcus Fabius and
Gnaeus Manlius. In this year the Lacedaemonians, now that for no good reason they had lost the
command of the sea, were resentful; consequently they were incensed at the Greeks who had
fallen away from them and continued to threaten them with the appropriate punishment.
And when a meeting of the Gerousia2
was convened, they
considered making war upon the Athenians for the sake of regaining the command of the sea.
Likewise, when the general Assembly was convened, the younger
men and the majority of the others were eager to recover the leadership, believing that, if
they could secure it, they would enjoy great wealth, Sparta
in general would be made greater and more powerful, and the estates of its
private citizens would receive a great increase of prosperity.
They kept calling to mind also the ancient oracle in which the god commanded them to beware
lest their leadership should be a "lame" one, and the oracle, they insisted, meant nothing
other than the present; for "lame" indeed their rule would be if, having two leaderships,3
they should lose one of them.
Since practically all the
citizens had been eager for this course of action and the Gerousia was in session to consider
these matters, no one entertained the hope that any man would have the temerity to suggest any
But a member of the Gerousia, Hetoemaridas by
name, who was a direct descendant of Heracles and enjoyed favour among the citizens by reason
of his character, undertook to advise that they leave the Athenians with their leadership,
since it was not to Sparta
's interest, he declared,
to lay claim to the sea. He was able to bring pertinent arguments in support of his surprising
proposal, so that, against the expectation of all, he won over both the Gerousia and the
And in the end the Lacedaemonians decided that the
opinion of Hetoemaridas was to their advantage and abandoned their zest for the war against the
As for the Athenians, at first they expected to
have a great war with the Lacedaemonians for the command of the sea, and for this reason were
building additional triremes, raising a large sum of money, and dealing honourably with their
allies; but when they learned of the decision of the Lacedaemonians, they were relieved of
their fear of war and set about increasing the power of their city.