Pausanias had stipulated that the men who carried the
messages from him to the king should not return and thus become betrayers of their secret
communications; consequently, since they were being put to death by the receivers of the
letters, no one of them was ever returning alive.
So one of
the couriers, reasoning from this fact, opened his letters, and discovering that his inference
was correct as to the killing of all who carried the messages, he turned the letters over to
But when the ephors were loath to believe this,
because the letters had been turned over to them already opened, and demanded further and more
substantial proof, the man offered to produce Pausanias acknowledging the facts in person.
Consequently he went to Taenarum, and seating himself as a
suppliant at the shrine of Poseidon he set up a tent with two rooms and concealed the ephors
and certain other Spartans; and when Pausanias came to him and asked why he was a suppliant,
the man upbraided him for directing in the letter that he should be put to death.
Pausanias said that he was sorry and went on to ask the man to forgive
the mistake; he even implored him to help keep the matter secret, promising him great gifts,
and the two then parted. As for the ephors and the others with them, although they had learned
the precise truth, at that time they held their peace, but on a later occasion, when the
Lacedaemonians were taking up the matter together with the ephors, Pausanias learned of it in
advance, acted first, and fled for safety into the temple of Athena of the Brazen House.1
And while the Lacedaemonians were hesitating whether to punish
him now that he was a suppliant, we are told that the mother of Pausanias, coming to the
temple, neither said nor did anything else than to pick up a brick and lay it against the
entrance of the temple, and after she had done this she returned to her home.
And the Lacedaemonians, falling in with the mother's decision, walled up
the entrance and in this manner forced Pausanias to meet his end through starvation.2
body of the dead man was turned over to his relatives for burial; but the divinity showed its
displeasure at the violation of the sanctity of suppliants,
for once when the Lacedaemonians were consulting the oracle at Delphi
about some other matters, the god replied by
commanding them to restore her suppliant to the goddess.
Consequently the Spartans, thinking the oracle's command to be impracticable, were at a loss
for a considerable time, being unable to carry out the injunction of the god. Concluding,
however, to do as much as was within their power, they made two bronze statues of Pausanias and
set them up in the temple of Athena.