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As for the Lacedaemonians, since they had cast away many of their young men in the disaster at Leuctra and in their other defeats had lost not a few, and were, taking all together, restricted by the blows of fortune to but few citizen soldiers, and, furthermore, since some of their allies had seceded and others were experiencing a shortage of men for reasons similar to their own, they sank into a state of great weakness. Hence they were compelled to have recourse to the aid of the Athenians, the very people over whom they had once set up thirty tyrants,1 whom they had forbidden to rebuild the walls of their city, whose city they had aimed utterly to destroy, and whose territory, Attica, they wished to turn into a sheepwalk. [2] Yet, after all, nothing is stronger than necessity and fate, which compelled the Lacedaemonians to request the aid of their bitterest enemies. Nevertheless they were not disappointed of their hopes. For the Athenian people, magnanimous and generous, were not terrified by the power of Thebes, and voted to aid with all their forces the Lacedaemonians now that they were in danger of enslavement. Immediately they appointed Iphicrates general and dispatched him with twelve thousand young men the self-same day.2 Iphicrates, then, whose men were in high spirits, advanced with the army at top speed. [3] Meanwhile the Lacedaemonians, as the enemy took up quarters on the borders of Laconia, issued in full force from Sparta and marched on to meet them, weakened in military force but strong in inward courage. [4] Now Epameinondas and the others, perceiving that the country of the Lacedaemonians was difficult to invade, thought it not to their advantage to make the invasion with such a large force in a body, and so decided to divide their army into four columns and enter at several points.3

1 The Thirty were instituted as the governing board at Athens by Lysander after the capture of the city (404 B.C.) following the defeat of Aegospotami. Though Sparta's allies wished to destroy Athens utterly, Sparta herself would not allow such drastic punishment, but did demand the dismantling of the walls, which were torn down by the Athenian populace to the accompaniment of flute music. Though forbidden to rebuild, when, after the victory of Cnidus (394 B.C.), Conon returned to Athens, the people once again built the walls.

2 See Xen. Hell. 6.5.33-49. Diodorus brings in too soon the dispatch of Iphicrates and his army. It belongs to the spring of 369, after the campaign in Laconia.

3 The best account of this invasion is in Xen. Hell. 6.5.22-32. See also Pausanias 9.14; Plut. Pelopidas 24, Plut. Agesilaus 31-32; Polyaenus 2.1.14, 15, 27, 29; Nepos Agesilaus 6; Aelian Var. Hist. 14.27. The invasion of Laconia belongs to the winter 370/69.

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