There is a place Aegila
, where is a sanctuary sacred to Demeter. Aristomenes and his men knowing that the women were keeping festival there . . . the women were inspired by the goddess to defend themselves, and most of the Messenians were wounded with the knives with which the women sacrificed the victims and the spits on which they pierced and roasted the meat. Aristomenes was struck with the torches and taken alive. Nevertheless he escaped to Messenia
during the same night. Archidameia, the priestess of Demeter, was charged with having released him, not for a bribe but because she had been in love with him before; but she maintained that Aristomenes had escaped by burning through his bonds.
In the third year of the war, when an engagement was about to take place at what is called The Great Trench, and the Messenians had been joined by Arcadians from all the cities, the Lacedaemonians bribed Aristocrates the son of Hicetas of Trapezus, who was then king and general of the Arcadians. The Lacedaemonians were the first of whom we know to give bribes to an enemy, and the first to make victory in war a matter of purchase.
Before the Lacedaemonians committed this crime in the Messenian war in the matter of the treachery of Aristocrates the Arcadian, the decision in battle was reached by valor and the fortune of heaven. Again it is clear that at a later date, when they were lying opposite the Athenian fleet at Aegospotami
, the Lacedaemonians bought Adeimantus and other Athenian generals.
However in course of time the punishment of Neoptolemus, as it is called, came upon the Lacedaemonians themselves in their turn. Now it was the fate of Neoptolemus the son of Achilles, after killing Priam on the altar of Zeus Herkeios （Of the Courtyard）, himself to be slain by the altar of Apollo in Delphi
. Thenceforward to suffer what a man has himself done to another is called the Punishment of Neoptolemus.
So in the case of the Lacedaemonians, when they were at the height of their power after the destruction of the Athenian fleet, and Agesilaus had already reduced the greater part of Asia
, they were unable to capture the whole empire of the Persians but the barbarian overreached them with their own invention, sending money to Corinth
as the result of this bribery the so-called Corinthian war broke out, compelling Agesilaus to abandon his conquests in Asia
Thus it was the purpose of heaven to turn the trick employed by the Lacedaemonians against the Messenians to their own destruction. After receiving the money from Lacedaemon
, Aristocrates concealed his plot from the Arcadians for the present, but when they were about to come into action, he alarmed them by saying that they were caught in a difficult place and there would be no means of retreat for them, if defeated, also that the offerings had not been satisfactory. He ordered everyone therefore to take to flight when he gave the signal.
When the Lacedaemonians were about to close and the Messenians were occupied on their own front, then Aristocrates withdrew the Arcadians as the battle began, leaving the Messenian left and center without troops. For the Arcadians occupied both positions in the absence of the Eleians from the battle and of the Argives and Sicyonians. To complete his work Aristocrates caused his men to fly through the Messenians.
They were amazed at the unexpected state of affairs, and moreover were thrown into confusion by the passage of the Arcadians through their ranks, so that they almost forgot what lay before them; for instead of the advance of the Lacedaemonians they watched the Arcadian retirement, some begging them to stand by them, others cursing them for traitors and scoundrels.
It was not difficult for the Lacedaemonians to surround the Messenians thus isolated, and they won without trouble the easiest of victories. Aristomenes and his men held together and tried to check the fiercest of the Lacedaemonian assaults but, being few in number, were unable to render much assistance. So great were the numbers of the people of the Messenians slain that in lieu of their former thoughts of becoming the masters instead of the slaves of the Lacedaemonians they now despaired of safety itself. Among the chieftains killed were Androcles and Phintas, and Phanas after the most glorious resistance. He had previously been victorious in the long foot race at Olympia
Aristomenes collected the Messenian survivors after the battle and persuaded them to desert Andania
and most of the other towns that lay in the interior and to settle on Mount Eira. When they had been driven to this spot, the Lacedaemonians sat down to besiege them, thinking that they would soon reduce them. Nevertheless the Messenians maintained their resistance for eleven years after the disaster at the Trench.
The length of the siege is proved by these lines of the poet Rhianus, regarding the Lacedaemonians:“In the folds of the white mountain were they encamped, for two and twenty winters and green herbs.
”Rhianus, unknown location.
He reckons winters and summers, by “green herbs” meaning the green corn or the time just before harvest.