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As for Courage, he seems to me to have afforded clear proofs of that by always engaging himself to fight against the strongest enemies of his state and of Greece, and by always placing himself in the forefront of the struggle. [2] When the enemy were willing to join battle with him,1 it was not by their panic flight that he won victory, but it was after overcoming them in stubborn fighting that he set up a trophy, leaving behind him imperishable memorials of his own valour, and bearing in his own body visible tokens of the fury of his fighting, so that not by hearsay but by the evidence of their own eyes men could judge what manner of man he was. [3] In truth the trophies of Agesilaus are not to be counted by telling how many he set up; the number of his campaigns is the number of them. His mastery was in no way less complete when the enemy were unwilling to accept battle, but it was gained at less risk and with more profit to the state and to the allies. So in the Great Games the unchallenged champion is crowned no less than he who has fought to conquer. [4]

Of his Wisdom I find the evidence in every one of his deeds. Towards his fatherland he behaved in such a manner that, being entirely obedient to her, he won the obedience of the citizens, and by his zeal for his comrades he held the unquestioning devotion of his friends: and as for his troops, he gained at once their obedience and their affection. Surely nothing is wanting to the strength of that battle-line in which obedience results in perfect discipline, and affection for the general produces faithful promptitude. [5] As for the enemy, though they were forced to hate, he gave them no chance to disparage him. For he contrived that his allies always had the better of them, by the use of deception when occasion offered, by anticipating their action if speed was necessary, by hiding when it suited his purpose, and by practising all the opposite methods when dealing with enemies to those which he applied when dealing with friends. [6] Night, for example, was to him as day, and day as night,2 for he often veiled his movements so completely that none could guess where he was, whither he was going, or what he meant to do. Thus he made even strong positions untenable to the enemy, turning one, scaling another, snatching a third by stealth. [7] On the march, whenever he knew that the enemy could bring him to an engagement if they chose, he would lead his army in close order, alert and ready to defend himself, moving on as quietly as a modest maiden, since he held that this was the best means of maintaining calm, of avoiding panic, confusion, and blundering, and of guarding against a surprise attack. [8]

And so, by using such methods, he was formidable to his enemies, and inspired his friends with strength and confidence. Thus he was never despised by his foes, never brought to account by the citizens, never blamed by his friends, but throughout his career he was praised and idolised by all the world.

1 The reference is not general, but definitely to the battle of Coronea; see Xen. Ages. 2.11-13

2 Xen. Hell. 6.1.15; Xen. Const. Lac. 5.7; Xen. Cyrop. 1.5.12.

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hide References (4 total)
  • Cross-references in notes from this page (4):
    • Xenophon, Cyropaedia, 1.5.12
    • Xenophon, Hellenica, 6.1.15
    • Xenophon, Constitution of the Lacedaimonians, 5.7
    • Xenophon, Agesilaus, 2.11
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