After advancing as far as Coroneia and coming within sight of the enemy, he drew up his army in battle array, giving the left wing to the Orchomenians, while he himself led forward the right. On the other side, the Thebans held the right wing themselves, and the Argives the left. Xenophon says that this battle was unlike any ever fought,
and he was present himself and fought on the side of Agesilaüs, having crossed over with him from Asia.
The first impact, it is true, did not meet with much resistance, nor was it long contested, but the Thebans speedily routed the Orchomenians, as Agesilaüs did the Argives. Both parties, however, on hearing that their left wings were overwhelmed and in flight, turned back. Then, although the victory might have been his without peril if he had been willing to refrain from attacking the Thebans in front and to smite them in the rear after they had passed by, Agesilaüs was carried away by passion and the ardour of battle and advanced directly upon them, wishing to bear them down by sheer force.
But they received him with a vigour that matched his own, and a battle ensued which was fierce at all points in the line, but fiercest where the king himself stood surrounded by his fifty volunteers,
whose opportune and emulous valour seems to have saved his life. For they fought with the utmost fury and exposed their lives in his behalf, and though they were not able to keep him from being wounded, but many blows of spears and swords pierced his armour and reached his person, they did succeed in dragging him off alive, and standing in close array in front of him, they slew many foes, while many of their own number fell.
But since it proved too hard a task to break the Theban front, they were forced to do what at the outset they were loth to do. They opened their ranks and let the enemy pass through, and then, when these had got clear, and were already marching in looser array, the Spartans followed on the run and smote them on the flanks. They could not, however, put them to rout, but the Thebans withdrew to Mount Helicon,
greatly elated over the battle, in which, as they reasoned, their own contingent had been undefeated.