In consequence of this exploit Philopoemen was beloved by the Greeks and conspicuously honoured by them in their theatres, thus giving secret umbrage to Titus Flamininus, who was an ambitious man. For as Roman consul he thought himself more worthy of the Achaeans' admiration than a man of Arcadia, and he considered that his benefactions far exceeded those of Philopoemen, since by a single proclamation he had set free all those parts of Greece which had been subject to Philip and the Macedonians.1
After this Flamininus made peace with Nabis,2
and Nabis was treacherously put to death by the Aetolians.3
Sparta was therefore in a state of confusion, and Philopoemen, seizing his opportunity, fell upon the city with an armed force, and partly by compulsion, partly by persuasion, brought it over to his purposes and made it a member of the Achaean league.
This achievement brought him an amazing repute among the Achaeans, since through his efforts they had acquired a city of so great dignity and power (and indeed it was no slight matter that Sparta had become a member of the Achaean league); moreover, Philopoemen carried with him the principal men among the Spartans, who hoped to have in him a guardian of their liberties.
Therefore, after they had confiscated the house and property of Nabis and obtained thereby a hundred and twenty talents, they Voted to make a present of the money to Philopoemen, and to send an embassy to Megalopolis on the matter. Here, indeed, it became perfectly clear that Philopoemen not only seemed to be, but actually was, a most excellent man.4
For, to begin with, no Spartan was willing to confer with a man of his character about the acceptance of a gift, but they were all so reluctant and afraid to do it that they entrusted the business to a guest-friend of his, Timolaüs.
And in the second place, Timolaüs himself, when he came to Megalopolis, having been entertained at the house of Philopoemen, and having learned thoroughly how dignified he was in his converse with others, how simple his ways of living, and how his character was nowhere to be approached and much less easy to be overcome by bribes, held his peace about the gift of money, and after giving some other excuse for his visit to him, went back home. And when he was sent a second time on the same errand, he did as before.
On his third visit, however, he at last got so far as to acquaint Philopoemen with the earnest desire of his city. Then Philopoemen, who was pleased by what he heard, went in person to Sparta, and counselled the people there not to try to bribe good men who were their friends, and by whose virtues they could profit without payment of money, but rather to buy up and corrupt the bad men who were ruining the city by their factious conduct in the assembly, to the end that such might have their mouths stopped in consequence of their venality, and so he less annoying to their fellow-citizens; for it was better, he said, to take away freedom of speech from their enemies rather than from their friends. Such was his splendid spirit in matters of money.