When the winter had passed, at the very1
beginning of spring Agesilaus again called out the ban against the Acarnanians, in accordance with his promise to the Achaeans. But the Acarnanians, learning of this and thinking that inasmuch as their cities were in the interior they would be just as truly besieged by the people who destroyed their corn as if they were besieged by an army encamped around them, sent ambassadors to Lacedaemon and concluded peace with the Achaeans and an alliance with the Lacedaemonians. Thus ended the affair of the Acarnanians.
After this it seemed to the Lacedaemonians that it was not safe for them to undertake a campaign against the Athenians or against the Boeotians while leaving in their rear a hostile state bordering upon Lacedaemon and one so large as that of the Argives; they accordingly called out the ban against Argos. Now when Agesipolis learned that he was to lead the ban, and when the sacrifices which he offered at the frontier proved favourable, he went to Olympia and consulted the oracle of the god, asking whether2
it would be consistent with piety if he did not acknowledge the holy truce claimed by the Argives; for, he urged, it was not when the appointed time came, but when the Lacedaemonians were about to invade their territory, that they pleaded the sacred months.3
And the god signified to him that it was consistent with piety for him not to acknowledge a holy truce which was pleaded unjustly. Then Agesipolis proceeded straight from there to Delphi and asked Apollo in his turn whether he also held the same opinion as his father Zeus in regard to the truce. And Apollo answered that he did hold quite the same opinion.
Under these circumstances Agesipolis led forth his army from Phlius—for it had been assembling for him there while he was away visiting the holy places—and entered the territory of Argos by way of Nemea. And when the Argives realized that they would not be able to hinder the invasion, they sent, as they were wont to do, two heralds, garlanded, pleading a holy truce. But Agesipolis in reply said that the gods did not think they were making this plea justly, and so he refused to acknowledge the truce, but advanced into their territory and caused great distress and terror both in the country and in the city.
Now while he was at dinner in the land of the Argives, on the first evening of his stay there, and when the after-dinner libations had just been made, the god sent an earthquake; and all the Lacedaemonians, those in the royal tent taking the lead, struck up the paean to Poseidon4
; and the rest of the soldiers expected to retire from the country, because Agis likewise, on an occasion when an earthquake5
took place, had withdrawn his army from Elis.6
But Agesipolis said that if the god had sent an earthquake when he was about to invade, he should have thought that he was forbidding the invasion; but since he sent it after he had invaded, he believed that he was urging him on;
accordingly, on the next day, after offering sacrifices to Poseidon, he again led on his forces, advancing far into the country. And inasmuch as Agesilaus had lately made an expedition into Argos, Agesipolis, finding out from the soldiers how far Agesilaus had led his army in the direction of the wall, and how far he had laid waste the land, endeavoured, like an athlete in the pentathlum, to go beyond him at every point.
On one occasion it was only when he was being pelted with missiles from the towers that he recrossed the trenches around the city wall; and once, when most of the Argives were away in Laconia, he approached so near the gates that the Argives who were at the gates shut out the horsemen of the Boeotians who wanted to enter, through fear that the Lacedaemonians would rush in at the gates along with them; so that the horsemen were compelled to cling, like bats, tight to the walls beneath the battlements. And if it had not chanced that the Cretans were off on a plundering expedition to Nauplia at that time, many men and horses would have been shot down by their arrows.
After this, while Agesipolis was encamping near the enclosed space,7
a thunderbolt fell into his camp; and some men were killed by being struck, others by the shock. After this, desiring to fortify a garrison post at the entrance to the Argive country which leads past Mount Celusa,8
he offered sacrifice; and the livers of the victims were found to be lacking a lobe. When this happened, he led his army away and disbanded it, having inflicted very great harm upon the Argives because he had invaded their land unexpectedly.