2. After crossing the Hellespont, he passed through the very same tribes as the Persian king with his mighty host; and the distance that had been traversed by the barbarian in a year was covered by Agesilaus in less than a month. For he had no intention of arriving too late to aid his fatherland.  When he had passed through Macedonia and reached Thessaly, the people of Larisa, Crannon, Scotussa and Pharsalus, who were allies of the Boeotians, all the Thessalians, in fact, except those who happened to be in exile at the time, followed at his heels and kept molesting him. For a time he led the army in a hollow square, with one half of the cavalry in front and the other half in the rear; but finding his progress hampered by Thessalian attacks on his rearguard, he sent round all the cavalry from the vanguard to the rear, except his own escort.  When the two forces faced one another in line of battle, the Thessalians, believing it inexpedient to engage heavy infantry with cavalry, wheeled round and slowly retired, their enemy following very cautiously. Agesilaus, noticing the errors into which both sides were falling, now sent round his own escort of stalwart horsemen, with orders to bid the others to charge at full speed, and to do the same themselves, and not to give the enemy a chance of rallying. As for the Thessalians, on seeing the unexpected charge they either did not rally at all, or were captured in the attempt to do so with their horses broadside to the enemy.  Polycharmus the Pharsalian, commander of the cavalry, did indeed turn, and fell fighting along with those about him. Hereupon ensued a wild flight, so that some of the enemy were killed and some were taken prisoners: at any rate they never halted until they reached Mt. Narthacium.  On that day Agesilaus set up a trophy between Pras and Narthacium, and here for the moment he paused, mightily pleased with his exploit, since he had defeated an enemy inordinately proud of his horsemanship with the cavalry that he had himself created.On the morrow he crossed the Achaean mountains in Phthia, and now his route led him through friendly country till he reached the borders of Boeotia.  Here he found arrayed against him the Thebans, Athenians, Argives, Corinthians, Aenianians, Euboeans, and both the Locrian tribes. Without a moment's delay, in full view of the enemy, he drew up his army for battle. In addition to the army that he had brought with him he had a regiment and a half of Lacedaemonians, and of the local allies only the Phocians and Orchomenians.  Now I am not going to say that his forces were far inferior in numbers and in quality, and that nevertheless he accepted battle. That statement, I think, would but show a want of common sense in Agesilaus and my own folly in praising a leader who wantonly jeopardised interests of vital moment. On the contrary — and this is what I do admire him for — he brought into the field an army not a whit inferior to the enemy's; he so armed it that it looked one solid mass of bronze and scarlet; he took care to render his men  capable of meeting all calls on their endurance; he filled their hearts with confidence that they were able to withstand any and every enemy; he inspired them all with an eager determination to out-do one another in valour; and lastly he filled all with anticipation that many good things would befall them, if only they proved good men. For he believed that men so prepared fight with all their might; nor in point of fact did he deceive himself.  I will describe the battle, for there has been none like it in our time. The two armies met in the plain of Coronea, Agesilaus advancing from the Cephisus, the Thebans and their allies from Helicon. Their eyes told them that the opposing lines of battle were exactly matched in strength, and the number of cavalry on both sides was about the same. Agesilaus was on the right wing of his army and had the Orchomenians on his extreme left. On the other side the Thebans themselves were on the right wing and the Argives held the left.  As they approached both sides for a time maintained complete silence, but when they were about a furlong apart, the Thebans raised the battle-cry and rushed forward at the double. The distance between them was still about one hundred yards when the mercenary troops under Herippidas, consisting of the  men who had gone with Agesilaus from home and some of the Cyreians, dashed out in turn from their main body, closely followed by Ionians, Aeolians and Hellespontines. All these took part in the dash, and coming within spear-thrust put to flight the force in front of them. As for the Argives, they fled towards Helicon without awaiting the attack of Agesilaus. And now some of the mercenaries were in the act of crowning Agesilaus with a wreath, when a man reported to him that the Thebans had cut their way through the Orchomenians and were among the baggage train. So he immediately wheeled his main body and advanced against them; and the Thebans in their turn, seeing that their allies had sought refuge at the foot of Mt. Helicon, and wanting to break through and join their friends, made a strong move forward.  At this juncture one may say without fear of contradiction that Agesilaus showed courage; but the course that he adopted was not the safest. For he might have allowed the men who were trying to break through to pass, and then have followed them and annihilated those in the rear. Instead of doing that he made a furious frontal attack on the Thebans. Thrusting shield against shield, they shoved and fought and killed and fell. There was no shouting, nor was there silence, but the strange noise that wrath and battle together will produce. In the end some of the Thebans broke through and reached Helicon, but many fell during the retreat.  The victory lay with Agesilaus; but he himself had been carried wounded to his battle-line, when some horsemen rode up, and told him that eighty of the enemy retaining their arms had taken cover in the temple, and they asked what they should do. Though wounded in every part of his body with every sort of weapon, he did not forget his duty towards the gods, but gave orders that these men should be suffered to go whithersoever they wished, and would not suffer them to be harmed, and charged his escort of cavalry to conduct them to a place of safety.  Now that the fighting was at an end, a weird spectacle met the eye, as one surveyed the scene of the conflict — the earth stained with blood, friend and foe lying dead side by side, shields smashed to pieces, spears snapped in two, daggers bared of their sheaths, some on the ground, some embedded in the bodies, some yet gripped by the hand.  Then, as the day was far spent, having dragged the enemy's dead1 within their battle line, they supped and slept. Early next morning Agesilaus ordered Gylis, the polemarch, to draw up the army in battle order and to set up a trophy, and to command every man to wear a wreath in honour of the god2 and all the flute-players to play.  Now while they were carrying out these orders the Thebans sent a herald, asking leave to bury their dead under protection of a truce. And so a truce was made, and Agesilaus left for home, choosing, instead of supreme power in Asia, to rule and to be ruled at home according to the constitution.  Some time afterwards, finding that the Argives were enjoying the fruits of their land, that they had appropriated Corinth and were finding the war a pleasant occupation, he made an expedition against them. He first laid waste all their territory, then crossed to Corinth by the pass3 and captured the walls leading to Lechaeum. Having thus unbarred the gates of Peloponnese, he returned home for the festival of Hyacinthus4 and joined in singing the paean in honour of the god,5 taking the place assigned to him by the choirmaster.  After a time, discovering that the Corinthians were keeping all their cattle safe in Peiraeum, and sowing and reaping the crops throughout that district, and — what he thought most serious — that the Boeotians were finding this route convenient for sending support to the Corinthians, with Creusis as their base, he marched against Peiraeum. Seeing that it was strongly guarded, he moved his camp after the morning meal to a position before the capital, as though the city was about to surrender.  But becoming aware that supports had been hurriedly poured into the city during the night from Peiraeum, he turned about at daybreak and captured Peiraeum, finding it undefended, and everything in it, along with the fortresses that stood there, fell into his hands. Having done this, he returned home.  After these events, the Achaeans, who were zealous advocates of the alliance, begged him to join them in an expedition against Acarnania ... .6 And when the Acarnanians attacked him in a mountain pass he seized the heights above their heads with his light infantry,7 fought an engagement and, after inflicting severe losses on them, set up a trophy; nor did he cease until he had induced the Acarnanians, Aetolians and Argives to enter into friendship with the Achaeans and alliance with himself.  89When the enemy sent embassies desiring peace, Agesilaus opposed the peace until he forced Corinth and Thebes to restore to their homes the citizens who had been exiled on account of their sympathy10 with the Lacedaemonians. And again later, having led an expedition in person against Phleius, he also restored the Phleiasian exiles who had suffered in the same cause. Possibly some may censure these actions on other grounds, but at least it is obvious that they were prompted by a spirit of true comradeship.  It was in the same spirit that he subsequently11 made an expedition against Thebes, to relieve the Lacedaemonians in that city when their opponents had taken to murdering them. Finding the city protected on all sides by a trench and stockade, he crossed the Pass of Cynoscephalae, and laid waste the country up to the city walls, offering battle to the Thebans both on the plain and on the hills, if they chose to fight. In the following year he made another expedition against Thebes, and, after crossing the stockade and trenches at Scolus, laid waste the rest of Boeotia.  Up to this time he and his city enjoyed unbroken success; and though the following years brought a series of troubles, it cannot be said that they were incurred under the leadership of Agesilaus. On the other hand, after the disaster at Leuctra, when his adversaries in league with the Mantineans were murdering his friends and acquaintances in Tegea, and a coalition of all Boeotia, Arcadia and Elis12 had been formed, he took the field with the Lacedaemonian forces only, thus disappointing the general expectation that the Lacedaemonians would not even go outside their own borders for a long time to come. It was not until he had laid waste the country of those who had murdered his friends that he returned home once more.  After this Sparta was attacked by all the Arcadians, Argives, Eleians and Boeotians, who had the support of the Phocians, both the Locrian peoples, the Thessalians, Aenianians, Acarnanians and Euboeans. In addition the slaves and many of the outlander communities were in revolt, and at least as many of the Spartan nobles had fallen in the battle of Leuctra as survived. He kept the city safe notwithstanding, and that though it was without walls, not going out into the open where the advantage would have lain wholly with the enemy, and keeping his army strongly posted where the citizens would have the advantage; for he believed that he would be surrounded on all sides if he came out into the plain, but that if he made a stand in the defiles and the heights, he would be master of the situation.  After the retirement of the enemy, none will deny that his conduct was marked by good sense. The marching and riding incidental to active service were no longer possible to a man of his years, but he saw that the state must have money if she was to gain an ally anywhere. So he applied himself to the business of raising money. At home he did all that ingenuity could suggest; and, if he saw any prospect of serving the state abroad, shrank from no measures that circumstances called for, and he was not ashamed to go out, not as a general, but as an envoy.  And even as an envoy he accomplished work worthy of a great general. For instance, Autophradates laying siege to Ariobarzanes, an ally of Sparta, at Assos, took to his heels from fear of Agesilaus. Cotys for his part, besieging Sestos, while it was still in the hands of Ariobarzanes, broke up the siege and made off. With good reason, therefore, might the victorious envoy have set up a trophy once again to record these bloodless successes.  Again, Mausolus, laying siege to both these places with a fleet of a hundred vessels, was induced, not indeed by fear, but by persuasion, to sail for home. In this affair too his success was admirable; for those who considered that they were under an obligation to him and those who fled before him, both paid. Yet again, Tachos and Mausolus (another of those who contributed money to Sparta, owing to his old ties of hospitality with Agesilaus), sent him home with a magnificent escort.  Subsequently, when he was now about eighty years of age, he became aware that the king of Egypt was bent on war with Persia, and was possessed of large forces of infantry and cavalry and plenty of money. He was delighted when a summons for help reached him from the Egyptian king, who actually promised him the chief command.  For he believed that at one stroke he would repay the Egyptian for his good offices to Sparta, would again set free the Greeks in Asia, and would chastise the Persian for his former hostility, and for demanding now, when he professed to be an ally of Sparta, that her claim to Messene should be given up.  However, when this suitor for his assistance failed to give him the command Agesilaus felt that he had been grossly deceived, and was in doubt what he ought to do. At this juncture first a portion of the Egyptian troops, operating as a separate army, revolted from the king, and then the rest of his forces deserted him. The king left Egypt and fled in terror to Sidon in Phoenicia, while the Egyptians split up into two parties, and each chose its own king.  Agesilaus now realised that if he helped neither king, neither of them would pay the Greeks their wages, neither would provide a market, and the conqueror, whichever he proved to be, would be hostile, but if he co-operated with one of them, that one, being under an obligation to him, would in all probability adopt a friendly attitude. Accordingly, having decided which of them showed the stronger signs of being a friend to the Greeks, he took the field with him. He inflicted a crushing defeat on the enemy of the Greeks, and helped to establish his rival; and so having made him the friend of Sparta, and having received a13 great sum of money in addition, he sailed home, though it was mid-winter, with all haste, in order that the state might be in a position to take action against her enemies in the coming summer.
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Table of Contents:
4 Celebrated annually at Amyclae, early in the summer.
5 Apollo, who had accidentally killed Hyacinthus.
8 Peace of Antalcidas.
9 387 B.C.
10 381 B.C.
11 377 B.C.
12 370 B.C.
13 362 B.C.
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