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Lycurgas, and to govern by them.” · But do you not," said one of his judges, “repent of your rashness?" “ No,” he answered, “though I see my death is inevit. able, I can never repent so just and honourable an intention." The Ephori ordered him to be carried out and strangled. Agis, about to die, perceiving one who bitterly bewailed his misfortune, said to him, “ Weep pot, friend, for me, who die innocently, but grieve for those who are guilty of this deed ; my condition is better than theirs." Then stretching out his neck, he suffered with a constancy that became his royal dignity and his exalted character. As soon as Agis was dead, Amphares, one of those who had betrayed him, came out to the prison gate, and met the mother and grandmother soliciting admission. He told them they need fear no further violence to their son; and if they pleased, they might go in and see him. When they had entered the prison, he commanded the gate to be locked and the grandmother to be first introduced; she was very old, and had passed her days with much reputation of virtue and wisdom. As soon as Amphares thought she was dispatched, he told the mother she might go in also. Agesistrata entered and beheld her son stretched lifeless on the ground, and her mother suspended by the neck. For a moment she stood in silent horror; then recalling her spirits, assisted the soldiers to take down the body of her mother, and decently covering it, laid it by the corpse of her son. Him she embraced and kissed, exclaiming, “O my son, it is thy great goodness that has brought thee to this end." Amphares entered as she spake, and said, “ Since you approve his deeds, it is fit you share in his reward.” Agesistrata rising, met her fate with only these few words I pray the gods that this may redound to the good of Sparta.”
To Leonidas succeeded his son Cleomenes, a prince of much virtue and enterprise. He too had schemes of reformation for Sparta, but felt that nothing could be
done unless he could rid himself of the Ephori. To effect this purpose, he took advantage of a war in which he was engaged with the Achæans, a neighbouring state assuming some importance under their hero, Aratus, as Thebes had done under Epaminondas--a brief glory, dependent on the life of one man. Having gained for himself the command, Cleomenes led into the field all whom he most suspected of opposing his designs. He there performed many worthy actions; but took care so to harass and fatigue his army, that most of them de sired to repose themselves in Arcadia when the king was to return. With the remainder, he slowly approached Lacedæmon. As he drew near the city, he sent forward a party of bis confidants, who surprised the Ephori at supper, and slew four of them--the fifth escaped by counterfeiting death, till he could retire to the sanctuary. On the morrow, Cleomenes came into the forum, or dered the chairs of the Ephori to be removed, excepting one on which he placed himself, and harangued the people in justification of his conduct. He showed them the necessity of restoring the institutions of Lycurgus, and assured them, though compelled to begin with violence, he would hereafter govern in strict adherence to the laws. He was the first to deliver into the publick stock all that he possessed, and his friends and relations followed the example. In dividing the lands, he assigned equal shares to those whom he had banished, intending to recall them as soon as the safety of the state would permit. He restored the old Laconic mode of educating the youth, of eating in publick, and performing their exercises together. There being at this time no king but himself, he associated his brother Euclidas with him on the throne, that the mode of government might be in no way ehanged. But the most prevailing influence of Cleomenes arose from his own character and conduct, conforming in every thing to the habits of the meanest citizens. There was in his house no purple furniture, or canopies of state, or chairs or couches for indulgence; every thing was plain about him. When offered any petition, he stepped forward to receive it, redressing the injuries of others and offering none himself. When strangers dined with him, he had plenty of wine, set on in a brass vessel, with silver cups near it, according to the number of guests; every man being permitted to drink what he pleased, but never desired to take more.
The virtues of Cleomenés for a short season renovated the sinking prosperity of his country; a returning gleam of glory, such as we may find in the decline of every nation, too brief to save it from extinction. He did. much for reform at home, and much for renown abroad; but it was Cleomenes, not Sparta now that triumphed, and the brief prosperity was terminated with his existence. The chief enemy of Sparta, or of Cleomenes whom he envied, was Aratus, the Achæan. In spite of his attempts to treat, he kept him in perpetual warfare. The monarchs of Egypt, too, at this time appear as interfering in the affairs of Greece; and we hear of Ptolemy demanding for hostages of the king of Sparta, his mother and his son, as the price of his friendship. It is told on this occasion, as an anecdote of Spartan womanhood, that Cleomenes being troubled at this demand, disclosed it with much hesitation and difficulty to his mother. She replied to him, “ Was it this you were so much afraid to tell? Why do you not put me on shipboard, and send this carcass where it may be of use to Sparta, before age wastes it unprofitably here." From Egypt she afterwards wrote to him, "King of Sparta, do what is worthy of your country, and may redound to its profit; nor for the sake of an old woman and a little child, stand in fear of what Ptolemy may do.”.
The Macedonians also were now. in Greece as the adversaries of Sparta; and the valour and wisdom of Cleomenes maintained with difficulty the unequal contest. ;
Still he was successful; though many historians charge him with having acted with temerity and rashness. Finally venturing an unequal battle, the Lacedæmonians
were totally defeated, and two hundred only escaped the slaughter: a victory attributed chiefly to the valour of the Macedonian troops. When the battle was over, Cleomenes returned to Sparta; but there he knew that he could not remain. After giving a few directions, he went to his own house, where without taking refreshment, or unloosing his armour, he leant himself awhile against a pillar to consider what he should do. He determined to escape to Egypt. There he was well received, and, while Ptolemy Euergetes lived, well-treated: but in the succeeding reign was suspected and confined ; which resenting, he with twelve friends attempted to force the place in which he was imprisoned ; and finding it impossible to escape, they slew each other. His mother and family, and all that belonged to him, were murdered in consequence by the Egyptians. With Cleomenes ended the Herculean race of Spartan kings.
From this time, we can scarcely look upon Sparta as an independent kingdom. After the last fatal battle of Sellasia, she fell into the hands of the Macedonian Antigonus, who from respect to the memory of her greatness, treated the inhabitants with much kindness. While Cleomenes lived, though an exile and a prisoner in Egypt, the Spartans remained passive under the controul of Macedon; but when the news of his death arrived, tumult arose, and the successor of Antigonus had to send an army to bring them again to submission. Per. sons who had little right to the throne, began to dispute for the possession of it. Ancient history now gives to the reigning prince of Sparta the name of Tyrant instead of King, because they were not of the royal line, and had seldom any other claim to the throne, than the power of seizing it. Agesipolis" and Lycurgus are the 'first named tyrants. The latter, twice banished and twice recalled, had very considerable saccesses against the Macedonians. We know not what eventually became of him; whether he died in peace or by the sword, in possession of the kingdom, or again dethroned ; neither can we find what measures were pursued by the Spartans, after the loss of this, their first elected sovereign.
Machanidas succeeded, but when or how we have no information. We hear of him first as king in the year B.C. 207. His talents we learn by their effects. At home he expelled the Ephori that he might rule alone; abroad he endangered the liberties of all the Peloponnesus by his rapacity. Philopoemen, a man of note in Grecian story, was now the hero of the Achæan league: the nature of this league we shall explain hereafter: at this time it comprised all the surrounding states of Greece, united in opposition to the power of Sparta. The armies met in the field, and Machapidas fell by the hand of Philopoemen. The Achæans wasted all the provinces that had been subject to him, the Spartans having no power to resist them.
Not long after this, we find one Nabis on the throne, a tyrant more monstrous than all that had preceded him. There was no limit to his cruelty. To the honest, brave, and noble among the people, he was an open and implacable enemy. Such as he could reach he promptly mür. dered ; and those who went into banishment to escape him, he hired assassins to pursue, till in the field, at their tables, or in their beds, an opportunity was found to slay them. It is vain to repeat the story of his cruelties, but well may we perceive in them the fallen state of Sparta ; to which, in other days, even an unsuccessful monarch dared not to return. All Greece, indeed, had experienced as great a change, and stood in a position as different from that which was her former boast. The power of the kings of Macedon had destroyed the independence of all the other states. But their glories had a yet more fearful foe at hand. Rome was now in the plenitude of her greatness, scarcely knowing where to expend her strength, or how to find enemies enough to conquer. The distressed Greeks, apprehending no more