This the reader will easily gather from the story. I will now compare with them two Lacedaemonian popular leaders, the kings Agis and Cleomenes. For they, being desirous also to raise the people, and to restore the noble and just form of government, now long fallen into disuse, incurred the hatred of the rich and powerful, who could not endure to be deprived of the selfish enjoyments to which they were accustomed. These were not indeed brothers by nature, as the two Romans, but they had a kind of brotherly resemblance in their actions and designs, which took a rise from such beginnings and occasions as I am now about to relate.
When the love of gold and silver had once gained admittance into the Lacedaemonian commonwealth, it was quickly followed by avarice and baseness of spirit in the pursuit of it, and by luxury, effeminacy, and prodigality in the use. Then Sparta fell from almost all her former virtue and repute, and so continued till the days of Agis and Leonidas, who both together were kings of the Lacedaemonians.
Agis was of the royal family of Eurypon, son of Eudamidas, and the sixth in descent from Agesilaus, who made the expedition into Asia, and was the greatest man of his time in Greece. Agesilaus left behind him a son called Archidamus, the same who was slain at Mandonium, in Italy, by the Messapians, and who was then succeeded by his eldest son Agis. He being killed by Antipater near Megalopolis, and leaving no issue, was succeeded by his brother Eudamidas; he, by a son called Archidamus; and Archidamus, by another Eudamidas, the father of this Agis of whom we now treat.
Leonidas, son of Cleonymus, was of the other royal house of the Agiadae, and the eighth in descent from Pausanias, who defeated Mardonius in the battle of Plataea. Pausanias was succeeded by a son called Plistoanax; and he, by another Pausanias, who was banished, and lived as a private man at Tegea; while his eldest son Agesipolis reigned in his place. He, dying without issue, was succeeded by a younger brother, called Cleombrotus, who left two sons; the elder was Agesipolis, who reigned but a short time, and died without issue; the younger, who then became king, was called Cleomenes, and had also two sons, Acrotatus and Cleonymus. The first died before his father, but left a son called Areus, who succeeded, and being slain at Corinth, left the kingdom to his son Acrotatus. This Acrotatus was defeated, and slain near Megalopolis, in a battle against the tyrant Aristodemus; he left his wife big with child, and on her being delivered of a son, Leonidas, son of the above-named Cleonymus, was made his guardian, and as the young king died before becoming a man, he succeeded in the kingdom.
Leonidas was a king not particularly suitable to his people. For though there were at that time at Sparta a general decline in manners, yet a greater revolt from the old habits appeared in him than in others. For having lived a long time among the great lords of Persia, and been a follower of king Seleucus, he unadvisedly thought to imitate, among Greek institutions and in a lawful government, the pride and assumption usual in those courts. Agis, on the contrary, in fineness of nature and elevation of mind, not only far excelled Leonidas, but in a manner all the kings that had reigned since the great Agesilaus. For though he had been bred very tenderly, in abundance and even in luxury, by his mother Agesistrata and his grandmother Archidamia, who were the wealthiest of the Lacedaemonians, yet before the age of twenty, he renounced all indulgence in pleasures. Withdrawing himself as far as possible from the gaiety and ornament which seemed becoming to the grace of his person, he made it his pride to appear in the coarse Spartan coat. In his meals, his bathings, and in all his exercises, he followed the old Laconian usage, and was often heard to say, he had no desire for the place of king, if he did not hope by means of that authority to restore their ancient laws and discipline.
The Lacedaemonians might date the beginning of their corruption from their conquest of Athens, and the influx of gold and silver among them that thence ensued. Yet, nevertheless, the number of houses which Lycurgus appointed being still maintained, and the law remaining in force by which everyone was obliged to leave his lot or portion of land entirely to his son, a kind of order and equality was thereby preserved, which still in some degree sustained the state amidst its errors in other respects. But one Epitadeus happening to be ephor, a man of great influence, and of a willful, violent spirit, on some occasion of a quarrel with his son, proposed a decree, that all men should have liberty to dispose of their land by gift in their lifetime, or by their last will and testament. This being promoted by him to satisfy a passion of revenge, and through covetousness consented to by others, and thus enacted for a law, was the ruin of the best state of the commonwealth. For the rich men without scruple drew the estates into their own hands, excluding the rightful heirs from their succession; and all the wealth being centered upon a few, the generality were poor and miserable. Honorable pursuits, for which there was no longer leisure, were neglected; and the state was filled with sordid business, and with hatred and envy of the rich. There did not remain above seven hundred of the old Spartan families, of which perhaps one hundred might have estates in land, the rest were destitute alike of wealth and of honor, were tardy and unperforming in the defense of their country against its enemies abroad, and eagerly watched the opportunity for change and revolution at home.
Agis, therefore, believing it a glorious action, as in truth it was, to equalize and repeople the state, began to sound the inclinations of the citizens. He found the young men disposed beyond his expectation; they were eager to enter with him upon the contest in the cause of virtue, and to fling aside, for freedom's sake, their old manner of life, as readily as the wrestler does his garment. But the old men, habituated and more confirmed in their vices, were most of them as alarmed at the very name of Lycurgus, as a fugitive slave to be brought back before his offended master. These men could not endure to hear Agis continually deploring the present state of Sparta, and wishing she might be restored to her ancient glory. But on the other side, Lysander, the son of Libys, Mandroclidas, the son of Ecphanes, together with Agesilaus, not only approved his design, but assisted and confirmed him in it. Lysander had a great authority and credit with the people; Mandroclidas was esteemed the ablest Greek of his time to manage an affair and put it in train, and, joined with skill and cunning, had a great degree of boldness. Agesilaus was the king's uncle, by the mother's side; an eloquent man, but covetous and voluptuous, who was not moved by considerations of public good, but rather seemed to be persuaded to it by his son Hippomedon, whose courage and signal actions in war had gained him a high esteem and great influence among the young men of Sparta, though indeed the true motive was, that he had many debts, and hoped by this means to be freed from them.
As soon as Agis had prevailed with his uncle, he endeavored by his mediation to gain his mother also, who had many friends and followers, and a number of persons in her debt in the city, and took a considerable part in public affairs. At the first proposal, she was very averse, and strongly advised her son not to engage in so difficult and so unprofitable an enterprise. But Agesilaus endeavored to possess her, that the thing was not so difficult as she imagined, and that it might, in all likelihood, redound to the advantage of her family; while the king, her son, besought her not for money's sake to decline assisting his hopes of glory. He told her, he could not pretend to equal other kings in riches, the very followers and menials of the satraps and stewards of Seleucus or Ptolemy abounding more in wealth than all the Spartan kings put together; but if by contempt of wealth and pleasure, by simplicity and magnanimity, he could surpass their luxury and abundance, if he could restore their former equality to the Spartans, then he should be a great king indeed. In conclusion, the mother and the grandmother also were so taken, so carried away with the inspiration, as it were, of the young man's noble and generous ambition, that they not only consented, but were ready on an occasions to spur him on to a perseverance, and not only sent to speak on his behalf with the men with whom they had an interest, but addressed the other women also, knowing well that the Lacedaemonian wives had always a great power with their husbands, who used to impart to them their state affairs with greater freedom than the women would communicate with the men in the private business of their families. Which was indeed one of the greatest obstacles to this design; for the money of Sparta being most of it in the women's hands, it was their interest to oppose it, not only as depriving them of those superfluous trifles, in which through want of better knowledge and experience, they placed their chief felicity, but also because they knew their riches were the main support of their power and credit.
Those, therefore, who were of this faction, had recourse to Leonidas, representing to him, how it was his part, as the elder and more experienced, to put a stop to the ill-advised projects of a rash young man. Leonidas, though of himself sufficiently inclined to oppose Agis, durst not openly, for fear of the people, who were manifestly desirous of this change; but underhand he did all he could to discredit and thwart the project, and to prejudice the chief magistrates against him, and on all occasions craftily insinuated, that it was as the price of letting him usurp arbitrary power, that Agis thus proposed to divide the property of the rich among the poor, and that the object of these measures for canceling debts, and dividing the lands, was, not to furnish Sparta with citizens, but purchase him a tyrant's body-guard.
Agis, nevertheless, little regarding these rumors, procured Lysander's election as ephor; and then took the first occasion of proposing through him his Rhetra to the council, the chief articles of which were these: That every one should be free from their debts; all the lands to be divided into equal portions, those that lay betwixt the watercourse near Pellene and Mount Taygetus, and as far as the cities of Malea and Sellasia, into four thousand five hundred lots, the remainder into fifteen thousand; these last to be shared out among those of the country people who were fit for service as heavy-armed soldiers, the first among the natural born Spartans; and their number also should be supplied from any among the country people or strangers who had received the proper breeding of freemen, and were of vigorous, body and of age for military service. All these were to be divided into fifteen companies, some of four hundred, and some of two, with a diet and discipline agreeable to the laws of Lycurgus.
This decree being proposed in the council of Elders, met there with opposition; so that Lysander immediately convoked the great assembly of the people, to whom he, Mandroclidas, and Agesilaus made orations, exhorting them that they would not suffer the majesty of Sparta to remain abandoned to contempt, to gratify a few rich men, who lorded it over them; but that they should call to mind the oracles in old time which had forewarned them to beware of the love of money, as the great danger and probable ruin of Sparta, and, moreover, those recently brought from the temple of Pasiphae. This was a famous temple and oracle at Thalamae; and this Pasiphae, some say, was one of the daughters of Atlas, who had by Jupiter a son called Ammon; others are of opinion it was Cassandra, the daughter of king Priam, who, dying in this place, was called Pasiphae, as the revealer of oracles to all men. Phylarchus says, that this was Daphne, the daughter of Amyclas, who, flying from Apollo, was transformed into a laurel, and honored by that god with the gift of prophecy. But be it as it will, it is certain the people were made to apprehend, that this oracle had commanded them to return to their former state of equality settled by Lycurgus. As soon as these had done speaking, Agis stood up, and after a few words, told them he would make the best contribution in his power to the new legislation, which was proposed for their advantage. In the first place, he would divide among them all his patrimony, which was of large extent in tillage and pasture; he would also give six hundred talents in ready money, and his mother, grandmother, and his other friends and relations, who were the richest of the Lacedaemonians, were ready to follow his example.
The people were transported with admiration of the young man's generosity, and with joy, that after three hundred years' interval, at last there had appeared a king worthy of Sparta. But, on the other side, Leonidas was now more than ever averse, being sensible that he and his friends would be obliged to contribute with their riches, and yet all the honor and obligation would redound to Agis. He asked him then before them all, whether Lycurgus were not in his opinion a wise man, and a lover of his country. Agis answering he was, "And when did Lycurgus," replied Leonidas, "cancel debts, or admit strangers to citizenship, -- he who thought the commonwealth not secure unless from time to time the city was cleared of all strangers?" To this Agis replied, "It is no wonder that Leonidas, who was brought up and married abroad, and has children by a wife taken out of a Persian court, should know little of Lycurgus or his laws. Lycurgus took away both debts and loans, by taking away money; and objected indeed to the presence of men who were foreign to the manners and customs of the country, not in any case from an ill-will to their persons, but lest the example of their lives and conduct should infect the city with the love of riches, and of delicate and luxurious habits. For it is well known that he himself gladly kept Terpander, Thales, and Pherecycles, though they were strangers, because he perceived they were in their poems and in their philosophy of the same mind with him. And you that are wont to praise Ecprepes, who, being ephor, cut with his hatchet two of the nine strings from the instrument of Phrynis, the musician, and to commend those who afterwards imitated him, in cutting the strings of Timotheus's harp, with what face can you blame us, for designing to cut off superfluity and luxury and display from the commonwealth? Do you think those men were so concerned only about a lute-string, or intended anything else than to check in music that same excess and extravagance which rule in our present lives and manners, and have disturbed and destroyed all the harmony and order of our city?"
From this time forward, as the common people followed Agis, so the rich men adhered to Leonidas. They be sought him not to forsake their cause; and with persuasions and entreaties so far prevailed with the council of Elders, whose power consisted in preparing all laws before they were proposed to the people, that the designed Rhetra was rejected, though but by only one vote. Whereupon Lysander, who was still ephor, resolving to be revenged on Leonidas, drew up an information against him, grounded on two old laws: the one forbids any of the blood of Hercules to raise up children by a foreign woman, and the other makes it capital for a Lacedaemonian to leave his country to settle among foreigners. Whilst he set others on to manage this accusation, he with his colleagues went to observe the sign, which was a custom they had, and performed in this manner. Every ninth year, the ephors, choosing a starlight night, when there is neither cloud nor moon, sit down together in quiet and silence, and watch the sky. And if they chance to see the shooting of a star, they presently pronounce their king guilty of some offense against the gods, and thereupon he is immediately suspended from all exercise of regal power, till he is relieved by an oracle from Delphi or Olympia.
Lysander, therefore, assured the people, he had seen a star shoot, and at the same time Leonidas was cited to answer for himself. Witnesses were produced to testify he had married an Asian woman, bestowed on him by one of king Seleucus's lieutenants; that he had two children by her, but she so disliked and hated him, that, against his wishes, flying from her, he was in a manner forced to return to Sparta, where, his predecessor dying without issue, he took upon him the government. Lysander, not content with this, persuaded also Cleombrotus to lay claim to the kingdom. He was of the royal family, and son-in-law to Leonidas; who, fearing now the event of this process, fled as a suppliant to the temple of Minerva of the Brazen House, together with his daughter, the wife of Cleombrotus; for she in this occasion resolved to leave her husband, and to follow her father. Leonidas being again cited, and not appearing, they pronounced a sentence of deposition against him, and made Cleombrotus king in his place.
Soon after this revolution, Lysander, his year expiring, went out of his office, and new ephors were chosen, who gave Leonidas assurance of safety, and cited Lysander and Mandroclidas to answer for having, contrary to law, canceled debts, and designed a new division of lands. They, seeing themselves in danger, had recourse to the two kings, and represented to them, how necessary it was for their interest and safety to act with united authority and bid defiance to the ephors. For, indeed, the power of the ephors, they said, was only grounded on the dissensions of the kings, it being their privilege, when the kings differed in opinion, to add their suffrage to whichever they judged to have given the best advice; but when the two kings were unanimous, none ought or durst resist their authority, the magistrate, whose office it was to stand as umpire when they were at variance, had no call to interfere when they were of one mind. Agis and Cleombrotus, thus persuaded, went together with their friends into the market-place, where, removing the ephors from their seats, they placed others in their room of whom Agesilaus was one; proceeding then to arm a company of young men, and releasing many out of prison; so that those of the contrary faction began to be in great fear of their lives; but there was no blood spilt. On the contrary, Agis, having notice that Agesilaus had ordered a company of soldiers to lie in wait for Leonidas, to kill him as he fled to Tegea, immediately sent some of his followers to defend him, and to convey him safely into that city.
Thus far all things proceeded prosperously, none daring to oppose; but through the sordid weakness of one man these promising beginnings were blasted, and a most noble and truly Spartan purpose overthrown and ruined, by the love of money. Agesilaus, as we said, was much in debt, though in possession of one of the largest and best estates in land; and while he gladly joined in this design to be quit of his debts, he was not at all willing to part with his land. Therefore he persuaded Agis, that if both these things should be put in execution at the same time, so great and so sudden an alteration might cause some dangerous commotion; but if debts were in the first place canceled, the rich men would afterwards more easily be prevailed with to part with their land. Lysander, also, was of the same opinion, being deceived in like manner by the craft of Agesilaus; so that all men were presently commanded to bring in their bonds, or deeds of obligation, by the Lacedaemonians called Claria, into the market-place, where being laid together in a heap, they set fire to them. The wealthy, money-lending people, one may easily imagine, beheld it with a heavy heart; but Agesilaus told them scoffingly, his eyes had never seen so bright and so pure a flame.
And now the people pressed earnestly for an immediate division of lands; the kings also had ordered it should be done; but Agesilaus, sometimes pretending one difficulty, and sometimes another, delayed the execution, till an occasion happened to call Agis to the wars. The Achaeans, in virtue of a defensive treaty of alliance, sent to demand succors, as they expected every day that the Aetolians would attempt to enter Peloponnesus, from the territory of Megara. They had sent Aratus, their general, to collect forces to hinder this incursion. Aratus wrote to the ephors, who immediately gave order that Agis should hasten to their assistance with the Lacedaemonian auxiliaries. Agis was extremely pleased to see the zeal and bravery of those who went with him upon this expedition. They were for the most part young men, and poor; and being just released from their debts and set at liberty, and hoping on their return to receive each man his lot of land, they followed their king with wonderful alacrity. The cities through which they passed, were in admiration to see how they marched from one end of Peloponnesus to the other, without the least disorder, and, in a manner, without being heard. It gave the Greeks occasion to discourse with one another, how great might be the temperance and modesty of a Laconian army in old time, under their famous captains Agesilaus, Lysander, or Leonidas, since they saw such discipline and exact obedience under a leader who perhaps was the youngest man all the army. They saw also how he was himself content to fare hardly, ready to undergo any labors, and not to be distinguished by pomp or richness of habit or arms from the meanest of his soldiers; and to people in general it was an object of regard and admiration. But rich men viewed the innovation with dislike and alarm, lest haply the example might spread, and work changes to their prejudice in their own countries as well.
Agis joined Aratus near the city of Corinth, where it was still a matter of debate whether or no it were expedient to give the enemy battle. Agis, on this occasion, showed great forwardness and resolution, yet without temerity or presumption. He declared it was his opinion they ought to fight, thereby to hinder the enemy from passing the gates of Peloponnesus, but, nevertheless, he would submit to the judgment of Aratus, not only as the elder and more experienced captain, but as he was general of the Achaeans, whose forces he would not pretend to command, but was only come thither to assist them. I am not ignorant that Baton of Sinope, relates it in another manner; he says, Aratus would have fought, and that Agis was against it; but it is certain he was mistaken, not having read what Aratus himself wrote in his own justification, that knowing the people had wellnigh got in their harvest, he thought it much better to let the enemy pass, than put all to the hazard of a battle. And therefore, giving thanks to the confederates for their readiness, he dismissed them. And Agis, not without having gained a great deal of honor, returned to Sparta, where he found the people in disorder, and a new revolution imminent, owing to the ill government of Agesilaus.
For he, being now one of the ephors, and freed from the fear which formerly kept him in some restraint, forbore no kind of oppression which might bring in gain. Among other things, he exacted a thirteenth month's tax, whereas the usual cycle required at this time no such addition to the year. For these and other reasons fearing those whom he injured, and knowing how he was hated by the people, he thought it necessary to maintain a guard, which always accompanied him to the magistrate's office. And presuming now on his power, he was grown so insolent, that of the two kings, the one he openly contemned, and if he showed any respect towards Agis, would have it thought rather an effect of his near relationship, than any duty or submission to the royal authority. He gave it out also, that he was to continue ephor the ensuing year.
His enemies, therefore, alarmed by this report, lost no time in risking an attempt against him; and openly bringing hack Leonidas from Tegea, reestablished him in the kingdom, to which even the people, highly incensed for having been defrauded in the promised division of lands, willingly consented. Agesilaus himself would hardly have escaped their fury, if his son, Hippomedon, whose manly virtues made him dear to all, had not saved him out of their hands, and then privately conveyed him from the city.
During this commotion, the two kings fled, Agis to the temple of the Brazen House, and Cleombrotus to that of Neptune. For Leonidas was more incensed against his son-in-law; and leaving Agis alone, went with his soldiers to Cleombrotus's sanctuary, and there with great passion reproached him for having, though he was his son-in-law, conspired with his enemies, usurped his throne, and forced him from his country. Cleombrotus, having little to say for himself, sat silent. His wife, Chilonis, the daughter of Leonidas, had chosen to follow her father in his sufferings; for when Cleombrotus usurped the kingdom, she forsook him, and wholly devoted herself to comfort her father in his affliction; whilst he still remained in Sparta, she remained also, as a suppliant, with him, and when he fled, she fled with him, bewailing his misfortune, and extremely displeased with Cleombrotus. But now, upon this turn of fortune, she changed in like manner, and was seen sitting now, as a suppliant, with her husband, embracing him with her arms, and having her two little children beside her. All men were full of wonder at the piety and tender affection of the young woman, who, pointing to her robes and her hair, both alike neglected and unattended to, said to Leonidas, "I am not brought, my father, to this condition you see me in, on account of the present misfortunes of Cleombrotus; my mourning habit is long since familiar to me. It was put on to condole with you in your banishment; and now you are restored to your country, and to your kingdom, must I still remain in grief and misery? Or would you have me attired in my royal ornaments, that I may rejoice with you, when you have killed, within my arms, the man to whom you gave me for a wife? Either Cleombrotus must appease you by mine and my children's tears, or he must suffer a punishment greater than you propose for his faults, and shall see me, whom he loves so well, die before him. To what end should I live, or how shall I appear among the Spartan women, when it shall so manifestly be seen, that I have not been able to move to compassion either a husband or a father? I was born, it seems, to participate in the ill fortune and in the disgrace, both as a wife and a daughter, of those nearest and dearest to me. As for Cleombrotus, I sufficiently surrendered any honorable plea on his behalf, when I forsook him to follow you; but you yourself offer the fairest excuse for his proceedings, by showing to the world that for the sake of a kingdom, it is just to kill a son-in-law, and be regardless of a daughter." Chilonis, having ended this lamentation, rested her face on her husband's head, and looked round with her weeping and woebegone eyes upon those who stood be fore her.
Leonidas, touched with compassion, withdrew a while to advise with his friends; then returning, bade Cleombrotus leave the sanctuary and go into banishment; Chilonis, he said, ought to stay with him, it not being just she should forsake a father whose affection had granted to her intercession the life of her husband. But all he could say would not prevail. She rose up immediately, and taking one of her children in her arms, gave the other to her husband; and making her reverence to the altar of the goddess, went out and followed him. So that, in a word, if Cleombrotus were not utterly blinded by ambition, he must surely choose to be banished with so excellent a woman rather than without her to possess a kingdom.
Cleombrotus thus removed, Leonidas proceeded also to displace the ephors, and to choose others in their room; then he began to consider how he might entrap Agis. At first, he endeavored by fair means to persuade him to leave the sanctuary, and partake with him in the kingdom. The people, he said, would easily pardon the errors of a young man, ambitious of glory, and deceived by the craft of Agesilaus. But finding Agis was suspicious, and not to be prevailed with to quit his sanctuary, he gave up that design; yet what could not then be effected by the dissimulation of an enemy, was soon after brought to pass by the treachery of friends.
Amphares, Damochares, and Arcesilaus often visited Agis, and he was so confident of their fidelity that after a while he was prevailed with to accompany them to the baths, which were not far distant, they constantly returning to see him safe again in the temple. They were all three his familiars; and Amphares had borrowed a great deal of plate and rich household stuff from Agesistrata, and hoped if he could destroy her and the whole family, he might peaceably enjoy those goods. And he, it is said, was the readiest of all to serve the purposes of Leonidas, and being one of the ephors, did all he could to incense the rest of his colleagues against Agis. These men, therefore, finding that Agis would not quit his sanctuary, but on occasion would venture from it to go to the bath, resolved to seize him on the opportunity thus given them. And one day as he was returning, they met and saluted him as formerly, conversing pleasantly by the way, and jesting, as youthful friends might, till coming to the turning of a street which led to the prison, Amphares, by virtue of his office, laid his hand on Agis, and told him, "You must go with me, Agis, before the other ephors, to answer for your misdemeanors." At the same time, Damochares, who was a tall, strong man, drew his cloak tight round his neck, and dragged him after by it, whilst the others went behind to thrust him on. So that none of Agis's friends being near to assist him, nor anyone by, they easily got him into the prison, where Leonidas was already arrived, with a company of soldiers, who strongly guarded all the avenues; the ephors also came in, with as many of the Elders as they knew to be true to their party, being desirous to proceed with some resemblance of justice. And thus they bade him give an account of his actions. To which Agis, smiling at their dissimulation, answered not a word. Amphares told him, it was more seasonable to weep, for now the time was come in which he should be punished for his presumption. Another of the ephors, as though he would be more favorable, and offering as it were an excuse, asked him whether he was not forced to what he did by Agesilaus and Lysander. But Agis answered, he had not been constrained by any man, nor had any other intent in what he did, but only to follow the example of Lycurgus, and to govern conformably to his laws. The same ephor asked him, whether now at least he did not repent his rashness. To which the young man answered, that though he were to suffer the extremest penalty for it, yet he could never repent of so just and so glorious a design. Upon this they passed sentence of death on him, and bade the officers carry him to the Dechas, as it is called, a place in the prison where they strangle malefactors. And when the officers would not venture to lay hands on him, and the very mercenary soldiers declined it, believing it an illegal and a wicked act to lay violent hands on a king, Damochares, threatening and reviling them for it, himself thrust him into the room.
For by this time the news of his being seized had reached many parts of the city, and there was a concourse of people with lights and torches about the prison gates, and in the midst of them the mother and the grandmother of Agis, crying out with a loud voice, that their king ought to appear, and to be heard and judged by the people. But this clamor, instead of preventing, hastened his death; his enemies fearing, if the tumult should increase, he might be rescued during the night out of their hands.
Agis, being now at the point to die, perceived one of the officers bitterly bewailing his misfortune; "Weep not, friend," said he, "for me, who die innocent, by the lawless act of wicked men. My condition is much better than theirs." As soon as he had spoken these words, not showing the least sign of fear, he offered his neck to the noose.
Immediately after he was dead, Amphares went out of the prison gate, where he found Agesistrata, who, believing him still the same friend as before, threw herself at his feet. He gently raised her up, and assured her, she need not fear any further violence or danger of death for her son, and that if she pleased, she might go in and see him. She begged her mother might also have the favor to be admitted, and he replied, nobody should hinder it. When they were entered, he commanded the gate should again be locked, and Archidamia, the grandmother, to be first introduced; she was now grown very old, and had lived all her days in the highest repute among her fellows. As soon as Amphares thought she was dispatched, he told Agesistrata she might now go in if she pleased. She entered, and beholding her son's body stretched on the ground, and her mother hanging by the neck, the first thing she did was, with her own hands, to assist the officers in taking down the body; then covering it decently, she laid it out by her son's, whom then embracing, and kissing his cheeks, "O my son," said she, "it was thy too great mercy and goodness which brought thee and us to ruin." Amphares, who stood watching behind the door, on hearing this, broke in, and said angrily to her, " Since you approve so well of your son's actions, it is fit you should partake in his reward." She, rising up to offer herself to the noose, said only, "I pray that it may redound to the good of Sparta."
And now the three bodies being exposed to view, and the fact divulged, no fear was strong enough to hinder the people from expressing their abhorrence of what was done, and their detestation of Leonidas and Amphares, the contrivers of it. So wicked and barbarous an act had never been committed in Sparta, since first the Dorians inhabited Peloponnesus; the very enemies in war, they said, were always cautious of spilling the blood of a Lacedaemonian king, insomuch that in any combat they would decline, and endeavor to avoid them, from feelings of respect and reverence for their station. And certainly we see that in the many battles fought betwixt the Lacedaemonians and the other Greeks, up to the time of Philip of Macedon, not one of their kings was ever killed, except Cleombrotus, by a javelin-wound, at the battle of Leuctra. I am not ignorant that the Messenians affirm, Theopompus was also slain by their Aristomenes; but the Lacedaemonians deny it, and say he was only wounded.
Be it as it will, it is certain at least that Agis was the first king put to death in Lacedaemon by the ephors, for having undertaken a design noble in itself and worthy of his country, at a time of life when men's errors usually meet with an easy pardon. And if errors he did commit, his enemies certainly had less reason to blame him, than had his friends for that gentle and compassionate temper which made him save the life of Leonidas, and believe in other men's professions.
Thus fell Agis. His brother Archidamus was too quick for Leonidas, and saved himself by a timely retreat. But his wife, then mother of a young child, he forced from her own house, and compelled Agiatis, for that was her name, to marry his son Cleomenes, though at that time too young for a wife, because he was unwilling that anyone else should have her, being heiress to her father Glylippus's great estate; in person the most youthful and beautiful woman in all Greece, and well-conducted in her habits of life. And therefore, they say, she did all she could that she might not be compelled to this new marriage. But being thus united to Cleomenes, she indeed hated Leonidas, but to the youth showed herself a kind and obliging wife. He, as soon as they came together, began to love her very much, and the constant kindness that she still retained for the memory of Agis, wrought somewhat of the like feeling in the young man for him, so that he would often inquire of her concerning what had passed, and attentively listen to the story of Agis's purpose and design. Now Cleomenes had a generous and great soul; he was as temperate and moderate in his pleasures as Agis, but not so scrupulous, circumspect, and gentle. There was something of heat and passion always goading him on, and an impetuosity and violence in his eagerness to pursue anything which he thought good and just. To have men obey him of their own freewill, he conceived to be the best discipline; but, likewise, to subdue resistance, and force them to the better course, was, in his opinion, commendable and brave.
This disposition made him dislike the management of the city. The citizens lay dissolved in supine idleness and pleasures; the king let everything take its own way, thankful if nobody gave him any disturbance, nor called him away from the enjoyment of his wealth and luxury. The public interest was neglected, and each man intent upon his private gain. It was dangerous, now Agis was killed, so much as to name such a thing as the exercising and training of their youth; and to speak of the ancient temperance, endurance, and equality, was a sort of treason against the state. It is said also that Cleomenes, whilst a boy, studied philosophy under Sphaerus, the Borysthenite, who crossed over to Sparta, and spent some time and trouble in instructing the youth. Sphaerus was one of the first of Zeno the Citiean's scholars, and it is likely enough that he admired the manly temper of Cleomenes and inflamed his generous ambition. The ancient Leonidas, as story tells, being asked what manner of poet he thought Tyrtaeus, replied, "Good to whet young men's courage;" for being filled with a divine fury by his poems, they rushed into any danger. And so the stoic philosophy is a dangerous incentive to strong and fiery dispositions, but where it combines with a grave and gentle temper, is most successful in leading it to its proper good.
Upon the death of his father Leonidas, he succeeded, and observing the citizens of all sorts to be debauched, the rich neglecting the public good, and intent on their private gain and pleasure, and the poor distressed in their own homes, and therefore without either spirit for war or ambition to be trained up as Spartans, that he had only the name of king, and the ephors all the power, he was resolved to change the present posture of affairs. He had a friend whose name was Xenares, his lover, (such an affection the Spartans express by the term, being inspired, or imbreathed with); him he sounded, and of him he would commonly inquire what manner of king Agis was, by what means and by what assistance he began and pursued his designs. Xenares, at first, willingly compiled with his request, and told him the whole story, with all the particular circumstances of the actions. But when he observed Cleomenes to be extremely affected at the relation, and more than ordinarily taken with Agis's new model of the government, and begging a repetition of the story, he at first severely chid him, told him he was frantic, and at last left off all sort of familiarity and intercourse with him, yet he never told any man the cause of their disagreement, but would only say, Cleomenes knew very well. Cleomenes, finding Xenares averse to his designs, and thinking all others to be of the same disposition, consulted with none, but contrived the whole business by himself. And considering that it would be easier to bring about an alteration when the city was at war, than when in peace, he engaged the commonwealth in a quarrel with the Achaeans, who had given them fair occasions to complain. For Aratus, a man of the greatest power amongst all the Achaeans, designed from the very beginning to bring all the Peloponnesians into one common body. And to effect this was the one object of all his many commanderships and his long political course; as he thought this the only means to make them a match for their foreign enemies. Pretty nearly all the rest agreed to his proposals, only the Lacedaemonians, the Eleans, and as many of the Arcadians as inclined to the Spartan interest, remained unpersuaded. And so as soon as Leonidas was dead, he began to attack the Arcadians, and wasted those especially that bordered on Achaea, by this means designing to try the inclinations of the Spartans, and despising Cleomenes as a youth, and of no experience in affairs of state or war. Upon this, the ephors sent Cleomenes to surprise the Athenaeum, near Belbina, which is a pass commanding an entrance into Laconia and was then the subject of litigation with the Megalopolitans. Cleomenes possessed himself of the place, and fortified it, at which action Aratus showed no public resentment, but marched by night to surprise Tegea and Orchormenus. The design failed, for those that were to betray the cities into his hands, turned afraid; so Aratus retreated, imagining that his design had been undiscovered. But Cleomenes wrote a sarcastic letter to him, and desired to know, as from a friend, whither he intended to march at night; and Aratus answering, that having heard of his design to fortify Belbina, he meant to march thither to oppose him, Cleomenes rejoined, that he did not dispute it, but begged to be informed, if he might be allowed to ask the question, why he carried those torches and ladders with him.
Aratus laughing at the jest, and asking what manner of youth this was, Damocrates, a Spartan exile, replied, "If you have any designs upon the Lacedaemonians, begin before this young eagle's talons are grown." Presently after this, Cleomenes, encamping in Arcadia with a few horse and three hundred foot, received orders from the ephors, who feared to engage in the war, commanding him home; but when upon his retreat Aratus took Caphyae, they commissioned him again. In this expedition he took Methydrium, and overran the country of the Argives; and the Achaeans, to oppose him, came out with an army of twenty thousand foot and one thousand horse, under the command of Aristomachus. Cleomenes faced them at Pallantium, and offered battle, but Aratus, being cowed by his bravery, would not suffer the general to engage, but retreated, amidst the reproaches of the Achaeans, and the derision and scorn of the Spartans, who were not above five thousand. Cleomenes, encouraged by this success, began to speak boldly among the citizens, and reminding them of a sentence of one of their ancient kings, said, it was in vain now that the Spartans asked, not how many their enemies were, but where they were. After this, marching to the assistance of the Eleans, whom the Achaeans were attacking, falling upon the enemy in their retreat near the Lycaeum, he put their whole army to flight, taking a great number of captives, and leaving many dead upon the place; so that it was commonly reported amongst the Greeks that Aratus was slain. But Aratus, making the best advantage of the opportunity, immediately after the defeat marched to Mantinea, and before anybody suspected it, took the city, and put a garrison into it. Upon this, the Lacedaemonians being quite discouraged, and opposing Cleomenes's designs of carrying on the war, he now exerted himself to have Archidamus, the brother of Agis, sent for from Messene, as he, of the other family, had a right to the kingdom ; and besides, Cleomenes thought that the power of the ephors would be reduced, when the kingly state was thus filled up, and raised to its proper position. But those that were concerned in the murder of Agis, perceiving the design, and fearing that upon Archidamus's return they should be called to an account, received him on his coming privately into town, and joined in bringing him home, and presently after murdered him. Whether Cleomenes was against it, as Phylarchus thinks, or whether he was persuaded by his friends, or let him fall into their hands, is uncertain; however, they were most blamed, as having forced his consent.
He, still resolving to new model the state, bribed the ephors to send him out to war; and won the affections of many others by means of his mother Cratesiclea, who spared no cost and was very zealous to promote her son's ambition; and though of herself she had no inclination to marry, yet for his sake, she accepted, as her husband, one of the chiefest citizens for wealth and power. Cleomenes, marching forth with the army now under his commend, took Leuctra, a place belonging to Megalopolis; and the Achaeans quickly coming up to resist him with a good body of men commanded by Aratus, in a battle under the very walls of the city some part of his army was routed. But whereas Aratus had commanded the Achaeans not to pass a deep watercourse, and thus put a stop to the pursuit, Lydiadas, the Megalopolitan, fretting at the orders, and encouraging the horse which he led, and following the routed enemy, got into a place full of vines, hedges, and ditches; and being forced to break his ranks, began to retire in disorder. Cleomenes, observing the advantage, commanded the Tarentines and Cretans to engage him, by whom, after a brave defense, he was routed and slain. The Lacedaemonians, thus encouraged, fell with a great shout upon the Achaeans, and routed their whole army. Of the slain, who were very many, the rest Cleomenes delivered up, when the enemy petitioned for them; but the body of Lydiadas he commanded to be brought to him; and then putting on it a purple robe, and a crown upon its head, sent a convoy with it to the gates of Megalopolis. This is that Lydiadas who resigned his power as tyrant, restored liberty to the citizens, and joined the city to the Achaean interest.
Cleomenes, being very much elated by this success, and persuaded that if matters were wholly at his disposal, he should soon be too hard for the Achaeans, persuaded Megistonus, his mother's husband, that it was expedient for the state to shake off the power of the ephors, and to put all their wealth into one common stock for the whole body; thus Sparta, being restored to its old equality, might aspire again to the command of all Greece. Megistonus liked the design, and engaged two or three more of his friends. About that time, one of the ephors, sleeping in Pasiphae's temple, dreamed a very surprising dream; for he thought he saw the four chairs removed out of the place where the ephors used to sit and do the business of their office, and one only set there; and whilst he wondered, he heard a voice out of the temple, saying, "This is best for Sparta." The person telling Cleomenes this dream, he was a little troubled at first, fearing that he used this as a trick to sift him, upon some suspicion of his design, but when he was satisfied that the relater spoke truth, he took heart again. And carrying with him those whom he thought would be most against his project, he took Heraea and Alsaea, two towns in league with the Achaeans, furnished Orchomenus with provisions, encamped before Mantinea, and with long marches up and down so harassed the Lacedaemonians, that many of them at their own request were left behind in Arcadia, while he with the mercenaries went on toward Sparta, and by the way communicated his design to those whom he thought fittest for his purpose, and marched slowly, that he might catch the ephors at supper.
When he was come near the city, he sent Euryclidas to the public table, where the ephors supped, under pretense of carrying some message from him from the army; Therycion, Phoebis, and two of those who had been bred up with Cleomenes, whom they call mothaces, followed with a few soldiers; and whilst Euryclidas was delivering his message to the ephors, they ran upon them with their drawn swords, and slew them. The first of them, Agylaeus, on receiving the blow, fell and lay as dead; but in a little time quietly raising himself, and drawing himself out of the room, he crept, without being discovered, into a little building which was dedicated to Fear, and which always used to be shut, but then by chance was open; and being got in, he shut the door, and lay close. The other four were killed, and above ten more that came to their assistance; to those that were quiet they did no harm, stopped none that fled from the city, and spared Agylaeus, when he came out of the temple the next day.
The Lacedaemonians have not only sacred places dedicated to Fear, but also to Death, Laughter, and the like Passions. Now they worship Fear, not as they do supernatural powers which they dread, esteeming it hurtful, but thinking their polity is chiefly kept up by fear. And therefore, the ephors, Aristotle is my author, when they entered upon their government, made proclamation to the people, that they should shave their mustaches, and be obedient to the laws, that the laws might not be hard upon them, making, I suppose, this trivial injunction, to accustom their youth to obedience even in the smallest matters. And the ancients, I think, did not imagine bravery to be plain fearlessness, but a cautious fear of blame and disgrace. For those that show most timidity towards the laws, are most bold against their enemies; and those are least afraid of any danger who are most afraid of a just reproach. Therefore it was well said that
A reverence still attends on fear;
and by Homer,
Feared you shall be, dear father, and revered;
In silence fearing those that bore the sway;
for the generality of men are most ready to reverence those whom they fear. And, therefore, the Lacedaemonians placed the temple of Fear by the Syssitium of the ephors, having raised that magistracy to almost royal authority.
The next day, Cleomenes proscribed eighty of the citizens, whom he thought necessary to banish, and removed all the seats of the ephors, except one, in which he himself designed to sit and give audience; and calling the citizens together, he made an apology for his proceedings, saying, that by Lycurgus the council of Elders was joined to the kings, and that that model of government had continued a long time, and no other sort of magistrates had been wanted. But afterwards, in the long war with the Messenians, when the kings, having to command the army, found no time to administer justice, they chose some of their friends, and left them to determine the suits of the citizens in their stead. These were called ephors, and at first behaved themselves as servants to the kings; but afterwards, by degrees, they appropriated the power to themselves and erected a distinct magistracy. An evidence of the truth of this was the custom still observed by the kings, who, when the ephors send for them, refuse, upon the first and the second summons, to go, but upon the third, rise up and attend them. And Asteropus, the first that raised the ephors to that height of power, lived a great many years after their institution. So long, therefore, he continued, as they contained themselves within their own proper sphere, it had been better to bear with them than to make a disturbance. But that an upstart, introduced power should so far subvert the ancient form of government as to banish some kings, murder others, without hearing their defense, and threaten those who desired to see the best and most divine constitution restored in Sparta, was not to be borne. Therefore, if it had been possible for him, without bloodshed, to free Lacedaemon from those foreign plagues, luxury, sumptuosity, debts, and usury, and from those yet more ancient evils, poverty and riches, he should have thought himself the happiest king in the world, to have succeeded, like an expert physician, in curing the diseases of his country without pain. But now, in this necessity, Lycurgus's example favored his proceedings, who being neither king nor magistrate, but a private man, and aiming at the kingdom, came armed into the market-place, so that king Charillus fled in alarm to the altar. He, being a good man, and a lover of his country, readily concurred in Lycurgus's designs, and admitted the revolution in the state. But, by his own actions, Lycurgus had nevertheless borne witness that it was difficult to change the government without force and fear, in the use of which he himself, he said, had been so moderate as to do no more than put out of the way those who opposed themselves to Sparta's happiness and safety. For the rest of the nation, he told them, the whole land was now their common property; debtors should be cleared of their debts, and examination made of those who were not citizens, that the bravest men might thus be made free Spartans, and give aid in arms to save the city, and "We" he said, "may no longer see Laconia, for want of men to defend it, wasted by the Aetolians and Illyrians."
Then he himself first, with his step-father, Megistonus, and his friends, gave up all their wealth into one public stock, and all the other citizens followed the example. The land was divided, and everyone that he had banished, had a share assigned him; for he promised to restore all, as soon as things were settled and in quiet. And completing the number of citizens out of the best and most promising of the country people, he raised a body of four thousand men; and instead of a spear, taught them to use a surissu, with both hands, and to carry their shields by a band, and not by a handle, as before. After this, he began to consult about the education of the youth, and the Discipline, as they call it; most of the particulars of which, Sphaerus, being then at Sparta, assisted in arranging; and, in a short time, the schools of exercise and the common tables recovered their ancient decency and order, a few out of necessity, but the most voluntarily, returning to that generous and Laconic way of living. And, that the name of monarch might give them no jealousy, he made Euclidas, his brother, partner in the throne; and that was the only time that Sparta had two kings of the same family.
Then, understanding that the Achaeans and Aratus imagined that this change had disturbed and shaken his affairs, and that he would not venture out of Sparta and leave the city now unsettled in the midst of so great an alteration, he thought it great and serviceable to his designs, to show his enemies the zeal and forwardness of his troops. And, therefore, making an incursion into the territories of Megalopolis, he wasted the country far and wide, and collected a considerable booty. And, at last, taking a company of actors, as they were traveling from Messene, and building a theater in the enemy's country, and offering a prize of forty minae in value, he sat spectator a whole day; not that he either desired or needed such amusement, but wishing to show his disregard for his enemies, and by a display of his contempt, to prove the extent of his superiority to them. For his alone, of all the Greek or royal armies, had no stage-players, no jugglers, no dancing or singing women attending it, but was free from all sorts of looseness, wantonness, and festivity; the young men being for the most part at their exercises, and the old men giving them lessons, or, at leisure times, diverting themselves with their native jests, and quick Laconian answers; the good results of which we have noticed in the life of Lycurgus.
He himself instructed all by his example; he was a living pattern of temperance before every man's eyes; and his course of living was neither more stately, nor more expensive, nor in any way more pretentious, than that of any of his people. And this was a considerable advantage to him in his designs on Greece. For men when they waited upon other kings, did not so much admire their wealth, costly furniture, and numerous attendance, as they hated their pride and state, their difficulty of access, and imperious answers to their addresses. But when they came to Cleomenes, who was both really a king, and bore that title, and saw no purple, no robes of state upon him, no couches and litters about him for his ease, and that he did not receive requests and return answers after a long delay and difficulty, through a number of messengers and doorkeepers, or by memorials, but that he rose and came forward in any dress he might happen to be wearing, to meet those that came to wait upon him, stayed, talked freely and affably with all that had business, they were extremely taken, and won to his service, and professed that he alone was the true son of Hercules. His common every day's meal was in an ordinary room, very sparing, and after the Laconic manner; and when he entertained ambassadors or strangers, two more couches were added, and a little better dinner provided by his servants, but no savoring sauces or sweetmeats; only the dishes were larger, and the wine more plentiful. For he reproved one of his friends for entertaining some strangers with nothing but barley bread and black broth, such diet as they usually had in their phiditia; saying, that upon such occasions, and when they entertained strangers, it was not well to be too exact Laconians. After the table was removed, a stand was brought in, with a brass vessel full of wine, two silver bowls which held about a pint apiece, a few silver cups, of which he that pleased might drink, but wine was not urged on any of the guests. There was no music, nor was any required; for he entertained the company himself, sometimes asking questions, sometimes telling stories; and his conversation was neither too grave or disagreeably serious, nor yet in any way rude or ungraceful in its pleasantry. For he thought those ways of entrapping men by gifts and presents, which other kings use, dishonest and inartificial; and it seemed to him to be the most noble method, and most suitable to a king, to win the affections of those that came near him, by personal intercourse and agreeable conversation, since between a friend and a mercenary the only distinction is, that we gain the one by one's character and conversation, the other by one's money.
The Mantineans were the first that requested his aid; and when he entered their city by night, they aided him to expel the Achaean garrison, and put themselves under his protection. He restored them their polity and laws, and the same day marched to Tegea; and a little while after, fetching a compass through Arcadia, he made a descent upon Pherae, in Achaea, intending to force Aratus to a battle, or bring him into disrepute, for refusing to engage, and suffering him to waste the country. Hyperbatas at that time was general, but Aratus had all the power amongst the Achaeans. The Achaeans, marching forth with their whole strength, and encamping in Dymae, near the Hecatombaeum, Cleomenes came up, and thinking it not advisable to pitch between Dymae, a city of the enemies, and the camp of the Achaeans, he boldly dared the Achaeans, and forced them to a battle, and routing their phalanx, slew a great many in the fight, and took many prisoners, and thence marching to Langon, and driving out the Achaean garrison, he restored the city to the Eleans.
The affairs of the Achaeans being in this unfortunate condition, Aratus, who was wont to take office every other year, refused the command, though they entreated and urged him to accept it. And this was ill done, when the storm was high, to put the power out of his own hands, and set another to the helm. Cleomenes at first proposed fair and easy conditions by his ambassadors to the Achaeans, but afterward he sent others, and required the chief command to be settled upon him; in other matters offering to agree to reasonable terms, and to restore their captives and their country. The Achaeans were willing to come to an agreement upon those terms, and invited Cleomenes to Lerna, where an assembly was to be held; but it happened that Cleomenes, hastily marching on, and drinking water at a wrong time, brought up a quantity of blood, and lost his voice; therefore being unable to continue his journey, he sent the chiefest of the captives to the Achaeans, and, putting off the meeting for some time, retired to Lacedaemon.
This ruined the affairs of Greece, which was just beginning in some sort to recover from its disasters, and to show some capability of delivering itself from the insolence and rapacity of the Macedonians. For Aratus, (whether fearing or distrusting Cleomenes, or envying his unlooked-for success, or thinking it a disgrace for him who had commanded thirty-three years, to have a young man succeed to all his glory and his power, and be head of that government which he had been raising and settling so many years,) first endeavored to keep the Achaeans from closing with Cleomenes; but when they would not hearken to him, fearing Cleomenes's daring spirit, and thinking the Lacedaemonians' proposals to be very reasonable, who designed only to reduce Peloponnesus to its old model, upon this he took his last refuge in an action which was unbecoming any of the Greeks, most dishonorable to him, and most unworthy his former bravery and exploits. For he called Antigonus into Greece, and filled Peloponnesus with Macedonians, whom he himself, when a youth, having beaten their garrison out of the castle of Corinth, had driven from the same country. And there had been constant suspicion and variance between him and all the kings, and of Antigonus, in particular, he has said a thousand dishonorable things in the commentaries he has left behind him. And though he declares himself how he suffered considerable losses, and underwent great dangers, that he might free Athens from the garrison of the Macedonians, yet, afterwards, he brought the very same men armed into his own country, and his own house, even to the women's apartment. He would not endure that one of the family of Hercules, and king of Sparta, and one that had reformed the polity of his country, as it were, from a disordered harmony, and retuned it to the plain Doric measure and rule of life of Lycurgus, should be styled head of the Tritaeans and Sicyonians; and whilst he fled the barley-cake and coarse coat, and which were his chief accusations against Cleomenes, the extirpation of wealth and reformation of poverty, he basely subjected himself, together with Achaea, to the diadem and purple, to the imperious commands of the Macedonians and their satraps. That he might not seem to be under Cleomenes, he offered sacrificers, called Antigonea, in honor of Antigonus, and sang paeans himself, with a garland on his head, to the praise of a wasted, consumptive Macedonian. I write this not out of any design to disgrace Aratus, for in many things he showed himself a true lover of Greece, and a great man, but out of pity to the weakness of human nature, which in characters like this, so worthy and in so many ways disposed to virtue, cannot maintain its honors unblemished by some envious fault.
The Achaeans meeting again in assembly at Argos, and Cleomenes having come from Tegea, there were great hopes that all differences would be composed. But Aratus, Antigonus and he having already agreed upon the chief articles of their league, fearing that Cleomenes would carry all before him, and either win or force the multitude to comply with his demands, proposed, that having three hundred hostages put into his hands, he should come alone into the town, or bring his army to the place of exercise, called the Cyllarabium, outside the city, and treat there.
Cleomenes, hearing this, said, that he was unjustly dealt with; for they ought to have told him so plainly at first, and not now he was come even to their doors, show their jealousy, and deny him admission. And writing a letter to the Achaeans about the same subject, the greatest part of which was an accusation of Aratus, while Aratus, on the other side, spoke violently against him to the assembly, he hastily dislodged, and sent a trumpeter to denounce war against the Achaeans, not to Argos, but to Aegium, as Aratus writes, that he might not give them notice enough to make provision for their defense. There had also been a movement among the Achaeans themselves, and the cities were eager for revolt; the common people expecting a division of the land, and a release from their debts, and the chief men being in many places ill-disposed to Aratus, and some of them angry and indignant with him, for having brought the Macedonians into Peloponnesus. Encouraged by these misunderstandings, Cleomenes invaded Achaea, and first took Pellene by surprise, and beat out the Achaean garrison, and afterwards brought over Pheneus and Penteleum to his side. Now the Achaeans, suspecting some treacherous designs at Corinth and Sicyon, sent their horse and mercenaries out of Argos, to have an eye upon those cities, and they themselves went to Argos, to celebrate the Nemean games. Cleomenes, advertised of this march, and hoping, as it afterward fell out, that upon an unexpected advance to the city, now busied in the solemnity of the games, and thronged with numerous spectators, he should raise a considerable terror and confusion amongst them, by night marched with his army to the walls, and taking the quarter of the town called Aspis, which lies above the theater, well fortified, and hard to be approached, he so terrified them that none offered to resist, but they agreed to accept a garrison, to give twenty citizens for hostages, and to assist the Lacedaemonians, and that he should have the chief command.
This action considerably increased his reputation and his power; for the ancient Spartan kings, though they many ways endeavored to effect it, could never bring Argos to be permanently theirs. And Pyrrhus, the most experienced captain, though he entered the city by force, could not keep possession, but was slain himself, with a considerable part of his army. Therefore they admired the dispatch and contrivance of Cleomenes; and those that before derided him, for imitating, as they said, Solon and Lycurgus, in releasing the people from their debts, and in equalizing the property of the citizens, were now fain to admit that this was the cause of the change in the Spartans. For before they were very low in the world, and so unable to secure their own, that the Aetolians, invading Laconia, brought away fifty thousand slaves; so that one of the elder Spartans is reported to have said, that they had done Laconia a kindness by unburdening it; and yet a little while after, by merely recurring once again to their native customs, and reentering the track of the ancient discipline, they were able to give, as though it had been under the eyes and conduct of Lycurgus himself, the most signal instances of courage and obedience, raising Sparta to her ancient place as the commanding state of Greece, and recovering all Peloponnesus.
When Argos was captured, and Cleonae and Phlius came over, as they did at once, to Cleomenes, Aratus was at Corinth, searching after some who were reported to favor the Spartan interest. The news, being brought to him, disturbed him very much; for he perceived the city inclining to Cleomenes, and willing to be rid of the Achaeans. Therefore he summoned the citizens to meet in the Council Hall, and slipping away without being observed to the gate, he mounted his horse that had been brought for him thither, and fled to Sicyon. And the Corinthians made such haste to Cleomenes at Argos, that, as Aratus says, striving who should be first there, they spoiled all their horses; he adds that Cleomenes was very angry with the Corinthians for letting him escape; and that Megistonus came from Cleomenes to him, desiring him to deliver up the castle at Corinth, which was then garrisoned by the Achaeans, and offered him a considerable sum of money, and that he answered, that matters were not now in his power, but he in theirs. Thus Aratus himself writes. But Cleomenes, marching from Argos, and taking in the Troezenians, Epidaurians, and Hermioneans, came to Corinth, and blocked up the castle, which the Achaeans would not surrender; and sending for Aratus's friends and stewards, committed his house and estate to their care and management; and sent Tritymallus, the Messenian, to him a second time, desiring that the castle might be equally garrisoned by the Spartans and Achaeans, and promising to Aratus himself double the pension that he received from king Ptolemy. But Aratus, refusing the conditions, and sending his own son with the other hostages to Antigonus, and persuading the Achaeans to make a decree for delivering the castle into Antigonus's hands, upon this Cleomenes invaded the territory of the Sicyonians, and by a decree of the Corinthians, accepted Aratus's estate as a gift.
In the meantime, Antigonus, with a great army, was passing Geranea; and Cleomenes, thinking it more advisable to fortify and garrison, not the isthmus, but the mountains called Onea, and by a war of posts and positions to weary the Macedonians, rather than to venture a set battle with the highly disciplined phalanx, put his design in execution, and very much distressed Antigonus. For he had not brought victuals sufficient for his army; nor was it easy to force a way through, whilst Cleomenes guarded the pass. He attempted by night to pass through Lechaeum, but failed, and lost some men; so that Cleomenes and his army were mightily encouraged, and so flushed with the victory, that they went merrily to supper; and Antigonus was very much dejected, being driven, by the necessity he was in, to most unpromising attempts. He was proposing to march to the promontory of Heraeum, and thence transport his army in boats to Sicyon, which would take up a great deal of time, and require much preparation and means. But when it was now evening, some of Aratus's friends came from Argos by sea, and invited him to return, for the Argives would revolt from Cleomenes. Aristoteles was the man that wrought the revolt, and he had no hard task to persuade the common people; for they were all angry with Cleomenes for not releasing them from their debts as they expected. Accordingly, obtaining fifteen hundred of Antigonus's soldiers, Aratus sailed to Epidaurus; but Aristoteles, not staying for his coming, drew out the citizens, and fought against the garrison of the castle; and Timoxenus, with the Achaeans from Sicyon, came to his assistance.
Cleomenes heard the news about the second watch of the night, and sending for Megistonus, angrily commanded him to go and set things right at Argos. Megistonus had passed his word for the Argives' loyalty, and had persuaded him not to banish the suspected. Therefore, dispatching him with two thousand soldiers, he himself kept watch upon Antigonus, and encouraged the Corinthians, pretending that there was no great matter in the commotions at Argos, but only a little disturbance raised by a few inconsiderable persons. But when Megistonus, entering Argos, was slain, and the garrison could scarce hold out, and frequent messengers came to Cleomenes for succors, he, fearing least the enemy, having taken Argos, should shut up the passes, and securely waste Laconia, and besiege Sparta itself, which he had left without forces, dislodged from Corinth, and immediately lost that city; for Antigonus entered it, and garrisoned the town. He turned aside from his direct march, and assaulting the walls of Argos, endeavored to carry it by a sudden attack and then, having collected his forces from their march, breaking into the Aspis, he joined the garrison, which still held out against the Achaeans; some parts of the city he scaled and took, and his Cretan archers cleared the streets. But when he saw Antigonus with his phalanx descending from the mountains into the plain, and the horse on all sides entering the city, he thought it impossible to maintain his post, and, gathering together all his men, came safely down, and made his retreat under the walls, having in so short a time possessed himself of great power, and in one journey, so to say, having made himself master of almost all Peloponnesus, and now lost all again in as short a time. For some of his allies at once withdrew and forsook him, and others not long after put their cities under Antigonus's protection. His hopes thus defeated, as he was leading back the relics of his forces, messengers from Lacedaemon met him in the evening at Tegea, and brought him, news of as great a misfortune as that which he had lately suffered, and this was the death of his wife, to whom he was so attached, and thought so much of her, that even in his most successful expeditions, when he was most prosperous, he could not refrain, but would ever now and then come home to Sparta, to visit Agiatis.
This news afflicted him extremely, and he grieved, as a young man would do, for the loss of a very beautiful and excellent wife; yet he did not let his passion disgrace him, or impair the greatness of his mind, but keeping his usual voice, his countenance, and his habit, he gave necessary orders to his captains, and took the precautions required for the safety of Tegea. Next morning he came to Sparta, and having at home with his mother and children bewailed the loss, and finished his mourning, he at once devoted himself to the public affairs of the state.
Now Ptolemy, the king of Egypt, promised him assistance, but demanded his mother and children for hostages. This, for some considerable time, he was ashamed to discover to his mother; and though he often went to her on purpose, and was just upon the discourse, yet he still refrained, and kept it to himself; so that she began to suspect, and asked his friends, whether Cleomenes had something to say to her, which he was afraid to speak. At last, Cleomenes venturing to tell her, she laughed aloud, and said, "Was this the thing that you had so often a mind to tell me, and were afraid? Make haste and put me on shipboard, and send this carcass where it may be most serviceable to Sparta, before age destroys it unprofitably here." Therefore, all things being provided for the voyage, they went by land to Taenarus, and the army waited on them. Cratesiclea, when she was ready to go on board, took Cleomenes aside into Neptune's temple, and embracing him, who was much dejected, and extremely discomposed, she said, "Go to, king of Sparta; when we come forth at the door, let none see us weep, or show any passion that is unworthy of Sparta, for that alone is in our own power; as for success or disappointment, those wait on us as the deity decrees." Having thus said, and composed her countenance, she went to the ship with her little grandson, and bade the pilot put at once out to sea. When she came to Egypt, and understood that Ptolemy entertained proposals and overtures of peace from Antigonus, and that Cleomenes, though the Achaeans invited and urged him to an agreement, was afraid, for her sake, to come to any, without Ptolemy's consent, she wrote to him, advising him to do that which was most becoming and most profitable for Sparta, and not, for the sake of an old woman and a little child, stand always in fear of Ptolemy. This character she maintained in her misfortunes.
Antigonus, having taken Tegea, and plundered Orchomenus and Mantinea, Cleomenes was shut up within the narrow bounds of Laconia; and making such of the helots as could pay five Attic pounds, free of Sparta, and, by that means, getting together five hundred talents, and arming two thousand after the Macedonian fashion, that he might make a body fit to oppose Antigonus's Leucaspides he undertook a great and unexpected enterprise. Megalopolis was at that time a city of itself as great and as powerful as Sparta, and had the forces of the Achaeans and of Antigonus encamping beside it; and it was chiefly the Megalopolitans' doing, that Antigonus had been called in to assist the Achaeans. Cleomenes, resolving to snatch the city (no other word so well suits so rapid and so surprising an action), ordered his men to take five days' provision, and marched to Sellasia, as if he intended to ravage the country of the Argives; but from thence making a descent into the territories of Megalopolis, and refreshing his army about Rhoeteum, he suddenly took the road by Helicus, and advanced directly upon the city. When he was not far off the town, he sent Panteus, with two regiments, to surprise a portion of the wall between two towers, which he learnt to be the most unguarded quarter of the Megalopolitans' fortifications, and with the rest of his forces he followed leisurely. Panteus not only succeeded at that point, but finding a great part of the wall without guards, he at once proceeded to pull it down in some places, and make openings through it in others, and killed all the defenders that he found. Whilst he was thus busied, Cleomenes came up to him, and was got with his army within the city, before the Megalopolitans knew of the surprise. When, after some time, they learned their misfortune, some left the town immediately, taking with them what property they could; others armed, and engaged the enemy; and through they were not able to beat them out, yet they gave their citizens time and opportunity safely to retire, so that there were not above one thousand persons taken in the town, all the rest flying, with their wives and children, and escaping to Messene. The greater number, also, of those that armed and fought the enemy, were saved, and very few taken, amongst whom were Lysandridas and Thearidas, two men of great power and reputation amongst the Megalopolitans; and therefore the soldiers, as soon as they were taken, brought them to Cleomenes. And Lysandridas, as soon as he saw Cleomenes afar off, cried out, "Now, king of Sparta, it is in your power, by doing a most kingly and a nobler action than you have already performed, to purchase the greatest glory." And Cleomenes, guessing at his meaning, replied, "What, Lysandridas, you will not surely advise me to restore your city to you again?" "It is that which I mean," Lysandridas replied, "and I advise you not to ruin so brave a city, but to fill it with faithful and steadfast friends and allies, by restoring their country to the Megalopolitans, and being the savior of so considerable a people." Cleomenes paused a while, and then said, "It is very hard to trust so far in these matters; but with us let profit always yield to glory." Having said this, he sent the two men to Messene with a herald from himself, offering the Megalopolitans their city again, if they would forsake the Achaean interest, and be on his side. But though Cleomenes made these generous and humane proposals, Philopoemen would not suffer them to break their league with the Achaeans; and accusing Cleomenes to the people, as if his design was not to restore the city, but to take the citizens too, he forced Thearidas and Lysandridas to leave Messene.
This was that Philopoemen who was afterward chief of the Achaeans and a man of the greatest reputation amongst the Greeks, as I have refuted in his own life. This news coming to Cleomenes, though he had before taken strict care that the city should not be plundered, yet then, being in anger, and out of all patience, he despoiled the place of all the valuables, and sent the statues and pictures to Sparta; and demolishing a great part of the city, he marched away for fear of Antigonus and the Achaeans; but they never stirred, for they were at Aegium, at a council of war. There Aratus mounted the speaker's place, and wept a long while, holding his mantle before his face; and at last, the company being amazed, and commanding him to speak, he said, "Megalopolis is destroyed by Cleomenes." The assembly instantly dissolved, the Achaeans being astounded at the suddenness and greatness of the loss; and Antigonus, intending to send speedy succors, when he found his forces gather very slowly out of their winter-quarters, sent them orders to continue there still; and he himself marched to Argos with a small body of men. And now the second enterprise of Cleomenes, though it had the look of a desperate and frantic adventure, yet in Polybius's opinion, was done with mature deliberation and great foresight. For knowing very well that the Macedonians were dispersed into their winter-quarters, and that Antigonus with his friends and a few mercenaries about him wintered in Argos, upon these considerations he invaded the country of the Argives, hoping to shame Antigonus to a battle upon unequal terms, or else, if he did not dare to fight, to bring him into disrepute with the Achaeans. And this accordingly happened. For Cleomenes wasting, plundering, and spoiling the whole country, the Argives, in grief and anger at the loss, gathered in crowds at the king's gates, crying out that he should either fight, or surrender his command to better and braver men. But Antigonus, as became an experienced captain, accounting it rather dishonorable foolishly to hazard his army and quit his security, than merely to be railed at by other people, would not march out against Cleomenes, but stood firm to his convictions. Cleomenes, in the meantime, brought his army up to the very walls, and having without opposition spoiled the country, and insulted over his enemies, drew off again.
A little while after, being informed that Antigonus designed a new advance to Tegea, and thence to invade Laconia, he rapidly took his soldiers, and marching by a side road, appeared early in the morning before Argos, and wasted the fields about it. The corn he did not cut down, as is usual, with reaping hooks and knives, but beat it down with great wooden staves made like broadswords, as if, in mere contempt and wanton scorn, while traveling on his way, without any effort or trouble, he spoiled and destroyed their harvest. Yet when his soldiers would have set Cyllabaris, the exercise ground, on fire, he stopped the attempt, as if he felt, that the mischief he had done at Megalopolis had been the effects of his passion rather than his wisdom. And when Antigonus, first of all, came hastily back to Argos, and then occupied the mountains and passes with his posts, he professed to disregard and despise it all; and sent heralds to ask for the keys of the temple of Juno, as though he proposed to offer sacrifice there and then return. And with this scornful pleasantry upon Antigonus, having sacrificed to the goddess under the walls of the temple, which was shut, he went to Phlius; and from thence driving out those that garrisoned Oligyrtus, he marched down to Orchomenus. And these enterprises not only encouraged the citizens, but made him appear to the very enemies to be a man worthy of high command, and capable of great things. For with the strength of one city, not only to fight the power of the Macedonians and all the Peloponnesians, supported by all the royal treasures, not only to preserve Laconia from being spoiled, but to waste the enemy's country, and to take so many and such considerable cities, was an argument of no common skill and genius for command.
But he that first said that money was the sinews of affairs, seems especially in that saying to refer to war. Demades, when the Athenians had voted that their galleys should be launched and equipped for action, but could produce no money, told them, "The baker was wanted first, and the pilot after." And the old Archidamus, in the beginning of the Peloponnesian war, when the allies desired that the amount of their contributions should be determined, is reported to have answered, that war cannot be fed upon so much a day. For as wrestlers, who have thoroughly trained and disciplined their bodies, in time tire down and exhaust the most agile and most skillful combatant, so Antigonus, coming to the war with great resources to spend from, wore out Cleomenes, whose poverty made it difficult for him to provide the merest sufficiency of pay for the mercenaries, or of provisions for the citizens. For, in all other respects, time favored Cleomenes; for Antigonus's affairs at home began to be disturbed. For the barbarians wasted and overran Macedonia whilst he was absent, and at that particular time a vast army of Illyrians had entered the country; to be freed from whose devastations, the Macedonians sent for Antigonus, and the letters had almost been brought to him before the battle was fought; upon the receipt of which he would at once have marched away home, and left the Achaeans to look to themselves. But Fortune, that loves to determine the greatest affairs by a minute, in this conjuncture showed such an exact niceness of time, that immediately after the battle in Sellasia was over, and Cleomenes had lost his army and his city, the messengers came up and called for Antigonus. And this above everything made Cleomenes's misfortune to be pitied; for if he had gone on retreating and had forborne fighting two days longer, there had been no need of hazarding a battle; since upon the departure of the Macedonians, he might have had what conditions he pleased from the Achaeans. But now, as was said before, for want of money, being necessitated to trust everything to arms, he was forced with twenty thousand (such is Polybius's account) to engage thirty thousand. And approving himself an admirable commander in this difficulty, his citizens showing an extraordinary courage, and his mercenaries bravery enough, he was overborne by the different way of fighting, and the weight of the heavy-armed phalanx. Phylarchus also affirms, that the treachery of some about him was the chief cause of Cleomenes's ruin.
For Antigonus gave orders, that the Illyrians and Acarnanians should march round by a secret way, and encompass the other wing, which Euclidas, Cleomenes's brother, commanded; and then drew out the rest of his forces to the battle. And Cleomenes, from a convenient rising, viewing his order, and not seeing any of the Illyrians and Acarnanians, began to suspect that Antigonus had sent them upon some such design, and calling for Damoteles, who was at the head of those specially appointed to such ambush duty, he bade him carefully to look after and discover the enemy's designs upon his rear. But Damoteles, for some say Antigonus had bribed him, telling him that he should not be solicitous about that matter, for all was well enough, but mind and fight those that met him in the front, he was satisfied, and advanced against Antigonus; and by the vigorous charge of his Spartans, made the Macedonian phalanx give ground, and pressed upon them with great advantage about half a mile; but then making a stand, and seeing the danger which the surrounded wing, commanded by his brother Euclidas, was in, he cried out, "Thou art lost, dear brother, thou art lost, thou brave example to our Spartan youth, and theme of our matrons' songs." And Euclidas's wing being cut in pieces, and the conquerors from that part falling upon him, he perceived his soldiers to be disordered, and unable to maintain the fight, and therefore provided for his own safety. There fell, we are told, in the battle, besides many of the mercenary soldiers, all the Spartans, six thousand in number, except two hundred.
When Cleomenes came into the city, he advised those citizens that he met to receive Antigonus; and as for himself, he said, which should appear most advantageous to Sparta, whether his life or death, that he would choose. Seeing the women running out to those that had fled with him, taking their arms, and bringing drink to them, he entered into his own house, and his servant, who was a freeborn woman, taken from Megalopolis after his wife's death, offering, as usual, to do the service he needed on returning from war, though he was very thirsty, he refused to drink, and though very weary, to sit down; but in his corselet as he was, he laid his arm sideways against a pillar, and leaning his forehead upon his elbow, he rested his body a little while, and ran over in his thoughts all the courses he could take; and then with his friends set on at once for Gythium; where finding ships which had been got ready for this very purpose, they embarked. Antigonus, taking the city, treated the Lacedaemonians courteously, and in no way offering any insult or offense to the dignity of Sparta, but permitting them to enjoy their own laws and polity, and sacrificing to the gods, dislodged the third day. For he heard that there was a great war in Macedonia, and that the country was devastated by the barbarians. Besides, his malady had now thoroughly settled into a consumption and continual catarrh. Yet he still kept up, and managed to return and deliver his country, and meet there a more glorious death in a great defeat and vast slaughter of the barbarians. As Phylarchus says, and as is probable in itself, he broke a blood vessel by shouting in the battle itself. In the schools we used to be told, that after the victory was won, he cried out for joy, "O glorious day!" and presently bringing up a quantity of blood, fell into a fever, which never left him till his death. And thus much concerning Antigonus.
Cleomenes, sailing from Cythera, touched at another island called Aegialia, whence as he was about to depart for Cyrene, one of his friends, Therycion by name, a man of a noble spirit in all enterprises, and bold and lofty in his talk, came privately to him, and said thus: "Sir, death in battle, which is the most glorious, we have let go; though all heard us say that Antigonus should never tread over the king of Sparta, unless dead. And now that course which is next in honor and virtue, is presented to us. Whither do we madly sail, flying the evil which is near, to seek that which is at a distance? For if it is not dishonorable for the race of Hercules to serve the successors of Philip and Alexander, we shall save a long voyage by delivering ourselves up to Antigonus, who, probably, is as much better than Ptolemy, as the Macedonians are better than the Egyptians; but if we think it mean to submit to those whose arms have conquered us, why should we choose him for our master, by whom we have not yet been beaten? Is it to acknowledge two superiors instead of one, whilst we run away from Antigonus, and flatter Ptolemy? Or, is it for your mother's sake that you retreat to Egypt? It will indeed be a very fine and very desirable sight for her, to show her son to Ptolemy's women, now changed from a prince into an exile and a slave. Are we not still masters of our own swords? And whilst we have Laconia in view, shall we not here free ourselves from this disgraceful misery, and clear ourselves to those who at Sellasia died for the honor and defense of Sparta? Or, shall we sit lazily in Egypt, inquiring what news from Sparta, and whom Antigonus hath been pleased to make governor of Lacedaemon?" Thus spoke Therycion; and this was Cleomenes's reply: "By seeking death, you coward, the most easy and most ready refuge, you fancy that you shall appear courageous and brave, though this flight is baser than the former. Better men than we have given way to their enemies, having been betrayed by fortune, or oppressed by multitude; but he that gives way under labor or distresses, under the ill opinions or reports of men, yields the victory to his own effeminacy. For a voluntary death ought not to be chosen as a relief from action, but as an exemplary action itself; and it is base either to live or to die only to ourselves. That death to which you now invite us, is proposed only as a release from our present miseries, but carries nothing of nobleness or profit in it. And I think it becomes both me and you not to despair of our country; but when there are no hopes of that left, those that have an inclination may quickly die." To this Therycion returned no answer but as soon as he had an opportunity of leaving Cleomenes's company, went aside on the sea-shore, and ran himself through.
But Cleomenes sailed from Aegialia, landed in Libya, and being honorably conducted through the king's country, came to Alexandria. When he was first brought to Ptolemy, no more than common civilities and usual attentions were paid him; but when, upon trial, he found him a man of deep sense and great reason, and that his plain Laconic way of conversation carried with it a noble and becoming grace, that he did nothing unbecoming his birth, nor bent under fortune, and was evidently a more faithful counselor than those who made it their business to please and flatter, he was ashamed, and repented that he had neglected so great a man, and suffered Antigonus to get so much power and reputation by ruining him. He now offered him many marks of respect and kindness, and gave him hopes that he would furnish him with ships and money to return to Greece, and would reinstate him in his kingdom. He granted him a yearly pension of four and twenty talents; a little part of which sum supplied his and his friends' thrifty temperance; and the rest was employed in doing good offices to, and in relieving the necessities of the refugees that had fled from Greece, and retired into Egypt.
But the elder Ptolemy dying before Cleomenes's affairs had received a full dispatch, and the successor being a loose, voluptuous, and effeminate prince, under the power of his pleasures and his women, his business was neglected. For the king was so besotted with his women and his wine, that the employments of his most busy and serious hours consisted at the utmost in celebrating religious feasts in his palace, carrying a timbrel, and taking part in the show; while the greatest affairs of state were managed by Agathoclea, the king's mistress, her mother, and the pimp Oenanthes. At the first, indeed, they seemed to stand in need of Cleomenes; for Ptolemy, being afraid of his brother Magas, who by his mother's means had a great interest amongst the soldiers, gave Cleomenes a place in his secret councils, and acquainted him with the design of taking off his brother. He, though all were for it, declared his opinion to the contrary, saying, "The king, if it were possible, should have more brothers for the better security and stability of his affairs." And Sosibius, the greatest favorite, replying, that they were not secure of the mercenaries whilst Magas was alive, Cleomenes returned, that he need not trouble himself about that matter; for amongst the mercenaries there were above three thousand Peloponnesians, who were his fast friends, and whom he could command at any time with a nod. This discourse made Cleomenes for the present to be looked upon as a man of great influence and assured fidelity; but afterwards, Ptolemy's weakness increasing his fear, and he, as it usually happens, where there is no judgment and wisdom, placing his security in general distrust and suspicion, it rendered Cleomenes suspected to the courtiers, as having too much interest with the mercenaries; and many had this saying in their mouths, that he was a lion amidst a flock of sheep. For, in fact, such he seemed to be in the court, quietly watching, and keeping his eye upon all that went on.
He, therefore, gave up all thought of asking for ships and soldiers from the king. But receiving news that Antigonus was dead, that the Achaeans were engaged in a war with the Aetolians, and that the affairs of Peloponnesus, being now in very great distraction and disorder, required and invited his assistance, he desired leave to depart only with his friends, but could not obtain that, the king not so much as hearing his petition, being shut up amongst his women, and wasting his hours in bacchanalian rites and drinking parties. But Sosibius, the chief minister and counselor of state, thought that Cleomenes, being detained against his will, would grow ungovernable and dangerous, and yet that it was not safe to let him go, being an aspiring, daring man, and well acquainted with the diseases and weakness of the kingdom. For neither could presents and gifts conciliate or content him; but even as Apis, while living in all possible plenty and apparent delight, yet desires to live as nature would provide for him, to range at liberty, and bound about the fields, and can scarce endure to be under the priests' keeping, so he could not brook their courtship and soft entertainment, but sat like Achilles,
and languished far, Desiring battle and the shout of war.
His affairs standing in this condition, Nicagoras, the Messenian, came to Alexandria, a man that deeply hated Cleomenes, yet pretended to be his friend; for he had formerly sold Cleomenes a fair estate, but never received the money, because Cleomenes was either unable, as it may be, or else, by reason of his engagement in the wars and other distractions, had no opportunity to pay him. Cleomenes, seeing him landing, for he was then walking upon the quay, kindly saluted him, and asked what business brought him to Egypt. Nicagoras returned his compliment, and told him, that he came to bring some excellent war-horses to the king. And Cleomenes, with a smile, subjoined, "I could wish you had rather brought young boys and music-girls; for those now are the king's chief occupation." Nicagoras at the moment smiled at the conceit; but a few days after, he put Cleomenes in mind of the estate that he had bought of him, and desired his money, protesting, that he would not have troubled him, if his merchandise had turned out as profitable as he had thought it would. Cleomenes replied, that he had nothing left of all that had been given him. At which answer, Nicagoras, being nettled, told Sosibius Cleomenes's scoff upon the king. He was delighted to receive the information; but desiring to have some greater reason to excite the king against Cleomenes, persuaded Nicagoras to leave a letter written against Cleomenes, importing that he had a design, if he could have gotten ships and soldiers, to surprise Cyrene. Nicagoras wrote such a letter and left Egypt. Four days after, Sosibius brought the letter to Ptolemy, pretending it was just then delivered him, and excited the young man's fear and anger; upon which it was agreed, that Cleomenes should be invited into a large house, and treated as formerly, but not suffered to go out again.
This usage was grievous to Cleomenes, and another incident that occurred, made him feel his hopes to be yet more entirely overcast. Ptolemy, the son of Chrysermas, a favorite of the king's, had always shown civility to Cleomenes; there was a considerable intimacy between them, and they had been used to talk freely together about the state. He, upon Cleomenes's desire, came to him, and spoke to him in fair terms, softening down his suspicions and excusing the king's conduct. But as he went out again, not knowing that Cleomenes followed him to the door, he severely reprimanded the keepers for their carelessness in looking after "so great and so furious a wild beast." This Cleomenes himself heard, and retiring before Ptolemy perceived it, told his friends what had been said. Upon this they cast off all their former hopes, and determined for violent proceedings, resolving to be revenged on Ptolemy for his base and unjust dealing, to have satisfaction for the affronts, to die as it became Spartans, and not stay till, like fatted sacrifices, they were butchered. For it was both grievous and dishonorable for Cleomenes, who had scorned to come to terms with Antigonus, a brave warrior, and a man of action, to wait an effeminate king's leisure, till he should lay aside his timbrel and end his dance, and then kill him.
These courses being resolved on, and Ptolemy happening at the same time to make a progress to Canopus, they first spread abroad a report, that his freedom was ordered by the king, and, it being the custom for the king to send presents and an entertainment to those whom he would free, Cleomenes's friends made that provision, and sent it into the prison, thus imposing upon the keepers, who thought it had been sent by the king. For he sacrificed, and gave them large portions, and with a garland upon his head, feasted and made merry with his friends. It is said that he began the action sooner than he designed, having understood that a servant who was privy to the plot, had gone out to visit a mistress that he loved. This made him afraid of a discovery; and therefore, as soon as it was full noon, and all the keepers sleeping off their wine, he put on his coat, and opening the seam to bare his right shoulder, with his drawn sword in his hand, he issued forth, together with his friends, provided in the same manner, making thirteen in all. One of them, by name Hippitas, was lame, and followed the first onset very well, but when he presently perceived that they were more slow in their advances for his sake, he desired them to run him through, and not ruin their enterprise by staying for an useless, unprofitable man. By chance an Alexandrian was then riding by the door; him they threw off, and setting Hippitas on horseback, ran through the streets, and proclaimed liberty to the people. But they, it seems, had courage enough to praise and admire Cleomenes's daring, but not one had the heart to follow and assist him. Three of them fell on Ptolemy, the son of Chrysermas, as he was coming out of the palace, and killed him. Another Ptolemy, the officer in charge of the city, advancing against them in a chariot, they set upon, dispersed his guards and attendants, and pulling him out of the chariot, killed him upon the place. Then they made toward the castle, designing to break open the prison, release those who were confined, and avail themselves of their numbers; but the keepers were too quick for them, and secured the passages. Being baffled in this attempt, Cleomenes with his company roamed about the city, none joining with him, but all retreating from and flying his approach. Therefore, despairing of success, and saying to his friends, that it was no wonder that women ruled over men that were afraid of liberty, he bade them all die as bravely as became his followers and their own past actions. This said, Hippitas was first, as he desired, run through by one of the younger men, and then each of them readily and resolutely fell upon his own sword, except Panteus, the same who first surprised Megalopolis. This man, being; of a very handsome person, and a great lover of the Spartan discipline, the king had made his dearest friend; and he now bade him, when he had seen him and the rest fallen, die by their example. Panteus walked over them as they lay, and pricked everyone with his dagger, to try whether any was alive, when he pricked Cleomenes in the ankle, and saw him turn upon his back, he kissed him, sat down by him, and when he was quite dead, covered up the body, and then killed himself over it.
Thus fell Cleomenes, after the life which we have narrated, having been king of Sparta sixteen years. The news of their fall being noised through the city, Cratesiclea, though a woman of a great spirit, could not bear up against the weight of this affliction; but embracing Cleomenes's children, broke out into lamentations. But the eldest boy, none suspecting such a spirit in a child, threw himself headlong from the top of the house. He was bruised very much, but not killed by the fall, and was taken up crying, and expressing his resentment for not being permitted to destroy himself. Ptolemy, as soon as an account of the action was brought him, gave order that Cleomenes's body should be flayed and hung up, and that his children, mother, and the women that were with her, should be killed. Amongst these was Panteus's wife, a beautiful and noble-looking woman, who had been but lately married, and suffered these disasters in the height of her love. Her parents would not have her embark with Panteus, so shortly after they were married, though she eagerly desired it, but shut her up, and kept her forcibly at home. But a few days after, she procured a horse and a little money, and escaping by night, made speed to Taenarus, where she embarked for Egypt, came to her husband, and with him cheerfully endured to live in a foreign country. She gave her hand to Cratesiclea, as she was going with the soldiers to execution, held up her robe, and begged her to be courageous; who of herself was not in the least afraid of death, and desired nothing else but only to be killed before the children. When they were come to the place of execution, the children were first killed before Cratesiclea's eyes, and afterward she herself, with only these words in her mouth, "O children, whither are you gone?" But Panteus's wife, fastening her dress close about her, and being a strong woman, in silence and perfect composure, looked after every one that was slain, and laid them decently out as far as circumstances would permit; and after all were killed, rearraying her dress, and drawing her clothes close about her, and suffering none to come near or be an eyewitness of her fall, besides the executioner, she courageously submitted to the stroke, and wanted nobody to look after her or wind her up after she was dead. Thus in her death the modesty of her mind appeared, and set that guard upon her body which she always kept when alive. And she, in the declining age of the Spartans, showed that women were no unequal rivals of the men, and was an instance of a courage superior to the affronts of fortune.
A few days after, those that watched the hanging body of Cleomenes, saw a large snake winding about his head, and covering his face, so that no bird of prey would fly at it. This made the king superstitiously afraid, and set the women upon several expiations, as if he had been some extraordinary being, and one beloved by the gods, that had been slain. And the Alexandrians made processions to the place, and gave Cleomenes the title of hero, and son of the gods, till the philosophers satisfied them by saying, that as oxen breed bees, putrefying horses breed wasps, and beetles rise from the carcasses of dead asses, so the humors and juices of the marrow of a man's body, coagulating, produce serpents. And this the ancients observing, appropriated a serpent, rather than any other creature to heroes.
Having completed the first two narratives, we now may proceed to take a view of misfortunes, not less remarkable, in the Roman couple, and with the lives of Agis and Cleomenes, compare these of Tiberius and Caius. They were the sons of Tiberius Gracchus, who, though he had been once censor, twice consul, and twice had triumphed, yet was more renowned and esteemed for his virtue than his honors. Upon this account, after the death of Scipio who overthrew Hannibal, he was thought worthy to match with his daughter Cornelia, though there had been no friendship or familiarity between Scipio and him, but rather the contrary. There is a story told, that he once found in his bedchamber a couple of snakes, and that the soothsayers, being consulted concerning the prodigy, advised, that he should neither kill them both nor let them both escape; adding, that if the male serpent was killed, Tiberius should die, and if the female, Cornelia. And that, therefore, Tiberius, who extremely loved his wife, and thought, besides, that it was much more his part, who was an old man, to die, than it was hers, who as yet was but a young woman, killed the male serpent, and let the female escape; and soon after himself died, leaving behind him twelve children borne to him by Cornelia.
Cornelia, taking upon herself all the care of the household and the education of her children, approved herself so discreet a matron, so affectionate a mother, and so constant and noble-spirited a widow, that Tiberius seemed to all men to have done nothing unreasonable, in choosing to die for such a woman; who, when king Ptolemy himself proffered her his crown, and would have married her, refused it, and chose rather to live a widow. In this state she continued, and lost all her children, except one daughter, who was married to Scipio the younger, and two sons, Tiberius and Caius, whose lives we are now writing.
These she brought up with such care, that though they were without dispute in natural endowments and dispositions the first among the Romans of their time, yet they seemed to owe their virtues even more to their education than to their birth. And as, in the statues and pictures made of Castor and Pollux, though the brothers resemble one another, yet there is a difference to be perceived in their countenances, between the one, who delighted in the cestus, and the other, that was famous in the course, so between these two noble youths, though there was a strong general likeness in their common love of fortitude and temperance, in their liberality, their eloquence, and their greatness of mind, yet in their actions and administrations of public affairs, a considerable variation showed itself. It will not be amiss, before we proceed, to mark the difference between them.
Tiberius, in the form and expression of his countenance, and in his gesture and motion, was gentle and composed; but Caius, earnest and vehement. And so, in their public speeches to the people, the one spoke in a quiet orderly manner, standing throughout on the same spot; the other would walk about on the hustings, and in the heat of his orations, pull his gown off his shoulders, and was the first of all the Romans that used such gestures; as Cleon is said to have been the first orator among the Athenians that pulled off his cloak and smote his thigh, when addressing the people. Caius's oratory was impetuous and passionate, making everything tell to the utmost, whereas Tiberius was gentle, rather, and persuasive, awakening emotions of pity. His diction was pure, and carefully correct, while that of Caius was vehement and rich. So likewise in their way of living, and at their tables, Tiberius was frugal and plain, Caius, compared with other men temperate and even austere, but contrasting with his brother in a fondness for new fashions and rarities, as appears in Drusus's charge against him, that he had bought some silver dolphins, to the value of twelve hundred and fifty drachmas for every pound weight.
The same difference that appeared in their diction, was observable also in their tempers. The one was mild and reasonable, the other rough and passionate, and to that degree, that often, in the midst of speaking, he was so hurried away by his passion, against his judgment, that his voice lost its tone, and he began to pass into mere abusive talking, spoiling his whole speech. As a remedy to this excess, he made use of an ingenious servant of his, one Licinius, who stood constantly behind him with a sort of pitch-pipe, or instrument to regulate the voice by, and whenever he perceived his master's tone alter, and break with anger, he struck a soft note with his pipe, on hearing which, Caius immediately checked the vehemence of his passion and his voice, grew quieter, and allowed himself to be recalled to temper. Such are the differences between the two brothers; but their valor in war against their country's enemies, their justice in the government of its subjects, their care and industry in office, and their self-command in all that regarded their pleasures were equally remarkable in both.
Tiberius was the elder by nine years; owing to which their actions as public men were divided by the difference of the times in which those of the one and those of the other were performed. And one of the principal causes of the failure of their enterprises was this interval between their careers, and the want of combination of their efforts. The power they would have exercised, had they flourished both together, could scarcely have failed to overcome all resistance. We must therefore give an account of each of them singly, and first of the eldest.
Tiberius, immediately on his attaining manhood, had such a reputation, that he was admitted into the college of the augurs, and that in consideration more of his early virtue than of his noble birth. This appeared by what Appius Claudius did, who, though he had been consul and censor, and was now the head of the Roman senate, and had the highest sense of his own place and merit, at a public feast of the augurs, addressed himself openly to Tiberius, and with great expressions of kindness, offered him his daughter in marriage. And when Tiberius gladly accepted, and the agreement had thus been completed, Appius, returning home, no sooner had reached his door, but he called to his wife and cried out in a loud voice, "O Antistia, I have contracted our daughter Claudia to a husband." She, being amazed, answered, "But why so suddenly, or what means this haste? Unless you have provided Tiberius Gracchus for her husband." I am not ignorant that some apply this story to Tiberius, the father of the Gracchi, and Scipio Africanus; but most relate it as we have done. And Polybius writes, that after the death of Scipio Africanus, the nearest relations of Cornelia, preferring Tiberius to all other competitors, gave her to him in marriage, not having been engaged or promised to anyone by her father.
This young Tiberius, accordingly, serving in Africa under the younger Scipio, who had married his sister, and living there under the same tent with him, soon learned to estimate the noble spirit of his commander, which was so fit to inspire strong feelings of emulation in virtue and desire to prove merit in action, and in a short time he excelled all the young men of the army in obedience and courage; and he was the first that mounted the enemy's wall, as Fannius says, who writes, that he himself climbed up with him, and was partaker in the achievement. He was regarded, while he continued with the army, with great affection; and left behind him on his departure a strong desire for his return.
After that expedition, being chosen paymaster, it was his fortune to serve in the war against the Numantines, under the command of Caius Mancinus, the consul, a person of no bad character, but the most unfortunate of all the Roman generals. Notwithstanding, amidst the greatest misfortunes, and in the most unsuccessful enterprises, not only the discretion and valor of Tiberius, but also, which was still more to be admired, the great respect and honor which he showed for his general, were most eminently remarkable; though the general himself, when reduced to straits, forgot his own dignity and office. For being beaten in various great battles, he endeavored to dislodge by night, and leave his camp; which the Numantines perceiving, immediately possessed themselves of his camp, and pursuing that part of the forces which was in flight, slew those that were in the rear, hedged the whole army in on every side, and forced them into difficult ground, whence there could be no possibility of an escape. Mancinus, despairing to make his way through by force, sent a messenger to desire a truce, and conditions of peace. But they refused to give their confidence to any one except Tiberius, and required that he should be sent to treat with them. This was not only in regard to the young man's own character, for he had a great reputation amongst the soldiers, but also in remembrance of his father Tiberius, who, in his command against the Spaniards, had reduced great numbers of them to subjection, but granted a peace to the Numantines, and prevailed upon the Romans to keep it punctually and inviolably.
Tiberius was accordingly dispatched to the enemy, whom he persuaded to accept of several conditions, and he himself complied with others; and by this means it is beyond a question, that he saved twenty thousand of the Roman citizens, besides attendants and camp followers. However, the Numantines retained possession of all the property they had found and plundered in the encampment; and amongst other things were Tiberius's books of accounts, containing the whole transactions of his quaestorship, which he was extremely anxious to recover. And therefore, when the army were already upon their march, he returned to Numantia, accompanied with only three or four of his friends; and making his application to the officers of the Numantines, he entreated that they would return him his books, lest his enemies should have it in their power to reproach him with not being able to give an account of the monies entrusted to him. The Numantines joyfully embraced this opportunity of obliging him, and invited him into the city; as he stood hesitating, they came up and took him by the hands, and begged that he would no longer look upon them as enemies, but believe them to be his friends, and treat them as such. Tiberius thought it well to consent, desirous as he was to have his books returned, and was afraid lest he should disoblige them by showing any distrust. As soon as he entered into the city, they first offered him food, and made every kind of entreaty that he would sit down and eat something in their company. Afterwards they returned his books, and gave him the liberty to take whatever he wished for in the remaining spoils. He, on the other hand, would accept of nothing but some frankincense, which he used in his public sacrifices, and, bidding them farewell with every expression of kindness, departed.
When he returned to Rome, he found the whole transaction censured and reproached, as a proceeding that was base, and scandalous to the Romans. But the relations and friends of the soldiers, forming a large body among the people, came flocking to Tiberius, whom they acknowledged as the preserver of so many citizens, imputing to the general all the miscarriages which had happened. Those who cried out against what had been done, urged for imitation the example of their ancestors, who stripped and handed over to the Samnites not only the generals who had consented to the terms of release, but also all the quaestors, for example, and tribunes, who had in any way implicated themselves in the agreement, laying the guilt of perjury and breach of conditions on their heads. But, in this affair, the populace, showing an extraordinary kindness and affection for Tiberius, indeed voted that the consul should be stripped and put in irons, and so delivered to the Numantines; but for the sake of Tiberius, spared all the other officers. It may be probable, also, that Scipio, who at that time was the greatest and most powerful man among the Romans, contributed to save him, though indeed he was also censured for not protecting Mancinus too, and that he did not exert himself to maintain the observance of the articles of peace which had been agreed upon by his kinsman and friend Tiberius. But it may be presumed that the difference between them was for the most part due to ambitious feelings, and to the friends and reasoners who urged on Tiberius, and, as it was, it never amounted to any thing that might not have been remedied, or that was really bad. Nor can I think that Tiberius would ever have met with his misfortunes, if Scipio had been concerned in dealing with his measures; but he was away fighting at Numantia, when Tiberius, upon the following occasion, first came forward as a legislator.
Of the land which the Romans gained by conquest from their neighbors, part they sold publicly, and turned the remainder into common; this common land they assigned to such of the citizens as were poor and indigent, for which they were to pay only a small acknowledgment into the public treasury. But when the wealthy men began to offer larger rents, and drive the poorer people out, it was enacted by law, that no person whatever should enjoy more than five hundred acres of ground. This act for some time checked the avarice of the richer, and was of great assistance to the poorer people, who retained under it their respective proportions of ground, as they had been formerly rented by them. Afterwards the rich men of the neighborhood contrived to get these lands again into their possession, under other people's names, and at last would not stick to claim most of them publicly in their own. The poor, who were thus deprived of their farms, were no longer either ready, as they had formerly been, to serve in war, or careful in the education of their children; insomuch that in a short time there were comparatively few freemen remaining in all Italy, which swarmed with workhouses full of foreign-born slaves. These the rich men employed in cultivating their ground, of which they dispossessed the citizens. Caius Laelius, the intimate friend of Scipio, undertook to reform this abuse; but meeting with opposition from men of authority, and fearing a disturbance, he soon desisted, and received the name of the Wise or the Prudent, both which meanings belong to the Latin word Sapiens.
But Tiberius, being elected tribune of the people, entered upon that design without delay, at the instigation, as is most commonly stated, of Diophanes, the rhetorician, and Blossius, the philosopher. Diophanes was a refugee from Mitylene, the other was an Italian, of the city of Cuma, and was educated there under Antipater of Tarsus, who afterwards did him the honor to dedicate some of his philosophical lectures to him. Some have also charged Cornelia, the mother of Tiberius, with contributing towards it, because she frequently upbraided her sons, that the Romans as yet rather called her the daughter of Scipio, than the mother of the Gracchi. Others again say Spurius Postumius was the chief occasion. He was a man of the same age with Tiberius, and his rival for reputation as a public speaker; and when Tiberius, at his return from the campaign, found him to have got far beyond him in fame and influence, and to be much looked up to, he thought to outdo him, by attempting a popular enterprise of this difficulty, and of such great consequence. But his brother Caius has left it us in writing, that when Tiberius went through Tuscany to Numantia, and found the country almost depopulated, there being hardly any free husbandmen or shepherds, but for the most part only barbarian, imported slaves, he then first conceived the course of policy which in the sequel proved so fatal to his family. Though it is also most certain that the people themselves chiefly excited his zeal and determination in the prosecution of it, by setting up writings upon the porches, walls, and monuments, calling upon him to reinstate the poor citizens in their former possessions.
However, he did not draw up his law without the advice and assistance of those citizens that were then most eminent for their virtue and authority; amongst whom were Crassus, the high-priest, Mucius Scaevola, the lawyer, who at that time was consul, and Claudius Appius, his father-in-law. Never did any law appear more moderate and gentle, especially being enacted against such great oppression and avarice. For they who ought to have been severely punished for transgressing the former laws, and should at least have lost all their titles to such lands which they had unjustly usurped, were notwithstanding to receive a price for quitting their unlawful claims, and giving up their lands to those fit owners who stood in need of help. But though this reformation was managed with so much tenderness, that, all the former transactions being passed over, the people were only thankful to prevent abuses of the like nature for the future, yet, on the other hand, the moneyed men, and those of great estates were exasperated, through their covetous feelings against the law itself, and against the law giver, through anger and party spirit. They therefore endeavored to seduce the people, declaring that Tiberius was designing a general redivision of lands, to overthrow the government, and put all things into confusion.
But they had no success. For Tiberius, maintaining an honorable and just cause, and possessed of eloquence sufficient to have made a less creditable action appear plausible, was no safe or easy antagonist, when, with the people crowding around the hustings, he took his place, and spoke in behalf of the poor. "The savage beasts," said he, "in Italy, have their particular dens, they have their places of repose and refuge; but the men who bear arms, and expose their lives for the safety of their country, enjoy in the meantime nothing more in it but the air and light; and having no houses or settlements of their own, are constrained to wander from place to place with their wives and children." He told them that the commanders were guilty of a ridiculous error, when, at the head of their armies, they exhorted the common soldiers to fight for their sepulchres and altars; when not any amongst so many Romans is possessed of either altar or monument, neither have they any houses of their own, or hearths of their ancestors to defend. They fought indeed, and were slain, but it was to maintain the luxury and the wealth of other men. They were styled the masters of the world, but in the meantime had not one foot of ground which they could call their own. A harangue of this nature, spoken to an enthusiastic and sympathizing audience, by a person of commanding spirit and genuine feeling, no adversaries at that time were competent to oppose. Forbearing, therefore, all discussion and debate, they addressed themselves to Marcus Octavius, his fellow-tribune, who, being a young man of a steady, orderly character, and an intimate friend of Tiberius, upon this account declined at first the task of opposing him; but at length, over-persuaded with the repeated importunities of numerous considerable persons, he was prevailed upon to do so, and hindered the passing of the law; it being the rule that any tribune has a power to hinder an act, and that all the rest can effect nothing, if only one of them dissents. Tiberius, irritated at these proceedings, presently laid aside this milder bill, but at the same time preferred another; which, as it was more grateful to the common people, so it was much more severe against the wrongdoers, commanding them to make an immediate surrender of all lands which, contrary to former laws, had come into their possession. Hence there arose daily contentions between him and Octavius in their orations. However, though they expressed themselves with the utmost heat and determination, they yet were never known to descend to any personal reproaches, or in their passion to let slip any indecent expressions, so as to derogate from one another.
For not alone
In revelings and Bacchic play,
but also in contentions and political animosities, a noble nature and a temperate education stay and compose the mind. Observing, however, that Octavius himself was an offender against this law, and detained a great quantity of ground from the commonalty, Tiberius desired him to forbear opposing him any further, and proffered, for the public good, though he himself had but an indifferent estate, to pay a price for Octavius's share at his own cost and charges. But upon the refusal of this proffer by Octavius, he then interposed an edict, prohibiting all magistrates to exercise their respective functions, till such time as the law was either ratified or rejected by public votes. He further sealed up the gates of Saturn's temple, so that the treasurers could neither take any money out from thence, or put any in. He threatened to impose a severe fine upon those of the praetors who presumed to disobey his commands, insomuch that all the officers, for fear of this penalty, intermitted the exercise of their several jurisdictions. Upon this, the rich proprietors put themselves into mourning, went up and down melancholy and dejected; they entered also into a conspiracy against Tiberius, and procured men to murder him; so that he also, with all men's knowledge, whenever he went abroad, took with him a sword-staff, such as robbers use, called in Latin a dolo.
When the day appointed was come, and the people summoned to give their votes, the rich men seized upon the voting urns, and carried them away by force; thus all things were in confusion. But when Tiberius's party appeared strong enough to oppose the contrary faction, and drew together in a body, with the resolution to do so, Manlius and Fulvius, two of the consular quality, threw themselves before Tiberius, took him by the hand, and with tears in their eyes, begged of him to desist. Tiberius, considering the mischiefs that were all but now occurring, and having a great respect for two such eminent persons, demanded of them what they would advise him to do. They acknowledged themselves unfit to advise in a matter of so great importance, but earnestly entreated him to leave it to the determination of the senate. But when the senate assembled, and could not bring the business to any result, through the prevalence of the rich faction, he then was driven to a course neither legal nor fair, and proposed to deprive Octavius of his tribuneship, it being impossible for him in any other way to get the law brought to the vote. At first he addressed him publicly, with entreaties couched in the kindest terms, and taking him by his hands, besought him, that now, in the presence of all the people, he would take this opportunity to oblige them, in granting only that request which was in itself so just and reasonable, being but a small recompense in regard of those many dangers and hardships which they had undergone for the public safety. Octavius, however, would by no means be persuaded to compliance; upon which Tiberius declared openly, that seeing they two were united in the same office, and of equal authority, it would be a difficult matter to compose their difference on so weighty a matter without a civil war; and that the only remedy which he knew, must be the deposing one of them from their office. He desired, therefore, that Octavius would summon the people to pass their verdict upon him first, averring that he would willingly relinquish his authority if the citizens desired it. Octavius refused; and Tiberius then said he would himself put to the people the question of Octavius's deposition, if upon mature deliberation he did not alter his mind; and after this declaration, he adjourned the assembly till the next day.
When the people were met together again, Tiberius placed himself in the rostra, and endeavored a second time to persuade Octavius. But all being to no purpose, he referred the whole matter to the people, calling on them to vote at once, whether Octavius should be deposed or not; and when seventeen of the thirty-five tribes had already voted against him, and there wanted only the votes of one tribe more for his final deprivation, Tiberius put a short stop to the proceedings, and once more renewed his importunities; he embraced and kissed him before all the assembly, begging, with all the earnestness imaginable, that he would neither suffer himself to incur the dishonor, nor him to be reputed the author and promoter of so odious a measure. Octavius, we are told, did seem a little softened and moved with these entreaties; his eyes filled with tears, and he continued silent for a considerable time. But presently looking towards the rich men and proprietors of estates, who stood gathered in a body together, partly for shame, and partly for fear of disgracing himself with them, he boldly bade Tiberius use any severity he pleased. The law for his deprivation being thus voted, Tiberius ordered one of his servants, whom he had made a freeman, to remove Octavius from the rostra, employing his own domestic freed servants in the stead of the public officers. And it made the action seem all the sadder, that Octavius was dragged out in such an ignominious manner. The people immediately assaulted him, whilst the rich men ran in to his assistance. Octavius, with some difficulty, was snatched away, and safely conveyed out of the crowd; though a trusty servant of his, who had placed himself in front of his master that he might assist his escape, in keeping off the multitude, had his eyes struck out, much to the displeasure of Tiberius, who ran with all haste, when he perceived the disturbance, to appease the rioters.
This being done, the law concerning the lands was ratified and confirmed, and three commissioners were appointed, to make a survey of the grounds and see the same equally divided. These were Tiberius himself, Claudius Appius, his father-in-law, and his brother, Caius Gracchus, who at this time was not at Rome, but in the army under the command of Scipio Africanus before Numantia. These things were transacted by Tiberius without any disturbance, none daring to offer any resistance to him, besides which, he gave the appointment as tribune in Octavius's place, not to any person of distinction, but to a certain Mucius, one of his own clients. The great men of the city were therefore utterly offended, and, fearing lest he should grow yet more popular, they took all opportunities of affronting him publicly in the senate house. For when he requested, as was usual, to have a tent provided at the public charge for his use, while dividing the lands, though it was a favor commonly granted to persons employed in business of much less importance, it was peremptorily refused to him; and the allowance made him for his daily expenses was fixed to nine obols only. The chief promoter of these affronts was Publius Nasica, who openly abandoned himself to his feelings of hatred against Tiberius, being a large holder of the public lands, and not a little resenting now to be turned out of them by force. The people, on the other hand, were still more and more excited, insomuch that a little after this, it happening that one of Tiberius's friends died suddenly, and his body being marked with malignant-looking spots, they ran, in tumultuous manner, to his funeral, crying aloud that the man was poisoned. They took the bier upon their shoulders, and stood over it, while it was placed on the pile, and really seemed to have fair grounds for their suspicion of foul play. For the body burst open, and such a quantity of corrupt humors issued out, that the funeral fire was extinguished, and when it was again kindled, the wood still would not burn; insomuch that they were constrained to carry the corpse to another place, where with much difficulty it took fire. Besides this, Tiberius, that he might incense the people yet more, put himself into mourning, brought his children amongst the crowd, and entreated the people to provide for them and their mother, as if he now despaired of his own security.
About this time, king Attalus, surnamed Philometor, died, and Eudemus, a Pergamenian, brought his last will to Rome, by which he had made the Roman people his heirs. Tiberius, to please the people, immediately proposed making a law, that all the money which Attalus left, should be distributed amongst such poor citizens as were to be sharers of the public lands, for the better enabling them to proceed in stocking and cultivating their ground; and as for the cities that were in the territories of Attalus, he declared that the disposal of them did not at all belong to the senate, but to the people, and that he himself would ask their pleasure herein. By this he offended the senate more than ever he had done before, and Pompeius stood up, and acquainted them that he was the next neighbor to Tiberius, and so had the opportunity of knowing that Eudemus, the Pergamenian, had presented Tiberius with a royal diadem and a purple robe, as before long he was to be king of Rome. Quintus Metellus also upbraided him, saying, that when his father was censor, the Romans, whenever he happened to be going home from a supper, used to put out all their lights, lest they should be seen to have indulged themselves in feastings and drinking at unseasonable hours, whereas, now, the most indigent and audacious of the people were found with their torches at night, following Tiberius home. Titus Annius, a man of no great repute for either justice or temperance, but famous for his skill in putting and answering questions, challenged Tiberius to the proof by wager, declaring him to have deposed a magistrate who by law was sacred and inviolable. Loud clamor ensued, and Tiberius, quitting the senate hastily, called together the people, and summoning Annius to appear, was proceeding to accuse him. But Annius, being no great speaker, nor of any repute compared to him, sheltered himself in his own particular art, and desired that he might propose one or two questions to Tiberius, before he entered upon the chief argument. This liberty being granted, and silence proclaimed, Annius proposed his question. "If you," said he, "had a design to disgrace and defame me, and I should apply myself to one of your colleagues for redress, and he should come forward to my assistance, would you for that reason fall into a passion, and depose him?" Tiberius, they say, was so much disconcerted at this question, that, though at other times his assurance as well as his readiness of speech was always remarkable, yet now he was silent and made no reply.
For the present he dismissed the assembly. But beginning to understand that the course he had taken with Octavius had created offense even among the populace as well as the nobility, because the dignity of the tribunes seemed to be violated, which had always continued till that day sacred and honorable, he made a speech to the people in justification of himself; out of which it may not be improper to collect some particulars, to give an impression of his force and persuasiveness in speaking. "A tribune," he said, "of the people, is sacred indeed, and ought to be inviolable, because in a manner consecrated to be the guardian and protector of them; but if he degenerate so far as to oppress the people, abridge their powers, and take away their liberty of voting, he stands deprived by his own act of his honors and immunities, by the neglect of the duty, for which the honor was bestowed upon him. Otherwise we should be under the obligation to let a tribune do his pleasure, though he should proceed to destroy the capitol or set fire to the arsenal. He who should make these attempts, would be a bad tribune. He who assails the power of the people, is no longer a tribune at all. Is it not inconceivable, that a tribune should have power to imprison a consul, and the people have no authority to degrade him when he uses that honor which he received from them, to their detriment? For the tribunes, as well as the consuls, hold office by the people's votes. The kingly government, which comprehends all sorts of authority in itself alone, is morever elevated by the greatest and most religious solemnity imaginable into a condition of sanctity. But the citizens, notwithstanding this, deposed Tarquin, when he acted wrongfully; and for the crime of one single man, the ancient government under which Rome was built, was abolished forever. What is there in all Rome so sacred and venerable as the vestal virgins, to whose care alone the preservation of the eternal fire is committed? yet if one of these transgress, she is buried alive; the sanctity which for the gods' sakes is allowed them, is forfeited when they offend against the gods. So likewise a tribune retains not his inviolability, which for the people's sake was accorded to him, when he offends against the people, and attacks the foundations of that authority from whence he derived his own. We esteem him to be legally chosen tribune who is elected only by the majority of votes; and is not therefore the same person much more lawfully degraded, when by a general consent of them all, they agree to depose him? Nothing is so sacred as religious offerings; yet the people were never prohibited to make use of them, but suffered to remove and carry them wherever they pleased; so likewise, as it were some sacred present, they have lawful power to transfer the tribuneship from one man's hands to another's. Nor can that authority be thought inviolable and irremovable which many of those who have held it, have of their own act surrendered, and desired to be discharged from."
These were the principal heads of Tiberius's apology. But his friends, apprehending the dangers which seemed to threaten him, and the conspiracy that was gathering head against him, were of opinion, that the safest way would be for him to petition that he might be continued tribune for the year ensuing. Upon this consideration, he again endeavored to secure the people's good-will with fresh laws, making the years of serving in the war fewer than formerly, granting liberty of appeal from the judges to the people, and joining to the senators, who were judges at that time, an equal number of citizens of the horsemen's degree, endeavoring as much as in him lay to lessen the power of the senate, rather from passion and partisanship than from any rational regard to equity and the public good. And when it came to the question, whether these laws should be passed, and they perceived that the opposite party were strongest, the people as yet being not got together in a full body, they began first of all to gain time by speeches in accusation of some of their fellow-magistrates, and at length adjourned the assembly till the day following.
Tiberius then went down into the marketplace amongst the people, and made his addresses to them humbly and with tears in his eyes; and told them, he had just reason to suspect, that his adversaries would attempt in the night time to break open his house, and murder him. This worked so strongly with the multitude, that several of them pitched tents round about his house, and kept guard all night for the security of his person. By break of day came one of the soothsayers, who prognosticate good or bad success by the pecking of fowls, and threw them something to eat. The soothsayer used his utmost endeavors to fright the fowls out of their coop; but none of them except one would venture out, which fluttered with its left wing, and stretched out its leg, and ran back again into the coop, without eating anything. This put Tiberius in mind of another ill omen which had formerly happened to him. He had a very costly headpiece, which he made use of when he engaged in any battle, and into this piece of armor two serpents crawled, laid eggs, and brought forth young ones. The remembrance of which made Tiberius more concerned now, than otherwise he would have been. However, he went towards the capitol, as soon as he understood that the people were assembled there; but before he got out of the house, he stumbled upon the threshold with such violence, that he broke the nail of his great toe, insomuch that blood gushed out of his shoe. He was not gone very far before he saw two ravens fighting on the top of a house which stood on his left hand as he passed along; and though he was surrounded with a number of people, a stone, struck from its place by one of the ravens, fell just at his foot. This even the boldest men about him felt as a check. But Blossius of Cuma, who was present, told him, that it would be a shame, and an ignominious thing, for Tiberius, who was the son of Gracchus, the grandson of Scipio Africanus, and the protector of the Roman people, to refuse, for fear of a silly bird, to answer, when his countrymen called to him; and that his adversaries would represent it not as a mere matter for their ridicule, but would declaim about it to the people as the mark of a tyrannical temper, which felt a pride in taking liberties with the people. At the same time several messengers came also from his friends, to desire his presence at the capitol, saying that all things went there according to expectation. And indeed Tiberius's first entrance there was in every way successful; as soon as ever he appeared, the people welcomed him with loud acclamations, and as he went up to his place, they repeated their expressions of joy, and gathered in a body around him, so that no one who was not well known to be his friend, might approach. Mucius then began to put the business again to the vote; but nothing could be performed in the usual course and order, because of the disturbance caused by those who were on the outside of the crowd, where there was a struggle going on with those of the opposite party, who were pushing on and trying to force their way in and establish themselves among them.
Whilst things were in this confusion, Flavius Flaccus, a senator, standing in a place where he could be seen, but at such a distance from Tiberius that he could not make him hear, signified to him by motions of his hand, that he wished to impart something of consequence to him in private. Tiberius ordered the multitude to make way for him, by which means, though not without some difficulty, Flavius got to him, and informed him, that the rich men, in a sitting of the senate, seeing they could not prevail upon the consul to espouse their quarrel, had come to a final determination amongst themselves, that he should be assassinated, and to that purpose had a great number of their friends and servants ready armed to accomplish it. Tiberius no sooner communicated this confederacy to those about him, but they immediately tucked up their gowns, broke the halberts which the officers used to keep the crowd off into pieces, and distributed them among themselves, resolving to resist the attack with these. Those who stood at a distance wondered, and asked what was the occasion; Tiberius, knowing that they could not hear him at that distance, lifted his hand to his head, wishing to intimate the great danger which he apprehended himself to be in. His adversaries, taking notice of that action, ran off at once to the senate house, and declared, that Tiberius desired the people to bestow a crown upon him, as if this were the meaning of his touching his head. This news created general confusion in the senators, and Nasica at once called upon the consul to punish this tyrant, and defend the government. The consul mildly replied, that he would not be the first to do any violence; and as he would not suffer any freeman to be put to death, before sentence had lawfully passed upon him, so neither would he allow any measure to be carried into effect, if by persuasion or compulsion on the part of Tiberius the people had been induced to pass any unlawful vote. But Nasica, rising from his seat, "Since the consul," said he, "regards not the safety of the commonwealth, let everyone who will defend the laws, follow me." He, then, casting the skirt of his gown over his head, hastened to the capitol; those who bore him company, wrapped their gowns also about their arms. and forced their way after him. And as they were persons of the greatest authority in the city, the common people did not venture to obstruct their passing, but were rather so eager to clear the way for them, that they tumbled over one another in haste. The attendants they brought with them, had furnished themselves with clubs and staves from their houses, and they themselves picked up the feet and other fragments of stools and chairs, which were broken by the hasty flight of the common people. Thus armed, they made towards Tiberius, knocking down those whom they found in front of him, and those were soon wholly dispersed, and many of them slain. Tiberius tried to save himself by flight. As he was running, he was stopped by one who caught hold of him by the gown; but he threw it off, and fled in his under-garments only. And stumbling over those who before had been knocked down, as he was endeavoring to get up again, Publius Satureius, a tribune, one of his colleagues, was observed to give him the first fatal stroke, by hitting him upon the head with the foot of a stool. The second blow was claimed, as though it had been a deed to be proud of, by Lucius Rufus. And of the rest there fell above three hundred, killed by clubs and staves only, none by an iron weapon.
This, we are told, was the first sedition amongst the Romans, since the abrogation of kingly government, that ended in the effusion of blood. All former quarrels which were neither small nor about trivial matters, were always amicably composed, by mutual concessions on either side, the senate yielding for fear of the commons, and the commons out of respect to the senate. And it is probable indeed that Tiberius himself might then have been easily induced, by mere persuasion, to give way, and certainly, if attacked at all, must have yielded without any recourse to violence and bloodshed, as he had not at that time above three thousand men to support him. But it is evident, that this conspiracy was fomented against him, more out of the hatred and malice which the rich men had to his person, than for the reasons which they commonly pretended against him. In testimony of which, we may adduce the cruelty and unnatural insults which they used to his dead body. For they would not suffer his own brother, though he earnestly begged the favor, to bury him in the night, but threw him, together with the other corpses, into the river. Neither did their animosity stop here; for they banished some of his friends without legal process, and slew as many of the others us they could lay their hands on; amongst whom Diophanes, the orator, was slain, and one Caius Villius cruelly murdered by being shut up in a large tun with vipers and serpents. Blossius of Cuma, indeed, was carried before the consuls, and examined touching what had happened, and freely confessed, that he had done, without scruple, whatever Tiberius bade him. "What," replied Nasica, "then if Tiberius had bidden you burn the capitol, would you have burnt it?" His first answer was, that Tiberius never would have ordered any such thing; but being pressed with the same question by several others, he declared, "If Tiberius had commanded it, it would have been right for me to do it; for he never would have commanded it, if it had not been for the people's good." Blossius at this time was pardoned, and afterwards went away to Aristonicus in Asia, and when Aristonicus was overthrown and ruined, killed himself.
The senate, to soothe the people after these transactions, did not oppose the division of the public lands, and permitted them to choose another commissioner in the room of Tiberius. So they elected Publius Crassus, who was Gracchus's near connection, as his daughter Licinia was married to Caius Gracchus; although Cornelius Nepos says, that it was not Crassus's daughter whom Caius married, but Brutus's, who triumphed for his victories over the Lusitanians; but most writers state it as we have done. The people, however, showed evident marks of their anger at Tiberius's death; and were clearly waiting only for the opportunity to be revenged, and Nasica was already threatened with an impeachment. The senate, therefore, fearing lest some mischief should befall him, sent him ambassador into Asia, though there was no occasion for his going thither. For the people did not conceal their indignation, even in the open streets, but railed at him, whenever they met him abroad, calling him a murderer and a tyrant, one who had polluted the most holy and religious spot in Rome with the blood of a sacred and inviolable magistrate. And so Nasica left Italy, although be was bound, being the chief priest, to officiate in all principal sacrifices. Thus wandering wretchedly and ignominiously from one place to another, he died in a short time after, not far from Pergamus. It is no wonder that the people had such an aversion to Nasica, when even Scipio Africanus, though so much and so deservedly beloved by the Romans, was in danger of quite losing the good opinion which the people had of him, only for repeating, when the news of Tiberius's death was first brought to Numantia, the verse out of Homer
Even so perish all who do the same.
And afterwards, being asked by Caius and Fulvius, in a great assembly, what he thought of Tiberius's death, he gave an answer adverse to Tiberius's public actions. Upon which account, the people thenceforth used to interrupt him when he spoke, which, until that time, they had never done, and he, on the other hand, was induced to speak ill of the people. But of this the particulars are given in the life of Scipio.
Caius Gracchus, at first, either for fear of his brother's enemies, or designing to render them more odious to the people, absented himself from the public assemblies, and lived quietly in his own house, as if he were not only reduced for the present to live unambitiously, but was disposed in general to pass his life in inaction. And some, indeed, went so far as to say that he disliked his brother's measures, and had wholly abandoned the defense of them. However, he was now but very young, being not so old as Tiberius by nine years; and he was not yet thirty when he was slain.
In some little time, however, he quietly let his temper appear, which was one of an utter antipathy to a lazy retirement and effeminacy, and not the least likely to be contented with a life of eating, drinking, and money getting. He gave great pains to the study of eloquence, as wings upon which he might aspire to public business; and it was very apparent that he did not intend to pass his days in obscurity. When Vettius, a friend of his, was on his trial, he defended his cause, and the people were in an ecstasy, and transported with joy, finding him master of such eloquence that the other orators seemed like children in comparison, and jealousies and fears on the other hand began to be felt by the powerful citizens; and it was generally spoken of amongst them that they must hinder Caius from being made tribune.
But soon after, it happened that he was elected quaestor, and obliged to attend Orestes, the consul, into Sardinia. This, as it pleased his enemies, so it was not ungrateful to him, being naturally of a warlike character, and as well trained in the art of war as in that of pleading. And, besides, as yet he very much dreaded meddling with state affairs, and appearing publicly in the rostra, which, because of the importunity of the people and his friends, he could no otherwise avoid, than by taking this journey. He was therefore most thankful for the opportunity of absenting himself. Notwithstanding which, it is the prevailing opinion that Caius was a far more thorough demagogue, and more ambitious than ever Tiberius had been, of popular applause; yet it is certain that he was borne rather by a sort of necessity than by any purpose of his own into public business. And Cicero, the orator, relates, that when he declined all such concerns, and would have lived privately, his brother appeared to him in a dream, and calling him by his name, said, "why do you tarry, Caius? There is no escape; one life and one death is appointed for us both, to spend the one and to meet the other, in the service of the people."
Caius was no sooner arrived in Sardinia, but he gave exemplary proofs of his high merit; he not only excelled all the young men of his age in his actions against his enemies, in doing justice to his inferiors, and in showing all obedience and respect to his superior officer; but likewise in temperance, frugality, and industry, he surpassed even those who were much older than himself. It happened to be a sharp and sickly winter in Sardinia, insomuch that the general was forced to lay an imposition upon several towns to supply the soldiers with necessary clothes. The cities sent to Rome, petitioning to be excused from that burden; the senate found their request reasonable, and ordered the general to find some other way of new clothing the army. While he was at a loss what course to take in this affair, the soldiers were reduced to great distress; but Caius went from one city to another, and by his mere representations, he prevailed with them, that of their own accord they clothed the Roman army. This again being reported to Rome, and seeming to be only an intimation of what was to be expected of him as a popular leader hereafter, raised new jealousies amongst the senators. And, besides, there came ambassadors out of Africa from king Micipsa, to acquaint the senate, that their master, out of respect to Caius Gracchus, had sent a considerable quantity of corn to the general in Sardinia; at which the senators were so much offended, that they turned the ambassadors out of the senate house, and made an order that the soldiers should be relieved by sending others in their room; but that Orestes should continue at his post, with whom Caius, also, as they presumed, being his quaestor, would remain. But he, finding how things were carried, immediately in anger took ship for Rome, where his unexpected appearance obtained him the censure not only of his enemies, but also of the people; who thought it strange that a quaestor should leave before his commander. Nevertheless, when some accusation upon this ground was made against him to the censors, he desired leave to defend himself, and did it so effectually, that, when he ended, he was regarded as one who had been very much injured. He made it then appear, that he had served twelve years in the army, whereas others are obliged to serve only ten; that he had continued quaestor to the general three years, whereas he might by law have returned at the end of one year; and alone of all who went on the expedition, he had carried out a full, and had brought home an empty purse, while others, after drinking up the wine they had carried out with them, brought back the wine-jars filled again with gold and silver from the war.
After this, they brought other accusations and writs against him, for exciting insurrection amongst the allies, and being engaged in the conspiracy that was discovered about Fregellae. But having cleared himself of every suspicion, and proved his entire innocence, he now at once came forward to ask for the tribuneship; in which, though he was universally opposed by all persons of distinction, yet there came such infinite numbers of people from all parts of Italy to vote for Caius, that lodgings for them could not be supplied in the city; and the Field being not large enough to contain the assembly, there were numbers who climbed upon the roofs and the tilings of the houses to use their voices in his favor. However, the nobility so far forced the people to their pleasure and disappointed Caius's hope, that he was not returned the first, as was expected, but the fourth tribune. But when he came to the execution of his office, it was seen presently who was really first tribune, as he was a better orator than any of his contemporaries, and the passion with which he still lamented his brother's death, made him the bolder in speaking. He used on all occasions to remind the people of what had happened in that tumult, and laid before them the examples of their ancestors, how they declared war against the Faliscans, only for giving scurrilous language to one Genucius, a tribune of the people; and sentenced Caius Veturius to death, for refusing to give way in the forum to a tribune; "Whereas," said he, "these men did, in the presence of you all, murder Tiberius with clubs, and dragged the slaughtered body through the middle of the city, to be cast into the river. Even his friends, as many as could be taken, were put to death immediately, without any trial, notwithstanding that just and ancient custom, which has always been observed in our city, that whenever anyone is accused of a capital crime, and does not make his personal appearance in court, a trumpeter is sent in the morning to his lodging, to summon him by sound of trumpet to appear; and before this ceremony is performed, the judges do not proceed to the vote; so cautious and reserved were our ancestors about business of life and death."
Having moved the people's passion with such addresses (and his voice was of the loudest and strongest), he proposed two laws. The first was, that whoever was turned out of any public office by the people, should be thereby rendered incapable of bearing any office afterwards; the second, that if any magistrate condemn a Roman to be banished, without a legal trial, the people be authorized to take cognizance thereof.
One of these laws was manifestly leveled at Marcus Octavius, who, at the instigation of Tiberius, had been deprived of his tribuneship. The other touched Popilius, who, in his praetorship, had banished all Tiberius's friends; whereupon Popilius, being unwilling to stand the hazard of a trial, fled out of Italy. As for the former law, it was withdrawn by Caius himself, who said he yielded in the case of Octavius, at the request of his mother Cornelia. This was very acceptable and pleasing to the people, who had a great veneration for Cornelia, not more for the sake of her father than for that of her children; and they afterwards erected a statue of brass in honor of her, with this inscription, Cornelia, the mother of the Gracchi. There are several expressions recorded, in which he used her name perhaps with too much rhetoric, and too little self-respect, in his attacks upon his adversaries. "How," said he, "dare you presume to reflect upon Cornelia, the mother of Tiberius?" And because the person who made the redactions had been suspected of effeminate courses, "With what face," said he, "can you compare Cornelia with yourself? Have you brought forth children as she has done? And yet all Rome knows, that she has refrained from the conversation of men longer than you yourself have done." Such was the bitterness he used in his language; and numerous similar expressions might be adduced from his written remains.
Of the laws which he now proposed, with the object of gratifying the people and abridging the power of the senate, the first was concerning the public lands, which were to be divided amongst the poor citizens; another was concerning the common soldiers, that they should be clothed at the public charge, without any diminution of their pay, and that none should be obliged to serve in the army who was not full seventeen years old; another gave the same right to all the Italians in general, of voting at elections, as was enjoyed by the citizens of Rome; a fourth related to the price of corn, which was to be sold at a lower rate than formerly to the poor; and a fifth regulated the courts of justice, greatly reducing the power of the senators. For hitherto, in all causes senators only sat as judges, and were therefore much dreaded by the Roman knights and the people. But Caius joined three hundred ordinary citizens of equestrian rank with the senators, who were three hundred likewise in number, and ordained that the judicial authority should be equally invested in the six hundred. While he was arguing for the ratification of this law, his behavior was observed to show in many respects unusual earnestness, and whereas other popular leaders had always hitherto, when speaking, turned their faces towards the senate house, and the place called the comitium, he, on the contrary, was the first man that in his harangue to the people turned himself the other way, towards them, and continued after that time to do so. An insignificant movement and change of posture, yet it marked no small revolution in state affairs, the conversion, in a manner, of the whole government from an aristocracy to a democracy; his action intimating that public speakers should address themselves to the people, not the senate.
When the commonalty ratified this law, and gave him power to select those of the knights whom he approved of, to be judges, he was invested with a sort of kingly power, and the senate itself submitted to receive his advice in matters of difficulty; nor did he advise anything that might derogate from the honor of that body. As, for example, his resolution about the corn which Fabius the propraetor sent from Spain, was very just and honorable; for he persuaded the senate to sell the corn, and return the money to the same provinces which had furnished them with it; and also that Fabius should be censured for rendering the Roman government odious and insupportable. This got him extraordinary respect and favor among the provinces. Besides all this, he proposed measures for the colonization of several cities, for making roads, and for building public granaries; of all which works he himself undertook the management and superintendence, and was never wanting to give necessary orders for the dispatch of all these different and great undertakings; and that with such wonderful expedition and diligence, as if he had been but engaged upon one of them; insomuch that all persons, even those who hated or feared him, stood amazed to see what a capacity he had for effecting and completing all he undertook. As for the people themselves, they were transported at the very sight, when they saw him surrounded with a crowd of contractors, artificers, public deputies, military officers, soldiers, and scholars. All these he treated with an easy familiarity, yet without abandoning his dignity in his gentleness; and so accommodated his nature to the wants and occasions of everyone who addressed him, that those were looked upon as no better than envious detractors, who had represented him as a terrible, assuming, and violent character. He was even a greater master of the popular leader's art in his common talk and his actions, than he was in his public addresses.
His most especial exertions were given to constructing the roads, which he was careful to make beautiful and pleasant, as well as convenient. They were drawn by his directions through the fields, exactly in a straight line, partly paved with hewn stone, and partly laid with solid masses of gravel. When he met with any valleys or deep watercourses crossing the line, he either caused them to be filled up with rubbish, or bridges to be built over them, so well leveled, that all being of an equal height on both sides, the work presented one uniform and beautiful prospect. Besides this, he caused the roads to be all divided into miles (each mile containing little less than eight furlongs, and erected pillars of stone to signify the distance from one place to another. He likewise placed other stones at small distances from one another, on both sides of the way, by the help of which travelers might get easily on horseback without wanting a groom.
For these reasons, the people highly extolled him, and were ready upon all occasions to express their affection towards him. One day, in an oration to them, he declared that he had only one favor to request, which if they granted, he should think the greatest obligation in the world; yet if it were denied, he would never blame them for the refusal. This expression made the world believe that his ambition was to be consul; and it was generally expected that he wished to be both consul and tribune at the same time. When the day for election of consuls was at hand, and all in great expectation, he appeared in the Field with Caius Fannius, canvassing together with his friends for his election. This was of great effect in Fannius's favor. He was chosen consul, and Caius elected tribune the second time, without his own seeking or petitioning for it, but at the voluntary motion of the people. But when he understood that the senators were his declared enemies, and that Fannius himself was none of the most zealous of friends, he began again to rouse the people with other new laws. He proposed that a colony of Roman citizens might be sent to re-people Tarentum and Capua, and that the Latins should enjoy the same privileges with the citizens of Rome. But the senate, apprehending that he would at last grow too powerful and dangerous, took a new and unusual course to alienate the people's affections from him, by playing the demagogue in opposition to him, and offering favors contrary to all good policy. Livius Drusus was fellow-tribune with Caius, a person of as good a family and as well educated as any amongst the Romans, and noways inferior to those who for their eloquence and riches were the most honored and most powerful men of that time. To him, therefore, the chief senators made their application, exhorting him to attack Caius, and join in their confederacy against him; which they designed to carry on, not by using any force, or opposing the common people, but by gratifying and obliging them with such unreasonable things as otherwise they would have felt it honorable for them to incur the greatest unpopularity in resisting.
Livius offered to serve the senate with his authority in this business; and proceeded accordingly to bring forward such laws as were in reality neither honorable nor advantageous for the public; his whole design being to outdo Caius in pleasing and cajoling the populace (as if it had been in some comedy), with obsequious flattery and every kind of gratifications; the senate thus letting it be seen plainly, that they were not angry with Caius's public measures, but only desirous to ruin him utterly, or at least to lessen his reputation. For when Caius proposed the settlement of only two colonies, and mentioned the better class of citizens for that purpose, they accused him of abusing the people; and yet, on the contrary, were pleased with Drusus, when he proposed the sending out of twelve colonies, each to consist of three thousand persons, and those, too, the most needy that he could find. When Caius divided the public land amongst the poor citizens, and charged them with a small rent, annually, to be paid into the exchequer, they were angry at him, as one who sought to gratify the people only for his own interest; yet afterwards they commended Livius, though he exempted them from paying even that little acknowledgment. They were displeased with Caius, for offering the Latins an equal right with the Romans of voting at the election of magistrates; but when Livius proposed that it might not be lawful for a Roman captain to scourge a Latin soldier, they promoted the passing of that law. And Livius, in all his speeches to the people, always told them, that he proposed no laws but such as were agreeable to the senate, who had a particular regard to the people's advantage. And this truly was the only point in all his proceedings which was of any real service, as it created more kindly feelings towards the senate in the people; and whereas they formerly suspected and hated the principal senators, Livius appeased and mitigated this perverseness and animosity, by his profession that he had done nothing in favor and for the benefit of the commons, without their advice and approbation.
But the greatest credit which Drusus got for kindness and justice towards the people was, that he never seemed to propose any law for his own sake, or his own advantage; he committed the charge of seeing the colonies rightly settled to other commissioners; neither did he ever concern himself with the distribution of the moneys; whereas Caius always took the principal part in any important transactions of this kind. Rubrius, another tribune of the people, had proposed to have Carthage again inhabited, which had been demolished by Scipio, and it fell to Caius's lot to see this performed, and for that purpose he sailed to Africa. Drusus took this opportunity of his absence to insinuate himself still more into the peoples' affections, which he did chiefly by accusing Fulvius, who was a particular friend to Caius, and was appointed a commissioner with him for the division of the lands. Fulvius was a man of a turbulent spirit, and notoriously hated by the senate; and besides, he was suspected by others to have fomented the differences between the citizens and their confederates, and underhand to be inciting the Italians to rebel; though there was little other evidence of the truth of these accusations, than his being an unsettled character, and of a well-known seditious temper. This was one principal cause of Caius's ruin; for part of the envy which fell upon Fulvius, was extended to him. And when Scipio Africanus died suddenly, and no cause of such an unexpected death could be assigned, only some marks of blows upon his body seemed to intimate that he had suffered violence, as is related in the history of his life, the greatest part of the odium attached to Fulvius, because he was his enemy, and that very day had reflected upon Scipio in a public address to the people. Nor was Caius himself clear from suspicion. However, this great outrage, committed too upon the person of the greatest and most considerable man in Rome, was never either punished or inquired into thoroughly, for the populace opposed and hindered any judicial investigation, for fear that Caius should be implicated in the charge if proceedings were carried on. This, however, had happened some time before.
But in Africa, where at present Caius was engaged in the repeopling of Carthage, which he named Junonia, many ominous appearances, which presaged mischief, are reported to have been sent from the gods. For a sudden gust of wind falling upon the first standard, and the standard-bearer holding it fast, the staff broke; another sudden storm blew away the sacrifices, which were laid upon the altars, and carried them beyond the bounds laid out for the city; and the wolves came and carried away the very marks that were set up to show the boundary. Caius, notwithstanding all this, ordered and dispatched the whole business in the space of seventy days, and then returned to Rome, understanding how Fulvius was prosecuted by Drusus, and that the present juncture of affairs would not suffer him to be absent. For Lucius Opimius, one who sided with the nobility, and was of no small authority in the senate, who had formerly sued to be consul, but was repulsed by Caius's interest, at the time when Fannius was elected, was in a fair way now of being chosen consul, having a numerous company of supporters. And it was generally believed, if he did obtain it, that he would wholly ruin Caius, whose power was already in a declining condition; and the people were not so apt to admire his actions as formerly, because there were so many others who every day contrived new ways to please them, with which the senate readily complied.
After his return to Rome, he quitted his house on the Palatine Mount, and went to live near the market-place, endeavoring to make himself more popular in those parts, where most of the humbler and poorer citizens lived. He then brought forward the remainder of his proposed laws, as intending to have them ratified by the popular vote; to support which a vast number of people collected from all quarters. But the senate persuaded Fannius, the consul, to command all persons who were not born Romans, to depart the city. A new and unusual proclamation was thereupon made, prohibiting any of the Allies or Confederates to appear at Rome during that time. Caius, on the contrary, published an edict, accusing the consul for what he had done, and setting forth to the Confederates, that if they would continue upon the place, they might be assured of his assistance and protection. However, he was not so good as his word; for though he saw one of his own familiar friends and companions dragged to prison by Fannius's officers, he notwithstanding passed by, without assisting him; either because he was afraid to stand the test of his power, which was already decreased, or because, as he himself reported, he was unwilling to give his enemies an opportunity, which they very much desired, of coming to actual violence and fighting. About that time there happened likewise a difference between him and his fellow-officers upon this occasion. A show of gladiators was to be exhibited before the people in the marketplace, and most of the magistrates erected scaffolds round about, with an intention of letting them for advantage. Caius commanded them to take down their scaffolds, that the poor people might see the sport without paying anything. But nobody obeying these orders of his, he gathered together a body of laborers, who worked for him, and overthrew all the scaffolds, the very night before the contest was to take place. So that by the next morning the market-place was cleared, and the common people had an opportunity of seeing the pastime. In this, the populace thought he had acted the part of a man; but he much disobliged the tribunes, his colleagues, who regarded it as a piece of violent and presumptuous interference.
This was thought to be the chief reason that he failed of being a third time elected tribune; not but that he had the most votes, but because his colleagues out of revenge caused false returns to be made. But as to this matter there was a controversy. Certain it is, he very much resented this repulse, and behaved with unusual arrogance towards some of his adversaries who were joyful at his defeat, telling them, that all this was but a false, sardonic mirth, as they little knew how much his actions threw them into obscurity.
As soon as Opimius also was chosen consul, they presently canceled several of Caius's laws, and especially called in question his proceedings at Carthage, omitting nothing that was likely to irritate him, that from some effect of his passion they might find out a colorable pretense to put him to death. Caius at first bore these things very patiently; but afterwards, at the instigation of his friends, especially Fulvius, he resolved to put himself at the head of a body of supporters, to oppose the consul by force. They say also that on this occasion his mother, Cornelia, joined in the sedition, and assisted him by sending privately several strangers into Rome, under pretense as if they came to be hired there for harvestmen; for that intimations of this are given in her letters to him. However, it is confidently affirmed by others, that Cornelia did not in the least approve of these actions.
When the day came in which Opimius designed to abrogate the laws of Caius, both parties met very early at the capitol; and the consul having performed all the rites usual in their sacrifices, one Quintus Antyllius, an attendant on the consul, carrying out the entrails of the victim, spoke to Fulvius, and his friends who stood about him, "Ye factious citizens, make way for honest men." Some report, that besides this provoking language, he extended his naked arm towards them, as a piece of scorn and contempt. Upon this he was presently killed with the strong stiles which are commonly used in writing, though some say that on this occasion they had been manufactured for this purpose only. This murder caused a sudden consternation in the whole assembly, and the heads of each faction had their different sentiments about it. As for Caius he was much grieved, and severely reprimanded his own party, because they had given their adversaries a reasonable pretense to proceed against them, which they had so long hoped for. Opimius, immediately seizing the occasion thus offered, was in great delight, and urged the people to revenge; but there happening a great shower of rain on a sudden, it put an end to the business of that day.
Early the next morning, the consul summoned the senate, and whilst he advised with the senators in the senate-house, the corpse of Antyllius was laid upon a bier, and brought through the market-place, being there exposed to open view, just before the senate-house, with a great deal of crying and lamentation. Opimius was not at all ignorant that this was designed to be done; however, he seemed to be surprised, and wondered what the meaning of it should be; the senators, therefore, presently went out to know the occasion of it and, standing about the corpse, uttered exclamations against the inhuman and barbarous act. The people meantime could not but feel resentment and hatred for the senators, remembering how they themselves had not only assassinated Tiberius Gracchus, as he was executing his office in the very capitol, but had also thrown his mangled body into the river; yet now they could honor with their presence and their public lamentations in the forum the corpse of an ordinary hired attendant, (who, though he might perhaps die wrongfully, was, however, in a great measure the occasion of it himself,) by these means hoping to undermine him who was the only remaining defender and safeguard of the people.
The senators, after some time, withdrew, and presently ordered that Opimius, the consul, should be invested with extraordinary power to protect the commonwealth and suppress all tyrants. This being decreed, he presently commanded the senators to arm themselves, and the Roman knights to be in readiness very early the next morning, and every one of them to be attended with two servants well armed. Fulvius, on the other side, made his preparations and collected the populace. Caius at that time returning from the market-place, made a stop just before his father's statue, and fixing his eyes for some time upon it, remained in a deep contemplation; at length he sighed, shed tears, and departed. This made no small impression upon those who saw it, and they began to upbraid themselves, that they should desert and betray so worthy a man as Caius. They therefore went directly to his house, remaining there as a guard about it all night, though in a different manner from those who were a guard to Fulvius; for they passed away the night with shouting and drinking, and Fulvius himself, being the first to get drunk, spoke and acted many things very unbecoming a man of his age and character. On the other side, the party which guarded Caius, were quiet and diligent, relieving one another by turns, and forecasting, as in a public calamity, what the issue of things might be. As soon as daylight appeared, they roused Fulvius, who had not yet slept off the effects of his drinking; and having armed themselves with the weapons hung up in his house, that were formerly taken from the Gauls, whom he conquered in the time of his consulship, they presently, with threats and loud acclamations, made their way towards the Aventine Mount.
Caius could not be persuaded to arm himself, but put on his gown, as if he had been going to the assembly of the people, only with this difference, that under it he had then a short dagger by his side. As he was going out, his wife came running to him at the gate, holding him with one hand, and with her other a young child of his. She thus bespoke him: "Alas, Caius, I do not now part with you to let you address the people, either as a tribune or a lawgiver, nor as if you were going to some honorable war, when though you might perhaps have encountered that fate which all must sometime or other submit to, yet you had left me this mitigation of my sorrow, that my mourning was respected and honored. You go now to expose your person to the murderers of Tiberius, unarmed, indeed, and rightly so, choosing rather to suffer the worst of injuries, than do the least yourself. But even your very death at this time will not be serviceable to the public good. Faction prevails; power and arms are now the only measures of justice. Had your brother fallen before Numantia, the enemy would have given back what then had remained of Tiberius; but such is my hard fate, that I probably must be an humble suppliant to the floods or the waves, that they would somewhere restore to me your relics; for since Tiberius was not spared, what trust can we place either on the laws, or in the gods?" Licinia, thus bewailing, Caius, by degrees getting loose from her embraces, silently withdrew himself, being accompanied by his friends; she, endeavoring to catch him by the gown, fell prostrate upon the earth, lying there for some time speechless. Her servants took her up for dead, and conveyed her to her brother Crassus.
Fulvius, when the people were gathered together in a full body, by the advice of Caius, sent his youngest son into the market-place, with a herald's rod in his hand. He, being a very handsome youth, and modestly addressing himself, with tears in his eyes and a becoming bashfulness, offered proposals of agreement to the consul and the whole senate. The greatest part of the assembly were inclinable to accept of the proposals; but Opimius said, that it did not become them to send messengers and capitulate with the senate, but to surrender at discretion to the laws, like loyal citizens, and endeavor to merit their pardon by submission. He commanded the youth not to return, unless they would comply with these conditions. Caius, as it is reported, was very forward to go and clear himself before the senate; but none of his friends consenting to it, Fulvius sent his son a second time to intercede for them, as before. But Opimius, who was resolved that a battle should ensue, caused the youth to be apprehended, and committed into custody; and then, with a company of his foot-soldiers and some Cretan archers, set upon the party under Fulvius. These archers did such execution, and inflicted so many wounds, that a rout and flight quickly ensued. Fulvius fled into an obscure bathing-house; but shortly after being discovered, he and his eldest son were slain together. Caius was not observed to use any violence against anyone; but, extremely disliking all these outrages, retired to Diana's temple. There he attempted to kill himself, but was hindered by his faithful friends, Pomponius and Licinius, they took his sword away from him, and were very urgent that he would endeavor to make his escape. It is reported, that falling upon his knee and lifting up his hands, he prayed the goddess that the Roman people, as a punishment for their ingratitude and treachery, might always remain in slavery. For as soon as a proclamation was made of a pardon, the greater part openly deserted him.
Caius, therefore, endeavored now to make his escape, but was pursued so close by his enemies, as far as the wooden bridge, that from thence he narrowly escaped. There his two trusty friends begged of him to preserve his own person by flight, whilst they in the meantime would keep their post, and maintain the passage; neither could their enemies, until they were both slain, pass the bridge. Caius had no other companion in his flight but one Philocrates, a servant of his. As he ran along, everybody encouraged him, and wished him success, as standers-by may do to those who are engaged in a race, but nobody either lent him any assistance, or would furnish him with a horse, though he asked for one; for his enemies had gained ground, and got very near him. However, he had still time enough to hide himself in a little grove, consecrated to the Furies. In that place, his servant Philocrates having first slain him, presently afterwards killed himself also, and fell dead upon his master. Though some affirm it for a truth, that they were both taken alive by their enemies, and that Philocrates embraced his master so close, that they could not wound Caius until his servant was slain.
They say that when Caius's head was cut off, and carried away by one of his murderers, Septimuleius, Opimius's friend met him, and forced it from him; because, before the battle began, they had made proclamation, that whoever should bring the head either of Caius or Fulvius, should, as a reward, receive its weight in gold. Septimuleius, therefore, having fixed Caius's head upon the top of his spear, came and presented it to Opimius. They presently brought the scales, and it was found to weigh above seventeen pounds. But in this affair, Septimuleius gave as great signs of his knavery, as he had done before of his cruelty; for having taken out the brains, he had filled the skull with lead. There were others who brought the head of Fulvius too, but, being mean, inconsiderable persons, were turned away without the promised reward. The bodies of these two persons, as well as of the rest who were slain, to the number of three thousand men, were all thrown into the river; their goods were confiscated, and their widows forbidden to put themselves into mourning. They dealt even more severely with Licinia, Caius's wife, and deprived her even of her jointure; and as an addition still to all their inhumanity, they barbarously murdered Fulvius's youngest son; his only crime being, not that he took up arms against them, or that he was present in the battle, but merely that he had come with articles of agreement; for this he was first imprisoned, then slain.
But that which angered the common people beyond all these things was, because at this time, in memory of his success, Opimius built the temple of Concord, as if he gloried and triumphed in the slaughter of so many citizens. Somebody in the night time, under the inscription of the temple, added this verse:--
Folly and Discord Concord's temple built.
Yet this Opimius, the first who, being consul, presumed to usurp the power of a dictator, condemning, without any trial, with three thousand other citizens, Caius Gracchus and Fulvius Flaccus, one of whom had triumphed, and been consul, the other far excelled all his contemporaries in virtue and honor, afterwards was found incapable of keeping his hands from thieving; and when he was sent ambassador to Jugurtha, king of Numidia, he was there corrupted by presents, and at his return being shamefully convicted of it, lost all his honors, and grew old amidst the hatred and the insults of the people, who, though humbled, and affrighted at the time, did not fail before long to let everybody see what respect and veneration they had for the memory of the Gracchi. They ordered their statues to be made and set up in public view; they consecrated the places where they were slain, and thither brought the first-fruits of everything, according to the season of the year, to make their offerings. Many came likewise thither to their devotions, and daily worshipped there, as at the temples of the gods.
It is reported, that as Cornelia, their mother, bore the loss of her two sons with a noble and undaunted spirit, so, in reference to the holy places in which they were slain, she said, their dead bodies were well worthy of such sepulchres. She removed afterwards, and dwelt near the place called Misenum, not at all altering her former way of living. She had many friends, and hospitably received many strangers at her house; many Greeks and learned men were continually about her; nor was there any foreign prince but received gifts from her and presented her again. Those who were conversant with her, were much interested, when she pleased to entertain them with her recollections of her father Scipio Africanus, and of his habits and way of living. But it was most admirable to hear her make mention of her sons, without any tears or sign of grief, and give the full account of all their deeds and misfortunes, as if she had been relating the history of some ancient heroes. This made some imagine, that age, or the greatness of her afflictions, had made her senseless and devoid of natural feelings. But they who so thought, were themselves more truly insensible, not to see how much a noble nature and education avail to conquer any affliction; and though fortune may often be more successful, and may defeat the efforts of virtue to avert misfortunes, it cannot, when we incur them, prevent our bearing them reasonably.
COMPARISON OF TIBERIUS AND CAIUS GRACCHUS WITH AGIS AND CLEOMENES
Having given an account severally of these persons, it remains only that we should take a view of them in comparison with one another.
As for the Gracchi, the greatest detractors and their worst enemies could not but allow, that they had a genius to virtue beyond all other Romans, which was improved also by a generous education. Agis and Cleomenes may be supposed to have had stronger natural gifts, since, though they wanted all the advantages of good education, and were bred up in those very customs, manners, and habits of living, which had for a long time corrupted others, yet they were public examples of temperance and frugality. Besides, the Gracchi, happening to live when Rome had her greatest repute for honor and virtuous actions, might justly have been ashamed, if they had not also left to the next generation the noble inheritance of the virtues of their ancestors. Whereas the other two had parents of different morals; and though they found their country in a sinking condition, and debauched, yet that did not quench their forward zeal to what was just and honorable.
The integrity of the two Romans, and their superiority to money, was chiefly remarkable in this; that in office and the administration of public affairs, they kept themselves from the imputation of unjust gain; whereas Agis might justly be offended, if he had only that mean commendation given him, that he took nothing wrongfully from any man, seeing he distributed his own fortunes, which, in ready money only, amounted to the value of six hundred talents, amongst his fellow-citizens. Extortion would have appeared a crime of a strange nature to him, who esteemed it a piece of covetousness to possess, though never so justly gotten, greater riches than his neighbors.
Their political actions, also, and the state revolutions they attempted, were very different in magnitude. The chief things in general that the two Romans commonly aimed at, were the settlement of cities and mending of highways; and, in particular, the boldest design which Tiberius is famed for, was the recovery of the public lands; and Caius gained his greatest reputation by the addition, for the exercise of judicial powers, of three hundred of the order of knights to the same number of senators. Whereas the alteration which Agis and Cleomenes made, was in a quite different kind. They did not set about removing partial evils and curing petty incidents of disease, which would have been (as Plato says), like cutting off one of the Hydra's heads, the very means to increase the number; but they instituted a thorough reformation, such as would free the country at once from all its grievances, or rather, to speak more truly, they reversed that former change which had been the cause of all their calamities, and so restored their city to its ancient state.
However, this must be confessed in the behalf of the Gracchi, that their undertakings were always opposed by men of the greatest influence. On the other side, those things which were first attempted by Agis, and afterwards consummated by Cleomenes, were supported by the great and glorious precedent of those ancient laws concerning frugality and leveling which they had themselves received upon the authority of Lycurgus, and he had instituted on that of Apollo. It is also further observable, that from the actions of the Gracchi, Rome received no additions to her former greatness; whereas, under the conduct of Cleomenes, Greece presently saw Sparta exert her sovereign power over all Peloponnesus, and contest the supreme command with the most powerful princes of the time; success in which would have freed Greece from Illyrian and Gaulish violence, and placed her once again under the orderly rule of the sons of Hercules.
From the circumstances of their deaths, also, we may infer some difference in the quality of their courage. The Gracchi, fighting with their fellow-citizens, were both slain, as they endeavored to make their escape; Agis willingly submitted to his fate, rather than any citizen should be in danger of his life. Cleomenes, being shamefully and unjustly treated, made an effort toward revenge, but failing of that, generously fell by his own hand.
On the other side it must be said, that Agis never did a great action worthy a commander, being prevented by an untimely death. And as for those heroic actions of Cleomenes, we may justly compare with them that of Tiberius, when he was the first who attempted to scale the walls of Carthage, which was no mean exploit. We may add the peace which he concluded with the Numantines, by which he saved the lives of twenty thousand Romans, who otherwise had certainly been cut off. And Caius, not only at home, but in war in Sardinia, displayed distinguished courage. So that their early actions were no small argument, that afterwards they might have rivaled the best of the Roman commanders, if they had not died so young.
In civil life, Agis showed a lack of determination; he let himself be baffled by the craft of Agesilaus; disappointed the expectations of the citizens as to the division of the lands, and generally left all the designs which he had deliberately formed and publicly announced, unperformed and unfulfilled, through a young man's want of resolution. Cleomenes, on the other hand, proceeded to effect the revolution with only too much boldness and violence, and unjustly slew the Ephors, whom he might, by superiority in arms, have gained over to his party, or else might easily have banished, as he did several others of the city. For to use the knife, unless in the extremest necessity, is neither good surgery nor wise policy, but in both cases mere unskillfulness; and in the latter, unjust as well as unfeeling. Of the Gracchi, neither the one nor the other was the first to shed the blood of his fellow-citizens; and Caius is reported to have avoided all manner of resistance, even when his life was aimed at, showing himself always valiant against a foreign enemy, but wholly inactive in a sedition. This was the reason that he went from his own house unarmed, and withdrew when the battle began, and in all respects showed himself anxious rather not to do any harm to others, than not to suffer any himself. Even the very flight of the Gracchi must not be looked upon as an argument of their mean spirit, but an honorable retreat from endangering of others. For if they had stayed, they must either have yielded to those who assailed them, or else have fought them in their own defense.
The greatest crime that can be laid to Tiberius's charge, was the deposing of his fellow tribune, and seeking afterwards a second tribuneship for himself. As for the death of Antyllius, it is falsely and unjustly attributed to Caius, for he was slain unknown to him, and much to his grief. On the contrary, Cleomenes (not to mention the murder of the Ephors) set all the slaves at liberty, and governed by himself alone in reality, having a partner only for show; having made choice of his brother Euclidas, who was one of the same family. He prevailed upon Archidamus, who was the right heir to the kingdom of the other line, to venture to return home from Messene; but after his being slain, by not doing anything to revenge his death, confirmed the suspicion that he was privy to it himself. Lycurgus, whose example he professed to imitate, after he had voluntarily settled his kingdom upon Charillus, his brother's son, fearing lest, if the youth should chance to die by accident, he might be suspected for it, traveled a long time, and would not return again to Sparta until Charillus had a son, and an heir to his kingdom. But we have indeed no other Grecian who is worthy to be compared with Lycurgus, and it is clear enough that in the public measures of Cleomenes various acts of considerable audacity and lawlessness may be found.
Those, therefore, who incline to blame their characters, may observe, that the two Grecians were disturbers even from their youth, lovers of contest, and aspirants to despotic power; that Tiberius and Caius by nature had an excessive desire after glory and honors. Beyond this, their enemies could find nothing to bring against them; but as soon as the contention began with their adversaries, their heat and passions would so far prevail beyond their natural temper, that by them, as by ill winds, they were driven afterwards to all their rash undertakings. What could be more just and honorable than their first design, had not the power and the faction of the rich, by endeavoring to abrogate that law, engaged them both in those fatal quarrels, the one, for his own preservation, the other, to revenge his brother's death, who was murdered without any law or justice?
From the account, therefore, which has been given, you yourself may perceive the difference; which if it were to be pronounced of every one singly, I should affirm Tiberius to have excelled them all in virtue; that young Agis had been guilty of the fewest misdeeds; and that in action and boldness Caius came far short of Cleomenes.