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surviving his brave companions, or of enduring the sight of Sparta after their death, killed himself on the same field of battle where they had fought, resolving to have one fate and one tomb with them.


There were no less than three several wars between the Messenians and the Lacedemonians, all of them very fierce and bloody. Messenia was a country in Peloponnesus, not far westward from Sparta ; it was of considerable strength, and had its own particular kings.

The first Messenian war. w The first Messenian war lasted twenty years, and broke out the second year of the ninth Olympiad. The Lacedemonians pretended to have received several considerable inju. ries from the Messenians, and, among others, that of having had their daughters ravished by the inhabitants of Messenia, when they went, according to custom, to a temple that stood on the borders of the two nations ; as also that of the murder of Telecles, their king, which was a consequence of the former. Probably a desire of extending their dominion, and of seizing a territory which lay so convenient for them, might be the true cause of the war. But be that as it will, the war broke out in the reign of Polydorus and Theopompus, kings of Sparta, at the time when the office of archon at Athens was still decennial.

Euphaes, the thirteenth descendant from Hercules, was then king of Messenia. He gave the command of his army to Cleonis. The Lacedemonians opened the campaign with the siege of Amphea, a small inconsiderable city, which, however, they thought would be very proper to make a place of arms. The town was taken by storm, and all the inhabitants put to the sword. This first blow served only to animate the Messenians, by showing them what they were to expect from the enemy, if they did not defend themselves with vigour. The Lacedemonians, on their part, bound themselves by an oath, not to lay down their arms, or return to Sparta, till they had made themselves masters of all the cities and lands belonging to the Messenians; such an assurance had they of the success of their arms, and of their invincible courage.

A.M. 3261. Ant. J. C.743. Pausan. I. iv. p. 216--240. Justin. 1 iii.c. 4.

* Pausan. 1. iv. p. 223—226.

Two battles were fought, wherein the loss was pretty equal on both sides. But after the second, the Messenians suffered extremely through the want of provisions, which occasioned a great desertion in their troops, and at last brought the plague among them.

Hereupon they consulted the oracle of Delphos, which directed them, in order to appease the wrath of the gods, to offer up a virgin of the royal blood in sacrifice. Aristomenes, who was of the race of the Epytides, offered his own daughter. The Messenians then considering, that if they left garrisons in all their towns, they should extremely weaken their army, resolved to abandon all their towns, except Ithoma, a little place seated on the top of a hill of the same name, about which they encamped and fortified themselves. In this situation were seven years spent, during which nothing passed but slight skirmishes on

y Pausan 1. iv. p. 227-234

both sides, the Lacedemonians not daring in all that time to force the enemy to a battle.

Indeed they almost despaired of being able to reduce them; nor was there any thing but the obligation of the oath, by which they had bound themselves, that made them continue so burthensome a war. •What gave them the greatest uneasiness, was their apprehension, lest their absence and distance from their wives for so many years, and which might still continue many more, should destroy their families at home, and leave Sparta destitute of citizens. To prevent this misfortune, they sent home such of their soldiers as were come to the army, since the forementioned oath had been taken, and made no scruple of prostituting their wives to their embraces. The children that sprung from these unlawful copulations were called Partheniatæ, a name given them to denote the infamy of their birth. As soon as they were grown up, not being able to endure such an opprobrious distinction, they banished themselves from Sparta with one consent, and under the conduct of *Phalanthus, went and settled at Tarentum in Italy, after driving out the ancient inhabitants.

"At last, in the eighth year of the war, which was the thirteenth of Euphaes's reign, a fierce and bloody battle was fought near Ithoma. Euphaes pierced through the battalions of Theopompus with too much heat and precipitation for a king. He there received a multitude of wounds, several of which were mortal. He fell, and seemed to give up the ghost. Where.

a Diod. 1. sv. p. 778. Et regnata petam Laconi rura Phalanto. Hor. Od. vi. d. 2.

b Pausap. 1. iv. p. 234, 235. Diod in Frag.

upon wonderful efforts of courage were exerted on both sides; by the one, to carry off the king; by the other, to save him. Cleonis killed eight Spartans, who were dragging him along, and spoiled them of their arms, which he committed to the custody of some of his soldiers. He himself received several wounds, all in the forepart of his body, which was a certain proof that he had never turned his back upon his enemies. Aristomenes, fighting on the same occasion, and for the same end, killed five Lacedemo. nians, whose spoils he likewise carried off, without receiving any wound. In short, the king was saved and carried off by the Messenians; and, all mangled and bloody as he was, he expressed great joy that they had not been worsted. Aristomenes, after the battle was over, met Cleonis, who, by reason of his wounds, could neither walk by himself, nor with the assistance of those that lent him their hands. He therefore took him upon his shoulders, without quitting his arms, and carried him to the camp.

As soon as they had applied the first dressing to the wounds of the king of Messenia and of his officers, there arose a new combat among the Messenians, that a was pursued with as much warmth as the former, but was of a very different kind, and yet the consequence of the other. The affair in question was the adjudging the prize of glory to him that had signalized his valour most in the late engagement; for it was even then an ancient custom among them publicly to proclaim, after a battle, the name of the man that had showed the greatest courage. Nothing could be more proper to animate the officers and soldiers, to

own cause.

inspire them with resolution and intrepidity, and to stifle the natural apprehension of death and danger. Two illustrious champions entered the lists on this occasion, namely, Cleonis and Aristomenes.

The king, notwithstanding his weak condition, being attended with the principal officers of his army, presided in the council where this important dispute was to be decided. Each competitor pleaded his

Cleonis began, and founded his pretensions upon

the great number of the enemies he had slain, and upon the multitude of wounds he had received in the action, which were so many undoubted testimonies of the courage with which he had faced both death and danger; whereas, according to him, the condition in which Aristomenes came out of the engagement without hurt and without wound, seemed to shew that he had been very careful of his own person, or, at most, could only prove that he had been more fortunate than he, but not more brave or courageous. And as to his having carried him on his shoulders into the camp, that action indeed might serve to prove the strength of his body, but nothing further; and the thing in dispute at this time, says he, is not strength, but valour.

The only thing Aristomenes was reproached for, was his not being wounded; therefore he confined himself to that point, and answered in the following manner : "I am,” says he, “called fortunate, because I have escaped from the battle without wounds. If that were owing to my cowardice, I should deserve another epithet than that of fortunate; and instead of being admitted to dispute the prize, ought to undergo



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