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the rigour of the laws that punish cowards. But what is objected to me as a crime is in truth my greatest glory. For, whether my enemies, astonished at my valour, durst not venture to attack or oppose me, it is no small degree of merit that I made them fear me; or, that whilst they engaged me, I had at the same time strength to cut them in pieces, and skill to guard against their attacks. I must then have been at once both valiant and prudent; for whoever, in the midst of an engagement, can expose himself to dangers with caution and security, shows that he excels at the same time both in the virtues of the mind and the body. As for courage, no man living can reproach Cleonis with any want of it; but for his honour's sake, I am sorry that he should appear to want gratitude."
After the conclusion of these harangues, the question was put to the vote. The whole army is in suspense, and impatiently waits for the decision. No dispute could be so warm and interesting as this. It is not a competition for gold or silver, but solely for honour. The proper reward of virtue is pure disinterested glory. Here the judges are unsuspected.
The actions of the competitors still speak for them. It is the king himself, surrounded with his officers, who presides and adjudges: a whole army are the witnesses: the field of battle is a tribunal without partiality and cabal. In short, all the votes concurred in favour of Aristomenes, and adjudged him the prize.
•Euphaes, the king, died not many days after the decision of this affair. He had reigned thirteen years, and during all that time had been engaged in war with the Lacedemonians. As he died without children, he left the Messenians at liberty to choose his successor. Cleonis and Damis were candidates in opposition to Aristomenes; but he was elected king in preference to them. When he was on the throne, he did not scruple to confer on his two rivals the principal offices of the state. All strongly attached to the public good, even more than to their own glory; competitors, but not enemies, these great men were actuated by a zeal for their country, and were neither friends nor adversaries to one another, but for its preservation.
c Pausan. 1. iv. p. 235-241
In this relation, I have followed the opinion of the late Monsieur Boivin, the elder, and have made use of his learned dissertation upon a fragment of Diodorus Siculus, which the world was little acquainted with. He supposes, and proves in it, that the king, spoken of in that fragment, is Euphaes; and that Aristomenes is the same that Pausanias calls Aristodemus, accord. ing to the custom of the ancients, who were often called by two different names.
Aristomenes, otherwise called Aristodemus, reigned near seven years, and was equally esteemed and beloved by his subjects. The war still continued all this time. Towards the end of his reign he beat the Lacedemonians, took their king Theopompus, and, in honour of Jupiter and Ithoma, sacrificed three hundred of them, among whom their king was the principal victim. Shortly after, Aristodemus sacrificed himself upon the tomb of his daughter, in
Memoirs of the Academy of Inscriptions, Vol. II. p. 84-115. * Clem. Alex. in Protrop, p. 20. Euseb. in Præpar. I. iv. c. 16.
conformity to the answer of an oracle. Damis was his successor, but without taking upon him the title
After his death the Messenians never had any success in their affairs, but found themselves in a very wretched and hopeless condition. Being reduced to the last extremity, and utterly destitute of provisions, they abandoned Ithoma, and fled to such of their allies as were nearest to them. The city was immediately razed, and all the people that remained submitted. They were made to engage by oath never to forsake the party of the Lacedemonians, and never to revolt from them; a very useful precaution, only proper to make them add the guilt of perjury to their rebellion. Their new masters imposed no tribute upon them; but contented themselves with obliging them to bring to the Spartan market one half of the corn they should reap every harvest. It was likewise stipulated, that the Messenians, both men and women, should attend, in mourning, the funerals either of the kings or chief citizens of Sparta; which the Lacedemonians probably looked upon as a mark of the others' dependence, and as a kind of homage paid to their nation. 8 Thus ended the first Messenian war, after having lasted twenty years.
The second Messenian war. h The lenity with which the Lacedemonians treated the Messenians at first was of no long duration. When once they found the whole country had submitted, and thought the people incapable of giving them any further trouble,
Pausan. I. iv. p. 241-247. f. A.M. 3281. Ant. J. C. 723.
^ Pausan. I. iv. p. 242---261. Justin. I. iii. c. 5.
they returned to their natural character of insolence and haughtiness, that often degenerated into cruelty, and sometimes even into ferocity. Instead of treating the vanquished with kindness, as friends and allies, and endeavouring by gentle methods to win those they had subdued by force, they seemed intent upon nothing but aggravating their yoke, and making them feel the whole weight of subjection. They laid heavy taxes upon them, delivered them up to the avarice of the collectors of those taxes, gave no ear to their complaints, rendered them no justice, treated them like vile slaves, and committed the most crying outrages against them.
Man, who is born for liberty, can never reconcile himself to servitude: the most gentle slavery exaspe. rates, and provokes him to rebel. What could be expected then from so cruel a one, as that the Messenians groaned under? After having endured it with great uneasiness i near forty years, they resolved to throw off the yoke, and to recover their ancient liberty. * This was in the fourth year of the twenty third Olympiad: the office of archon at Athens was then made annual; and Anaxander and Anaxidamus reigned at Sparta.
The Messenians' first care was to strengthen themselves with the alliance of the neighbouring nations. These they found well inclined to enter into their views, as very agreeable to their own interests; for it was not without jealousy and apprehensions that they saw so powerful a city rising up in the midst of them, which manifestly seemed to aim at extending her dominion over all the rest. The people therefore of Elis, the Argives, and Sicyonians, declared for the Messenians. But before their forces were joined, a battle was fought between the Lacedemonians and Messenians. Aristomenes, the second of that name, was at the head of the latter. He was a commander of intrepid courage, and of great abilities in war. The Lacedemonians were beat in this engagement. Aristomenes, to give the enemy at first an advantageous opinion of his bravery, knowing what influence it has on the success of future enterprises, boldly ventured to enter into Sparta by night, and upon the gate of the temple of Minerva, who was surnamed Chalciecos, to hang up a shield, on which was an inscription, signifying, that it was a present offered by Aristomenes to the goddess, out of the spoils of the Lacedemonians.
Cùm per complures annos gravia servitutis verbera plerumque ac vincula cæteraque captivitatis mala perpessi essent, post longam perih. rum patientiam bellum instaurant. Justin. I. iii. c. 5.
* A. M. 3320. Ant. J. C. 684.
This bravado did in reality astonish the Lacedemonians; but they were still more alarmed at the formi. dable league that was formed against them. The Delphic oracle, which they consulted, in order to know by what means they should be successful in this war, directed them to send to Athens for a commander, and to submit to his counsel and conduct. This was a very mortifying step to so haughty a city as Sparta. But the fear of incurring the god's displeasure by a direct disobedience prevailed over all other considerations. They sent an embassy therefore to the Athenians. The people of Athens were somewhat perplexed at the request. On the one hand, they
1 According to several historians, there was another Aristomenes in the first Messenian war. Diod. I. xv. p. 278.