GREECE.-GROWTH AND LAW.
by a Spartan, Euaephnus, who added to the crime by murdering the son of
Polychares, who was sent for redress. The father appealed to the Spartan
Ephors for justice, but was turned away. He then took matters into his
own hands, and gave his herdsmen orders to kill all the Lacedaemonians
whom they should meet. The Spartans, who were probably not displeased,
secretly prepared for hostilities, marched across the frontier, took the
fortress of Amphia, and killed the garrison.
War broke out in earnest. For four years the Messenians defended
themselves with vigor, but in the fifth they were defeated and driven
into their stronghold, the old fortress of Ithome. They appealed to the
Delphic oracle, and answer was given that the king's daughter would have
to be sacrificed to Hades in order to secure victory. The king was about
to comply when the girl's lover interfered, and she was killed in a
scandalous manner. Although this was no sacrifice, the superstitious
Spartans were kept at bay by the news for several seasons. In the
thirteenth year of the war, however, the struggle was renewed. The king
of Messenia was killed in battle, and was succeeded by Aristodemus, who
fought bravely for his country. Theopompus, king of Sparta, marched
against him, and his forces were augmented by a large band of
Corinthians. The Messenians were aided by the Arcadians and Sicyonians.
In the eighteenth year of the struggle a great battle was fought in which
the Spartans were defeated and driven into their own territories.
It was now their turn to apply to the oracle. An answer was returned
which promised success on condition of a stratagem. Meanwhile, however,
Aristodemus was dismayed by dreams. His murdered daughter appeared and
beckoned him to follow. In despair he went to her tomb and killed
himself. The Messenians were disheartened, and abandoned Ithome. The
Spartans thereupon gained possession and leveled the fortress to the
ground. The whole of Messenia was quickly overrun. Some of the
inhabitants fled into Arcadia; others to Eleusis and Athens. Those who
remained were reduced to a condition of servitude like that of the
Helots. They were obliged by the conquerors to pay them one-half of the
produce of their lands and to submit to intolerable marks of degradation.
After thirty-nine years, however, the spirit of the Messenians revived.
In B. C. 685 Aristomenes claimed the kingdom, and soon showed himself to
be a warrior worthy to lead his people to freedom. A revolt broke out,
which, before it was quelled, drew into the vortex of war nearly all the
states of Peloponnesus. The haughty conduct of Sparta had borne the
natural fruits of disloyalty, and the Argives, Arcadians, Sicyonians, and
Pisatans all espoused the cause of the Messenians against their
oppressors. As in the previous war, however, the Corinthians sided with
Sparta and sent her a contingent of troops.
The first conflict was indecisive, but the advantage was with
Aristomenes. As a piece of effrontery he crossed the Spartan frontier by
night, went to the temple of Athena of the Brazen Horse, and hung up a
shield with this inscription: "Dedicated by Aristomenes to the goddess
from the Spartan spoils." Such was the effect of this piece of audacity
that the Spartans again cried to the Delphic oracle for advice. The
answer was returned that they should apply to the Athenians for a leader.
This was wormwood to both the parties; but the Athenians, fearing to
disobey the voice of Phoebes, selected a lame schoolmaster and poet named
Tyrtaeus, and sent him to lead the warrior Spartans to victory ! The
latter received him with honor, and he soon showed both them and the
senders what a bard may do in war. He began to compose martial songs so
inspired with the spirit of battle that the courage of the Spartans was
revived and themselves fired with the greatest zeal for the conflict.
Tyrtaeus was made a citizen of the state, and the war was renewed with
At the first battle, however, fought at the Boar's Grave, in the plain of
Stenyclerus, the Spartans and Corinthians were defeated with great
losses. During the second year Aristomenes still kept his foe at bay, but
in the third a decisive battle was fought which, through the treachery of
one of the allied chiefs, resulted in a signal disaster to the