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Messenians. Aristomenes was obliged to retire from the open field to the

mountain fortress of Ira, where for eleven years he maintained the cause

of his country. From this stronghold he would as occasion offered sally

forth in successful raids against the foe. Such was his prowess that

three times he celebrated the sacrifice of Hecatomphonia for having in

each instance slain with his own hand a hundred of the enemy. Three times

he was taken. Twice he broke away from his captors, but in the third case

he was carried with fifty others to Sparta and thrown into a deep pit.

All the rest were killed, but he fell to the bottom unhurt. The next day

he saw a live fox in the pit, and seizing the beast by the tail, he

followed it through the fissures in the rocks till he found an exit and

escaped. Equal was the surprise both to his own friends and the enemy

when he reappeared at Ira.

Nevertheless, the indomitable energy of the Spartans gradually gained the

ascendancy. Aristomenes was said to have forfeited the favor of the gods.

He was wounded, and, while in a disabled condition, was attacked by the

Lacedaemonians, who succeeded in capturing Ira. Aristomenes escaped with

a band of followers. They fled first into Arcadia, and afterwards into

Rhodes, where the hero passed the rest of his days. Many others of his

countrymen, led by his sons, left Messenia and found refuge in Rhegium in

Southern Italy. The memory of their brave king was long cherished by the

Messenians, whose bards recited his heroism and recounted his

reappearance in battle.

Thus, in the year B. C. 668, ended the Second Messenian War. The people

were again reduced to serfdom. For three hundred years they remained in a

state of abject dependence upon the wills of their conquerors. Their

history during this long period is known only in connection with that of

the dominant state. Their territory was annexed to Laconia, whose limits

were thus extended across Peloponnesus from sea to sea. The supremacy of

the Spartan oligarchy was thus completely established in all the southern

portion of the peninsula. The adjacent parts of Arcadia were also brought

under their sway, and as far north as the gulf of Corinth there were none

left, except the Tegeans, courageous enough to dispute their leadership.

The city of Tegea, however, situated in the south-eastern portion of

Arcadia, deter- mined to fight for independence. The people were brave

and had a warlike history. Twice they had already measured spears

successfully with the Spartans. In the reign of Charilaus, nephew of

Lycurgus, the Lacedaemonians had marched against Tegea, but were

disastrously defeated. Their king and all the survivors of the battle

were captured. In B. C. 580, the Spartans again invaded the territory and

were again routed. The prisoners were taken and enslaved, being obliged

to toil in the very chains which they had brought for the Tegeans. The

latter thus maintained their independence for thirty years. In B. C. 560,

however, the struggle was renewed by the Spartan kings, Anaxandrides and

Ariston. The Delphic oracle sent the Spartans a message that they should

be successful when they secured the bones of Orestes, son of Agamemnon,

now buried at Tegea. This feat was accomplished by a stratagem, and the

relics were carried in triumph to Sparta. Then the tide turned against

the Tegeans. They were defeated in several engagements, their city was

taken, and themselves reduced to dependency. In this case, however, the

conquering state preferred the alliance rather than the enslavement of

the people, and Tegea was spared the fate of Ira and Ithome.

The Spartans also succeeded in annexing the district of Cynuria to their

territories. This province had belonged to Argos, and the attempt of that

city to recover their possession brought on war. It was agreed between

the two states that the question should be decided in a single combat

between three hundred chosen warriors on each side. The picked force of

Argives and Spartans went into battle, and so fierce was the fight that

only two of the former and one of the latter were left alive. The two

Argives, believing themselves victorious, bore the news to Argos, but the

Spartan remained on the field, stripped the bodies of the dead, and

claimed the victory.