GREECE-SPARTAN AND THEBAN ASCENDENCIES.
CHAPTER XLVII-SPARTAN AND THEBAN ASCENDENCIES.
What has been called the Spartan Supremacy in Grecian history may be
dated from the battle of AEgospotami, in B. C. 405. That conflict decided
the fate of Athens, and there was none other of the Hellenic states at
all able to compete either on land or sea with the Lacedaemonians. The
latter, therefore, as if by right, assumed the mastery of Greece, and for
a while her dominion was as unlimited as it was arbitrary.
Among her first acts was the punishment of certain states that had in
some way injured her interests or insulted her pride. The Eleans had on
a certain occasion excluded the Spartans from participation in the
Olympic games, and more recently had refused permission to King Agis to
offer sacrifices in the temple of Zeus. The inclination of Elis to the
democratic rather than the oligarchic form of government was especially
distasteful to the Lacedaemonians, who now determined to regulate the
affairs of their western neighbors and punish them for previous
In B. C.402 Agis began a campaign against Elis, but was stopped by his
superstition. An earthquake aroused his fears, and the expedition was
postponed until the following year. With the ensuing summer, however, the
campaign was again undertaken. The allies, even including a body of
Athenians, joined the expedition, and the Eleans were soon reduced to
submission. The pious Agis performed his sacrifices and dictated the
terms of peace.
In the meantime, Lysander, now a private but ostentatious citizen of
Sparta, became a source of trouble in that state. His ambition had grown
with what it fed on, and he contemplated no less than a revolution of the
government, by which he hoped to have Agis set aside and himself made
king. To this end he consulted the oracles of Zeus at Dodona and at
Ammon, in distant Libya, as well as that of Apollo at Delphi; but, though
he used the persuasive power of money, the answers were adverse to his
schemes. He succeeded, however, in getting Leotychides, the eldest son of
Agis, set aside, on the ground that he was an illegitimate son of
Alcibiades. But Agesilaus, a younger son, born of another mother,
obtained the throne, and soon became a popular and efficient ruler. A
conspiracy was organized against him on the ground of his lameness, an
old oracle having warned the Spartans to beware "of a lame reign." But
Lysander, hoping to use the new king for his own purposes, explained that
a lame reign and a lame king were two very different things; so the
insurrection was suppressed, and the leaders put to death.
Nearly all the states of Greece were now subject to Sparta. The system of
government, established through the agency of Lysander in the
dependencies, was that of the Decarchy, or Council of Ten, under the
leadership of a Spartan Harmost, or governor. It was essentially a
tyranny, and the Lacedaemonian supremacy, which was based thereon,
contained no element of strength or perpetuity. There was, moreover, in
the present state of affairs a certain inconsistency which weakened the
Spartan authority. The state had fought through the whole of the
Peloponnesianwars for the ostensible purpose of liberating Greece from
the dominion of Athens. What good to substitute the dominion of Sparta?
On the whole, the Greek mind sympathized with the Ionian race and the
democratic tendencies of the Athenians rather than with the austere
Dorians and their oligarchy.
Meanwhile, a stirring drama had been enacted in Asia Minor. The
conspiracy of Cyrus the Younger against his brother Artaxerxes had
gathered head and broken into nothing at the battle of Cunaxa. The part