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UNIVERSAL HISTORY-THE ANCIENT WORLD.

Whether viewed in itself as a ruinous defeat, or considered as a

precedent of what might be expected hereafter, the shock might well be

regarded as fatal to Spartan military fame.

At this epoch in Grecian history appeared on the stage Jason of Pherae,

generalissimo of Thessaly. After the battle of Leuctra, the Thebans sent

to him for assistance in the further prosecution of their war with

Sparta. Already ambitious of extending his own influence in Northern and

Central Greece, he gladly joined his forces with those of Thebes to

complete the expulsion of the Lacedaemonians from the country. This was

accomplished, however, rather by strategy than by force; for Jason

assumed the office of an arbiter, and the three hundred surviving

Spartans were permitted to escape from Boeotia and return home.

It was evident from. this transaction that Jason of Pherae, having had a

taste of Greek politics, was enamored of the situation, and that he saw

in the same an opportunity for the extension of his own influence and

authority. After scanning the horizon, it appeared to him that Southern

Greece offered the most favorable field for his operations. Accordingly

he announced his intention to participate in the ensuing Pythian Festival

of August, B. C. 370. He caused it to be proclaimed that he would himself

take charge of the celebration, and that his sacrifice to Apollo should

consist of one thousand bulls and ten thousand sheep, goats, and swine.

The Delphian priests and Amphictyons were thrown into consternation by

these tidings, but the oracle gave assurance that Phoebus would guard his

shrine. A short time afterwards, and before the date of the festival,

Jason was brought to a pause by assassination. Seven young men rushed

upon him and gave him his quietus while he sat in public hearing causes.

In the mean time the Mantineans, whose city, as heretofore related, had

been dismantled by the Spartans, had availed themselves of the decline of

Lacedaemonian influence to rebuild their ramparts. In this work they were

supported by other Arcadian towns and also by Thebes; for the latter saw

in these movements a sign of the cloud that was to break over Sparta.

Agesilaus marched into Arcadia, but was unable to prevent the Mantineans

from restoring their city. He, however, did much damage by ravaging the

country round about, and then withdrew.

Epaminondas was already on the march to the south, where he was joined by

the Argives and the Eleans, by whom his already large army was increased

to seventy thousand men. His plan now contemplated the restoration to

independence of Messenia, whose people for generations had been scattered

into all parts of Greece. So great was the enthusiasm created by the

presence of Epaminondas in Peloponnesus that the enemies of Sparta,

availing themselves of the manifest paralysis of that power, exhorted him

to make an invasion of Laconia. To this he assented, and his army was

immediately advanced across the border and was soon at Amyclae, on the

Eurotas, only a few miles from the capital.

The alarm at that city knew no bounds. The women of Sparta, who had never

seen the face of an enemy, went about wailing. Nothing but the energy and

courage of Agesilatus saved the city from capture and destruction; but

through his exertions, assisted by the Ephors, the defenseless capital of

Laconia was soon brought into a state of defense. And though the king did

not dare to go forth and give his antagonist battle, he yet succeeded in

protecting the city. Epaminondas, however, wasted the country at will,

and withdrew unmolested to the west. Here, in Arcadia and Messenia, he

prosecuted successfully his purpose of establishing an Arcadian

confederation and restoring the state of Messenia to independence. To

secure the latter object, the ancient cliffs of Ithome were selected,

_____________________________ Leuctra forms a striking incident. The

festival of Gymnopaedia, which was celebrating at the time, went on

without interruption. Women were forbidden to wail for their dead. The

relatives of those who were slain went about the streets laughing; while

those whose friends had survived from the battle wept from shame and

mortification. As for the rest, Sparta merely prepared to rescue her

army.