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