UNIVERSAL HISTORY-THE ANCIENT WORLD.
festivals and counting it ever afterwards a dies non.
After the war had continued for two years Epaminondas again undertook the
pacification of Peloponnesus and marched a large army across the isthmus.
He was joined by reinforcements from those states and towns favor- able
to the Theban cause, while those who were opposed rallied in great force
at Mantinea. The aged Agesilaus, of Sparta, set out for this place at the
head of the Lacedaemonian forces, and Epaminondas seeing the Laconian
capital thus exposed, once more formed the design of capturing it. By a
swift movement he reached the city before Agesilaus could reenter; but
the houses were so well defended and the old king so alert that the
Theban was obliged to retire. Sparta again escaped destruction by the
skin of her teeth.
Epaminondas, however, at once made his way to Mantinea, and here was
fought the decisive battle of the war. The conflict occurred in the plain
between the city and Tegea. On coming upon the field Epaminondas ordered
his soldiers to ground arms. From this movement the Spartans and
Mantinaeans inferred that the battle would not occur until the following
day. They accordingly took off their breastplates and disposed themselves
at ease. But Epaminondas was busy with preparations, and had no thought
of procrastination. He adopted the same plan of battle as at Leuctra. He
massed his best troops into a column of great depth and hurled them upon
the enemy, who, hurrying into rank, were unable to withstand the shock.
The field was swept at a single charge, and the soldiers of Sparta were
again seen in flight. But the victory was purchased by Thebes at too dear
a price. Epaminondas, fighting in the foremost ranks, was struck in the
breast with a spear and fell mortally wounded. He was carried from the
field in a dying condition. Having satisfied himself that his shield was
safe, and that the victory was certainly won, he ordered the spearhead to
be drawn from his breast and died.
The Theban ascendancy perished with him. Both of those-Iolaidas and
Daiphantus- whom he had indicated as his successors perished in the
battle, and his own dying advice to make peace was as necessary as it was
judicious. His great rival, Agesilaus, survived him but a short time, and
then ended his career in a most dramatic mariner. At the age of eighty
years, the indomitable old man, hobbling about on his lame leg, organized
a force of one thousand hoplites and went on an expedition into Egypt.
That country, under the leadership of Tachos, was now engaged in an
insurrection against the Persians, and the Spartan king went to his aid.
He cut so ridiculous a figure on his arrival that Egyptian ridicule could
not be restrained.
But the party of Nectanebis, who presently rose against Tachos, better
appreciated the military genius of the short old octogenarian, who went
stumping about the ranks with the imperturbable spirit for which his race
had always been noted. Agesilaus actually raised Nectanebis to power, and
was by him rewarded with a present of two hundred and thirty talents. But
on his way homeward the old man died. His body was embalmed in wax and
carried to Sparta, where it was buried with great honor. The ancient
prophecy which had confronted him at the beginning of his reign, and
which Lysander had to explain away, had indeed been fulfilled. Sparta had
good reason to beware of the lame reign, for her prominence in the
affairs of Greece ceased with the death of Agesilaus.
Mention has been recently made of a squadron sent to the aid of the
Lacedaemonians by Dionysius, tyrant of Syracuse. The incident naturally
suggests a few paragraphs on the progress of Grecian civilization in
Sicily and Southern Italy. After the complete collapse of the Athenian
expedition of B. C. 413, at which time the government of Syracuse was in
the hands of the oligarchic or Spartan party, a revolution occurred in
favor of the democracy. One Diodes, a learned and patriotic citizen, was
appointed to draft a popular constitution. Hermocrates, the leader of
the oligarchy, was banished; but a counter revolution was soon organized
by which he was enabled to return and Diodes was himself sent into exile.