Cornelius Nepos

XVII. Agesilaus

1. Agesilaus Lacedaemonius cum a ceteris scriptoribus tum eximie a Xenophonte Socratico conlaudatus est; eo enim usus est familiarissime.

2Hic primum de regno cum Leotychide, fratris filio, habuit contentionem. Mos erat1 enim a maioribus Lacedaemoniis traditus, ut duos haberent semper reges, nomine magis quam imperio, ex duabus familiis Procli et Eurysthenis, qui principes 3ex progenie Herculis Spartae reges fuerunt. Horum ex altera in alterius familiae locum regem2 fieri non licebat; ita suum utraque retinebat ordinem. Primum ratio habebatur, qui maximus natu esset ex liberis eius qui regnans decessisset; sin is virile secus non reliquisset, tum deligebatur qui proximus esset propinquitate. 4Mortuus erat Agis rex, frater Agesilai; filium reliquerat Leotychidem. Quem ille natum non agnorat, eundem moriens suum esse dixerat. Is de honore regni cum Agesilao, patruo suo, contendit 5neque id quod petivit consecutus est; nam Lysandro suffragante, homine, ut ostendimus supra, factioso et iis temporibus potente, Agesilaus antelatus est.

2. Hic simul atque imperii potitus est, persuasit Lacedaemoniis ut exercitus emitterent3 in Asiam bellumque regi facerent, docens satius esse in Asia quam in Europa dimicari. Namque fama exierat Artaxerxen comparare classes pedestresque exercitus, 2quos in Graeciam mitteret. Data potestate tanta

  • 1erat, Fleck.; est, MSS.
  • 2regem, added by Fleck.
  • 3exercitum et se mitterent, Guill.

XVII. Agesilaus

XVII. Agesilaus

1. Agesilaus the Lacedaemonian was praised, not only by all other historians, but in particular by Xenophon, the disciple of Socrates, whose intimate friend he was.

He began by having a dispute about the throne with Leotychides, his brother’s son; for it was the custom of the Lacedaemonians, handed down from their forefathers, always to have two kings (whose power, however, was rather nominal than real) from the families of Procles and Eurysthenes, who were descendants of Hercules and the first kings at Sparta. It was not lawful for one of these to be made king from one family in place of the other; so each family kept its order of succession. Consideration was first given to the eldest of the children of the one who had died upon the throne; but if he had left no male offspring, then his nearest relative was chosen. Now King Agis, the brother of Agesilaus, had died, leaving a son Leotychides;399 b.c. he had not acknowledged the boy at his birth, but on his death-bed he declared that he was his son. He it was that disputed the title of king with his uncle Agesilaus, but he was unsuccessful; for thanks to the support of Lysander, a man, as we have already shown, who at that time was ambitious and powerful, Agesilaus was preferred.

2. As soon as Agesilaus was in possession of the throne, he persuaded the Lacedaemonians to send out armies to Asia and make war upon the king,396 b.c. pointing out that it would be better to fight in Asia than in Europe; for the rumour had gone forth that Artaxerxes1 was equipping a fleet and land forces to send to Greece. As soon as permission was given

  • 1Artaxerxes Mnemon is meant.
DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.cornelius_nepos-book_great_generals_foreign_nations_agesilaus.1929