Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology/Areus I.
A'REUS I. (Ἀρεύς), succeeded his grandfather, Cleomenes II., as king of Sparta, of the Eurysthenid family, b. c. 309, his father, Acrotatus, having died before him. He reigned 44 years. (Diod. xx. 29.)
In the year 280 b. c., a league of the Greek states was formed, at the instigation of Sparta, acting under the influence of its ally, Ptolemy Ceraunus, to free themselves from the dominion of Antigonus Gonatas. The first blow was struck by Areus, who, having obtained a decree of the Amphyctions against the Aetolians, because they had cultivated the sacred land of Cirrha, attacked Cirrha unexpectedly, and plundered and burnt the town. His proceedings were viewed by the Aetolian shepherds on the mountains, who formed themselves into a body of about 500 men, and attacked the scattered troops of Areus. These, ignorant of the number of their enemies, were struck with a panic and fled, leaving 9000 of their number dead. Thus the expedition turned out fruitless, and the attempts of Sparta to renew the war met with no encouragement from the other states, which suspected that the real design of Sparta was not to liberate Greece, but to obtain the supremacy for herself. (Justin, xxiv. 1: it is scarcely credible that the numbers can be right.)
When Sparta was attacked by Pyrrhus, in b. c. 272 [Acrotatus], Areus was absent on an expedition in Crete. He returned straight to Sparta, and formed an alliance with the Argives, the effect of which was, that Pyrrhus drew off his forces from Sparta to attack Argos. (Paus. iii. 6. § 2; Plut. Pyrrh. 26 - 29.) In the year 267, Areus united with Ptolemy Philadelphus in an unsuccessful attempt to save Athens from Antigonus Gonatas. (Paus. iii. 6. § 3; Justin, xxvi. 2.) He fell in a battle against the Macedonians at Corinth, in the next year but one, 265 b. c., and was succeeded by his son Acrotatus. (Plut. Agis, 3 ; Justin, xxvi., Prol.) He was the king of Sparta to whom the Jews sent the embassy mentioned in 1 Macc. xii. 20. [P. S.]