Historical Library/Book XIV/Chapter VIII

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Chapter VIII[edit]

Agesilaus made general against the Persians by the Lacedæmonians; goes to Ephesus. They send to the king of Egypt for assistance. The Persians routed at Sipylus by Agesilaus. Tissaphernes's head cut off in a bath at Larissa. The war between the Phocians and the Bœotians.

IN Greece, when the Lacedæmonians foresaw the great war they were likely to have with the Persians, they made Agesilaus, one of their two kings, their general; who, raising six thousand men, and choosing thirty of the most eminent citizens to be members of the senate, passed over out of Europe to Ephesus. There he raised four thousand more, and so marched into the field with an army of ten thousand foot, and four hundred horse.

After the camp followed a rabble, (for the sake of pillage and plunder), not inferior in number to the army itself. He ran through the plains of the Caystrians, and wasted and spoiled all that belonged to the Persians as far as Cuma. Moving from thence, he spent the greater part of the summer in spoiling and wasting Phrygia, the country next adjoining; and having loaded his army with pillage and spoil, about the latter end of autumn returned with his army to Ephesus.

While these things were going on, the Lacedæmonians sent ambassadors to Nephreus[1], king of Egypt, in order to procure his assistance in the war; who sent to the Spartans tackle and furniture for a hundred gallies, and five hundred thousand bushels of wheat instead of soldiers. Pharax, therefore, the Lacedæmonian admiral, departing from Rhodes with a hundred and twenty sail, arrived at Cassandra, a castle of Caria, distant a hundred and fifty stages from Caunus. Setting sail from thence, he besieged Caunus, and Conon the Persian admiral, who then lay there with a fleet of forty sail. But Artaphernes and Pharnabazus approaching to the relief of Caunus with a great navy, Pharax raised the siege, and returned with his fleet to Rhodes.

After this, Conon got together fourscore gallies, and with these sailed over to Cherosenus. In the mean time the inhabitants of Rhodes refuse to suffer the Peloponnesian fleet to enter their harbour, revolt from the Lacedæmonians, and receive Conon with his navy into their port and city. And presently after, they who brought corn out of Egypt, (designed for the Lacedæmonians), not knowing any thing of the defection of the Rhodians, sailed boldly to the island: upon which Conon, the Persian admiral, with the help of the Rhodians, brought them and their lading into the port, and stored the city with corn. And there came likewise other ships to Conon, ten from Silicia, and fourscore from Phœnicia, under the command of the lord-lieutenant of the commander of Sidon.

But afterwards Agesilaus, drawing out his army into the plain of Caystrus, and the places near to Sipylus, plundered and spoiled the inhabitants. Upon which Tissaphernes, withj an army of ten thousand horse, and fifty thousand foot, came upon the backs of the Lacedæmonians, and killed all the stragglers as they were foraging and ranging about the country. But Agesilaus, with a phalanx (drawn up in a square) possessed himself of the rising grounds at Sipylus, watching his opportunity to set upon the enemy: and from thence overran all the country as far as to Sardis, and amongst others wasted and destroyed a garden belonging to Tissaphernes, set with all sorts of trees, and other things for delight and divertissement in time of peace, beautified with very great art and cost. M<arching thence, when he came half way between Sardis and Thybarne, he sent Xenocles the Spartan in the night, with fourteen hundred men into a wood to lie in ambush, in order to intercept the enemy, he himself (about spring of day) marching forward with the army: as soon as he had passed the ambuscade, the barbarians in great fury, on the sudden set upon his rear; upon which he forthwith wheeled about, and when they were hotly engaged, he lifted up a sign to them in ambush, who forthwith with a great shout, came in and fell upon the enemy, who seeing themselves surrounded, in great fear and terror), betook themselves to their heels, of whom six thousand were killed in the pursuit, and a great number of prisoners taken, and the Lacedæmonians seized the enemy's camp, which was very rich. Tissaphernes himself, amazed at the valour of the Spartans, in a great fright fled out of the battle to Sardis. Agesilaus was moved to march up higher into the other provinces, but because the sacrifices did not point out to him any great success, he returned with his army to the sea-side.

Artaxerxes, king of Asia, hearing of the routing of his army, was both afraid and angry; afraid of the Lacedæmonians, and angry at Tissaphernes, who was the occasion of the war. And Parysatis the queen-mother had not long before prayed Artaxerxes, even upon her knees, to take revenge upon Tissaphernes; for she bore him a mortal hatred, because he was instrumental in frustrating the expedition of her son against his brother. Artaxerxes therefore makes Tithraustes general, and commanded him to seize Tissaphernes, giving him likewise letters directed to all the cities and governors of the provinces, ordering them to observe his commands. As soon as Tithraustes came to Colosse in Phrygia, by the help of the governor of Larissa, he seized Tissaphernes in a bath, and cut off his head and sent it to the king. After which, he made a truce with Agesilaus for six months.

While affairs went thus in Asia, the Phocians made war upon the Bœotians, and prayed aid and assistance from the Lacedæmonians. Upon which, Lysander was sent thither with a few soldiers, who raised more after he came to Phocis; but not long after, Pausanias, king of Sparta, was sent to Phocis with six thousand, whereupon the Bœotians drew out their forces, and being joined by the Athenians their confederates, found Haliartus besieged by Lysander and the Phocians. Whereupon a battle was fought, in which Lysander, and many of the Lacedæmonians, with their confederates, were killed. The Bœotians pursued not far, but two hundred Thebans lost their lives, by falling down some steep precipice through their own carelessness. His was afterwards called the Bœotian war. But Pausanias hearing of the defeat of the Lacedæmonians, entered into a truce with the Bœotians, and returned with his army into Peloponnesus.

In the mean time, Conon the Persian admiral committed the care of the fleet to Hieronymus and Nicodemus, two Athenians, and he himself hastened away to the king, sailing to Cilicia, and from thence passing to Thapsacus in Syria, he put himself in a barge, and sailed down the river Euphrates to Babylon. Here being admitted to the king, he promised—That of the king would but furnish him with money and other necessaries as he should think fit, he would undertake to ruin the Lacedæmonian fleet. The king was much pleased, and highly commended and rewarded him, and ordered a paymaster to attend him, and pay him as much money as he should from time to time require. He gave him liberty to chose what Persian he would to be his colleague and assistant in the command; he therefore chose Pharnabazus, and after he had taken order for all things, (according to the utmost of his power), he went down to sea.


  1. Otherwise called Nepherites.