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considerable rank. This republic did not signalize herself immediately by any thing great and remarkable, because, amongst all her citizens, she produced none of any distinguished merit. The sequel will discover the extraordinary change a single man was capable of introducing among them, by his great qualities. After the death of Alexander, this little state was involved in all the calamities inseparable from discord. The spirit of patriotism no longer prevailed among them, and each city was solely attentive to its particular interest. Their state had lost its former solidity, because they changed their master as often as Macedonia became subject to new sovereigns. They first submitted to Demetrius; after him to Cassander; and last of all to Antigonus Gonatas, who left them in subjection to tyrants of his own establishing, that they might not withdraw themselves from his authority.
Toward the beginning of the CXXIVth Olympiad, A. M. very near the death of Ptolemy Soter, the father of 3724 Philadelphus, and the expedition of Pyrrhus into Ant. J. C. Italy, the republic of the Achæans resumed their former customs, and renewed their ancient concord. The inhabitants of Patre and Dyma laid the foundations of this happy change. The tyrants were expelled from the cities, which then united, and constituted one body of a republic anew: all affairs were decided by a public council: the registers were committed to a common secretary: the assembly haď two presidents, who were nominated by the cities in their respective turns; but it was soon thought ad viseable to reduce them to one.
The good order which reigned in this little repub lic, where freedom and equality, with a love of justice and the public good, were the fundamental principles of their government, drew into their community several neighbouring cities, who received their laws, and associated themselves into their privileges. Sicyon was one of the first that acceded in this manner; by which means Aratus, one of its
citizens, had an opportunity of acting a very great part, and became very illustrious.
Sicyon, which had long groaned under the yoke of her tyrants, attempted to shake it off, by placing Clinias, one of her first and bravest citizens, at her head; and the government already began to flourish and assume a new form, when Abantidas found means to disconcert this amiable plan, in order to seize the tyranny into his own hands. Some of his relations and friends he expelled from the city, and took off others by death: he also searched for Aratus, the son of Clinias, who was then but seven years of age, in order to destroy him; but the infant escaped, with some other persons, amidst the disorder that filled the house when his father was killed; and as he was wandering about the city, in the utmost consternation and distress, he accidentally entered unseen into a house which belonging to the tyrant's sister. This lady was naturally generous, and as she also believed that this destitute infant had taken refuge under her roof, by the impulse of some deity, she carefully concealed him; and when night came, caused him to be secretly conveyed to Argos.
Aratus being thus preserved from so imminent a danger, conceived in his soul from thenceforth an implacable aversion to tyrants, which always increased with his age. He was educated with the utmost care, by some hospitable friends of his father's, at Argos.
The new tyranny in Sicyon had passed through several hands in a short time, when Aratus, who began to arrive at a state of manhood, was solicitous to deliver his country entirely from oppression. He was greatly respected, as well for his birth as his courage, which was accompanied with a gravity superior to his age, and a strong and clear understanding. These qualities, which were well known at that time, caused the exiles from Sicyon to cast their eyes upon him
Plut. in Arato. p. 1027-1031.
in a peculiar manner, and to consider him as a person destined to be their future deliverer; in which conjecture they were not deceived.
Aratus, who was then in the twentieth year of his age, formed a confederacy against Nicocles, who was tyrant at that time; and though the spies he sent to Argos, kept a vigilant eye on his conduct, he pursued his measures with so much prudence and secrecy, that he scaled the walls of Sicyon, and entered the city by night. The tyrant was fortunate enough to secure himself a retreat, through subterranean passages, and when the people assembled in a tumultuous manner, without knowing what had been transacted, a herald cried with a loud voice, that "Aratus, the son of Clinias invited the citizens to resume their liberty." Upon which the crowd immediately flocked to the palace of the tyrant, and burnt it to ashes in a few moments; but not a single man was killed or wounded on either side; the good genius of Aratus not suffering an action of this nature to be polluted with the blood of his citizens; and in which circumstance he made his joy and triumph consist. He then recalled all those who had been banished, to the number of five hundred.
Sicyon then began to enjoy some repose, but Aratus was not fully relieved from inquietude and perplexity. With respect to the situation of affairs without, he was sensible that Antigonus cast a jealous eye on the city, and had meditated expedients for making himself master of it, from its having recovered its liberty. He beheld the seeds of sedition and discord sown within, by those who had been banished, and was extremely apprehensive of their effect. He imagined, therefore, that the safest and most prudent conduct in this delicate juncture, would be to unite Sicyon in the Achæan league, in which he easily succeeded; and this was one of the greatest services he was capable of rendering his country.
The power of the Achæans was indeed but incon
3752. Ant. J. C. 252.
siderable; for, as I have already observed, they were only masters of three very small cities. Their country was neither good nor rich, and they inhabited a coast which had neither ports, nor any other maritime stations of security. But, with all this mediocrity and seeming weakness, they of all people made it most evident, that the forces of the Greeks could be always invincible, when under good order and discipline, and with a prudent and experienced general at the head of them. Thus did those Achæans (who were so inconsiderable in comparison of the ancient power of Greece) by constantly adhering to good counsels, and continuing strictly united together, without blasting the merit of their fellow citizens with the malignant breath of envy; thus, I say, did these Achæans not only maintain their liberties, amidst so many potent cities, and such a number of tyrants, but restored freedom and safety to most of the Grecian states.
Aratus, after he had engaged his city in the Achæan league, entered himself among the cavalry, for the service of that state, and was not a little esteemed by the generals, for the promptitude and vivacity he discovered in the execution of their orders for though he had infinitely contributed to the power and credit of the league, by strengthening it with his own reputation, and all the forces of his country, he yet appeared as submissive as the meanest soldier to the general of the Achæans, notwithstanding the obscurity of the city from whence that officer was selected for such an employment. This is cer-, tainly an excellent example for young princes and noblemen, when they serve in armies, which will teach them to forget their birth on those occasions, and pay an exact submission to the orders of their commanders.
• The conduct and character of Aratus are undoubtedly worthy of admiration. He was naturally
Plut. in Arat. p. 1031. Polyb. 1. iv. p. 277, 278.
polite and obliging; his sentiments were great and noble; and he entirely devoted himself to the good of the state, without any interested views. He was an implacable enemy to tyrants, and regulated his friendship and enmity by the public utility. He was qualified, in many particulars, to appear at the head of affairs: his expressions in discourse were always proper: his thoughts just; and even his silence judicious. He conducted himself with a complacency of temper, in all differences that arose in any deliberations of moment, and had no superior in the happy art of contracting friendships and alliances. He had a wonderful facility in forming enterprises against an enemy; in making his designs impenetrable secrets, and in executing them happily by his patience and intrepidity. It must, however, be acknowledged, that this celebrated Aratus did not seem to be the same man at the head of an army: nothing could then be discovered in him but pro. traction, irresolution, and timidity; whilst every prospect of danger was insupportable to him. Not that he really wanted courage and boldness, but these qualities seemed to be struck languid by the greatness of the execution, and he was only timorous on certain occasions, and at intervals. It was from this disposition of his, that all Peloponnesus was filled with the trophies of his conquerors, and the monuments of his own defeats. In this manner, says Polybius, has nature compounded different and contrary qualities together, not only in the bodies of men, but even in their minds; and hence it is that we are to account for the surprising diversity we frequently perceive in the same persons. On some occasions they appear lively, heroic, and undaunted; and at others, all their vigour, vivacity, and resolution, entirely abandon them.
? I have already observed, that those citizens who had been banished gave Aratus great perplexity.
Plut. in Arat. p. 1031-1038.
A. M. 3753. Ant. J.C.