Page images
PDF
EPUB

vailed for that time: but Ptolemy's fears and suspi, cions returning, he imagined there would be no way to get rid of them, but by taking away the life of him that occasioned them. After this he thought himself secure; fondly concluding, that he had no enemies to fear, either at home or abroad; because Antigonus and Seleucus, at their death, had left no other successors but Philip and Antiochus, both whom he despised on account of their minority. In this security he devoted himself entirely to all sorts of pleasures, which were never interrupted by cares or applications of any kind. Neither his courtiers nor those who had employments in the state, dared to approach him; and he would scarce deign to bestow the least attention to what passed in the neighbouring kingdoms. That, however, was what employed the attention of his predecessors, even more than the affairs of their own dominions. Being possessed of Colosyria and Cyprus, they awed the kings of Syria both by sea and land. As the most considerable cities, the posts and harbours which lie along the coast from Pamphylia to the Hellespont, and the places in the neighbourhood of Lysimachia, were subject to them; from thence they had an eye on the princes of Asia, and even on the islands. How would it have been possible for any one to move in Thrace and Macedonia, whilst they had the command of Ene, or Maronea, and of cities that lay at a still greater distance? With so extensive a dominion, and so many strong places, which served them as barriers, their own kingdom was secure. They therefore had always great reason to keep a watchful eye over what was transacting without doors. Ptolemy, on the contrary, disdained to give himself that trouble; wine and women being his only pleasure and employment.

With such dispositions, the reader will easily suppose that he could have no great esteem for Cleo

• Polyb. I. v. p. 380-3850

the good counsels of Aratus. However, he did not
always make the same use of them.

* Being arrived at Corinth, complaints were made to him by many cities against the Ætolians; and accordingly war was unanimously declared against them. This was called the war of the allies, which began much about the same time that Hannibal was meditating the siege of Saguntum. This decree was sent to all the cities, and ratified in the general assembly of the Achæans. The Ætolians, on the other side, prepared for war, and elected Scopas their general, the principal contriver of the broils they had raised, and the havoc they had made. Philip now marched back his forces into Macedonia; and, whilst they were in winter-quarters, was very diligent in making the necessary military preparations. He endeavoured to strengthen himself by the aid of his allies, few of whom answered his views; colouring their delays with false and specious pretences. He also sent to king Ptolemy, to entreat him not to aid the Ætolians either with men or

money. A.M. "Cleomenes was at that time in Egypt; but as an

3784., horrid licentiousness prevailed in that court, and the Ant, J.C. king regarded nothing but pleasures and excesses of

every kind, Cleomenes led a very melancholy life there. Nevertheless Ptolemy, in the beginning his reign, had made use of Cleomenes: for, as he was afraid of his brother Magas, who, on his mother's account, had great authority and power over the soldiery, he contracted a stricter amity with Cles omenes, and admitted him into his most secret councils, in which means for getting rid of his brother were consulted. Cleomenes was the only person who opposed it; he declaring, that a king cannot have any minister's more zealous for his service, or more obliged to aid him in sustaining the weighty burthea of government, than his brothers. This advice pre

220.

of

Polyb. 1, iv p. 294-299.

a Plut. in Cleom. p. 820-823,

vailed for that time: but Ptolemy's fears and suspi, cions returning, he imagined there would be no way to get rid of them, but by taking away the life of him that occasioned them. • After this he thought bimself secure; fondly concluding, that he had no enemies to fear, either at home or abroad; because Antigonus and Seleucus, at their death, had left no other successors but Philip and Antiochus, both whom he despised on account of their minority. In this security he devoted himself entirely to all sorts of pleasures, which were never interrupted by cares or a pplications of any kind. Neither his courtiers nor those who had employments in the state, dared to approach him; and he would scarce deign to bestow the least attention to what passed in the neighbou ring kingdoms. That, however, was what employed the attention of his predecessors, even more than the affairs of their own dominions. Being possessed of Cælosyria and Cyprus, they awed the kings of Syria both by sea and land. As the most considerable cities, the posts and harbours which lie along the coast from Pamphylia to the Hellespont, and the places in the neighbourhood of Lysimachia, were subject to them; from thence they had an eye on the princes of Asia, and even on the islands. How would it have been possible for any one to move in Thrace and Macedonia, whilst they had the command of Ene, or Maronea, and of cities that lay at a still greater distance? With so extensive a dominion, and so many strong places, which served them as barriers, their own kingdom was secure. They therefore had always great reason to keep a watchful eye over what was transacting without doors. Ptolemy, on the contrary, disdained to give himself that trouble; wine and women being his only pleasure and enploynient.

With such dispositions, the reader will easily supPose that he could have no great esteem for Cleo

Polyb. 1. v. p. 380-3856

gical and bloody manner, by running upon each other's swords, to avoid the infamy of punishment. Thus died Cleomenes, after reigning sixteen years over Sparta. The king caused his body to be hanged on a cross, and ordered his mother, children, and all the women who attended them, to be put to death. When that unhappy princess was brought to the place of execution, the only favour she asked was, that she might die before her children. But they began with them; a torment more grievous to a mother than death itself; after which she presented her neck to the executioner, saying only these words, " Ah! my dear children, to what a place did you come?"

The design of Agis and Cleomenes to reform Sparta, and revive its ancient discipline, was certainly very laudable in itself: And both had reason to think, that in a state wholly infected and corrupted as that of Sparta then was, to pretend to reform abuses one after another, and remedy disorders by degrees, was only cutting off the heads of an Hydra; and therefore that it would be absolutely necessary to root up the evil at one blow. However I cannot say whether Plato's maxim* should not take place here, viz. that nothing should be attempted in a state, but what the citizens might be prevailed on to admit by gentle means: and that violence should never be em. ployed. Are there not some diseases in which medicines would only hasten death? And have noti some disorders gained so great an ascendant in a state, that to attempt a reformation at such a time, would only discover the impotency of the magistrates and laws? But, a circumstance which admits of no excuse in Cleoinenes, is, his having, against all the Jaws of reason and justice, murthered the Ephori, in

Jubet Plato, quem ego auctorem vehementer sequor, Tantum contendere in republica, quartum probare civibus tuis possis : vim neque parenti neque patriæ afferre oportere. Cic. l. 1. Epist. 9. ad Famil.

+ Decebai omittere porius prævalida & adulta vitia, quam hoc ad. sequi, il palam fieret quitus fiagitiis impares essemus, Tacit. Annal.

1. lii. c. 53. ,

order to get success to his enterprise; a conduct ab. solutely tyrannical, unworthy of a Spartan, and more unworthy of a king; and which at the same time seemed to give a sanction to those tyrants, who afterwards made such wild havoc in Lacedæmonia. And, indeed, Cleomenes himself had been called a tyrant by some historians, with whom they even began * the succession of tyrants.

P During the three vears that Cleomenes had left Sparta, the citizens had not thought of nominating kings, from the hopes they entertained, that he would return again; and had always preserved the highest esteem and veneration for him. But, as soon as news was brought of his death, they proceeded to the election of kings. They first nominated Agesipolis, a child, descended from one of the royal families, and appointed his uncle Cleomenes his governor. Afterwards they chose Lycurgus, none of whose ancestors had reigned, but who had bribed the Ephori, by giving each of them a talents, which was putting the crown to sale at a very low price. They soon had reason to repent their choice, which was in direct opposition to all laws, and never had example. The factious party, which opposed Philip openly, and committed the most enormous violences in the city, had presided in this election; and immediately after, they caused Sparta to declare in favour of the Ætolians.

P Polyb. 1. iv. p. 301. * Post mortem Cleomenis, qui primus Tyrannus Lacedæmone fuit. Liv. I. xxxiv, n. 26.

$ A thousand crowns.

« PreviousContinue »