Agesilaus II ( dr. Greek Ἀγησίλαος ; about 442 - about 358 BC ) - the king of Sparta from 401 BC e. , commander and diplomat.
|Birth||about 442 BC e.|
Sparta ( Laconia ), Greece
|Death||about 358 BC e.|
In 396 - 394 BC. e. won a number of victories in the war with Persia in Asia Minor , but was recalled due to the dangerous course of the Corinthian war for Sparta ( 395 - 387 BC ); after the Antalkidian Peace 387 (or 386 ) year BC. e. supported for some time the hegemony of Sparta in Greece . From 378 to 362 BC e. fought with the Boeotian alliance led by Epaminondas . In order to obtain the funds needed by Sparta, in 361 - 360 years BC. e. was in Egypt , helping the Egyptians in the war with the Persians and taking part in the dynastic struggle.
The early years
Agesilaus II, son of Archidam II and Eupolia, was probably born in 442 BC. e. and after the death of his brother Agis II took in 401 BC. e. the throne, mainly due to the efforts of his friend naval commander Lysander . Lysander persuaded him to raise the issue of the illegitimate birth of his son Agis Leotichid and become king.
Agesilaus II was of medium height, had attractive facial features and, despite his limp, was physically strong, was hardy to all difficulties, and easily tolerated both debilitating heat and severe cold. He was distinguished by a wonderful mind and insight.
The army adored Agesilaus II. Impeccable morality, not losing courage, he was at the same time fair. We have heard from ancient sources about his life the laudable word to Agesilaus , attributed, in the opinion of most recent scholars, to Xenophon , and the biography of Agesilaus Plutarch and Cornelius Nepot .
War with Persia
The brilliant talent of commander Agesilaus II was not slow to affect the first campaign (in the spring of 396 BC ) led by 2 thousand Lacedaemonians and 6 thousand allied soldiers to Asia Minor, where the Persians threatened the Greeks living there on the coast. After successful maneuvers and wise diplomacy, Agesilaus captured many cities and gained profitable allies. The decisive battle for Asia Minor took place near the city of Sardis , where Sparta defeated the Persians, led by the satrap Tissafern . Agesilaus was about to penetrate deep into the Persian Empire (394 BC), but he had to hastily return by order of his government to Hellas, where, thanks to Persian money, many cities rebelled against the rule of Sparta and a war broke out in almost all of Greece, led by Athens , Argos , Thebes , Corinth and Thessaly .
Wars with Thebes and their allies
Having crossed the strait, Agesilaus II went with the army through Thrace , where he defeated one of the local tribes, demanding tribute for the passage of troops in their area. At that time, in the Peloponnese , a major battle took place near Corinth, in which the Spartans defeated the allies. This news raised the morale of Agesilaus' troops. Caught on enemy territory in the region of Thessaly, Agesilaus cavalry defeated Thessaly horsemen near Nartakia . Having passed Thermopylae , the army of Sparta entered Boeotia , where the Thebans and Argives were waiting for it. There was a fierce, bloody battle at Koronei , the battlefield remained with the Spartans. In the battle, Agesilaus was at the forefront and received many wounds, but thanks to the valor and efforts of the bodyguards he survived. After the Thebans requested a truce.
Upon returning to Sparta, Agesilaus II, healing his wounds and gaining strength, made many military campaigns in Central Greece against Thebans and Athenians, capturing the port of Piraeus . He won the war against the Acarnans . But the internecine war continued with varying success, until Agesilaus finally managed to restore the world by force of arms and reasonable politics, cleverly taking advantage of every favorable circumstance for the Spartans, including the Antalkidian world imposed on Greece, which was written under the dictation of Persia and asserted the reign of Sparta .
War on the Boeotian Union
In December 379 BC e. the war broke out again between Thebes and Sparta, and this time happiness smiled at the Thebans, who, under the leadership of Epaminondas and Pelopidus, defeated the Levctra in July 371 BC. e. where the Spartan king Cleombrot I died. The battle of Levctra ended in a crushing defeat for the Spartans. One of the reasons for the defeat, according to Plutarch, was a violation of the law of the semi-legendary founder of Sparta Lycurgus ’s device “ Never fight with the same enemy often, since you will teach him how to fight .” There is a tradition that after the defeat, Antalkid approached the wounded Agesilaus II and said, “ Yes, the Thebans paid you well because despite their ignorance and unwillingness to learn, you still taught them to fight ”  .
After the defeat at Levktra, the allies of Sparta began to separate from it, and the Peloponnesian Union began to disintegrate. To raise the morale of the Spartan youth, Agesilaus II made a military campaign in Arcadia , which united against Sparta. Not meeting resistance, Agesilaus army devastated the country and returned to Lacedaemon. The Thebans with allies came to the aid of Arcadia and teamed up with the army of the Arcadians, Argivians and Eleists. The allied army with a total of 70 thousand people, led by Epaminondas, invaded Laconia itself . Agesilaus convinced small citizens not to accept the battle outside of Sparta, where the enemy had the full advantage. In connection with the critical situation for the country in Sparta, there was a threat of rebellion, but through wise actions Agesilaus did not allow unrest. But the commotion that the women and the elderly arranged because of the enemy army camped near the city continued for some time. This was the first time that the inhabitants of Sparta saw an enemy army near the very borders of the city. The king of Sparta put up a civil militia in strategically important places of the city and prepared for defense. In addition, the cold river Eurotus overflowed its banks and was an additional protective barrier for Sparta. Epaminondas did not go on the attack of Lacedaemon, but to the south crossed the river at the ancient settlement of Amikly . The allies began to plunder the nearby area, but the Lacedaemonians ambushed the legendary Tindarid building. An equestrian battle ensued when the Allied cavalry rushed to the Lacedaemon riders, three hundred young Spartan hoplites quickly attacked from the shelters of the Allies and put in flight most of the allied forces of Epaminondas. This success increased the chances that the Thebans would not attack Sparta itself. But this did not save the southern Laconic, which was plundered by enemies. Agesilaus could not prevent the ruin of the country with insignificant forces and amassed military forces. A few months later, the Allied contingents of the Thebans, mainly the Peloponnesians, left Lakonika with looted goods, besides, colds came, and the army of Sparta was strengthened due to helots and allies. Later, the Thebans also left. Sparta entered into a military alliance with Athens against Thebes, and a long-term strategic war began. During this time, Epaminondas helped the Messenians separate from Sparta, centered in the new city of Messen, and was the initiator of the creation of a large city in Arcadia Megalopol , not far from the borders of Sparta. Agesilaus, because of his old age, could no longer take an active part in military campaigns, he transferred this duty to his son Archidam , who justified his father’s trust and won the battle over the large forces of the Arcadians and Argives, in this battle none of the Spartans were killed, in contrast to the large losses of the enemy. After some time, a split began in the coalition led by Thebes, the region of Elis split up, and Arcadia itself was divided into two hostile camps. Seeing the unfavorable situation for themselves, Thebes sent Epaminondas to the Arcade with a large army. The Athenians and Spartans were also called up to Arcadia. Epaminondos learned that almost all of the Lacedaemonians' militia, headed by Agesilaus himself, was sent to Arcadia, and decided to seize the unprotected Sparta with a sudden march and thereby wrest the victory in a grueling war. Agesilaus in time learned about the enemy’s maneuver and arrived in time for the city when the Thebans broke into Sparta. Epaminondas managed to take advantageous positions in the city, but the fierce attacks of the Spartans under the command of Archidam drove the Thebans out of Lacedaemon, granting them victory over a large enemy. After this, Epaminondas returned to Arcadia, where Agesilaus and his army later approached. Under Mantineus (362 BC), a battle broke out between both coalitions, Epaminondas was killed at the height of the battle, and bloodshed ceased. Representatives of all the states of Hellas participating in this conflict made peace (of the same name), ending the war. This world did not satisfy, however, Agesilaus. The messiah , which previously occupied almost half of the Spartan possessions, was included in the peace treaty as an independent state, thereby greatly weakening Sparta.
To increase the power lost by Sparta, Agesilaus II began to look for new means for the return of previously lost possessions. Called to the aid of Tahos , proclaimed by the Egyptians as a pharaoh , outraged by the dominion of the Persians , he crossed with a hired army raised for Egyptian money in 360–359 BC. e. to Egypt. From here, with the newly proclaimed pharaoh, the Spartan made a military raid into Phenicia . Agesilaus was appointed commander in chief only over the hired army, while the entire army was led by Tahos himself, which was difficult for Agesilaus, who was not used to following the orders of the arrogant young stranger. Soon, the king of Sparta switched to the side of the next pharaoh - Nectaneba II , cousin of Tahos. Nectaneb II offered a higher fee to Agesilaus, and, having received approval from Sparta, he switched to the opposite side with the entire mercenary army, guided in order to bring the greatest benefit to his homeland. Tahos was forced to run. Very soon, Nectaneb II had a new rival to the throne of Egypt, which gathered a large but unprofessional army. Nektaneb II became very afraid that the situation would happen again this time with himself, and Agesilaus with the army of mercenaries would again go over to the side of the enemy. The Spartan dispelled the doubts and fear of the Egyptian and defeated the hundred thousandth army of his poorly organized enemies. Agesilaus wisely used the enemy’s terrain and miscalculations, and skillfully maneuvering his army, ensured that the enemy’s numerical superiority lost power and the battle was won by him. Nectaneb II was enthroned of Egypt.
The generously gifted Agesilaus II successfully sailed to Sparta, which then waged a war and needed money. But on the way he was driven by a storm into the harbor of Menelaos (Menelaev’s harbor) and here he died suddenly in about 358 BC. e. on the 85th year of life. According to the ancient custom of the Spartans, Agesilaus' body was filled with wax, since there was no honey at that time, and was transported to Sparta.
- Schaub N., Andersen V. Spartans in battle. - M .: Yauza, Eksmo, 2008 .-- S. 262.
- Agesilaus II // Brockhaus and Efron Encyclopedic Dictionary : in 86 volumes (82 volumes and 4 additional). - SPb. , 1890-1907.
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- Benedikt Niese . Agesilaos 4 // Paulys Realencyclopädie der classischen Altertumswissenschaft (RE) . Band I, 1. Stuttgart, 1893, Sp. 796-804.
- Agesilaus II (English)