Agesilaus now pushed his ravages up to the very gates of Sardis, the residence of Tissaphernes. But the career of that timid and treacherous satrap was drawing to a close. The queen-mother, Parysatis, who had succeeded in regaining her influence over Artaxerxes, caused an order to be sent down from Susa for his execution; in pursuance of which he was seized in a bath at Colossae, and beheaded. Tithraustes, who had been intrusted with the execution of this order, succeeded Tissaphernes in the satrapy, and immediately reopened negotiations with Agesilaus. An armistice of six months was concluded; and meanwhile Tithraustes, by a subsidy of 30 talents, induced Agesilaus to move out of his satrapy into that of Pharnabazus.
During this march into Phrygia Agesilaus received a new commission from home, appointing him the head of the naval as well as of the land force--two commands never before united in a single Spartan. He named his brother-in-law, Pisander, commander of the fleet. But in the following year (B.C. 394), whilst he was preparing an expedition on a grand scale into the interior of Asia Minor, he was suddenly recalled home to avert the dangers which threatened his native country.
The jealousy and ill-will with which the newly acquired empire of the Spartans was regarded by the other Grecian states had not escaped the notice of the Persians; and when Tithraustes succeeded to the satrapy of Tissaphernes he resolved to avail himself of this feeling by exciting a war against Sparta in the heart of Greece itself. With this view he despatched one Timocrates, a Rhodian, to the leading Grecian cities which appeared hostile to Sparta, carrying with him a sum of 50 talents to be distributed among the chief men in each for the purpose of bringing them over to the views of Persia. Timocrates was successful in Thebes, Corinth, and Argos but he appears not to have visited Athens.
Hostilities were at first confined to Sparta and Thebes. A quarrel having arisen between the Opuntian Locrians and the Phocians respecting a strip of border land, the former people appealed to the Thebans, who invaded Phocis. The Phocians on their side invoked the aid of the Lacedaemonians, who, elated with the prosperous state of their affairs in Asia, and moreover desirous of avenging the affronts they had received from the Thebans, readily listened to the appeal. Lysander, who took an active part in promoting the war, was directed to attack the town of Haliartus; and it was arranged that King Pausanias should join him on a fixed day under the walls of that town, with the main body of the Lacedaemonians and their Peloponnesian allies.
Nothing could more strikingly denote the altered state of feeling in Greece than the request for assistance which the Thebans, thus menaced, made to their ancient enemies and rivals the Athenians. Nor were the Athenians backward in responding to the appeal. Lysander arrived at Haliartus before Pausanias. Here, in a sally made by the citizens, opportunely supported by the unexpected arrival of a body of Thebans, the army of Lysander was routed, and himself slain. His troops disbanded and dispersed themselves in the night time. Thus, when Pausanias at last came up, he found no army to unite with; and as an imposing Athenian force had arrived, he now, with the advice of his council took the humiliating step--always deemed a confession of inferiority--of requesting a truce in order to bury the dead who had fallen in the preceding battle. Even this, however, the Thebans would not grant except on the condition that the Lacedaemonians should immediately quit their territory. With these terms Pausanias was forced to comply; and after duly interring the bodies of Lysander and his fallen comrades, the Lacedaemonians dejectedly pursued their homeward march. Pausanias, afraid to face the public indignation of the Spartans took refuge in the temple of Athena Alea at Tegea; and being condemned to death in his absence, only escaped that fate by remaining in the sanctuary. He was succeeded by his son Agesipolis.
The enemies of Sparta took fresh courage from this disaster to her arms. Athens, Corinth, and Argos now formed with Thebes a solemn alliance against her. The league was soon joined by the Euboeans, the Acarnanians, and other Grecian states. In the spring of 394 B.C. the allies assembled at Corinth, and the war, which had been hitherto regarded as merely Boeotian, was now called the CORINTHIAN, by which name it is known in history. This threatening aspect of affairs determined the Ephors to recall Agesilaus, as already related.
The allies were soon in a condition to take the field with a force of 24,000 hoplites, of whom one-fourth were Athenians, together with a considerable body of light troops and cavalry. The Lacedaemonians had also made the most active preparations. In the neighbourhood of Corinth a battle was fought, in which the Lacedaemonians gained the victory, though their allied troops were put to the rout. This battle, called the battle of Corinth, was fought in July 394 B.C.
Agesilaus, who had relinquished with a heavy heart his projected expedition into Asia, was now on his homeward march. By the promise of rewards he had persuaded the bravest and most efficient soldiers in his army to accompany him, amongst whom were many of the Ten Thousand, with Xenophon at their head. The route of Agesilaus was much the same as the one formerly traversed by Xerxes, and the camels which accompanied the army gave it somewhat of an oriental aspect. At Amphipolis he received the news of the victory at Corinth; but his heart was so full of schemes against Persia, that the feeling which it awakened in his bosom was rather one of regret that so many Greeks had fallen, whose united efforts might have emancipated Asia Minor, than of joy at the success of his countrymen. Having forced his way through a desultory opposition offered by the Thessalian cavalry, he crossed Mount Othrys, and marched unopposed the rest of the way through the straits of Thermopylae to the frontiers of Phocis and Boeotia. Here the evil tidings reached him of the defeat and death of his brother-in-law, Pisander, in a great sea-fight off Cnidus in Caria (August 394 B.C.) Conon, with the assistance of Pharnabazus, had succeeded in raising a powerful fleet, partly Phoenician and partly Grecian, with which he either destroyed or captured more than half of the Lacedaemonian fleet. Agesilaus, fearing the impression which such sad news might produce upon his men, gave out that the Lacedaemonian fleet had gained a victory; and, having offered sacrifice as if for a victory, he ordered an advance.