In B.C. 364 Pelopidas again marched into Thessaly against Alexander of Pherae. Strong complaints of the tyranny of that despot arrived at Thebes, and Pelopidas, who probably also burned to avenge his private wrongs, prevailed upon the Thebans to send him into Thessaly to punish the tyrant. The battle was fought on the hills of Cynoscephalae; the troops of Alexander were routed: and Pelopidas, observing his hated enemy endeavouring to rally them, was seized with such a transport of rage that, regardless of his duties as a general, he rushed impetuously forwards and challenged him to single combat. Alexander shrunk back within the ranks of his guards, followed impetuously by Pelopidas, who was soon slain, fighting with desperate bravery. Although the army of Alexander was defeated with severe loss, the news of the death of Pelopidas deprived the Thebans and their Thessalian allies of all the joy which they would otherwise have felt at their victory.
Meantime a war had been carried on between Elis and Arcadia which had led to disunion among the Arcadians themselves. The Mantineans supported the Eleans, who were also assisted by the Spartans; whilst the rest of the Arcadians, and especially the Tegeans, favoured Thebes. In B.C. 362 Epaminondas marched into Peloponnesus to support the Theban party in Arcadia, The Spartans sent a powerful force to the assistance of the Mantineans in whose territory the hostile armies met. In the battle which ensued Epaminondas formed his Boeotian troops into a column of extraordinary depth, with which he bore down all before them. The Mantineans and Lacedaemonians turned and fled, and the rest followed their example. The day was won; but Epaminondas, who fought in the foremost ranks, fell pierced with a mortal wound. His fall occasioned such consternation among his troops, that, although the enemy were in full flight, they did not know how to use their advantage, and remained rooted to the spot. Epaminondas was carried off the field with the spear-head still fixed in his breast. Having satisfied himself that his shield was safe, and that the victory was gained, he inquired for Iolaidas and Daiphantus, whom he intended to succeed him in the command. Being informed that both were slain: "Then" he observed "you must make peace." After this he ordered the spear- head to be withdrawn; when the gush of blood which followed soon terminated his life. Thus died this truly great man; and never was there one whose title to that epithet has been less disputed. Antiquity is unanimous in his praise, and some of the first men of Greece subsequently took him for their model. With him the commanding influence of Thebes began and ended. His last advice was adopted, and peace was concluded probably before the Theban army quitted Peloponnesus. Its basis was a recognition of the STATUS QUO--to leave everything as it was, to acknowledge the Arcadian constitution and the independence of Messene. Sparta alone refused to join it on account of the last article, but she was not supported by her allies.
Agesilaus had lived to see the empire of Sparta extinguished by her hated rival. Thus curiously had the prophecy been fulfilled which warned Sparta of the evils awaiting her under a "lame sovereignty." But Agesilaus had not yet abandoned all hope; and he now directed his views towards the east as the quarter from which Spartan power might still be resuscitated. At the age of 80 the indomitable old man proceeded with a force of 1000 hoplites to assist Tachos, king of Egypt, in his revolt against Persia. He died at Cyrene on his return to Greece. His body was embalmed in wax and splendidly buried in Sparta.
HISTORY OF THE SICILIAN GREEKS FROM THE DESTRUCTION OF THE ATHENIAN ARMAMENT TO THE DEATH OF TIMOLEON.
The affairs of the Sicilian Greeks, an important branch of the Hellenic race, deserve a passing notice. A few years after the destruction of the Athenian armament, Dionysius made himself master of Syracuse, and openly seized upon the supreme power (B.C. 405). His reign as tyrant or despot was long and prosperous. After conquering the Carthaginians, who more than once invaded Sicily, he extended his dominion over a great part of the island, and over a considerable portion of Magna Graecia. He raised Syracuse to be one of the chief Grecian states, second in influence, if indeed second, to Sparta alone. Under his sway Syracuse was strengthened and embellished with new fortifications, docks, arsenals, and other public buildings, and became superior even to Athens in extent and population.
Dionysius was a warm patron of literature, and was anxious to gain distinction by his literary compositions. In the midst of his political and military cares he devoted himself assiduously to poetry, and not only caused his poems to be publicly recited at the Olympic games, but repeatedly contended for the prize of tragedy at Athens. In accordance with the same spirit we find him seeking the society of men distinguished in literature and philosophy. Plato, who visited Sicily about the year 389 from a curiosity to see Mount AEtna, was introduced to Dionysius by Dion. The high moral tone of Plato's conversation did not however prove so attractive to Dionysius as it had done to Dion; and the philosopher was not only dismissed with aversion and dislike, but even, it seems through the machinations of Dionysius, seized, bound, and sold for a slave in the island of AEgina. He was, however, repurchased by Anniceris of Cyrene, and sent back to Athens.
Dionysius died in B.C. 367, and was succeeded by his eldest son, commonly called the younger Dionysius, who was about 25 years of age at the time of his father's death. At first he listened to the counsels of Dion, who had always enjoyed the respect and confidence of his father. At the advice of Dion he invited Plato to Syracuse, where the philosopher was received with the greatest honour. His illustrious pupil immediately began to take lessons in geometry; superfluous dishes disappeared from the royal table; and Dionysius even betrayed some symptoms of a wish to mitigate the former rigours of the despotism. But now the old courtiers took the alarm. It was whispered to Dionysius that the whole was a deep-laid scheme on the part of Dion for the purpose of effecting a revolution and placing his own nephews on the throne. [The elder Dionysius had married two wives at the same time: one of these was a Locrian woman named Doris; the other, Aristomache, was a Syracusan, and the sister of Dion. The younger Dionysius was his elder son by Doris; but he also had children by Aristomache.] These accusations had the desired effect on the mind of Dionysius, who shortly afterwards expelled Dion from Sicily. Plato with difficulty obtained permission to return to Greece (B.C. 366). Dionysius now gave way to his vices without restraint, and became an object of contempt to the Syracusans. Dion saw that the time had come for avenging his own wrongs as well as those of his country. Collecting a small force, he sailed to Sicily, and suddenly appeared before the gates of Syracuse during the absence of Dionysius on an expedition to the coasts of Italy. The inhabitants, filled with joy, welcomed Dion as their deliverer: and Dionysius on his return from Italy found himself compelled to quit Syracuse (B.C. 356), leaving Dion undisputed master of the city. The latter was now in a condition to carry out all those exalted notions of political life which he had sought to instil into the mind of Dionysius. He seems to have contemplated some political changes; but his immediate and practical acts were tyrannical, and were rendered still more unpopular by his overbearing manners. His unpopularity continued to increase, till at length one of his bosom friends--the Athenian Callippus--seized the opportunity to mount to power by his murder, and caused him to be assassinated in his own house. This event took place in 353, about three years after the expulsion of the Dionysian dynasty. Callippus contrived to retain the sovereign power only a twelvemonth. A period of anarchy followed, during which Dionysius made himself master of the city by treachery, about B.C. 346. Dionysius, however, was not able to re-establish himself firmly in his former power. Most of the other cities of Sicily had shaken off the yoke of Syracuse, and were governed by petty despots. Meantime the Carthaginians prepared to take advantage of the distracted condition of Sicily. In the extremity of their sufferings, several of the Syracusan exiles appealed for aid to Corinth, their mother-city. The application was granted, and Timoleon was appointed to command an expedition destined for the relief of Syracuse.
Timoleon was distinguished for gentleness as well as for courage, but towards traitors and despots his hatred was intense. He had once saved the life of his elder brother Timophanes in battle at the imminent peril of his own; but when Timophanes, availing himself of his situation as commander of the garrison in the Acrocorinthus, endeavoured to enslave his country, Timoleon did not hesitate to consent to his death. Twice before had Timoleon pleaded with his brother, beseeching him not to destroy the liberties of his country; but when Timophanes turned a deaf ear to those appeals, Timoleon connived at the action of his friends, who put him to death, whilst he himself, bathed in a flood of tears, stood a little way aloof. The great body of the citizens regarded the conduct of Timoleon with love and admiration. In the mind of Timoleon, however, their approving verdict was far more than outweighed by the reproaches and execrations of his mother. For many years nothing could prevail upon him to return to public life. He buried, himself in the country far from the haunts of men, till a chance voice in the Corinthian assembly nominated him as the leader of the expedition against Dionysius.