(legendary, died 183 B.C.E.)
CLEANDER was a man of high
birth and great power in the city of
His person was not, as some fancy, deformed; for his likeness is yet to be seen at
The love of honour and distinction was, in his character, not unalloyed with feelings of personal rivalry and resentment. He made Epaminondas his great example, and came not far behind him in activity, sagacity, and incorruptible integrity; but his hot contentious temper continually carried him out of the bounds of that gentleness, composure, and humanity which had marked Epaminondas, and this made him thought a pattern rather of military than of civil virtue. He was strongly inclined to the life of a soldier even from his childhood, and he studied and practised all that belonged to it, taking great delight in managing of horses and handling of weapons. Because he was naturally fitted to excel in wrestling, some of his friends and tutors recommended his attention to athletic exercises. But he would first be satisfied whether it would not interfere with his becoming a good soldier. They told him, as was the truth, that the one life was directly opposite to the other; the requisite state of body, the ways of living, and the exercises all different: the professed athlete sleeping much and feeding plentifully, punctually regular in his set times of exercise and rest, and apt to spoil all by every little excess or breach of his usual method; whereas the soldier ought to train himself in every variety of change and irregularity, and, above all, to bring himself to endure hunger and loss of sleep without difficulty. Philopoemen, hearing this, not only laid by all thoughts of wrestling and contemned it then, but when he came to be general, discouraged it by all marks of reproach and dishonour he could imagine, as a thing which made men, otherwise excellently fit for war, to be utterly useless and unable to fight on necessary occasions.
When he left off his masters and teachers, and began to bear arms in the incursions which his citizens used to make upon the Lacedaemonians for pillage and plunder, he would always march out the first and return the last. When there was nothing to do, he sought to harden his body, and make it strong and active by hunting, or labouring in his ground. He had a good estate about twenty furlongs from the town, and thither he would go every day after dinner and supper; and when night came, throw himself upon the first mattress in his way, and there sleep as one of the labourers. At break of day he would rise with the rest, and work either in the vineyard or at the plough; from thence return again to the town, and employ his time with his friends or the magistrates in public business. What he got in the wars he laid out on horses, or arms, or in ransoming captives; but endeavoured to improve his own property the justest way, by tillage; and this not slightly, by way of diversion, but thinking it his strict duty so to manage his own fortune as to be out of the temptation of wronging others.
He spent much time on eloquence and philosophy, but selected his authors, and cared only for those by whom he might profit in virtue. In Homer's fictions his attention was given to whatever he thought apt to raise the courage. Of all other books he was most devoted to the commentaries of Evangelus on military tactics, and took delight, at leisure hours, in the histories of Alexander; thinking that such reading, unless undertaken for mere amusement and idle conversation, was to the purpose for action. Even in speculations on military subjects it was his habit to neglect maps and diagrams, and to put the theorems to practical proof on the ground itself. He would be exercising his thoughts and considering as he travelled, and arguing with those about him of the difficulties of steep or broken ground, what might happen at rivers, ditches, or mountain-passes, in marching in close or in open, in this or in that particular form of battle. The truth is, he indeed took an immoderate pleasure in military operations and in warfare, to which he devoted himself, as the special means for exercising all sorts of virtue, and utterly contemned those who were not soldiers, as drones and useless in the commonwealth.
When he was thirty years of age, Cleomenes, King of the Lacedaemonians, surprised Megalopolis by night, forced the guards, broke in, and seized the market-place. Philopoemen came out upon the alarm, and fought with desperate courage, but could not beat the enemy out again; yet he succeeded in effecting the escape of the citizens, who got away while he made head against the pursuers, and amused Cleomenes, till, after losing his horse and receiving several wounds, with much ado he came off himself, being the last man in the retreat. The Megalopolitans escaped to
Awhile after King Antigonus coming down to succour the Achaeans, they marched with their united forces against Cleomenes; who, having seized the avenues, lay advantageously posted on the hills of Sellasia. Antigonus drew up close by him, with a resolution to force him in his strength. Philopoemen, with his citizens, was that day placed among the horse, next to the Illyrian foot, a numerous body of bold fighters who completed the line of battle, forming, together with the Achaeans, the reserve. Their orders were to keep their ground, and not engage till from the other wing, where the king fought in person, they should see a red coat lifted up on the point of a spear. The Achaeans obeyed their order and stood fast, but the Illyrians were led on by their commanders to the attack. Euclides, the brother of Cleomenes, seeing the foot thus severed from the horse, detached the best of his light-armed men, commanding them to wheel about, and charge the unprotected Illyrians in the rear. This charge putting things in confusion, Philopoemen, considering those light-armed men would be easily repelled, went first to the king's officers to make them sensible what the occasion required. But they not minding what he said, but slighting him as a hare-brained fellow (as indeed he was not yet of any repute sufficient to give credit to a proposal of such importance), he charged with his own citizens, at the first encounter disordered, and soon after put the troops to flight with great slaughter. Then, to encourage the king's army further, to bring them all upon the enemy while he was in confusion, he quitted his horse, and fighting with extreme difficulty in his heavy horseman's dress, in rough uneven ground, full of water-courses and hollows, had both his thighs struck through with a thonged javelin. It was thrown with great force, so that the head came out on the other side, and made a severe, though not a mortal, wound. There he stood awhile, as if he had been shackled, unable to move. The fastening which joined the thong to the javelin made it difficult to get it drawn out, nor would any about him venture to do it. But the fight being now at the hottest, and likely to be quickly decided, he was transported with the desire of partaking in it, and struggled and strained so violently, setting one leg forward, the other back, that at last he broke the shaft in two; and thus, got the pieces pulled out. Being in this manner set at liberty, he caught up his sword, and running through the midst of those who were fighting in the first ranks, animated his men, and set them afire with emulation. Antigonus after the victory asked the Macedonians, to try them, how it happened the horse had charged without orders before the signal? They answering, that they were against their wills forced to it by a young man of Megalopolis, who had fallen in before his time: "This young man," replied Antigonus, smiling, "did like an experienced commander."
This, as was natural, brought Philopoemen into great reputation. Antigonus was earnest to have him in his service, and offered him very advantageous conditions, both as to command and pay. But Philopoemen, who knew that his nature brooked not to be under another, would not accept them; yet not enduring to live idle, and hearing of wars in Crete for practice' sake he passed over thither. He spent some time among those very warlike, and, at the same time, sober and temperate men, improving much by experience in all sorts of service; and then returned with so much fame that the Achaeans presently chose him commander of the horse. These horsemen at that time had neither experience nor bravery, it being the custom to take any common horses, the first and cheapest they could procure, when they were to march; and on almost all occasions they did not go themselves, but hired others in their places, and stayed at home. Their former commanders winked at this, because, it being an honour among the Achaeans to serve on horseback, these men had great power in the commonwealth, and were able to gratify or molest whom they pleased. Philopoemen, finding them in this condition, yielded not to any such considerations, nor would pass it over as formerly; but went himself from town to town, where, speaking with the young men, one by one, he endeavoured to excite a spirit of ambition and love of honour among them, using punishment also, where it was necessary. And then by public exercises, reviews, and contests in the presence of numerous spectators, in a little time he made them wonderfully strong and bold, and, which is reckoned of greatest consequence in military service, light and agile. With use and industry they grew so perfect, to such a command of their horses, such a ready exactness in wheeling round in their troops, that in any change of posture the whole body seemed to move with all the facility and promptitude, and, as it were, with the single will of one man. In the great battle which they fought with the Aetolians and Eleans by the river Larissus, he set them an example himself. Damophantus, general of the Elean horse, singled out Philopoemen, and rode with full speed at him. Philopoemen awaited his charge, and, before receiving the stroke, with a violent blow of his spear threw him dead to the ground: upon whose fall the enemy fled immediately. And now Philopoemen was in everybody's mouth, as a man who in actual fighting with his own hand yielded not to the youngest, nor in good conduct to the oldest, and there came not into the field any better soldier or commander.
Aratus, indeed, was the first who raised the Achaeans, inconsiderable till then, into reputation and power, by uniting their divided cities into one commonwealth, and establishing amongst them a humane and truly Grecian form of government; and hence it happened, as in running waters, where, when a few little particles of matter once stop, others stick to them, and one part strengthening another, the whole becomes firm and solid; so in a general weakness, when every city relying only on itself, all Greece was giving way to an easy dissolution, the Achaeans, first forming themselves into a body, and then drawing in their neighbours round about, some by protection, delivering them from their tyrants, others by peaceful consent and by naturalization, designed at last to bring all Peloponnesus into one community. Yet while Aratus lived, they depended much on the Macedonians, courting first Ptolemy, then Antigonus and Philip, who all took part continually in whatever concerned the affairs of
But first he altered what he found amiss in their arms and form of battle. Hitherto they had used light, thin bucklers, too narrow to cover the body, and javelins much shorter than pikes. By which means they were skilful in skirmishing at a distance, but in a close fight had much the disadvantage. Then in drawing their forces up for battle, they were never accustomed to form in regular divisions; and their line being unprotected either by the thick array of projecting spears or by their shields, as in the Macedonian phalanx, where the soldiers close and their shields touch, they were easily opened and broken. Philopoemen reformed all this, persuading them to change the narrow target and short javelin into a large shield and long pike; to arm their heads, bodies, thighs, and legs; and instead of loose skirmishing, fight firmly and foot to foot. After he had brought them all to wear full armour, and by that means into the confidence of thinking themselves now invincible, he turned what before had been idle profusion and luxury into an honourable expense. For being long used to vie with each other in their dress, and furniture of their houses, and service of their tables, and to glory in outdoing one another, the disease by custom was grown incurable, and there was no possibility of removing it altogether. But he diverted the passion, and brought them, instead of these superfluities, to love useful and more manly display, and reducing their other expenses, to take delight in appearing magnificent in their equipage of war. Nothing then was to be seen in the shops but plate breaking up, or melting down, gilding of breastplate, and studding bucklers and bits with silver; nothing in the places of exercise, but horses managing, and young men exercising their arms; nothing in the hands of the women, but helmets and crests of feathers to be dyed, and military cloaks and riding-frocks to be embroidered; the very sight of all which, quickening and raising their spirits, made them contemn dangers, and feel ready to venture on any honourable dangers. Other kinds of sumptuosity give us pleasure, but make us effeminate; the tickling of the sense slackening the vigour of the mind; but magnificence of this kind strengthens and heightens the courage; as Homer makes Achilles at the sight of his new arms exulting with joy, and on fire to use them. When Philopoemen had obtained of them to arm, and set themselves out in this manner, he proceeded to train them, mustering and exercising them perpetually; in which they obeyed him with great zeal and eagerness. For they were wonderfully pleased with their new form of battle, which being so knit and cemented together, seemed almost incapable of being broken. And then their arms, which for their riches and beauty they wore with pleasure, becoming light and easy to them with constant use, they longed for nothing more than to try them with an enemy, and fight in earnest.
The Achaeans at that time were at war with Machanidas, the tyrant of Lacedaemon, who, having a strong army, watched all opportunities of becoming entire master of
We are told that at the Nemean games, a little after this victory, Philopoemen being then general the second time, and at leisure on the occasion of the solemnity, first showed the Greeks his army drawn up in full array as if they were to fight, and executed with it all the manoeuvres of a battle with wonderful order, strength, and celerity. After which he went into the theatre, while the musicians were singing for the prize, followed by the young soldiers in their military cloaks and their scarlet frocks under their armour, all in the very height of bodily vigour, and much alike in age, showing a high respect to their general; yet breathing at the same time a noble confidence in themselves, raised by success in many glorious encounters. Just at their coming in, it so happened that the musician Pylades, with a voice well suited to the lofty style of poet, was in the act of commencing the Persians of Timotheus-
"Under his conduct
It was with the Achaeans as with young horses, which go quietly with their usual riders, but grow unruly and restive under strangers. The soldiers, when any service was in hand, and Philopoemen not at their head, grew dejected and looked about for him; but if he once appeared, came presently to themselves, and recovered their confidence and courage, being sensible that this was the only one of their commanders whom the enemy could not endure to face; but, as appeared in several occasions, were frighted with his very name. Thus we find that Philip, King of Macedon, thinking to terrify the Achaeans into subjection again, if he could rid his hands of Philopoemen, employed some persons privately to assassinate him. But the treachery coming to light, he became infamous, and lost his character through
All hitherto makes for the praise and honour of Philopoemen. But when at the request of the Gortynians he went away into
While he stayed in
A few days after, as he was marching through a rough country, Nabis came suddenly upon him. The Achaeans were dismayed, and in such difficult ground where the enemy had secured the advantage, despaired to get off with safety. Philopoemen made a little halt, and, viewing the ground, soon made it appear that the one important thing in war is skill in drawing up an army. For by advancing only a few paces, and, without any confusion or trouble, altering his order according to the nature of the place, he immediately relieved himself from every difficulty, and then charging, put the enemy to flight. But when he saw they fled, not towards the city, but dispersed every man a different way all over the field, which for wood and hills, brooks and hollows, was not passable by horse, he sounded a retreat, and encamped by broad daylight. Then foreseeing the enemy would endeavour to steal scatteringly into the city in the dark, he posted strong parties of the Achaeans all along the watercourses and sloping ground near the walls. Many of Nabis's men fell into their hands. For returning not in a body, but as the chance of flight had disposed of every one, they were caught like birds ere they could enter into the town.
These actions obtained him distinguished marks of affection and honour in all the theatres of Greece, but not without the secret ill-will of Titus Flamininus, who was naturally eager for glory, and thought it but reasonable a consul of Rome should be otherwise esteemed by the Achaeans than a common Arcadian; especially as there was no comparison between what he and what Philopoemen had done for them, he having by one proclamation restored all Greece, as much as had been subject to Philip and the Macedonians, to liberty. After this, Titus made peace with Nabis, and Nabis was circumvented and slain by the Aetolians. Things being then in confusion at Sparta, Philopoemen laid hold of the occasion, and coming upon them with an army, prevailed with some by persuasion, with others by fear, till he brought the whole city over to the Achaeans. As it was no small matter for Sparta to become a member of Achaea, this action gained him infinite praise from the Achaeans, for having strengthened their confederacy by the addition of so great and powerful a city, and not a little good-will from the nobility of Sparta itself, who hoped they had now procured an ally who would defend their freedom. Accordingly, having raised a sum of one hundred and twenty silver talents by the sale of the house and goods of Nabis, they decreed him the money, and sent a deputation in the name of the city to present it. But here the honesty of Philopoemen showed itself clearly to be a real, uncounterfeited virtue. For, first of all, there was not a man among them who would undertake to make him this offer of a present, but every one excusing himself, and shifting it off upon his fellow, they laid the office at last on Timolaus, with whom he had lodged at
Diophanes being afterwards general of the Achaeans, and hearing the Lacedaemonians were bent on new commotions, resolved to chastise them; they, on the other side, being set upon war, were embroiling all
Yet afterwards, when he was general himself, upon some new misdemeanour of the Lacedaemonians, he brought back those who had been banished, put, as Polybius writes, eighty, according to Aristocrates three hundred and fifty, Spartans to death, razed the walls, took away a good part of their territory and transferred it to the Megalopolitans, forced out of the country and carried into Achaea all who had been made citizens of Sparta by tyrants, except three thousand who would not submit to banishment. These he sold for slaves, and with the money, as if to exult over them, built a colonnade at Megalopolis. Lastly, unworthily trampling upon the Lacedaemonians in their calamities, and gratifying his hostility by a most oppressive and arbitrary action, he abolished the laws of Lycurgus, and forced them to educate their children and live after the manner of the Achaeans; as though, while they kept to the discipline of Lycurgus, there was no humbling their haughty spirits. In their present distress and adversity they allowed Philopoemen thus to cut the sinews of their commonwealth asunder, and behave themselves humbly and submissively. But afterwards, in no long time, obtaining the support of the Romans, they abandoned their new Achaean citizenship; and as much as in so miserable and ruined a condition they could, re-established their ancient discipline.
When the war betwixt Antiochus and the Romans broke out in
When Antiochus was overcome, the Romans pressed harder upon
Aristaenus, a Megalopolitan of great credit among the Achaeans, but always a favourer of the Romans, saying one day in the senate that the Romans should not be opposed, or displeased in any way, Philopoemen heard him with an impatient silence; but at last, not able to hold longer, said angrily to him, "And why be in such haste, wretched man, to behold the end of Greece?" Manius, the Roman consul, after the defeat of Antiochus, requested the Achaeans to restore the banished Lacedaemonians to their country, which motion was seconded and supported by all the interest of Titus. But Philopoemen crossed it, not from ill-will to the men, but that they might be beholden to him and the Achaeans, not to Titus and the Romans. For when he came to be general himself, he restored them. So impatient was his spirit of any subjection and so prone his nature to contest everything with men in power.
Being now three score and ten, and the eighth time general, he was in hope to pass in quiet, not only the year of his magistracy, but his remaining life. For as our diseases decline, as it is supposed with our declining bodily strength, so the quarrelling humour of the Greeks abated much with their failing political greatness. But fortune or some divine retributive power threw him down in the close of his life, like a successful runner who stumbles at the goal. It is reported, that being in company where one was praised for a great commander, he replied, there was no great account to be made of a man who had suffered himself to be taken alive by his enemies.
A few days after, news came that Dinocrates the Messenian, a particular enemy to Philopoemen, and for his wickedness and villainies generally hated, had induced
The Messenians, wonderfully elated with the news, thronged in swarms to the city gates. But when they saw Philopoemen in a posture so unsuitable to the glory of his great actions and famous victories, most of them, struck with grief and cursing the deceitful vanity of human fortune, even shed tears of compassion at the spectacle. Such tears by little and little turned to kind words, and it was almost in everybody's mouth that they ought to remember what he had done for them, and how he had preserved the common liberty, by driving away Nabis. Some few, to make their court to Dinocrates, were for torturing and then putting him to death as a dangerous and irreconcilable enemy; all the more formidable to Dinocrates, who had taken him a prisoner, should he after this misfortune regain his liberty. They put him at last into a dungeon underground, which they called the treasury, a place into which there came no air nor light from abroad; and which, having no doors, was closed with a great stone. This they rolled into the entrance and fixed, and placing a guard about it, left him. In the meantime Philopoemen's soldiers, recovering themselves after their flight, and fearing he was dead when he appeared nowhere, made a stand, calling him with loud cries, and reproaching one another with their unworthy and shameful escape; having betrayed their general, who, to preserve their lives, had lost his own. Then returning after much inquiry and search, hearing at last that he was taken they sent away messengers round about with the news. The Achaeans resented the misfortune deeply, and decreed to send and demand him; and in the meantime drew their army together for his rescue.
While these things passed in
The news of his death filled all
Many statues were set up, and many honours decreed to him by the several cities. One of the Romans in the time of