Agesilaus II

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Agesilaus II ( Latin : Agesilaus ; * around 443 BC, probably in Sparta ; † 359/358 BC in Crete ) from the house of the Eurypontids was King of Sparta. The end of Spartan supremacy in Greece fell during his reign.


Agesilaus II was the younger son of King Archidamos II.

After the death of his older stepbrother Agis II in 400 BC. His son Leotychidas was supposed to follow first, but his legitimacy was disputed. Agis had initially rejected and rejected Leotychidas as the son of Alcibiades , who was said to have had an affair with the wife of Agis during his stay, but recognized him as his son and heir shortly before his death. Because of these rumors, Agesilaos, with the help of the general Lysander , pushed in 399 BC. His nephew from the throne. An oracle that warned Sparta of a lame king and opposed the assumption of office by the limping Agesilaus, was reinterpreted by Lysander as the contested legitimacy of Leotychidas. Lysander hoped that the change of the throne would renew his influence, which had meanwhile waned, and accompanied the king on his campaign in Asia, but was soon sidelined by this and urged to return to Sparta.

In order to consolidate Sparta's hegemony both within the Greek city-state system and against the Persian empire , Agesilaos took over the general office in the war against the Persians in 396-394, penetrated as far as Sardis and temporarily achieved the solution of the Ionian coastal cities in Asia Minor from the Persian state union.

In 394 he defeated the antispartan allies financed by Persia (the Greek city-states Thebes , Athens , Corinth and Argos ) at Koroneia . From 391 onwards, Sparta's army, under his leadership , forced the dissolution of the alliances hostile to Sparta. Due to the Corinthian War , however, it had to turn its forces away from Asia Minor. Since Sparta had difficulty defeating its internal Greek opponents, it relied on a settlement with the Persians after 394, which was reflected in the peace of the king in 386 . With him, the Greek cities of Asia Minor were again handed over to the Persians.

In the following years Agesilaos repeatedly intervened militarily in Greece to defend the Spartan hegemonic position.

Then Athens and Thebes formed a new alliance in 378, which Agesilaus could not defeat even with campaigns to Bootien. In 375 and 371 there were peace negotiations in Sparta. When, however, 371 Thebes did not want to forego his conquests in Boötien, Agesilaos excluded the city from the peace. An army under King Cleombrotus I , which was in Phocis, was sent to Boeotia. At Leuktra the campaign ended in a catastrophic Spartan defeat, through which Sparta lost hegemony in Greece.

In the following years, Agesilaos and his son Archidamos III were in charge. the Spartan defense measures against the alliance of Thebes, but could neither prevent nor revise the collapse of the Peloponnesian League , the liberation of Messenia and the founding of new cities to keep Sparta in check ( Messene and Megalopolis ). Sparta failed in all attempts to regain Messenia.

In 362 Sparta was defeated in association with the Athenians in the Second Battle of Mantineia . Agesilaos had been able to repel a surprise attack on Sparta shortly before. It is no longer possible to reconstruct whether he was the Spartan general at Mantineia.

In order to replenish the heavily burdened state treasury, Agesilaos, together with his army, worked as a military contractor for the insurgent Persian satrap Ariobarzanes and 359/358 BC in 364 . Recruit Tachos for a campaign against the Persian ruler Artaxerxes II in Phenicia as part of an alliance with Chabrias and the ancient Egyptian pharaoh . He died on his return from this campaign.

Xenophon , a friend of his, describes him in his book Agesilaos as a role model for a ruler.


Agesilaos has left no traces in world history.

In the history of Sparta he represents an exceptional phenomenon of the 4th century: a king and general who, despite major foreign undertakings, was not subject to the lure of foreigners, that is, he remained modest, law-abiding, and docile to the authorities. This behavior, conforming to the Spartan cosmos, enabled him to gain a greater influence on Spartan politics than the Spartan kings had been able to do since the end of the 6th century. Agesilaos could also go down in history as a statesman and not just as a general. On the other hand, he thereby hindered the necessary reforms in Spartan society. He was instrumental in the violent suppression of several conspiracies and uprising movements.

For the historian Xenophon, he offered a suitable figure for a written genre that was extremely rare for the time - the character image of a statesman / military, as it later became modern with the Romans (e.g. Plutarch and Titus Livius ).


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predecessor Office successor
Agis II. King of Sparta
399–359 / 358 BC Chr.
Archidamos III.