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CLEOMENES III

Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V06, Page 494 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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CLEOMENES III., the son and successor of Leonidas II., reigned about 235–219 B.C. He made a determined attempt to reform the social condition of Sparta along the lines laid down by Agis IV., whose widow Agiatis he married; at the same time he aimed at restoring Sparta's hegemony in the Peloponnese. After twice defeating the forces of the Achaean League in Arcadia, near Mount Lycaeum and at Leuctra, he strengthened his position by assassinating four of the ephors, abolishing the ephorate, which had usurped the supreme power, and banishing some eighty of the leading oligarchs. The authority of the council was also curtailed, and a new board of magistrates, the patronomi, became the chief officers of state. He appointed his own brother Eucleidas as his colleague in succession to the Eurypontid Archidamus, who had been murdered. His social reforms included a redistribution of land, the remission of debts, the restoration of the old system of training (aya yi7) and the admission of picked perioeci into the citizen body. As a general Cleomenes did much to revive Sparta's old prestige. He defeated the Achaeans at Dyme, made himself master of Argos, and was eventually joined by Corinth, Phlius, Epidaurus and other cities. But Aratus, whose jealousy could not brook to see a Spartan at the head of the Achaean league called in Antigonus Doson of Macedonia, and Cleomenes, after conducting successful expeditions to Megalopolis and Argos, was finally defeated at Sellasia, to the north of Sparta, in 222 or 221 B.C. He took refuge at Alexandria with Ptolemy Euergetes, but was arrested by his successor, Ptolemy Philopator, on a charge of conspiracy. Escaping from prison he tried to raise a revolt, but the attempt failed and to avoid capture he put an end to his life. Both as general and as politician Cleomenes was one of Sparta's greatest men, and with him perished her last hope of recovering her ancient supermacy in Greece. See Polybius ii. 45-70, V. 35-39, viii. 1; Plutarch, Cleomenes; Aratus, 35-46; Philopoemen, 5, 6; Pausanias ii. 9; Gehlert, De Cleomene (Leipzig, 1883) ; Holm, History of Greece, iv. cc. 10, 15. (M. N. T.)
End of Article: CLEOMENES III
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