To stop reform, they murdered her husband and his family, but they made a mistake when they let Agiatis live, forcing her instead to wed the corrupt king's son. Who could have guessed that she would mold him into the greatest reformer in Sparta's long history, as well as her mightiest warrior, but surrounded by enemies, will that be enough?
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A TUMULTUOUS NATION NEAR CIVIL WAR.
THE MOST UNLIKELY BUT PASSIONATE
ROMANCE IN HISTORY
Around 200 BC
Sparta, a third-rate backwater after centuries of decline
A rockier start to a relationship is hard to imagine.
Forced to watch the hanging of her husband, Agiatis
is certain her own death is near because of her involvement
in her husband's failed reforms. Instead, King Leonidas II
of Sparta commands her to marry his eighteen-year-old-son,
Cleomenes. Who could have guessed that she would mold him into
the greatest reformer in Sparta's
long history, as well as
her mightiest warrior? But surrounded by enemies and a rising
Roman superpower, will that be enough?
A POIGNANT STORY OF PASSION AND HONOR
THE TIME OF CLEOMENES III
CHAPTER ONE—SPHAERUS: CODEX CLEOMENES
A perception that can be comprehended differs from one that is only probable. (Sphaerus, Greek stoic philosopher, 285- 210 BCE)
I cannot teach anybody anything. I can only make them think. (Socrates, 470-399 BCE)
I had the good fortune to visit Sparta on more than one occasion and to tutor the young Cleomenes while his father Leonidas II was king. Cleomenes, after his ascension, invited me to return to assist in restoring Sparta’s illustrious reputation and to oversee the reestablished agoge, as Spartans call the education of their youth.
When I speak of Cleomenes’ father, I do not refer to Leonidas the Great who with three hundred Spartans valiantly fought the vast army of the Great King Xerxes at the narrow pass of Thermopylae, as Herodotus has written. The Persian Wars ended nearly three centuries before the exploits of Cleomenes III.
Cleomenes was but a lad nine years in age when I first spoke to him, and even then I was struck by his insightful answers to my inquiries. His father invited me to tutor the boy at that time. I was unable to accept the commission because I was on my way to the court of Ptolemy Philopater at Alexandria. “Perhaps when my appointment ends,” I’d said, “I can accept your gracious invitation, if you still have need of my service.” With a few strands of gray already showing in my beard, I never dreamed I would outlive this youth.
My visit must have favorably impressed his father. Almost ten years later, as my time advising Ptolemy neared its end, my letter to Leonidas brought an answer inviting me to instruct Cleomenes for one year.
During my time with the young man, I came to respect his intellect and austere temperament. Our dialogues must have been of value to him since he sometimes sought my counsel on matters of personal concern. Surely it is but an old man’s vanity, but I believe the stoic way of living which I taught Cleomenes was one of the beacons that guided him as he walked the reformist path.
I witnessed much of his tumultuous reign. Where possible, I describe events as I saw and heard them, although no doubt colored by the frailties of memory. For events I did not witness, I rely on interviews of those who were present. If possible, I spoke to more than one person, for as is well know, people often see the same event through different eyes. I convey what these witnesses observed using their own words.
Readers unfamiliar with the southern tip of Greece, the Peloponnesian Peninsula, should realize residents of the principal city--in reality five villages that grew to intermingle--refer to it by the name Homer used, Lacedaemon, who was the son of Zeus and husband of Sparta. Foreigners call the city Sparta and the surrounding countryside Laconia.
I begin the story of Cleomenes at the time I returned from Egypt to become his tutor. Eurypontid King Agis IV was at the end of his short reign. I had no idea I would be arriving to such great turmoil.