(5.57) In the middle of the following summer, the Lacedaemonians, seeing that their Epidaurian allies were in great distress, and that several cities of Peloponnesus had seceded from them, while others were disaffected, and knowing that if they did not quickly take measures of precaution the evil would spread, made war on Argos with their whole forces, including the Helots, under the command of Agis the son of Archidamus, the Lacedaemonian king. The Tegeans and the other Arcadian allies of the Lacedaemonians took part in the expedition. The rest of their allies, both from within and without the Peloponnesus, mustered at Phlius. Among the other contingents there came from Boeotia five thousand heavy-armed, and as many light-armed, five hundred cavalry, and attached to each horseman a foot-soldier; and from Corinth two thousand heavy-armed, while the Phliasians joined with their whole force, because the army was to assemble in their country.
(5.58) The Argives, having had previous notice of the Lacedaemonian preparations, and seeing that they were actually on their march to join the rest of the army at Phlius, now took the field themselves. The Mantineans and their allies and three thousand Elean hoplites came to their aid. They advanced to the territory of Methydrium in Arcadia, where they fell in with the Lacedaemonians. The two armies each occupied a hill, and the Argives, thinking that they now had the Lacedaemonians alone, prepared for action. But in the night Agis removed his forces unknown to them and went to join the allies at Phlius. At dawn the Argives became aware of his departure, and moved first towards Argos, then to the Nemean road, by which they expected the Lacedaemonians and their allies to descend into the plain. But Agis, instead of taking the road by which he was expected, led the Lacedaemonians, Arcadians, and Epidaurians by a more difficult path, and so made his way down; the Corinthians, Pellenians, and Phliasians went by another steep pass; the Boeotians, Megarians, and Sicyonians he commanded to descend by the Nemean road, where the Argives had taken up their position, in order that, if the Argives should return and attack his own division of the army in the plain, they might be pursued and harassed by their cavalry. Having made these dispositions, and having come down into the plain, he began to devastate Saminthus and the neighbourhood.
(5.59) It was now daylight, and the Argives, who had become aware of his movements, quitted Nemea and went in search of the enemy. Encountering the Phliasian and Corinthian forces, they killed a few of the Phliasians, and had rather more of their own troops killed by the Corinthians. The Boeotians, Megarians, and Sicyonians marched as they were ordered towards Nemea, but found the Argives no longer there, for by this time they had descended from the high ground, and seeing their lands ravaged were drawing up their troops in order of battle. The Lacedaemonians prepared to meet them. The Argives were now surrounded by their enemies; for on the side of the plain the Lacedaemonians and their division of the army cut them off from the city; from the hills above they were hemmed in by the Corinthians, Phliasians and Pellenians, towards Nemea by the Boeotians, Sicyonians, and Megarians, and in the absence of the Athenians, who alone of their allies had not arrived, they had no cavalry. The main body of the Argives and their allies had no conception of their danger. They thought that their position was a favourable one, and that they had cut off the Lacedaemonians in their own country and close to the city of Argos. But two of the Argives, Thrasyllus one of the five generals, and Alciphron the proxenus of the Lacedaemonians, came to Agis when the armies were on the point of engaging and urged him privately not to fight; the Argives were ready to offer and accept a fair arbitration, if the Lacedaemonians had any complaint to make of them; they would gladly conclude a treaty, and be at peace for the future.
(5.60) These Argives spoke of their own motion; they had no authority from the people; and Agis, likewise on his own authority, accepted their proposals, not conferring with his countrymen at large, but only with one of the Lacedaemonian magistrates who accompanied the expedition. He made a treaty with the Argives for four months, within which they were to execute their agreement, and then, without saying a word to any of the allies, he at once withdrew his army. The Lacedaemonians and their allies followed Agis out of respect for the law, but they blamed him severely among themselves. For they believed that they had lost a glorious opportunity; their enemies had been surrounded on every side both by horse and foot; and yet they were returning home having done nothing worthy of their great effort.--No finer Hellenic army had ever up to that day been collected; its appearance was most striking at Nemea while the host was still one; the Lacedaemonians were there in their full strength; arrayed by their side were Arcadians, Boeotians, Corinthians, Sicyonians, Pellenians, Phliasians, and Megarians, from each state chosen men--they might have been thought a match not only for the Argive confederacy, but for another as large.--So the army returned and dispersed to their homes, much out of humour with Agis.
The Argives on their part found still greater fault with those who had made the peace, unauthorised by the people; they too thought that such an opportunity would never recur, and that it was the Lacedaemonians who had escaped, for the combat would have taken place close to their own city, and they had numerous and brave allies. And so, as they were retreating and had reached the bed of the Charadrus, where they hold military trials before they enter the city, they began to stone Thrasyllus. He saved his life by flying to the altar, but they confiscated his property.
(5.61) Soon afterwards there arrived an Athenian reinforcement of a thousand hoplites and three hundred horse, under the command of Laches and Nicostratus. The Argives, although dissatisfied with the truce, were reluctant to break it, so they bade them depart; and, when they desired to treat, they would not present them to the assembly until they were compelled by the importunity of their Mantinean and Elean allies, who had not yet left Argos. The Athenians then, speaking by the mouth of their ambassador Alcibiades, told the Argives in the presence of the rest that they had no right to make the truce at all independently of their allies, and that, the Athenians having arrived at the opportune moment, they should fight at once. The allies were convinced, and they all, with the exception of the Argives, immediately marched against Orchomenus in Arcadia; the Argives, though consenting, did not join them at first, but they came afterwards. The united forces then sat down before Orchomenus, which they assailed repeatedly; they were especially anxious to get the place into their hands, because certain Arcadian hostages had been deposited there by the Lacedaemonians. The Orchomenians, considering the weakness of their fortifications and the numbers of the enemy, and beginning to fear that they might perish before any one came to their assistance, agreed to join the alliance: they were to give hostages of their own to the Mantineans, and to deliver up those whom the Lacedaemonians had deposited with them.