- Agis IV
name =Agis IV
title =King of Sparta
reign =245 BC – 241 BC
date of birth =
place of birth =
date of death =241 BC
place of death =
Sparta|:"For other uses of this name, see Agis."Agis IV (Gr. polytonic|Ἄγις, c. 265 - 241 BC), the elder son of Eudamidas II, was the 24th king of the Eurypontiddynasty of Sparta.Citation | last = Mason | first = Charles Peter | author-link = | contribution = Agis (4) | editor-last = Smith | editor-first = William | title = Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology| volume = 1 | pages = 73 | publisher = Little, Brown and Company| place = Boston | year = 1867 | contribution-url = http://www.ancientlibrary.com/smith-bio/0082.html ] Posterity has reckoned him an idealistic but impractical monarch.
Agis succeeded his father as king in 245 BC, at around the age of 20, and reigned four years. In 243 BC, after the liberation of
Corinthby Aratus, the general of the Achaean League, Agis led an army against him, but was defeated. [Pausanias, "Description of Greece" ii. 8. § 4] The interest of his reign, however, is derived his reaction to the domestic crisis of Sparta at the time of his succession.Citation | last = Cartledge | first = Paul Anthony | author-link = | contribution = Agis IV | editor-last = Hornblower | editor-first = Simon | title = Oxford Classical Dictionary| volume = | pages = | publisher = Oxford University Press| place = Oxford | year = 1996 | contribution-url = ] Through the influx of wealth and luxury, with their concomitant vices, the Spartans had greatly degenerated from the ancient simplicity and severity of manners, and arrived at an extreme inequality in the distribution of wealth and property. Fewer than 700 families of the genuine Spartan stock (i.e. full citizenship) remained, and in consequence of the innovation introduced by Epitadeus, who procured a repeal of the law which secured to every Spartan head of a family an equal portion of land, the landed property had passed into the hands of very few individuals, so that fewer than 100 Spartan families held estates, while the poor were greatly burdened with debt.
Agis, who from his earliest youth had shown his attachment to the ancient discipline, undertook to reform these abuses, and re-establish the institutions of Lycurgus. To this end he proposed the abolition of all debts and a new partition of the lands. Another part of his plan was to give landed estates to the
Perioeci. His schemes were warmly seconded by the poorer classes and the young men, and as strenuously opposed by the wealthy. He succeeded, however, in gaining over three very influential persons: his uncle Agesilaus (a man of large property, but who, being deeply involved in debt, hoped to profit by the innovations of Agis), Lysander (a descendant of the victor of Aegospotami) and Mandrocleides. Having arranged for Lysander to be elected one of the ephors, he laid his plans before the senate. He proposed that the Spartan territory should be divided into two portions, one to consist of 4500 equal lots, to be divided amongst the Spartans, whose ranks were to be filled up by the admission of the most respectable of the Perioeci and strangers; the other to contain 15,000 equal lots, to be divided amongst the remaining Perioeci.
The senate could not at first come to a decision on the matter. Lysander, therefore, convened the assembly of the people, to whom Agis submitted his measure, and offered to make the first sacrifice, by giving up his own lands and money, telling them that his mother,
Agesistrate, and grandmother, who were both possessed of great wealth, with all his relations and friends, would follow his example. His generosity drew the applause of the multitude. The opposite party, however, headed by Leonidas II, Agis' Agiad co-monarch, who had formed his habits at the luxurious court of Seleucus II Callinicus, got the senate to reject the measure, though only by one vote. Agis decided to rid himself of Leonidas. Lysander accordingly accused him of having violated the laws by marrying a stranger and living in a foreign land. Leonidas was deposed, and was succeeded by his son-in-law, Cleombrotus, who cooperated with Agis.
Loss of support
Soon afterwards, however, Lysander's term of office expired, and the ephors of the following year were opposed to Agis, and looked to restore Leonidas. They brought an accusation against Lysander and Mandrocleides, of attempting to violate the laws. Alarmed at the turn events were taking, these two convinced the king to take the unprecedented step of deposing the
ephors by force and to appoint others in their stead. Leonidas, who had returned to the city, fled again, to Tegea, protected from Agis by Agesilaus, who persuaded Agis and Lysander that the most effective way to secure the consent of the wealthy to the distribution of their lands, would be to begin by cancelling the debts. Accordingly the debts were cancelled, and all bonds, registers, and securities were piled up in the market place and burned.
Agesilaus, having achieved his goal, contrived various pretexts for delaying the division of the lands. Meanwhile the
Achaeans applied to Sparta for assistance against the Aetolians. Agis was accordingly sent at the head of an army. The cautious movements of Aratus gave Agis no opportunity to distinguish himself in battle, but he gained great credit by the excellent discipline he preserved among his troops. During his absence Agesilaus so angered the poorer classes by the continued postponement of the division of the lands, that they made no opposition when the enemies of Agis openly brought back Leonidas IIand set him on the throne. Agis and Cleombrotusfled for sanctuary, the former to the temple of Athena Chalcioecusin Sparta, the latter to the temple of Poseidon(or Apollo) at Taenarum.
Execution and legacy
Cleombrotus was allowed to go into exile; he escaped death only because of the influence of his wife, Leonidas' daughter Chilonis. In 241 BC, Agis was betrayed by some friends and thrown into prison. Leonidas immediately came with a band of mercenaries and secured the prison, while the
ephors entered it and went through the mockery of a trial. When asked if he did not repent of what he had attempted, Agis replied that he should never repent of so great a design, even in the face of death. He was condemned, and quickly executed by strangulation, the ephors fearing a rescue, as a great crowd of people had assembled around the prison gates.
Agis, observing that one of his executioners was moved to tears, said, "Weep not for me: suffering, as I do, unjustly, I am in a happier case than my murderers." His mother Agesistrate and his grandmother were strangled on his body. Agis was the first king of Sparta to have been put to death by the ephors. Pausanias, who, however, is undoubtedly wrong, says that he fell in battle. [Pausanias, "Description of Greece" viii. 10. § 4, 27. § 9] His widow Agiatis was forcibly married by Leonidas to his son
Cleomenes III, but nevertheless the two developed for each other a mutual affection and esteem. [ Plutarch, "Agis", "Cleomenes", "Aratus"] [Pausanias, "Description of Greece" vii. 7. § 2]
Considered by many writers too weak and good-natured to cope with the problems which confronted him, Agis was characterized by a sincerity of purpose and a blend of youthful modesty with royal dignity, which render him perhaps the most attractive figure in the whole of Spartan history. His life and death caught the romantic imagination of several ancient writers. He is the subject of a lost biography by
Phylarchus, which was apparently very heavily relied upon by Plutarchwhen he wrote his own biography of the king.
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.
Look at other dictionaries:
Agis IV — Rey de Esparta El juicio de Agis. Reinado 244 a. C. – 242 a. C … Wikipedia Español
Agis II — Rey de Esparta Reinado 427 a. C. 400 a. C. Nacimiento Esparta Fallecimiento 401 a. C. Esparta Predecesor … Wikipedia Español
Agis — may refer to: * Agis I, a Spartan King. * Agis II, a Spartan King * Agis III, a Spartan King * Agis IV, a Spartan King. Plutarch included a chapter on him in his Parallel Lives * Agis, a Paionian king of the pre Hellenistic era * Agis of Argos,… … Wikipedia
Agis IV. — Agis IV. (griechisch Ἆγις) aus dem Haus der Eurypontiden war von 244 bis zu seinem Tod 241 v. Chr. König von Sparta. Möglicherweise unter dem Einfluss des Stoikers Sphairos wollte Agis IV., der Sohn seines Vorgängers Eudamidas II., die… … Deutsch Wikipedia
Agis II. — Agis II. (griechisch Ἆγις, † 400 v. Chr.) war ein König des antiken Sparta. Leben Agis II. war ein Sohn Archidamos’ II. und ein Stiefbruder Agesilaos’ II. Er regierte 427/426–400 v. Chr. Seine erste Handlung als König waren Einfälle der… … Deutsch Wikipedia
Agis — Agis, Name mehrerer spartanischen Könige: 1) Agis I.,Sohn des Eurysthenes, Agiaden. 2) Agis II., König 427 399 v. Chr., aus der Dynastie der Eurypontiden; führte im Peloponnesischen Krieg häufig das Heer der Peloponnesier, besetzte 413… … Universal-Lexikon
Agis I — (en griego antiguo Ἄγις) fue un legendario rey de Esparta, epónimo de la dinastía de los Agíadas. Era hijo de Euristeno, primer monarca de la dinastía, que gobernó la ciudad junto con los Euripóntidas. Su genealogía, según Heródoto, puede… … Wikipedia Español
Agis — Agis, Name von 4 spartan. Königen. Agis I. um 980 v. Chr., Sohn des Eurysthenes; die von ihm abstammenden Könige heißen entweder Eurystheniden oder Agiden. Agis II. 426 bis 397, im pelopon. Kriege thätig. Agis III. 338 v. Chr. bis 330, griff… … Herders Conversations-Lexikon
Agis I. — Agis I. (griechisch Ἆγις) galt in der Griechischen Mythologie als eponymer Ahnherr und zweiter König des spartanischen Königshauses der Agiaden. Sein Vater war Eurysthenes, sein Sohn Echestratos. Er wird auch als der Vater des legendären… … Deutsch Wikipedia
Agis I — (Gr. polytonic|Ἄγις) was a legendary king of Sparta and eponym of the Agiad dynasty. He was the son of Eurysthenes, first monarch of this dynasty, [Pausanias, iii, 2.1] which ruled the city along with the Eurypontids. His genealogy was traced… … Wikipedia
Ägis — Ägis, griechischer Mythos: Aigis. * * * Ägis, die; [lat. aegis, ↑Ägide]: Schild des Zeus u. der Athene … Universal-Lexikon