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A Strange Interview

We are told that Agesilaus was once asked to meet the Persian general Pharnabazus, to have a talk or conference with him,—a thing which often took place between generals of different armies.

The meeting was set for a certain day and hour, under a large tree, and it was agreed that both generals should come under the escort of their personal attendant only.

Agesilaus, plainly clad as usual, came first to the meeting place, and, sitting down upon the grass under the tree, he began to eat his usual noonday meal of bread and onions.

A few moments later the Persian general arrived in rich attire, attended by fan and parasol bearer, and by servants bringing carpets for him to sit upon, cooling drinks to refresh him, and delicate dishes to tempt his appetite.

At first Pharnabazus fancied that a tramp was camping under the tree; but when he discovered that this plain little man was really Agesilaus, King of Sparta, and the winner of so many battles, he was ashamed of his pomp, sent away his attendants, and sat down on the ground beside the king.

Agesilaus and Pharnabazus
Agesilaus and Pharnabazus.


They now began an important talk, and Pharnabazus was filled with admiration when he heard the short but noble answers which Agesilaus had for all his questions. He was so impressed by the Spartan king, that he shook hands with him when the interview was ended.

Agesilaus was equally pleased with Pharnabazus, and told him that he should be proud to call him friend. He invited him to leave his master, and come and live in Greece where all noble men were free.

Pharnabazus did not accept this invitation, but renewed the war, whereupon Agesilaus again won several important victories. When the Persian king heard that all his soldiers could not get the better of the Spartan king, he resolved to try the effect of bribery.

He therefore sent a messenger to Athens to promise this city and her allies a very large sum of money provided that they would rise up in revolt against Sparta, and thus force Agesilaus to come home.