Son of Eudamidas II., of the Agis III. succeeded his father to the Eurypontid throne in 245 B.C.,
in his twentieth year. At this time the state had been brought to the brink of ruin by the growth of avarice and luxury;
there was a glaring inequality in the distribution of land and wealth, and the number of full citizens had sunk to 700,
of whom about 100 practically monopolized the land. Though reared in the height of luxury he at once determined to
restore the traditional institutions of Lycurgus, with the aid of Lysander, a descendant of the victor of Aegospotami,
and Mandrocleidas, a man of noted prudence and courage; even his mother, the wealthy Agesistrata, threw herself
heartily into the cause. A powerful but not disinterested ally was found in the king's uncle, Agesilaus, who hoped
to rid himself of his debts without losing his vast estates. Lysander as ephor proposed on behalf of Agis that all
debts sbould be cancelled and that Laconia should be divided into 19,500 lots, of which 4500 should be given to
Spartiates, whose number was to be recruited from the best of the perioeci and foreigners, and the remaining 15,000
to perioeci who could bear arms. The Agiad king Leonidas having prevailed on the council to reject this measure,
though by a majority of only one, was deposed in favour of his son-in-law Cleombrotus, who assisted Agis in bearing
down opposition by the threat of force. The abolition of debts was carried into effect, but the land distribution was
put off by Agesilaus on various pretexts. At this point Aratus appealed to Sparta to help the Achaeans in repelling
an expected Aetolian attack, and Agis was sent to the Isthmus at the head of an army. In his absence the open violence
and extortion of Agesilaus, combined with the popular disappointment at the failure of the agrarian scheme, brought
about the restoration of Leonidas and the deposition of Cleombrotus, who took refuge at the temple of Apollo at
Taenarum and escaped death only at the entreaty of his wife, Leonidas's daughter Chilonis. On his return Agis fled
to the temple of Athene Chalcioecus at Sparta, but soon afterwards he was treacherously induced to leave his
asylum and, after a mockery of a trial, was strangled in prison, his mother and grandmother sharing the same fate (241).
Though too weak and good-natured to cope with the problem 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.
—Excerpted from the 1911 Encyclopaedia Britannica.
Key events during the life of Agis IV:
||Ascended to the Eurypontid throne in Sparta.
||Attempted to reform Sparta's land distribution and restore the traditions of Lycurgus.
||Lysander proposed land should be divided and debts cancelled.
||Leonidas II. deposed for failing to support reforms.
||Agis IV. left the city to help Achaeans repell the Aetolians.
||Put on trial and murdered, along with his mother and grandmother.
||Spartan naval Commander who defeated Athens in Peloponnesian War.
||Spartan king who opposed reforms.
||Leader of Achaean League; First resisted Macedonia, then forced an alliance to defeat Sparta.
||Son-in-law of Leonidas II. who supported Agis IV.'s reforms.