d. 631 BC
|ARISTOMENES FREED BY THE FOX|
Aristomenes was a hero of the Second Messenian War against the Spartans, and for hundreds of years was
the favorite folk hero of Sparta's enemies throughout Greece.
Aristomenes is credited with great valiance and bravery in his wars against the
Spartans, and numerous dramatic escapes and other escapades. At one point he was said to have been captured by the
Spartans and thrown into a deep cavern to be left for dead. He survived however, and according to legend escaped by following a fox out of
a hole. The Second Messenian War
occurred during the period of
648 to 631 B
. For the first seven years it involved a
series of pitched battles that went badly for the Messenians, although Aristomenes personally achieved great slaughter
against the Spartans, and thrice celebrated a sacrifice indicating that he had personally slain over 100 enemies. The
last eleven years involved the siege of a mountain fortress, called Eira, in which the surviving Messenians were holed
up. After numerous dramatic episodes, it is told that Aristomenes either perished in battle, or escaped with his family
to become a prince on the island of Rhodes.
Key events during the life of Aristomenes:
||End of First Messenian War. Much Messenian land is lost to Sparta.
||Beginning of Second Messenian War.
||Aristomenes fights three battles against the Spartans; offers sacrifice after each for killing 100 enemies.
||Aristomenes and followers holed up in Eira, a mountain fortress.
||Aristomenes is taken prisoner and thrown into Keadas, a deep rock cavity. Survives fall and escapes.
||Fortress of Eira, refuge of Messenians for 11 years, finally falls to Sparta.
||Aristomenes is taken prisoner again, but escapes with help of maiden, flees to Rhodes.
||King of Messenia, and early champion of the first Messenian War.
||King of Rhodes. Offered his daughter in marriage to Aristomenes.
||Wrote inspiring battle ballads for Sparta during the Messenian War. Historian of Sparta.