Cleomenes III reigned in Sparta about 235-219 B.C. He made a determined attempt to reform the social condition of Sparta
along the lines laid down by Agis IV., whose widow Agiatis he married; at the same time he aimed at restoring
Sparta's hegemony in the Peloponnese.
|CLEOMBROTUS AND CHILONIS, OF SPARTA|
After twice defeating the forces of the Achaean League in Arcadia, near
Mount Lycaeum and at Leuctra, he strengthened his position by assassinating four of the ephors, abolishing
the ephorate, which had usurped the supreme power, and banishing some eighty of the leading oligarchs. The
authority of the council was also curtailed, and a new board of magistrates, the patronomi
, became the
chief officers of state. He appointed his own brother Eucleidas as his colleague in succession to the
Eurypontid Archidamus, who had been murdered. His social reforms included a redistribution of land, the
remission of debts, the restoration of the old system of training, and the admission of picked perioeci
into the citizen body.
As a general Cleomenes did much to revive Sparta's old prestige. He defeated the Achaeans
at Dyme, made himself master of Argos, and was eventually joined by Corinth, Phlius, Epidaurus and other cities.
But Aratus, whose jealousy could not brook to see a Spartan at the head of the Achaean league called in
Antigonus III. of Macedonia, and Cleomenes, after conducting successful expeditions to Megalopolis and Argos,
was finally defeated at Sellasia, to the north of Sparta, in 222 or 221 B.C. He took refuge at Alexandria
with Ptolemy Euergetes, but was arrested by his successor, Ptolemy Philopator, on a charge of conspiracy.
Escaping from prison he tried to raise a revolt, but the attempt failed and to avoid capture he put an
end to his life. Both as general and as politician Cleomenes was one of Sparta's greatest men, and with
him perished her last hope of recovering her ancient supermacy in Greece.
—Excerpted from the 1911 Encylopaedia Britannica.
Key events during the life of Cleomenes III:
||Succeeded to the throne of Sparta at the death of his father, Leonidas II.
||Married Agiatis, the widow of Agis IV.
||Instituted Spartan reforms, abolished the Ephors, redistributed land.
||Victories at Dyme and Megalopolis restored Spartan prestige.
||Aratus tried to break up Spartan league. Argos deserted the league.
||Aratus called in Antiochus III to help defeat Cleomenes at Sellasia.
||Perished in exile in Egypt.
||King who tried to reform Sparta and return to laws of Lycurgus. Killed for his efforts.
||Leader of Achaean League; First resisted Macedonia, then forced an alliance to defeat Sparta.
||King of Macedonia who allied with Aratus to defeat Cleomenes III.
||Widow of the reformer Agis IV. Married Cleomenes III.