PHILOPOEMEN, the son of Craugis or Crausis of Megalopolis in Arcadia, was born about 253 b.c. Having lost his father when he was still a boy, he was educated by Cleander of Mantineia, an intimate friend of Crausis. He was afterwards placed under the tuition of Ecdemus and Demophanes, two distinguished citizens of Megalopolis and friends of Aratus. Philopcemen studied philosophy and the art of war, of which he was very fond from early youth: «he considered it,' as Plutarch says, the most important and useful occupation of men, and despised those who were not versed in it.' When he attained the age of manhood, he engaged in predatory incursions which the people of Megalopolis, the oonstant enemies of Sparta, made into Laconica. In his leisure he applied himself to agricultural pursuits for the purpose of improving his paternal estate.
Philopcemen was thirty years of age when Cleomenes, king of Sparta, surprised Megalopolis by night [cleoMenes III.], and he was one of the last to leave the town. Some time after, the Achaeans, in order to oppose Cleomenes, having by the advice of Aratus allied them selves with Antigonus Doson, king of Macedonia, that prince came into Peloponnesus, and defeated Cleomenes at the battle of Sellasia, 222 B.C., to which victory Philopcemen mainly contributed. He received a scvero wound in this batile. His reputation now rose high, and he was offered by Antigonus a command in his army, which he declined, 'because,' says Plutarch, 'he could not bear to be under the direction of another.' Philopcemen now repaired to Creta, and engaged as a volunteer in the war which distracted that island. During this campaign he greatly improved himself in strategy. Aratus died B.C. 213, and Philopcemen, on his return home, was made general of the Achaean cavalry. He improved the discipline of that body, recruited its strength, and made it completely efficient. In a battle which was fought near the river Larissus, he defeated the united ^Etolians and Eleans, and killed with his own hand Demophantus, the Elean general. He also effected many improvements in the tactics and discipline of the Achaean infantry, and introduced the Macedonian order of battle, War baying broken out between the Acheeans and Machanidas, tyrant of Sparta, Philopoemen marched against the Spartan, and defeated him near Mantineia. Machanidas fell in the battle,by the hand of Philopcumcn. In consequences of this exploit, the Achajans voted him a statue of bronze, which was placed in the temple of Delphi. In 201 B.c Philopoemen was made strategos, or captain-goneral, of the At: haean league, of which, from that time till his death, he was considered as the principal leader, having succeeded Aratus in the confidence of the people. Philopcemen being a great obstacle in the way of Philip of Macedonia, who wished to extend his sway over the independent states of Greece, the king tried to have him assassinated, but the plot was discovered, and only served to increase the influence of Philopcemen. Nabis, who had succeeded Machanidas as tyrant of Sparta, seized Messenia, but Philopcemen drove him out of that country, and restored the Messenians to their independence as allies of the Achajans. Wanting employment at hump, he went a second time to Crete at the request of the Gortynians, and served in the wars of that island. Returning home about 197 B.C., he found Philip beaten by the Romans under Flamininus, and obliged to sue for peace, the Achreans allied to Rome, and Nabis at war both with the Achaean* and with Rome. Philopoemen equipped a fleet against Nabis, but he failed in his naval operations. He then attacked him by land and defeated him; and Gythium and the other seaports of Laconica, being taken from Nabis, were occupied by Achaean garrisons under an agreement with Flamininus, the Roman commander. When Nabis was murdered by his/Etolian auxiliaries, 192 B.C., Philopoemen marched upon Sparta, which was in a state of great confusion, and obliged the citizens to join the Achaean League, which then included all the Peloponnesus, with the exception of Elis.
During the subsequent war between Antiochus and the Romans, Philopcemen, who was more clear-sighted than most of his countrymen with respect to the ambitious policy of Rome, recommended caution, and observed to Diophanes, who wag then strategos of the Achaeans, that 'while Antiochus and the Romans were contending with two such powerful armies in the heart of Greece, the duty of an Aoheean general was to watch them attentively, and, instead of lighting up a fresh war at home, rather to overlook some real injuries.' This referred to Diophanes' marching against Sparta, which had withdrawn itself from the league. Some time after however the citizens of Sparta, impatient at being cut off from the sea-coast, attempted to surprise a seaport called Las, but were repulsed by the Achaeans, joined to the Lacedaemonian emigrants who had been exiled by Nabis. The Aehaoans passed a decree requiring Sparta to give up the authors of the attempt upon Las. The pride of the Spartans was roused; they refused compliance, put to death several of their countrymen who were in favour of the Achajans, and sent envoys to the Roman Proconsul Fulvius, who had just effected the subjugation of the jEtolians, 189 B.c. Philopcemen, who was strategos of the Achaeans for that year, devastated Laconica. Fulvius came into Peloponnesus, and advised both parties to send messengers to Rome, and to suspend hostilities. The Achoeans sent Diophanes and Lycortas, the father of the historian Polybius. The senate returned an ambiguous answer, which the Achaeans interpreted in their favour; and Philopcemen, being re-elected strategos for the following year, 188 B.C., marched into Laconica, and again demanded the authors of the attack upon Las and of the withdrawal from the Achrcan alliance, with a promise that they should not be punished without trial. Upon this several of the persons implicated in this affair t ame forward and went voluntarily to the Achaean camp, accompanied by others of the principal citizens of Sparta. As they approached the Achaean camp, the emigrants who formed the Achaean advanced-guard fell upon their own countrymen, and killed seventeen of them, when Philopcemen interfered and saved the rest (sixty-three in number) from immediate destruction. The next day he brought them before the assembled Achaeansand Lacedaemonian emigrants,and, after a mock trial, they were sentenced to death and executed. The Spartans in dismay submitted to Philopcemen, who dictated to them hard conditions, namely, that the walls of the town should be razed, that all emigrants should be restored, that all the mercenary troops should quit Laconica, as well as all the slaves who had been emancipated by Nabis and other tyrants. About 3000 of these refusing to leave the country, i PhiloptBinen sold, them, and applied the money thus produced to rebuilding a portico in Megalopolis which had been destroyed by Cleomenes. But the hardest condition which Philopoemeu imposed upon Sparta was that of abolishing the laws and discipline of Lycurgus, and obliging the Spartans to adopt the institutions of the Achaeans and bring up their children after the Achaean fashion, being convinced, says Plutarch, ' that their spirit could never be humbled so long as they adhered to their old institutions.' Thus, in the year 188 B.C., the laws of Lycurgus were abrogated, after having subsisted for seven centuries, during which Sparta had maintained a proud station among the states of Greece. It is true that for a long time previous to their abrogation they had been ill observed, but still they existed, at least in name, and it required only a determined spirit like that of Cleomenes to enforce obedience to them. The Spartans again appealed to Rome, and the consul Q. C. Metellus, on his return from Macedonia, where be had been on an embassy, appeared before the council of the Aclioeans assembled at Argos, and complained that they had treated the Spartans with undue severity. Aristeenus, the Slrategos for the year, was in the Roman interest, and Diophanes also blamed the conduct of Philopcemen; but Lycortas defended his conduct, and the council resolved that the decree concerning Sparta should not be repealed. It was perhaps on this occasion that Philopcemen, indignant at the servility exhibited by Aristrenus towards the Romans, is reported by Plutarch to have exclaimed, 'And why in such haste, wretched man, to see an end of Greece?' Envoys were sent to Rome by the Aohaani to justify their conduct, and the Spartans, on their side, sent two of the restored exiles, who took a violent part against the Achoeans. The senate, having heard both parties, sent Appius Claudius and others as commissioners to the Peloponnesus. A general congress of the Achaeans being called, Appius Claudius declared that tho senate was displeased with the manner in which Sparta had been treated, the massacre of eighty of its citizens, the demolition of its walls, and the abrogation of the laws of Lycurgus. It was on this occasion that Lycortas made that eloquent speech in reply which is given by Livy (xxxix. 36, 37), in which, after defending the conduct of the Achamns, he retorted upon the Romans their own conduct towards the free state of Capua during the second Punic war. The speech of Lycortas was generally approved; 'so that,' adds Livy,' it was easy for Appius to see that the dignity of Rome could not be upheld by gentle proceedings.' Accordingly Appius haughtily advised the Achaeans to do with a good grace that which otherwise they would be obliged to do against their will. The congress then declared, that rather than reverse their own decrees, they left it to the senate to make what changes they thought proper. The senate, seemingly satisfied with this submission, allowed Sparta to continue in the Achaean league, on the condition of a general amnesty and the restoration of all political exiles.
In the year beginning May, 183 B C, Philopcemen, then seventy years of age, was elected strategos for the eighth lime. About this time Messene, through the influence of one of its citizens named Dinocrates, threw off its alliance with tho Achaeans. It appears from some passages of Polybius that Dinocrates was a friend of Flamininus, the Roman general, who had been just appointed ambassador to Prusias, king of Bithynia, to demand of him the person of Hannibal. Flamininus on former occasions had shown that he was no friend to Philopcemen, and indeed the personal character of the latter made him obnoxious to tho Roman policy. Flamininus, on arriving at Naupactus, wrote to Philopcemen, requesting him to call together a general congress of the Achseans to discuss the affairs of Messene. Philopcemen, knowing that he had no instructions from the senate for the purpose, declined to do so, and prepared for war against Messene. He marched with a body of cavalry, but finding a stout resistance, ho was obliged to fall back. Being the last to retire, he was surrounded by the enemy, thrown from his horse, wounded in the fall, and taken prisoner to Messene. The citizens of Messene felt for his age and his misfortune, but a few of tho leading men of the faction of Dinocrates determined on getting rid of him. They put him in a dark dungeon called ' the Treasury,' and in the night they sent the executioner to him with a cup of poison. Philopaimen asked the man whether he knew what had become of the Achaean cavalry, and especially of his friend Lycortas? The man answered that they had retired in safety. 'Then we are not altogether unhappy,' observed the aged general, and he took the cup and drank the poison, which soon put an end to his life (182 B.C.). The news spread rapidly through Achsea. Lycortas, being appointed strategos, marched to avenge the death of his friend. The Messenians opened their gates, Dinocrates killed himself, and the remains of Philopcemen being burned, the ashes were collected in an urn, which was carried by young Polybius in solemn procession of the Achaean army to Megalopolis. The Messouian prisoners who had been concerned in the death of Philopoemen were stoned to death. Statues to his honour were set up in most Grecian cities. Philopcemen has been styled by some the last of tho Greeks: he was certainly the last of their successful commanders. (Plutarch, Philopoemeu; Polvbius, xxiii.; Fragments, xxiv. 5; Livv, xxxix.)
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)