When Aratus of Sicyon first laid a plot to free his country from its tyrant, who reigned by the help of the King of Macedonia, he sent to Philadelphus to beg for money. He naturally looked to the King of Egypt for help when entering upon a struggle against their common rival; but the king seems to have thought the plans of this young man too wild to be countenanced.
Those soldiers whom Aratus had left outside the gate, near Juno's temple, to the number of three hundred, entering the town, now full of tumult and lights, and not knowing the way by which the former had gone, and finding no track of them, slunk aside, and crowded together in one body under a flank of the cliff that cast a strong shadow, and there stood and waited in great distress and perplexity.
And at the same time the ladders were clapped to the walls, and Aratus, having in great haste got up a hundred men, commended the rest to follow as they could, and immediately drawing up his ladders after him, he marched through the city with his hundred men towards the castle, being already overjoyed that he was undiscovered, and not doubting of the success.
Professor Beckman considers it unquestionable, that the ancients were acquainted with this kind of poison, and thinks that it may be proved from the testimony of Plutarch, Quintilian, and other respectable authors. The former states that a slow poison, which occasioned heat, a cough, spitting of blood, a consumption, and weakness of intellect, was administered to Aratus of Sicyon.
In the middle of the Isthmus of Corinth stood the city, and in the midst was a fort called Acro-Corinthus, perched on a high hill in the very centre of the city, so that whoever held it was master of all to the south, and old Philip of Macedon used to call it the Corinthian shackles of Greece. The king of Macedon, Antigonus III., now held it; but Aratus devised a scheme to take it.
Aratus was worn out by anxiety, his long march, and night of fighting, and as he stood leaning on his spear he could hardly rally strength to address them, and while giving back to them the keys of their city, which they had never had since Philip’s time, he exhorted them to join the League, which they did. The Macedonians were expelled, and Aratus put an Achaian garrison into the Acro-Corinthus.
Lastly Avienus, a writer in the reign of Diocletian, or perhaps of Theodosius, has left a rugged, unpolished translation of this much-valued poem. Aratus, the poet of the heavens, will be read, said Ovid, as long as the sun and moon shall shine. Sosibius was one of the rhetoricians of the museum who lived upon the bounty of Philadelphus.
Of these observances, some small traces, it is still made a point of religion not to omit, on the appointed days; but the greatest part of the ceremonies have through time and other intervening accidents been disused. And such, as history tells us, was the life and manners of the elder Aratus.
But this fell out a good while after. So Aratus and the king, plighting their faith to each other at Pegae, immediately marched towards the enemy, with whom they had frequent engagements near the city, Cleomenes maintaining a strong position, and the Corinthians making a very brisk defense.
Now the first of these was performed by the priest of Jupiter Soter, the second by the priest of Aratus, wearing a band around his head, not pure white, but mingled with purple.
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