Histories (Inscribed stele in the temenos of Zeus)

Author Polybius
Subject History of Mt. Lykaion and Area

Polybius, History, 4.33 from The Perseus Digital Library.

And perhaps my observation may receive some support from ancient history. For, among many other indications, it is a fact that the Messenians did set up a pillar close to the altar of Zeus Lycaeus in the time of Aristomenes, according to the evidence of Callisthenes, in which they inscribed the following verses: “A faithless king will perish soon or late!

Messene tracked him down right easily,
The traitor:—perjury must meet its fate;
Glory to Zeus, and life to Arcady!

” The point of this is, that, having lost their own country, they pray the gods to save Arcadia as their second country. And it was very natural that they should do so; for not only did the Arcadians receive them when driven from their own land, at the time of the Aristomenic war, and make them welcome to their homes and free of their civic rights; but they also passed a vote bestowing their daughters in marriage upon those of the Messenians who were of proper age; and besides all this, investigated the treason of their king Aristocrates in the battle of the Trench; and, finding him guilty, put him to death and utterly destroyed his whole family. But setting aside these ancient events, what has happened recently after the restoration of Megalopolis and Messene will be sufficient to support what I have said. For when, upon the death of Epaminondas leaving the result of the battle of Mantinea doubtful, the Lacedaemonians endeavoured to prevent the Messenians from being included. in the truce, hoping even then to get Messenia into their own hands, the Megalopolitans, and all the other Arcadians who were allied with the Messenians, made such a point of their being admitted to the benefits of the new confederacy, that they were accepted by the allies and allowed to take the oaths and share in the provisions of the peace; while the Lacedaemonians were the only Greeks excluded from the treaty. With such facts before him, could any one doubt the soundness of the suggestion I lately made?

I have said thus much for the sake of the Arcadians and Messenians themselves; that, remembering all the misfortunes which have befallen their countries at the hands of the Lacedaemonians, they may cling close to the policy of mutual affection and fidelity; and let no fear of war, or desire of peace, induce them to abandon each other in what affects the highest interests of both.

Greek Text

Ὁ δὲ λόγος οὗτος ἔχει μὲν ἴσως καὶ διὰ τῶν πάλαι γεγονότων πίστιν. οἱ γὰρ Μεσσήνιοι πρὸς ἄλλοις πολλοῖς καὶ παρὰ τὸν τοῦ Διὸς τοῦ Λυκαίου βωμὸν ἀνέθεσαν στήλην ἐν τοῖς κατ᾽ Ἀριστομένην καιροῖς, καθάπερ καὶ Καλλισθένης φησί, γράψαντες τὸ γράμμα τοῦτο: πάντως ὁ χρόνος εὗρε δίκην ἀδίκῳ βασιλῆι,

εὗρε δὲ Μεσσήνη σὺν Διὶ τὸν προδότην ῥηιδίως. χαλεπὸν δὲ λαθεῖν θεὸν ἄνδρ᾽ ἐπίορκον.

χαῖρε, Ζεῦ βασιλεῦ, καὶ σάω Ἀρκαδίαν. ἐπεὶ γὰρ τῆς αὑτῶν ἐστερήθησαν, οἷον εἰ περὶ δευτέρας πατρίδος, ὥς γ᾽ ἐμοὶ δοκεῖ, τοῖς θεοῖς εὐχόμενοι σῴζειν τὴν Ἀρκαδίαν, τοῦτ᾽ ἀνέθεσαν τὸ γράμμα. καὶ τοῦτ᾽ εἰκότως ἐποίουν: οὐ γὰρ μόνον αὐτοὺς Ἀρκάδες ὑποδεξάμενοι κατὰ τὴν ἔκπτωσιν τὴν ἐκ τῆς ἰδίας ὑπὸ τὸν Ἀριστομένειον πόλεμον ὁμεστίους ἐποιήσαντο καὶ πολίτας, ἀλλὰ καὶ τὰς θυγατέρας ἐψηφίσαντο τοῖς ἐν ἡλικίᾳ διδόναι τῶν Μεσσηνίων, πρὸς δὲ τούτοις ἀναζητήσαντες τὴν Ἀριστοκράτους τοῦ βασιλέως προδοσίαν ἐν τῇ μάχῃ τῇ καλουμένῃ περὶ Τάφρον αὐτόν τ᾽ ἀνεῖλον καὶ τὸ γένος αὐτοῦ πᾶν ἠφάνισαν. οὐ μὴν ἀλλὰ καὶ χωρὶς τῶν πάλαι τὰ τελευταῖα γεγονότα μετὰ τὸν Μεγάλης πόλεως καὶ Μεσσήνης συνοικισμὸν ἱκανὴν ἂν παράσχοι πίστιν τοῖς ὑφ᾽ ἡμῶν εἰρημένοις. καθ᾽ οὓς γὰρ καιρούς, τῆς περὶ Μαντίνειαν μάχης τῶν Ἑλλήνων ἀμφιδήριτον ἐχούσης τὴν νίκην διὰ τὸν Ἐπαμινώνδου θάνατον, ἐκώλυον Λακεδαιμόνιοι μετέχειν τῶν σπονδῶν Μεσσηνίους, ἀκμὴν σφετεριζόμενοι ταῖς ἐλπίσι τὴν Μεσσηνίαν, ἐπὶ τοσοῦτο διέσπευσαν Μεγαλοπολῖται καὶ πάντες οἱ κοινωνοῦντες Ἀρκάδων τῆς αὐτῶν συμμαχίας ὥστε Μεσσηνίους μὲν ὑπὸ τῶν συμμάχων προσδεχθῆναι καὶ μετασχεῖν τῶν ὅρκων καὶ διαλύσεων, Λακεδαιμονίους δὲ μόνους ἐκσπόνδους γενέσθαι τῶν Ἑλλήνων. ἃ τίς οὐκ ἂν τῶν ἐπιγινομένων ἐν νῷ τιθέμενος νομίσειε καλῶς εἰρῆσθαι τὰ μικρῷ πρότερον ὑφ᾽ ἡμῶν δεδηλωμένα;

Ταῦτα μὲν οὖν εἰρήσθω μοι χάριν Ἀρκάδων καὶ Μεσσηνίων, ἵνα μνημονεύοντες τῶν συμβεβηκότων αὐτοῖς περὶ τὰς πατρίδας ἀτυχημάτων ὑπὸ Λακεδαιμονίων ἀληθινῶς ἀντέχωνται τῆς πρὸς αὑτοὺς εὐνοίας καὶ πίστεως, καὶ μήτε φόβον ὑφορώμενοι μήτ᾽ εἰρήνης ἐπιθυμοῦντες ἐγκαταλείπωσιν ἀλλήλους