Another quality that should not go unrecorded is his urbanity. For although he held honour in fee, and had power at his beck, and to these added sovereignty — sovereignty not plotted against but regarded with affection — yet no traces of arrogance could have been detected in him, whereas signs of a fatherly affection and readiness to serve his friends, even if unsought, were evident.
He delighted, moreover, to take his part in light talk, yet he showed an eager sympathy with friends in all their serious concerns. Thanks to his optimism, good humour, and cheerfulness he was a centre of attraction to many, who came not merely for purposes of business, but to pass the day more pleasantly. Little inclined to boastfulness himself, he heard without annoyance the self-praise of others, thinking that, by indulging in it, they did no harm and gave earnest of high endeavour.
On the other hand, one must not omit a reference to the dignity that he showed on appropriate occasions. Thus, when the Persian envoy who came with Calleas, the Lacedaemonian, handed him a letter from the Great King containing offers of friendship and hospitality, he declined to accept it. Tell his Majesty, he said to the bearer, that there is no need for him to send me private letters, but, if he gives proof of friendship for Lacedaemon, and goodwill towards Greece, I on my part will be his friend with all my heart. But if he is found plotting against them, let him not hope to have a friend in me, however many letters I may receive.
In this contempt for the king’s hospitality, as nothing in comparison with the approval of the Greeks, I find one more reason for praising Agesilaus. Admirable too was his opinion that it is not for the ruler with the deeper coffers and the longer roll of subjects to set himself above his rival, but for him who is the better leader of the better people.
Again, an instance of his foresight that I find worthy of praise is this: believing it to be good for Greece that as many satraps as possible should revolt from the king, he was not prevailed on either by gifts or by the king’s power to accept his hospitality, but was careful not to give cause to those who wanted to revolt for mistrusting him.
There is yet another side of his character that everyone must admire. It was the belief of the Persian king that by possessing himself of colossal wealth, he would put all things in subjection to himself. In this belief he tried to engross all the gold, all the silver and all the most costly things in the world. Agesilaus, on the contrary, adopted such a simple style in his home that he needed none of these things.
If anyone doubts this, let him mark what sort of a house contented him, and in particular, let him look at the doors: one might imagine that they were the very doors that Aristodemus, the descendant of Heracles[*](Aristodemus was great-grandson of Hyllus, son of Heracles. Xenophon follows the Lacedaemonian account, according to which Aristodemus himself was leader at the time when the Lacedaemonians obtained Sparta (Hdt. 6.52). His sons, Eurysthenes and Procles, became the first joint-kings.) set up with his own hands in the days of his home-coming. Let him try to picture the scene within; note how he entertained on days of sacrifice, hear how his daughter used to go down to Amyclae[*](To the feast of Hyacinthus; see Xen. Ages. 2.17.) in a public car.
And so, thanks to this nice adjustment of his expenditure to his income, he was never compelled to commit an act of injustice for the sake of money. Doubtless it is thought noble to build oneself fortresses impregnable to an enemy: but in my judgment it is far nobler to fortify one’s own soul against all the assaults of lucre, of pleasure, and of fear.