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THE Princely bountie of your blessed hand (most gracious Soueraigne) comforting and supporting my poore old decaying life, of right challengeth the trauels in my studie, the labours of my bodie, and the prayers of my deuotions to be wholly imployed for your Highnesse, and altogether dedicated to your seruice. Wherein whilest I striue to bring in open shew some small performance of my most humble dutie to your sacred Maiestie, mine owne vnworthinesse amazeth me with trembling feare for my presumption, but that your Highnesse matchlesse grace to so many your most admirable vertues offer my pardon. Vnder which I present in all humblenesse into your Maiesties sacred hands this my second translation of the late addition of fifteene other liues, vnto those former in Plutarch, published for benefite of my country, vnder protection of the most royall name of your most gracious Maiestie. And albeit in respect of my selfe I offer but dutie, which I wish I could in other and better sort performe: yet I am the rather emboldned herein, for that the famous memorie of renowmed Emperours, mightie Kings, worthie Chieftaines and Generals of armies yea and of two famous Philosophers Plutarch and Seneca, being the whole subiect of this second translation, is worthily published vnder your Maiesties patronage. Whose rare vertues and wonderfull wisedome, neither former mightie kings, nor learned Philosophers might equall: from whose blessed fortunes many oppressed Kings, and distressed kingdomes haue sought and found their succors: [Page] and whose most honourable and most happy peaceable gouernement, is worlds wonder to all posteritie.
These were the beginnings of the long wars of the LACEDAEMONIANS against the THEBANS, with whom the ATHENIANS ioyned in league. For Epaminondas, he quietly gaue himselfe to his book: notwithstanding he was put forward by Pammenes, a principall man of THEBES, and he began to follow the warres very hotly, and in diuers encounters made great proofe of his wisdome, hardinesse and valure: insomuch that by degrees he attained at the length to the highest charges of gouernment in the commonwealth. And his citizens hauing made no further reckoning [Page 6] of him, being a man of fortie yeares old: after that they came to know him, and had trusted him with their armie, he saued the citie of THEBES that was like to haue bin vndone, and freed al GRECE from the seruitude and bondage of the LACEDAEMONIANS: making vertue as in a cleare light shine with glorie, shewing her effects when time serueth. Furthermore, Agesilaus being entred into BOEOTIA with an armie of twentie thousand footmen, and 5. thousand horse, preyed and spoiled all the plaine countrey, and presented the THEBANS in open field that which they would not accept, finding themselues the weaker: howbeit they defended themselues so well, through the aide of the ATHENIANS, and of the wise conduction of Epaminondas and Pelopidas, that Agesilaus returned home with his armie. But after he was gone, the THEBANS went with their troupes before the citie of THESPIES, where they surprized and put to the sword two hundred men of the garrison, and afterwards gaue diuers assaults one vpon another vnto the wall, and seeing their labor lost, they returned with their army backe againe to THEBES. Howbeit Phoebidas the LACEDAEMONIAN, he that had taken the castle of CADMEA by treason, (whereupon rose all this warre that followed) and was then gouernour of THESPIES, made a sallie out of the towne, and rashly went to giue a charge vpon the THEBANS in their retreate, where he lost fiue hundred of his men, and himselfe was slaine in the field. Not long after, the LACEDAEMONIANS with the self same power returned againe to make war with the THEBANS, who hauing wonne certaine streights and places of aduantage, so blocked vp the way, as they could not ouerrunne the countrey, and spoile it as they had done before. Neuerthelesse, Agesilaus had so harried and troubled them, that by litle and litle they came to a maine battell, which held very long and cruell. Now though Agesilaus at the first had the better, yet the THEBANS charged him so hotely, that at the length he himselfe was hurt, and constrained to retire, being well payed for teaching the THEBANS militarie discipline. And this was the first time that the THEBANS knew themselues to be as strong and lustie as the LACEDAEMONIANS: whereupon they triumphed in signe of victorie, and from that time forwards, they waxed more couragious to make head against the enemy, and to present them battell. But the onely thing that did most encourage them, was the presence of Epaminondas, who counselled, commaunded, and executed very wisely, valiantly, and most fortunately. A certaine time after that, they went with a great number of good chosen men before ORCHOMENE, where they preuailed not, because there was a strong garrison of the LACEDAEMONIANS, that sallied out vpon them to giue them battell, which was very sharpe betweene them. And yet, albeit the LACEDAEMONIANS were many against one, the THEBANS gaue them the ouerthrow, which neuer happened to them before: but what nation soeuer they had bene, they thought they had done a great feate, if with a greater number by many, they had ouercome a small number of the LACEDAEMONIANS. But this victorie, and the encountring of TEGYRE, where the THEBANS obtained another victory vnder the conduct of Pelopidas, lift vp their hearts on high, and made their valure more famous then before.
The next yeare following, Artaxerxes king of PERSIA, meaning to make warre in AEGYPT, and therefore to retaine diuerse straungers, determined to appease the warres against the GREEKES in hope that they being at peace, would more easily be contented that souldiers should be leauied in their countrey: and thereupon sent his Ambassadours to all the townes of GRECE, to perswade and intreate them to be at peace together. The GREEKES were very willing to hearken vnto it, being wearied of all sides with so long a warre, and were easily drawne to treate of peace: whereby it was especially agreed and concluded, that all the cities of GRECE should be free, and vse their owne lawes; and commissioners were sent all about to withdraw the garrisons in euery place where any was kept. Vnto this the THEBANS onely refused to agree, that euery towne should by it selfe seuerally capitulate in this treatie, requesting that the townes in the countrey of BOEOTIA should be comprehended vnder the city of THEBES. Thereunto the ATHENIANS mightily opposed themselues, and there was one of their Orators called Callistratus, that touching this matter made a notable oration before the assembly of the states of GRECE. And Epaminondas on the other side also, made a wonderfull and vehement oration in defence of the right of the THEBANS: insomuch as this controuersie was left vndecided, and the treaty of peace was vniuersally agreed and concluded amongst all the other GREEKES, the THEBANS onely excepted, who were not comprised within the treatie. So through the motion of Epaminondas, they were bold to withstand the decrees of all the rest of [Page 7] GRECE. For the ATHENIANS and LACEDAEMONIANS that many yeares before had contended for the principality of GRECE, made then diuision together: so that the one should commaund by sea, and the other by land. Thus they could not like in no wise, that the THEBANS should aspire to be chiefe, and therfore they sought to dismember the other townes of BOEOTIA, from the citie of THEBES. And the rather for that the THEBANS being strong and lustie of body, and encouraged for that of late they had oftentimes beaten the LACEDAEMONIANS, would striue with them for the superiority of GRECE by land, but specially they had a wonderfull confidence in the wisedome and prowesse of their Captaines, but especially of Epaminondas. Matters resting thus doubtfull, the citizens of PLATAEES, a towne of BOEOTIA, desirous to be at league with the ATHENIANS, they sent to request some souldiers of them, promising to put the towne into their hands. The gouernors of the country of BOEOTIA hauing intelligence of it, desirous to preuent the garrison of the ATHENIANS, brought a troupe of souldiers against them, and they all came before PLATAEES, before the townes men had any knowledge of their comming: insomuch that part of them were surprised in the fields by the horsemen, and the other fled into the towne. But hauing no body to aide them, they were compelled to receiue and accept such composition as it pleased the THEBANS to graunt them: which was, to leaue their towne, and to go safely with bagge and baggage, and neuer to returne againe into the countrey of BOEOTIA. After this, the THEBANS razed the city of PLATAEES to the ground, and had the sacke of the towne of THESPIES enemy vnto them. All the GREEKES solicited againe by the Ambassadors of PERSIA, thought it good to make a generall peace, and so assembled the commissioners of all the townes at SPARTA. Epaminondas that was yet scant knowne, because he loued not to shew himselfe, and in all his exploits of warre had euer preferred the aduancement of his great friend and companion in armes Pelopidas, before himselfe: yet famous among the GREEKES for his great knowledge and experience, was sent thither by the THEBANS. Epaminondas finding that the other commissioners did leane to Agesilaus, began to speake boldly and plainely, and made an oration, not onely in the THEBANS behalfe, but for all GRECE also: making them plainely see, that warre did still increase the greatnesse of the city of SPARTA only, and keepe all the rest of the townes of GRECE vnder. Therfore he gaue counsell to all to establish a firme peace indifferently betwixt them, that thereby it might haue the longer continuance, when all comprized within the contract should be equals. Agesilaus perceiuing all the GREEKS assistant at this assembly to giue very attentiue eare vnto him, and to be tickled, hearing him speake so freely of peace: he asked him aloude if he thought it iust and reasonable, that all BOEOTIA should be set at liberty. Epaminondas on the other side, did presently and boldly aske him againe, if he thought not also that it was iust and reasonable that all LACONIA should be set at libertie. Thereupon Agesilaus in anger stood vp on his feete, and commaunded him to answer plainely, if they should not restore all the prouince of BOEOTIA to her liberty. Epaminondas returned the selfe same speech againe vnto him: if they should not also put that of LACONIA in her liberty. This did so anger Agesilaus, besides that it did him good to haue this colour for an old grudge he bare vnto the THEBANS, that foorthwith he put the name of the THEBANS out of the list of those that should be comprised within the peace, and immediatly proclaimed open war against them. But this being done had euill successe afterwards, and by reason of the sodaine and rash enterprise of the LACEDAEMONIANS, it turned to their vtter ouerthrow. For the THEBANS, there was no remedie but they must beare the whole brunt alone: for there was not a town that durst send them any aide, because they were all agreed and sworne to this peace, insomuch as euery one thought them vtterly cast away and vndone. Many pitied their estate, and they that loued them not reioyced: they made so full account, that the LACEDAEMONIANS should find nothing that could stand before them. 59ce067264