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themselves brought, and fastened together in a string, measured the
Tegean plain as they executed their labours. The fetters in which they
worked were still, in my day, preserved at Tegea where they hung round
the walls of the temple of Minerva Alea.
Throughout the whole of this early contest with the Tegeans, the
Lacedaemonians met with nothing but defeats; but in the time of
Croesus, under the kings Anaxandrides and Aristo, fortune had
turned in their favour, in the manner which I will now relate.
Having been worsted in every engagement by their enemy, they sent to
Delphi, and inquired of the oracle what god they must propitiate to
prevail in the war against the Tegeans. The answer of the Pythoness
was that before they could prevail, they must remove to Sparta the
bones of Orestes, the son of Agamemnon. Unable to discover his
burial-place, they sent a second time, and asked the god where the
body of the hero had been laid. The following was the answer they

Level and smooth is the plain where Arcadian Tegea standeth;
There two winds are ever, by strong necessity, blowing,
Counter-stroke answers stroke, and evil lies upon evil.
There all-teeming Earth doth harbour the son of Atrides;
Bring thou him to thy city, and then be Tegea's master.

After this reply, the Lacedaemonians were no nearer discovering the
burial-place than before, though they continued to search for it
diligently; until at last a man named Lichas, one of the Spartans
called Agathoergi, found it. The Agathoergi are citizens who have just
served their time among the knights. The five eldest of the knights go
out every year, and are bound during the year after their discharge to
go wherever the State sends them, and actively employ themselves in
its service.
Lichas was one of this body when, partly by good luck, partly by
his own wisdom, he discovered the burial-place. Intercourse between
the two States existing just at this time, he went to Tegea, and,
happening to enter into the workshop of a smith, he saw him forging
some iron. As he stood marvelling at what he beheld, he was observed
by the smith who, leaving off his work, went up to him and said,
"Certainly, then, you Spartan stranger, you would have been
wonderfully surprised if you had seen what I have, since you make a
marvel even of the working in iron. I wanted to make myself a well
in this room, and began to dig it, when what think you? I came upon
a coffin seven cubits long. I had never believed that men were
taller in the olden times than they are now, so I opened the coffin.
The body inside was of the same length: I measured it, and filled up
the hole again."
Such was the man's account of what he had seen. The other, on
turning the matter over in his mind, conjectured that this was the
body of Orestes, of which the oracle had spoken. He guessed so,
because he observed that the smithy had two bellows, which he
understood to be the two winds, and the hammer and anvil would do
for the stroke and the counterstroke, and the iron that was being
wrought for the evil lying upon evil. This he imagined might be so
because iron had been discovered to the hurt of man. Full of these
conjectures, he sped back to Sparta and laid the whole matter before
his countrymen. Soon after, by a concerted plan, they brought a charge
against him, and began a prosecution. Lichas betook himself to
Tegea, and on his arrival acquainted the smith with his misfortune,
and proposed to rent his room of him. The smith refused for some time;
but at last Lichas persuaded him, and took up his abode in it. Then he
opened the grave, and collecting the bones, returned with them to
Sparta. From henceforth, whenever the Spartans and the Tegeans made
trial of each other's skill in arms, the Spartans always had greatly
the advantage; and by the time to which we are now come they were
masters of most of the Peloponnese.

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