Cleomenes III

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Cleomenes III,

c.260–219 B.C., king of Sparta (235–221 B.C.). He was probably the most energetic king Sparta ever had, a conscious imitator of Agis III (see under AgisAgis
, name of four Spartan kings.

Agis I, fl. late 10th cent. B.C., was the traditional founder of the Agiad dynasty, one of the two ruling dynasties of Sparta, which had a dual kingship. The other dynasty, the Eurypontids, fathered the succeeding Agises.
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). In his determined effort to restore the prestige of the city, he began (227 B.C.) a war against the Achaean LeagueAchaean League
, confederation of cities on the Gulf of Corinth. The First Achaean League, about which little is known, was formed presumably before the 5th cent. B.C. and lasted through the 4th cent. B.C. Its purpose was mutual protection against pirates.
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 and was successful in many battles. At home his reforms were revolutionary: the kingship was made the supreme power, the ephorate was abolished, and the citizenship was widely extended, apparently to decrease the danger of discontent and to ally the people with the king. Cleomenes came to his downfall suddenly in 222 B.C. (or possibly 221 B.C.) when the Achaean League, allied with Antigonus IIIAntigonus III
(Antigonus Doson) , d. 221 B.C., king of Macedon. On the death of Demetrius II he became regent for Demetrius' son Philip (Philip V). He married the widow of Demetrius, and in 227 he proclaimed himself king.
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 of Macedon, routed the Spartan army. Cleomenes fled to Egypt to the protection of his patron, Ptolemy III. Imprisoned by Ptolemy's successor, he escaped, but, failing in an attempt to stir up a revolt in Alexandria, he committed suicide.

Cleomenes III


Born c. 260; died 219 B.C. King of Sparta from 235 to 221 B.C.

Cleomenes III, who succeeded King Agis IV, tried to restore Sparta’s power and overcome the social crisis and economic ruin that had engulfed Spartan society. Decrees on the abolition of the office of ephor, redistribution of land (all land was declared state property and redivided among Spartans and to some extent among the perioikoi ), cancellation of debts, and reorganization of the system of state upbringing were introduced into the popular assembly by Cleomenes. As a result of the reforms the number of Spartans enjoying full rights increased, which gave Cleomenes the opportunity to strengthen the army and use it in the war with the Achaean League to seize Phlius, Troezen, Cleonae, Argos, and other cities. Sparta’s success and the mass movement of the demos of Peloponnesus, who demanded the introduction of similar reforms, forced the Achaean League (headed by Aratus) and Macedonia to unite; they crushed Cleomenes at the battle of Sellasia (222/221 B.C.). Cleomenes fled to Egypt, where he died, and his reforms were completely suppressed.


Berger, A. Sotsial’nye dvizheniia v drevnei Sparte. Moscow-Leningrad, 1936.