In 368 B.C., Sparta, past itís peak of military greatness, was at war with the Arcadians, the Argives, and the Messenians. King Archidamus III of Sparta (360-338 B.C), a brave and capable officer, led an army into Arcadia.
What followed is told by the ancient historian Xenophon, himself no mean commander, in his "Hellenica".
Archidamus took them, along with his citizen soldiers, and set out on an expedition. He captured Caryae by storm and put to the sword all whom he took prisoners. From there he marched at once with his united forces against the people of Parrhasia, in Arcadia, and laid waste their land. But when the Arcadians and Argives came to their assistance, he retired and encamped in the hills above Melea. While he was there Cissidas, the commander of the supporting force from Dionysius, said that the time for which he had been directed to stay had expired. And as soon as he had said this he departed by the road leading to Sparta. But when, as he was marching away, the Messenians tried to cut him off at a narrow place on the road, thereupon he sent to Archidamus and bade him come to his aid. And Archidamus did in fact do so.
Then as soon as they all arrived at the branch road leading to the country of the Eutresians, there were the Arcadians and Argives advancing towards Laconia, they also having the intention of shutting off Archidamus from his homeward way. He accordingly, at just the point where there is a level space at the junction of the road leading to the Eutresians and the road to Melea, turned out of his path and formed his troops in line for battle. It is said that he also went along in front of the battalions and exhorted his men in the following words:
"Fellow citizens, let us now prove ourselves brave men and thus be able to look people in the face; let us hand on to those who come after us the fatherland as it was when we received it from our fathers; let us cease to feel shame before wives and children and elders and strangers, in whose eyes we used once to be the most highly honored of all the Greeks."
When these words had been spoken, it is said that from a clear sky there came lightnings and thunderings of favorable omen for him; and it chanced also that on the right wing was a sanctuary and a statue of Heracles. As a result, therefore, of all these things, it is reported that the soldiers were inspired with so much strength and courage that it was a task for their leaders to restrain them as they pushed forward to the front. And when Archidamus led the advance, only a few of the enemy waited till his men came within spear-thrust; these were killed, and the rest were cut down as they fled, many by the horsemen and many by the Celts. Then as soon as the battle had ended and he had set up a trophy, he immediately sent home Demoteles, the herald, to report the greatness of his victory and the fact that not so much as one of the Lacedaemonians had been slain, while vast numbers of the enemy had fallen. And when the people at Sparta heard this, it is said that all of them wept, beginning with Agesilaus, the senators, and the ephors; so true it is, indeed, that tears belong to joy and sorrow alike. On the other hand, both the Thebans and the Eleans were almost as well pleased as the Lacedaemonians at the misfortune of the Arcadians -- so vexed had they become by this time at their presumption.