Athens, the year of the one hundred and twenty fourth Olympiad.
A group of men sit around a large table in the garden of a modest dwelling. It is obvious the discussions are not going well...
Let me get this straight Chremonides, you wish me to agree to become the lapdog of one Makedone to avert the threat from another? King Areus of Sparta growled.
No Chremonides, Archon of Athens, replied with a sigh I wish you to accept help from a friend who has no wish to see Antigonos grow too powerful.
Pah, like I need assistance from a man with a title longer than his penis, who does he think he is kidding? He has no influence here in Greece, I accept help from those who face me and offer it. I accept help from a man who will stand and fight beside me, not a man who helps with money. That is not a man at all.
I will stand and fight beside you, Ptolemies money is a part of my help that is all.
No, he is a man with no honour, accepting his help is not the Spartan way.
Areus, the Spartan way is dead. You have what, one thousand homoi? That will not save Sparta. You need help, I need help. Agothokles, you need help too. When Antigonos overruns mainland Greece he will come for you to avenge your humiliation of Phillipos. What say you?
The old man glanced nervously at Areus who shook his head.No, it is not honourable to accept Ptolemies' gold.
What? Rhodes has traded with Egypt for generations, they have always been an ally to you. What has changed?
Agathokles looked at his feet, his face scarlet with shame.
I'll tell you Chremonides said Areus. I have his son, if Agathokles doesn't side with me an "accident" may befall him.
Chremonides shook his head wearily. What do you want Areus? You have obviously been plotting this moment, tell me your plan.
Areus looked at Akrotatos, his son and heir to the Spartan throne.
I'll tell you Akrotatos replied. You place your entire army under my command, my father takes the Spartan army and we march north. We burn any settlement in our way, meet Antigonus in battle and end the Makedone threat. Then we move east into Epirote territory and destroy Pyrrhos, we have been told he intends to attack Sparta. You will take your fleet, alongside Agathokles' fleet, and eliminate the Egyptian navy to enable us to invade Egypt after we have subdued Greece.
Chremonides sat with his mouth hanging open in a rather undignified fashion. Agathokles looked very uncomfortable, shifting in his chair constantly.
Well? Areus asked.
Chremonides just stared.
You have nothing to say? asked Akrotatos.
Gonatas is not the biggest danger to Greece, you two madmen are Chremonides finally replied. I can only assume you are both infected with the same illness. I don't know what worries me more, your lust for power and conflict or the fact you actually believe your plan to be feasible.
Areus and Akrotatos stood.
So, no room for compromise then. It's your way or not at all? asked the Athenian.
You have insulted me, my son and the whole of Sparta replied Areus. You will live to regret it. Come Agathokles, there is work to be done. The two Spartans and the Rhodian left without a glance back at Chremonides, who stared at the ground. How would free Greece hope to stand when they were so divided, surely this meeting had made Gonatos' task even easier.
One week later a messenger arrived from Sparta. Athens was officialy at war with the Spartan/Rhodian alliance. The second Pelloponnesian War had begun.