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Second Messenian War

This conflict was a continuation of the First Messenian War, but there is some conjecture as to its dating. Some sources give 668 BC, others even later. The war itself was fought between Sparta and Messenia. Its catalyst was either the revolt of a slave or the defeat of Sparta at the Battle of Hysiae.

The Second Messenian War began with a revolt of the Messenians against Sparta, when the Messenians invaded Laconia (a regional unit with Sparta as its capital). This revolt was supported by the city of Argos. The first battle was fought at Deres, with Aristomenes fighting brilliantly on the Messenian side, who was subsequently elected the new king.

The Spartans, however, were able to bribe Messenian allies to retreat when the Spartans, on the other hand, went on the offensive. Losses in the battles eventually forced Aristomenes to retreat to the city of Ira (Eira) and from there to launch raids on surrounding cities. In one of these raids, however, Aristomenes himself was captured, but managed to escape before he could be executed.

The Messenians held Eira for over ten years before the Spartans captured it. Before the fall of the city, the Spartans allowed the women and children to leave, including King Aristomenes. He went to Rhodes, where he died a hero. Subsequently, the revolt of Argos was put down.

The Spartans gained respect among the other cities by putting down this revolt, reducing the risk of further uprisings. Sparta gradually became a strongly militaristic power in the Mediterranean.