Biographies MEGALOPOLIS (Ancient city) ARCADIA - GTP - Greek Travel Pages

Location information

Listed 22 sub titles with search on: Biographies for destination: "MEGALOPOLIS Ancient city ARCADIA".

Biographies (22)



   Philopoimen. A native of Megalopolis in Arcadia, one of the few great men that Greece produced in the decline of her political independence. The great object of his life was to infuse among the Achaeans a military spirit, and thereby to establish their independence on a firm and lasting basis. He was the son of Craugis, a distinguished man at Megalopolis, and was born about B.C. 252. He lost his father at an early age, and was brought up by Cleander, an illustrious citizen of Mantinea, who had been obliged to leave his native city, and had taken refuge at Megalopolis. He received instruction from Ecdemus and Demophanes, both of whom had studied the Academic philosophy under Arcesilaus. At an early age he became distinguished by his love of arms and his bravery in war. His name, however, first occurs in history in B.C. 222, when Megalopolis was taken by Cleomenes, and in the following year (221) he fought with conspicuous valour at the battle of Sellasia, in which Cleomenes was completely defeated. In order to gain additional military experience, he soon afterwards sailed to Crete, and served for some years in the wars between the cities of that island. On his return to his native country, in 210, he was appointed commander of the Achaean cavalry; and in 208 he was elected strategus, or general of the Achaean League. In this year he defeated Machanidas, tyrant of Lacedaemon, and slew him in battle with his own hand. In 201 he was again elected general of the league, when he defeated Nabis, who had succeeded Machanidas as tyrant of Lacedaemon. Soon afterwards Philopoemen took another voyage to Crete, and assumed the command of the forces of Gortyna. He did not return to Peloponnesus till 194. He was made general of the League in 192, when he again defeated Nabis, who was slain in the course of the year by some Aetolian mercenaries. Philopoemen was reelected general of the League several times afterwards; but the state of Greece did not afford him much further opportunity for the display of his military abilities. The Romans were now in fact the masters of Greece, and Philopoemen clearly saw that it would be an act of madness to offer open resistance to their authority. At the same time as the Romans still recognized in words the independence of the League, Philopoemen offered a resolute resistance to all their encroachments upon the liberties of his country, whenever he could do so without affording them any pretext for war. In 188, when he was general of the League, he took Sparta, and treated it with the greatest severity. He razed the walls and fortifications of the city, abolished the institutions of Lycurgus, and compelled the citizens to adopt the Achaean laws in their stead. In 183 the Messenians revolted from the Achaean League. Philopoemen, who was general of the League for the eighth time, hastily collected a body of cavalry, and pressed forward to Messene. He fell in with a large body of Messenian troops, by whom he was taken prisoner and carried to Messene. Here he was thrown into a dungeon, and was compelled by Dinocrates to drink poison. The news of his death filled the whole of Peloponnesus with grief and rage. An assembly was immediately held at Megalopolis; Lycortas was chosen general; and in the following year he invaded Messenia, which was laid waste far and wide; Dinocrates and the chiefs of his party were obliged to put an end to their lives. The remains of Philopoemen were conveyed to Megalopolis in solemn procession; and the urn which contained the ashes was carried by the historian Polybius. His remains were then interred at Megalopolis with heroic honours, and soon afterwards statues of him were erected in most of the towns belonging to the Achaean League. The life of Philopoemen is narrated by Plutarch.


Cercydas the Megalopolitan, 290-220 BC

Lyrical poet, supporter of the cynical philosophy and forerunner of the latin satire, along with Mennipus. He was in the army and also took action as a politician.



, , 200 - 118

   Polybious, (Polubios). One of the most important Greek historians, born about B.C. 204 at Megalopolis; the son of Lycortas, general of the Achaean League in 185-184 and after 183. Through his father, and his father's friend Philopoemen, he early acquired a deep insight into military and political affairs, and was afterwards intrusted with high federal offices, such as the commandership of the cavalry, the highest position next to the federal generalship. In this capacity he directed his efforts towards maintaining the independence of the Achaean League. As the chief representative of the policy of neutrality during the war of the Romans against Perseus of Macedonia, he attracted the suspicion of the Romans, and was one of the 1000 noble Achaeans who in 166 were transported to Rome as hostages, and detained there for seventeen years. In Rome, by virtue of his high culture, he was admitted to the most distinguished houses, in particular to that of Aemilius Paulus, the conqueror in the Macedonian War, who intrusted him with the education of his sons, Fabius and the younger Scipio. He was on terms of the most cordial friendship with the latter, whose counsellor he became. Through Scipio's intercession in 150, Polybius obtained leave to return to his home with those of the Achaeans who still survived; but in the very next year he went with his friend to Africa, and was present at the capture of Carthage, B.C. 146. After the destruction of Corinth in the same year, he returned to his native land, and made use of his credit with the Romans to lighten, as far as he could, the lot of his unfortunate countrymen. When Greece was converted into a Roman province, he was intrusted with the difficult task of organizing the new form of government in the Greek towns, and in this office gained for himself the highest recognition both from the conquerors and from the conquered, the latter rewarding his services by setting up statues to him and by other marks of honour. The pedestal of such a statue has been discovered at Olympia. The succeeding years he seems to have spent in Rome, engaged on the completion of his historical work, and occasionally undertaking long journeys through the Mediterranean countries in the interest of his history, more particularly with a view to obtaining actual ocular knowledge of historical sites. After the death of his patron he returned to Greece, and died in 122, at the age of eighty-two, in consequence of a fall from his horse.
    During his long sojourn in Rome, his study of the history and constitution of Rome, as well as his personal experiences, inspired him with the conviction that the Roman people owed the magnificent development of their power, not to fortune, but to their own fitness, and to the excellence of their political and military institutions, as compared with those of other States, and that therefore their rapid rise to world-wide dominion had been in some measure an historical necessity. In order to enlighten his countrymen on this point, and thereby to supply them with a certain consolation for their fate, he composed his history (Pragmateia) of the period between B.C. 220 and 146, in forty books. Of these the first two are in the form of an Introduction, and give a compendium of events in Italy, Africa, and Greece, from the destruction of Rome by the Gauls to the First Punic War, thus recording the rise of the Roman supremacy. The first main division (books iii.-xxx.) contained in synchronistic arrangement the occurrences from 220 to 168--that is, of the time in which Rome was founding its world-wide dominion through the Hannibalian, Macedonian, Syrian, and Spanish Wars. The second described the maintenance and consolidation of this dominion against the attempts to overthrow it in the years 168-146. Of this work only books i.-v. have been preserved in a complete form; of the rest we possess merely fragments and epitomes. This is especially to be regretted in those parts in which Polybius narrates events which came within his own experience. He is the first representative of that particular type of historical composition, which does not merely recount the several facts and phenomena in chronological order, but goes back to the causes of events, and sets forth their results. His work rests upon a knowledge of the art of war and of politics, such as few ancient historians possessed; upon a careful examination of tradition, conducted with keen criticism; partly also upon what he had himself seen, and upon the communications of eye-witnesses and actors in the events. It sets forth the course of occurrences with clearness, penetration, sound judgment, and love of truth, and, among the circumstances affecting the result, lays especial stress on the geographical conditions. It belongs, therefore, to the greatest productions of ancient historical writing, though, in respect to language and style, it does not attain the standard of Attic prose. The language is often wanting in purity, and the style is stiff and inharmonious.

This text is from: Harry Thurston Peck, Harpers Dictionary of Classical Antiquities. Cited Oct 2002 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks


Acestodorus (Akestodoros), a Greek historical writer, who is cited by Plutarch (Them. 13), and whose work.contained, as it appears, an account of the battle of Salamis among other things. The time at which he lived is unknown. Stephanus (s. v. Megale polis) speaks of an Acestodorus of Megalopolis, who wrote a work on cities (peri poleon), but whether this is the same as the above-mentioned writer is not clear.



Lydiades (Ludiades). A citizen of Megalopolis, who, though of an obscure family, raised himself to the sovereignty of his native city about B.C. 244. In 234 he voluntarily abdicated the sovereignty, and permitted Megalopolis to join the Achaean League as a free State. He was elected several times general of the Achaean League, and became a formidable rival to Aratus. He fell in battle against Cleomenes in B.C. 226.

This text is from: Harry Thurston Peck, Harpers Dictionary of Classical Antiquities. Cited Oct 2002 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks

Lydiades (Ludiades). There is, however, considerable doubt whether this or Lusiades is the more correct forms of the name (See Schweigh. ad Polyb. ii. 44). A citizen of Megalopolis, who, though of an obscure family, raised himself while yet a young man to the sovereignty of his native city. We know nothing of the steps by which he rose to power, but he is represented to us as a man of an ambitious built generous character, whho was misled by false rhetorical arguments to believe a monarchical government to be the best for his fellow-citizens (Plut. Arat. 30; Paus. viii. 27. 12). So far as we are able to judge, his elevation appears to have taken place about the time that Antigonus Gonatas made himself master of Corinth, B. C. 244 (Droysen, Hellenism. vol. ii.). We find him mentioned by Pausanias as one of the commanders of the forces of Megalopolis at the battle of Mantmneia against Agis IV., king of Sparta (Paus. viii. 10. 6, 10); but the date of that battle is unknown. From his being associated on that occasion with another general, Leocydes, we may perhaps infer that he had not then established himself in the absolute power. If the date above assigned to the commencement of his reign be correct, he had held the sovereign power about ten years, when the progress of the Achaean league and the fame attained by Aratus as its leader, led him to form projects more worthy of his ambition; and after the fall of Aristippus, tyrant of Argos, instead of waiting till he should be attacked in his turn, he determined voluntarily to abdicate the sovereignty, and permit Megalopolis to join the Achaean league as a free state. This generous resolution was rewarded by the Achaeans by the election of Lydiades to be strategus or commander-in-chief of the confederacy the following year, B. C. 233. His desire of fame, and wish to distinguish the year of his command by some brilliant exploit, led him to project an expedition against Sparta, which was, however, opposed by Aratus, who is said to have already begun to be jealous of his favour and reputation. Lydiades, indeed, threatened to prove a formidable rival; he quickly rose to such consideration in the league as to be deemed second only to Aratus himself, and notwithstanding the opposition of the latter, was elected strategus a second and third time, holding that important office alternately with Aratus. The most bitter enmity had by this time arisen between the two ; each strove to undermine the other in the popular estimation; but though Lydiades was unable to shake the long-established credit of Aratus, lie himself maintained his ground, notwithstanding the insidious attacks of his rival, and the suspicion that naturally attached to one who had formerly borne the name of tyrant. In B. C. 227 the conduct of Aratus, in avoiding a battle with Cleomenes at Pallantium, gave Lydiades fresh cause to renew his attacks, but they were again unsuccessful, and lie was unable to prevent the appointment of Aratus for the twelfth time to the office of strategus, B. C. 226. His enmity did not, however, prevent him from taking the field under the command of his rival: the two armies under Aratus and Cleomenes met at a short distance from Megalopolis, and though Aratus would not consent to bring on a general engagement, Lydiades, with the cavalry under his command, charged the right wing of the enemy and put them to the rout, but being led by his eagerness to pursue them too far, got entangled in some enclosures, where his troops suffered severely, and he himself fell, after a gallant resistance. His body was left on the field, but Cleomenes had the generosity to honour a fallen foe, and sent it back to Megalopolis, adorned with the insignia of royal dignity. Except Cleomenes himself, the later history of Greece presents few brighter names than that of Lydiades (Polyb. ii. 44, 51; Plut. Arat. 30, 35, 37, Cleom. 6, de Ser. Num. vind. 6, p. 552; Paus. viii. 27. 12-15).

This text is from: A dictionary of Greek and Roman biography and mythology, 1873 (ed. William Smith). Cited Oct 2006 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks


Aristodemus. Son of Artylas, a Phigalian, tyrant of Megalopolis, surnamed `the Good', defeats Lacedaemonians under Acrotatus, dedicates temple of Huntress Artemis, also sanctuary of Artemis Sciaditis.

Aristodemus (Aristodemos), tyrant of Megalopolis in the reign of Antigonus Gonatas, and shortly before the formation of the Achaean league. He was a native of Phigalea and a son of Artyla. He was one of those tyrants who were set up at that time in various parts of Greece through Macedonian influence. lie was honoured by the surname Chrestos. In his reign, Cleomenes of Sparta and his eldest son Acrotatus invaded the territory of Megalopolis. A battle was fought, in which Aristodemlus defeated the enemy and Acrotatus was slain (Paus. viii. 27.8). Aristodemus was assassinated afterwards by the emissaries of Ecdemus and Demophanes, two patriotic citizens of Megalopolis, and friends of young Philopoemen (Plut. Philop. 1). His sepulchral mound in the neighbourhood of Megalopolis was seen as late as the time of Pausanias (viii. 36.3).


Megalophanes and Ecdelus

Disciples of Arcesilaus and teachers of Philopoemen.


Demophanes, of Megalopolis, a Platonic philosopher, and a disciple of Arcesilas. (Plut. Philopoem. 1.) He and Ecdemus were the chief persons who delivered Megalopolis from the tyranny of Aristodemus, and also assisted Aratus in abolishing tyranny at Sicyon. For a time they were entrusted with the administration of the state of Cyrene, and Philopoemen in his youth had enand joyed their friendship. (Polyb. x. 25.)


Cercidas (Kerkidas), A poet, philosopher, and legislator for his native city, Megalopolis. He was a disciple of Diogenes, whose death he recorded in some Meliambic lines. (Diog. Laert. vi. 76.) He is mentioned and cited by Athenaeus (viii., xii.) and Stobaeus (iv. 43, lviii. 10). At his death he ordered the first and second books of the Iliad to be buried with him. (Ptol. Hephaest. ap. Phot. Cod. 190). Aelian (V. H. xiii. 20) relates that Cercidas died expressing his hope of being with Pythagoras of the philosophers, Hecatacus of the historians, Olympus of the musicians, and Homer of the poets, which clearly implies that he himself cultivated these four sciences. He appears to be the same person as Cereidas the Arcadian, who is mentioned by Demosthenes among those Greeks, who, by their cowardice and corruption, enslaved their states to Philip. (De Coron.; see the reply of Polybius to this accusation, xvii. 14.)


Crescens a Cynic of Megalopolis, (probably the city in Arcadia, though some believe that Rome is meant by that appellation,) who lived in the middle of the second century after Christ, contemporary with Justin Martyr. The Christian writers speak of his character as perfectly infamous. By Tatian (Or. adv. Graec.) he is accused of the most flagrant enormities, and is described as a person who was not prevented by his cynical profession from being "wholly enslaved to the love of money". He attacked the Christians with great acrimony, calling them Atheists; but his charges were refuted by Justin, who tells us, that, in consequence of the refutation, he was apprehensive lest Crescens should plot his death. But whether he was really the cause of Justin's martyrdom or not is uncertain; for, although he is accused of this crime by Eusebius, yet the charge is only made to rest on a statement of Tatian, which however merely is, that "he who advised others to despise death, was himself so much in dread of death, that he plotted death for Justin as a very great evil", without a word as to the success of his intrigues. (Justin, Apolog. ii.; Euseb. H. E. iv. 16)

This text is from: A dictionary of Greek and Roman biography and mythology, 1873 (ed. William Smith). Cited Nov 2005 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks



A Megalopolitan general, descendant of Arcesilaus. (Paus. 8.10.6, 10)


Of Megalopolis: father of Diophanes, general of Achaean League, stirs up war between Achaeans and Lacedaemonians, sent as envoy to Rome, intrigues against Lacedaemonians, commands Achaeans in war with Romans, defeated at Corinth, takes poison.

Diaeus, (Diaios), a man of Megalopolis, succeeded Menalcidas of Lacedaemon as general of the Achaean league in B. C. 150. Menalcidas, having been assailed by Callicrates with a capital charge, saved himself through the favour of Diaeus, whom he bribed with three talents; and the latter, being much and generally condemned for this, endeavored to divert public attention from his own conduct to a quarrel with Lacedaemon. The Lacedaemonians had appealed to the Roman senate about the possession of some disputed land, and had received for answer that the decision of all causes, except those of life and death, rested with the great council of the Achaeans. This answer Diaeus so far garbled as to omit the exception. The Lacedaemonians accused him of falsehood, and the dispute led to war, wherein the Lacedaemonians found themselves no match for the Achaeans, and resorted accordingly to negotiation. Diaeus, affirming that his hostility was not directed against Sparta, but against her disturbers, procured the banishment of 24 of her principal citizens. These men fled for refuge and protection to Rome, and thither Diaeus went to oppose them, together with Callicrates, who died by the way. The cause of the exiles was supported by Menalcides, who assured the Spartans, on his return, that the Romans had declared in favour of their independence, while an equally positive assurance to the opposite effect was given by Diaeus to the Achaeans,--the truth being that the senate had passed no final decision at all, but had promised to send commissioners to settle the dispute. War was renewed between the parties, B. C. 148, in spite of the prohibition of the Romans, to which, however, Diaeus, who was again general in B. C. 147, paid more obedience, though he endeavoured to bring over the towns round Sparta by negotiation. When the decree of the Romans arrived, which severed Sparta and several other states from the Achaean league, Diaeus took a leading part in keeping up the indignation of the Achaeans, and in urging them to the acts of violence which caused war with Rome. In the autumn of 147 he was succeeded by Critolaus, but the death of the latter before the expiration of his year of office once more placed Diaeus at the post of danger, according to the law of the Achaeans, which provided in such cases that the predecessor of the deceased should resume his authority. The number of his army he swelled with emancipated slaves, and enforced strictly, though not impartially, the levy of the citizens; but he acted unwisely in dividing his forces by sending a portion of them to garrison Megara and to check there the advance of the Romans. He himself had taken up his quarters in Corinth, and Metellus, the Roman general, advancing thither, sent forward ambassadors to offer terms, but Diaeus threw them into prison (though he afterwards released them for the bribe of a talent), and caused Sosicrates, the lieutenantgeneral, as well as Philinus of Corinth, to be put to death with torture for having joined in recommending negotiation with the enemy. Being defeated by Mummius before the walls of Corinth, in B. C. 146, he made no further attempt to defend the city, but fled to Megalopolis, where he slew his wife to prevent her falling into the enemy's power, and put an end to his own existence by poison, thus (says Pausanias) rivalling Menalcidas in the cowardice of his death, as he had rivalled him through his life in avarice. (Polyb. xxxviii. 2, xl. 2, 4, 5, 9; Paus. vii. 12, &c.; Clinton, F. H. sub annis 149, 147, 146.)

This text is from: A dictionary of Greek and Roman biography and mythology, 1873 (ed. William Smith). Cited Oct 2005 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks


Aristaenus (Aristainos), of Megalopolis, sometimes called Aristaenetus by Polybius and Plutarch (Philop. 13, 17). Aristaenus, however, appears to be the correct name. He was strategus of the Achaean league in B. C. 198, and induced the Achaeans to join the Romans in the war against Philip of Macedon. Polybius defends him from the charge of treachery for having done so. In the following year (B. C. 197) he was again strategus and accompanied the consul T. Quinctius Flamininus to his interview with Philip (Polyb. xxxii. 19-21, 32; Polyb. xvii. 1, 7, 13). In the same year he also persuaded the Boeotians to espouse the side of the Romans (Liv. xxxiii. 2). In B. C. 195, when he was again strategus, he joined Flamininus with 10,000 foot and 1000 horse in order to attack Nabis (Liv. xxxiv. 25, &c.). He was also strategus in B. C. 185, and attacked Philopoemen and Lycortas for their conduct in relation to the embassy that had been sent to Ptolemy. (Polyb. xxiii. 7, 9, 10).
  Aristaenus was the political opponent of Philopoemen, and showed more readiness to gratify the wishes of the Romans than Philopoemen did. He was eloquent and skilled in politics, but not distinguished in war (Polyb. xxv. 9; comp. Plut. Philop. 17; Paus. viii. 51.1).

This text is from: A dictionary of Greek and Roman biography and mythology, 1873 (ed. William Smith). Cited Oct 2005 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks

You are able to search for more information in greater and/or surrounding areas by choosing one of the titles below and clicking on "more".

GTP Headlines

Receive our daily Newsletter with all the latest updates on the Greek Travel industry.

Subscribe now!

Ferry Departures