The affairs of Asia Minor soon began to draw the attention of Agesilaus to that quarter. The assistance lent to Cyrus by the Spartans was no secret at the Persian court; and Tissaphernes, who had been rewarded for his fidelity with the satrapy of Cyrus in addition to his own, no sooner returned to his government than he attacked the Ionian cities, then under the protection of Sparta. A considerable Lacedaemonian force under Thimbron was despatched to their assistance, and which, as related in the preceding chapter, was joined by the remnant of the Greeks who had served under Cyrus. Thimbron, however, proved so inefficient a commander, that he was superseded at the end of 399 or beginning of 398 B.C., and Dercyllidas appointed in his place. But though at first successful against Pharnabazus in AEolis, Dercyllidas was subsequently surprised in Caria in such an unfavourable position that he would have suffered severely but for the timidity of Tissaphernes, who was afraid to venture upon an action. Under these circumstances an armistice was agreed to for the purpose of treating for a peace (397 B.C.).
Pharnabazus availed himself of this armistice to make active preparations for a renewal of the war. He obtained large reinforcements of Persian troops, and began to organize a fleet in Phoenicia and Cilicia. This was intrusted to the Athenian admiral Conon, of whom we now first hear again after a lapse of seven years since his defeat at AEgospotami. After that disastrous battle Conon fled with nine triremes to Cyprus, where he was now living under the protection of Evagoras, prince of Salamis.
It was the news of these extensive preparations that induced Agesilaus, on the suggestion of Lysander, to volunteer his services against the Persians. He proposed to take with him only 30 full Spartan citizens, or peers, to act as a sort of council, together with 2000 Neodamodes, or enfranchised Helots, and 6000 hoplites of the allies. Lysander intended to be the leader of the 30 Spartans, and expected through them to be the virtual commander of the expedition of which Agesilaus was nominally the head.