The Roman commander responded thus: “We have never made any treaty of friendship and alliance with
you, but with Pelops, the lawful and legitimate king of the Spartans, whose rights the tyrants, who afterwards exercised violent sway in [p. 501]
Sparta, since we were kept busy by wars, now with1
Carthage, now with Gaul, now with one state after another, had usurped, just as you too have done during this recent Macedonian war.2
What would be less consistent than for a people that was fighting against Philip for the liberation of Greece to make a treaty of friendship with a tyrant? And a treaty with a tyrant the most savage and lawless that ever lived?
Even if you had neither taken Argos through fraud nor continued to hold it in the same way, we should be compelled, while we were setting all Greece free, to restore Sparta as well to its ancient liberty and its laws, which you have mentioned as if you were an imitator of Lycurgus.
It will be our responsibility that Philip's garrisons are withdrawn from Iasus and Bargyliae;3
shall we leave Argos and Lacedaemon, two most celebrated cities, once the lights of Greece, under your feet, that their slavery may tarnish our glory as liberators of Greece? But, you say, the Argives were on the side of Philip. We do not at all ask you
to be indignant with them on our account.4
We have convincing proof that the blame for this rests on two or at most three men, not on the state, just as, by Hercules, when you,
Nabis, with your
garrison were invited and received into the citadel, nothing was done with official sanction.
We know that the people of Thessaly and Phocis and Locris joined the party of Philip with the general approval of those peoples;
nevertheless, we have set them free along with the rest of Greece; what then do you think we shall do in the case of the Argives, who are innocent of any official decision?
You said that we were charging you with inviting slaves to [p. 503]
become free and dividing the land among poor5
men, nor are these trivial accusations; but what are they in comparison with the crimes which are every day committed in endless succession by you and your followers? Hold a free assembly in either Argos or Lacedaemon, if you want to hear true accusations against a most lawless despotism.
To pass over all other crimes of more distant date, what a slaughter did that Pythagoras, your son-inlaw, cause at Argos almost under my eyes?
Of what were you yourself guilty, at a time when I was practically on the frontiers of the Spartans?
Come, bid those men be led out in chains whom you arrested in the assembly and announced in the hearing of all your fellow-citizens that you would hold in confinement: let their wretched parents see that those whom they are mourning without cause are alive.
But, you say, granting now that all this is so, how does this concern you, O Romans? Can you say that to the deliverers of Greece? Can you say that to men who have crossed the sea and waged war on land and sea that they might accomplish this liberation?
Yet you say, I have not personally violated your friendship and alliance. In how many instances do you want me to prove that you have done so? I shall not be long, but shall sum up the whole matter.
In what ways, then, is friendship violated? Chiefly, no doubt, in these two ways: if you treat my allies as enemies, and if you associate yourself with my enemies.
Both of these things you have done; for, in the first place, Messene, a city received into our friendship under one and the same treaty as Sparta, a city that was our ally, you, also our ally, captured by force of arms;6
in [p. 505]
the second place, you arranged not only an alliance7
with Philip, our enemy, but also (Heaven help us!)
a personal relationship through the intervention of his prefect
Philocles, and, just as if you were making regular war upon us, you rendered the sea around Malea dangerous with your pirate ships, and you captured and killed more Roman citizens, almost, than Philip did, and the coast of Macedonia was safer than the promontory of Malea for the ships that were transporting supplies for our armies.
Cease then, if you please, to utter fine-sounding words about loyalty and treaty obligations, and dropping your popular style speak
as a tyrant and an enemy.”