Quinctius, being aware of their feelings on this point, confessed that had it been possible without the destruction of Sparta, he would never have listened to any suggestion of peace with the tyrant;
as it was, since he could not be crushed without causing the ruin of a most powerful state, it had seemed better that the tyrant be left helpless and almost entirely stripped of weapons with which to harm anyone, than to permit the city to be
destroyed by remedies too violent to be endured, and to perish in the very act of recovering its liberty.
He added to his account of the past, that it was his intention to leave for Italy and take his entire army with him; within ten days they would hear that Demetrias and Chalcis had
been evacuated, and Acrocorinthus, under their own eyes, he would turn over to the Achaeans free from troops, that all might know whether the habit of lying belonged to the Romans or the Aetolians, who in all their talk had [p. 545]
spread abroad the story that
the cause of liberty1
had been unwisely entrusted to the Roman people, and that the Greeks had only changed masters, the Romans for the Macedonians.
But these were men who weighed lightly what they said or did; he counselled the other states to judge their friends by their actions, not their words, and to reflect carefully on whom they should trust and against whom they should be on their guard.
They should use their liberty with discretion; controlled, it was salutary to individuals and to states; uncontrolled, it was both a burden to others and a source of impetuous and lawless action to its possessors. He advised the leaders in the states and the other orders to strive for harmony among themselves, and all the cities to take measures for the general good.
Against men who acted in unison neither king nor tyrant would be strong enough to do harm; strife and dissension furnished every opportunity to plotters, since the party which was defeated in an internal struggle would rather join hands with a foreigner than yield to a countryman.
The liberty which had been gained by the arms of others and restored to them by the good faith of aliens, they should keep and guard by
their own efforts, that the Roman people might know that liberty had been given to men who deserved it and that their gift had been well bestowed.