Quinctius replied thus: “Since it is your1
pleasure to discuss the matter systematically and to enumerate the different ways of establishing friendships, I shall set forth two conditions without which you may report to the king that there is no way to form a friendship with the Roman people:
first, that if he wishes us to have no interest in what concerns the cities of Asia, he too must himself keep entirely out of Europe;
second, that if he will not keep himself within the limits of Asia, but crosses into Europe, the Romans too shall have the right both to defend the existing friendships with the cities of Asia and to add new treaties of alliance.”
It was indeed monstrous, replied Hegesianax, even to listen to a proposal that Antiochus should be excluded from the cities of Thrace and Chersonesus, districts which his forefather Seleucus, when
he had defeated King Lysimachus in war and slain him in battle, had most honourably gained and bequeathed to his successors, and part of which, when they had been seized by the Thracians, Antiochus had with equal glory recovered in war, part of which, when abandoned, like Lysimachia itself, he had repopulated by recalling the inhabitants, and which, when destroyed by calamities and fires, he had rebuilt at great expense.
What kind of analogy was there then between the two cases, that Antiochus should be ousted from this possession, so acquired and so recovered, and that the Romans should keep out of Asia, which has never been theirs?
Antiochus is seeking the friendship of the Romans, but a friendship which when obtained will be a source of honour and not a cause for shame.
To this Quinctius responded: “Inasmuch as we are weighing the honourable, as it indeed ought to be [p. 567]
considered either the only or at least the first object2
of concern to the foremost people of the world and to so great a king, which, pray, seems the more
honourable, to wish all the cities of Greece which are found everywhere to be free, or to make them slaves and tributaries?
If Antiochus believes it noble for him that the cities which his great-grandfather held by the law of war, but which his grandfather and his father never treated as their property, be reduced to slavery, then the Roman people
likewise considers it an obligation, imposed by its loyalty and consistency, not to abandon that championship of the liberty of the Greeks which it has taken upon itself.
As it liberated Greece from Philip, so it intends to free from Antiochus the cities of Asia which are of the Greek race.
For colonies were not sent out to Aeolis and Ionia to become the slaves of asking, but to increase the population and extend the influence of a most ancient people throughout the world.”