and of the services rendered to all Greece by Titus Quinctius: they should not heedlessly, by too great haste in deciding, spoil all this; hot-headed and bold decisions were fair at first sight, hard to follow through, disastrous in result.
The Roman commissioners, and among them Titus Quinctius, were not far away; before decisive action was taken, let them settle by words those matters which were in dispute rather than arm Asia and Europe for a fatal war.
XXXIII. The multitude was eager for a change and was all in favour of Antiochus, and they voted that the Romans should not even be admitted to the council; among the chiefs it was especially the elder men who by their influence secured them audience before the council.
When the Athenians reported this vote, it seemed best to Quinctius that he should go to Aetolia: he would either cause them some uncertainty or all men would be witnesses that the responsibility for the war would rest with the Aetolians and that the Romans would take up arms with justice and almost from necessity.
After his arrival there Quinctius in the council began with the origin of the alliance of the Aetolians with the Romans and how often the faith imposed by the treaty had been broken by them, and spoke briefly of the status of the cities about which there was debate:
if, nevertheless, they considered that they had any just claim, how much better would it be to send ambassadors to Rome,2
whether they preferred to arbitrate or to appeal to [p. 99]
the senate, than for the Roman people to go to war3
with Antiochus, the Aetolians being the matchmakers,4
not without great disturbance to mankind and the ruin of Greece.
Nor would any experience the calamity of this war sooner than those who had caused it. This prophecy, as one might call it, of the Roman was in vain. Thoas then and others of the same party were heard with universal applause and succeeded in carrying a motion, without even adjourning the council or awaiting the departure of the Romans, and by this decree Antiochus was invited to liberate Greece and to arbitrate between the Aetolians and the Romans.
To this so insolent vote a personal insult was added by their praetor Damocritus: for when Quinctius asked for the actual decree, he, showing no respect for the high position of the man, replied that there was now a matter which was more pressing which he had to attend to;
the decree and the answer he would presently deliver in Italy when his camp was pitched on the banks of the Tiber:5
such madness had at that time seized the Aetolian people and such their magistrates.