This nation, and the state of Athens, solitary exceptions to the whole of Greece, had carried their resentment to such a length, as to prohibit the Macedonians entering their territories.
In consequence of this, Macedonia became a place of refuge for slaves running away out of Achaia; for, as the Achaeans had forbidden the inhabitants of Macedon to set foot in their territories, they could not presume to pass the boundaries of that kingdom.
When Perseus observed this, he seized all the fugitives, and wrote a letter * * * * * * * “but that they ought to consider of the proper means of preventing such elopements for the future.”
When this letter was read by the praetor Xenarchus, who was seeking a path to private influence with the king, the greater part who were present, but especially those who, contrary to their expectations, were about to receive the slaves they had lost, commended the moderation and kindness with which it was written; but Callicrates, one who thought that the safety of the nation depended on the treaty with Rome being preserved inviolate, delivered his sentiments to [p. 1949]
—“To some of you, Achaeans, the matter under consideration appears trifling and unimportant.
I think that a very great and important subject is not only under consideration, but to a certain extent decided. For we, who prohibited the kings of Macedonia, and all their subjects, from entering our territories, and made a perpetual decree, not to receive from those sovereigns either ambassadors or messengers, by whom the minds of any of us might be tampered with;
we, I say, listen to the king speaking in a manner, though absent, and what is more, approve of his discourse.
Although wild beasts generally reject and shun the food laid in their way for their destruction; yet we, blinded by the specious offer of an insignificant favour, swallow the bait, and would, for the sake of recovering a parcel of wretched slaves, of no value worth mentioning, suffer our independence to be undermined and subverted. For who does not see that a way is being paved to an alliance with the king, by which the treaty with Rome in which all our interests are involved would be violated?
That there must be a war between Perseus and the Romans, is not, I believe, a matter of doubt to any one, and the struggle which was expected during the life of Philip, and interrupted by his death, will, now that he is dead, most certainly ensue. Philip, you all know, had two sons, Demetrius and Perseus.
Demetrius was much superior in birth, on the mother's side, in merit, capacity, and in the esteem of the Macedonian nation.
But Philip, having set up the crown as the prize of hatred towards the Romans, put Demetrius to death, for no other crime than having contracted a friendship with that people; and made Perseus king, because he knew him to be an enemy to the Roman people almost before he determined on making him king. Accordingly, what else has the present king done since his father's death, than prepare for the war?
In the first place, to the terror of all the surrounding nations, he brought the Bastarnians into Dardania; where if they had made a lasting settlement, Greece would have found them more troublesome neighbours than Asia found the Gauls. Disappointed in that hope, he did not drop his design of a war; nay, if we choose to speak the truth, he has already commenced hostilities.
He subdued Dolopia by force of arms; and would not listen when they wished to appeal concerning their disputes to the arbitration of the Romans. [p. 1950]
Then, crossing Œta, that he might show himself in the very centre of Greece, he went up to Delphi. To what, think you, did his taking a journey so uncommon tend? He next traversed Thessaly; and as to his refraining on his route from doing injury to the people whom he hated, I dread his machinations the more on that very account.
He then sent a letter to us, with the hollow show of an act of kindness, and bade us to consider measures by which we may not require this gift for the future;
that is, to repeal the decree by which the Macedonians are excluded from Peloponnesus; to receive again ambassadors from him their king; to renew intimacies contracted with his principal subjects; and, in a short time, we should see Macedonian armies, with himself at their head, crossing over the narrow strait from Delphi into Peloponnesus, and thus we should be blended with the Macedonians, while they are arming themselves against the Romans.
My opinion is, that we ought not to resolve on any new proceeding, but to keep every thing in its present state, until the question shall be reduced to a certainty, whether these our fears be well or ill grounded.
If the peace between the Romans and Macedonians shall continue inviolate, then may we also have a friendship and intercourse with Perseus;
but to think of such a measure now, appears to me both premature and dangerous.”