The assembly of the Aetolians, which they call Panetolium, was to meet on a certain day. In order to be present at this, the king's ambassadors hastened their journey, and Lucius Furius Purpureo also arrived, deputed by the consul. Ambassadors from the Athenians, likewise, came to this assembly.
The Macedonians were first heard, as with them the latest treaty had been made;
and they declared, that “as no change of circumstances had occurred, they had nothing new to introduce: for the same reasons which had induced them to make peace with Philip, after experiencing the unprofitableness of an alliance with the Romans, should engage them to preserve it, now that it was established.
Do you rather choose,” said one of the ambassadors, “to imitate the inconsistency, or levity, shall I call it, of the Romans, who ordered this answer to be given to your ambassadors at Rome: 'Why, Aetolians, do you apply to us, when, without our approbation, you have made peace with Philip?' Yet these same people now require that you should, in conjunction with them, wage war against Philip.
Formerly, too, they pretended that they took arms on your account, and in your defence against Philip: now they do not allow you to continue at peace with him. To assist Messana, they first embarked for Sicily; and a second time, that they might redeem Syracuse to freedom [p. 1370]
when oppressed by the Carthaginians.
Both Messana and Syracuse, and all Sicily, they hold in their own possession, and have reduced it into a tributary province under their axes and rods.
You imagine, perhaps, that in the same manner as you hold an assembly at Naupactus, according to your own laws, under
magistrates created by yourselves, at liberty to choose allies and enemies, and to have peace or war at your own option, so the assembly of the states of Sicily is summoned to Syracuse, or Messana, or Lilybaeum. No, a Roman praetor presides at the meeting; summoned by his command they assemble; they behold him, attended by his lictors, seated on a lofty throne, issuing his haughty edicts.
His rods are ready for their backs, his axes for their necks, and every year they are allotted a different master. Neither ought they, nor can they, wonder at this, when they see all the cities of Italy bending under the same yoke, —Rhegium,
Tarentum, Capua, not to mention those in their own neighbourhood, out of the ruins of which their city of Rome grew into power.
Capua indeed subsists, the grave and monument of the Campanian people, that entire people having been either cut off or driven into banishment; the mutilated carcass of a city, without senate, without commons, without magistrates; a sort of prodigy, the leaving which to be inhabited, showed more cruelty than if it had been utterly destroyed.
If foreigners who are separated from us to a greater distance by their language, manners, and laws, than by the distance by sea and land, are allowed to get footing here, it is madness to hope that any thing will continue in its present state.
Does the sovereignty of Philip seem in any degree incompatible with your freedom, who, at a time when he was justly incensed against you, demanded nothing more of you than peace; and at present requires no more than the observance of the peace which he agreed to?
Accustom foreign legions to these countries, and receive the yoke; too late, and in vain, will you look for Philip as an ally, when you shall have the Roman as a master.
Trifling causes occasionally unite and disunite the Aetolians, Acarnanians, and Macedonians, men speaking the same language. With foreigners, with barbarians, all Greeks have, and ever will have, eternal war: because they are enemies by nature, which is always the same, and not from causes which change with the times. My discourse shall [p. 1371]
conclude with the same argument with which it began.
Three years since, the same persons, assembled in this same place, determined on peace with the same Philip, contrary to the inclinations of the same Romans, who now wish that the peace should be broken, after it has been adjusted and ratified. In the subject of your deliberation, fortune has made no change; why you should make any, I do not see.”