In the midst of the preparations for war, ambassadors came from king Ptolemy, who delivered a message; that “the Athenians had petitioned the king for aid against Philip;
but that although they were their common allies, yet the king would not, except with the sanction of the Roman people, send either fleet or army into Greece, for the purpose of defending or attacking any person.
That he would either remain quiet in his kingdom, if the Romans were at leisure to protect their allies; or, if more agreeable to them to be at rest, would himself send such aid as might easily secure Athens against Philip.”
Thanks were returned to the king by the senate, and this answer: that “it was the intention of the Roman people to protect their allies; that if they should have occasion for any assistance towards carrying on the war, they would acquaint the king; and that they were fully sensible, that the resources of his kingdom were the sure and faithful support of their own state.”
Presents were then, by order of the senate, sent to the ambassadors, of five thousand asses1
to each. While the consuls were engaged in the levy, and preparing what was necessary for the war, the people, prone to religious observances, especially
at the beginning of new wars, after supplications had been already performed, and prayers offered up at all the shrines, lest any thing should be omitted that had ever been practised, ordered, that the consul who was to have the province of Macedonia should vow games and a present to Jove. Licinius, the chief pontiff, occasioned some delay to this public vow, alleging, that “it ought not to be fulfilled from promiscuous funds.
For as the sum to be named could not be applied to the uses of the war, it should be immediately set apart, and not to be intermixed with other money; [p. 1350]
and that, unless this were done, the vow could not be properly performed.” Although the objection and the author of it were influential, yet the consul was ordered to consult the college of pontiffs, whether a vow could be undertaken at an indeterminate expense?
The pontiffs determined, that it could; and that it would be even more in order to do it in that way.
The consul, therefore, repeating after the chief pontiff, made the vow in the same words in which those made for five years of safety used to be expressed; only that he engaged to perform the games, and make the offerings, at such expense as the senate should direct by their vote, at the time when the vow was performed.
Before this, the great games, so often vowed, were constantly rated at a certain expense: these first at an unspecified amount.