The Achaean Prisoners Detained
The Senate next called in the Rhodians and heard
Rhodians appeal against the injury done to their trade, B. C. 165.
what they had to say. When Astymedes entered,
he adopted a more moderate and more effective
line of argument than on his former embassy. He
omitted the invectives against others, and took
the humble tone of men who are being flogged, begging to be forgiven, and declaring that his country had suffered sufficient
punishment, and a more severe one than its crime deserved.
then he went briefly through the list of the Rhodian
losses. "First, they have lost Lycia and Caria,
which had already cost them a large sum of
money, having been forced to support three wars against them;
while at the present moment they have been deprived of a considerable revenue which they used to draw from those countries.
But perhaps," he added, "this is as it should be: you gave
them to our people as a free gift, because you regarded us
with favour; and in now recalling your gift, because you suspect
and are at variance with us, you may seem only to be acting
reasonably. But Caunus, at any rate, we purchased from
Ptolemy's officers for two hundred talents; and Stratoniceia we
received as a great favour from Antiochus, son of Seleucus;
and from those two towns our people had a revenue of a
hundred and twenty talents a year. All these sources of revenue
we have surrendered, in our submission to your injunctions.
From which it appears that you have imposed a heavier
penalty on the Rhodians for one act of folly, than on the
Macedonians that have been continually at war with you. But
the greatest disaster of all to our State is that the revenue
from its harbour has been abolished by your making Delos a
free port; and by your depriving our people of that independence by which the harbour, as well as other interests of the
States, were maintained in suitable dignity.1
And it is easy
to satisfy yourselves of the truth of my words. Our revenue
from harbour dues amounted in past years to one million
drachmae, from which you have now taken one hundred
and fifty thousand; so that it is only too true, gentlemen of Rome, that your anger has affected the resources
of the country. Now, if the mistake committed, and the
alienation from Rome, had been shared in by the entire
people, you might perhaps have seemed to be acting rightly
in maintaining a lasting and irreconcilable anger against
us; but if the fact is made clear to you that it was an exceedingly small number who shared in this foolish policy, and that
these have all been put to death by this very people itself,
why still be irreconcilable to those who are in no respect
guilty? Especially when to every one else you are reputed
to exhibit the highest possible clemency and magnanimity.
Wherefore, gentlemen, our people having lost their revenues,
their freedom of debate, and their position of independence, in
defence of which in time past they have been ever willing to
make any sacrifices, now beg and beseech you all, as having
been smitten sufficiently, to relax your anger, and to be reconciled and make this alliance with them: that it may be made
manifest to all the world that you have put away your anger
against Rhodes, and have returned to your old feelings and
friendship towards them." Such among others were the
words of Astymedes.
The Senate is mollified by this speech and by
He was thought to have
spoken much to the point in the circumstances;
but what helped the Rhodians to the alliance
more than anything else was the recent return
of the embassy under Tiberius Gracchus.
the report of Gracchus, and grants the alliance.
he gave evidence, in the first place, that the
Rhodians had obeyed all the decrees of the Senate; and in
the next place, that the men who were the authors of their
hostile policy had all been condemned to death; and by this
testimony overcame all opposition, and secured the alliance
between Rome and Rhodes. . . .