The Romans Find a Justification for War
This idea having been firmly fixed in the minds of all,
The Romans were careful to have a fair pretext for war.
they looked out for a suitable opportunity and
a decent pretext to justify them in the eyes of
the world. For indeed the Romans were
quite rightly very careful on this point. For
instance, the general impression that they were justified in
entering upon the war with Demetrius enhances the value of
their victories, and diminishes the risks incurred by their defeats; but if the pretext for doing so is lame and
poor the contrary effects are produced.
Accordingly, as they differed as to the sentiments of the outer world
on the subject, they were very nearly abandoning the war. . .
The policy of Rome in Africa of constantly supporting Massanissa against
Carthage was mentioned in 32, 2. Frequent
complaints came to Rome from the Numidian King, and the
Carthaginians were said to be collecting an army contrary to
treaty. Commissioners were sent over in 154 B. C. on the advice
of Cato, who were roughly treated at Carthage; and when, in
B. C. 151, Massanissa sent his son Gulussa with similar complaints to Rome,
Cato urged immediate war. The Senate, however, again sent commissioners, among whom was Cato himself,
to examine into the matter. They reported that the Carthaginians had an army and navy. An ultimatum was therefore
sent, that the army and navy were to be broken up within the
year, or that the next consuls should bring the question of war
before the Senate (B. C. 150). Just at this crisis Utica, in
enmity with Carthage, placed itself under the protection of
Rome. Livy, Ep. 48; Appian, Pun. 75.