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Views In Greece of Roman Policy

THERE was a great deal of talk of all sorts in Greece, first
The various views held in Greece as to the Roman policy.
as to the Carthaginians when the Romans conquered them, and subsequently as to the question of the pseudo-Philip. The opinions expressed in regard to the Carthaginians were widely divided, and indicated entirely opposite views. Some commended the Romans for their wise and statesmanlike policy in regard to that kingdom. For the removal of a perpetual menace, and the utter destruction of a city which had disputed the supremacy with them, and could even then if it got an opportunity have still been disputing it,—thus securing the supremacy for their own country,—were the actions of sensible and far-sighted men. Others contradicted this, and asserted that the Romans had no such policy in view when they obtained their supremacy; and that they had gradually and insensibly become perverted to the same ambition for power, which had once characterised the Athenians and Lacedaemonians; and though they had advanced more slowly than these last, that they would from all appearances yet arrive at the same consummation. For in old times they had only carried on war until their opponents were beaten, and induced to acknowledge the obligation of obedience and acceptance of their orders; but that nowadays they had given a foretaste of their policy by their conduct to Perseus, in utterly destroying the Macedonian dynasty root and branch, and had given the finishing stroke to that policy by the course adopted in regard to the Carthaginians; for though this latter people had committed no act of irretrievable outrage, they had taken measures of irretrievable severity against them, in spite of their offering to accept any terms, and submitting to any injunctions that might be placed upon them. Others again said that the Romans were generally a truly civilised people; and that they had this peculiarity, on which they prided themselves, that they conducted their wars openly and generously, not employing night surprises or ambuscades, but scorning every advantage to be gained by stratagem and deceit, and regarding open and face-to-face combats as alone becoming to their character: but that in the present instance their whole campaign against the Carthaginians had been conducted by means of stratagem and deceit. Little by little,—by holding out inducements here, and practising concealment there,—they had deprived them of all hopes of assistance from their allies. This was a line of conduct more appropriate by rights to the intriguing chicanery of a monarchy, than to a republican and Roman policy. Again, there were some who took the opposite line to these. They said that if it were really true that, before the Carthaginians had made the surrender, the Romans had behaved as alleged, holding out inducements here, and making half revelations there, they would be justly liable to such charges; but if, on the contrary, it was only after the Carthaginians had themselves made the surrender,—acknowledging the right of the Romans to take what measures they chose concerning them,—that the latter in the exercise of their undoubted right had imposed and enjoined what they determined upon, then this action must cease to be looked on as partaking of the nature of impiety or treachery. And some denied that it was an impiety at all: for there were three ways in which such a thing could be defined, none of which applied to the conduct of the Romans. An impiety was something done against the gods, or one's parents, or the dead; treachery was something done in violation of oaths or written agreements; an injustice something done in violation of law and custom. But the Romans could not be charged on any one of these counts: they had offended neither the gods, their parents, nor the dead; nor had they broken oaths or treaties, but on the contrary charged the Carthaginians with breaking them. Nor again had they violated laws, customs, or their own good faith; for having received a voluntary surrender, with the full power of doing what they pleased in the event of the submitting party not obeying their injunctions, they had, in view of that eventuality having arisen, applied force to them.

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    • Titus Livius (Livy), Ab urbe condita libri, erklärt von M. Weissenborn, book 45, commentary, 45.42
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