By this time Sulpicius had recovered his health; both himself and Villius, therefore, came to Ephesus. Minio apologized for the king not being present, and the business was entered upon.
Then Minio, in a studied speech, said, “I [p. 1569]
find, Romans, that you profess very specious intentions, (the liberating of the Grecian states,) but your actions do not accord with your words. You lay down one rule for Antiochus, and follow another yourselves.
For, how are the inhabitants of Smyrna and Lampsacus better entitled to the character of Greeks, than the Neapolitans, Rhegians, and Tarentines, from whom you exact tribute, and ships, in pursuance of a treaty?
Why do you send yearly to Syracuse, and other Grecian cities of Sicily, a praetor, vested with sovereign power, and attended by his rods and axes? You can, certainly, allege no other reason than this, that, having conquered them in war, you imposed these terms on them.
Admit, then, on the part of Antiochus, the same reason with respect to Smyrna and Lampsacus, and the cities belonging to Ionia and Aeolia.
Conquered by his ancestors, they were subjected to tribute and taxes, and he only reclaims an ancient right. I would have you answer him on these heads, if you mean a fair discussion, and do not merely seek a pretence for war.”
Sulpicius answered, “Antiochus has acted with some modesty in choosing that, since no other arguments could be produced in his favour, any other person should utter these rather than himself. For, what similarity is there in the cases of those states which you have brought into comparison?
From the Rhegians, Neapolitans, and Tarentines we require what they owe us by treaty, in virtue of a right invariably exercised, in one uniform course, since they first came under our power; a right always asserted, and never intermitted.
Now, can you assert, that, as these states have, neither of themselves, nor through any other, ever refused conforming to the treaty, so the Asiatic states, since they once came under the power of Antiochus's ancestors, have been held in uninterrupted possession by your reigning kings;
and that some of them have not been subject to the dominion of Philip, some to that of Ptolemy; and that others have not, for many years, maintained themselves in a state of independence, no one calling it in question?
For, if the circumstance of their having been once subject to a foreigner, when crushed under the severity of the times, conveys a right to enforce that subjection again after a lapse of so many generations, what can be said of our having delivered Greece from Philip, but that nothing was accomplished by us; and that his successors may reclaim [p. 1570]
Corinth, Chalcis, Demetrias, and the whole nation of Thessaly?
But why do I plead the cause of those states, which it would
be fitter that both we and the king should hear pleaded by themselves?”