Marcius and Atilius having finished the business that was to be done in Greece, returned to Rome in the beginning of winter.
An embassy had been despatched thence, about the same time, into Asia, to the several islands. The ambassadors were three; Tiberius Claudius, Publius Postumius, and Marcus Junius. These, making a circuit among the allies, exhorted them to undertake the war against Perseus, in conjunction with the Romans; and the more powerful any state was, the more earnestly they requested them, judging that the smaller states would follow the lead of the greater.
The Rhodians were esteemed of the utmost consequence on every account; because they could not only countenance the war, but also assist in it by their own strength, having, pursuant to the advice of Hegesilochus, forty ships ready for sea.
This man being chief magistrate, whom they call Prytanis, had, by many arguments, prevailed on the Rhodians to banish the hope of courting the favour of kings, which they had, in repeated instances, found fallacious; and to maintain firmly the alliance with Rome (which was the only one in the earth that could be relied on for strength or honour). He told them, that “a war was upon the point of breaking out with Perseus:
that the Romans would expect the same naval armament which they had seen lately in that with Antiochus, and formerly in that with Philip:
that they would be hurried, in the hasty equipment of a fleet, when it ought to be sent at once, unless they immediately set about the repairing and manning of their ships: and that they ought to do this with the greatest diligence, in order to refute, by the evidence of facts, the imputations thrown on them by Eumenes.”
Roused by these arguments, they showed to the Roman ambassadors, on their arrival, a fleet of forty ships rigged and fitted out, so that it might appear that they did not require to be urged.
This embassy had great effect in conciliating the affections of the states in Asia. Decimius alone returned to Rome without effecting any thing, and disgraced by the suspicion of having received money from the Illyrian kings.