When Perseus, after the conference with the Romans, had retired into Macedon, he sent ambassadors to Rome to carry on the negotiation for peace commenced with Marcius, giving them letters, to be delivered at Byzantium and Rhodes. The purport of the letters to all was the same, viz.
that he had conferred with the Roman ambassadors. What he had heard from them, and what he had said, was, however, represented in such a manner that he might seem to have had the advantage in the debate.
In presence of the Rhodians, the ambassadors added, that “they were confident of a continuation of peace, for it was by the advice of Marcius and Atilius that they were sent to Rome. But if the Romans should commence their hostilities, contrary to treaty, it would then be the business of the Rhodians to labour, with all their power and all their interest, for the re-establishment of peace; and that, if they should effect nothing by their mediation, they ought then to take such measures as would prevent the dominion of the whole world from coming into the hands of one nation only.
That, as this was a matter of general concern, so it [p. 2004]
was peculiarly interesting to the Rhodians, as they surpassed the other states in dignity and power, which must be held on terms of servility and dependence, if there were no other resource for redress than the Romans.”
Both the letter and the discourse of the ambassadors were received by the Rhodians with every appearance of kindness, but by no means exerted any influence in working a change in their minds, for by this time the best-judging party had the superior influence.
By a public order this answer was given: —that “the Rhodians wished for peace; but, if war should take place, they hoped that the king would not expect or require from them any thing that might break off their ancient friendship with the Romans, the fruit of many and great services performed on their part both in war and peace.”
The Macedonians, on their way home from Rhodes, visited also the states of Bœotia, Thebes, Coronaea, and Haliartus; for it was thought that the measure of abandoning the alliance with the king, and joining the Romans, was extorted from them against their will.
The Thebans were not influenced by his representations, though they were somewhat displeased with the Romans, on account of the sentence passed on their nobles, and the restoration of the exiles;
but the Coronaeans and Haliartians, out of a kind of natural attachment to kings, sent ambassadors to Macedon, requesting the aid of a body of troops to defend them against the insolent tyranny of the Thebans.
To this application the king answered, that, “on account of the truce concluded with the Romans, it was not in his power to send troops; but he recommended to them, to guard themselves against ill-treat- ment from the Thebans, as far as they were able, without affording the Romans a pretext for venting their resentment on him.”