Since the whole debate centred practically on this one question, Hannibal, appealed to by name for his opinion, turned the king and all who [p. 175]
were present to the consideration of the war as a1
whole, by a speech of the following character:2
“If I had been invited to the council from the time we crossed to Greece, when the question concerned Euboea or the Achaeans or Boeotia, I should have expressed the same opinion as to-day when we are discussing the Thessalians.
Before anything else, I vote that Philip and the Macedonians be drawn, in any possible way, into a military alliance.
For as to Euboea and the Boeotians and the Thessalians, who doubts that they, possessing no strength of their own, are ever fawning upon those who are close at hand, and will use the same fearfulness which they display in the council as a means of winning pardon, and that,
as soon as they see the Roman army in Greece, they will turn back to their accustomed masters and that they will suffer no harm because, when the Romans were far away, they were unwilling to test, face to face, the strength of you and your army?
How much greater priority and preference should we give to allying ourselves with Philip rather than with them? He, if once he joins our cause, will have no choice left,3
and he can contribute that strength which will be not merely an additional resource for the Roman war, but one which by itself alone was able recently to withstand the Romans.
With this reinforcement —may I say so without offence4
—how can I doubt the result when I see that those very men with whose [p. 177]
assistance the Romans prevailed over Philip will5
now be overwhelming the Romans themselves?
The Aetolians who, as all agree, defeated Philip, will fight with Philip against the Romans; Amynander and the nation of the Athamanes, whose services in
that war were the greatest after those of the Aetolians, will stand with us; Philip then, when you were inactive, bore the whole burden of the war;
now you, the two mightiest kings of Asia and Europe, will wage war against one people which, not to speak of my own twofold experience, in the time of our fathers at least could not contend even against one king of Epirus —and how could he be compared with you? What cause, then, convinces me that Philip can be allied with us?
First, the common profit, which is the firmest bond in an alliance; second, the assurances of you Aetolians. For your representative, Thoas here, among other reasons which he was wont to use to attract Antiochus to
Greece, continually made this assertion before all else, that Philip was enraged and that he found it hard to bear the laws of slavery imposed upon him under the guise of peace. Indeed in his speech he likened the king in his wrath to a wild beast chained or shut up and trying to break his bonds.6
If such is his temper, let us break his chains and tear away his bars, that he may let loose his long-restrained passion upon the common enemy. But if our embassy to him does not move him, let us at least, since we cannot unite him with ourselves, see to it that he does not make common cause with our foes.
Your son Seleucus is at Lysimachia; if with that army which he has with him he shall begin to move through Thrace and devastate the adjacent portions of Macedonia, he [p. 179]
will easily turn Philip from sending aid to the Romans7
to the more important task of defending his own possessions.
As to Philip you have my views; even from the first you have not been ignorant of my opinion as to the strategy of the war as a whole.
If I had been listened to then, the Romans would not now be hearing that Chalcis in Euboea was captured and a fort on the Euripus, but that Etruria and the coasts of Liguria and Cisalpine Gaul were aflame with war and —this is what they dread beyond everything else —that Hannibal is in Italy. Now too I vote that you summon all your forces on land and sea; — let cargo-boats follow-with supplies, for, as we are few here for the tasks of war, so we are too many in proportion to our shortage of supplies.
When you have assembled all your strength, you will divide your fleet, keeping part on guard near Corcyra, that free and safe passage may not be open
to the Romans, and sending part across to the coast of Italy which faces Sardinia and Africa;
you yourself will go ahead with all your armies to the territory of Bullis;8
thence you will stand guard over Greece and offer to the Romans the appearance of being about to cross, and, if the situation shall demand it, will actually cross.
This is the advice I give, I who, though I am not well versed in every kind of war, with the Romans at least have learned to fight from my own successes and failures. For this same programme which I have advised I promise aid neither faithless nor reluctant.
May the gods approve that proposal which shall have seemed to you the best.”