While affairs were in this condition at Ambracia,1
Phaeneas and Damoteles came to the consul as ambassadors from the Aetolians, with full power to act, by decree of the people.
For their praetor, when he saw that on one side Ambracia was undergoing siege, that on another the sea-coast was endangered by the enemy's ships, that on a third the Amphilochians and Dolopia were being plundered by the Macedonians, and that the Aetolians, rushing here and there to three different wars at the same time, could not hold out, called a council and laid before the chiefs of Aetolia the question of what should be done.
The opinions of all tended in this direction —that peace should be sought, on fair terms if possible, if not, on endurable terms: they argued that they had begun the war because of their reliance on Antiochus;
when Antiochus was beaten on land and sea and driven virtually beyond the bounds of the [p. 27]
earth, to the other side of the ridges of Taurus, what2
hope was there of continuing the war?
Phaeneas and Damoteles, they said, should do what they judged consistent with the best interests of the Aetolians, considering the straits they were in, and with their own sense of loyalty; for what plan that they could adopt or what choice of action was left them by fortune?
The envoys, sent with these instructions, begged the consul to spare the city and to have compassion on a people, once his ally, now driven to the point of madness, they would not say by their wrongs but at least by their misfortunes;
the Aetolians had not deserved to suffer any ill fortune, by reason of the war with Antiochus, outweighing the good service which they had rendered previously when they had fought against Philip; neither had liberal gratitude been shown them then nor should excessive punishment be imposed upon them now. To this the consul replied that the Aetolians ever sought peace frequently rather than sincerely.
In their plea for peace they should follow the example of Antiochus, whom they had enticed into the war; he had withdrawn not from a few towns about whose liberty there was a question, but from the whole rich land of Asia on this side of the Taurus mountains.
He would not, he said, listen to the Aetolians treating for peace unless they were disarmed;
they must first turn over their weapons and all their horses, then pay a thousand talents of silver to the Roman people, of which sum half must be paid at once if they wanted to have peace. He would, besides, add this clause to the treaty —that they should regard as friends and enemies the same persons whom the Romans so regarded.3 [p. 29]