When a report of the Roman victory penetrated to Asia, Antenor, who was lying off Phanae with his fleet of scout-ships, crossed from there to Cassandria.1
When Gaius Popilius, who was at Delos to protect ships making for Macedonia, heard that the war had been brought to an end in Macedonia and that the enemy scout-ships had left their post, he for his part dismissed the ships of Attalus and proceeded to sail for Egypt to complete the mission
on which he had started, so that he might be able to meet Antiochus before he reached the walls of Alexandria.
As the ambassadors were sailing past Asia and came to Loryma, a harbour slightly more than twenty miles from Rhodes and situated [p. 275]
exactly opposite to the city,2
the chief men of Rhodes3
met them (for the report of the victory had by now been brought to that city also) with the request that they put in at Rhodes;
for, said the Rhodians, it was a matter touching the reputation and safety of their city that the envoys should personally become acquainted with everything which had been done and was being done at Rhodes, and that they should carry back to Rome facts ascertained by themselves, not popular rumours.
After many refusals, they induced the envoys to endure a short delay of their voyage for the sake of the safety of an allied city. After their arrival at Rhodes, the same leaders also dragged them by entreaty before an assembly.
The arrival of the envoys increased rather than diminished the fear of the city;
for Popilius rehearsed every hostile word or act during this war either on the part of individuals or of the commonwealth, and being a man of harsh temperament,
he increased the savage effect of his remarks by his grim face and prosecutor's tone, so that, since he had no reason for a personal quarrel with Rhodes, the people guessed from the bitterness of one Roman senator what the attitude of the whole senate was toward them.
The speech of Gaius Decimius was milder, for he laid the blame for many of the offences mentioned by Popilius not at the door of the people as a whole, but at that of a few agitators;
these, he said, whose tongues were for sale, had written the decrees full of fawning upon the king and had sent those embassies concerning which the Rhodians had always felt as much shame as regret. All these acts, said Decimius, would, if the people's reason was sound, recoil upon the heads of the guilty.
There was great approval felt for his speech, but no4
more because he relieved the commons of blame than because he assigned responsibility to the guilty.
And so when the leaders of the Rhodians answered the Romans, their speeches were by no means as pleasing when the speaker tried at all costs to extenuate the charges made by Popilius, as when he agreed with Decimius in urging that the responsible persons should expiate their wrong. A decree was therefore passed at once that anyone convicted of saying or doing anything against the Romans in behalf of Perseus should be put to death.
Some had left the city on the arrival of the Romans, others committed suicide. After a delay of not more than five days at Rhodes, the ambassadors left for Alexandria.
The Rhodians proceeded no less zealously to prosecute trials according to the decree passed in the presence of the Romans. This unflagging zeal in carrying the matter out was produced as much by the mildness of Decimius as by the harshness of Popilius.