The first question put was, by what wrong had he been driven to make war on the Roman People with such determined enmity as to bring himself and his kingdom into utmost danger?
While all awaited an answer, he gazed silently at the ground for a long time and wept.
Then the consul asked again: “If you had received the kingdom as a young man, I should indeed be less surprised that you were unaware how powerful the Roman People is as a friend or as an enemy.
As it is, since you had a part in the war which your father waged with us, and since you were aware of the peace that followed, which we observed with the utmost faithfulness toward him, what reasoning led you to prefer war rather than peace with men whose power in war, whose good faith in peace, you had alike tested?”
When no reply either to the question or the accusation was forthcoming, the consul continued, “However that may be, whether it has occurred through human mistake or chance or law of nature, be of good [p. 271]
cheer. The misfortunes of many kings and of many1
peoples have shown that the mercy of the Roman People offers you not only hope, but an almost positive assurance of safety.”
This the consul said in Greek to Perseus; then he continued in Latin to his staff: “You see before you a notable example of the changefulness of human affairs. I say this especially for you, young men. Therefore it is proper to offer no insult or violence to anyone, while one is in favourable circumstances, and not to trust to one's present fortune, since no one knows what evening will bring.
He will be truly a man, in a word, whose spirit is neither deflected from its course by the breath of prosperity, nor broken by misfortune.”
When the meeting was dismissed, the task of guarding the king was assigned to Quintus Aelius.
On that day Perseus was entertained by the consul, and every other token of respect was shown him which could be shown under such circumstances.
The army was then released to winter quarters.