When the Romans went to war with Antiochus in Greece,1
Philopoemen was without command, and seeing that Antiochus himself was sitting idly down in Chalcis and spending his time in a courtship and marriage which were not suited to his years,2
while his Syrian troops, in great disorder and without leaders, were wandering about among the cities and living luxuriously, he was distressed because he was not general of the Achaeans at that time, and kept saying that he begrudged the Romans their victory.
‘For if I had been general,’ he said,
‘I would have cut off all these fellows in their taverns.’
But soon the Romans, after conquering Antiochus, applied themselves more closely to the affairs of Greece. They encompassed the Achaean league with their power, since the popular leaders gradually inclined to their support; their strength, under the guidance of the heavenly powers, grew great in all directions; and the consummation was near to which the fortunes of Greece must come in their allotted revolution. Here Philopoemen, like a good helmsman contending against a high sea, was in some points compelled to give in and yield to the times; but in most he continued his opposition, arid tried to draw to the support of freedom the men who were powerful in speech or action.
Aristaenus the Megalopolitan3
was a man of the greatest influence among the Achaeans, but he always paid court to the Romans and thought that the Achaeans ought not to oppose or displease them in any way. As this man was once speaking in the assembly, we are told that Philopoemen listened to him a while in silent indignation, but at last, overcome by anger, said to him:
‘My man, why art thou eager to behold the fated end of Greece?’
Again, Manius, the Roman consul, after his victory over Antiochus, asked the Achaeans to permit the exiles from Sparta to go back home, and Titus Flamininus joined Manius in making this request. But Philopoemen successfully opposed the request, not out of hostility to the exiles, but from a desire that they should owe this favour to himself and the Achaeans, and not to Flamininus and the Romans; indeed, as general for the following year he restored the exiles to their city.4
To such a degree did his lofty spirit lead him to strive and contend against men in power.