Speech of L. Aemilius Paullus
"THEIR one idea, expressed at parties or conversations in
B. C. 168. Coss. L. Aemilius Paullus, C. Licinius Crassus. A fragment of the speech of
L. Aemilius before starting for Macedonia. See Livy, 44, 22.
the street, was, that they should manage the war
in Macedonia while remaining quietly at home
in Rome, sometimes by criticising what the
generals were doing, at others what they were
leaving undone. From this the public interests
never got any good, and often a great deal of
harm. The generals themselves were at times
greatly hampered by this ill-timed loquacity.
For as it is the invariable nature of slander to
spread rapidly and stop at nothing, the people got thoroughly
infected by this idle talk, and the generals were consequently
rendered contemptible in the eyes of the enemy." . . .
Gaius Popilius Laenas Sent to Alexandria
The Senate being informed that Antiochus
In answer to an embassy from Ptolemy Physcon and his sister Cleopatra,
the Senate sends Gaius Popilius Laenas to Alexandria. Livy, 44, 19.
had become master of Egypt, and all but taken
Alexandria, and conceiving that the aggrandisement of that king was a matter affecting themselves, appointed Gaius Popilius and others
to go as ambassadors to put an end to the
war, and generally to inspect the state of
affairs. . . .
Genthius Forms an Alliance with Perseus
Hippias, and the other ambassadors sent by Perseus, to
Genthius joins Perseus on being supplied with 300 talents;
Genthius to make an alliance with him, returned
before the winter, and reported that Genthius
would undertake to join in the war with Rome if
he was paid three hundred talents and received
proper securities. Thereupon Perseus sent Pantauchus, one
of his chief friends, with the following instructions: He was
to agree to pay Genthius the money; to interchange oaths of
alliance; to take from Genthius such hostages as he himself
might select, and send them at once to Macedonia; and to allow
Genthius to have such hostages from Perseus as he might name
in the text of the treaty; further, he was to make arrangements
for the transport of the three hundred talents. Pantauchus immediately started and met Genthius at Mebeōn, in the country of
the Labeates, and quickly bought the young monarch over to
join in the projects of Perseus. The treaty having been sworn
to and reduced to writing, Genthius at once sent the hostages
whose names Pantauchus had caused to be entered in the
text of the treaty; and with them he despatched Olympion to
receive the oaths and hostages from Perseus, with others who
were to have charge of the money.
and also consents to join in a mission to Rhodes.
him to send also some ambassadors to join in
a mission to Rhodes with some sent by Perseus,
in order to negotiate a mutual alliance between
the three states. For if this were effected, and
the Rodians consented to embark upon the war, he showed that
they would be easily able to conquer the Romans. Genthius
listened to the suggestion, and appointed Parmenio and Marcus
to undertake the mission; with instructions that, as soon as
they had received the oaths and hostages from Perseus, and
the question of the money had been settled, they were to
proceed on the embassy to Rhodes.
Genthius Joins Perseus
So these various ambassadors started together for
Perseus meets the envoys from Genthius;
Macedonia. But Pantauchus stayed by the side
of the young king, and kept reminding him of
the necessity of making warlike preparations,
and urging him not to be too late with them. He was
especially urgent that he should prepare for a contest at sea;
for, as the Romans were quite unprepared in that department
on the coasts both of Epirus and Illyria, any purpose he might
form would be easily accomplished by himself and the forces
he might despatch. Genthius yielded to the advice and set
about his preparations, naval and military alike: and Perseus,
as soon as the ambassadors and hostages from Genthius
entered Macedonia, set off from his camp on the River
with his whole cavalry, to meet them at Dium. His
first act on meeting them was to take the oaths to the alliance
in the presence of the whole body of cavalry; for he was very
anxious that the Macedonians should know of the adhesion of
Genthius, hoping that this additional advantage would have
the effect of raising their courage: and next he received the
hostages and handed over his own to Olympion and his
colleagues, the noblest of whom were Limnaeus, the son of
Polemocrates, and Balacrus, son of Pantauchus. Lastly, he
sent the agents who had come for the money to Pella, assuring
them that they would receive it there: and appointed the ambassadors for Rhodes to join Metrodorus at Thessalonica, and
hold themselves in readiness to embark.
This embassy succeeded in persuading the Rhodians to
and sends others to Eumenes and Antiochus.
join in the war. And, having accomplished this,
Perseus next sent Herophon, who had been
similarly employed before, on a mission to
Eumenes; and Telemnastos of Crete to Antiochus to urge
him "Not to let the opportunity escape; nor to imagine that
Perseus was the only person affected by the overbearing and
oppressive conduct of Rome: but to be quite sure that, if he
did not now assist Perseus, if possible by putting an end to
the war, or, if not, by supporting him in it, he would quickly
meet with the same fate himself." . . .
Difficulty of Explaining the Intrigues of Perseus and Eumenes
In venturing upon a narrative of the intrigues of Perseus
The intrigues of Perseus and Eumenes.
and Eumenes, I have felt myself in a position
of great embarrassment. For to give full and
accurate details of the negotiations, which these
two kings conducted in secret between themselves, appeared
to me to be an attempt open to many obvious criticisms and
exceedingly liable to error: and yet to pass over in complete
silence what seemed to have exercised the most decisive influence in the war, and which alone can explain many of the
subsequent events, seemed to me to wear the appearance of
a certain sluggishness and entire want of enterprise. On the
whole, I decided to state briefly what I believed to be truth,
and the probabilities and surmises on which I founded that
opinion; for I was, in fact, during this period more struck
than most people at what happened.
Reasons to Suspect Intrigue between Eumenes and Perseus
I have already stated2
that Cydas of Crete, while, serving
in the army of Eumenes and held in especial honour by him,
had in the first place had interviews with
Cheimarus, one of the Cretans in the army of
Perseus, and again had approached the walls of
Demetrias, and conversed first with Menecrates, and then with Antimachus.
The Romans become suspicious of Eumenes, and ostentatiously transfer their favour to his brother Attalus.
Herophon had been twice on a mission from
Perseus to Eumenes, and that the Romans on that account
began to have reasonable suspicions of king Eumenes, is
rendered clear from what happened to Attalus. For they
allowed this prince to come to Rome from Brundisium, and
to transact the business he had on hand, and finally gave him
a favourable answer and dismissed him with every mark of
kindness, although he had done them no service of any importance in the war with Perseus; while Eumenes, who had
rendered them the most important services, and had assisted
them again and again in their wars with Antiochus and
Perseus, they not only prevented from coming to Rome, but
bade him leave Italy within a certain number of days, though
it was mid-winter. Therefore it is quite plain that some intriguing had been taking place between Perseus and Eumenes
to account for the alienation of the Romans from the latter.
What this was, and how far it went, is our present subject of
Eumenes Intrigues With Perseus
We can easily satisfy ourselves that Eumenes cannot
The origin of the intrigue between Eumenes and Perseus
was the idea of the former that, both sides being tired of the war, he might intervene with profit to himself.
have wished Perseus to be the victor in the war
and become supreme in Greece. For to say
nothing of the traditional enmity and dislike
existing between these two, the similarity of
their respective powers was sufficient to breed
distrust, jealousy, and, in fact, the bitterest animosity between them. It was always open to
them to intrigue and scheme against each other
secretly, and that they were both doing. For
when Eumenes saw that Perseus was in a bad way, and was
hemmed in on every side by his enemies, and would accept
any terms for the sake of putting an end to the war, and was
sending envoys to the Roman generals year after year with
this view; while the Romans also were uneasy about the
result, because they made no real progress in the war until
Paulus took the command, and because
Aetolia was in a dangerous state of excitement, he conceived that it would not be impossible that the
Romans would consent to some means of ending the war and
making terms: and he looked upon himself as the most proper
person to act as mediator and effect the reconciliation.
these secret ideas in his mind, he began sounding Perseus by
means of Cydas of Crete, the year before, to find out how
much he would be inclined to pay for such a chance. This
appears to me to be the origin of their connexion with each
Struggle between Eumenes and Perseus
Two kings, one of whom was the most unprincipled
The bargain attempted between Eumenes and Perseus.
and the other the most avaricious in the world,
being now pitted against each other, their
mutual struggles presented a spectacle truly
ridiculous. Eumenes held out every kind of
hope, and threw out every species of bait, believing that he
would catch Perseus by such promises. Perseus, without
waiting to be approached, rushed to the bait held out to him,
and made for it greedily; yet he could not make up his mind
to swallow it, to such an extent as to give up any money.
The sort of huckstering contest that went on between them
was as follows. Eumenes demanded five hundred talents as
the price of his abstention from co-operating with the Romans
by land and sea during the fourth year of the war, and fifteen
hundred for putting an end to the war altogether, and promised to give hostages and securities for his promise at once.
Perseus accepted the proposal of hostages, named the
number, the time at which they were to be sent, and the
manner of their safe custody at Cnosus. But as to the money,
he said that it would be disgraceful to the one who paid, and
still more to the one who received it, to be supposed to remain
neutral for hire; but the fifteen hundred talents he would
send in charge of Polemocrates and others to Samothrace,
to be held as a deposit there. Now Perseus was master of
Samothrace; but as Eumenes, like a poor physician, preferred
a retaining-fee to a payment after work, he finally gave up
the attempt, when he found that his own craftiness was no
match for the meanness of Perseus. They thus parted on
equal terms, leaving, like good athletes, the battle of avarice
a drawn one. Some of these details leaked out at the time,
and others were communicated subsequently to Perseus's
intimate friends; and he has taught us by them that every
vice is clinched, so to speak, by avarice.
The Avarice of Perseus
I add the further question from my own reflexions,
Reflexions on the blindness of the avaricious kings.
whether avarice is not also short-sighted? For
who could fail to remark the folly of both the
kings? How could Eumenes on the one hand
expect to be trusted by a man with whom he was on such bad
terms; and to get so large a sum of money, when he was
able to give Perseus absolutely no security for recovering
it, in case of his not carrying out his promises? And
how could he expect not to be detected by the Romans in
taking so large a sum? If he had concealed it at the time he
certainly would not have done so long. Moreover, he would
have been bound at any rate, in return for it, to have adopted
the quarrel with Rome; in which he would have been certain
to have lost the money and his kingdom together, and very
probably his life also, by coming forward as an enemy of the
Romans. For if, even as it was, when he accomplished
nothing, but only imagined it, he fell into the gravest dangers,
what would have happened to him if this design had been
brought to perfection? And again, as to Perseus—who could
fail to be surprised at his thinking anything of higher importance, or more to his advantage, than to give the money and
allow Eumenes to swallow the bait? For if, on the one hand,
Eumenes had performed any part of his promises, and had
put an end to the war, the gift would have been well bestowed;
and if, on the other hand, he had been deceived of that
hope, he could at least have involved him in the certain
enmity of Rome; for he would have had it entirely in his
own power to make these transactions public. And one may
easily calculate how valuable this would have been to Perseus,
whether he succeeded or failed in the war: for he would
have regarded Eumenes as the guilty cause of all his misfortunes, and could in no way have retaliated upon him more
effectually than by making him an enemy of Rome. What
then was the root of all this blind folly? Nothing but
It could have been nothing else; for, to save himself
from giving money, Perseus was content to suffer
anything, and neglect every other consideration. On a par too with this was his conduct
to the Gauls and Genthius. . . .
Rhodes Decides to Seek Peace
The question being put to the vote at Rhodes, it was
The Rhodians take active steps to form a confederation against Rome, in case their intervention fails.
carried to send envoys to negotiate a peace;
and this decree thus decided the relative
strength of the opposite political parties at
Rhodes [as has been stated in my essay on
public speaking], showing that the party for
siding with Perseus was stronger than that
which was for preserving their country and its laws. The
Prytanies immediately appointed ambassadors to negotiate
the cessation of the war: Agepolis, Diocles, and Cleombrotus
were sent to Rome; Damon, Nicostratus, Agesilochus, and
Telephus to Perseus and the consul. The Rhodians went on
in the same spirit to take further steps, so that they eventually
committed themselves past all excuse. For they at once
sent ambassadors to Crete, to renew their friendly relations
with the entire Cretan people, and to urge that, in view of the
dangers that threatened them, they should throw in their lot with
the people of Rhodes, and hold the same people to be friends
and enemies as they did, and also to address the separate cities
to the same effect. . . .
Turbulent Assembly at Rhodes
When the embassy led by Parmenio and Morcus
The manner in which this vote of the Rhodians was carried, B. C. 168.
from Genthius, accompanied by those led by
Metrodorus, arrived in Rhodes, the assembly
summoned to meet them proved very turbulent,
the party of Deinon venturing openly to plead
the cause of Perseus, whilst that of Theaetetus was quite overpowered and dismayed. For the presence of the Illyrian
galleys, the number of the Roman cavalry that had been
killed, and the fact of Genthius having changed sides, quite
crushed them. Thus it was that the result of the meeting of
the assembly was as I have described it. For the Rhodians
voted to return a favourable answer to both kings, to state
that they had resolved to put an end to the war, and to
exhort the kings themselves to make no difficulty about the
terms. They also received the ambassadors of Genthius
at the common altar-hearth or Prytaneum of the city with
every mark of friendship. . . .
Of Proportion In History
Other historians [have spoken in exaggerated terms]3
of the Syrian war. And the reason is one
which I have often mentioned. Though their
subjects are simple and without complications,
they seek the name and reputation of historians
not from the truth of their facts, but the number
of their books; and accordingly they are obliged
to give petty affairs an air of importance, and fill out and give
rhetorical flourishes to what was originally expressed briefly;
dress up actions and achievements which were originally quite
secondary; expatiate on struggles; and describe pitched battles,
in which sometimes ten or a few more infantry fell, and still
fewer cavalry. As for sieges, local descriptions, and the like,
one cannot say that their treatment is adequate, because they
have no facts to give. But a writer of universal history must
pursue a different plan; and therefore I ought not to be condemned for
minimising the importance of events, if I sometimes pass over affairs that have met with wide fame and
laboured description, or for mentioning them with brevity; but
I ought to be trusted to give to each subject the amount of discussion which it deserves. Such historians as I refer to, when
they are describing in the course of their work the siege, say
of Phanoteia, or Coroneia, or [Haliartus], are forced to display all the contrivances, bold strokes, and other features of a
siege; and when they come to the capture of Tarentum, the
sieges of Corinth, Sardis, Gaza, Bactra, and, above all, of
Carthage, they must draw on their own resources to prolong
the agony and heighten the picture, and are not at all satisfied
with me for giving a more truthful relation of such events as they
really occurred. Let this statement hold good also as to my
description of pitched battles and public harangues, as well as
other departments of history; in all of which I might fairly
claim considerable indulgence, as also in what is now about to
be narrated, if I am detected in some inconsistency in the
substance of my story, the treatment of my facts, or the style
of language; and also if I make some mistakes in the names
of mountains or rivers, or the special features of localities: for
indeed the magnitude of my work is a sufficient excuse in all
these points, unless, indeed, I am ever detected in deliberate
or interested misstatements in my writings: for such I ask no
indulgence, as I have repeatedly and explicitly remarked in
the course of my history. . . .
Character of Genthius
Genthius, king of the Illyrians, disgraced himself by
Intemperance and brutality of Genthius.
many abominable actions in the course of his
life from his addiction to drink, in which he indulged continually day and night. Among other
things he killed his brother Plastor, who was about to marry
the daughter of Monunius, and married the girl himself. He
also behaved with great cruelty to his subjects. . . .
In the spring of B. C. 168 Genthius was forced to surrender to
the praetor L. Anicius Gallus (Livy, 44, 30-31). The consul
L. Aemilius Paulus found Perseus on the left bank of the Macedonian river Enipeus
in a very strong position, which was however turned by a gallant exploit of Nasica and Q. Fabius
Maximus, who made their way with a considerable force over the
mountains, thus getting on the rear of Perseus. Livy, 44, 30-35. Plutarch, Aemil. 15.
Scipio Nasica and Fabius Maximus Volunteer to Outflank the Macedonians
The first man to volunteer to make the outflanking
Nasica, Fabius, and others volunteer to cross the mountains into Macedonia by Gytheum.
movement was Scipio Nasica, son-in-law of
Scipio Africanus, who afterwards became the
most influential man in the Senate,4
now undertook to lead the party. The second
was Fabius Maximus, the eldest of the sons of
the consul Aemilius Paulus,5
still quite a young
man, who stood forward and offered to join with great
enthusiasm. Aemilius was therefore delighted and assigned
them a body of soldiers.6
. . .
A Cretan Deserter Brings Intelligence to Perseus
The Romans offered a gallant resistance by aid of their strong targets or Ligurian
shields. . . .
Perseus saw that Aemilius had not moved, and did not
The Romans force the heights by way of Gytheum.
reckon on what was taking place, when suddenly
a Cretan, who had deserted from the Roman
army on its march, came to him with the information that the Romans were getting on his
rear. Though thrown into the utmost panic he did not strike
his camp, but despatched ten thousand mercenaries and two
thousand Macedonians under Milo, with orders to advance with
speed and seize the heights. The Romans fell upon these as
they were lying asleep.7
. . .
Battle of Pydna
An eclipse of the moon occurring, the report went
abroad, and was believed by many, that it signified an eclipse
of the king. And this circumstance raised the spirits of the
Romans and depressed those of the Macedonians. So true is the
common saying that "war has many a groundless scare."8
. . .
Perseus finding himself thus on the point of being outflanked
retired on Pydna, near which town Aemilius Paulus, after
considerable delay, about midsummer inflicted a crushing defeat
upon him. Perseus fled to Amphipolis, and thence to Samothrace,
where he was captured by Paulus and taken to Rome to adorn
his triumph, and afterwards allowed to live as a private person
at Alba. This was the end of the Macedonian kingdom. (Livy,
44, 36-43; 45, 1-8. Plutarch, Aemil. 16-23.)
Perseus Loses His Resolve
The consul Lucius Aemilius had never seen a phalanx
The phalanx at the battle of Pydna, B. C. 168.
until he saw it in the army of Perseus on this
occasion; and he often confessed to some of his
friends at Rome subsequently, that he had never
beheld anything more alarming and terrible than
the Macedonian phalanx: and yet he had been, if any one ever
had, not only a spectator but an actor in many battles. . . .
Many plans which look plausible and feasible, when
brought to the test of actual experience, like base coins
when brought to the furnace, cease to answer in any way to
their original conceptions. . . .
When Perseus came to the hour of trial his courage all left
him, like that of an athlete in bad training. For when the
danger was approaching, and it became necessary to fight a
decisive battle, his resolution gave way. . . .
As soon as the battle began, the Macedonian king played
the coward and rode off to the town, under the pretext of
sacrificing to Hercules,—who certainly does not accept craven
gifts from cravens, nor fulfil unworthy prayers. . . .
He was then very young, and it was his first experience
of actual service in the field, and having but
recently begun to taste the sweets of promotion,
he was keen, ambitious, and eager to be first. . . .
The Senate Makes an Example of the Rhodian Ambassadors
Just when Perseus had been beaten and was trying to
The Rhodian mission deliver their message too late.
save himself by flight, the Senate determined to
admit the ambassadors, who had come from
Rhodes to negotiate a peace, to an audience:
Fortune thus appearing designedly to parade
the folly of the Rhodians on the stage,—if we may say "of the
Rhodians," and not rather "of the individuals who were then
in the ascendant at Rhodes." When Agesipolis and his
colleagues entered the Senate, they said that "They had come
to arrange an end to the war; for the people of Rhodes,—seeing that the war was become protracted to a considerable length
of time, and seeing that it was disadvantageous to all the Greeks,
as well as to the Romans themselves, on account of its enormous
expenses,—had come to that conclusion. But as the war was
already ended, and the wish of the Rhodians was thus fulfilled,
they had only to congratulate the Romans." Such was the
brief speech of Agesipolis.
Uncompromising answer of the Senate
But the Senate seized the opportunity of making an example of the Rhodians, and produced an
answer of which the upshot was that "They did not regard this
embassy as having been sent by the Rhodians
in the interests either of the Greeks or themselves, but in those of Perseus. For if they had
meant to send an embassy in behalf of the Greeks, the proper
time for doing so was when Perseus was plundering the territory
and cities of Greece, while encamped for nearly two years in
Thessaly. But to let that time pass without notice, and to
come now desiring to put an end to the war, at a time when
the Roman legions had entered Macedonia, and Perseus was
closely beleagured and almost at the end of his hopes, was a
clear proof to any one of observation that the Rhodians had
sent their embassy, not with the desire of ending the war, but
to rescue and save Perseus to the best of their ability. Therefore they deserved no indulgence at the hands of the Romans
at this time, nor any favourable reply." Such was the Senate's
answer to the Rhodians. . . .
Perseus an Example of the Impermanence of Fortune
Then Aemilius Paulus speaking once more in Latin bade
Perseus, being brought a prisoner before Aemilius Paulus and his council,
refuses to reply to his questions. Paulus addresses the king in Greek and then his council in Latin. Livy, 45, 8.
the members of his council, "With such a sight
before their eyes,"—pointing to Perseus,—"not
to be too boastful in the hour of success, nor to
take any extreme or inhuman measures against
any one, nor in fact ever to feel confidence in
the permanence of their present good fortune.
Rather it was precisely at the time of greatest
success, either private or public, that a man
should be most alive to the possibility of a
reverse. Even so it was difficult for a man to
exhibit moderation in good fortune. But the distinction
between fools and wise was that the former only learnt by their
own misfortunes, the latter by those of others." . . .
Uncertainties of Fortune
One is often reminded of the words of Demetrius of
Demetrius of Phalerum on mutability.
Phalerum. In his treatise on Fortune, wishing
to give the world a distinct view of her mutability,
he fixed upon the period of Alexander, when
that monarch destroyed the Persian dynasty, and thus expresses
himself: "If you will take, I don't say unlimited time or many
generations, but only these last fifty years immediately preceding
our generation, you will be able to understand the cruelty of
Fortune. For can you suppose, if some god had warned
the Persians or their king, or the Macedonians or their king,
that in fifty years the very name of the Persians, who once
were masters of the world, would have been lost, and that the
Macedonians, whose name was before scarcely known, would
become masters of it all, that they would have believed it?
Nevertheless it is true that Fortune, whose influence on our life
is incalculable, who displays her power by surprises, is even
now I think, showing all mankind, by her elevation of the
Macedonians into the high prosperity once enjoyed by the
Persians, that she has merely lent them these advantages until
she may otherwise determine concerning them." And this has
now come to pass in the person of Perseus; and indeed
Demetrius has spoken prophetically of the future as though he
were inspired. And as the course of my history brought me to
the period which witnessed the ruin of the Macedonian kingdom,
I judged it to be right not to pass it over without proper
remark, especially as I was an eye-witness of the transaction.
It was a case I thought both for enlarging on the theme
myself, and for recalling the words of Demetrius, who appeared
to me to have shown something more than mere human
sagacity in his remarks; for he made a true forecast of the
future almost a hundred and fifty years before the event. . . .
Further Problems for Eumenes
After the conclusion of the battle between Perseus and
The unexpected always happens.
the Romans, king Eumenes found himself in
what people call an unexpected and extraordinary trouble, but what, if we regard the natural
course of human concerns, was quite an everyday affair. For
it is quite the way of Fortune to confound human calculations
by surprises; and when she has helped a man for a time, and
caused her balance to incline in his favour, to turn round
upon him as though she repented, throw her weight into the
opposite scale, and mar all his successes.
Eumenes disappointed of his hope of quiet by arising in Galatia
this was the case now with Eumenes. He imagined that at last his own kingdom was safe,
and that he might look forward to a time of
ease, now that Perseus and the whole kingdom of Macedonia
were utterly destroyed; yet it was then that he was confronted
with the gravest dangers, by the Gauls in Asia seizing the
opportunity for an unexpected rising. . . .
After reigning in Memphis for a time Philometor made
terms with his brother and sister, returned to Alexandria, and
there all three were being besieged by Antiochus. See above, 28, 18.
The Ptolemies Ask Help From Achaia
In the Peloponnesus a mission arrived before the end
of the winter from the two kings, Ptolemy (Philometor) and Ptolemy (Physcon), asking for help.
This gave rise to repeated and animated discussions. The party of Callicrates and Diophanes were against
granting the help; while Archon, Lycortas, and Polybius were
for sending it to the kings in accordance with the terms of their
alliance. For by this time it had come to pass that the younger
Ptolemy had been proclaimed king by the people (at Alexandria),
owing to the danger which threatened them; and that the
elder had subsequently returned from Memphis, and was reigning jointly with his sister. As they stood in need of every
kind of assistance, they sent Eumenes and Dionysodorus to
the Achaeans, asking a thousand foot and two hundred horse,
with Lycortas to command the foot and Polybius the horse.
They sent a message also to Theodoridas of Sicyon, urging
him to hire them a thousand mercenaries. For the kings
chanced to have become intimately acquainted with these particular men, owing to the transactions I have related before.
The ambassadors arrived when the Achaean congress was in
session in Corinth. They therefore came forward, and after
recalling the many evidences of friendship shown by the
Achaeans to the kingdom of Egypt, and describing to them
the danger in which the kings then were, they entreated them
to send help. The Achaeans generally were ready enough to
go to the help of the kings (for both now wore the diadem
and exercised regal functions), and not only with a detachment,
but with their full levy.
But Callicrates and
his party spoke against it; alleging that they
ought not to meddle in such affairs at all, and
certainly not at that time, but should reserve their undivided
forces for the service of Rome. For there was a general
expectation just then of a decisive battle being fought, as Q.
Philippus was wintering in Macedonia.
The Achaeans Agree to Help the Ptolemies
The people were alarmed lest they should be thought
Polybius advocates the cause of the Ptolemies.
to fail the Romans in any way: and accordingly
Lycortas and Polybius rose in their turn, and,
among other advice which they impressed upon
them, argued that "When in the previous year the Achaeans
had voted to join the Roman army with their full levy, and
sent Polybius to announce that resolution, Quintus Marcius,
while accepting the kindness of their intention, had yet stated
that the assistance was not needed, since he had won the pass
into Macedonia. Their opponents therefore were manifestly
using the need of helping the Romans merely as a pretext for
preventing this aid being sent to Alexandria. They entreated
the Achaeans, in view of the greatness of the danger surrounding
the king of Egypt, not to neglect the right moment for acting;
but keeping in mind their mutual agreement and good services,
and above all their oaths, to fulfil the terms of their agreement."
The people were once more inclined to grant the aid when
Callicrates defeats the motion, but at a smaller meeting at Sicyon Polybius prevails.
they heard this: but Callicrates and his party
managed to prevent the decree being passed, by
staggering the magistrates with the assertion
that it was unconstitutional to discuss the question of sending
help abroad in public assembly.9
But a short time afterwards
a meeting was summoned at Sicyon, which was
attended not only by the members of the council, but by all citizens over thirty years of age;
and after a lengthened debate, Polybius especially dwelling on
the fact that the Romans did not require assistance,—in which he
was believed not to be speaking without good reason, as he had
spent the previous summer in Macedonia at the headquarters
of Marcius Philippus,—and also alleging that, even supposing
the Romans did turn out to require their active support, the
Achaeans would not be rendered incapable of furnishing it by
the two hundred horse and one thousand foot which were to
be despatched to Alexandria,—for they could, without any inconvenience, put thirty or forty thousand men into the field,—
the majority of the meeting were convinced, and were inclined
to the idea of sending the aid. Accordingly, on the second of
the two days on which, according to the laws, those who
wished to do so were bound to bring forward their motions,
Lycortas and Polybius proposed that the aid should be sent.
Callicrates, on the other hand, proposed to send ambassadors
to reconcile the two Egyptian kings with Antiochus. So once
more, on these two motions being put, there was an animated
contest; in which, however, Lycortas and Polybius got a considerable majority on their side. For there was a very wide
distinction between the claims of the two kingdoms. There
were very few instances to be found in past times of any act
of friendship on the part of Syria to the Greeks,—though the
liberality of the present king was well known in Greece,—but
from Egypt the acts of kindness in past times to the Achaeans
had been as numerous and important as any one could possibly
expect. By dwelling on this point Lycortas made a great
impression, because the distinction between the two kingdoms
in this respect was shown to be immense. For it was as difficult to count up all the benefactions of the Alexandrine kings,
as it was impossible to find a single act of friendship done by
the dynasty of Antiochus to the Achaeans. . . .
Antiochus Forced To Leave Egypt
For a time Andronidas and Callicrates kept on arguing
The measure is again defeated by a trick of Callicrates.
in support of the plan of putting an end to
the war: but as no one was persuaded by
them, they employed a stratagem. A lettercarrier came into the theatre (where the meeting was being held), who had just arrived with a despatch from
Quintus Marcius, urging those Achaeans who were of the proRoman party to reconcile the kings; for it was a fact that the
Senate had sent a mission under T. Numisius to do so. But
this really made against their argument: for Titus Numisius
and his colleagues had been unable to effect the pacification, and
had returned to Rome completely unsuccessful in the object
of their mission. However, as Polybius and his party did
not wish to speak against the despatch, from consideration for
Marcius, they retired from the discussion: and it was thus
that the proposal to send an aid to the kings fell through.
The kings ask for Lycortas and Polybius.
Achaeans voted to send ambassadors to effect
the pacification: and Archon of Aegeira, and
Arcesilaus and Ariston of Megalopolis were
appointed to the duty. Whereupon the envoys of Ptolemy,
being disappointed of obtaining the help, handed over to the
magistrate the despatch from the kings, in which they asked
that they would send Lycortas and Polybius to take part in
the war. . . .
Antiochus Renews the War
Forgetful of all he had written and said Antiochus
Annoyed by the two Ptolemies thus joining each other, Antiochus renews the war, B.C. 168.
began preparing for a renewal of the war
against Ptolemy. So true are the words of
Simonides,—"'Tis hard to be good." For to
have certain impulses towards virtue, and even
to hold to it up to a certain point, is easy; but
to be uniformly consistent, and to allow no
circumstances of danger to shake a resolute integrity, which
regards honour and justice as the highest considerations, is
indeed difficult. . . .
Popilius Makes Antiochus Stop the War
When Antiochus had advanced to attack Ptolemy in order
Antiochus is met near Alexandria (Livy, 45, 12) by C. Popilius Laenas, who forces him to abstain from the war.
to possess himself of Pelusium, he was met by
the Roman commander Gaius Popilius Laenas.
Upon the king greeting him from some distance,
and holding out his right hand to him, Popilius
answered by holding out the tablets which contained the decree of the Senate, and bade
Antiochus read that first: not thinking it right,
I suppose, to give the usual sign of friendship until he knew
the mind of the recipient, whether he were to be regarded as a
friend or foe. On the king, after reading the despatch, saying
that he desired to consult with his friends on the situation,
Popilius did a thing which was looked upon as exceedingly
overbearing and insolent. Happening to have a vine stick in
his hand, he drew a circle round Antiochus with it, and ordered
him to give his answer to the letter before he stepped out of
that circumference. The king was taken aback by this haughty
proceeding. After a brief interval of embarrassed silence, he
replied that he would do whatever the Romans demanded.
Then Popilius and his colleagues shook him by the hand, and
one and all greeted him with warmth. The contents of the
despatch was an order to put an end to the war with Ptolemy
at once. Accordingly a stated number of days was allowed
him, within which he withdrew his army into Syria, in high
dudgeon indeed, and groaning in spirit, but yielding to the
necessities of the time.
Popilius and his colleagues then restored order in
Popilius goes on to Cyprus and forces the army of Antiochus to evacuate it.
Alexandria; and after exhorting the two kings to
maintain peaceful relations with each other, and
charging them at the same time to send Polyaratus to Rome, they took ship and sailed
towards Cyprus, with the intention of promptly
ejecting from the island the forces that were also gathered
there. When they arrived, they found that Ptolemy's generals
had already sustained a defeat, and that the whole island was
in a state of excitement. They promptly caused the invading
army to evacuate the country, and remained there to keep
watch until the forces had sailed away for Syria. Thus did
the Romans save the kingdom of Ptolemy, when it was all but
sinking under its disasters.
The previous defeat of Perseus really secured the salvation of Egypt.
Fortune indeed so
disposed of the fate of Perseus and the Macedonians, that the restoration of Alexandria and
the whole of Egypt was decided by it; that is
to say, by the fate of Perseus being decided previously: for if
that had not taken place, or had not been certain, I do not
think that Antiochus would have obeyed these orders.