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War With Perseus Begun

Caius Lucretius1 being at anchor off Cephallenia, wrote a letter to the Rhodians, requesting them to despatch some ships, and entrusted the letter to a certain trainer named Socrates.
The Romanising party.
The Macedonian party
This letter arrived at Rhodes in the second six months of the Prytany of Stratocles. When the question came on for discussion, Agathagetus, Rhodophon, Astymedes, and many others were for sending the ships and taking part in the war from the first, without any further pretence; but Deinon and Polyaratus, though really displeased at the favour already shown to Rome, now for the present used the case of Eumenes as their pretext, and began by that means to alienate the feelings of the populace.
Jealousy of Eumenes.
There had in fact been a long standing feeling of suspicion and dislike in the minds of the Rhodians against Eumenes, dating from the time of his war with Pharnaces; when, upon king Eumenes blockading the entrance of the Hellespont to prevent ships sailing into the Pontus, the Rhodians had interfered with his design and thwarted him. This ill-feeling had again been recently exasperated during the Lycian war on the question of certain forts, and a strip of territory on the frontier of the Rhodian Peraea, which was being damaged by some of Eumenes's subjects. These incidents taken together made the Rhodians ready to listen to anything against the king. Seizing on this pretext, the party of Deinon tried to discredit the despatch, asserting that it did not come from the Romans but from Eumenes, who wished to involve them on any possible pretext in a war, and bring expense and perfectly unnecessary suffering upon the people. In support of their contention they put forward the fact that the man who brought the letter was some obscure trainer or another; and asserted that the Romans were not accustomed to employ such messengers, but were rather inclined to act with unnecessary care and dignity in the despatch of such missives. When they said this they were perfectly aware that the letter had really been written by Lucretius: their object was to persuade the Rhodian people to do nothing for the Romans readily, but rather to perpetually make difficulties, and thus give occasions for offence and displeasure to crop up between the two nations. For their deliberate purpose was to alienate Rhodes from the Roman friendship, and to join it to that of Perseus, by every means in their power. Their motives for thus clinging to Perseus were that Polyaratus, who was ostentatious and vain, had become heavily in debt; and that Deinon, who was avaricious and unscrupulous, had from the first relied on increasing his wealth by getting presents from princes and kings. These speeches having been delivered, the Prytanis Stratocles rose, and, after inveighing at some length against Perseus, and speaking with equal warmth in praise of the Romans, induced the people to confirm the decree for the despatch of the ships. Forthwith six quadriremes were prepared, five of which were sent to Chalcis under the command of Timagoras, and the other under the command of another Timagoras to Tenedos. This latter commander fell in at Tenedos with Diophanes, who had been despatched by Perseus to Antiochus, and captured both him and his crew. All such allies as arrived with offers of help by sea Lucretius thanked warmly, but excused from taking part in this service, observing that the Romans had no need of naval support. . . .

Perseus now collected a large army at Citium, thirty-nine thousand foot and four thousand horse, and advanced through the north of Thessaly taking many towns, and finally taking up his quarters at Sicyrium, at the foot of Mount Ossa. The Roman consul, P. Licinius, marched from the south-west through Gomphi, and thence to Larisa, where he crossed the river Peneus. After some cavalry skirmishes, which were generally favourable to the king, Perseus advanced nearer to the Roman camp, and a more important battle was fought, in which the king again scored a considerable success with his cavalry and light-armed troops. The Romans lost two hundred cavalry killed and as many prisoners and two thousand infantry, while Perseus only had twenty cavalry and forty infantry killed. He did not, however, follow up the victory sufficiently to inflict a crushing blow upon the Roman army; and though the Consul withdrew to the south of the Peneus, after some days' reflection the king made proposals of peace. See Livy, 42, 51-62. B. C. 171 (summer).

1 Gaius Lucretius had seen naval service as duumvir navalis on the coast

Politics at Rhodes.
of Liguria in B. C. 181. Livy, 40, 26. He was now (B. C. 171) Praetor, his provincia being the fleet, and commanded 40 quinqueremes. Id. 42, 48.

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  • Commentary references to this page (2):
    • Titus Livius (Livy), Ab urbe condita libri, erklärt von M. Weissenborn, books 41-42, commentary, 42.46
    • Titus Livius (Livy), Ab urbe condita libri, erklärt von M. Weissenborn, books 41-42, commentary, 42.62
  • Cross-references to this page (1):
  • Cross-references in notes from this page (3):
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 42, 48
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 40, 26
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 42, 51
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