Then the Roman delegate spoke: “First the Macedonians, then the Athenians, have changed the whole tenor of my argument.
For the Macedonians, when I had come to complain of the injuries inflicted by Philip upon so many states allied with us, by taking the lead in accusing the Romans, have caused me to prefer a defence
of ourselves to an accusation of them, and when the Athenians have described his cruel and inhuman crimes against the gods above and below, what have they left for me or anyone else with which to reproach him further?
Consider that these same complaints are made by the people of Cius,1
Abydus, Aenus, Maronea, Thasos, Paros, Samos, Larisa, Messene here from Achaea, and that those complaints are of more grievous and cruel treatment wherever he had greater power to do harm.
For as to those matters with which he has charged us, unless they merit glory, I confess that they cannot be defended. He has reproached us with Rhegium and Capua and Syracuse.
Take Rhegium: in the war with Pyrrhus a legion sent by us when the townspeople of Rhegium themselves begged us to send troops for their protection, criminally seized the city it was sent to guard.
Did we, then, approve this crime? Or did we, making war upon the guilty legion and reducing it to submission, when we [p. 93]
had made it pay to the allies the penalty, with scourgings2
and beheadings, did we restore to the people of Rhegium their city, their lands and all their possessions along with their liberty and laws?
When we had given aid to the Syracusans, oppressed by foreign tyrants, a thing which made their fate more pitiable, and when we had been worn out by besieging, for nearly three years, the city strongly fortified by land and sea, since now the Syracusans themselves preferred to be ruled by tyrants to being captured by us, we delivered to them a city taken and liberated by these same arms.3
We do not deny that Sicily is our province and that the cities which were on the side of Carthage and in agreement with her made war on us are our vassals and tributaries; nay, on the contrary, we wish both you and all nations to know this, that each one's fortune is proportioned to his services to us.
Or should we be ashamed of the punishment of the Campanians, of which not even they can complain?
These people, when we had warred with the Samnites on their behalf for almost seventy years, with great losses to ourselves, and when after that we had bound them to us, first by treaty, then by intermarriages
and personal ties, finally by the gift of citizenship, were the first of all the states of Italy who in our time of stress foully murdered our garrison and went over to Hannibal, and then, enraged because they were besieged by us, sent Hannibal to attack Rome.
If neither their city nor any man of them survived, who could say [p. 95]
that they had been punished more severely than they4
More of them, from consciousness of their guilt, committed suicide than were punished by us.
From the rest we did indeed take away their town and their fields, but in such a way that we left them enough land and room to dwell in, and we permitted the city itself to stand safe and uninjured, so that he who sees it to-day finds no sign of its assault and capture. But why do I mention Capua, when we gave peace and liberty to conquered Carthage?
This is the greater danger, that by treating the vanquished too generously we may thereby incite more peoples to try the fortune of war against us.
Let this be our defence of ourselves and our answer to Philip, whose murders within his family, whose slaughterings of friends and relatives, whose passions, more unnatural almost than his cruelty, you know better than I, as you are nearer neighbours to Macedonia.
So far as you are concerned, men of Aetolia, we undertook the war with Philip for you and you made peace with him without us.
And perhaps you will argue that when we were busy with the Punic war, you, compelled by fear, received terms of peace from him who was at that time more powerful; and that we, in the press of greater matters, ourselves neglected the war which you abandoned.
But now, by the grace of the gods, having finished the Punic war, we have addressed ourselves with all our energy to Macedonia, and to you, accordingly, is offered the opportunity of reinstating yourselves in our alliance and friendship, unless you prefer perishing with Philip to conquering with the Romans.”