They returned thence to Hypata; nor was a decision easy to reach; for there was no source from which a thousand talents could be paid, and they were afraid that if “full discretion” were granted they would suffer personal violence.
They therefore directed the same ambassadors to return to the consul and Africanus and to ask that if they wished to grant peace in reality, not merely to dangle it before them, deluding the hopes of the unfortunate, they would either diminish the amount of the indemnity or would order that an exception regarding their persons be made.
Nothing was obtained in the way of a change on the consul's part; and this embassy also was dismissed without result.
The Athenians followed; and Echedemus, the leader of their embassy, brought back hope to the Aetolians, wearied by so many repulses and bewailing with useless lamentations the ill-fate of their race, by suggesting that they ask an armistice for six months that envoys might be sent to Rome;
the delay would add nothing to their present misfortunes, since these were extreme; many things might happen in the intervening time to relieve their immediate calamity.
On the proposal of Echedemus the same men were sent; they first met Publius Scipio,1
through whose [p. 311]
intervention they obtained from the consul an armistice2
for the period which they asked.
And the siege of Amphissa being raised, Manius Acilius turned his army over to the consul and left the province,3
and from Amphissa the consul went back into Thessaly, in order to conduct the army through Macedonia and Thrace into Asia.4
Then Africanus addressed his brother: “The route which you propose to follow, Lucius Scipio, I likewise approve;
but it all hangs on the good-will of Philip, if he is loyal to our empire and will furnish us a safe passage and supplies and everything which feeds and aids an army on a long march; if he fails us, there will be no real security in going through Thrace; therefore my first counsel is to test the attitude of the king.
It will be most successfully tested if the man who is sent finds him doing nothing in anticipation of such a visit.”
Tiberius Sempronius Gracchus,5
by far the most energetic of the young men of the time, was chosen for this errand and, using relays of horses, with almost unbelievable speed, from Amphissa —for he was sent from there —on the third day reached Pella.
The king was at a banquet and had gone far with his drinking; this very cheerfulness of mind relieved all anxiety that Philip planned to make any new trouble.
And at that time the guest was graciously welcomed, and the next day he saw supplies in abundance prepared for the army, bridges built over the rivers, roads constructed where travel was difficult. Taking back this information, with the same speed as on his journey hither, he met the consul at Thaumaci.
From there the army, rejoicing to find its hopes6
surer and greater, reached Macedonia, where everything was in readiness.
As they drew near the king welcomed them and escorted them in royal state. There were seen in him many signs both of efficiency and of courtesy, which served to recommend him to Africanus, a man who, eminent as he was in every way, was not averse to courtesy, provided that it was without luxury.
Thence not only through Macedonia but also through Thrace, with Philip escorting them and making everything easy for them, the journey to the Hellespont was accomplished.