mercatoribus, etc.: abl. abs. expressing cause. appellati, addressed. superbius, too haughtily. The orator is here appealing to the passions of his hearers, and his statements must be interpreted accordingly. In B.C. 148 Roman ambassadors demanded that the Achaean League give up all its recent acquisitions; at which the incensed populace insulted the ambassadors and drove them away. In the war that followed, Corinth was captured by Mummius and destroyed, while Greece was made into a province by the name of Achaia. The insult to the ambassadors was but a pretext for the war, which was, in fact, merely one act in the general Roman policy of conquest. The extinction of the "eye of Greece," too, was not from motives of vengeance, but in order to remove a powerful rival to Roman commerce. legatum, etc.: M'. Aquilius, the person referred to, had in fact forfeited all claim to the inviolability of an ambassador by actually taking command of an army against Mithridates. He was taken prisoner and put to death (B.C. 88). Aquilius had done service to the state by suppressing the Servile War in Sicily.
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