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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.

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    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 45, 12
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