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A Plea For Union In Greece

A speech of the legate from Rhodes1 before an assembly of Aetolians at Heraclea in the autumn of B.C. 207 (see Livy, 28, 7), at the end of the summer campaign.

"Facts I imagine, Aetolians, have made it clear to you that neither King Ptolemy nor the community of Rhodes, Byzantium, Chios, or Mitylene, regard a composition with you as unimportant. For this is not the first or the second time that we have introduced the subject of peace to your assembly; but ever since you entered upon the war we have beset you with entreaties, and have never desisted from warning you on this subject; because we saw that its immediate result would be the destruction of yourselves and of Macedonia, and because we foresaw in the future danger to our own countries and to that of all other Greeks. For as, when a man has once set a fire alight, the result is no longer dependent upon his choice, but it spreads in whatever direction chance may direct, guided for the most part by the wind and the combustible nature of the material, and frequently attacks the first author of the conflagration himself: so too, war, when once it has been kindled by a nation, sometimes devours the first those who kindled it; and soon rushes along destroying everything that falls in its way, continually gathering fresh strength, and blown into greater heat by the folly of the people in its neighbourhood, as though by the wind. Wherefore, men of Aetolia, considering that we, as representatives of the whole body of the islanders and of the Greek inhabitants of Asia, are here to beseech you to put an end to war and to choose peace, because the matter affects us as well as you, show your wisdom by listening to us and yielding to our entreaties. For if you were carrying on a war which, though profitless (and most wars are that), was yet glorious from the motive which prompted it, and the reputation likely to accrue from it, you might be pardoned perhaps for a fixed determination to continue it; but if it is a war of the most signal infamy, which can bring you nothing but discredit and obloquy,—does not such an undertaking claim considerable hesitation on your part? We will speak our opinion frankly; and you, if you are wise, will give us a quiet hearing. For it is much better to hear a disagreeable truth now and thereby be preserved, than to listen to smooth things now, and soon afterwards to be ruined yourselves, and to ruin the rest of the Greeks with you.

1 There is nothing to show positively that a Rhodian is the speaker: but Livy mentions envoys from Rhodes and Ptolemy this year. For the special attempts of the Rhodians to bring about a peace between Philip and the Aetolians, see 5, 24, 100.

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207 BC (1)
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    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 28, 7
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