Greece: Antiochus and the Aetolians Meet
THE Aetolians chose thirty of the
Antiochus the Great at a meeting of Aetolians at Lamia, autumn of B. C. 192. Livy, 35, 43-46.
with King Antiochus. . . .
He accordingly summoned a meeting of the
Apocleti and consulted them on the state of
affairs. . . .
The Boeotians Answer Antiochus
When Antiochus sent an embassy to the Boeotians,
they answered that they would not consider his proposals
until the king came in person. . . .
Epirus and Elis Ask Antiochus for Help
As Antiochus was staying at Chalcis, just as the winter
Antiochus passes the winter of B. C. 192-191 at Chalcis. Visit of envoys from Epirus and Elis.
was beginning, two ambassadors came to visit
him, Charops from Epirus, and Callistratus
from Elis. The prayer of the Epirotes was
that "The king would not involve them in the
war with Rome, for they dwelt on the side of
Greece immediately opposite Italy; but that, if
he could, he would secure their safety by defending the frontier
of Epirus: in that case he should be admitted into all their
towns and harbours: but if he decided not to do so at present,
they asked his indulgence if they shrank from a war with Rome."
The Eleans, in their turn, begged him "To send a reinforcement to their town; for as the Achaeans had voted war against
them, they were in terror of an attack from the troops of the
league." The king answered the Epirotes by saying that he
would send envoys to confer with them on their mutual
interests; but to Elis he despatched a thousand foot soldiers
under the command of Euphanes of Crete. . . .
The Decline of Boeotia
The Boeotians had long been in a very depressed state,
which offered a strong contrast to the former
prosperity and reputation of their country.
They had acquired great glory as well as great
material prosperity at the time of the battle of Leuctra; but
by some means or another from that time forward they steadily diminished both the one
and the other under the leadership of Amaeocritus; and subsequently not only diminished them, but underwent a complete
change of character, and did all that was possible to wipe out
their previous reputation. For having been incited by the
Achaeans to go to war with the Aetolians, they adopted the
policy of the former and made an alliance with them, and
thenceforth maintained a steady war with the
But on the Aetolians invading
Boeotia, they marched out with their full
available force, and without waiting for the arrival of the
Achaeans, who had mustered their men and were on the
point of marching to their assistance, they attacked the
Aetolians; and being worsted in the battle were so completely
demoralised, that, from the time of that campaign, they never
plucked up spirit to claim any position of honour whatever,
and never shared in any enterprise or contest undertaken by
the common consent of the Greeks. They devoted themselves entirely to eating and drinking, and thus became effeminate in their souls as well as in their bodies.
Continued Decline of Boeotia
Such were, briefly, the steps in the degeneracy of
Demetrius II. B. C. 239-229.
Boeotia. Immediately after the battle just mentioned they
abandoned the Achaeans and joined the Aetolians.2
the latter presently going to war with Philip's
father Demetrius, they once more abandoned
the Aetolians; and upon Demetrius entering
Boeotia with an army, without attempting resistance they
submitted completely to the Macedonians. But as a spark of
their ancestral glory still survived, there were found some
who disliked the existing settlement and the complete
subservience to Macedonia: and they accordingly maintained a violent opposition to the policy of Ascondas and
Neon, the ancestors of Brachylles, who were the
most prominent in the party which favoured
The rise of the house of Neon.
However, the party of Ascondas
eventually prevailed, owing to the following circumstance. Antigonus (Doson), who, after the death of Demetrius, was Philip's
guardian, happened to be sailing on some business along the
coast of Boeotia; when off Larymna he was surprised by a
sudden ebb of the tide, and his ships were left high and dry.
Now just at that time a rumour had been spread that Antigonus meant to make a raid upon the country; and therefore
Neon, who was Hipparch at the time, was patrolling the
country at the head of all the Boeotian cavalry to protect it,
and came upon Antigonus in this helpless and embarrassed position: and having it thus in his power to inflict a serious blow
upon the Macedonians, much to their surprise he resolved to
spare them. His conduct in so doing was approved by the other
Boeotians, but was not at all pleasing to the Thebans. Antigonus, however, when the tide flowed again and his ships
floated, proceeded to complete the voyage to Asia on which
he was bound, with deep gratitude to Neon for having
abstained from attacking him in his awkward position.
Accordingly, when at a subsequent period
he conquered the Spartan Cleomenes and
became master of Lacedaemon, he left Brachylles in
charge of the town, by way of paying him for the kindness
done him by his father Neon. This proved to be the beginning of a great rise in importance of the family of Brachylles.
But this was not all that Antigonus did for him: from that
time forward either he personally, or king Philip, continually
supported him with money and influence; so that before long
this family entirely overpowered the political party opposed to
them in Thebes, and forced all the citizens, with very few exceptions, to join the party of Macedonia. Such was the origin
of the political adherence to Macedonia of the family of Neon,
and of its rise to prosperity.
Disorganised State of Boeotia
But Boeotia as a nation had come to such a low pitch,
that for nearly twenty-five years the administration of justice had been suspended in private
and public suits alike. Their magistrates were
engaged in despatching bodies of men to guard the country
or in proclaiming national expeditions, and thus continually
postponed their attendance at courts of law. Some of the
Strategi also dispensed allowances to the needy from the public
treasury; whereby the common people learnt to support and
invest with office those who would help them to escape the
penalties of their crimes and undischarged liabilities, and to
be enriched from time to time with some portion of the public
property obtained by official favour. No one contributed to
this lamentable state of things more than Opheltas, who was
always inventing some plan calculated to benefit the masses for
the moment, while perfectly certain to ruin them in the future.
To these evils was added another unfortunate fashion. It
became the practice for those who died childless not to leave
their property to the members of their family, as had been
the custom of the country formerly, but to assign it for the
maintenance of feasts and convivial entertainments to be shared
in by the testator's friends in common; and even many who
did possess children left the larger part of their property to the
members of their own club. The result was that there were
many Boeotians who had more feasts to attend in the month
than there were days in it. The people of Megara therefore,
disliking this habit, and remembering their old connexion with
the Achaean league, were inclined once more to renew their
political alliance with it.
Antigonus Gonatas, ob. B. C. 239.
For the Megarians had been
members of the Achaean league since the time
of Antigonus Gonatas; but upon Cleomenes
blockading the Isthmus, finding themselves cut
off from the Achaeans they joined the Boeotians, with the
consent of the former.
Cleomenic war B. C. 227-221.
But a little before the
time of which we are now speaking, becoming
dissatisfied with the Boeotian constitution, they
again joined the Achaeans. The Boeotians, incensed at what
they considered acts of contempt, sallied out in full force to
attack Megara; and on the Megarians declining to listen to
them, they determined in their anger to besiege and assault
their city. But being attacked by a panic, on a report spreading that Philopoemen was at hand at the head of a force of
Achaeans, they left their scaling ladders against the walls
and fled back precipitately to their own country.
Fortune and Degeneracy of the Boeotians
Such being the state of Boeotian politics, it was only by
extraordinary good fortune that they evaded destruction in the
dangerous periods of the wars of Philip and Antiochus. But
in the succeeding period they did not escape in the same way.
Fortune, on the contrary, seemed determined to make them
pay for their former good luck by a specially severe retribution,
as I shall relate hereafter. . . .
Many of the Boeotians defended their alienation from
Antiochus received in Thebes, B. C. 192.
the Romans by alleging the assassination of
and the expedition made by Flamininus upon Coronea owing to the murders of
Romans on the roads.4
But the real reason was their moral
degeneracy, brought about by the causes I have mentioned.
For as soon as the king approached, the Boeotian magistrates
went out to meet him, and after holding a friendly conversation with him conducted him into Thebes. . . .
Submission of the Aetolian Officers
Antiochus the Great came to Chalcis in Euboea, and there
Antiochus wintering in Chalcis, B. C. 192-191.
completed his marriage, when he was fifty years
old, and had already undertaken his two most
important labours, the liberation of Greece—as
he called it—and the war with Rome. However, having fallen in love with a young lady of Chalcis, he was
bent on marrying her, though the war was still going on; for
he was much addicted to wine and delighted in excesses. The
lady was a daughter of Cleoptolemus, a man of rank, and was possessed of extraordinary beauty. He remained in Chalcis all the
winter occupied in marriage festivities, utterly regardless of the
pressing business of the time. He gave the girl the name of
Euboea, and after his defeat5
fled with his bride to Ephesus. . . .
The Aetolians Seek a Truce
When the Romans took Heracleia, Phaeneas the
Heracleia Trachinia taken by Acilius after the battle of Thermopylae. B. C. 191.
Aetolian Strategus, in view of the danger
threatening Aetolia, and seeing what would
happen to the other towns, determined to send
an embassy to Manius Acilius to demand a
truce and treaty of peace. With this purpose
he despatched Archidamus, Pantaleon and
Chalesus, who on meeting the Roman consul were intending
to enter upon a long argument, but were interrupted in the
middle of their speech and prevented from finishing it.
Embassy of the Aetolians.
Acilius remarked that "For the present he had
no leisure to attend to them, being much engaged
with the distribution of the spoils of Heracleia:
he would, however, grant a ten days' truce and send Lucius
Valerius Flaccus with them, with instructions as to what he
was to say." The truce being thus made, and Valerius having
come to Hypata, a lengthened discussion took place on the
state of affairs. The Aetolians sought to establish their case
by referring to their previous services to Rome. But Valerius
cut this line of argument short by saying that "Such justification did not apply to the present circumstances; for as these
old friendly relations had been broken off by them, and the
existing hostility was owing entirely to the Aetolians themselves,
the services of the past could be of no assistance to them in
the present. They must therefore abandon all idea of justification, and adopt a tone of supplication, and beseech the consul's
pardon for their transgressions." After a long discussion on
various details, the Aetolians eventually decided to leave the
whole matter to Acilius, and commit themselves without reserve
to the good faith of the Romans. They had no comprehension
of what this really involved; but they were misled by the
word "faith" into supposing that the Romans would thereby
be more inclined to grant them terms. But with the Romans
for a man "to commit himself to their good faith" is held to
be equivalent to "surrendering unconditionally."
The Aetolians Do Not Confirm the Terms
Having come to this resolution, Phaeneas despatched
Aetolian embassy to Acilius.
legates with Valerius to announce the decision
of the Aetolians to Acilius. On being admitted
to the presence of the Consul, these legates, after
once more entering upon a plea of self-justification, ended by
announcing that the Aetolians had decided to commit themselves to the good faith of the Romans.
interrupted them by saying, "Is this really the case, men of
Aetolia?" And upon their answering in the affirmative, he
said: "Well then, the first condition is that
none of you, individually or collectively, must
cross to Asia; the second is that you must surrender Menestratus the Epirote" (who happened at that time to be at
Naupactus, where he had come to the assistance of the
Aetolians), "and also King Amynander, with such of the
Athamanians as accompanied him in his desertion to your side."
Here Phaeneas interrupted him by saying: "But it is neither
just nor consonant with Greek customs, O Consul, to do what
you order." To which Acilius replied,—not so much because
he was angry, as because he wished to show him the dangerous
position in which he stood, and to thoroughly frighten him,—
"Do you still presume to talk to me about Greek customs,
and about honour and duty, after having committed yourselves to my good faith? Why, I might if I chose put
you all in chains and commit you to prison!" With these
words he ordered his men to bring a chain and an iron
collar and put it on the neck of each of them. Thereupon
Phaeneas and his companions stood in speechless amazement, as though bereft of all power of thought or motion, at
this unexpected turn of affairs. But Valerius and some
others who were present besought Acilius not to inflict any
severity upon the Aetolians then before him, as they were in
the position of ambassadors. And on his yielding to these
representations, Phaeneas broke silence by saying that "He and
the Apocleti were ready to obey the injunctions, but they must
consult the general assembly if they were to be confirmed."
Upon Acilius agreeing to this, he demanded a truce of ten days
to be granted. This also having been conceded, they departed
with these terms, and on arrival at Hypata told the Apocleti
what had been done and the speeches that had been made.
This report was the first thing which made their error, and the
compulsion under which they were placed, clear to the Aetolians.
It was therefore decided to write round to the various cities
and call the Aetolians together, to consult on the injunctions
imposed upon them.
The Aetolians fail to ratify the peace.
When the news of the
reception Phaeneas had met with was noised
abroad, the Aetolian people were so infuriated
that no one would even attend the meeting to discuss the matter
at all. It was thus impossible to hold the discussion. They
were further encouraged by the arrival of Nicander, who just
at that time sailed into Phalara, on the Malian gulf, from
Asia, bringing news of the warm reception given him by
Antiochus, and the promises for the future which the king had
made; they therefore became quite indifferent as to the noncompletion of the peace. Thus when the days of the truce had
elapsed the Aetolians found themselves still at war with Rome.
The Fate of Nicander
But I ought not to omit to describe the subsequent career
and fate of Nicander. He arrived back at Phalara
on the twelfth day after leaving Ephesus, and
found the Romans still engaged in Heracleia, and
the Macedonians having already evacuated Lamia, but encamped
at no great distance from the town: he thereupon conveyed
his money unexpectedly into Lamia, and attempted himself to
make his way between the two camps into Hypata. But,
falling into the hands of the Macedonian pickets, he was
taken to Philip, while his evening party was still at the midst
of their entertainment, greatly alarmed lest he should meet
with rough treatment from having incurred Philip's resentment, or should be handed over to the Romans. But when
the matter was reported to the king, he at once gave orders
that the proper officers should offer Nicander refreshments, and
show him every politeness and attention. After a time he got
up from table and went personally to visit him; and after
enlarging at great length on "the folly of the Aetolians, for
having first brought the Romans into Greece, and afterwards
Antiochus," he still, even at this hour, urged that "they should
forget their past, adhere to their loyalty to himself, and not
show a disposition to take advantage of each other's difficulties."
He bade Nicander convey this message to the leaders of the
Aetolians, and exhorting him personally to remember the favours
which he had received at his hands, he despatched him with
a sufficient escort, which he ordered to see him safe into Hypata.
This result was far beyond Nicander's hopes or expectations.
He was restored in due course to his friends, and from the
moment of this adventure remained devoted to the royal
family of Macedonia. Thus, in the subsequent period of the
war with Perseus, the obligations which this favour had imposed
upon him caused him to offer such an unwilling and lukewarm opposition to the designs of Perseus, that he exposed
himself to suspicion and denunciation, and at last was summoned to Rome and died there. . . .
The Spartans could not find one of their own citizens
The Spartans wish to offer Philopoemen the palace of Nabis, as a reward, and as an inducement to
defend their liberty. Plutarch, Philop. 15.
willing to address Philopoemen on this subject.
To men who for the most part undertake work for
what they can get by it there are plenty of people
to offer such rewards, and to regard them as the
means of founding and consolidating friendship:
but in the case of Philipoemen no one could be
found willing to convey this offer to him at all.
Finally, being completely at a loss, they elected
Timolaus to do it, as being his ancestral guest-friend and very
intimate with him. Timolaus twice journeyed to Megalopolis
for this express purpose, without daring to say a word to
Philopoemen about it. But having goaded himself to making
a third attempt, he at length plucked up courage to mention
the proposed gifts. Much to his surprise Philopoemen
received the suggestion with courtesy; and Timolaus was
overjoyed by the belief that he had attained his object.
Philopoemen, however, remarked that he would come to
Sparta himself in the course of the next few days; for he
wished to offer all the magistrates his thanks for this favour.
He accordingly came, and, being invited to attend the Senate, he
said: "He had long been aware of the kindness with which the
Lacedaemonians regarded him; but was more convinced than
ever by the compliments and extraordinary mark of honour
they now offered him. But while gratefully accepting their
intention, he disliked the particular manner of its exhibition.
They should not bestow such honour and rewards on their
friends, the poison of which would indelibly infect the receiver,
but rather upon their enemies; that the former might retain
their freedom of speech and the confidence of the Achaeans
when proposing to offer assistance to Sparta; while the latter,
by swallowing the bait, might be compelled either to support
their cause, or at any rate to keep silence and do them no
harm. . . ."
The remaining events of the war against Antiochus in this
year are related by Livy, 36, 41-45. Acilius was engaged for
two months in the siege of Naupactus: while the Roman fleet
under Gaius Livius defeated that of Antiochus, under his admiral
Polyxenidas, off Phocaea.
To see an operation with one's own eyes is not like merely
hearing a description of it. It is, indeed, quite another thing;
and the confidence which such vivid experience gives is always
greatly advantageous. . . .