previous next

Speech of L. Aemilius Paullus

"THEIR one idea, expressed at parties or conversations in
B. C. 168. Coss. L. Aemilius Paullus, C. Licinius Crassus. A fragment of the speech of L. Aemilius before starting for Macedonia. See Livy, 44, 22.
the street, was, that they should manage the war in Macedonia while remaining quietly at home in Rome, sometimes by criticising what the generals were doing, at others what they were leaving undone. From this the public interests never got any good, and often a great deal of harm. The generals themselves were at times greatly hampered by this ill-timed loquacity. For as it is the invariable nature of slander to spread rapidly and stop at nothing, the people got thoroughly infected by this idle talk, and the generals were consequently rendered contemptible in the eyes of the enemy." . . .


Gaius Popilius Laenas Sent to Alexandria

The Senate being informed that Antiochus
In answer to an embassy from Ptolemy Physcon and his sister Cleopatra, the Senate sends Gaius Popilius Laenas to Alexandria. Livy, 44, 19.
had become master of Egypt, and all but taken Alexandria, and conceiving that the aggrandisement of that king was a matter affecting themselves, appointed Gaius Popilius and others to go as ambassadors to put an end to the war, and generally to inspect the state of affairs. . . .


Genthius Forms an Alliance with Perseus

Hippias, and the other ambassadors sent by Perseus, to
Genthius joins Perseus on being supplied with 300 talents;
Genthius to make an alliance with him, returned before the winter, and reported that Genthius would undertake to join in the war with Rome if he was paid three hundred talents and received proper securities. Thereupon Perseus sent Pantauchus, one of his chief friends, with the following instructions: He was to agree to pay Genthius the money; to interchange oaths of alliance; to take from Genthius such hostages as he himself might select, and send them at once to Macedonia; and to allow Genthius to have such hostages from Perseus as he might name in the text of the treaty; further, he was to make arrangements for the transport of the three hundred talents. Pantauchus immediately started and met Genthius at Mebeōn, in the country of the Labeates, and quickly bought the young monarch over to join in the projects of Perseus. The treaty having been sworn to and reduced to writing, Genthius at once sent the hostages whose names Pantauchus had caused to be entered in the text of the treaty; and with them he despatched Olympion to receive the oaths and hostages from Perseus, with others who were to have charge of the money.
and also consents to join in a mission to Rhodes.
Pantauchus persuaded him to send also some ambassadors to join in a mission to Rhodes with some sent by Perseus, in order to negotiate a mutual alliance between the three states. For if this were effected, and the Rodians consented to embark upon the war, he showed that they would be easily able to conquer the Romans. Genthius listened to the suggestion, and appointed Parmenio and Marcus to undertake the mission; with instructions that, as soon as they had received the oaths and hostages from Perseus, and the question of the money had been settled, they were to proceed on the embassy to Rhodes.


Genthius Joins Perseus

So these various ambassadors started together for
Perseus meets the envoys from Genthius;
Macedonia. But Pantauchus stayed by the side of the young king, and kept reminding him of the necessity of making warlike preparations, and urging him not to be too late with them. He was especially urgent that he should prepare for a contest at sea; for, as the Romans were quite unprepared in that department on the coasts both of Epirus and Illyria, any purpose he might form would be easily accomplished by himself and the forces he might despatch. Genthius yielded to the advice and set about his preparations, naval and military alike: and Perseus, as soon as the ambassadors and hostages from Genthius entered Macedonia, set off from his camp on the River Elpeius,1 with his whole cavalry, to meet them at Dium. His first act on meeting them was to take the oaths to the alliance in the presence of the whole body of cavalry; for he was very anxious that the Macedonians should know of the adhesion of Genthius, hoping that this additional advantage would have the effect of raising their courage: and next he received the hostages and handed over his own to Olympion and his colleagues, the noblest of whom were Limnaeus, the son of Polemocrates, and Balacrus, son of Pantauchus. Lastly, he sent the agents who had come for the money to Pella, assuring them that they would receive it there: and appointed the ambassadors for Rhodes to join Metrodorus at Thessalonica, and hold themselves in readiness to embark.

This embassy succeeded in persuading the Rhodians to

and sends others to Eumenes and Antiochus.
join in the war. And, having accomplished this, Perseus next sent Herophon, who had been similarly employed before, on a mission to Eumenes; and Telemnastos of Crete to Antiochus to urge him "Not to let the opportunity escape; nor to imagine that Perseus was the only person affected by the overbearing and oppressive conduct of Rome: but to be quite sure that, if he did not now assist Perseus, if possible by putting an end to the war, or, if not, by supporting him in it, he would quickly meet with the same fate himself." . . .


Difficulty of Explaining the Intrigues of Perseus and Eumenes

In venturing upon a narrative of the intrigues of Perseus
The intrigues of Perseus and Eumenes.
and Eumenes, I have felt myself in a position of great embarrassment. For to give full and accurate details of the negotiations, which these two kings conducted in secret between themselves, appeared to me to be an attempt open to many obvious criticisms and exceedingly liable to error: and yet to pass over in complete silence what seemed to have exercised the most decisive influence in the war, and which alone can explain many of the subsequent events, seemed to me to wear the appearance of a certain sluggishness and entire want of enterprise. On the whole, I decided to state briefly what I believed to be truth, and the probabilities and surmises on which I founded that opinion; for I was, in fact, during this period more struck than most people at what happened.


Reasons to Suspect Intrigue between Eumenes and Perseus

I have already stated2 that Cydas of Crete, while, serving in the army of Eumenes and held in especial honour by him, had in the first place had interviews with Cheimarus, one of the Cretans in the army of Perseus, and again had approached the walls of Demetrias, and conversed first with Menecrates, and then with Antimachus.
The Romans become suspicious of Eumenes, and ostentatiously transfer their favour to his brother Attalus.
Again, that Herophon had been twice on a mission from Perseus to Eumenes, and that the Romans on that account began to have reasonable suspicions of king Eumenes, is rendered clear from what happened to Attalus. For they allowed this prince to come to Rome from Brundisium, and to transact the business he had on hand, and finally gave him a favourable answer and dismissed him with every mark of kindness, although he had done them no service of any importance in the war with Perseus; while Eumenes, who had rendered them the most important services, and had assisted them again and again in their wars with Antiochus and Perseus, they not only prevented from coming to Rome, but bade him leave Italy within a certain number of days, though it was mid-winter. Therefore it is quite plain that some intriguing had been taking place between Perseus and Eumenes to account for the alienation of the Romans from the latter. What this was, and how far it went, is our present subject of inquiry.


Eumenes Intrigues With Perseus

We can easily satisfy ourselves that Eumenes cannot
The origin of the intrigue between Eumenes and Perseus was the idea of the former that, both sides being tired of the war, he might intervene with profit to himself.
have wished Perseus to be the victor in the war and become supreme in Greece. For to say nothing of the traditional enmity and dislike existing between these two, the similarity of their respective powers was sufficient to breed distrust, jealousy, and, in fact, the bitterest animosity between them. It was always open to them to intrigue and scheme against each other secretly, and that they were both doing. For when Eumenes saw that Perseus was in a bad way, and was hemmed in on every side by his enemies, and would accept any terms for the sake of putting an end to the war, and was sending envoys to the Roman generals year after year with this view; while the Romans also were uneasy about the result, because they made no real progress in the war until Paulus took the command, and because Aetolia was in a dangerous state of excitement, he conceived that it would not be impossible that the Romans would consent to some means of ending the war and making terms: and he looked upon himself as the most proper person to act as mediator and effect the reconciliation.
B. C. 168.
With these secret ideas in his mind, he began sounding Perseus by means of Cydas of Crete, the year before, to find out how much he would be inclined to pay for such a chance. This appears to me to be the origin of their connexion with each other.


Struggle between Eumenes and Perseus

Two kings, one of whom was the most unprincipled
The bargain attempted between Eumenes and Perseus.
and the other the most avaricious in the world, being now pitted against each other, their mutual struggles presented a spectacle truly ridiculous. Eumenes held out every kind of hope, and threw out every species of bait, believing that he would catch Perseus by such promises. Perseus, without waiting to be approached, rushed to the bait held out to him, and made for it greedily; yet he could not make up his mind to swallow it, to such an extent as to give up any money. The sort of huckstering contest that went on between them was as follows. Eumenes demanded five hundred talents as the price of his abstention from co-operating with the Romans by land and sea during the fourth year of the war, and fifteen hundred for putting an end to the war altogether, and promised to give hostages and securities for his promise at once. Perseus accepted the proposal of hostages, named the number, the time at which they were to be sent, and the manner of their safe custody at Cnosus. But as to the money, he said that it would be disgraceful to the one who paid, and still more to the one who received it, to be supposed to remain neutral for hire; but the fifteen hundred talents he would send in charge of Polemocrates and others to Samothrace, to be held as a deposit there. Now Perseus was master of Samothrace; but as Eumenes, like a poor physician, preferred a retaining-fee to a payment after work, he finally gave up the attempt, when he found that his own craftiness was no match for the meanness of Perseus. They thus parted on equal terms, leaving, like good athletes, the battle of avarice a drawn one. Some of these details leaked out at the time, and others were communicated subsequently to Perseus's intimate friends; and he has taught us by them that every vice is clinched, so to speak, by avarice.


The Avarice of Perseus

I add the further question from my own reflexions,
Reflexions on the blindness of the avaricious kings.
whether avarice is not also short-sighted? For who could fail to remark the folly of both the kings? How could Eumenes on the one hand expect to be trusted by a man with whom he was on such bad terms; and to get so large a sum of money, when he was able to give Perseus absolutely no security for recovering it, in case of his not carrying out his promises? And how could he expect not to be detected by the Romans in taking so large a sum? If he had concealed it at the time he certainly would not have done so long. Moreover, he would have been bound at any rate, in return for it, to have adopted the quarrel with Rome; in which he would have been certain to have lost the money and his kingdom together, and very probably his life also, by coming forward as an enemy of the Romans. For if, even as it was, when he accomplished nothing, but only imagined it, he fell into the gravest dangers, what would have happened to him if this design had been brought to perfection? And again, as to Perseus—who could fail to be surprised at his thinking anything of higher importance, or more to his advantage, than to give the money and allow Eumenes to swallow the bait? For if, on the one hand, Eumenes had performed any part of his promises, and had put an end to the war, the gift would have been well bestowed; and if, on the other hand, he had been deceived of that hope, he could at least have involved him in the certain enmity of Rome; for he would have had it entirely in his own power to make these transactions public. And one may easily calculate how valuable this would have been to Perseus, whether he succeeded or failed in the war: for he would have regarded Eumenes as the guilty cause of all his misfortunes, and could in no way have retaliated upon him more effectually than by making him an enemy of Rome. What then was the root of all this blind folly? Nothing but avarice.
See Plutarch, Aemilius, ch. 12.
It could have been nothing else; for, to save himself from giving money, Perseus was content to suffer anything, and neglect every other consideration. On a par too with this was his conduct to the Gauls and Genthius. . . .


Rhodes Decides to Seek Peace

The question being put to the vote at Rhodes, it was
The Rhodians take active steps to form a confederation against Rome, in case their intervention fails.
carried to send envoys to negotiate a peace; and this decree thus decided the relative strength of the opposite political parties at Rhodes [as has been stated in my essay on public speaking], showing that the party for siding with Perseus was stronger than that which was for preserving their country and its laws. The Prytanies immediately appointed ambassadors to negotiate the cessation of the war: Agepolis, Diocles, and Cleombrotus were sent to Rome; Damon, Nicostratus, Agesilochus, and Telephus to Perseus and the consul. The Rhodians went on in the same spirit to take further steps, so that they eventually committed themselves past all excuse. For they at once sent ambassadors to Crete, to renew their friendly relations with the entire Cretan people, and to urge that, in view of the dangers that threatened them, they should throw in their lot with the people of Rhodes, and hold the same people to be friends and enemies as they did, and also to address the separate cities to the same effect. . . .


Turbulent Assembly at Rhodes

When the embassy led by Parmenio and Morcus
The manner in which this vote of the Rhodians was carried, B. C. 168.
from Genthius, accompanied by those led by Metrodorus, arrived in Rhodes, the assembly summoned to meet them proved very turbulent, the party of Deinon venturing openly to plead the cause of Perseus, whilst that of Theaetetus was quite overpowered and dismayed. For the presence of the Illyrian galleys, the number of the Roman cavalry that had been killed, and the fact of Genthius having changed sides, quite crushed them. Thus it was that the result of the meeting of the assembly was as I have described it. For the Rhodians voted to return a favourable answer to both kings, to state that they had resolved to put an end to the war, and to exhort the kings themselves to make no difficulty about the terms. They also received the ambassadors of Genthius at the common altar-hearth or Prytaneum of the city with every mark of friendship. . . .


Of Proportion In History

Other historians [have spoken in exaggerated terms]3 of the Syrian war. And the reason is one which I have often mentioned. Though their subjects are simple and without complications, they seek the name and reputation of historians not from the truth of their facts, but the number of their books; and accordingly they are obliged to give petty affairs an air of importance, and fill out and give rhetorical flourishes to what was originally expressed briefly; dress up actions and achievements which were originally quite secondary; expatiate on struggles; and describe pitched battles, in which sometimes ten or a few more infantry fell, and still fewer cavalry. As for sieges, local descriptions, and the like, one cannot say that their treatment is adequate, because they have no facts to give. But a writer of universal history must pursue a different plan; and therefore I ought not to be condemned for minimising the importance of events, if I sometimes pass over affairs that have met with wide fame and laboured description, or for mentioning them with brevity; but I ought to be trusted to give to each subject the amount of discussion which it deserves. Such historians as I refer to, when they are describing in the course of their work the siege, say of Phanoteia, or Coroneia, or [Haliartus], are forced to display all the contrivances, bold strokes, and other features of a siege; and when they come to the capture of Tarentum, the sieges of Corinth, Sardis, Gaza, Bactra, and, above all, of Carthage, they must draw on their own resources to prolong the agony and heighten the picture, and are not at all satisfied with me for giving a more truthful relation of such events as they really occurred. Let this statement hold good also as to my description of pitched battles and public harangues, as well as other departments of history; in all of which I might fairly claim considerable indulgence, as also in what is now about to be narrated, if I am detected in some inconsistency in the substance of my story, the treatment of my facts, or the style of language; and also if I make some mistakes in the names of mountains or rivers, or the special features of localities: for indeed the magnitude of my work is a sufficient excuse in all these points, unless, indeed, I am ever detected in deliberate or interested misstatements in my writings: for such I ask no indulgence, as I have repeatedly and explicitly remarked in the course of my history. . . .


Character of Genthius

Genthius, king of the Illyrians, disgraced himself by
Intemperance and brutality of Genthius.
many abominable actions in the course of his life from his addiction to drink, in which he indulged continually day and night. Among other things he killed his brother Plastor, who was about to marry the daughter of Monunius, and married the girl himself. He also behaved with great cruelty to his subjects. . . .

In the spring of B. C. 168 Genthius was forced to surrender to the praetor L. Anicius Gallus (Livy, 44, 30-31). The consul L. Aemilius Paulus found Perseus on the left bank of the Macedonian river Enipeus in a very strong position, which was however turned by a gallant exploit of Nasica and Q. Fabius Maximus, who made their way with a considerable force over the mountains, thus getting on the rear of Perseus. Livy, 44, 30-35. Plutarch, Aemil. 15.


Scipio Nasica and Fabius Maximus Volunteer to Outflank the Macedonians

The first man to volunteer to make the outflanking
Nasica, Fabius, and others volunteer to cross the mountains into Macedonia by Gytheum.
movement was Scipio Nasica, son-in-law of Scipio Africanus, who afterwards became the most influential man in the Senate,4 and who now undertook to lead the party. The second was Fabius Maximus, the eldest of the sons of the consul Aemilius Paulus,5 still quite a young man, who stood forward and offered to join with great enthusiasm. Aemilius was therefore delighted and assigned them a body of soldiers.6 . . .


A Cretan Deserter Brings Intelligence to Perseus

The Romans offered a gallant resistance by aid of their strong targets or Ligurian
Struggle in the bed of the Enipeus. Livy, 44, 35.
shields. . . .

Perseus saw that Aemilius had not moved, and did not

The Romans force the heights by way of Gytheum.
reckon on what was taking place, when suddenly a Cretan, who had deserted from the Roman army on its march, came to him with the information that the Romans were getting on his rear. Though thrown into the utmost panic he did not strike his camp, but despatched ten thousand mercenaries and two thousand Macedonians under Milo, with orders to advance with speed and seize the heights. The Romans fell upon these as they were lying asleep.7 . . .


Battle of Pydna

An eclipse of the moon occurring, the report went abroad, and was believed by many, that it signified an eclipse of the king. And this circumstance raised the spirits of the Romans and depressed those of the Macedonians. So true is the common saying that "war has many a groundless scare."8 . . .

Perseus finding himself thus on the point of being outflanked retired on Pydna, near which town Aemilius Paulus, after considerable delay, about midsummer inflicted a crushing defeat upon him. Perseus fled to Amphipolis, and thence to Samothrace, where he was captured by Paulus and taken to Rome to adorn his triumph, and afterwards allowed to live as a private person at Alba. This was the end of the Macedonian kingdom. (Livy, 44, 36-43; 45, 1-8. Plutarch, Aemil. 16-23.)


Perseus Loses His Resolve

The consul Lucius Aemilius had never seen a phalanx
The phalanx at the battle of Pydna, B. C. 168.
until he saw it in the army of Perseus on this occasion; and he often confessed to some of his friends at Rome subsequently, that he had never beheld anything more alarming and terrible than the Macedonian phalanx: and yet he had been, if any one ever had, not only a spectator but an actor in many battles. . . .

Many plans which look plausible and feasible, when brought to the test of actual experience, like base coins when brought to the furnace, cease to answer in any way to their original conceptions. . . .

When Perseus came to the hour of trial his courage all left him, like that of an athlete in bad training. For when the danger was approaching, and it became necessary to fight a decisive battle, his resolution gave way. . . .

As soon as the battle began, the Macedonian king played the coward and rode off to the town, under the pretext of sacrificing to Hercules,—who certainly does not accept craven gifts from cravens, nor fulfil unworthy prayers. . . .


Ambitious Youth

He was then very young, and it was his first experience
Scipio Africanus the younger, cf. Livy, 44, 44 (?)
of actual service in the field, and having but recently begun to taste the sweets of promotion, he was keen, ambitious, and eager to be first. . . .


The Senate Makes an Example of the Rhodian Ambassadors

Just when Perseus had been beaten and was trying to
The Rhodian mission deliver their message too late.
save himself by flight, the Senate determined to admit the ambassadors, who had come from Rhodes to negotiate a peace, to an audience: Fortune thus appearing designedly to parade the folly of the Rhodians on the stage,—if we may say "of the Rhodians," and not rather "of the individuals who were then in the ascendant at Rhodes." When Agesipolis and his colleagues entered the Senate, they said that "They had come to arrange an end to the war; for the people of Rhodes,—seeing that the war was become protracted to a considerable length of time, and seeing that it was disadvantageous to all the Greeks, as well as to the Romans themselves, on account of its enormous expenses,—had come to that conclusion. But as the war was already ended, and the wish of the Rhodians was thus fulfilled, they had only to congratulate the Romans." Such was the brief speech of Agesipolis.
Uncompromising answer of the Senate
But the Senate seized the opportunity of making an example of the Rhodians, and produced an answer of which the upshot was that "They did not regard this embassy as having been sent by the Rhodians in the interests either of the Greeks or themselves, but in those of Perseus. For if they had meant to send an embassy in behalf of the Greeks, the proper time for doing so was when Perseus was plundering the territory and cities of Greece, while encamped for nearly two years in Thessaly. But to let that time pass without notice, and to come now desiring to put an end to the war, at a time when the Roman legions had entered Macedonia, and Perseus was closely beleagured and almost at the end of his hopes, was a clear proof to any one of observation that the Rhodians had sent their embassy, not with the desire of ending the war, but to rescue and save Perseus to the best of their ability. Therefore they deserved no indulgence at the hands of the Romans at this time, nor any favourable reply." Such was the Senate's answer to the Rhodians. . . .


Perseus an Example of the Impermanence of Fortune

Then Aemilius Paulus speaking once more in Latin bade
Perseus, being brought a prisoner before Aemilius Paulus and his council, refuses to reply to his questions. Paulus addresses the king in Greek and then his council in Latin. Livy, 45, 8.
the members of his council, "With such a sight before their eyes,"—pointing to Perseus,—"not to be too boastful in the hour of success, nor to take any extreme or inhuman measures against any one, nor in fact ever to feel confidence in the permanence of their present good fortune. Rather it was precisely at the time of greatest success, either private or public, that a man should be most alive to the possibility of a reverse. Even so it was difficult for a man to exhibit moderation in good fortune. But the distinction between fools and wise was that the former only learnt by their own misfortunes, the latter by those of others." . . .


Uncertainties of Fortune

One is often reminded of the words of Demetrius of
Demetrius of Phalerum on mutability.
Phalerum. In his treatise on Fortune, wishing to give the world a distinct view of her mutability, he fixed upon the period of Alexander, when that monarch destroyed the Persian dynasty, and thus expresses himself: "If you will take, I don't say unlimited time or many generations, but only these last fifty years immediately preceding our generation, you will be able to understand the cruelty of Fortune. For can you suppose, if some god had warned the Persians or their king, or the Macedonians or their king, that in fifty years the very name of the Persians, who once were masters of the world, would have been lost, and that the Macedonians, whose name was before scarcely known, would become masters of it all, that they would have believed it? Nevertheless it is true that Fortune, whose influence on our life is incalculable, who displays her power by surprises, is even now I think, showing all mankind, by her elevation of the Macedonians into the high prosperity once enjoyed by the Persians, that she has merely lent them these advantages until she may otherwise determine concerning them." And this has now come to pass in the person of Perseus; and indeed Demetrius has spoken prophetically of the future as though he were inspired. And as the course of my history brought me to the period which witnessed the ruin of the Macedonian kingdom, I judged it to be right not to pass it over without proper remark, especially as I was an eye-witness of the transaction. It was a case I thought both for enlarging on the theme myself, and for recalling the words of Demetrius, who appeared to me to have shown something more than mere human sagacity in his remarks; for he made a true forecast of the future almost a hundred and fifty years before the event. . . .


Further Problems for Eumenes

After the conclusion of the battle between Perseus and
The unexpected always happens.
the Romans, king Eumenes found himself in what people call an unexpected and extraordinary trouble, but what, if we regard the natural course of human concerns, was quite an everyday affair. For it is quite the way of Fortune to confound human calculations by surprises; and when she has helped a man for a time, and caused her balance to incline in his favour, to turn round upon him as though she repented, throw her weight into the opposite scale, and mar all his successes.
Eumenes disappointed of his hope of quiet by arising in Galatia
And this was the case now with Eumenes. He imagined that at last his own kingdom was safe, and that he might look forward to a time of ease, now that Perseus and the whole kingdom of Macedonia were utterly destroyed; yet it was then that he was confronted with the gravest dangers, by the Gauls in Asia seizing the opportunity for an unexpected rising. . . .

After reigning in Memphis for a time Philometor made terms with his brother and sister, returned to Alexandria, and there all three were being besieged by Antiochus. See above, 28, 18.


The Ptolemies Ask Help From Achaia

In the Peloponnesus a mission arrived before the end
Autumn of B.C. 169.
of the winter from the two kings, Ptolemy (Philometor) and Ptolemy (Physcon), asking for help. This gave rise to repeated and animated discussions. The party of Callicrates and Diophanes were against granting the help; while Archon, Lycortas, and Polybius were for sending it to the kings in accordance with the terms of their alliance. For by this time it had come to pass that the younger Ptolemy had been proclaimed king by the people (at Alexandria), owing to the danger which threatened them; and that the elder had subsequently returned from Memphis, and was reigning jointly with his sister. As they stood in need of every kind of assistance, they sent Eumenes and Dionysodorus to the Achaeans, asking a thousand foot and two hundred horse, with Lycortas to command the foot and Polybius the horse. They sent a message also to Theodoridas of Sicyon, urging him to hire them a thousand mercenaries. For the kings chanced to have become intimately acquainted with these particular men, owing to the transactions I have related before. The ambassadors arrived when the Achaean congress was in session in Corinth. They therefore came forward, and after recalling the many evidences of friendship shown by the Achaeans to the kingdom of Egypt, and describing to them the danger in which the kings then were, they entreated them to send help. The Achaeans generally were ready enough to go to the help of the kings (for both now wore the diadem and exercised regal functions), and not only with a detachment, but with their full levy.
Winter of B.C. 169-168.
But Callicrates and his party spoke against it; alleging that they ought not to meddle in such affairs at all, and certainly not at that time, but should reserve their undivided forces for the service of Rome. For there was a general expectation just then of a decisive battle being fought, as Q. Philippus was wintering in Macedonia.


The Achaeans Agree to Help the Ptolemies

The people were alarmed lest they should be thought
Polybius advocates the cause of the Ptolemies.
to fail the Romans in any way: and accordingly Lycortas and Polybius rose in their turn, and, among other advice which they impressed upon them, argued that "When in the previous year the Achaeans had voted to join the Roman army with their full levy, and sent Polybius to announce that resolution, Quintus Marcius, while accepting the kindness of their intention, had yet stated that the assistance was not needed, since he had won the pass into Macedonia. Their opponents therefore were manifestly using the need of helping the Romans merely as a pretext for preventing this aid being sent to Alexandria. They entreated the Achaeans, in view of the greatness of the danger surrounding the king of Egypt, not to neglect the right moment for acting; but keeping in mind their mutual agreement and good services, and above all their oaths, to fulfil the terms of their agreement."

The people were once more inclined to grant the aid when

Callicrates defeats the motion, but at a smaller meeting at Sicyon Polybius prevails.
they heard this: but Callicrates and his party managed to prevent the decree being passed, by staggering the magistrates with the assertion that it was unconstitutional to discuss the question of sending help abroad in public assembly.9 But a short time afterwards a meeting was summoned at Sicyon, which was attended not only by the members of the council, but by all citizens over thirty years of age; and after a lengthened debate, Polybius especially dwelling on the fact that the Romans did not require assistance,—in which he was believed not to be speaking without good reason, as he had spent the previous summer in Macedonia at the headquarters of Marcius Philippus,—and also alleging that, even supposing the Romans did turn out to require their active support, the Achaeans would not be rendered incapable of furnishing it by the two hundred horse and one thousand foot which were to be despatched to Alexandria,—for they could, without any inconvenience, put thirty or forty thousand men into the field,— the majority of the meeting were convinced, and were inclined to the idea of sending the aid. Accordingly, on the second of the two days on which, according to the laws, those who wished to do so were bound to bring forward their motions, Lycortas and Polybius proposed that the aid should be sent. Callicrates, on the other hand, proposed to send ambassadors to reconcile the two Egyptian kings with Antiochus. So once more, on these two motions being put, there was an animated contest; in which, however, Lycortas and Polybius got a considerable majority on their side. For there was a very wide distinction between the claims of the two kingdoms. There were very few instances to be found in past times of any act of friendship on the part of Syria to the Greeks,—though the liberality of the present king was well known in Greece,—but from Egypt the acts of kindness in past times to the Achaeans had been as numerous and important as any one could possibly expect. By dwelling on this point Lycortas made a great impression, because the distinction between the two kingdoms in this respect was shown to be immense. For it was as difficult to count up all the benefactions of the Alexandrine kings, as it was impossible to find a single act of friendship done by the dynasty of Antiochus to the Achaeans. . . .


Antiochus Forced To Leave Egypt

For a time Andronidas and Callicrates kept on arguing
The measure is again defeated by a trick of Callicrates.
in support of the plan of putting an end to the war: but as no one was persuaded by them, they employed a stratagem. A lettercarrier came into the theatre (where the meeting was being held), who had just arrived with a despatch from Quintus Marcius, urging those Achaeans who were of the proRoman party to reconcile the kings; for it was a fact that the Senate had sent a mission under T. Numisius to do so. But this really made against their argument: for Titus Numisius and his colleagues had been unable to effect the pacification, and had returned to Rome completely unsuccessful in the object of their mission. However, as Polybius and his party did not wish to speak against the despatch, from consideration for Marcius, they retired from the discussion: and it was thus that the proposal to send an aid to the kings fell through.
The kings ask for Lycortas and Polybius.
The Achaeans voted to send ambassadors to effect the pacification: and Archon of Aegeira, and Arcesilaus and Ariston of Megalopolis were appointed to the duty. Whereupon the envoys of Ptolemy, being disappointed of obtaining the help, handed over to the magistrate the despatch from the kings, in which they asked that they would send Lycortas and Polybius to take part in the war. . . .


Antiochus Renews the War

Forgetful of all he had written and said Antiochus
Annoyed by the two Ptolemies thus joining each other, Antiochus renews the war, B.C. 168.
began preparing for a renewal of the war against Ptolemy. So true are the words of Simonides,—"'Tis hard to be good." For to have certain impulses towards virtue, and even to hold to it up to a certain point, is easy; but to be uniformly consistent, and to allow no circumstances of danger to shake a resolute integrity, which regards honour and justice as the highest considerations, is indeed difficult. . . .


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.

1 Livy (44, 8) calls it the Enipeus (Fersaliti), a tributary of the Peneus.

2 In a previous part of the book now lost. See Livy, 44, 25.

3 The extract begins in the middle of a sentence at the top of a page. I

A digression on Polybius's method in writing history, and his avoidance of imaginary details.
have supplied these words at a guess, giving what seems the sense.

4 P. Cornelius Scipio Nasica Corculum was afterwards Pontifex Maximus (B. C. 150). See Cic. de Sen. 3, 50.

5 Of the two eldest sons of Aemilius, the elder was adopted by Quintus Fabius Maximus, the second by P. Cornelius Scipio, son of the elder Africanus, his maternal uncle.

6 From Plutarch, Aemilius, 15, who adds that Polybius made a mistake as to the number of soldiers told off for this service, which to judge from Livy, 44, 35, Polybius probably stated at 5000. Plutarch got his correction from an extant letter of Nasica (8000 Roman infantry, with 120 horse, and 200 Thracians and Cretans).

7 From Plutarch, who again contradicts this last statement, on the authority of Nasica, who said that there was a sharp engagement on the heights.

8 The Roman was saved from a scare by the eclipse being foretold by Gaius Sulpicius Gallus, famous for his knowledge of Greek literature and astronomy. He is represented by Cicero as explaining the celestial globe (sphaera) which Marcellus brought from Syracuse. He was consul in B. C. 166. Livy, 44, 37; Cicero, Brut. § 78; de Repub. 1, § 21.

9 ἐν ἀγορᾶ. The objection, though it served to divert the magistrates from going on with the proposition at the time, seems to have been got over before the meeting at Sicyon; unless, indeed, the latter was considered to be of a different nature in regard to the age of those attending. But we have no information as to this restriction of thirty years of age,—whether it was universal, or confined to particular occasions. This passage would seem to point to the latter alternative.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

load focus Greek (Theodorus Büttner-Wobst after L. Dindorf, 1893)
hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Visualize the most frequently mentioned Pleiades ancient places in this text.

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
168 BC (6)
169 BC (1)
166 BC (1)
150 BC (1)
hide References (1 total)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: