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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. . . .

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  • Commentary references to this page (1):
    • Titus Livius (Livy), Ab urbe condita libri, erklärt von M. Weissenborn, books 31-32, commentary, 32.20
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  • Cross-references in notes from this page (1):
    • Plutarch, Aemilius Paullus, 12
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