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Fall of Corinth

Aulus Postumius deserves some special notice from us
Character of Aulus Postumius Albinus.
here. He was a member of a family and gens of the first rank, but in himself was garrulous and wordy, and exceedingly ostentatious. From his boyhood he had a great leaning to Greek studies and literature: but he was so immoderate and affected in this pursuit, that owing to him the Greek style became offensive to the elder and most respectable men at Rome. Finally he attempted to write a poem and a formal history in Greek, in the preface to which he desired his readers to excuse him if, being a Roman, he could not completely command the Greek idiom or method in the handling of the subject. To whom M. Porcius Cato made a very pertinent answer. "I wonder," said he, "on what grounds you make such a demand. If the Amphictyonic council had charged you to write the history, you might perhaps have been forced to allege this excuse and ask for this consideration. But to write it of your own accord, when there was no compulsion to do so, and then to demand consideration, if you should happen to write had Greek, is quite unreasonable. It is something like a man entering for the boxing match or pancratium in the public games, and, when he comes into the stadium, and it is his turn to fight, begging the spectators to pardon him 'if he is unable to stand the fatigue or the blows.' Such a man of course would be laughed at and condemned at once."1 And this is what such historiographers should experience, to prevent them spoiling a good thing by their rash presumption. Similarly, in the rest of his life, he had imitated all the worst points in Greek fashions; for he was fond of pleasure and averse from toil. And this may be illustrated from his conduct in the present campaign: for being among the first to enter Greece at the time that the battle in Phocis took place, he retired to Thebes on the pretence of illness, in order to avoid taking part in the engagement; but, when the battle was ended, he was the first to write to the Senate announcing the victory, entering into every detail as though he had himself been present at the conflict. . . .

On the arrival of the Consul Mummius, Metellus was sent

B. C. 146. Coss. Cn. Cornelius Lentulus, L. Mummius.
back into Macedonia. Mummius was accompanied by L. Aurelius Orestes, who had been nearly murdered in the riot at Corinth (38, 7), and, pitching his camp in the Isthmus, was joined by allies who raised his army to three thousand five hundred cavalry and twenty-six thousand infantry. The Achaeans made a sudden attack upon them and gained a slight success, which was a few days afterwards revenged by a signal defeat. Instead of retiring into Corinth, and from that stronghold making some terms with Mummius, Diaeus fled to Megalopolis, where he poisoned himself, after first killing his wife. The rest of the beaten Achaean army took refuge in Corinth, which Mummius took and fired on the third day after the battle with Diaeus. Then the commissioners were sent from Rome to settle the whole of Greece. Pausanias, 7, 16-17; Livy, Ep. 52.

1 Plutarch reports the same anecdote much more briefly in Cato Maj. 12, as do others. Professor Freeman (History of Federal Government, p. 142) seems to regard it as a serious indication that the Amphictyonic council had become a body exercising some literary authority, in default of any other. I think that Cato had no such meaning. He mentioned any body of men, however unlikely to exercise such an influence, which at any rate was Greek.

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146 BC (1)
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  • Cross-references in notes from this page (2):
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 7.16
    • Plutarch, Marcus Cato, 12
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