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Philip's Crime and Blunder

The present affair was an instance of this. He imagined that he was doing nothing wrong in giving the rein to his anger, and retaliating upon the impious acts of the Aetolians by similar impieties, and "curing ill by ill"; and while he was always reproaching Scopas and Dorimachus with depravity and abandoned wickedness, on the grounds of their acts of impiety at Dodona and Dium, he imagined that, while emulating their crimes, he would leave quite a different impression of his character in the minds of those to whom he spoke. But the fact is, that whereas the taking and demolishing an enemy's forts, harbours, cities, men, ships and crops, and other such things, by which our enemy is weakened, and our own interests and tactics supported, are necessary acts according to the laws and rights of war; to deface temples, statues, and such like erections in pure wantonness, and without any prospect of strengthening oneself or weakening the enemy, must be regarded as an act of blind passion and insanity. For the purpose with which good men wage war is not the destruction and annihilation of the wrongdoers, but the reformation and alteration of the wrongful acts. Nor is it their object to involve the innocent in the destruction of the guilty, but rather to see that those who are held to be guilty should share in the preservation and elevation of the guiltless. It is the act of a tyrant to inflict injury, and so to maintain his power over unwilling subjects by terror,—hated, and hating those under him: but it is the glory of a king to secure, by doing good to all, that he should rule over willing subjects, whose love he has earned by humanity and beneficence.

But the best way of appreciating the gravity of Philip's

The error of such sacrilege as a matter of policy.
mistake is to put before our eyes the idea which the Aetolians would probably have conceived of him, had he acted in an opposite way, and destroyed neither colonnades nor statutes, nor done injury to any of the sacred offerings. For my part I think it would have been one of the greatest goodness and humanity. For they would have had on their consciences their own acts at Dium and Dodona; and would have seen unmistakably that, whereas Philip was absolutely master of the situation, and could do what he chose, and would have been held fully justified as far as their deserts went in taking the severest measures, yet deliberately, from mere gentleness and magnanimity, he refused to copy their conduct in any respect.

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