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This webpage reproduces a section of
The Library of History

Diodorus Siculus

published in Vol. XI
of the Loeb Classical Library edition, 1957

The text is in the public domain.

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(Vol. XI) Diodorus Siculus
Library of History

p283 Fragments of Book XXX

7 .1 When the Roman (envoys) reported that they had outwitted Perseus without recourse to arms, some members of the senate made a move to praise them. The older men, however, were far from pleased with what had been done, and said it did not become Romans to ape the Phoenicians, nor to get the better of their enemies by knavery rather than by bravery.1

1 1 On the same day the senate approved a declaration of war against Perseus, and though it gave an audience to his envoys, made no reply to their statements. In addition the senate ordered the consuls to make solemn proclamation before assemblies of the people, bidding the envoys and all other Macedonians depart from Rome that very day and from Italy within thirty days.2

2 1 Ptolemy, king of Egypt, knowing that his ancestors had held Coelê Syria, made great preparations for war in support of his claim, hoping that since it had been detached in times past through an unjust p285war he might now justly recover it on the same terms. Antiochus, learning of this, dispatched envoys to Rome bidding them call the senate to witness that Ptolemy, without just cause, was bent on making war. Ptolemy, however, also sent off envoys to speak in his defence, and to inform the senate that Coelê Syria had belonged to his forebears and that its subjection to Antiochus was contrary to all justice. He also instructed them to renew friendly relations with the Romans and to try to bring about peace with Perseus.3

3 1 Cotys, king of the Thracians, was a man who in matters of warfare moved with vigour and was superior in judgement, and who in other respects as well was responsible and deserving of friendship. He was abstinent and circumspect in the highest degree, and most important of all, was completely exempt from the besetting vices of the Thracian people.4

4 1 After the siege of the small township of Chalestrum5 Perseus put all the inhabitants to death. About five hundred, however, having made good their escape under arms to a certain stronghold, requested an assurance of safe-conduct, and Perseus consented to spare their lives on condition that they laid down arms. They complied with the terms agreed on, but the Macedonians, whether of their own accord or under orders of the king, followed those who had received the assurance and put them all to death.

p287 5 1 Charops of Epirus was the grandson6 and namesake of that Charops who, during the war against Philip, had sent to Flamininus a guide to show him unexpected paths across the mountains, whereby the Romans, making a surprise advance, won control of the pass. Thanks to that grandfather's friendship with the Romans, the younger Charops was educated in Rome and formed ties of hospitality with many prominent men. He was, however, an arrant knave and adventurer, and set out to traduce to the Romans the men of Epirus who were held in highest esteem, hurling false charges against them in the hope that once he had confounded all who were capable of opposing him he might be left master of all Epirus. It was in consequence of this that they7 now sent to Macedon, offering to deliver Epirus to Perseus.

5a Upon arrival of the consul Hostilius8 in Epirus from Rome, Theodotus and Philostratus, the chief partisans of Perseus, plotted to betray him to the king. But while they were still urgently summoning Perseus, Hostilius, whose suspicions had been aroused, departed by night, and Perseus, arriving too late, failed to capture him.

6 1 During the siege of Abdera, Eumenes, despairing of carrying the city by storm, sent secretly to a certain Python, a man of the highest esteem among the Abderites, who with two hundred of his own p289slaves and freedmen was defending the key position. By beguiling him with promises they gained entrance within the walls through his assistance and took the city. Python the traitor, though moderately rewarded, had ever present to his mind's eye the vision of his country's devastation, and lived out the remainder of his days in despair and regret.9

Chap. 7.1: see above, before Chap. 1.

7.2 Andronicus, who assassinated the son of Seleucus and who was in turn put to death, willingly lent himself to an impious and terrible crimes, only to share the same fate as his victim.10 3 For it is the practice of potentates to save themselves from danger at the expense of their friends.

8 1 Prudently and always alert to the needs of the moment, the senate took in hand a revision of its benevolences. For when Perseus, proving unexpectedly defiant, prolonged the war to a stalemate, many Greeks had high hopes. The senate, however, by constantly renewed acts of generosity towards the Greeks exerted a contrary influence, and on each occasion made a bid for the support of the masses. What man of affairs who aspires to leadership could fail to admire this? What intelligent historian would pass over without comment the sagacity of the senate? Indeed, one might reasonably conclude that Rome's mastery over most of mankind was achieved by means of just such refinements of policy. p291This justifies the observation that harmonious adaptation to all occasions — connivance at some things, the turning of a deaf ear to some reports, the timely restraint of some impulse of blind rage, or, laying aside considerations of national dignity and power to pay court to inferiors while paving the way for some success later — that such adaptation indicates consummate excellence in the individual, superb realism in the deliberating body, and virtue and intelligence in the state. All this the Roman senate of those days did, and thereby left, as it were, models and patterns for all who strive for empire and have the imagination to see how necessary it is to deal with problems in the light of circumstances.

9 1 Perseus sent envoys to Gentius,11 king of the Illyrians and their most powerful chieftain at this time, proposing that they take concerted action. When Gentius asserted that he was quite willing to fight against the Romans but lacked money, Perseus again sent to him, turning, however, a deaf ear to the subject of money. On receiving the same reply he sent a third time, and though well aware what was in Gentius' mind he affected not to be, and said that if their undertaking turned out as planned he would give him ample satisfaction.

2 Perseus, being still unwilling to advance money, again dispatched envoys to Gentius, saying not a word about an immediate gift of money but hinting at great things that he might expect upon the successful completion of their business. It is a nice problem p293whether we should consider such evasiveness stupidity or downright madness on the part of men who act thus. They set their hand to great enterprises and place their own lives in jeopardy, yet overlook the one thing that is really essential, even though they themselves see the point and have it in their power to meet the need. Assuredly Philip, the son of Amyntas, a real master of statecraft, never was sparing of money in such circumstances; on the contrary, by handing out more than was requested, he always found a ready and abundant supply of traitors and allies. Consequently, although he was at first among the least of the kings of Europe, he left at his death a power that enabled his successor, Alexander, to conquer most of the inhabited world. Perseus, however, though the possessor of great treasures, amassed over many years by his ancestors and by Perseus himself, was utterly unwilling to touch them, with the result that he stripped himself of allies and further enriched those who later conquered him. Yet it was evident to all that had he only chosen to be open-handed, his money would have persuaded many monarchs and peoples to become his allies. Actually we may be thankful that he did not do so, since, if he had, more Greeks would have been involved with him in the disaster of defeat, or else he would have become master of all and won for himself a position of proud authority and of well-nigh irresistible influence.

10 1 Perseus,12 though Fortune had given him a p295golden opportunity to wipe out the Roman army, stayed on near Dium in Macedonia; he was not far from the place of action, but he weakly neglected the most important issues. Indeed, it would have taken only a shout and a bugle call to make captives of the enemy's whole army, enclosed as it was among cliffs and gorges from which escape was difficult. But since he had been so heedless, the Macedonians encamped on the mountain ridges were also slack about guards and patrols.

2 While Perseus, at Dium, was busy with the care of his person, one of his bodyguards, bursting into the bath, announced that the enemy were upon them. The king was so distraught that as he sprang from his bath he smote his thigh furiously and exclaimed: "Ye gods above, do you then deliver us to the foe ignominiously, without time even to form our battle order?"

11 1 Perseus, thinking that all was completely lost, and utterly crushed in spirit, dispatched Nicon,13 his treasurer, with orders to cast into the sea the treasures and money that were at Phacus, and sent his bodyguard Andronicus to Thessalonica, with orders to set fire to the dockyards instantly. Andronicus, showing himself wiser than his master, went to Thessalonica but did not carry out his orders, thinking . . . for the Romans to gain a complete triumph.

2 Perseus also pulled down the gilded statues at p297Dium, and taking with him the whole population, women and children included, removed to Pydna. No greater mistake is to be found among his acts.

12 1 The Romans turned and put their victors to flight. Sometimes, in fact, the courage born of desperation brings even an utterly hopeless situation to a conclusion that would have seemed impossible.14

13 1 The people of Cydonia15 carried out an action that was monstrous and utterly foreign to Greek custom. In time of peace and while enjoying the position of trusted friends, they seized the city of Apollonia, killed all the men and youths, and dividing among themselves the women and children, occupied the city.

14 1 Though Antiochus was in a position to slaughter the defeated Egyptians, he rode about calling to his men not to kill them, but to take them alive. Before long he reaped the fruits of his shrewdness, since this act of generosity contributed very greatly to his seizure of Pelusium, and later to the acquisition of all Egypt.

15 1 The ministers of the young Ptolemy, Eulaeus the eunuch and the Syrian Lenaeus, resorted to every possible means and device, and piled up gold, silver, and all other kinds of wealth in the royal treasury. Small wonder, then, if, through the efforts of such men, such great spectacles16 were set up in so p299brief a space of time, nor yet that one who was a eunuch and had only recently laid aside comb and scentpots should exchange the service of Aphrodite for the contests of Ares, or that he who was born a slave in Coelê Syria, and from whose hands the abacus had just fallen, should have dared to take upon his shoulders the war for Syria, notwithstanding that Antiochus was second to none in the strength of his armies and his resources in general. What is more, the men who undertook these great tasks were completely without experience of warfare and battles, and they lacked even a single competent adviser or capable commander. They themselves, as might be expected, soon met with the punishment that their folly deserved, and they brought the kingdom to utter ruin as far as it was in their power to do so.

It is our aim in emphasizing these and similar events to provide an accurate estimate of the causes of success and failure. We both apportion praise to those whose conduct of affairs is excellent, and denounce those whose management is faulty. We bring into clear view the principles, both good and gad, by which men live and act, and by rendering a proper account of each we direct the minds of our readers to the emulation of what is good; at the same time, to the best of our ability we make our history fruitful and useful to all men, since a bare narrative of naval battles, military engagements, and legislation too, is no better than so much fiction.

16 1 The regents of Ptolemy, having summoned p301the populace to an assembly, promised to bring the war to a speedy end. In this at least they were not in error, since they swiftly succeeded in putting an end both to the war and to themselves. Because of their inexperience, however, they entertained such high hopes of gaining not only Syria but even the whole realm of Antiochus, that they took with them the greater part of the treasures they had amassed, including the goldware from the sideboard. They also packed up and took along from the palace a number of couches, mostly with silver feet, but a few actually with feet of gold, as well as a large quantity of clothes, women's jewelry, and precious stones. These things, they declared, they were taking along for those who would then promptly surrender cities or fortresses to them. The outcome, however, was very different, and the treasures they carried off were a ready means to their own destruction.

17 1 In keeping with our policy we could not pass over without comment the ignoble flight of Ptolemy. That he, though standing in no immediate danger and though separated by such a distance from his enemies, should at once and virtually without a struggle abandon his claim to a great and opulent throne, can only, it would seem, be regarded as indicating a thoroughly effeminate spirit. Now had Ptolemy been a man endowed by Nature with such a spirit, we might perhaps have found fault with her. But since Nature finds a sufficient rebuttal to the p303charge in his subsequent actions and has demonstrated that the king was second to none whether in firmness to resist or in energy to act, we are forced to assign the responsibility for his ignoble cowardice on this occasion to the eunuch and to Ptolemy's close association with him. For he, by rearing the lad from boyhood amid luxury and womanish pursuits, had been undermining his character.17

18 1 Antiochus showed himself a true statesman, and a man worthy of the royal dignity, except in the stratagem that he employed at Pelusium.18

2 Antiochus got possession of Pelusium by means of a questionable bit of strategy. For though all warfare is an exception to humane standards of law and justice, even so it has certain quasi-laws of its own: a truce, for example, may not be broken; heralds must not be put to death; a man who has placed himself under the protection of a superior opponent may not be visited with punishment or vengeance. These and similar matters . . . one might fairly say that Antiochus, in making the seizure after the truce, rather like a pettifogging lawyer held fast to the letter of the law but not to justice and honour, which are bonds of social life. For on the grounds of kinship19 he should, as he said himself, have spared the lad, but on the contrary after winning his confidence he deceived him and sought to bring him to utter ruin.

p305 19 1 Perseus, learning that a picked group of Gauls had crossed the Danube to join his forces, was overjoyed and dispatched messengers to the district of Maedicê, urging them to proceed with all speed. The leader of the Gauls consented but demanded that his men be paid a fixed stipend, amounting in all to five hundred talents. Perseus agreed to pay this, but when through avarice he failed to carry out the agreement, the Gauls returned again to their own land.20

20 1 Aemilius21 the Roman, on taking command of the army, called together his men and exhorted them to be of good cheer. He was about sixty years old, and because of his earlier exploits he was at this time held in the highest esteem at Rome. In this war also he originated many novel devices, things that would have eluded the invention of other men, and by his personal shrewdness and audacity he defeated the Macedonians.

21 1 Perseus, wishing to induce more of his men to join him in flight and sail with him,22 set before them treasure to the value of sixty talents and allowed whoever would to seize it. But after he had put to sea and reached Galepsus, he announced to those who had taken the property that he was seeking certain objects made from the spoils captured by Alexander. Promising to make full compensation to those who restored these objects to him, he asked for p307their immediate return. The men all complied with a will, but when he had recovered the objects, he cheated the donors of their promised reward.

2 Perseus, after recovering the treasures that he had allowed his men to seize, defrauded the donors of their promised reward, thereby providing most palpable proof that avarice, in addition to the other ills that it brings in its train, also deprives men of their wits. Indeed, his failure to forget profit and the desire for gain, even when the outlook was desperate, can only be regarded as the conduct of a man completely out of his senses. It is not surprising, then, that the Macedonians were defeated by the Romans, but only that with such a leader they held out for four years.

3 Alexander and Perseus were not at all alike in temperament. The former, with a greatness of mind that matched his personal aspirations, won for himself an empire; the latter, however, who from petty meanness alienated the Celts — a pattern of conduct that he followed consistently — brought down an ancient and mighty kingdom.

4 When Darius, after the first battle, proposed to give up a portion of his empire and offered Alexander forty thousand talents and the hand of his daughter in marriage, he received the reply that the universe could not be governed by two suns nor the world by two masters.23

22 1 After Perseus fled, Aemilius began to look for p309his younger son, Publius Africanus.24 He was by birth the son of Aemilius but by adoption the grandson of Scipio, the conqueror of Hannibal, and was now a mere lad of about seventeen; from early youth he was present at those great battles, and gained such experience of warfare that he became a man not inferior to his grandfather. None the less, when he was found (and brought safely) into the camp the consul's anxiety was dispelled, for his feeling for the boy was not merely that of a father for his son, but something like the passion of a lover.

23 1 The consul Aemilius, taking Perseus by the hand, seated him in the midst of his council, and with words appropriate to the occasion offered him consolation and reassurance.25 Then, addressing the members of the council, he exhorted them, especially the younger men, to mark well the present scene and, keeping the fate of Perseus before their eyes, never to boast of their achievements improperly, never to harbour arrogant designs towards anyone, nor, in general, to take their good fortune for granted at any time. Indeed, whenever a man's success was greatest, whether in private life or public affairs, then above all should he reflect on the reverses of fortune and be most mindful of his mortal nature. p311"Fools," he said, "differ from the wise in this respect, that the former are schooled by their own misfortunes, the latter by the misfortunes of others."

Having discoursed at length in this vein he made those present at the council so sympathetic and humble of mood that it seemed as if they, and not their opponents, had suffered defeat.

2 Aemilius, by his generous treatment of Perseus — admitting him to the mess and giving him a place in the council — demonstrated to all men that he was stern towards those who stood against him, but considerate of a defeated foe.26 Since there were others also who affected a similar attitude, Rome's world-wide rule brought her no odium so long as she had such men to direct her empire.

24 1 The Rhodian envoys agreed that they had come in order to mediate a settlement, since war, they declared, was harmful to everyone.27

The Loeb Editor's Notes:

1 Cp. Livy, 42.47. The episode evidently refers to the story that in order to gain time for Rome to prepare, Q. Marcius Philippus persuaded Perseus to send one more embassy to Rome (Livy, 42.38‑43). The excerpt accordingly belongs here (or at the end of Book 29), before the outbreak of hostilities. On the embassy of Marcius and its relation to the conditional declaration of war (Livy, 42.30.10‑11) see Walbank, J. R. S. 31 (1941), 82 ff.

2 Cp. Polybius, 27.6; Livy, 42.48.

3 Cp. Polybius, 27.19 and 28.1. The kings are Ptolemy VI Philometor, who had just come of age, and Antiochus IV Epiphanes.

4 Cp. Polybius, 27.12. Cotys, king of the Odrysae, was a staunch ally of Perseus.

5 Unknown, perhaps Thracian or Dardanian.

6 So Polybius, 27.15: the present text, which is clearly the work of the excerptor, says "son." The incident alluded to had occurred in 198 B.C.

7 The Epirotes, led by the moderate Cephalus.

8 A. Hostilius Mancinus. For the incident see Polybius, 27.16.

9 L. Hortensius, the Roman praetor who participated in the capture of Abdera (so Niese, Gesch. griech. u. mak. Staaten, 3.129, n7), was later censured by the senate for his conduct (Livy, 43.4).

10 2 Macc. 4.34‑38 gives the murder of Onias, the High Priest, as the immediate occasion for Andronicus' downfall. On the son of Seleucus see Bevan in Cambridge Ancient History, 8.497, 503‑504 and 713‑714, with the reservations of Aymard, Aegyptus, 32 (1952), 93‑94, on his status as king.

11 Or Genthius. Polybius, 28.8‑9, gives the negotiations in slightly greater detail; for the sequel see Livy, 44.23 and passim.

12 For this and the following chapter the account of Polybius is lost; cp. Livy, 44.2‑6.

13 Called Nicias in Livy, 44.10, who gives the aftermath of this affair.

14 This refers to a skirmish near Antigoneia, in which the Macedonians had been at first victorious (Livy, 44.10).

15 In Crete. Cp. Polybius, 28.14.

16 In the immediate context "fortunes" would seem a more appropriate word here than "spectacles" or "festivals," but the text may be correct.

17 From Polybius, 28.21.

18 From Polybius, 28.18.

19 Antiochus was the uncle of Ptolemy. For his professions of friendship see St. Jerome, in Dan. 11.21.º

20 Cp. Livy, 44.26‑27.

21 L. Aemilius Paullus, the consul. For the contio see Livy, 44.34.

22 From Amphipolis, which he had reached on the third day of his flight after the disaster at Pydna. The men whom he lured, and afterwards cheated, were the notoriously greedy Cretans. For the story see Plutarch, Aemilius, 23.

23 The story is told in Book 17.54.

24 The famous Scipio Africanus the Younger, on whose youth see below, Book 31.26‑27, and Polybius, 31.23‑30. For the incident recounted here see Livy, 44.44, and Plutarch, Aemilius, 22.

25 The rest of this paragraph is taken almost verbatim from Polybius, 29.20; cp. also Livy, 45.7‑8.

26 Cp. Virgil, Aen. 6.853: "parcere subiectis et debellare superbos."

27 Cp. Polybius, 29.19, and Livy, 45.3. The Romans regarded this eleventh-hour offer of mediation as a device to help Perseus. Chap. 24 is misnumbered 23 in Dindorf (see his Argumenta Librorum).

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