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This webpage reproduces a Book of
The Histories


published in Vol. VI
of the Loeb Classical Library edition,
1922 thru 1927

The text is in the public domain.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
If you find a mistake though,
please let me know!

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(Vol. VI) Polybius
The Histories

 p263  Fragments of Book XXXIII

I. Affairs of Italy

The War between Prusias and Attalus

1 1 The senate, while it was still winter, had heard what Publius Lentulus had to report about King Prusias, as this legate had just returned from Asia, and they now summoned also Athenaeus, the brother of King Attalus. 2 They did not, however, require many words about him, but at once appointed Gaius Claudius Cento, Lucius Hortensius, and Gaius Aurunculeius their legates and sent them off in company with Athenaeus with orders to prevent Prusias from making war on Attalus.

Embassy on behalf of the Achaean exiles

3 There came also to Rome an embassy from the Achaeans consisting of Xenon of Aegium and Telecles of Aegeira on behalf of those in detention. 4 After they had spoken in the senate, upon the matter being put to the vote, the senate came very near setting the suspects free. 5 That their liberation was not carried out was the fault of Aulus Postumius Albinus, at this time praetor and as such presiding  p265 over the senate. 6 For while there were three resolutions, one for their release, another opposed to this, and a third for postponement of the release for the present, the majority being in favour of release, 7 Aulus passing over the third alternative put the question in general terms: "Who is for releasing the men and who against it?" 8 Consequently those who were for delay joined those who were for absolute refusal, and thus gave a majority against release. Such were these events.

Embassy from Athens

(From Aulus Gellius, N.A. VI (VII).14.8‑10)

2 1 A difference was noticed in the three philosophers whom the Athenians sent to Rome as their envoys to the senate, to obtain the remission of the fine imposed by the latter for the pillage of Oropus. 9 It was a fine of about five hundred talents. The philosophers were Carneades of the Academy, Diogenes the Stoic, and Critolaus the Peripatetic. When introduced into the senate they employed the senator Gaius Acilius as their interpreter, but each of them had previously spoken before huge crowds to exhibit their skill. 10 Rutilius and Polybius tell us that in each philosopher a different kind of eloquence was admired. "Carneades," they say, "spoke vehemently and rapidly, Critolaus with skill and smoothness, and Diogenes with sobriety and modesty."

The Achaean exiles

3 1 When the envoys from Rome returned to Achaea and reported that all those in detention had been very nearly returning, 2 the people became  p267 hopeful and elated and at once sent off Telecles and Anaxidamus of Megalopolis on another embassy. Such was the state of matters in Peloponnesus.

II. Affairs of Rhodes

4 1 Aristocrates, the Rhodian general, was dignified and imposing in appearance, 2 and from all this the Rhodians imagined that they had a perfectly capable commander and director of the war. 3 But they were deceived in their hopes. For when he came to be tested by action, like base coin tried by fire, he turned out quite otherwise, 4 as was shown by actual facts.

II. Affairs of Cyprus


5 1 Demetrius offered Archias1 five hundred talents if he gave up Cyprus, and pointed out to him the other advantages and honours that would accrue to him if he rendered him this service.


2aWhen news reached Ptolemy that Archias had arrived. . . .

(Cp. Suidas)

2 Archias purposed to betray Cyprus to Demetrius, but when detected and prosecuted he hanged himself by a rope taken from the curtain of the entrance door. 3 So true is it that owing to covetousness "vain  p269 heads make vain plans," as the proverb says. 4 For thinking to gain five hundred talents he lost both all the money he had and his life into the bargain.

IV. Affairs of Ariarathes

6 1 At about this time an unexpected disaster overtook the people of Priene. 2 For having received from Orophernes when he was in power four hundred talents as a deposit, they were asked subsequently to return it by Ariarathes when he recovered his kingdom. 3 Now the position of the Prienians in my opinion was correct, when they refused to give up the money to anyone except the depositor during the lifetime of Orophernes, 4 and Ariarathes was thought by many to have exceeded his rights in demanding the return of a deposit not his own. 5 One might, however, pardon him to a certain extent for this attempt, on the ground that the money as he thought belonged to his kingdom; but his conduct in proceeding to extreme measures dictated by anger and determination to enforce his will cannot, I think, be justified. 6 At the time I am speaking of he sent a force to devastate the territory of Priene, helped and encouraged by Attalus owing to that prince's own quarrel with Priene. 7 After the loss of many slaves and cattle and when some buildings were laid in ruins closed to the city, the Prienians proved unable to defend themselves, and having in the first place sent an embassy to Rhodes appealed to the Romans, 8 who paid no attention to their demand. The Prienians had based high hopes on  p271 their command of so large a sum but the result was just the opposite. 9 For they paid the deposit back to Orophernes, and unjustly suffered considerable damage at the hands of King Ariarathes owing to this same deposit.

V. Affairs of Italy

Attalus and Prusias

7 1 On Hortensius and Aurunculeius returning from Pergamus and reporting how Prusias had treated the orders of the senate with scorn, 2 and how by treachery he had shut them and Attalus up in Pergamus and been guilty of every kind of violence and lawlessness, 3 the senate was very indignant and deeply aggrieved at his conduct, and at once appointed ten legates headed by Lucius Anicius, Gaius Fannius, and Quintus Fabius Maximus, 4 whom they dispatched promptly with orders to put a stop to the war and compel Prusias to make amends to Attalus for the wrongs he had inflicted on him during the war.

Ligurian War

8 1 At about the same time envoys also arrived from the people of Marseilles, 2 who had for long suffered from the incursions of the Ligurians, and were now entirely hemmed in, the cities of Antibes and Nice being besieged as well. They therefore sent envoys to Rome to inform the senate of this and beg for help. 3 Upon their coming before the senate, it was decided to send legates to witness with  p273 their own eyes what was happening, and to attempt by remonstrances to correct the misconduct of the barbarians.

9 1 Upon the Massaliots sending an embassy to Rome to complain of the conduct of the Ligurians, the senate at once appointed as their legates Flaminius Popilius Laenas and Lucius Pupius. 2 Accompanying the Massaliots they put in to a town called Aegitna in the territory of the Oxybii. 3 The Ligurians on hearing that they were coming to order them to raise the siege, prevented the others who were bringing their ship to anchor from disembarking, 4 but finding that Flaminius was already on shore and had stowed away his baggage, they at first ordered him to quit the place, and, when he refused, began to pillage his things. 5 When his slaves and freedmen tried to get hold of the things and prevent their seizure they forced them away and attacked them; 6 and when Flaminius now came up to the help of his own people, they wounded him, struck down two of his servants, and chased the others on board, so that Flaminius only just managed by cutting the shore and anchor cables to escape from the danger. 7 He was carried back to Marseilles, and nursed there with every attention; 8 and the senate on hearing of the incident dispatched one of the consuls, Quintus Opimius, with an armed force to make war on the Oxybii and Decietae.

10 1 Opimius collected his forces at Piacenza, and  p275 marching across the Apennines reached the country of the Oxybii. 2 Encamping beside the river Apro he waited for the enemy, hearing that they were collecting and were ready to give battle. 3 Then leading his army to Aegitna, the town in which the legates had been treacherously attacked, he took it by assault, sold the inhabitants into slavery, and sent the ringleaders of the outrage in chains to Rome. 4 After this success he went to meet the enemy. 5 The Oxybii, thinking that their offence against the legates was inexpiable, showed extraordinary spirit, and with frenzied eagerness for the fray, before being joined by the Decietae, collected a force of about four thousand men and threw themselves on the enemy. 6 Opimius, seeing the barbarians attack him so boldly, was amazed at their desperate courage; but knowing that they had no good grounds for this display of valour, felt full of confidence, as he was a practised commander and exceedingly intelligent. 7 Therefore, leading out his army and exhorting them in terms suitable to the occasion, he advanced slowly to meet the enemy. 8 Pressing home his attack vigorously he soon got the better of his adversaries, slew many of them and forced the others to headlong flight. 9 The Decietae now arrived in full force, thinking that they would take part in the battle side by side with the Oxybii, but arriving after all was over, received the fugitives into their ranks; 10 they shortly afterwards attacked the Romans with great spirit and resolution, 11 but when worsted in the fight  p277 at once unconditionally surrendered themselves and their city. 12 Opimius having overcome these tribes added as much of their territory as he thought fit to that of Marseilles, and compelled the Ligurians to give the Massaliots in future hostages for certain periods. 13 He himself, after disarming his adversaries and distributing his forces among the different cities, went into winter quarters in Liguria. 14 This campaign, then, both began and ended rapidly.

The Rival Ptolemies

11 1 At the time when the senate dispatched Opimius to make war on the Oxybii the younger Ptolemy came to Rome and appearing before the senate accused his brother, asserting that he was responsible for the plot against himself. 3 Exhibiting the scars left by his wounds, and laying full stress besides in his speech on the atrocity of the deed, he pleaded for pity. 4 Neolaïdes and Andromachus also came as envoys from the elder king to defend him against these accusations, but the senate would not even listen to their defence, so much were they prepossessed by the younger brother's charges. Ordering these envoys to leave Rome at once, 6 they appointed five legates, headed by Gnaeus Merula and Lucius Thermus, to support the younger brother, and furnishing each of them with a quinquereme ordered them to re-establish Ptolemy in Cyprus,  p279 writing to their allies in Greece and Asia to the effect that they had their permission to assist his return.

VI. Affairs of Pergamus

12 1 In Asia Attalus began as early as the winter to collect large forces, Ariarathes and Mithridates having sent him under the terms of their alliance an army consisting of cavalry and infantry under the command of Demetrius, the son of Ariarathes. 2 While he was occupied in these preparations, the ten legates arrived from Rome. After meeting him near Cadi and conversing about the situation they left to visit Prusias, 3 and when they met him, delivered the message from the senate in a very threatening manner. 4 Prusias yielded to some of the commands, but resisted most of them. 5 Consequently the Romans broke with him, renouncing their friendship and alliance, and all of them left on the spot to join Attalus. 6 Prusias now thought better of it, and followed them for some distance entreating them, but when this had no effect, he left them and was now at a loss what to do. 7 The legates ordered Attalus to protect his frontiers with an army and not to open hostilities himself, but to place his towns and villages in safety. 8 They now separated, and while some of them left in haste to announce to the senate the contumacy of Prusias, others went to different parts  p281 of Ionia and others to the country near the Hellespont and Byzantium, all with one and the same project, 9 that is to call on the inhabitants to desert the alliance of Prusias and, as far as lay in their power, to favour the cause of Attalus and cultivate his alliance.

13 1 At about the same time Athenaeus arrived with eighty decked ships of which five were Rhodian quadriremes from the fleet that had been sent to the Cretan war, twenty were Cyzicene, twenty-seven belonged to Attalus, and the rest to the other allies. 3 Sailing to the Hellespont and approaching the cities which owed allegiance to Prusias he made frequent landings and inflicted damage on their territory. 4 The senate, after hearing the report of the legates who had returned from Prusias, at once dispatched three others, Appius Claudius, Lucius Oppius, and Aulus Postumius, 5 who on reaching Asia put an end to the war, inducing both kings to make a treaty, 6 by the terms of which Prusias was to hand over at once twenty decked ships to Attalus, and to pay him five hundred talents in twenty years, 7 each keeping the territory that was theirs before they entered on hostilities. 8 Prusias also undertook to repair the damage he had done to the territory of Methymna, Aegae, Cyme, and Heracleia, paying a hundred talents to those cities. 9 The treaty having been  p283 drawn up on these terms, Attalus withdrew his forces both military and naval to his own country. 10 Such were the incidents in the quarrel between Attalus and Prusias and such was its end. . . .

VII. Affairs of Italy

The Achaean exiles

14 1 At Rome during this year when the envoys from Achaea appeared before the senate to plead for the Achaeans in detention it was decided to make no change.

15 1 Heracleides at the height of summer came to Rome bringing Laodice and Alexander.2 2 He made a long stay there, trying by means of jugglery and base intrigue to work upon the senate.

3 Astymedes of Rhodes, who held the two posts of admiral and envoy, came at once on his arrival before the senate and spoke about their war with the Cretans. 4 The senate after listening to him with attention instantly sent a commission under Quintus to put an end to the war.

VIII. The War between Rhodes and Crete

16 1 At this time the Cretans sent to the Achaeans as their envoy Antiphatas, the son of Telemnastus  p285 of Gortyna, and the Rhodians sent Theophanes, each begging for help. 2 The Achaean assembly was sitting at Corinth, and when both envoys addressed them on the subject, the majority were more favourably inclined to the Rhodians 3 out of respect for the dignity of that city and the character in general of the Rhodian state and its citizens. 4 Antiphatas, noticing this, expressed a wish to address them a second time, and on receiving the permission of the strategus did so in terms more weighty and serious than is usual with a Cretan. 5 For, as a fact, this young man was not at all Cretan in character but had escaped the contagion of Cretan ill-breeding. 6 The Achaeans in consequence put up with his freedom of speech, and still more because his father Telemnastus had come with five hundred Cretans to help them in their war against Nabis, and had borne himself gallantly. 7 Nevertheless, after they had listened to him, the majority was still inclined to help the Rhodians, until Callicrates of Leontium rose and said that they should not go to war with anyone or send help to anyone without taking the advice of Rome. 8 For this reason it was finally decided to take no steps.

17 1 The Rhodians, dissatisfied with the turn of events, adopted strange resolutions and expedients, and fell into a condition like that of those afflicted by chronic sickness. 2 For such men, when, after following scrupulously all the treatment imposed on them and obeying the orders of their physician, they fail to see any sign of improvement, are often dissatisfied with the result and give up the treatment  p287 perforce, some of them taking the advice of performers of sacrifice and of soothsayers, and others resorting to all kinds of charms and amulets. 3 The same thing happened to the Rhodians. For when everything had turned out contrary to their expectations, they listened perforce to all kinds of advice and gave substance and welcome to every kind of hope. 4 And this seems quite natural; for when all reasonable action has failed and we are still compelled to go on doing something, we must perforce resort to unreasonable courses. 5 The Rhodians, therefore, having reached this condition acted as often happens in such cases, choosing magistrates whom they had rejected and acting unreasonably in other respects.

IX. Affairs of Italy

Visits of the young Attalus, Demetrius, and Alexander Balas

18 1 Several embassies arrived in Rome, and the senate summoned in the first place Attalus, the son of King Eumenes, 2 who had come to Rome at this time while still a boy to be introduced to the senate, and renew in his own person his father's friendships and hospitable relations. 3 Having met with a kind reception from the senate and his father's friends and received the answers he wished, and such honours as suited his age, he returned home after a few days, 4 all the Greek cities through which he passed giving him a cordial and generous reception. 5 Demetrius also arrived at the same time, and after being received with no great state, as he was still a  p289 boy, returned home. Heracleides too, after having spent some time in Rome, appeared before the senate accompanied by Laodice and Alexander. 7 The young man spoke first in a reasonable manner, begging the Romans to remember their friendship and alliance with his father Antiochus, and entreating them, if they could, to help him to regain his kingdom, but if not, to allow his return and not to prevent those who were willing to assist him in winning back his father's throne. 9 After him Heracleides addressed them, delivering a long panegyric of Antiochus and accusing Demetrius, and finally maintaining that it was only just that they should allow the return of the young man and Laodice, who were the real children of King Antiochus. 10 None of this pleased sober-minded members who understood the artful construction of the plot, and were frankly disgusted with Heracleides, but the majority, seduced by the charlatanry of Heracleides, were persuaded to draw up a consultum in these terms. 12 "Alexander and Laodice, the children of a king who was our friend and ally, came before the senate and addressed it. 13 The senate thereupon gave them authority to go home to regain their father's throne, and it was decided to grant their request for help." 14 Heracleides now, availing himself of this permission, at once began to hire mercenaries and summoned to his aid a number of distinguished men. On arriving at Ephesus he occupied himself with preparations for his enterprise.

 p291  X. Affairs of Syria

(Athenaeus X.440B)

19 1 Polybius tells us in his thirty-third Book that Demetrius, who escaped from Rome when he was a hostage, and became king of Syria, was much given to drink and was tipsy for the greater part of the day.


20 1 When once the multitude are impelled to love or hate anyone in excess, any pretext is sufficient for them to execute their projects.

21 1 But I fear that the well-known adage may apply to me unknown to myself: "Which is the greater simpleton, the man who milks a he-goat or he who holds a sieve to catch the milk?" For it may be said of me that by confuting in detail what is confessed to be a lie, and doing so at great length, I am behaving in a very similar manner. 2 So I shall be told I entirely waste my time in speaking of this matter, unless indeed I wish to record dreams and take into serious consideration the visions of a man with his eyes open.

The Loeb Editor's Notes:

1 The governor of Cyprus under Ptolemy.

2 Alexander Balas, a pretended son of Antiochus Epiphanes.

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