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This webpage reproduces a Book of
The Histories


published in Vol. V
of the Loeb Classical Library edition,

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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Book XXV

(Vol. V) Polybius
The Histories

 p437  Fragments of Book XXIV

I. Affairs of Italy

Various Embassies at Rome

(Cp. Livy XL.20)

1 1 Upon the arrival in Rome of the envoys from the Lacedaemonians and from their exiles, from the Achaeans, from Eumenes, from King Ariarathes, and from Pharnaces, the senate first gave audience to the last named. 2 A short time previously Marcus and the other commissioners whom they had sent to inquire into the circumstances of the war between Eumenes and Pharnaces had presented their report, in which they pointed out the moderation of Eumenes in all matters, and the rapacious and generally overbearing conduct of Pharnaces. The senate, after listening to the envoys, had no need to debate the matter at length, but replied that they would send legates again to inquire with more diligence into the dispute of the two kings. 4 The next to enter were the Spartan exiles together with those from the city; and after giving them a long hearing, the senate, without censuring the citizens at all for what had occurred, 5 promised the exiles to write to the Achaeans  p439 begging for their return to their country. 6 A few days afterwards when Bippus of Argos and the others sent by the Achaean League appeared before them and explained about the restoration of order at Messene, 7 the senate gave them a courteous reception, expressing no displeasure with anyone for the conduct of the matter.

II. Affairs of Greece

2 1 In the Peloponnesus when the Lacedaemonian exiles arrived bearing a letter from the senate to the Achaeans asking them to take measures for their safe return to their country, 2 the Achaeans decided to adjourn the debate until the arrival of their own envoys. 3 After giving the exiles this answer, they drew up an inscription to be engraved on the stone recording their agreement with the Messenians, and granting them among other favours a three years' exemption from taxes, so that the devastation of the Messenian territory injured the Achaeans no less than Messenians. 4 Upon Bippus and the envoys returning from Rome and reporting that the letter on the subject of the exiles had been written not owing to the senate's interest in them, but owing to their importunity, 5 the Achaeans decided to take no step.

3 1 This year witnessed the beginning of great troubles in Crete, if indeed one can talk of a beginning of trouble in Crete. For of the constant succession of their civil wars and their excessive  p441 cruelty to each other, beginning and end mean the same thing in Crete, and what is regarded as a paradoxical utterance of some philosophers is there constantly a matter of fact.

III. Affairs of Italy

The Brothers of Eumenes in Rome

5 1 After the peace concluded between Pharnaces and Attalus and the others, they all returned home with their forces. 2 Eumenes at this time had recovered from his sickness, and was living in Pergamus; and when his brother arrived and informed him how he had managed matters, he was pleased at what had happened, and resolved to send all his brothers to Rome, 3 hoping by this mission to put an end to the war between himself and Pharnaces, and at the same time wishing to recommend his brothers to the personal friends and former guests of himself and his house in Rome and to the senate in general. 4 Attalus and the others gladly consented and prepared for the journey. 5 Upon their arrival in Rome, all their friends gave the young men the kindest reception in their houses, as they had become intimate with them in their campaigns in Asia, and the senate greeted them upon their arrival on a magnificent scale, 6 lavishing gifts and largesses on them, and replying most satisfactorily to them at their official audience. 7 Attalus and his brothers on entering the Curia spoke at some length in renewal of their former amicable relations and, accusing Pharnaces, begged  p443 the senate to take measures to inflict on him the punishment he merited. 8 The senate, after giving them a courteous hearing, replied that they would send legates who would by some means or other put an end to the war. Such was the condition of affairs in Italy.

IV. Affairs of Greece

Ptolemy and the Achaeans

6 1 At the same period King Ptolemy, wishing to ingratiate himself with the Achaean League, sent an envoy promising to give them a full squadron of quinqueremes. 2 The Achaeans, chiefly because they thought the gift one for which real thanks were due, gladly accepted it, for the cost was not much less than ten talents. 3 Having decided on this, they appointed as envoys Lycortas, Polybius, and Aratus, son of the great Aratus of Sicyon, to thank the king for the arms and coined money he had previously sent, and to receive the ships and look after their dispatch. 4 They appointed Lycortas because, at the time when Ptolemy renewed the alliance, he had been strategus, and had done his best to consult the king's interests, 5 and Polybius, who had not attained the legal age for such a post, because his father had gone on an embassy to Ptolemy to renew the alliance, and to bring back the gift of arms and money. 6 Aratus was chosen owing to his father's relations with the king.  p445 7 This embassy, however, never came off, owing to the death of Ptolemy which occurred about this time.

Chaeron of Sparta
(Cp. Suid.)

7 1 Just about the same time there was in Sparta a certain Chaeron, who had been a member of the embassy to Rome in the previous year. He was a sharp and able man, but he was young and of humble station, and had received a vulgar education. 2 This man, courting the mob and making innovations upon which no one else ventured, soon acquired some reputation with the populace. 3 The first thing he did was to take away from the sisters, wives, mothers, and children that the exiles had left behind them the property granted them by the tyrants, and distribute it among men of slender means at random, unfairly, and just as he chose. 4 After this he began to use public moneys as if they were his own, and spent all the revenue without reference to laws, public decrees, or magistrates. 5 Some citizens were indignant at this and took steps to get themselves appointed auditors of the public accounts as the law enjoined. 6 Chaeron, seeing this and conscious that he had misused the public funds, when Apollonidas, the most notable of the auditors and most capable of exposing his rapacity, was one day in broad daylight on his way from a bath, sent some men and killed him. 7 Upon this becoming known to the Achaeans, the people were exceedingly indignant, and the strategus started off at once for Sparta, where he put Chaeron on his trial for the murder of Apollonidas, and upon his being found guilty, put him in prison, 8 encouraging at the same  p447 time the other auditors to inquire seriously into the management of the public funds and to see that the relatives of the exiles recovered the property of which Chaeron had recently robbed them.

The Achaeans and Rome

8 1 In the same year when Hyperbatus the strategus submitted to the Achaeans' Assembly the question how to act upon the Roman communication regarding the return of the Spartan exiles, 2 Lycortas advised them to take no steps, because while it was true that the Romans were doing their duty in lending an ear to reasonable requests made by persons whom they regarded as bereft of their rights, 3 yet if it were pointed out to them that some of these requests were impossible to grant, and others would entail great injury and disgrace on their friends, it was not their habit in such matters to contend that they were right or enforce compliance. 4 "So," he said, "at present, if it is pointed out to them that we Achaeans by acceding to their written request will violate our oaths, our laws, and the inscribed conventions that hold our League together, they will withdraw their demand and agree that we are right in hesitating and begging to be excused for non-compliance." 6 Lycortas spoke in this sense; but Hyperbatus and Callicrates were in favour of compliance with the request, saying that neither laws nor inscribed agreements nor anything else should be considered more binding than the will of Rome. 7 Such being the different views advanced, the Achaeans decided to send envoys to the senate to point out what Lycortas urged, 8 and  p449 they at once appointed Callicrates of Leontium, Lydiadas of Megalopolis, and Aratus of Sicyon, and sent them off with instructions conformable to what I have stated. 9 Upon their arrival in Rome, Callicrates on entering the senate-house was so far from addressing that body in the terms of his instructions, that on the contrary, from the very outset of his speech, he not only attempted to bring audacious accusations against his political opponents, but to lecture the senate. 9 1 For he said that it was the fault of the Romans themselves that the Greeks, instead of complying with their wishes, disobeyed their communications and orders. 2 There were, he said, two parties at present in all democratic states, one of which maintained that the written requests of the Romans should be executed, and that neither laws, inscribed agreements, nor anything else should take precedence of the wishes of Rome, while the other appealed to laws, sworn treaties, and inscriptions, and implored the people not to violate these lightly; 4 and this latter view, he said, was much more popular in Achaea and carried the day with the multitude, 5 the consequence being that the partisans of Rome were constantly exposed to the contempt and slander of the mob, while it was the reverse with their opponents. 6 If the senate now gave some token of their disapproval the political leaders would soon go over to the side of Rome, and the populace would follow them out of fear. 7 But in the event of the senate neglecting to do so, every one would change and adopt the other attitude, which in the eyes of the mob was more dignified and honourable. 8 "Even now," he said, "certain persons, who have no other claim to distinction, have received the  p451 highest honours in their several states simply for the reason that they are thought to oppose your injunctions for the sake of maintaining the force of their laws and decrees. 9 If, then, it is a matter of indifference to you whether or not the Greeks obey you and comply with your instructions, continue to act as you do now; but if you wish your orders to be executed and none to treat your communications with contempt, you should give all possible attention to this matter. For you may be quite sure that, if you do not, just the opposite will happen to what you contemplate, as has already been the case. For when quite lately in the Messenian difficulty Quintus Marcius did his best to ensure that the Achaeans should take no steps regarding Messene without the initiative of Rome, they paid no attention to him; but, after voting for war on their own accord, not only most unjustly devastated the whole of Messenia, but sent into exile some of its most distinguished citizens; and, when others were delivered up to them, put them to death after inflicting every variety of torture on them, just because they had appealed to Rome to judge the dispute. 14 And now for some time while you have been writing to them about the return of the Spartan exiles, they are so far from complying that a solemn inscribed agreement has been made with the party that holds Sparta and oaths taken that the exiles shall never be allowed to return." So he begged them in view of all this to take precautions for the future.

10 1 Callicrates retired after speaking in these or  p453 similar terms. 2 The exiles entered next, and, after stating their case in a few words and making a general appeal for compassion, withdrew. 3 The senate, thinking that what Callicrates had said was in their interest, and learning from him that they should exalt those who supported their decrees and humble those who opposed them, now first began the policy of weakening those members of the several states who worked for the best, and of strengthening those, who, no matter whether rightly or wrongly, appealed to its authority. 5 The consequence of this was that gradually, as time went on, they had plenty of flatterers but very few true friends. 6 They actually went so far on the present occasion as to write not only to the Achaeans on the subject of the return of the exiles, begging them to contribute to strengthening the position of these men, but to the Aetolians, Epirots, Athenians, Boeotians, and Acarnanians, calling them all as it were to witness as if for the express purpose of crushing the Achaeans. 7 Speaking of Callicrates alone with no mention of the other envoys, they wrote in their official answer that there ought to be more men in the several states like Callicrates. 8 He now returned to Greece with this answer in high spirits, quite unaware that he had been the initiator of great calamities for all Greece, and especially for the Achaeans. 9 For it was still possible for the Achaeans even at this period to deal with Rome on more or less equal terms, as they had remained faithful to her ever since they had taken her part in the most important times — I mean the wars with Philip and Antiochus —  p455 10 but now after the Achaean League had become stronger and more prosperous than at any time recorded in history, this effrontery of Callicrates was the beginning of a change for the worse. . . . 11 The Romans are men, and with their noble disposition and high principles pity all who are in misfortune and appeal to them; 12 but, when anyone who has remained true to them reminds them of the claims of justice, they usually draw back and correct themselves as far as they can. 13 On the present occasion Callicrates, who had been sent to Rome to state the just claims of Achaea, did exactly the opposite, and having dragged in the Messenian question, about which the Romans did not even raise any complaint, returned to Achaea armed with threats of Roman displeasure. 14 By his report he overawedº and crushed the spirits of the people, who were perfectly ignorant of the words he had actually used in the Senate; first of all he was elected strategus, taking bribes in addition to all his other misconduct, 15 and next, on entering upon office, brought back the Spartan and Messenian exiles.

Comparison between Philopoemen and Aristaenus
(Cp. Suid.)

11 1 Philopoemen and Aristaenus the Achaeans were alike neither in nature nor in their political convictions. 2 Philopoemen indeed was exceptionally capable both physically and mentally in the field of war, Aristaenus in that of politics; 3 and the difference in their political convictions was as follows.  p457 Now that, during the wars with Philip and Antiochus, Roman supremacy had definitely asserted itself in the affairs of Greece, Aristaenus in conducting affairs of state was ever ready to do what was agreeable to the Romans, sometimes even anticipating their orders, but yet he aimed at a seeming adherence to the law, and strove to acquire a reputation for doing so, giving way whenever any law was in evident opposition to the Roman instructions. 6 Philopoemen, on the other hand, cordially accepted and helped to execute, without raising any objection, all requests which were in accordance with the laws and the terms of the alliance; 7 but when the requests were not so, could never induce himself to comply with them willingly, but said that the plea of illegality should be considered before the request was renewed. 8 If, however, they failed even by this means to convince the Romans, they should finally give way more or less under protest and execute the order.

12 1 Aristaenus offered to the Achaeans the following defence, more or less, of his policy. He said it was impossible to maintain their friendship with Rome, by holding out the sword and the olive branch​1 at one and the same time. "If," he said, "we are strong enough to face them and can really do so, very well; but if Philopoemen does not venture to maintain this . . . 2 why striving for the impossible do we neglect the possible? There were, he said, two aims in all policy, honour and interest. For those in whose power it lies to gain honour the right policy is to aim at this; but those who are  p459 powerless to do so must take refuge in the attainment of their interest. 3 But to fail in both aims was the highest proof of incompetence; and this was evidently the case with those who made no objection to any demand, but complied with it against their wills and in a manner calculated to give offence. 4 "Therefore," he said, "either it must be proved that we are capable of refusing compliance, or, if no one dares to say this, we must readily obey all orders."

13 1 The reply of Philopoemen was that they must not think he was so stupid as to be incapable of measuring the difference between the two states, Rome and Achaea, and the superiority of the Roman power. 2 "But," he continued, "as a stronger power is always naturally disposed to press harder on those who submit to it, is it in our interest by encouraging the whims of our masters, and not opposing them in any way, to have to yield as soon as possible to the most tyrannical behests? Should we not rather, as far as it is in our power, wrestle with them, and hold out until we are completely exhausted? 3 And should they issue illegal orders,​2 if, by pointing this out to them, we put some check on their arbitrary conduct, we shall at least in a measure curb the extreme severity of their dominion, especially since, as you yourself, Aristaenus, acknowledge, the Romans, up to now at least, set a very high value on fidelity to oaths, treaties, and contracts with allies. 4 But if we ourselves, ignoring our own rights, instantly without protest make ourselves subservient, like prisoners of war, to any and every order, what difference will there be between the Achaean League  p461 and the people of Sicily and Capua, who have long been the acknowledged slaves of Rome?" 5 Therefore, he said, either they must confess that with the Romans justice is impotent, or if they did not go so far as to say this, they must stand by their rights, and not give themselves away, especially as they had very great and honourable claims on Rome. 6 "I know too well," he said, "that the time will come when the Greeks will be forced to yield complete obedience to Rome; but do we wish this time to be as near as possible or as distant as possible? Surely as distant as possible." 7 So in this respect, he said, the policy of Aristaenus differed from his own. Aristaenus was anxious to see their fate overtake them as soon as possible, and worked for this end with all his might; but he himself did all he could to strive against it and avert it.

8 I think it must be confessed from these speeches that the policy of Philopoemen was honourable, and that of Aristaenus plausible, but that both were safe. 9 So that when, in the wars with Philip and Antiochus, great dangers threatened both Rome and Greece, yet the one statesman and the other equally protected the rights of Achaea against Rome. 10 But the report gained currency that Aristaenus was more favourably disposed to the Romans than Philopoemen.

V. Affairs of Asia

War between Eumenes and Pharnaces

14 1 In Asia king Pharnaces, again defying the terms of the Roman verdict, sent Leocritus in the  p463 winter with ten thousand troops to lay Galatia waste, 2 and himself, when spring began to set in, collected his forces with the object of invading Cappadocia. 3 Eumenes, on learning of this, was highly incensed, as Pharnaces was violating all the terms of their treaty, but he was forced to do the same thing himself. 4 When he had already collected his troops, Attalus and his brother returned from Rome. 5 After meeting and conversing the brothers at once left with their army. 6 On arriving in Galatia they found that Leocritus was no longer there, but Cassignatus and Gaezatorix, who a year previously had taken the part of Pharnaces, sent to them asking for protection, and promising to submit to all their orders. 7 Rejecting these overtures owing to the previous infidelity of these chiefs, they left with their whole army and advanced to meet Pharnaces. 8 From Calpitus (?) they reached the Halys in four days, and next day left for Parnassus, where Ariarathes, the king of Cappadocia, joined them with his own forces, upon which they advanced to the territory of Mocissus. 10 Just after they had encamped there the news reached them that the legates from Rome had arrived to arrange a peace. 11 On hearing this King Eumenes sent off Attalus to receive them, but himself doubled his forces and energetically drilled them; both for the purpose of meeting actual exigencies and to show the Romans that he was capable without any assistance of defending  p465 himself against Pharnaces and overcoming him. 15 1 When the legates arrived and begged the kings to put an end to the war, Eumenes and Ariarathes said they were quite ready to accede to this and any other request; but they asked the Romans if possible to contrive a meeting between them and Pharnaces, so that when he was brought face to face with them and they all spoke, his infidelity and cruelty might be fully revealed to them. 3 If, however, this was beyond their power, they begged the legates themselves to act as fair and just judges in the matter. 4 The legates consented to do all in their power that was proper, but demanded that the army should be withdrawn from the country: for they said it was irregular that when a mission was present acting for peace there should at the same time be all the apparatus of war present, the kings inflicting damage on each other. 6 Eumenes consented, and the very next day he and Ariarathes broke up their camp and advanced towards Galatia. 7 The Romans in the first place met Pharnaces, and begged him to have an interview with Eumenes, for this was the surest way of arranging matters. 8 When he objected to this and finally refused, the Romans also at once saw that he clearly condemned himself and had no confidence in his case; but as they wished by any and every means to put an end to the war, they went on insisting until he consented to send by sea to Pergamus plenipotentiaries empowered to make peace on the terms dictated by the legates. 10 On the arrival of the envoys, the Romans and Eumenes met them. They were ready  p467 to make any concessions for peace; 11 but, as the envoys of Pharnaces differed with them on every point, did not adhere to their agreements, continued raising fresh demands and withdrawing from their concessions, the Romans soon saw that all their efforts were in vain, as Pharnaces was not in the least inclined to make peace. 12 So that, as the conference had no result, as the Romans quitted Pergamus, and as the envoys of Pharnaces returned to their own country, the war became permanent, and Eumenes began to continue his preparations for it. 13 At the same time the Rhodians did their best to gain the assistance of Eumenes, and he hurriedly left to lend them a hand in Lycia. . . .

The Loeb Editor's Notes:

1 "The spear and the herald's staff."

2 Heyse supplies ἐκτὸς νόμων τι.

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