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Appian's History of Rome: The Macedonian Wars (3)

Legionary standard (of XXX Ulpia Traiana reenactment group). Photo Jona Lendering.
Appian of Alexandria (c.95-c.165) is the author of a Roman History and one of the most underestimated of all Greek historians. Although only his books on the Roman Civil Wars survive in their entirety, large parts of other books have also come down to us. Unfortunately, the Macedonia wars do not belong to these; only a few fragments survive in Byzantine manuscripts. An appendix to Appian's book on the Roman conquest of Macedonia, the Illyrian wars, survives in a better condition.

Because the text has to be reconstructed from several medieval manuscripts, not all editions of Appian's History of the Macedonian Wars are numbered in the same way; here, the separate units are counted strictly chronologically. The translation was made by Horace White; additions in green by Jona Lendering.

Perseus of Macedonia. Coin from the Antikensammlung, Berlin (Germany). Photo Marco Prins.
Perseus (Altes Museum, Berlin; **)

The Third Macedonian War

[From Constantine Porphyrogenitus, The Embassies:17] [172] The Romans were suspicious of Perseus (the son of [king] Philip[V of Macedonia]) on account of his rapidly growing power, and they were especially disturbed by his nearness to the Greeks and their friendship for him, due to hatred of the Romans, which the Roman generals had caused. Afterward the ambassadors, who were sent to the Bastarnae, reported that they had observed that Macedonia was strongly fortified and had abundant war material, and that its young men were well drilled; and these things also disturbed the Romans.

When Perseus perceived this he sent other ambassadors to allay the suspicion. At this time also Eumenes [II Soter], king of that part of Asia lying about Pergamon, fearing Perseus on account of his own former enmity to Philip, came to Rome and accused him publicly before the Senate, saying that he had always been hostile to the Romans; that he had killed his brother for being friendly to them; that he had aided Philip in collecting material for war against them, which material, when he became king, he did not desist from collecting, but added much more to it; that he was conciliating the Greeks in every possible way and furnishing military aid to the Byzantines, the Aetolians, and the Boeotians; that he had possessed himself of the great stronghold of Thrace and had stirred up dissensions among the Thessalians and the Perrhaebi when they wanted to send an embassy to Rome.

[18] "And of your two friends and allies," he said, "he drove Abrupolis out of his kingdom and conspired to kill Arthetaurus, the Illyrian chief, and gave shelter to his murderers."

Eumenes also slandered him on account of his marriages, both of which were with royal families, and for his bridal processions escorted by the whole fleet of Rhodes. He even made his industry a crime and his sobriety of life (being so young), and his being beloved and praised by so many in so short a time. Of the things that could excite their jealousy, envy, and fear even more strongly than direct accusations, Eumenes omitted nothing, and he urged the Senate to beware of a youthful enemy so highly esteemed and so near to them.

[19] The Senate, in fact, did not like to have on their flank a sober-minded, laborious, and popular king, an hereditary enemy to themselves, attaining eminence so suddenly. So, making a pretended accusation of the things alleged by Eumenes, they decided to make war against Perseus, but kept the matter a secret among themselves. When Harpalus, who had been sent by Perseus to answer the charge of Eumenes, and a certain ambassador of the Rhodians, desired to discuss the matter in the presence of Eumenes, who was still there, they were not admitted; but after his departure they were received. These, being angry at such treatment, and using too much freedom of speech, exasperated still more the Romans, who were already meditating war against Perseus and the Rhodians. Many senators, however, blamed Eumenes for causing so great a war on account of his own private grudges and fears, and the Rhodians refused to receive only his among all the representatives of the kings sent to their festival of the sun.

[20] When Eumenes was returning to Asia, he went up from Cirrha to Delphi to sacrifice, and there four men, hiding behind a wall, made an attempt upon his life. Other causes besides this were advanced by the Romans for a war against Perseus, although it had not yet been decreed, and ambassadors were sent to the allied kings, Eumenes, Antiochus [III the Great of Syria], Ariarathes [IV Eusebes of Cappadocia], Massinissa [of Numidia], and Ptolemy[VI Philometor] of Egypt, also to Greece Thessaly, Epirus, Acarnania, and to such of the islands as they could perhaps draw to their side. This specially troubled the Greeks, some because fond of Perseus as a Philhellene, and some because compelled to enter into agreement with the Romans.

[21] [171] When Perseus learned these facts he sent other ambassadors to Rome, who said that the king was surprised and wished to know for what reason they had abandoned the agreement and sent around legates against himself, their ally. If they were offended at anything, they ought to discuss the matter first. The Senate then accused him of the things that Eumenes had told them, and also of what Eumenes had suffered, and especially that Perseus had taken possession of Thrace and had collected an army and war material, which were not the doings of one desiring peace. Again he sent ambassadors who, deeply grieved, spoke as follows in the senate chamber: "To those who are seeking an excuse for war, o Romans, anything will serve for a pretext, but if you have respect for treaties - you who profess so much regard for them - what have you suffered at the hands of Perseus that you should bring war against him? It cannot be because he has an army and war material. He does not hold them against you, nor do you prohibit other kings from having them, nor is it wrong that he should take precautions against those under his rule, and against his neighbors, and foreigners who might have designs against him. But to you, Romans, he sent ambassadors to confirm the peace and only recently renewed the treaty.

[22] But, you say, he drove Abrupolis out of his kingdom. Yes, in self-defense, for he had invaded our territory. This fact Perseus himself explained to you, and afterward you renewed the treaty with him, as Eumenes had not yet slandered him. The affair of Abrupolis antedates the treaty and seemed to you just when you ratified it. You say that he made war on the Dolopians, but they were his own subjects. It is hard if he is to be obliged to give an account to you of what he does with his own. He gives it nevertheless, being moved by his high regard for you and for his own reputation. The Dolopians put their governor to death with torture, and Perseus asks what you would have done to any of your subjects who had been guilty of such a crime. But the slayers of Arthetaurus lived on in Macedonia! Yes, by the common law of mankind, the same under which you give asylum to fugitives from other countries. But when Perseus learned that you considered this a crime he forbade them his kingdom entirely.

[23] He gave aid to the Byzantines, the Aetolians, and the Boeotians, not against you, but against others. Of these things our ambassadors advised you beforehand, and you did not object until Eumenes uttered his slander against us, which you did not allow our ambassadors to answer in his presence. But you accuse Perseus of the plot against him at Delphi. How many Greeks, how many barbarians, have sent ambassadors to you to complain against Eumenes, to all of whom he is an enemy because so base a man! As for Erennius of Brundusium, who would believe that Perseus would choose a Roman citizen, your friend and patron, to administer poison to the Senate, as though he could destroy the Senate by means of him, or by destroying some of them render the others more favorable to himself ? Erennius has lied to those who are inciting you to war, furnishing them a plausible pretext. Eumenes, moved by hatred, envy, and fear, does not scruple to make it a crime on the part of Perseus that he is liked by so many people, that he is a Philhellene, and that he leads the life of a temperate ruler, free from drunkenness and luxury. And you endure to listen to such stuff from this accuser!

[24] Beware lest his slanders multiply against yourselves, if you cannot endure temperate, honest, and industrious neighbors. Perseus challenges Erennius and Eumenes and anybody else to scrutiny and trial before you. He reminds you of his father's zeal and assistance to you against Antiochus the Great. You realized it very well at the time; it would be base to forget it now. He invokes the treaties that you made with his father and with himself, and he does not hesitate to exhort you to fear the gods by whom you swore, and not to bring an unjust war against your allies and not to make nearness, sobriety, and preparation causes of complaint. It is not worthy of you to be stirred by envy and fear like Eumenes. On the contrary, it will be the part of wisdom for you to spare neighbors who are diligent and, as Eumenes says, are well prepared!"

[25] When the ambassadors had thus spoken, the Senate gave them no answer, but made a public declaration of war, and the consul ordered the ambassadors to depart from Rome the same day and from Italy within thirty days. The same orders were proclaimed to all Macedonian residents. Consternation mingled with anger followed this action of the Senate, that, on a few hours' notice, so many people were compelled to depart together, who were not able to find animals in so short a time, or to carry all their goods themselves. Some, in their confusion, could not reach a lodging place, but passed the night in the middle of the roads. Others threw themselves on the ground at the city gates with their wives and children. Everything happened that was likely to follow such an unexpected decree, for it was unexpected to them on account of the pending negotiation.

Appian   :   Roman History   :   Macedonian wars, part 4

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