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A. M. 3788. Ant. J. C. 216.
SECT. IV. Philip concludes a treaty with Hannibal
THE war between the Carthaginians and the Romans, who were the two greatest powers at that time, drew the attention of all the kings and nations in the world. Philip, king of Macedon, imagined that this affected him the more, as his dominions were separated from Italy only by the Adriatick sea, now called the Gulph of Venice. When he heard, by the rumours which were spread, that Hannibal had marched over the Alps, he was indeed very well pleased to see the Romans and Carthaginians at war; but, the success of it being doubtful, he did not perceive clearly enough, which of those powers it would be his interest to join. But after Hannibal had gained three victories successively, all his doubts were removed. He sent ambassadors to that general, but unhappily they fell into the hands of the Romans. They were carried to Valerius Levinus the prætor, who was then encamped near Luceria. The principal of the ambassadors, Xenophanes by name, without being in the least disconcerted, answered with a resolute tone of voice; that he had been dispatched by Philip to conclude an alliance and friendship with the Romans; and that he had orders to execute with the consuls, as well as the
Liv. 1. xxiii. n. 33, 34, & 38.
senate and people of Rome. Levinus, overjoyed to find, in this revolt of their ancient allies, so powerful a monarch desirous of making an alliance with the Romans, treated the ambassadors with all possible respect, and gave them a convoy for their safety. Being arrived in Campania, they escaped, and fled to Hannibal's camp, where they concluded a treaty, the purport of which was as follows: "That king "Philip should cross into Italy with a fleet of two "hundred sail, and lay waste the sea-coasts; and "should assist the Carthaginians both by sea and "land. That the latter, at the conclusion of the "war, should possess all Italy and Rome; and that "Hannibal should have all the spoils. That after "the conquest of Italy, they should cross into "Greece, and there make war against any power the "king should nominate; and that both the cities of "the continent, and the islands lying towards Ma"cedonia, should be enjoyed by Philip, and anHannibal, on the other "nexed to his dominions.' side, sent ambassadors to Philip, for his ratification of it; and they set out with those of Macedonia. I observed elsewhere, that in this treaty, the whole of which is preserved by Polybius, express mention is made of a great number of deities of the two nations, as present at this treaty, and witnesses to the oaths with which the ceremony was attended. Polybius omits a great number of particulars, which, according to Livy, were stipulated by this treaty.
The ambassadors, who set out together, were unhappily discovered and intercepted by the Romans. Xenophanes's lie would not do him the same service as before. The Carthaginians were known by their air, their dress, and still more by their language. Upon them were found letters from Hannibal to Philip, and a copy of the treaty. The ambassadors were carried to Rome. The condition in which the affairs of the Romans (attacked so vi
h Polyb. 1. vii. p. 502—597.
gorously by Hannibal) then were, and their discovering a new enemy, so very powerful as Philip, must necessarily alarm them prodigiously. But it is on such occasions that the Roman grandeur was chiefly conspicuous. For without expressing the least perplexity or discouragement, they took all the measures necessary for carrying on this new war. Philip, informed of what had befallen his ambassadors, sent a second embassy to Hannibal, which was more successful than the former, and brought back the treaty, But these disappointments prevented their forming any enterprise that year, and still kept matters in suspense.
Philip was now wholly employed on his great design of carrying the war into Italy. Demetrius of Pharos being with him, was continually urging him to that enterprise: not so much out of zeal for the interest of that prince, as out of hatred to the Romans, who had dispossessed him of his territories, which he thought it would be impossible for him to recover by any other means. It was by his counsel that he had concluded a peace with most of his enemies, in order that he might devote his whole care and attention to this war, the thoughts of which haunted him day and night; so that even in his dreams he spoke of nothing but of war and battles with the Romans; and he would start from his sleep, in the highest agitation of mind, and covered with sweat. This prince, who was still young, was naturally lively and ardent in all his enterprises. The success of his arms, the hopes Demetrius gave him, and the remembrance of the great actions of his predecessors, kindled an ardour in him, which increased daily.
* During the winter season, he thought of manning a fleet; not with the view of venturing a battle with the Romans, for this he was not in a condition to do; but to transport his forces into Italy with the
1 Polyb. I. v. p. 439, & 445-447
Liv.l. xxiv. n. 40.
greater expedition, and by that means surprise the enemies when they should least expect it. Accordingly he made the Illyrians build an hundred or an hundred and twenty vessels for him; and after having exercised his Macedonians for some time in the naval discipline, he put to sea. He first seized upon the city of Oricum, situate on the western coast of Epirus. Valerius, commander of the fleet that lay before Brundusiam, having advice of it, set sail immediately with all the ships in readiness for sailing; retook, the next day, Oricum, in which Philip had but a slender garrison, and sent a large reinforcement to the aid of Apollonia, to which Philip had laid siege. Nevius, an able and experienced officer, who commanded this reinforcement, having landed his troops at the mouth of the river Aous, upon which Apollonia stands, marched through a by-way; and entered the city in the night, unperceived by the enemy. The Macedonians, imagining they were very secure, because the sea lay between them and the enemy, had neglected all the precautions which the rules of war prescribe, and the exactness of military discipline requires. Nevius, being informed of this, marched silently out of the city in the night, and arrived in the camp, where he found all the soldiers asleep. And now the cries of those who were first attacked awaking the rest, they all endeavoured to save themselves by flight. The king himself, who was but half awake and almost naked, found it very difficult for him to escape to his ships. The soldiers crowded after him, and three thousand of them were either killed or taken prisoners. Valerius, who stayed at Oricum, the instant he heard this news, had sent his fleet towards the mouth of the river, to shut up Philip. This prince, finding it impossible for him to advance forward, after setting fire to his ships, returned by land to Macedonia; carrying with him the sorrowful remains of his troops, who seemed more like prisoners disarmed and plundered, than the body of an army.
'For some time Philip, who till then had been admired for many of those qualities which form the great prince, had begun to change his conduct and character; and this change was ascribed to the evil counsels of those about him, who, to please him, were perpetually lavishing their encomiums on him, fomenting all his passions, and suggesting to him, that the grandeur of a king consisted in reigning with unlimited power, and in making his subjects pay a blind implicit obedience to his will. Instead of the gentleness, moderation, and wisdom, he till then had displayed, he treated cities and states, not only with pride and haughtiness, but with cruelty and injustice; and having no longer as formerly his glory in view, he abandoned himself entirely to riot and excesses of every kind: the too common effect of flattery, whose subtle poison generally corrupts the best princes, and sooner or later destroys the great hopes which had been entertained of them.
One would have imagined that the defeat before Apollonia, in covering him with shame, would have abated his pride, and softened his temper. But this only soured it; and one would have concluded, that this prince was resolved to revenge, on his subjects and allies, the affront he had received from his enemies.
Being arrived in Peloponnesus, a little after his defeat, he employed all the stratagems possible to overreach and surprise the Messenians. But his artifices being discovered, he pulled off the mask, and laid waste the whole country. Aratus, who was a man of the greatest honour and probity, was exceedingly shocked at so flagrant an injustice, and made loud complaints against it. He had before begun to retire insensibly from court; but now he thought it high time to break entirely with a prince, who no longer valued his people, and led the most dissolute life: for he was not ignorant of his impure
Plut. in Arat. p. 1049-1052. Polyb, 1. viii. p. 518, 519,