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Sylloge Inscriptionum Graecarum: 643


LETTER TO THE AMPHICTYONS CONCERNING KING PERSEUS

Greek text:   FD_3.4.367 , FD_3.4.75
Date:     171/0 B.C.
Format:   see key to translations

The accusations in this document are the justification presented by the Romans for making war against Perseus, the last king of Macedonia. Unfortunately there are many gaps in the inscription, but some of what is missing can be restored by comparing with the accounts of historians such as Livy ( 42.13 ).

J.Bousquet, in BCH 105 (1981), showed that part A, which was printed by Dittenberger as 613.B, is in fact the beginning of a letter from a Roman magistrate, preceding part B of the inscription. The translation of A follows his Greek text ( Persée ); but it should be noted that the reference to the Macedonian king is missing from the stone, and is a modern conjecture.

The translation of part B is adapted from A.Johnson, P.Coleman-Norton & F.Bourne, "Ancient Roman Statutes", no.29. There is another translation, based on a different restoration of the text, in R.Sherk, "Rome and the Greek East to the death of Augustus", no.19 ( Google Books ).


[A]   With [good] fortune.   [ . . ., general and consul of the Romans] to the magistrates and city of Delphi, greetings. I have sent a letter [to you about the plots of the king of the Macedonians against] all the democratic states of the Greeks. You will do well therefore [to inscribe it on a stone stele, so that there may] remain a memorial of our and the Romans' [goodwill] towards the Greeks [and piety towards the god and the temple], if you consider it reasonable to make our goodwill [towards your city and the Greeks clear to everyone who] visits the [temple] . . .

[B]   . . . of the things restored . . . that [the Amphictyons] themselves . . . to the gods . . . you shall administer, even as it concerns Perseus in violation of propriety [to come to Delphi with army in the truce] of the Pythian games; it was [altogether] improper [to allow him either to appear or to share in the oracle] or the sacrifices or the games [or the Amphictyonic Council, which is common to the Greeks]. 10 For he brought [barbarians, who dwell] beyond the [Danube and who once previously, having been assembled] for nothing [good], but for the enslavement [of all Greeks, burst into Greece and who], having marched against the temple [of Pythian Apollo in Delphi, intending to plunder] and to destroy it, got [from the god proper punishment; and most of them perished].

He also transgressed [the oaths], made [by us] to [his father, and the treaty, which he himself had renewed].

Also [warring against] the Thracians, our [friends and allies, he made them homeless].

He expelled from his kingdom Abrupolis, whom we included [as our friend and ally in a treaty with him].

Envoys, [who had been sent from the Greeks and the kings] to Rome about an alliance [with the Thebans, he drowned; and others in other ways he attempted to put out of the way].

In addition he came to such a degree of folly [that he had it in mind to kill our council by poisons].

[The Dolopes] 20 were deprived of freedom through [his inroads].

[In Aetolia he planned both war and slaughter and brought] their whole people into political tumults [and civil discords].

[Also against all Greece] he continues to do the worst things, [both by receiving fugitives from cities and by contriving other evils].

[Also], by destroying the leading men [and at the same time by courting the masses, he both promised cancellations of debts] and effected revolutions, thus making clear [what policy he has toward both the Greeks and the Romans].

As a result, it has ensued that the Perrhaibians [and the Thessalians and the Aetolians fell into incurable] misfortune, and that the barbarians have become still more dreadful [to the Greeks. For a long time he has been] desirous of war [against us]; and so that [he might catch us] without aid, [when no one is opposing him, and] might enslave all the [Greek] cities, [he set Genthios the Illyrian against us, by bribes].

[Through Euandros he plotted to kill] king Eumenes, [our friend and ally], 30 at the time when [he was going to Delphi] for the purpose of paying [a vow. Perseus did not heed at all the safe-conduct granted by] the god to all persons who come [to him and did not take into account that the dedicated and sacred character of the city of Delphi, acknowledged] by all men, [for both Greeks] and barbarians, has existed from all [time] . . . it is you to the greatest extent . . .

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