Royal Correspondence: 61


Original text:   Pessinous_7   ( OGIS_315 )
Date:     159/8 B.C.

This letter, more than any other document, shows the dilemma that faced even the most powerful Greek states in the middle of the 2nd century B.C. Should they act independently to protect their own interests, or should they always consult the Romans before taking any action? Attalos chose the latter approach. For some comments on the letter, see A.Chaniotis, "War in the Hellenistic World", page 174 ( Google Books ).   There is another English translation by M.Austin, "The Hellenistic World from Alexander to the Roman Conquest", no. 244 ( Google Books ).

[King Attalus to priest Attis, greetings. If you were well, it would be] as I wish; I myself also was in good health. When we came to Pergamon and I assembled not only Athenaios and Sosandros and Menogenes but many others also of my "relatives", and when I laid before them what we discussed in Apameia and told them our decision, there was a very long discussion, and at first all inclined to the same opinion with us, but Chloros vehemently held forth the Roman power and counselled us in no way to do anything without them. In this at first few concurred, but afterwards, as day after day we kept considering, it appealed more and more, and to launch an undertaking without their participation began to seem fraught with great danger; if we were successful the attempt promised to bring us envy and detraction and baneful suspicion - that which they felt also towards my brother {Eumenes} - while if we failed we should meet certain destruction. For they would not, it seemed to us, regard our disaster with sympathy but would rather be delighted to see it, because we had undertaken such projects without them. As things are now, however, if - which God forbid - we were worsted in any matters, having acted entirely with their approval we would receive help and might recover our losses, if the gods favoured. I decided, therefore, to send to Rome on every occasion men to make constant report of cases where we are in doubt, while [we] ourselves make [thorough] preparation [so that if it is necessary] we may protect ourselves . . .

letter 62

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