1. L. Cornelio Scipione C. Laelio consulibus nulla prius secundum religiones acta in senatu res est quam de Aetolis. et legati eorum institere, quia brevem indutiarum diem habebant, et ab T. Quinctio, qui tum Romam ex Graecia redierat, adiuti sunt. 2Aetoli, ut quibus plus in misericordia senatus quam in causa spei esset, suppliciter egerunt, veteribus benefactis nova pensantes maleficia. 3ceterum et praesentes interrogationibus undique senatorum, confessionem magis noxae quam responsa exprimentium, fatigati sunt, et excedere curia iussi magnum certamen praebuerunt. 4plus ira quam misericordia in causa eorum valebat, quia non ut hostibus1 modo, sed tamquam indomitae et insociabili genti suscensebant.
5Per aliquot dies cum certatum esset, postremo neque dari neque negari pacem placuit; duae condiciones iis latae sunt: vel senatui liberum arbitrium de se permitterent,
1. When Lucius Cornelius Scipio and Gaius Laelius entered their consulship, the very first piece of business arising in the senate after the religious observances1 was the Aetolian question. The Aetolian delegates were pressing for action because the day marking the end of the truce was at hand, and they were also supported by Titus Quinctius, who had by then returned to Rome from Greece. Since they placed more hope in the compassion of the senate than the strength of their case, the Aetolians adopted a suppliant attitude, trying to compensate for their recent offenses with their former services. But while they were in the house they were on all sides plied with questions from the senators, who were trying to squeeze out of them an admission of guilt rather than answers; and when they were ordered to withdraw from the senate house, they became the subject of vigorous debate. Anger prevailed over compassion in their case because the senators were furious with them not just as enemies but as a wild people incapable of alliance.
When the dispute had lasted some days the decision finally reached was that the Aetolians should be neither granted nor refused peace. They were offered two options: either put themselves entirely in the senate’s hands,2
- 1These included a nine-day supplication for Livius’ victory off Corycus (36.44.1–45.4), not mentioned by Livy but found in Polybius (21.2.1).
- 2Cf. 36.27.8–28.7, where the Aetolians clearly misunderstood the expression “to entrust themselves to the good faith of the Romans,” by which the Romans meant unconditional surrender.