Antiochus IV Epiphanes, ruled the Seleucid Empire from 174 to 164 B.C.. The Seleucid empire at times ruled over a vast portion of the Mideast, its seat of power was Syria. During his rule, Antiochus launched a war against Ptolemaic Egypt. The war went well for Antiochus who looked likely to conquer Egypt. The Ptolemaic army was routed and their capitol in Alexandria was besieged. The Ptolemaic forces were spent. So, they lost right? Nope, and thats where the story becomes legendary.
The Roman government decided that its interests would be harmed by a Seleucid conquest of Egypt. The Roman’s sent a plenipotentiary, Popilius Laena to speak with Antiochus. Now old Popilius was proconsular, which means he was a top government official with complete authority to speak in the name of the Senate and Roman People. One guy, with a small retinue accomplished as much as a victorious army.
Popilius Laena sails to where he will find Antiochus, commanding an army of 70,000 men, besieging Alexandria. Upon his arrival in the midst of Antiochus’ army, Popilius gets right to the point, the Seleucid army must quit Egypt immediately and entirely. Antiochus begins to speak, and it’s clear that he views Popilius words as simply a starting point for negotiation. Popilius cuts him off, and he walks around Antiochus drawing a circle in the sand as he does. Popilius then informs Antiochus that either Antiochus will answer in the affirmative before leaving the circle, or there will be war.
Well, you may have guessed, Antiochus capitulated. Rome needn’t send an army because Rome had credibility. Popilius didn’t scream and yell, or bluster. He didn’t whine, cajole third parties, or make dire threats. He just spoke plainly, but those words carried a terrible force. Sometimes people flippantly compare America to Rome; remember Popilius Laena when they do, and really weigh it in your mind.
Things are slipping away from American power. We have no credibility, and no idea of the consequences of our actions. And the soft, overfed, incompetent, elitist leadership of our country makes no one tremble. We can’t regain the power we had in 1965 or even 1992, but there are corrective actions that we take. But we’ll need a new government to do it.