The Greeks of the Achaian League began to have quarrels among themselves, and when the Romans interfered a fierce spirit broke out, and they wanted to have their old freedom, forgetting how entirely unable they were to stand against the power of the Romans. Caius Caecilius Metellus, a man of one of the best and most gracious Roman families, was patient with them and did his best to pacify them, being most unwilling to ruin the noble old historical cities; but these foolish Greeks fancied that his kindness showed weakness, and forced on the war, sending a troop to guard the pass of Thermopylae, but they were swept away. Unfortunately, Metellus had to go out of office, and Lucius Mummius, a fierce, rude, and ignorant soldier, came in his stead to complete the conquest. Corinth was taken, utterly ruined and plundered throughout, and a huge amount of treasure was sent to Rome, as well as pictures and statues famed all over the world. Mummius was very much laughed at for having been told they must be carried in his triumph; and yet, not understanding their beauty, he told the sailors to whose charge they were given, that if they were lost, new ones must be supplied. However, he was an honest man, who did not help himself out of the plunder, as far too many were doing. After that, Achaia was made a Roman province.
At this time the third and last Punic war was going on. The old Moorish king, Massinissa, had been continually tormenting Carthage ever since she had been weak, and declaring that Phoenician strangers had no business in Africa. The Carthaginians, who had no means of defending themselves, complained; but the Romans would not listen, hoping, perhaps, that they would be goaded at last into attacking the Moor, and thus giving a pretext for a war. Old Marcus Porcius Cato, who was sent on a message to Carthage, came back declaring that it was not safe to let so mighty a city of enemies stand so near. He brought back a branch of figs fresh and good, which he showed the Senate in proof of how near she was, and ended each sentence with saying, “Delenda est Carthago” (Carthage is to be wiped out). He died that same year at ninety years old, having spent most of his life in making a staunch resistance to the easy and luxurious fashions that were coming in with wealth and refinement. One of his sayings always deserves to be remembered. When he was opposing a law giving permission to the ladies to wear gold and purple, he said they would all be vying with one another, and that the poor would be ashamed of not making as good an appearance as the rich. “And,” said he, “she who blushes for doing what she ought, will soon cease to blush for doing what she ought not.”