MACEDONIAN WARS: ROMANS DEFEAT THE GREEKS AND TAKE OVER THE EASTERN MEDITERRANEAN

ROMAN AMBITIONS IN THE EASTERN MEDITERRANEAN (200-133 B.C.)


The ambition and the resources of Rome were not exhausted with the conquest of Italy. It was a short distance from Italy to the Greek cities of Sicily and military power of Carthage across the Mediterranean in north Africa. When Rome launched a campaign to Sicily it set in motion a series of events that lasted over a hundred years and did not end until Rome controlled the Mediterranean and was a major world power. The strength and skill that Rome had acquired in its wars with the Latins, Etruscans and Samnites, were now put to use in greater conflicts with more at stake in Carthage, Macedonia and Syria. [Source: “Outlines of Roman History” by William C. Morey, Ph.D., D.C.L. New York, American Book Company (1901), forumromanum.org \~\]

David Silverman of Reed College wrote: “Roman intervention across the Adriatic began in Illyria, with the suppression of organized piracy connived at by Queen Teuta (Polybius 2. 2-12). In 229 a consular army went over and established a protectorate on the east side of the straight of Otranto (thus over Corcyra, Apollonia, Dyrrhachium, and Issa). This involved no formal treaties or formal obligations on either side; no Roman garrisons, no tribute to be paid. However, it did involve a commitment of Roman fides (trust), and the senate sent envoys to report the success to major Hellenic centers such as Athens and Corinth. Most scholars, following Holleaux, think that there was nothing actively or aggressively imperialistic about this (this is the line taken by Carey & Scullard). But a few (Hammond and Harris) are prepared to see a first step consciously taken in the direction of dominion over the east. [Source: David Silverman, Classics 373 ~ History 393 Class, Reed College]

Websites on Ancient Rome: Internet Ancient History Sourcebook: Rome sourcebooks.fordham.edu ; Internet Ancient History Sourcebook: Late Antiquity sourcebooks.fordham.edu ; Forum Romanum forumromanum.org ; “Outlines of Roman History” forumromanum.org; “The Private Life of the Romans” forumromanum.org|; BBC Ancient Rome bbc.co.uk/history; Perseus Project - Tufts University; perseus.tufts.edu ; Lacus Curtius penelope.uchicago.edu; Gutenberg.org gutenberg.org The Roman Empire in the 1st Century pbs.org/empires/romans; The Internet Classics Archive classics.mit.edu ; Bryn Mawr Classical Review bmcr.brynmawr.edu; De Imperatoribus Romanis: An Online Encyclopedia of Roman Emperors roman-emperors.org; British Museum ancientgreece.co.uk; Oxford Classical Art Research Center: The Beazley Archive beazley.ox.ac.uk ; Metropolitan Museum of Art metmuseum.org/about-the-met/curatorial-departments/greek-and-roman-art; The Internet Classics Archive kchanson.com ; Cambridge Classics External Gateway to Humanities Resources web.archive.org/web; Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy iep.utm.edu; Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy plato.stanford.edu; Ancient Rome resources for students from the Courtenay Middle School Library web.archive.org ; History of ancient Rome OpenCourseWare from the University of Notre Dame /web.archive.org ; United Nations of Roma Victrix (UNRV) History unrv.com

Eastern Mediterranean in the 3rd and 2nd Centuries B.C.

“The Divisions of the Empire of Alexander: At the time of the second Punic war, the countries about the Mediterranean may be considered as forming two distinct worlds: the Western world, in which Rome and Carthage were struggling for mastery; and the Eastern world, which was divided among the successors of Alexander the Great. It was more than a century before this time that Alexander had built up a great empire, extending from Greece to the middle of Asia. By his conquests the ideals of Greek art and literature and philosophy had been spread into the eastern countries. But Alexander had none of the genius for organization which the Romans possessed, and so at his death his empire fell to pieces. The fragments were seized by his different generals, and became new and distinct kingdoms. At this time there were three of these kingdoms which were quite extensive and powerful. These were: 1) the kingdom of Egypt under the Ptolemies, in Africa; 2) the kingdom of Syria under the Seleucidae, in Asia; and 3) the kingdom of Macedonia under the direct successors of Alexander, in southeastern Europe. [Source: “Outlines of Roman History” by William C. Morey, Ph.D., D.C.L. New York, American Book Company (1901), forumromanum.org \~\]

Egypt under the Ptolemies: Under the reign of the Ptolemies, Egypt had attained a remarkable degree of prosperity. Her territory not only included the valley of the Nile, but extended into Asia, taking in Palestine, Phoenicia, and the southern part of Syria (Coele-Syria), besides Cyprus and some other islands. Its capital, Alexandria, was perhaps the most cultivated city of the world, where the learned men of all countries found their home. So devoted was Egypt to the arts of peace, that she kept aloof, as far as possible, from the great wars of this period. But she was an object of envy to the kings of Syria and Macedonia; and toward the close of the second Punic war, in order to protect herself, she had formed an alliance with Rome. The friendly relations between Rome and Egypt were preserved, while Rome carried on war with the other great powers of the East. \~\

Syria under Antiochus III: The most important fragment of Alexander’s empire in Asia was Syria, or the kingdom of the Seleucidae—so called from the name of its founder, Seleucus the Conqueror. It covered a large part of western Asia, comprising the valley of the Euphrates, upper Syria, and portions of Asia Minor. Its rulers included four kings by the name of Seleucus, and eight by the name of Antiochus. These names also appear in the capital cities of the Syrian empire, Seleucia on the Tigris and Antioch in upper Syria. The most powerful of these kings was Antiochus III., surnamed the Great. He did much to enlarge and strengthen the empire. But he incurred the hostility of Rome by giving asylum to Rome’s great enemy, Hannibal, and also by attempting to make conquests in Europe. There were a few small states in Asia Minor, like Pergamum, Bithynia, Pontus, and the island republic of Rhodes, which were not included in the kingdom of Syria and which were inclined to look to Rome for protection. \~\

Macedonia and the Greek Cities: The third great fragment of Alexander’s empire was Macedonia, which aspired to be supreme in eastern Europe. A part of Greece fell under its authority. But many of the Greek cities remained free; and they united into leagues or confederations, in order to maintain their independence. One of these was the Achaean league, made up of the cities of southern Greece, or the Peloponnesus; and another was the Aetolian league, including a large number of cities in central Greece. When Philip V. came to the throne of Macedonia, his kingdom was in a flourishing condition. The young ruler was ambitious to extend his power; and came into hostile relations with Rome, which espoused the cause of the Greek cities. \~\

Decline and Legacy of the Greeks


Weakened by feuds between rival city states and threat from Carthage and Rome, the Greek colonies eventually were conquered by the Romans in the 3rd and 2nd centuries B.C., but Greek cultures, customs and language lasted for centuries more.When Mount Vesuvius erupted in A.D. 79, most people in Naples still spoke Greek as their first language

Athens’ domination of ancient Greece was effectively ended by the Peloponnesian War (431–404 B.C.), which resulted in Spartan hegemony over Athens and its allies. In 371 B.C., the Spartans suffered a disastrous defeat to the Thebes at the Battle of Leuctra. The Spartans never recovered from the blow this disaster gave to their prestige. It was poetic justice that this punishment for their ill rule should come from Thebes---the city they had used shamefully beyond all others. During the rule of Philip of Macedon (reigned 359 to 336 B.C.) and Alexander the Great (356 to 324 B.C.) Macedonia and its Greek allies were the preeminent power in Greece and, under Alexander, the eastern Mediterranean. In contrast to the western Mediterranean, the Greek east had been dominated by major empires for centuries, and Roman influence and alliance-seeking led to wars with these empires that further weakened them and therefore created an unstable power vacuum that only Rome was capable of pacifying.

In 146 B.C. the Romans destroyed Carthage and Corinth, the home of the last Greek league of cities that had tried to resist Roman expansion. Under the command of Roman consul Lucius Mummius Corinthian men were slaughtered, women and children were sold into slavery, art was shipped back to Rome and Corinth was turned into a ghost town.

Ancient Greece is still very close to use today. Many of are buildings are constructed to look like Greek temples, our coins have changed little in design since Greek coins, our comedies are based as many of the same kind of jokes used in Greek plays and some of our greatest sporting events are modeled on ancient Greek games. [Source: "History of Art" by H.W. Janson, Prentice Hall, Englewood Cliffs, N.J."

People on the isolated village of Ólimbos speak a Greek dialect that is so old some of the words date back to Homer's time. Their musical instruments include goatskin bagpipes and the three stringed lyre. The tools they use to cultivate wheat and barley are the same as those used by the Byzantines.

Polybius: Roman Versus Macedonian-Greek Military Tactics


Polybius (ca. 200-118 B.C.) was a Greek historian of the Hellenistic period noted for his work “The Histories,” which covered the period of 264–146 B.C., when the Roman Republic became dominant power in the ancient Mediterranean world. In a section that addressed “The Roman Maniple vs. The Macedonian Phalanx,” Polybius wrote in Book XVIII, Chapters 28-32 of “The Histories”: “In former times the Macedonian tactics proved themselves by experience capable of conquering those of Asia and Greece; while the Roman tactics sufficed to conquer the nations of Africa and all those of Western Europe; and since in our own day there have been numerous opportunities of comparing the men as well as their tactics, it will be, I think, a useful and worthy task to investigate their differences, and discover why it is that the Romans conquer and carry off the palm from their enemies in the operations of war: that we may not put it all down to Fortune, and congratulate them on their good luck, as the thoughtless of mankind do; but, from a knowledge of the true causes, may give their leaders the tribute of praise and admiration which they deserve. [Source: Polybius,”The Histories of Polybius”, 2 Vols., translated by Evelyn S. Shuckburgh (London: Macmillan, 1889), pp. 226-230]

“Now as to the battles which the Romans fought with Hannibal and the defeats which they sustained in them, I need say no more. It was not owing to their arms or their tactics, but to the skill and genius of Hannibal that they met with those defeats: and that I made quite clear in my account of the battles themselves. And my contention is supported by two facts. First, by the conclusion of the war: for as soon as the Romans got a general of ability comparable with that of Hannibal, victory was not long in following their banners. Secondly, Hannibal himself, being dissatisfied with the original arms of his men, and having immediately after his first victory furnished his troops with the arms of the Romans, continued to employ them thenceforth to the end. Pyrrhus, again, availed himself not only of the arms, but also of the troops of Italy, placing a maniple of Italians and a company of his own phalanx alternately, in his battles against the Romans. Yet even this did not enable him to win; the battles were somehow or another always indecisive. It was necessary to speak first on these points, to anticipate any instances which might seem to make against my theory. I will now return to my comparison.

Greek-Macedonian Phalanx Versus Roman Military Formations

Polybius wrote in Book XVIII, Chapters 28-32 of “The Histories”: “Many considerations may easily convince us that, if only the phalanx has its proper formation and strength, nothing can resist it face to face or withstand its charge. For as a man in close order of battle occupies a space of three feet; and as the length of the sarissae are sixteen cubits according to the original design, which has been reduced in practice to fourteen; and as of these fourteen four must be deducted, to allow for the weight in front; it follows clearly that each hoplite will have ten cubits of his sarissa projecting beyond his body, when he lowers it with both hands, as he advances against the enemy: hence, too, though the men of the second, third, and fourth rank will have their sarissae projecting farther beyond the front rank than the men of the fifth, yet even these last will have two cubits of their sarissae beyond the front rank; if only the phalanx is properly formed and the men close up properly both flank and rear, like the description in Homer: ‘So buckler pressed on buckler; helm on helm; And man on man; and waving horse-hair plumes In polished head-piece mingled, as they swayed In order: in such serried rank they stood. [Iliad, 13.131] [Source: Polybius,”The Histories of Polybius”, 2 Vols., translated by Evelyn S. Shuckburgh (London: Macmillan, 1889), pp. 226-230]

“And if my description is true and exact, it is clear that in front of each man of the front rank there will be five sarissae projecting to distances varying by a descending scale of two cubits. With this point in our minds, it will not be difficult to imagine what the appearance and strength of the whole phalanx is likely to be, when, with lowered sarissae, it advances to the charge sixteen deep. Of these sixteen ranks, all above the fifth are unable to reach with their sarissae far enough to take actual part in the fighting. They, therefore, do not lower them, but hold them with the points inclined upwards over the shoulders of the ranks in front of them, to shield the heads of the whole phalanx; for the sarissae are so closely serried, that they repel missiles which have carried over the front ranks and might fall upon the heads of those in the rear. These rear ranks, however, during an advance, press forward those in front by the weight of their bodies; and thus make the charge very forcible, and at the same time render it impossible for the front ranks to face about. “Such is the arrangement, general and detailed of the phalanx.

It remains now to compare with it the peculiarities and distinctive features of the Roman arms and tactics. Now, a Roman soldier in full armor also requires a space of three square feet. But as their method of fighting admits of individual motion for each man---because he defends his body with a shield, which he moves about to any point from which a blow is coming, and because he uses his sword both for cutting and stabbing---it is evident that each man must have a clear space, and an interval of at least three feet both on flank and rear if he is to do his duty with any effect. The result of this will be that each Roman soldier will face two of the front rank of a phalanx, so that he has to encounter and fight against ten spears, which one man cannot find time even to cut away, when once the two lines are engaged, nor force his way through easily---seeing that the Roman front ranks are not supported by the rear ranks, either by way of adding weight to their charge, or vigor to the use of their swords. Therefore, it may readily be understood that, as I said before, it is impossible to confront a charge of the phalanx, so long as it retains its proper formation and strength.”


Greek phalanx


Superiority of Roman Tactics

Polybius wrote in Book XVIII, Chapters 28-32 of “The Histories”: “Why is it then that the Romans conquer? And what is it that brings disaster on those who employ the phalanx? Why, just because war is full of uncertainties both as to time and place; whereas there is but one time and one kind of ground in which a phalanx can fully work. If, then, there were anything to compel the enemy to accommodate himself to the time and place of the phalanx, when about to fight a general engagement, it would be but natural to expect that those who employed the phalanx would always carry off the victory. But if the enemy finds it possible, and even easy, to avoid its attack, what becomes of its formidable character? Again, no one denies that for its employment it is indispensable to have a country flat, bare, and without such impediments as ditches, cavities, depressions, steep banks, or beds of rivers: for all such obstacles are sufficient to hinder and dislocate this particular formation. And that it is, I may say, impossible, or at any rate exceedingly rare to find a piece of country of twenty stades, or sometimes of even greater extent, without any such obstacles, every one will also admit. [Source: Polybius,”The Histories of Polybius”, 2 Vols., translated by Evelyn S. Shuckburgh (London: Macmillan, 1889), pp. 226-230]

“However, let us suppose that such a district has been found. If the enemy decline to come down into it, but traverse the country sacking the towns and territories of the allies, what use will the phalanx be? For if it remains on the ground suited to itself, it will not only fail to benefit its friends, but will be incapable even of preserving itself; for the carriage of provisions will be easily stopped by the enemy, seeing that they are in undisputed possession of the country: while if it quits its proper ground, from the wish to strike a blow, it will be an easy prey to the enemy. Nay, if a general does descend into the plain, and yet does not risk his whole army upon one charge of the phalanx or upon one chance, but maneuvers for a time to avoid coming to close quarters in the engagement, it is easy to learn what will be the result from what the Romans are now actually doing.

“For no speculation is any longer required to test the accuracy of what I am now saying: that can be done by referring to accomplished facts. The Romans do not, then, attempt to extend their front to equal that of a phalanx, and then charge directly upon it with their whole force: but some of their divisions are kept in reserve, while others join battle with the enemy at close quarters. Now, whether the phalanx in its charge drives its opponents from their ground, or is itself driven back, in either case its peculiar order is dislocated; for whether in following the retiring, or flying from the advancing enemy, they quit the rest of their forces: and when this takes place, the enemy's reserves can occupy the space thus left, and the ground which the phalanx had just before been holding, and so no longer charge them face to face, but fall upon them on their flank and rear. If, then, it is easy to take precautions against the opportunities and peculiar advantages of the phalanx, but impossible to do so in the case of its disadvantages, must it not follow that in practice the difference between these two systems is enormous? Of course, those generals who employ the phalanx must march over ground of every description, must pitch camps, occupy points of advantage, besiege, and be besieged, and meet with unexpected appearances of the enemy: for all these are part and parcel of war, and have an important and sometimes decisive influence on the ultimate victory. And in all these cases the Macedonian phalanx is difficult, and sometimes impossible, to handle, because the men cannot act either in squads or separately.

“The Roman order on the other hand is flexible: for every Roman, once armed and on the field, is equally well-equipped for every place, time, or appearance of the enemy. He is, moreover, quite ready and needs to make no change, whether he is required to fight in the main body, or in a detachment, or in a single maniple, or even by himself. Therefore, as the individual members of the Roman force are so much more serviceable, their plans are also much more often attended by success than those of others.”


Roman defense


Macedonian Wars

The Macedonian Wars (214–148 B.C.). The Macedonian Wars were a series of conflicts fought by the Roman Republic and its Greek allies in the eastern Mediterranean against several different major Greek kingdoms, with the main one being Macedonia. They resulted in Roman control or influence over the eastern Mediterranean basin, in addition to their hegemony in the western Mediterranean after the Punic Wars. Traditionally, the "Macedonian Wars" include the four wars with Macedonia, in addition to one war with the Seleucid Empire, and a final minor war with the Achaean League (which is often considered to be the final stage of the final Macedonian war): 1) First Macedonian War (214 to 205 B.C.); 2) Second Macedonian war (200 to 196 B.C.); 3) Seleucid War (192 to 188 B.C.); 4) Third Macedonian War (172 to 168 B.C.); 5) Fourth Macedonian War (150 to 148 B.C.). [Source: Wikipedia +]

The most significant war was fought with the Seleucid Empire, while the war with Macedonia was the second, and both of these wars effectively marked the end of these empires as major world powers, even though neither of them led immediately to overt Roman domination. Four separate wars were fought against the weaker power, Macedonia, due to its geographic proximity to Rome, though the last two of these wars were against haphazard insurrections rather than powerful armies. Roman influence gradually dissolved Macedonian independence and digested it into what was becoming a leading global empire. The outcome of the war with the now-deteriorating Seleucid Empire was ultimately fatal to it as well, though the growing influence of Parthia and Pontus prevented any additional conflicts between it and Rome. +

According to Encyclopaedia Britannica The First Macedonian War (215–205 B.C.) occurred in the context of the Second Punic War, while Rome was preoccupied with fighting Carthage. The ambitious Macedonian king Philip V set out to attack Rome’s client states in neighbouring Illyria and confirmed his purpose in 215 B.C. by making an alliance with Hannibal of Carthage against Rome. The Romans fought the ensuing war ineffectively, and in 205 B.C. the Peace of Phoenice ended the conflict on terms favourable to Philip, allowing him to keep his conquests in Illyria. [Source: Encyclopaedia Britannica ++]

“Philip then began harrying Rhodes, Pergamum, and other Greek city-states of the Aegean. The Second Macedonian War (200–196 B.C.) was launched by the Roman Senate against Philip after he refused to guarantee to make no hostile moves against these states. Philip’s forces were badly defeated by the Romans and their Greek allies in a battle at Cynoscephalae in 197 B.C.. The terms of peace included the loss of most of his navy, payment of a large indemnity to Rome, and the loss of his territories outside of Macedonia. Rome subsequently established a benevolent protectorate over Greece. ++

“Philip’s son and successor, Perseus (reigned 179–168 B.C.), began to make alliances with various Greek city-states and thus aroused the displeasure of Rome. So began the Third Macedonian War (171–168 B.C.), which ended in 168 when the Roman army of Lucius Aemilius Paullus utterly defeated Perseus’ forces at the Battle of Pydna. Perseus was taken back to Rome in chains, and Macedonia was broken up into four formally autonomous republics that were required to pay annual tribute to Rome. This arrangement produced a state of chronic disorder in Macedonia, however, and in 152 B.C. a pretended son of Perseus, Andriscus, tried to reestablish the Macedonian monarchy, thus provoking the Fourth Macedonian War (149–148 B.C.). The Roman praetor Quintus Caecilius Metellus crushed the rebellion with relative ease, and in 146 Macedonia was made a Roman province. It was in fact the first province of the nascent Roman Empire.” ++

“From the close of the Macedonian Wars until the early Roman Empire, the eastern Mediterranean remained an ever shifting network of polities with varying levels of independence from, dependence on, or outright military control by, Rome. According to Polybius, who sought to trace how Rome came to dominate the Greek east in less than a century, Rome's wars with Greece were set in motion after several Greek city-states sought Roman protection against the Macedonian Kingdom and Seleucid Empire in the face of a destabilizing situation created by the weakening of Ptolemaic Egypt. +

Historians see the growing Roman influence over the east, as with the west, not as a matter of intentional empire-building, but constant crisis management narrowly focused on accomplishing short-term goals within a highly unstable, unpredictable, and inter-dependent network of alliances and dependencies. With some major exceptions of outright military rule (such as parts of mainland Greece), the eastern Mediterranean world remained an alliance of independent city-states and kingdoms (with varying degrees of independence, both de jure and de facto) until it transitioned into the Roman Empire. It wasn't until the time of the Roman Empire that the eastern Mediterranean, along with the entire Roman world, was organized into provinces under explicit Roman control. +


Italy and Macedonia at the time of the Second Punic War (218-201 BC)


First Macedonian War (215-206 B.C.)

An indiscreet alliance between Philip V of Macedon (one of the three great powers which emerged from the breakup of the empire of Alexander the Great after his death in 323) and the great Carthage general Hannibal, during the second Punic war, that brought about the first conflict between Rome and Macedonia. But Rome was then so fully occupied with her struggle with Carthage that all she desired to do was simply to prevent Philip from making his threatened invasion of Italy. Rome therefore sent a small force across the Adriatic, made friends with the Aetolians, and kept Philip occupied at home. The Macedonian king was thus prevented from sending any force into Italy. The Aetolians, not satisfied with the support given to them by Rome, soon made peace with Philip; and the Romans themselves, who were about to invade Africa, were also willing to conclude a treaty of peace with him. Thus closed what is generally called the first Macedonian war, which was really nothing more than a diversion to prevent Philip from giving aid to Hannibal after the battle of Cannae. [Source: “Outlines of Roman History” by William C. Morey, Ph.D., D.C.L. New York, American Book Company (1901), forumromanum.org \~\]

David Silverman of Reed College wrote: “During the 2nd Punic War, in 215 B.C.,Philip V of Macedon had made an alliance with Hannibal. Polybius quotes the terms of the treaty between them (Polyb. 7.9). Rome sent a small fleet, commanded by a praetor, to protect Illyria. The praetor, Laevinus, formed a strategic alliance with the Aetolian League in 211. This alliance, which is partially extant on stone (SB I 66) is the earliest formal alliance between Rome and Greeks. Gruen, who is fighting a rearguard action against the proponents of active imperialism, insists that the alliance was intended to be temporary. But take note, as Harris does, of the booty provision. In any case, other Greeks quickly joined up and Philip was preventing from providing any aid to Hannibal by a war on his own home front. Among Rome's new allies was Attalus of Pergamum, who earlier had shown his hostility to Philip and Macedon by contributing money to the Aetolian League. Eventually, hard pressed by Hannibal in Italy, the Romans lost interest in the war in Greece and went home; Attalus withdrew his forces in 208 B.C. and the Aetolians made peace with Philip in 206. Some belated Roman attempts to stir up trouble came to nothing, so the Romans made their own peace with Philip (the Peace of Phoenice, in 205 B.C.). [Source: David Silverman, Classics 373 ~ History 393 Class, Reed College]

Roman Siege of Syracuse in 212 B.C. and Archimedes Amazing Machines

Describing the Roman invasion and siege of the Greek colony Syracuse in Sicily in 212 B.C., when Rome was also fighting the Carthaginians in the Second Punic War, Plutarch wrote in his account of Marcus Claudius Marcellus: “At this time Marcellus, first incensed by injuries done him by Hippocrates, commander of the Syracusans (who, to give proof of his good affection to the Carthaginians, and to acquire the tyranny to himself, had killed a number of Romans at Leontini), besieged and took by force the city of Leontini; yet violated none of the townsmen; only deserters, as many as he took, he subjected to the punishment of the rods and axe. But Hippocrates, sending a report to Syracuse, that Marcellus had put all the adult population to the sword, and then coming upon the Syracusans, who had risen in tumult upon that false report, made himself master of the city. Upon this Marcellus moved with his whole army to Syracuse, and encamping near the wall, sent ambassadors into the city to relate to the Syracusans the truth of what had been done in Leontini. When these could not prevail by treaty, the whole power being now in the hands of Hippocrates, he proceeded to attack the city both by land and by sea.

“The land forces were conducted by Appius: Marcellus, with sixty galleys, each with five rows of oars, furnished with all sorts of arms and missiles, and a huge bridge of planks laid upon eight ships chained together, upon which was carried the engine to cast stones and darts, assaulted the walls, relying on the abundance and magnificence of his preparations, and on his own previous glory; all which, however, were, it would seem, but trifles for Archimedes and his machines. [Source: Plutarch, Marcellus (legendary, died 208 B.C.E.), 75 A.C.E., translated by John Dryden]


Archimedes Claw in action during the seige of Syracuse

“These machines he had designed and contrived, not as matters of any importance, but as mere amusements in geometry; in compliance with King Hiero's desire and request, some little time before, that he should reduce to practice some part of his admirable speculation in science, and by accommodating the theoretic truth to sensation and ordinary use, bring it more within the appreciation of the people in general. Eudoxus and Archytas had been the first originators of this far-famed and highly-prized art of mechanics, which they employed as an elegant illustration of geometrical truths, and as means of sustaining experimentally, to the satisfaction of the senses, conclusions too intricate for proof by words and diagrams. As, for example, to solve the problem, so often required in constructing geometrical figures, given the two extremes, to find the two mean lines of a proportion, both these mathematicians had recourse to the aid of instruments, adapting to their purpose certain curves and sections of lines. But what with Plato's indignation at it, and his invectives against it as the mere corruption and annihilation of the one good of geometry, which was thus shamefully turning its back upon the unembodied objects of pure intelligence to recur to sensation, and to ask help (not to be obtained without base supervisions and depravation) from matter; so it was that mechanics came to be separated from geometry, and, repudiated and neglected by philosophers, took its place as a military art.

“Archimedes, however, in writing to King Hiero, whose friend and near relation he was, had stated that given the force, any given weight might be moved, and even boasted, we are told, relying on the strength of demonstration, that if there were another earth, by going into it he could remove this. Hiero being struck with amazement at this, and entreating him to make good this problem by actual experiment, and show some great weight moved by a small engine, he fixed accordingly upon a ship of burden out of the king's arsenal, which could not be drawn out of the dock without great labour and many men; and, loading her with many passengers and a full freight, sitting himself the while far off, with no great endeavour, but only holding the head of the pulley in his hand and drawing the cords by degrees, he drew the ship in a straight line, as smoothly and evenly as if she had been in the sea. The king, astonished at this, and convinced of the power of the art, prevailed upon Archimedes to make him engines accommodated to all the purposes, offensive and defensive, of a siege. These the king himself never made use of, because he spent almost all his life in a profound quiet and the highest affluence. But the apparatus was, in most opportune time, ready at hand for the Syracusans, and with it also the engineer himself.

Ships Lifted Out of Sea and Rolled To and Fro by Archimedes Machines

Plutarch wrote:“When, therefore, the Romans assaulted the walls in two places at once, fear and consternation stupefied the Syracusans, believing that nothing was able to resist that violence and those forces. But when Archimedes began to ply his engines, he at once shot against the land forces all sorts of missile weapons, and immense masses of stone that came down with incredible noise and violence; against which no man could stand; for they knocked down those upon whom they fell in heaps, breaking all their ranks and files. [Source: Plutarch, Marcellus (legendary, died 208 B.C.E.), 75 A.C.E., translated by John Dryden]

In the meantime huge poles thrust out from the walls over the ships sunk some by the great weights which they let down from on high upon them; others they lifted up into the air by an iron hand or beak like a crane's beak and, when they had drawn them up by the prow, and set them on end upon the poop, they plunged them to the bottom of the sea; or else the ships, drawn by engines within, and whirled about, were dashed against steep rocks that stood jutting out under the walls, with great destruction of the soldiers that were aboard them. A ship was frequently lifted up to a great height in the air (a dreadful thing to behold), and was rolled to and fro, and kept swinging, until the mariners were all thrown out, when at length it was dashed against the rocks, or let fall.

At the engine that Marcellus brought upon the bridge of ships, which was called Sambuca, from some resemblance it had to an instrument of music, while it was as yet approaching the wall, there was discharged a piece of rock of ten talents weight, then a second and a third, which, striking upon it with immense force and a noise like thunder, broke all its foundation to pieces, shook out all its fastenings, and completely dislodged it from the bridge. So Marcellus, doubtful what counsel to pursue, drew off his ships to a safer distance, and sounded a retreat to his forces on land. They then took a resolution of coming up under the walls, if it were possible, in the night; thinking that as Archimedes used ropes stretched at length in playing his engines, the soldiers would now be under the shot, and the darts would, for want of sufficient distance to throw them, fly over their heads without effect. But he, it appeared, had long before framed for such occasions engines accommodated to any distance, and shorter weapons; and had made numerous small openings in the walls, through which, with engines of a shorter range, unexpected blows were inflicted on the assailants.

Archimedes Elated as Romans Flee from His Powerful Machines

Plutarch wrote: “Thus, when they who thought to deceive the defenders came close up to the walls, instantly a shower of darts and other missile weapons was again cast upon them. And when stones came tumbling down perpendicularly upon their heads, and, as it were, the whole wall shot out arrows at them, they retired. And now, again, as they were going off, arrows and darts of a longer range inflicted a great slaughter among them, and their ships were driven one against another; while they themselves were not able to retaliate in any way. For Archimedes had provided and fixed most of his engines immediately under the wall; whence the Romans, seeing that indefinite mischief overwhelmed them from no visible means, began to think they were fighting with the gods. [Source: Plutarch, Marcellus (legendary, died 208 B.C.E.), 75 A.C.E., translated by John Dryden]

“Yet Marcellus escaped unhurt, and deriding his own artificers and engineers, "What," said he, "must we give up fighting with this geometrical Briareus, who plays pitch-and-toss with our ships, and, with the multitude of darts which he showers at a single moment upon us, really outdoes the hundred-handed giants of mythology?" And, doubtless, the rest of the Syracusans were but the body of Archimedes's designs, one soul moving and governing all; for, laying aside all other arms, with this alone they infested the Romans and protected themselves. In fine, when such terror had seized upon the Romans, that, if they did but see a little rope or a piece of wood from the wall, instantly crying out, that there it was again, Archimedes was about to let fly some engine at them, they turned their backs and fled, Marcellus desisted from conflicts and assaults, putting all his hope in a long siege.

“Yet Archimedes possessed so high a spirit, so profound a soul, and such treasures of scientific knowledge, that though these inventions had now obtained him the renown of more than human sagacity, he yet would not deign to leave behind him any commentary or writing on such subjects; but, repudiating as sordid and ignoble the whole trade of engineering, and every sort of art that lends itself to mere use and profit, he placed his whole affection and ambition in those purer speculations where there can be no reference to the vulgar needs of life; studies, the superiority of which to all others is unquestioned, and in which the only doubt can be whether the beauty and grandeur of the subjects examined, of the precision and cogency of the methods and means of proof, most deserve our admiration. It is not possible to find in all geometry more difficult and intricate questions, or more simple and lucid explanations. Some ascribe this to his natural genius; while others think that incredible effort and toil produced these, to all appearances, easy and unlaboured results. No amount of investigation of yours would succeed in attaining the proof, and yet, once seen, you immediately believe you would have discovered it; by so smooth and so rapid a path he leads you to the conclusion required. And thus it ceases to be incredible that (as is commonly told of him) the charm of his familiar and domestic Siren made him forget his food and neglect his person, to that degree that when he was occasionally carried by absolute violence to bathe or have his body anointed, he used to trace geometrical figures in the ashes of the fire, and diagrams in the oil on his body, being in a state of entire preoccupation, and, in the truest sense, divine possession with his love and delight in science. His discoveries were numerous and admirable; but he is said to have requested his friends and relations that, when he was dead, they would place over his tomb a sphere containing a cylinder, inscribing it with the ratio which the containing solid bears to the contained. Such was Archimedes, who now showed himself, and so far as lay in him the city also, invincible.


Archimedes directing defenses at Syracuse


Romans Ultimately Capture Syracuse During the Feast to Diana

Plutarch wrote: “While the siege continued, Marcellus took Megara, one of the earliest founded of the Greek cities in Sicily, and capturing also the camp of Hippocrates at Acilae, killed above eight thousand men, having attacked them whilst they were engaged in forming their fortifications. He overran a great part of Sicily; gained over many towns from the Carthaginians, and overcame all that dared to encounter him. As the siege went on, one Damippus, a Lacedaemonian, putting to sea in a ship from Syracuse, was taken. When the Syracusans much desired to redeem this man, and there were many meetings and treaties about the matter betwixt them and Marcellus, he had opportunity to notice a tower into which a body of men might be secretly introduced, as the wall near to it was not difficult to surmount, and it was itself carelessly guarded. Coming often thither, and entertaining conferences about the release of Damippus, he had pretty well calculated the height of the tower, and got ladders prepared.

The Syracusans celebrated a feast to Diana; this juncture of time, when they were given up entirely to wine and sport, Marcellus laid hold of, and before the citizens perceived it, not only possessed himself of the tower, but, before the break of day, filled the wall around with soldiers, and made his way into the Hexapylum. The Syracusans now beginning to stir, and to be alarmed at the tumult, he ordered the trumpets everywhere to sound, and thus frightened them all into flight, as if all parts of the city were already won, though the most fortified, and the fairest, and most ample quarter was still ungained. It is called Acradina, and was divided by a wall from the outer city, one part of which they call Neapolis, the other Tycha.

:Possessing himself of these, Marcellus, about break of day, entered through the Hexapylum, all his officers congratulating him. But looking down from the higher places upon the beautiful and spacious city below, he is said to have wept much, commiserating the calamity that hung over it, when his thoughts represented to him how dismal and foul the face of the city would be in a few hours, when plundered and sacked by the soldiers. For among the officers of his army there was not one man that durst deny the plunder of the city to the soldiers' demands; nay, many were instant that it should be set on fire and laid level to the ground: but this Marcellus would not listen to. Yet he granted, but with great unwillingness and reluctance, that the money and slaves should be made prey; giving orders, at the same time, that none should violate any free person, nor kill, misuse, or make a slave of any of the Syracusans. Though he had used this moderation, he still esteemed the condition of that city to be pitiable, and, even amidst the congratulations and joy, showed his strong feelings of sympathy and commiseration at seeing all the riches accumulated during a long felicity now dissipated in an hour. For it is related that no less prey and plunder was taken here than afterward in Carthage. For not long after they obtained also the plunder of the other parts of the city, which were taken by treachery; leaving nothing untouched but the king's money, which was brought into the public treasury.”

Events Before the Second Macedonian War

After the Peace of Phoenice in 205 B.C.), “there was a delicate balance of power in the Greek world. The Achaean League ruled the Peloponnesus with the aid of Antigonus Doson (predecessor of Philip V). On Philip's accession in 221 B.C., Macedon was one of three great powers in the Greek world, the others being Syria and Egypt. Syria was ruled by Antiochus III, heir to the Seleucid dynasty, from 223-187 B.C.. In the years 212-205 B.C. Antigonus managed some conquests in the far east, including a trip to furthest Bactria which went some way to convincing his detractors that he was the new Alexander. Antiochus' major concern, however, was friction with neighbouring Egypt. With the cultural center of the Greek world at Alexandria, Egypt too had broad influence. Upon the death of Ptolemy Philopator, Antiochus and Philip had allied to gobble up Egypt (Polyb. 15.20 and 16.1.). But Philip's attacks on free cities had made this idea unpopular, and strengthened the Egyptian resistance. Another complication was the existing amicitia between Rome and Egypt, which went all the way back to 273 B.C., a consequence of the defeat of Pyrrhus. In 202 B.C. the Aetolian League called on Rome for help against Philip and Antiochus, but the call went unheeded at first. One reason was that Aetolia had made peace with Philip in 206. Notice also that Attalus of Pergamum was calling for Roman intervention alongside his Rhodian allies. However, the Roman reluctance to intervene at this juncture (described by Livy, 31.29) is difficult to reconcile with the active imperialism hypothesis.

“Finally the senate acted in 200 B.C., sending P. Sulpicius Galba to Macedonia as his consular province. But in March of that year the comitia centuriata refused to declare war on Philip, possibly because the case was made out that there were no legal grounds (and only just wars could expect divine sanction). The Senate had to be content for the moment with sending ambassadors to get the lie of the land in Greece (the relative chronology of the embassies and the votes in the comitia is very tortuous). They found Athens (which was also in amicitia with Rome) angry at Philip and his allies in Acarnania. The ambassadors delivered an ultimatum to Philip through his general, Nicanor; but it was ignored. Then in July of 200 B.C. the comitia reversed itself and declared war on Philip, supposedly at the behest of the Athenians. While Philip continued to act aggressively towards Attica, the Roman ambassadors tried unsuccessfully to put pressure on his ally Antiochus.



Why did Rome go to War with Macedonia?

David Silverman of Reed College wrote: “Why did Rome go to war with Philip? Various theories have been offered. It is convenient to represent them schematically, but still be aware that most accounts are not fixated upon a single cause. The complaints of the Athenians have already been mentioned; for the annalistic tradition that, coupled with the sentimental regard for Athens as the repository of past glory and present center of learning, is one of the major causes. It need not be totally discounted, but one sign of the concern to emphasize this cause is that the annalists multiplied embassies from the Athenians, something which does not inspire confidence. [Source: David Silverman, Classics 373 ~ History 393 Class, Reed College ^*^]

“Another seemingly plausible cause is Roman desire to get revenge on Philip for supporting Hannibal during the 2nd Punic War, and sheltering him after it. That support, however, had amounted to nothing in practical terms, and we should resist the temptation to ascribe deliberate policy decisions to such a personal and petty motivation (compare the "wrath of the Barcids" theory). Livy also mentions the violation of some unnamed "allies" of Rome by Philip; their very namelessness is a clear enough indication that they are an invention of the annalistic tradition .g. Livy 30.42). More weighty is the threat to Egypt from the secret pact between Philip and Antiochus, emphasized by Holleaux, propagated in the textbook, and partially upheld by Walbank (1963). Gruen's objection is that the senate and people of Rome had plenty of time to perceive that the cooperation between Macedonia and Syria, rivals during most of the last 100 years, was largely ineffectual. His own solution, however, is scarcely more satisfying. He stresses the reluctance of the Roman ambassadors to communicate an ultimatum to Philip, and indeed they seem to have scuttled around Greece and the Aegean for about a year before they finally did so. He also points out that the initial demands of the Romans were lenient: Philip was to keep his power in Macedon and Thrace, but cease aggressive actions (especially against Egypt) and submit territorial disputes to arbitration in the time-honored Greek way. ^*^

“Gruen's true cause, then, is miscommunication: the Romans were reluctantly drawn into the war because Philip had been supposed to back down but did not. Roman pride was therefore at stake. Unfortunately, if we are willing to dismiss Philhellenism on the grounds that it is not concrete enough, is not the Roman pride theory subject to the same critique? One may well prefer Walbank or Scullard's more cautious brand of "defensive imperialism", whereby the real motive was that the senators could see trouble with Antiochus coming down the road and wanted to establish a protectorate in Greece, both for the sake of the Greeks (for whom they truly did have a soft spot) and as a buffer against Antiochus. The aggressive imperialism hypothesis also has a lot of weight. Livy 31. 1-7 mentions, in the context of the decision to go to war, that portents had signified an expansion of Rome's frontiers. Harris argues that Rome had ensured that war would come when she accepted the amicitia of Athens and Attalus, and that the fear of Philip (which is a pillar of the defensive imperialism theory) can not be true, because Philip's navy was too weak to invade Italy.” ^*^

Second Macedonian War (200-197 B.C.)

“Beginning of the Second Macedonian War: When the second Punic war was fairly ended, Rome felt free to deal with Philip of Macedonia, and to take a firm hand in settling the affairs of the East. Philip had annoyed her, not only by making an alliance with Hannibal, but afterward by sending a force to assist him at the battle of Zama. And now the ambitious schemes of Philip were not at all to the liking of Rome. For instance, he made an agreement with Antiochus of Syria to cut up the possessions of Egypt, a country which was friendly to Rome. He was also overrunning the coasts of the Aegean Sea, and was threatening the little kingdom of Pergamum in Asia Minor, and the little republic of Rhodes, as well as the cities of Greece. When appeal came to Rome for protection, she espoused the cause of the small states, and declared war against Macedonia. The great hero of this war was T. Quinctius Flamininus; and the decisive battle was fought near a hill in Thessaly called Cynoscephalae (Dog’s Heads). Here Philip was completely defeated, and his army was destroyed. Although Macedonia was not reduced to the condition of a province, it became practically subject to Rome. Macedonia was thus humbled, and there was no other power in Europe to dispute the supremacy of Rome. [Source: “Outlines of Roman History” by William C. Morey, Ph.D., D.C.L. New York, American Book Company (1901), forumromanum.org \~\]


Macedonia and an eastern Mediterranean in 200 BC


David Silverman of Reed College wrote: “Philip's strategy was to wage a slow, defensive war, avoiding major battles and continually dividing and re-combining his forces. In the fall of 200 Sulpicius invaded Macedonia and gained the support of the Aetolian League; but Philip held on and retained his alliance with the Achaean League. Sulpicius' replacement, T. Quinctius Flamininus, was in a position to demand Philip's surrender in the spring of 198 B.C.. He offered Philip the opportunity to stay in power, if he agreed to give up any claims upon the rest of Greece. Philip might have agreed to let go of Aetolia, Boeotia and points south, but he could not swallow the demand to surrender Thessaly, which had a long history of close association with the Macedonian kings; so negotiations broke down. Flamininus and the Aetolians were next able to cut Philip off and take Thessaly. This success convinced the Achaean League to throw in its lot with the Romans, but the League was unable to deliver its own headquarters at Corinth, which had been a Macedonian stronghold in its capacity as one of the three fetters of Greece ever since 338 B.C. The status of these three towns (Corinth, Demetrias, and Chalkis) was a cause for special concern because they symbolized the legacy of Macedonian domination (cf. Livy 33. 31). The event may not have been totally forgotten when Corinth was razed to the ground in 146 B.C. [Source: David Silverman, Classics 373 ~ History 393 Class, Reed College ^*^]

Negotiations were held at Nicaea in Locris, but they broke down (Polyb. 18 1-11). One by one, thanks to the expert diplomacy of Flamininus, the allies of Philip dropped away. Sparta, Argos, and Boeotia all saw the writing on the wall. In a major battle at Cynoscephalae, Philip was badly defeated. The credit for the Roman victory went to the hardened veterans of Scipio Africanus. Philip was brought back to Nicaea and this time accepted essentially the terms he had turned down before; he was allowed to remain in power, but was stripped of all territorial claims outside Macedon. Why did Flamininus let this happen, when the Greeks were clamoring to see Macedon utterly destroyed? Probably it was part of his strategy for keeping Antiochus (who had now realized his goal of conquering Egypt) in check. Indeed Antiochus, on hearing the news of Philip's discomfiture, had headed west in hot haste, so that by 196 he was in Thrace and seemingly contemplating a further advance.” ^*^

To complete her work in eastern Europe, and to justify her position as defender of the Greek cities, Rome withdrew her garrisons and announced the independence of Greece. This was proclaimed by Flamininus at the Isthmian games, amid wild enthusiasm and unbounded expressions of gratitude. Rome was hailed as “the nation which, at its own expense, with its own labor, and at its own risk, waged war for the liberty of others, and which had crossed the sea that justice, right, and law should everywhere have sovereign sway” (Livy, xxxiii, 33). [Source: “Outlines of Roman History” by William C. Morey, Ph.D., D.C.L. New York, American Book Company (1901), forumromanum.org \~\]

Romans Take On Antiochus III, Ruler of Syria and the Seleucid Empire.

There was now left in the world only one great power which could claim to be a rival of Rome. That power was Syria, under its ambitious ruler, Antiochus III, 6th ruler of the Seleucid Empire. David Silverman of Reed College wrote: “A number of things led to the conflict between Rome and this great power in Asia. Rome and Flamininus did not deal so well with Antiochus on the diplomatic plane; he wanted the Romans to define the limits of his sphere of influence in Thrace, but they were unwilling or unable to do so. The senatorial treaty of 196 B.C. (ratifying the decision of Flamininus) had carried a not-so-subtle warning to Antiochus: all the Greeks states were to be free, without tribute or garrison, both in Europe and in Asia. [Source: David Silverman, Classics 373 ~ History 393 Class, Reed College ^*^]

“Flamininus was probably sincere in wanting to free the Greeks. Certainly the annalists made the most of the occasion of his proclamation (Livy 33.32 and 34.49). But trouble arose over the Roman settlement of the division of Thessaly, which had not been as favorable to the Aetolian League as it might have been, and in the Peloponnesus Flamininus had to stamp out the Spartan king Nabis, who had taken Argos. Still, when Flamininus said no garrison he meant Roman ones too, and in 194 he got his wish; over the protests of the Philhellenic (?) Scipio Africanus, who was in favor of making Greece a consular province, all the Roman forces were withdrawn. ^*^

“In 193-194 B.C. the Romans continued to negotiate with Antiochus to no avail. The Romans were prepared to let Antiochus keep Egypt and the rest of his empire if he got out of Thrace, but this proved unacceptable. In 193 B.C. the Aetolians, who had been dissatisfied with the settlement of 196, invited Antiochus to come in and liberate Greece. Antiochus was willing. He and the Aetolians looked for aid from Philip and from Hannibal, but both were still licking their wounds; in fact Philip had decided that for the moment his interests lay in remaining friends with Rome, and he provided assistance to Rome in the war against Antiochus (short of supplying troops). In Sparta old King Nabis was as ready as ever, though, and he managed to destroy a few towns before Flamininus put him down again in 192. The Aetolians subsequently managed to foment a plot in Sparta to kill Nabis, and also took the stronghold of Demetrias (another of the fetters of Greece).” ^*^

War with Antiochus of Syria (192-189 B.C.)


Antiochos III

The direct cause of the War with Antiochus of Syria (192-189 B.C.) grew out of the intrigues of the Aetolians in Greece. This restless people stirred up a discord among the Greek cities, and finally called upon Antiochus to espouse their cause, and to aid them in driving the Romans out of the country. Antiochus accepted this invitation, crossed the Hellespont, and landed in Greece with an army of 10,000 men (192 B.C.). Rome now appeared as the protector of Europe against Asia. She was supported by her previous enemy, Philip of Macedonia; and she was also aided by the kingdom of Pergamum and the republic of Rhodes. [Source: “Outlines of Roman History” by William C. Morey, Ph.D., D.C.L. New York, American Book Company (1901), forumromanum.org \~\]

David Silverman of Reed College wrote: “In the fall of 192 B.C. Antiochus was at Demetrias. Probably the most he hoped for was to make a quick show of force in Greece, then to retire on equal terms. But Rome responded with a declaration of war. Antiochus got no support in Greece except from the Aetolians, who had their eyes on Thessaly. In 191 B.C. a Roman army under M. Acilius Glabrio met Antiochus at Thermopylae, and repeated the tactic Xerxes had used in the late summer of 480; the key to the Roman victory was the weakness of the Aetolian contingent guarding the path against an encircling move. Antiochus' army was annihilated in the pass. Antiochus hastily retreated to Asia Minor, whither he was pursued by the Romans. The next few years in Greece saw the troublesome Aetolian League neutralized, bound by a treaty to preserve the empire and maiestas of the Roman people (189 B.C.). This treaty (Polybius 21.32 = SB 69) may be contrasted with the one made between Rome and the Aetolians in 201, when Rome required Aetolian help against Philip. Its relatively harsh terms are said to have been counter to the desires of Flamininus and reflective of the policies of Acilius Glabrio. [Source: David Silverman, Classics 373 ~ History 393 Class, Reed College]

The career of Antiochus in Greece was short. After he was defeated by Marcus Porcius Cato in the famous pass of Thermopylae (191 B.C.), and was driven back across the sea into Asia Minor. A Roman fleet chased Antiochus into his home waters, bolstered by alliance with the Rhodians, whose navy was the envy of the Aegean. Why did the Romans take the war with Antiochus into the area of Asia Minor, which had never before been the scene of non-diplomatic Roman intervention? Surely one reason was to gratify Eumenes of Pergamum, who had succeeded to the throne of a very proud tradition (the Attalids) but whose lands and influence had been severely curtailed by the growth of Seleucid power. The Rhodians, whose fleet protected their brisk commerce in the eastern Mediterranean, also advocated putting Antiochus down. Less plausible is the motive adduced by Scullard, that Antiochus was seen as another Hannibal, and the pursuit to Asia Minor was simply the flip side of Scipio Africanus' strategy of taking the war to Hannibal in Africa. I knew Hannibal, Hannibal was a friend of mine, and believe me Antiochus was no Hannibal (á la Lloyd Bentsen); Antiochus posed no direct threat to Rome. Least effective as a motive here is the prospect of economic gain; the Romans were still hesitant about reaping the fruits of their intervention in Greece, and no one in 191 can have been thinking yet in terms of a province of Asia.

Romans Defeat Antiochus of Syria and the Seleucid Empire

David Silverman of Reed College wrote: “A series of naval battles saw the Romans temporarily in command of the seas. Meanwhile a Roman army was marching across Thrace. Its commander was officially L. Scipio, but at his side was his elder brother P. Scipio Africanus, calling the shots. Antiochus tried to negotiate, but the price demanded by the Romans, that he give up most of the Seleucid empire, was too high. The next year the Romans followed him, and fought their first battle upon the continent of Asia. The Roman army was nominally under the command of the new consul, L. Cornelius Scipio, but really under the command of his famous brother, Scipio Africanus, who accompanied him. The decisive battle was fought at Magnesia (190 B.C.), not far from Sardis in western Asia Minor. Forty thousand of the enemy were slain, with a comparatively small loss to the Romans. [Source: David Silverman, Classics 373 ~ History 393 Class, Reed College]

At the battle at Magnesia in 190 B.C., the Roman forces were outnumbered over 2 to 1, but despite heavy losses on their left flank to the Persian cavalry the Roman legions made short work of the Syrians in the center and the affair ended in Rome's favor. Had the settlement rested with the Scipios, Antiochus would have been left as a major power in the region and, incidentally, a stabilizing force. But the absence of the Scipios from Rome had exposed them to political attack, and their replacements in Asia Minor imposed such harsh terms upon Antiochus that a power vacuum was created in the Middle East.

After the great victory of Magnesia, Rome turned her arms against the Aetolians, who were so foolish as to continue the struggle. Their chief city, Ambracia, was taken; and they were soon forced to submit. Macedonia and all Greece, with the exception of the Achaean league, were now brought into subjection to the Roman authority. \~\

Reduction of the Seleucid Empire and Outcome of the War with Antiochus


Antiochos III and Scipio

Scipio imposed the terms of peace, which required Antiochus: 1) to give up all his possessions in Asia Minor—the most of which were added to the kingdom of Pergamum, with some territory to the republic of Rhodes; 2) to give up his fleet and not to interfere in European affairs; 3) to pay the sum of 15,000 talents (nearly $20,000,000) within twelve years; and 4) to surrender Hannibal, who had taken an active part in the war. [Source: “Outlines of Roman History” by William C. Morey, Ph.D., D.C.L. New York, American Book Company (1901), forumromanum.org \~\]

David Silverman of Reed College wrote: “The terms barred Antiochus from military activity west of the Taurus mountain range, effectively ejecting him from most of Turkey. Again, Gruen's method is to divine the original motive from the outcome; after Antiochus was defeated, the Romans parceled out his land between the Rhodians and Eumenes of Pergamum. Rhodes' tenure was destined to be short, however. In the years 169-167 a revolution at Rhodes brought an anti-Roman party to power, and even though the Rhodians tried to make amends after Roman supremacy was demonstrated yet again at Pydna, it was too late. [Source: David Silverman, Classics 373 ~ History 393 Class, Reed College ^*^]

“The Romans had demanded a huge indemnity from Antiochus (15,000 talents as against a mere 1000 from Philip in 196 B.C., 10,000 from Carthage in 202 B.C.). Bent on discrediting financial gain as a motive for Roman imperial conquests in this period, Gruen argues that such indemnities had two purposes: a) to reimburse Rome for the costs of the war, and b) to act as a punitive fine. Of course such sums could hardly be paid all at once, and installment schedules were devised. Perhaps it is a bit naive to insist that those who favored hunting Antiochus down so far from Italian soil had completely forgotten the lucrative legacy of the 2nd Punic War. But there is at least one seemingly telling point in Gruen's favor. In 191 B.C., the Carthaginians offered to pay off the balance of their ten thousand talent indemnity in a single lump sum (Livy 36.4); the Senate refused to allow this, which indicates that the symbolic importance of the annual monetary declaration of Carthaginian submission was paramount. Carthage is by any lights a special case, though, and humbling someone like Antiochus can not have been as crucial to Roman pride.

The Fate of Hannibal: To the Romans it seemed an act of treachery that Hannibal, who had been conquered in a fair field at Zama, should continue his hostility by fighting on the side of their enemies. But Hannibal never forgot the oath of eternal enmity to Rome, the oath which he had sworn at his father’s knee. When Antiochus agreed to surrender him, Hannibal fled to Crete, and afterward took refuge with the king of Bithynia. Here he continued his hostility to Rome by aiding this ruler in a war against Rome’s ally, the king of Pergamum. The Romans still pursued him, and sent Flamininus to demand his surrender. But Hannibal again fled, and, hunted from the face of the earth, this great soldier, who had been the most terrible foe that Rome had ever encountered, took his own life by drinking poison. It is said that the year of his death was the same year (183 B.C.) in which died his great and victorious antagonist, Scipio Africanus.” \~\

Silverman wrote: “In 146 B.C., Carthage and Corinth were both utterly destroyed. Macedonia and Africa were now provinces. In 133 Attalus III of Pergamum had died and tried to spare the Romans involvement in a war over his succession (there was no heir) by bequeathing his empire (in his will) to the Roman people. If so he failed, but a brief campaign in 131 and 130 was enough to settle the hash of Aristonicus, a pretender to his throne. The creation of a province of Asia followed in 130. Seleucid power was a thing of the past, and although two Ptolemies (VI and VII) were squabbling over Egypt and its vassals, the Romans simply left them to it. So the east was quiet. In the west, there was ongoing difficulty with the administration of Spain (Numantine War, 143-133), but no major threat prior to the war with Jugurtha (112-106). *^*

After the War Against with Syria and the Seleucids, Rome Switches Its Attention Back to Macedonia

The great battles of Cynoscephalae and Magnesia gave Rome had reason to believe that it had broken the power of her rivals in the East. But she had not yet adopted in that part of the world the policy which she had previously employed in the case of Sicily and Spain, namely, of reducing the territory to the condition of provinces. She had left the countries of the East nominally free and independent; and had placed them in the condition of subject allies, or of tributary states. She had compelled them to reduce their armies, to give her an annual tribute, and to promise not to make a war without her consent. In this way she believed that Macedonia and Syria would be obliged to keep the peace. Over the weaker powers, like the Greek cities, the kingdom of Pergamum, and the republic of Rhodes, she had assumed the position of a friendly protector. But in spite of this generous policy, a spirit of discontent gradually grew up in the various countries, and Rome was soon obliged, as we shall see, to adopt a new and more severe policy, in order to maintain peace and order throughout her growing empire. [Source: “Outlines of Roman History” by William C. Morey, Ph.D., D.C.L. New York, American Book Company (1901), forumromanum.org \~\]

David Silverman of Reed College wrote: “While Rome was fighting of Antiochus and afterwards, Philip quietly engaged in rebuilding his strength, aided by the revenues from his gold and silver mines. Livy spends a good deal of time in this period recounting the little tragedy of the conflict between Philip's two sons, Demetrius the friend of Rome and the wily older brother Perseus. For our purposes the kernel is that Demetrius went to Rome as a good-will ambassador and was very successful, managing to build up influence with some powerful senatorial families. Given the new balance of power, and the Senate's fondness for dependable obedient client-kings, Demetrius might hope to parley Roman favour into a seat on the throne of Macedon. Perseus seems to have headed off this prospect by convincing Philip that Demetrius was a traitor, although the truth is hard to recover because Livy reflects a strong bias against Perseus and in favour of Demetrius. In any case Demetrius was executed and Perseus became king on Philip's death. [Source: David Silverman, Classics 373 ~ History 393 Class, Reed College ^*^]

“For the reasons already noted, Perseus is a hard figure to assess. The Romans insisted that he had interfered all over Greece in places where he did not belong, such as at the Pythian games (Panhellenic festivals were traditionally the preferred venue for power diplomacy by the Macedonian Kings). Even worse, they said he plotted to murder the Roman Senate and enslave all the cities of Greece. Perseus' real sin, though, was playing the demagogue for the disgruntled debtors of mainland Greece, who were being squeezed by an economic depression; his agenda of redistribution of wealth and cancellation of debts was anathema to the Romans. The Romans were scarcely concerned to impose their brand of government upon their allies; even annexed provinces were permitted in large part to maintain their native governmental institutions at the municipal level. But advocating this sort of social upheaval, as we will see graphically next week, was guaranteed to arouse the senatorial ire. ^*^

“By 171 Rome had drifted into a declaration of war against Perseus (the 3rd Macedonian War, 171-167). The reaction of the Greeks gives the lie to much of the Roman demonization of Perseus; though they did not see Perseus as a liberator, very few actively supported the Roman campaign against him. Part of this, however, was due to certain excesses perpetrated by Roman generals in Greece in the 170s; the novelty of Flamininus' declaration of freedom was wearing off. One reason for the Roman anxiety over Perseus has already been mentioned; another, perhaps of equal importance, was once again the vociferous advocacy of Eumenes, who may have had a personal grudge. It is alleged that Perseus tried to kill him (cf. SB 73). Certainly Eumenes also believed that a resurgent Macedon would one day threaten his recently acquired territories in Asia Minor, on the theory that every Macedonian King longed to follow in the footsteps of Alexander. The consul L. Aemilius Paullus made short work of Perseus' pikemen, inflicting a crushing defeat in a pitched battle at Pydna in 167. ^*^

“Again, it may be possible to address the question of imperialistic motives by going backwards from the settlement. On the one hand, the Romans withdrew yet again from northern Greece and declined to make Macedonia a province. That would not happen until 148, when a pretender named Andriscus tried to revive Macedonian power by passing himself off as a son of Perseus. On this occasion Macedon was broken up into four pieces, and her gold and silver mines were closed down. The latter action has been taken to indicate the absence of economic imperialism as a motive for crushing Perseus. More realistically, the Romans closed the mines as a preventative measure, so that it would be more difficult to fund a resurgence of Macedonian power. Here we find a startling episode which supports the Harris hypothesis of active imperialism. Acting on the authority of the senate, the victorious Aemilius Paullus sacked 70 cities of Epirus, producing a vast haul of booty for the troops and (more importantly) 150,000 slaves for the Italian latifundia (plantations). See Polybius 30.15, Livy 45. 33-34 = SB 75. Episodes such as this are inconvenient for Gruen, who is reduced to an arguably specious distinction between such windfalls interpreted as motives for war and as merely the icing on the cake. Would he like some cake with that icing?” *^*


Macedonia and Asia Minor in 188 BC


Third Macedonian War (171-168 B.C.)

“Beginning of the Third Macedonian War: Philip of Macedonia had been a faithful ally of Rome during the late war with Antiochus; but at its close he felt that he had not been sufficiently rewarded for his fidelity. He saw that the little states of Pergamum and Rhodes had received considerable accessions to their territories, while he himself was apparently forgotten. On account of this seeming neglect, he began to think of regaining his old power. When he died, he was succeeded by his son, Perseus, who continued the design of making Macedonia free from the dictation of Rome. Perseus did what he could to develop the resources of his kingdom, and to organize and strengthen his army. He even began to be looked upon by the Greek cities as their champion against the encroachments of Rome. But the time soon came when he was obliged to answer for his arrogant conduct. The Romans became convinced of the ambitious scheme of Perseus, and entered upon a new war against Macedonia. [Source: “Outlines of Roman History” by William C. Morey, Ph.D., D.C.L. New York, American Book Company (1901), forumromanum.org \~\]

Battle of Pydna (168 B.C.): After three unsuccessful campaigns, the Romans finally placed in command of their army an able general, Aemilius Paullus, the son of the consul who was slain at Cannae. The two armies met near Pydna,, and Perseus suffered a crushing defeat. Here the Macedonian phalanx fought its last great battle, and the Roman legions gave a new evidence of their superior strength. Twenty thousand Macedonians were slain, and eleven thousand were captured. It is said that the spoils of this battle were so great that the citizens of Rome were henceforth relieved from the payment of taxes. Paullus received at Rome the most magnificent triumph that had ever been seen. For three days the gorgeous procession marched through the streets of Rome, bearing the trophies of the East. Through the concourse of exultant people was driven the chariot of the defeated king of Macedonia, followed by the victorious army adorned with laurels, and its successful commander decked with the insignia of Jupiter Capitolinus, with a laurel branch in his hand. \~\

The Settlement of Macedonia: The question now arose as to what should be done with Macedonia, which had so many times resisted the Roman power. The Romans were not yet ready to reduce the country to a province, and were not willing to have it remain independent. It was therefore split up into four distinct republics, which were to be entirely separated from one another, but which were to be dependent upon Rome. With a show of generosity, Rome compelled the people to pay as tribute only half of what had been previously paid to the Macedonian king. But the republics could have no relations with one another, either by way of commerce or intermarriage. All the chief men of Greece who had given any aid to the Macedonian king were transported to Italy, where they could not stir up a revolt in their native country. Among these Achaean captives was the famous historian, Polybius, who during this time gathered the materials of his great work on Roman history. \~\

Reduction of Macedonia and Greece

“Change of the Roman Policy: We sometimes think that Rome started out upon her great career of conquest with a definite purpose to subdue the world, and with clear ideas as to how it should be governed. But nothing could be farther from the truth. She had been drawn on from one war to another, often against her own will. When she first crossed the narrow strait into Sicily at the beginning of the first Punic war, she little thought that in a hundred years her armies would be fighting in Asia; and when in early times she was compelled to find some way of keeping peace and order in Latium, she could not have known that she would, sooner or later, be compelled to devise a way to preserve the peace and order of the world. But Rome was ever growing and ever learning. She learned how to conquer before she learned how to govern. It was after the third Macedonian war that Rome became convinced that her method of governing the conquered lands was not strong enough to preserve peace and maintain her own authority. She had heretofore left the conquered states to a certain extent free and independent. But now, either excited by jealousy or irritated by the intrigues and disturbances of the conquered people, she was determined to reduce them to a more complete state of submission. [Source: “Outlines of Roman History” by William C. Morey, Ph.D., D.C.L. New York, American Book Company (1901), forumromanum.org \~\]


New Disturbances in Macedonia: She was especially convinced of the need of a new policy by the continued troubles in Macedonia. The experiment which she had tried, of cutting up the kingdom into four separate states, had not been entirely successful. To add to the disturbances there appeared a man who called himself Philip, and who pretended to be the son of Perseus. He incited the people to revolt, and even defeated the Romans in a battle; but he was himself soon defeated and made a prisoner. \~\

Revolt of the Achaean Cities: The spirit of revolt, excited by the false Philip, spread into Greece. The people once more began to feel that the freedom of Rome was worse than slavery. It is true that Rome had liberated the Achaean captives who had been transported to Italy after the third Macedonian war; but these men, who had spent so much of their lives in captivity, carried back to Greece the bitter spirit which they still cherished. The Greek cities became not only unfriendly to Rome, but were also at strife with one another. Sparta desired to withdraw from the Achaean league, and appealed to Rome for help. Rome sent commissioners to Greece to settle the difficulty; but the Achaean came together in their assembly at Corinth and insulted the Roman commissioners, and were then rash enough to declare war against Rome herself. \~\

Destruction of Corinth (146 B.C.): The war which now followed, for the subjugation of Greece, was at first conducted by Metellus; and afterward by Mummius, an able general but a boorish man, who hated the Greeks and cared little for their culture. Corinth, the chief city of the Achaean league, was captured; the art treasures, pictures and statues, the splendid products of Greek genius, were sent to Rome. The inhabitants were sold as slaves. And by the cruel command of the senate, the city itself was reduced to ashes. This was a barbarous act of war, such an act as no civilized nation has ever approved. That the Romans were not yet fully civilized, and knew little of the meaning of art, is shown by the story told of Mummius. This rude consul warned the sailors who carried the pictures and statues of Corinth to Rome, that “if they lost or damaged any of them, they must replace them with others of equal value.”

“Macedonia reduced to a Province: The time had now come for Rome to adopt her new policy in respect to Macedonia. The old divisions into which the kingdom had been divided were abolished, and each city or community was made directly responsible to the governor sent from Rome. By this new arrangement, Macedonia became a province. The cities of Greece were allowed to remain nominally free, but the political confederacies were broken up, and each city came into direct relation with Rome through the governor of Macedonia. Greece was afterward organized as a separate province, under the name of Achaia.

Destruction of Corinth

In 146 B.C. the Romans destroyed Carthage and Corinth, the home of the last Greek league of cities that had tried to resist Roman expansion. Under the command of Roman consul Lucius Mummius Corinthian men were slaughtered, women and children were sold into slavery, art was shipped back to Rome and Corinth was turned into a ghost town.


Corinth today

Robert Morstein Kallet-Marx wrote in his book “Hegemony to Empire” that the destruction of Corinth was one “the most notorious Roman actions.” He wrote: “Most of the Corinthians had already abandoned the dry when Mummius captured Corinth on the third day after the battle at the Isthmus. After Mummius had performed the solemn ritual of devotio , designating the enemy dry and its population as a sacrifice to the gods of the underworld, Corinth was taken by storm and burned. Those who were unfortunate enough to have remained in the city were slaughtered or enslaved, and the dry was thoroughly plundered.This treatment was fully in accordance with traditional Roman terroristic practice toward communities that refused surrender and thereby "forced" their capture by assault. Such savage treatment of stiff-necked enemies encouraged surrender in the future and kept the troops happy, for in the middle of the second century, at a time when elsewhere, particularly in Spain, warfare was bitter and unprofitable, the need to satisfy the soldiers' hunger for booty was particularly strong. When to these strong motives is added Mummius's own ambition (for the booty from Corinth was a splendid haul that contributed in no small degree to its conqueror's fame throughout the Roman world). [Source: Robert Morstein Kallet-Marx, “Hegemony to Empire: The Development of the Roman Imperium in the East from 148 to 62 B.C.” University of California Press, 1996]

“Already in ancient times there was speculation about why Rome annihilated Corinth in 146. The official justification seems to have been founded on the treatment of the Roman envoys in 147 B.C., but explanations given distill into two complementary traditions: to deprive Greeks of a useful stronghold in war for the future, and to act as a deterrent by striking terror into other cities and subsequent generations.

“A number of parallels from past and contemporary practice give greatest credence to the "terroristic" or, if one prefers, the "deterrent" intention behind the destruction of Corinth. Polybius believed that the Romans used ruthlessness strategically. He notes, for example, that it was their habit, upon first capturing a city, to cut to pieces every living thing they met: "They do this, it seems to me, to inspire terror" (10.15.4-5). In Greece the Romans seem on the whole to have avoided such tactics until the war against Perseus, when they were rather liberally indulged. Haliartus was annihilated for its stubborn resistance, and Paulus brutally laid waste to Epirus, plundering some seventy towns and hauling away as slaves some quarter of a million Epirotes, to punish it for favoring the Macedonian king; both punishments were decreed by the Senate.

The ravages inflicted by Mummius and the Roman army were not entirely limited to Corinth. A considerable amount of booty certainly came from other towns in Achaea and Boeotia. Some was given to Attalus's general Philopoemen. The lion's share was doubtless sent back to Rome, thence to many towns of Italy and even the provinces. Mummius's triumph was renowned for its bronzes and paintings—and actors. But some of the booty at least stayed in Greece as dedications at the great Hellenic sanctuaries, especially Olympia, but also Delphi, Epidaurus, Isthmia, and even the smaller sanctuaries at Oropus, Thebes, Thespiae, Aulis, and Tegea. The number of noteworthy locations where Mummius's dedications are found probably testifies to a grand tour not unlike Aemilius Paulus's triumphant procession through the major sites of Greece in 168/167, which had a dear propagandistic function.

“In addition to the haul of booty some alleged ringleaders of the war were executed. If Metellus had not already done so, Mummius now punished the Theban boiotarch Pytheas. Otherwise we hear only of the execution of certain (knights) of Chalcis (Polyb. 39.6.4-5), in Polybius's view Mummius's most notorious excess, which he was inclined to blame on his advisers ("friends"). According to Livy's epitomator alone both Thebes and Chalcis were destroyed. For all that, it is a significant point that devastating reprisals were reserved by Mummius and the commission of ten for Corinth alone. Greeks had closely watched the development of the recent crisis with Carthage in 149, and Rome's harsh demand for the elimination of the city had been much discussed, with some passion. Polybius movingly describes how after the initial Achaean defeat at Scarphea, people were nearly driven mad with terror; some fled aimlessly through the countryside; others even threw themselves off cliffs and down wells in utter desperation.As their dash with Rome developed, the Achaean leadership had held back from negotiations with Metellus because of their expectation that they would receive no pity from the Romans (Polyb. 38.17.7). But, luckily, in Polybius's retrospection, Greek resistance had collapsed so quickly that Rome's wrath was not allowed to peak: the phrase "had we not been destroyed quickly, we should never have been saved" was on everyone's lips.[150] Our survey of Mummius's punitive measures gives point to that assessment and shows it to be no mere apologia. Mummius had imposed indemnities on the defeated, helped himself to much booty, and punished some individuals for their alleged part in inciting the war; but Corinth had borne the brunt of Rome's rage, and the rest of Greece was spared the dire fate that it had feared. Most of those defeated in 146 B.C. , not to speak of those Greeks uninvolved in the struggle, will have been much relieved by the moderation of their treatment at Mummius's hands.”

Events Before the Destruction of Corinth


Spartan soldiers

On events that preceded the Roman invasion of Corinth, Evelyn Shuckburgh wrote: “In the autumn of 150 B.C. the corrupt Menalchidas of Sparta was succeeded as Achaean Strategos by Diaeus, who, to cover his share in the corruption of Menalchidas, induced the League to act in the matter of some disputed claim of Sparta in a manner contrary to the decisions of the Roman Senate. The Spartans wished to appeal again to Rome; whereupon the Achaeans passed a law forbidding separate cities to make such appeals, which were to be only made by the League. The Lacedaemonians took up arms: and Diaeus professing that the League was not at war with Sparta, but with certain factious citizens of that city, named four of its chief men who were to be banished. They fled to Rome, where the Senate ordered their restoration. Embassies went from Achaia and from Sparta to Rome to state their respective cases; and on their return gave false reports---Diaeus assuring the Achaeans that the Senate had ordered the Spartans to obey the League; Menalchidas telling the Spartans that the Romans had released them from all connection with the League. [Source: Polybius (c.200-after 118 B.C.), “The Histories of Polybius”, 2 Vols., translated by Evelyn S. Shuckburgh (London: Macmillan, 1889), II.515-525, 530-540]

“War then again broke out in 148 B.C. Metellus, who was in Macedonia on the business of the rebellion of the Pseudo-Philip, sent legates to the Achaeans forbidding them to bear arms against Sparta, and announcing the speedy arrival of commissioners from Rome to settle the dispute. But the Achaean levies were already mustered under the Strategos Damocritus, and the Lacedaemonians seem almost to have compelled them to fight. The Spartans were beaten with considerable loss: and on Damocritus preventing a pursuit and a capture of Sparta, the Achaeans regarded him as a traitor and fined him fifty talents. He was succeeded in his office of strategos by Diaeus who promised Metellus to await the arrival of commissioners from Rome. But the Spartans now assumed their freedom from the League and elected a strategos of their own, Menalchidas; who provoked a renewal of the war by taking the town of Iasos on the Laconian frontier. In despair of resisting the attack of the Achaeans, and disowned by his fellow-citizens, he took poison. The Roman commissioners arrived in 147 B.C., and summoning the magistrates of the Achaean League and the Strategos Diaeus before them, announced the decree of the Senate---separating Lacedaemon, Corinth, Argos, Heraclea, and Orchomenos from the Achaean League, as not being related by blood, and only being subsequent additions. The magistrates, without answering, hastily summoned the league congress. The people, on hearing the Roman decision, pillaged the houses of the Lacedaemonians in Corinth, and savagely attacked all who were or who looked like Spartans. The Roman envoys attempted to restrain the popular fury, but were themselves somewhat roughly handled. ---Pausanius, VII.12-14; Livy, Ep.51].

Polybius wrote in “The Histories,” Book XXXVIII, Chapters 3-11: “When the commissioners with L. Aurelius Orestes arrived in Rome from the Peloponnese, they reported what had taken place, and declared that they had a narrow escape of actually losing their lives. They made the most of the occurrence and put the worst interpretation upon it; for they represented the violence which had been offered them as not the result of a sudden outbreak, but of a deliberate intention on the part of the Achaeans to inflict a signal insult upon them. The Senate was therefore more angry than it had ever been, and at once appointed Sextus Julius Caesar and other envoys with instructions to rebuke and upbraid the Achaeans for what had occurred, yet in terms of moderation, but to exhort them "not to listen to evil councillors, not to allow themselves to be betrayed into hostility with Rome, but even yet to make amends for their acts of folly by inflicting punishment on the authors of the crime." This was a clear proof that the Senate gave its instructions to Aurelius and his colleagues, not with the view of dismembering the league, but with the object of restraining the obstinacy and hostility of the Achaeans by terrifying and overawing them. Some people accordingly imagined that the Romans were acting hypocritically, because the Carthaginian war was still unfinished; but this was not the case. The fact is, that they had long regarded the Achaean league with favor, believing it to be the most trustworthy of all the Greek governments; and though now they were resolved to give it an alarm, because it had become too lofty in its pretensions, yet they were by no means minded to go to war or to have a serious quarrel with the Achaeans. . . .

Greek-Roman Negotiations on the Eve of the Invasion of Corinth

“As Sextus Julius Caesar and his colleagues were on their way from Rome to the Peloponnese, they were met by Thearidas and the other envoys, sent by the Achaeans to make their excuse and give commissioners in the Senate an explanation of the intemperate acts committed in regard to Aurelius Orestes. But Sextus Julius persuaded them to turn back to Achaia, on the ground that he and his colleagues were coming with full instructions to communicate with the Achaeans on all these points. When Sextus arrived in the Peloponnese, and in a conference with the Achaeans in Aegium spoke with great kindness, he made no mention of the injurious treatment of the legates, and scarcely demanded any defense at all, but took a more lenient view of what had happened than even the Achaeans themselves; and dwelt chiefly on the subject of exhorting them not to carry their error any further, in regard either to the Romans or the Lacedaemonians. Thereupon the more sober-minded party received the speech with satisfaction, and were strongly moved to obey the suggestions, because they were conscious of the gravity of what they had been doing, and had before their eyes what happened to opponents of Rome; but the majority, though they had not a word to say against the justice of the injunctions of Sextus Julius, and were quite silent, yet remained deeply tainted with disaffection. And Diaeus and Critolaus, and all who shared their sentiments---and they consisted of all the greatest rascals in every city, men at war with the gods, and pests of the community, carefully selected---took, as the proverb has it, with the left hand what the Romans gave with the right, and went utterly and entirely wrong in their calculations. For they supposed that the Romans, owing to the troubles in Libya and Iberia, feared a war with the Achaeans and would submit to anything and say anything. [Source: Polybius (c.200-after 118 B.C.), “The Histories of Polybius”, 2 Vols., translated by Evelyn S. Shuckburgh (London: Macmillan, 1889), II.515-525, 530-540]


Achean League


“Thinking, therefore, that the hour was their own, they answered the Roman envoys politely that "They would, nevertheless, send Thearidas and his colleagues to the Senate; while they would themselves accompany the legates to Tegea, and there in consultation with the Lacedaemonians would provide for some settlement of the war that would meet the views of both parties." With this answer they subsequently induced the unhappy nation to follow the senseless course to which they had long before made up their mind. And this result was only what might have been expected from the inexperience and corruption of the prevailing party.

“But the finishing stroke to this ruinous policy was given in the following manner. When Sextus and his colleagues arrived at Tegea, and invited the attendance of the Lacedaemonians, in order to arrange terms between them and the Achaeans, both as to the satisfaction to be given for previous complaints and for putting a stop to the war, until the Romans should send commissioners to review the whole question, Critolaus and his party, having held a conference, decided that all the rest should avoid the meeting, and that Critolaus should go alone to Tegea. When Sextus and his fellow-commissioners therefore had almost given them up, Critolaus arrived; and when the meeting with the Lacedaemonians took place, he would settle nothing---alleging that he had no authority to make any arrangement without the consent of the people at large; but that he would bring the matter before the Achaeans at their next congress, which must be held six months from that time. Sextus and his fellow-commissioners, therefore, convinced of the ill disposition of Critolaus, and much annoyed at his conduct, dismissed the Lacedaemonians to their own country, and themselves returned to Italy with strong views as to the folly and infatuation of Critolaus.

“After their departure Critolaus spent the winter in visiting the cities and holding assemblies in them, on the pretext that he wished to inform them of what he had said to the Lacedaemonians at Tegea, but in reality to denounce the Romans and to put an evil interpretation on everything they said; by which means he inspired the common people in the various cities with feelings of hostility and hatred for them. At the same time he sent round orders to the magistrates not to exact money from debtors, nor to receive prisoners arrested for debt, and to cause loans on pledge to be held over until the war was decided. By this kind of appeal to the interests of the vulgar everything he said was received with confidence; and the common people were ready to obey any order he gave, being incapable of taking thought for the future, but caught by the bait of immediate indulgence and relief.

“When Quintus Caecilius Metellus heard in Macedonia of the commotion and disturbance going on in the Peloponnese, he despatched thither his legates Gneaus Papirius and the younger Popilius Laenas, along with Aulus Gabinius and Gaius Fannius; who, happening to arrive when the congress was assembled at Corinth, were introduced to the assembly, and delivered a long and conciliatory speech, much in the spirit of that of Sextus Julius, exerting themselves with great zeal to prevent the Achaeans from proceeding to an open breach with Rome, either on the pretext of their grievance against the Lacedaemonians, or from any feeling of anger against the Romans themselves. But the assembled people would not hear them; insulting words were loudly uttered against the envoys, and in the midst of a storm of yells and tumult they were driven from the assembly. The fact was that such a crowd of workmen and artisans had been got together as had never been collected before; for all the cities were in a state of driveling folly, and above all the Corinthians en masse; and there were only a very few who heartily approved of the words of the envoys.

“Critolaus, conceiving that he had attained his purpose, in the midst of an audience as excited and mad as himself began attacking the magistrates, abusing all who were opposed to him, and openly defying the Roman envoys, saying that he vas desirous of being a friend of the Romans, but had no taste for them as his masters. And, finally, he tried to incite the people by saying that, if they acquitted themselves like men, they would have no lack of allies; but, if they betrayed womanish fears, they would not want for masters. By many other such words to the same effect, conceived in the spirit of a charlatan and huckster, he roused and excited the populace. He attempted also to make it plain that he was not acting at random in these proceedings, but that some of the kings and republics were engaged in the same policy as himself.

“Having carried these measures, he began intriguing to bring on an outbreak and cause an attack upon the Roman envoys. He had no pretext for doing this; but adopted a course which, of all possible courses, offends most flagrantly against the laws of gods and man. The envoys, however, separated; Gnaeus Papirius went to Athens and thence to Sparta to watch the turn of events; Aulus Gabinius went to Naupactus; and the other two remained at Athens, waiting for the arrival of Caecilius Metellus. This was the state of things in the Peloponnese. . .


how the claw worked


Corinth Prepares for War with Rome

Evelyn Shuckburgh wrote: “After the rejection of the orders conveyed by the legates of Metellus, Critolaus collected the Achaean levies at Corinth, under the pretext of going to war with Sparta; but he soon induced the league to declare themselves openly at war with Rome. He was encouraged by the adhesion of the Boeotarch Pytheas, and of the Chalcidians. The Thebans were the readier to join him because they had lately been ordered by Metellus, as arbiter in the dispute, to pay fines to the Phocians, Euboeans, and Amphissians. When news of these proceedings reached Rome in the spring of 146 B.C., the consul Mummius was ordered to lead a fleet and army against Achaea. But Metellus in Macedonia wished to have the credit of settling the matter himself; he therefore sent envoys to the Achaeans ordering them to release from the league the towns already named by the Senate---Sparta, Corinth, Argos, Heracleia, and Orchomenos, and advanced with his army from Macedonia through Thessaly by the coast road, skirting the Sinus Maliacus. Critolaus was already engaged in besieging Heracleia, to compel it to return to its obedience to the League, and when his scouts informed him of the approach of Metellus, he retreated to Scarphea on the coast of Locris, some miles south of the pass of Thermopylae. But before he could get into Scarphea Metellus caught him up, killed a large number of his men, and took one thousand prisoners. Critolaus himself disappeared; Pausanias seems to imagine that he was drowned in the salt marshes of the coast, but Livy says that he poisoned himself. ---Pausanias, 7, 14, 15; Livy, Ep., 52; Orosius, 5, 3.]

“Polybius wrote in “The Histories,” Book XXXIX, Chapters 7-17: ““Critolaus the Achaean Strategos being dead, and the law providing that, in case of such an event befalling the existing Strategos, the Strategos of the previous year should succeed to the office until the regular congress of the league should meet, it fell to Diaeus to conduct the business of the League and take the head of affairs. Accordingly, after sending forward some troops to Megara, he went himself to Argos; and from that place sent a circular letter to all the towns ordering them to set free their slaves who were of military age, and who had been born and brought up in their houses, and send them furnished with arms to Corinth. He assigned the numbers to be furnished by the several towns quite at random and without any regard to equality, just as he did everything else. Those who had not the requisite number of home-bred slaves were to fill up the quota imposed on each town from other slaves. But seeing that the public poverty was very great, owing to the war with the Lacedaemonians, he compelled the richer classes, men and women alike, to make promises of money and furnish separate contributions. At the same time he ordered a levy en masse at Corinth of all men of military age. [Source: Polybius (c.200-after 118 B.C.), “The Histories of Polybius”, 2 Vols., translated by Evelyn S. Shuckburgh (London: Macmillan, 1889), II.515-525, 530-540]

“The result of these measures was that every city was full of confusion, commotion, and despair: they deemed those fortunate who had already perished in the war, and pitied those who were now starting to take part in it; and everybody was in tears as though they foresaw only too well what was going to happen. They were especially annoyed at the insolent demeanor and neglect of their duties on the part of the slaves---airs which they assumed as having been recently liberated, or, in the cause of others, because they were excited by the prospect of freedom. Moreover, the men were compelled to make their contribution contrary to their own views, according to the property they were reputed to possess; while the women had to do so, by taking the ornaments of their own persons or of their children, to what seemed deliberately meant for their destruction.

“As these measures came all at once, the dismay caused by the hardship of each individually prevented people from attending to or grasping the general question; or they must have foreseen that they were all being led on to secure the certain destruction of their wives and children. But, as though caught in the rush of some winter torrent and carried on by its irresistible violence, they followed the infatuation and madness of their leader. The Eleians and Messenians indeed did not stir, in terror of the Roman fleet; for nothing could have saved them if the storm had burst when it was originally intended. The people of Patrae, and of the towns which were leagued with it, had a short time before suffered disasters in Phocis [in the battle with Metellus at Scarphea]; and their case was much the most pitiable one of all the Peloponnesian cities: for some of them sought a voluntary death; others fled from their towns through deserted parts of the country, with no definite aim in their wanderings, from the panic prevailing in the towns.

“Some arrested and delivered each other to the enemy, as having been hostile to Rome; others hurried to give information and bring accusations, although no one asked for any such service as yet; while others went to meet the Romans with suppliant branches, confessing their treason, and asking what penance they were to pay, although as yet no one was asking for any account of such things. The whole country seemed to be under an evil spell: everywhere people were throwing themselves down wells or over precipices; and so dreadful was the state of things, that as the proverb has it "even an enemy would have pitied" the disaster of Greece. For in times past the Greeks had met with reverses or indeed complete disaster, either from internal dissensions or from treacherous attacks of despots; but in the present instance it was from the folly of their leaders and their own lack of wisdom that they experienced the grievous misfortunes which befell them. The Thebans also, abandoning their city en masse, left it entirely empty; and among the rest Pytheas retired to the Peloponnese, with his wife and children, and there wandered about the country.

Evelyn Shuckburgh wrote: “Having secured Boeotia, Metellus advanced to Megara, where the Achaean Alcamenes had been posted to Diaeus with five thousand men. Alcamenes hastily evacuated Megara and rejoined Diaeus at Corinth, the latter having meanwhile been re-elected Strategos. ---Pausanias, 7, 15, 10].

“Diaeus having recently come to Corinth after being appointed Strategos by the vote of the people, Andronidas and others came from Caecilius Metellus. Against these men he spread a report that they were in alliance with the enemy, and gave them up to the mob, who seized on them with great violence and threw them into chains.... They not only imprisoned Andronidas and Lagius and their friends, but even the sub-Strategos Sosicrates, on the charge of his having presided at a council and given his voting for sending an embassy to Caecilius Metellus, and in fact of having been the cause of all their misfortunes. Next day they empaneled judges to try them; condemned Sosicrates to death; and having bound him, racked him until he died, without, however, inducing him to say anything that they expected: but they acquitted Lagius, Andronidas and Archippus, partly because the people were scared at the lawless proceeding against Sosicrates, and partly because Diaeus got a talent from Andronidas and forty minae from Archippus; for this man could not relax his usual shameless and abandoned principles in this particular even "in the very pit," as the saying is. He had acted with similar cruelty a short time before also in regard to Philinus of Corinth. For on a charge of his holding communication with Menalcidas and favoring the Roman cause, he caused Philinus and his sons to be flogged and racked in each other's sight, and did not desist until the boys and Philinus were all dead. When such madness and ferocity was infecting everybody, as it would not be easy to parallel even among barbarians, it would be clearly very natural to ask why the whole nation did not utterly perish.

“For my part, I think that Fortune displayed her resources and skill in resisting the folly and madness of the leaders; and, being determined at all hazards to save the Achaeans, like a good wrestler, she had recourse to the only trick left; and that was to bring down and conquer the Greeks quickly, as in fact she did. For it was owing to this that the wrath and fury of the Romans did not blaze out farther; that the army of Libya did not come to Greece; and that these leaders, being such men as I have described, did not have an opportunity, by gaining a victory, of displaying their wickedness upon their countrymen. For what it was likely that they would have done to their own people, if they had got any ground of vantage or obtained any success, may be reasonably inferred from what has already been said. And, indeed, everybody at the time had the proverb on his lips, "had we not perished quickly we had not been saved." . . .

“It is something like a man entering for the boxing match or pancratium in the public games, and, when he comes into the stadium, and it is his turn to fight, begging the spectators to pardon him if he is unable to stand the fatigue or the blows.' Such a man of course would be laughed at and condemned at once." And this is what such historiographers should experience, to prevent them spoiling a good thing by their rash presumption. Similarly, in the rest of his life, he had imitated all the worst points in Greek fashions; for he was fond of pleasure and averse from toil. And this may be illustrated from his conduct in the present campaign: for being among the first to enter Greece at the time that the battle in Phocis took place, he retired to Thebes on the pretense of illness, in order to avoid taking part in the engagement; but, when the battle was ended, he was the first to write to the Senate announcing the victory, entering into every detail as though he had himself been present at the conflict....


destruction of Corinth


Romans Invade Corinth

Evelyn Shuckburgh wrote: “On the arrival of the Consul Mummius, Metellus was sent back into Macedonia. Mummius was accompanied by L. Aurelius Orestes (who had been nearly murdered in the riot at Corinth), and, pitching his camp in the Isthmus, was joined by allies who raised his army to three thousand five hundred cavalry and twenty-six thousand infantry. The Achaeans made a sudden attack upon them and gained a slight success, which was a few days afterwards revenged by a signal defeat. Instead of retiring into Corinth, and from that stronghold making some terms with Mummius, Diaeus fled to Megalopolis, where he poisoned himself, after first killing his wife. The rest of the beaten Achaean army took refuge in Corinth, which Mummius took and fired on the third day after the battle with Diaeus. Then the commissioners were sent from Rome to settle the whole of Greece. ---Pausanius, 7, 16-17; Livy, Ep. 52].

“Polybius wrote in “The Histories,” Book XXXIX, Chapters 7-17: “The incidents of the capture of Corinth were melancholy. The soldiers cared nothing for the works of art and the consecrated statues. I saw with my own eyes pictures thrown on the ground and soldiers playing dice on them; among them was a picture of Dionysus by Aristeides---in reference to which they say that the proverbial saying arose, "Nothing to the Dionysus,"---and the Hercules tortured by the shirt of Deianeira. [Source: Polybius (c.200-after 118 B.C.), “The Histories of Polybius”, 2 Vols., translated by Evelyn S. Shuckburgh (London: Macmillan, 1889), II.515-525, 530-540]

“After the settlement made by the ten commissioners in Achaia, they directed the Quaestor, who was to superintend the selling of Diaeus's property, to allow Polybius to select anything he chose from the goods and present it to him as a free gift, and to sell the rest to the highest bidders. But, so far from accepting any such present, Polybius urged his friends not to covet anything whatever of the goods sold by the Quaestor anywhere:---for he was going a round of the cities and selling the property of all those who had been partisans of Diaeus, as well of such as had been condemned except those who left children or parents. Some of these friends did not take his advice; but those who did follow it earned a most excellent reputation among their fellow-citizens.

“After completing these arrangements in six months, the ten commissioners sailed for Italy, at the beginning of spring, having left a noble monument of Roman policy for the contemplation of all Greece. They also charged Polybius, as they were departing, to visit all the cities and to decide all questions that might arise, until such plain time as they were grown accustomed to their constitution and laws. Which he did: and after a while caused the inhabitants to be contented with the constitution given them by the commissioners, and left no difficulty connected with the laws on any point, private or public, unsettled.

“The Roman Proconsul, after the commissioners had left Achaia, having restored the holy places in the Isthmus and ornamented the temples in Olympia and Delphi, proceeded to make a tour of the cities, receiving marks of honor and proper gratitude in each. And indeed he deserved honor both public and private, for he conducted himself with self-restraint and disinterestedness, and administered his office with mildness, although he had great opportunities of enriching himself, and immense authority in Greece. And, in fact, in the points in which he was thought to have at all overlooked justice, he appears not to have done it for his own sake, but for that of his friends. And the most conspicuous instance of this was in the case of the Chalcidian horsemen whom he put to death. . . .

Romans Take Over Macedonia and Greece

The Greek peninsula first came under Roman rule in 146 B.C. after the Battle of Corinth when Macedonia became a Roman province, while southern Greece came under the surveillance of Macedonia's prefect. However, some Greek poleis managed to maintain partial independence and avoid taxation. The Kingdom of Pergamon was in principle added to this territory in 133 B.C. when King Attalus III left his territories to the Roman people in his will. However, the Romans were slow in securing their claim and Aristonicus led a revolt with the help of Blossius. This was put down in 129 BC, when Pergamon was divided among Rome, Pontus, and Cappadocia. [Source: Wikipedia +]

Athens and other Greek cities revolted in 88 B.C. and the uprising was crushed by the Roman general Sulla. The Roman civil wars devastated the land even further, until Augustus organized the peninsula as the province of Achaea in 27 B.C. +

Greece, initially economically devastated, began to rise economically after the wars. The Greek cities of Asia Minor recovered more quickly at first than the cities on the Greek peninsula, which were heavily damaged by the forces of Sulla. The Romans invested heavily however, and rebuilt these cities. Corinth became the capital of the new province of Achaea, while Athens prospered as a center of philosophy and learning. +

Pacification of the Provinces

“Condition of Spain: While the Romans were thus engaged in creating the new provinces of Macedonia and Africa, they were called upon to maintain their authority in the old provinces of Spain and Sicily. We remember that, after the second Punic war, Spain was divided into two provinces, each under a Roman governor. But the Roman authority was not well established in Spain, except upon the eastern coast. The tribes in the interior and on the western coast were nearly always in a state of revolt. The most rebellious of these tribes were the Lusitanians in the west, in what is now Portugal; and the Celtiberians in the interior, south of the Iberus River. In their efforts to subdue these barbarous peoples, the Romans were themselves too often led to adopt the barbarous methods of deceit and treachery. [Source: “Outlines of Roman History” by William C. Morey, Ph.D., D.C.L. New York, American Book Company (1901), forumromanum.org \~\]

War with the Lusitanians: How perfidious a Roman general could be, we may learn from the way in which Sulpicius Galba waged war with the Lusitanians. After one Roman army had been defeated, Galba persuaded this tribe to submit and promised to settle them upon fertile lands. When the Lusitanians came to him unarmed to receive their expected reward, they were surrounded and murdered by the troops of Galba. But it is to the credit of Rome that Galba was denounced for this treacherous act. Among the few men who escaped from the massacre of Galba was a young shepherd by the name of Viriathus. Under his brave leadership, the Lusitanians continued the war for nine years. Finally, Viriathus was murdered by his own soldiers, who were bribed to do this treacherous act by the Roman general. With their leader lost, the Lusitanians were obliged to submit (138 B.C.). \~\

The Numantine War: The other troublesome tribe in Spain was the Celtiberians, who were even more warlike than the Lusitanians. At one time the Roman general was defeated and obliged to sign a treaty of peace, acknowledging the independence of the Spanish tribe. But the senate—repeating what it had done many years before, after the battle of the Caudine Forks—refused to ratify this treaty, and surrendered the Roman commander to the enemy. The “fiery war,” as it was called, still continued and became at last centered about Numantia, the chief town of the Celtiberians. The defense of Numantia, like that of Carthage, was heroic and desperate. Its fate was also like that of Carthage. It was compelled to surrender (133 B.C.) to the same Scipio Aemilianus. Its people were sold into slavery, and the town itself was blotted from the earth. \~\

The Servile War in Sicily: While Spain was being pacified, a more terrible war broke out in the province of Sicily. This was an insurrection of the slaves of the island. One of the worst results of the Roman conquest was the growth of the slave system. Immense numbers of the captives taken in war were thrown upon the market. One hundred and fifty thousand slaves had been sold by Aemilius Paullus; fifty thousand captives had been sent home from Carthage. Italy and Sicily swarmed with a servile population. It was in Sicily that this system bore its first terrible fruit. Maltreated by their masters, the slaves rose in rebellion under a leader, called Eunus, who defied the Roman power for three years. Nearly two hundred thousand insurgents gathered about his standard. Four Roman armies were defeated, and Rome herself was thrown into consternation. After the most desperate resistance, the rebellion was finally quelled and the island was pacified (132 B.C.).

Bequest of Pergamum; Province of Asia: This long period of war and conquest, by which Rome finally obtained the proud position of mistress of the Mediterranean, was closed by the almost peaceful acquisition of a new province. The little kingdom of Pergamum, in Asia Minor, had maintained, for the most part, a friendly relation to Rome. When the last king, Attalus III., died (133 B.C.), having no legal heirs, he bequeathed his kingdom to the Roman people. This newly acquired territory was organized as a province under the name of “Asia.” The smaller states of Asia Minor, and Egypt, Libya, and Numidia, retained a subordinate relation as dependencies. The supreme authority of Rome, at home and abroad, was now firmly established.


expansion of the Roman Empire between 200 and 117 BC


Foreign Influences on Rome

When we think of the conquests of Rome, we usually think of the armies which she defeated, and the lands which she subdued. But these were not the only conquests which she made. She appropriated not only foreign lands, but also foreign ideas. While she was plundering foreign temples, she was obtaining new ideas of religion and art. The educated and civilized people whom she captured in war and of whom she made slaves, often became the teachers of her children and the writers of her books. In such ways as these Rome came under the influence of foreign ideas. [Source: “Outlines of Roman History” by William C. Morey, Ph.D., D.C.L. New York, American Book Company (1901), forumromanum.org \~\]

As Rome came into contact with other people, we can see how her religion was affected by foreign influences. The worship of the family remained much the same; but the religion of the state became considerably changed. In terms of art, as the Romans were a practical people, their earliest art was shown in their buildings. From the Etruscans they had learned to use the arch and to build strong and massive structures. But the more refined features of art they obtained from the Greeks.

It is difficult for us to think of a nation of warriors as a nation of refined people. The brutalities of war seem inconsistent with the finer arts of living. But as the Romans obtained wealth from their wars, they affected the refinement of their more cultivated neighbors. Some men, like Scipio Africanus, looked with favor upon the introduction of Greek ideas and manners; but others, like Cato the Censor, were bitterly opposed to it. When the Romans lost the simplicity of the earlier times, they came to indulge in luxuries and to be lovers of pomp and show. They loaded their tables with rich services of plate; they ransacked the land and the sea for delicacies with which to please their palates. Roman culture was often more artificial than real. The survival of the barbarous spirit of the Romans in the midst of their professed refinement is seen in their amusements, especially the gladiatorial shows, in which men were forced to fight with wild beasts and with one another to entertain the people. \~\

Dr Neil Faulkner wrote for the BBC: “Sometimes, of course, it was outsiders who introduced the trappings of Roman life to the provinces. This was especially true in frontier areas occupied by the army. In northern Britain, for example, there were few towns or villas. But there were many forts, especially along the line of Hadrian's Wall, and it is here that we see rich residences, luxury bath-houses, and communities of artisans and traders dealing in Romanised commodities for the military market. “Even here, though, because army recruitment was increasingly local, it was often a case of Britons becoming Romans. [Source: Dr Neil Faulkner, BBC, February 17, 2011 |::|]

“Foreign soldiers settled down and had families with local women. Grown-up sons followed their fathers into the army. The local regiment became more 'British'. The new recruits became more 'Roman'. We see evidence in the extraordinary diversity of cults represented by religious inscriptions on the frontier. Alongside traditional Roman gods like Jupiter, Mars, and the Spirit of the Emperor, there are local Celtic gods like Belatucadrus, Cocidius, and Coventina, and foreign gods from other provinces like the Germanic Thincsus, the Egyptian Isis, and the Persian Mithras. Beyond the frontier zone, on the other hand, in the heartlands of the empire where civilian politicians rather than army officers were in charge, native aristocrats had driven the Romanisation process from the beginning.” |::|

Greek Influences on Rome

Arguable the most powerful foreign influence on Rome came from Greece. We might say that when Greece was conquered by Rome, Rome was civilized by Greece. These foreign influences were seen in her new ideas of religion and philosophy, in her literature, her art, and her manners. [Source: “Outlines of Roman History” by William C. Morey, Ph.D., D.C.L. New York, American Book Company (1901), forumromanum.org \~\]

It is said that the entire Greek Olympus was introduced into Italy. The Romans adopted the Greek ideas and stories regarding the gods; and their worship became more showy and elaborate. Even some of the superstitious and fantastic rites of Asia found their way into Rome. These changes did not improve the religion. On the contrary, they made it more corrupt. The Roman religion, by absorbing the various ideas of other people, became a world-wide and composite form of paganism. One of the redeeming features of the Roman religion was the worship of exalted qualities, like Honor and Virtue; for example, alongside of the temple to Juno, temples were also erected to Loyalty and Hope. \~\

Roman Philosophy: The more educated Romans lost their interest in religion, and betook themselves to the study of Greek philosophy. They studied the nature of the gods and the moral duties of men. In this way the Greek ideas of philosophy found their way into Rome. Some of these ideas, like those of the Stoics, were elevating, and tended to preserve the simplicity and strength of the old Roman character. But other ideas, like those of the Epicureans, seemed to justify a life of pleasure and luxury. \~\

Roman Literature: Before the Romans came into contact with the Greeks, they cannot be said to have had anything which can properly be called a literature. They had certain crude verses and ballads; but it was the Greeks who first taught them how to write. It was not until the close of the first Punic war, when the Greek influence became strong, that we begin to find the names of any Latin authors. The first author, Andronicus, who is said to have been a Greek slave, wrote a Latin poem in imitation of Homer. Then came Naevius, who combined a Greek taste with a Roman spirit, and who wrote a poem on the first Punic war; and after him, Ennius, who taught Greek to the Romans, and wrote a great poem on the history of Rome, called the “Annals.” The Greek influence is also seen in Plautus and Terence, the greatest writers of Roman comedy; and in Fabius Pictor, who wrote a history of Rome, in the Greek language. \~\

As for art, while the Romans could never hope to acquire the pure aesthetic spirit of the Greeks, they were inspired with a passion for collecting Greek works of art, and for adorning their buildings with Greek ornaments. They imitated the Greek models and professed to admire the Greek taste; so that they came to be, in fact, the preservers of Greek art. \~\

Image Sources: Wikimedia Commons

Text Sources: Internet Ancient History Sourcebook: Rome sourcebooks.fordham.edu ; Internet Ancient History Sourcebook: Late Antiquity sourcebooks.fordham.edu ; Forum Romanum forumromanum.org ; “Outlines of Roman History” by William C. Morey, Ph.D., D.C.L. New York, American Book Company (1901), forumromanum.org \~\; “The Private Life of the Romans” by Harold Whetstone Johnston, Revised by Mary Johnston, Scott, Foresman and Company (1903, 1932) forumromanum.org |+|; BBC Ancient Rome bbc.co.uk/history/ ; Perseus Project - Tufts University; perseus.tufts.edu ; MIT, Online Library of Liberty, oll.libertyfund.org ; Gutenberg.org gutenberg.org Metropolitan Museum of Art, National Geographic, Smithsonian magazine, New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Live Science, Discover magazine, Times of London, Natural History magazine, Archaeology magazine, The New Yorker, Encyclopædia Britannica, "The Discoverers" [∞] and "The Creators" [μ]" by Daniel Boorstin. "Greek and Roman Life" by Ian Jenkins from the British Museum.Time, Newsweek, Wikipedia, Reuters, Associated Press, The Guardian, AFP, Lonely Planet Guides, World Religions edited by Geoffrey Parrinder (Facts on File Publications, New York); History of Warfare by John Keegan (Vintage Books); History of Art by H.W. Janson Prentice Hall, Englewood Cliffs, N.J.), Compton’s Encyclopedia and various books and other publications.

Last updated October 2018

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