1902 Encyclopedia > Rome > Ancient Roman History - Rome and the Mediterranean States, 265-146 B.C. - (b) Rome in the East, 200-133

(Part 5)



Period II: Rome and the Mediterranean States, 265-146 B.C.

(b) Rome in the East, 200-133

Ever since the repulse of Pyrrhus from Italy, Rome had been slowly drifting into closer contact with the Eastern states. With one of the three great powers which had divided between them the empire of Alexander, with Egypt, she had formed an alliance in 273, and the alliance had been cemented by the growth of commercial intercourse between the two countries. In 228 her chastisement of the Illyrian pirates had led naturally enough to the establishment of friendly relations with some of the states of Greece proper. Further than this, however, Rome for the time showed no desire to go. The connexions already formed were sufficient to open the eastern ports to her trade, and the engrossing struggle with Carthage left her neither leisure nor strength for active interference in the incessant feuds and rivalries which had made up Eastern politics since the falling asunder of Alexander's empire. In 214 the alliance between Philip and Hannibal, and the former's threatened attack on Italy, forced her into war with Macedon, but even then she contented herself with heading a coalition of the Greek states against him, which effectually frustrated his designs against herself; and at the first opportunity (205) she ended the war by a peace which left the position unchanged. The results of the war were not only to draw closer the ties which bound Rome to the Greek states, but to inspire the senate with a genuine dread of Philip's restless ambition, and with a bitter resentment against him for his union with Hannibal. The events of the next four years served to deepen both these feelings. In 205 Philip entered into a compact with Antiochus of Syria for the partition between them of the dominions of Egypt,8 now left by the death of Ptolemy Philopator to the rule of a boy king. Antiochus was to take Coele-Syria and Phoenicia, while Philip claimed for his share the districts subject to Egypt on the coasts of the Aegean and the Greek islands. Philip no doubt hoped to be able to secure these unlawful acquisitions before the close of the Second Punic War should set Rome free to interfere with his plans. But the obstinate resistance offered by Attalus of Pergamum and the Rhodians upset his calculations. In 201 Rome made peace with Carthage, and the senate had leisure to listen to the urgent appeal for assistance which reached her from her Eastern allies. With Antiochus indeed the senate was not yet prepared to quarrel; Egypt was assured of the continued friendship of Rome, but Antiochus was allowed to work his will in Ccele-Syria.7 With Philip it is clear that the senate had no thoughts of a peaceful settlement. Their animosity against him had been deepened by the assistance he had recently rendered to Carthage. Always an unsafe and turbulent neighbour, he would, if allowed to become supreme in the Aegean, prove as dangerous to her interests in the East as Carthage had been in the West; nor, lastly, could Rome, in honour, look quietiy on at the ill-treatment of states which, as Greeks and as allies of her own, had a double claim on her protection. To cripple or at least to stay the growth of Philip's power was in the eyes of the senate a necessity, but it was only by representing a Macedonian invasion of Italy as imminent that they persuaded the assembly, which was longing for peace, to pass a declaration of war1 (200), an ostensible pretext for which was found in the invasion by Macedonian troops of the territory of Rome's ally, Athens.

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

The war commenced in the summer of 200 B.C., and, though the landing of the Roman legions in Epirus was not followed, as had been hoped, by any general rising against Philip, yet the latter had soon to discover that, if they were not enthusiastic for Rome, they were still less inclined actively to assist himself. Neither by force nor diplomacy could he make any progress south of Boeotia. The fleets of Pergamum and Rhodes, now the zealous allies of Rome, protected Attica and watched the eastern coasts. The Achseans and Nabis of Sparta were obstinately neutral, while nearer home in the north the Epirots and Etolians threatened Thessaly and Macedonia. His own resources both in men and in money had been severely strained by his constant wars,2 and the only ally who could have given him effective assistance, Antiochas, was fully occupied with the conquest of Ccele-Syria. It is no wonder then that, in spite of his dashing generalship and high courage, he made but a brief stand. T. Quinctius Flamininus (consul 198), in his first year of command, defeated him on the Aous, drove him back to the pass of Tempe, and in the next year utterly routed him at Cynos-cephalse. Almost at the same moment the Achasans, who had now joined Rome, took Corinth, and the Rhodians defeated his troops in Caria. Further resistance was impossible ; Philip submitted, and early the next year a Roman commission reached Greece with instructions to arrange terms of peace. These were such as effectually secured Rome's main object in the war, the removal of all danger to herself and her allies from Macedonian aggression. Philip was left in possession of his kingdom, but was degraded to the rank of a second-rate power, deprived of all possessions in Greece, Thrace, and Asia Minor, and forbidden, as Carthage had been in 201, to wage war without the consent of Rome, whose ally and friend he now became. Macedon thus weakened could no longer be formidable, but might yet be useful, not only as a barrier against Thracians and Celts, but as a check upon anti-Roman intrigues in Greece.

The Liberation of Greece

The second point in the settlement now effected by Rome was the liberation of the Greeks. The " freedom of Greece " was proclaimed at the Isthmian games amid a scene of wild enthusiasm,6 which reached its height when two years later (194) Flamininus withdrew his troops even from the " three fetters of Greece "—Chalcis, Demetrias, and Corinth.7 There is no reason to doubt that, in acting thus, not only Flamininus himself, but the senate and people at home were influenced, partly at any rate, by feelings of genuine sympathy with the Greeks and reverence for their past. It is equally clear that no other course was open to them. For Rome to have annexed Greece, as she had annexed Sicily and Spain, would have been a flagrant violation of the pledges she had repeatedly given both before and during the war; the attempt would have excited the fiercest opposition, and would probably have thrown the Asiatic as well as the European Greeks into the arms of Antiochus. But a friendly and independent Greece would be at once a check on Macedon, a barrier against aggression from the East, and a promising field for Roman commerce. Nor while liberating the Greeks did Rome abstain from such arrangements as seemed necessary to secure the predominance of her own influence. In the Peloponnese, for instance, the Achaeans were rewarded by considerable accessions of territory; and it is possible that the Greek states, as allies of Rome, were expected to refrain from war upon each other without her consent. The failure of the policy, after all, was due to the impracticability of the Greeks, and the intensity of their civic and tribal feuds. To suppose as some have done that Rome intended it to fail is to attribute to the statesmen of the generation of Scipio and Flamininus even more than the cynicism of the time of L. Mummius.

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

Antiochus III. of Syria, Philip's accomplice in the proposed partition of the dominions of their
common rival, Egypt, returned from the conquest of Coele-Syria (198) to learn first of all that Philip was hard pressed by the Romans, and shortly afterwards that he had been decisively beaten at Cynoscephalae. It was already too late to assist his former ally, but Antiochus resolved at any rate to lose no time in securing for himself the possessions of the Ptolemies in Asia Minor and in eastern Thrace, which Philip had claimed, and which Rome now pronounced free and independent. In 197-196 he overran Asia Minor and crossed into Thrace. But Antiochus was pleasure-loving, irresolute, and above all no general, and it was not until 192 that the urgent entreaties of the Aetolians, and the withdrawal of the Roman troops from Greece, nerved him to the decisive step of crossing the iEgean; and even then the force he took with him was so small as to show that he completely failed to appreciate the nature of the task before him. At Rome the prospect of a conflict with Antiochus excited great anxiety, and it was not until every resource of diplomacy had been exhausted that war was declared.11 At a distance, indeed, Antiochus, the great king, the lord of all the forces of Asia, seemed an infinitely more formidable opponent than their better known neighbour Philip, and a war against the vaguely known powers of the East a far more serious matter than a campaign in Thessaly. War, however, was unavoidable, unless Rome was to desert her Greek allies, and allow Antiochus to advance unopposed to the coasts of the Adriatic. And the war had no sooner commenced than the real weakness which lay behind the magnificent pretensions of the " king of kings" was revealed.

Had Antiochus acted with energy when in 192 he landed in Greece, he might have won the day before the Roman legions appeared. As it was, in spite of the warnings of Hannibal,12 who was now in his camp, and of the Aetolians, he frittered away valuable time between his pleasures at Chalcis and useless attacks on petty Thessalian towns. In 191 Glabrio landed at the head of an imposing force; and a single battle at Thermopylae broke the courage of Antiochus, who hastily recrossed the sea to Ephesus, leaving his Aetolian allies to their fate. But Rome could not pause here. The safety of her faithful allies, the Pergamenes and Rhodians, and of the Greek cities in Asia Minor, as well as the necessity of chastising Antiochus, demanded an invasion of Asia. A Roman fleet had already (191) crossed the Aegean, and in concert with the fleets of Pergamum and Rhodes worsted the navy of Antiochus. In 190 the new consul L. Scipio, accompanied by his famous brother, the conqueror of Africa, led the Roman legions for the first time into Asia. At Magnesia, near Mount Sipylus in Lydia, he met and defeated the motley and ill-disciplined hosts of the great king. For the first time the West, under Roman leadership, successfully encountered the forces of the East, and the struggle began which lasted far on into the days of the emperors.

Settlement of Western Asia

The terms of the peace which followed the victory at Magnesia tell their own story clearly enough. There is no question, any more than in Greece, of annexation; the main object in view is that of securing the predominance of Roman interests and influence throughout the peninsula of Asia Minor, and removing to a safe distance the only Eastern power which could be considered dangerous. The line of the Halys and the Taurus range, the natural boundary of the peninsula east-ward, was established as the boundary between Antiochus and the kingdoms, cities, and peoples now enrolled as the allies and friends of Rome. This line Antiochus was forbidden to cross ; nor was he to send ships of war farther west than Cape Sarpedon in Cilicia. Immediately to the west of this frontier lay the small states of Bithynia and Paphlagonia and the immigrant Celtic Galatae, and these frontier states, now the allies of Rome, served as a second line of defence against attacks from the east. The area lying between these " buffer states" and the Aegean was organized by Rome in such a way as should at once reward the fidelity of her allies and secure both her own paramount authority and safety from foreign attack. Pergamum and Rhodes were so strengthened—the former by the gift of the Chersonese, Lycaonia, Phrygia, Mysia, and Lydia, the latter by that of Lycia and Caria—as not only amply to reward their loyalty, but to constitute them effective props of Roman interests and effective barriers alike against Thracian and Celtic raids in the north and against aggression by Syria in the south. Lastly, the Greek cities on the coast, except those already tributary to Pergamum, were declared free, and established as independent allies of Rome.

In a space of little over eleven years (200-189) Rome had broken the power of Alexander's successors and established throughout the eastern Mediterranean a Roman protectorate. It remained to be seen whether this protectorate could be maintained, or whether Rome would be driven to that policy of annexation wdiich she had adopted from the first in Sicily and Spain.

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

It was in the western half of the protectorate in European Greece that the first steps in the direction of annexation were taken. The enthusiasm provoked by the liberation of the Greeks had died away, and its place had been taken by feelings of dissatisfied ambition or sullen resentment. Internecine feuds and economic distress had brought many parts of Greece to the verge of anarchy, and, above all, the very foundations of the settlement effected in 197 were threatened by the reviving power and aspirations of Macedon. Loyally as Philip had aided Rome in the war with Antiochus, the peace of Magnesia brought him nothing but fresh humiliation. He was forced to abandon all hopes of recovering Thessaly, and he had the mortification to see the hated king of Pergamum installed almost on his borders as master of the Thracian Chersonese. Resistance at the time was unavailing, but from 189 until his death (179) he laboured patiently and quietly to increase the internal resources of his own kingdom, and to foment, by dexterous intrigue, feelings of hostility to Rome among his Greek and barbarian neighbours. His successor, Perseus, his son by a left-handed alliance, continued his father's work. He made friends among the Illyrian and Thracian princes, connected himself by marriage with Antiochus IV. of Syria and with Prusias of Bithynia, and, among the Greek peoples, strove, not without success, to revive the memories of the past glories of Greece under the Macedonian leadership of the great Alexander.4 The senate could no longer hesitate. They were well aware of the restlessness and discontent in Greece; and after hearing from Eumenes of Pergamum, and from their own officers, all details of Perseus's intrigues and preparations they declared war.5 The struggle, in spite of Perseus's courage and the incapacity at the outset of the Roman commanders, was short and decisive. The sympathy of the Greeks with Perseus, which had been encouraged by the hitherto passive attitude assumed by Rome, instantly evaporated on the news that the Roman legions were on their way to Greece. No assistance came from Prusias or Antiochus, and Perseus's only allies were the Thracian king Cotys and the Illyrian Genthius. The victory gained by L. Aemilius Paulus at Pydna (168) ended the war.6 Perseus became the prisoner of Rome, and as such died in Italy a few years later.7 Rome had begun the war with the fixed resolution no longer of crippling but of destroying the Macedonian state. Perseus's repeated proposals for peace during the war had been rejected; and his defeat was followed by the final extinction of the kingdom of Philip and Alexander.8 Macedonia, though it ceased to exist as a single state, was not definitely constituted a Roman province.9 On the contrary, the mistake was made of introducing some of the main principles of the provincial system—taxation, disarmament, and the isolation of the separate communities— without the addition of the element most essential for the maintenance of order—that of a resident Roman governor. The four petty republics now created were each autonomous, and each separated from the rest by the prohibition of commercium and connubium, but no central controlling authority was substituted for that of the Macedonian king. The inevitable result was confusion and disorder, resulting finally (149-146) in the attempt of a pretender, Andriscus, who claimed to be a son of Perseus, to resuscitate the ancient monarchy.10

Macedonia a Roman Province

On his defeat in 146 the senate hesitated no longer, and Macedonia became a Roman province, with a Roman magistrate at its head.11

Affairs in Greece

The results of the protectorate in Greece, if less dangerous to Roman supremacy, were quite as unfavourable to the maintenance of order. But from 189 to the defeat of Perseus in 167, no formal change of importance in the status of the Greek states was made by Rome. The senate, though forced year after year to listen to the mutual recriminations and complaints of rival communities and factions, contented itself as a rule with intervening just enough to remind the Greeks that their freedom was limited by its own paramount authority, and to prevent any single state or confederacy from raising itself too far above the level of general weakness which it was the interest of Rome to maintain. After the victory at Pydna, however, the sympathy shown for Perseus, exaggerated as it seems to have been by the interested representations of the Romanizing factions in the various states, was made the pretext for a more emphatic assertion of Roman ascendency. All those suspected of Macedonian leanings were removed to Italy, as hostages for the loyalty of their several communities, and the real motive for the step was made clear by the exceptionally severe treatment of the Achaeans, whose loyalty was not really doubtful, but whose growing power in the Peloponnese and growing independence of language had awakened alarm at Rome. A thousand of their leading men, among them the historian Polybius, were carried off to Italy (see POLYBIUS). In Aetolia the Romans connived at the massacre by their so-called friends of 500 of the opposite party. Acarnania was weakened by the loss of Leucas, while Athens was rewarded for her unambitious loyalty by the gift of Delos and Samos.

Settlement of Greece (146 B.C.)

But this somewhat violent experiment only answered for a time. In 148 the Achasans rashly persisted, in spite of warnings, in attempting to compel Sparta by force of arms to submit to the league. When threatened by Rome with the loss of all that they had gained since Cynoscephalas, they madly rushed into war. They were easily defeated, and a " commission of ten," under the presidency of L. Mummius, was appointed by the senate thoroughly to resettle the affairs of Greece. Corinth, by orders of the senate, was burnt to the ground, and its territory confiscated. Thebes and Chalcis were destroyed, and the walls of all towns which had shared in the last desperate outbreak were razed to the ground. All the existing confederacies were dissolved; no "commercium" was allowed between one community and another. Everywhere an aristocratic type of constitution, according to the invariable Roman practice, was established, and the payment of a tribute imposed. Into Greece, as into Macedonia in 167, the now familiar features of the provincial system were introduced—disarmament, isolation, and taxation. The Greeks were still nominally free, and no separate province with a governor of its own was established, but the needed central control was provided by assigning to the neighbouring governor of Macedonia a general supervision over the affairs of Greece. From the Adriatic to the Aegean, and as far north as the river Drilo and Mount Scardus, the whole peninsula was now under direct Roman rule.

Roman Protectorate in Asia

Beyond the Aegean the Roman protectorate worked no better than in Macedonia and Greece, and the demoralizing recriminations, quarrels, and disorders which flourished under its shadow were aggravated by its longer duration, and by the still more selfish view taken by Rome of the responsibilities connected with it. At one period indeed, after the battle of Pydna, it seemed as if the more vigorous, if harsh, system then initiated in Macedon and Greece was to be adopted farther east also. The levelling policy pursued towards Macedon and the Achasan s was applied with less justice to Rome's two faithful and favoured allies, Rhodes and Pergamum. The former had rendered themselves obnoxious to Rome by their independent tone, and still more by their power and commercial prosperity. On a charge of complicity with Perseus they were threatened with war, and though this danger was averted they were forced to exchange their equal alliance with Rome for one which placed them in close dependence upon her, and to resign the lucrative possessions in Lycia and Caria given them in 189. Finally, their commercial prosperity was ruined by the establishment of a free port at Delos,8 and by the short-sighted acquiescence of Rome in the raids of the Cretan pirates. With Eumenes of Pergamum no other fault could be found than that he was strong and successful; but this was enough. His brother Attalus was invited, but in vain, to become his rival. His turbulent neighbours, the Galatce, were encouraged to harass him by raids. Pamphylia was declared independent, and favours were heaped upon Prusias of Bithynia. These and other annoyances and humiliations had the desired effect. Eumenes and his two successors—his brother and son, Attalus II. and Attalus III.—contrived indeed by studious humility and dexterous flattery to retain their thrones, but Pergamum ceased to be a powerful state, and its weakness, added to that of Rhodes, increased the prevalent disorder in Asia Minor. During the same period we have other indications of a temporary activity on the part of Rome. The frontier of the protectorate was pushed forward to the confines of Armenia and to the upper Euphrates by alliances with the kings of Pontus and Cappadocia beyond the Halys. In Syria, on the death of Antiochus Epiphanes (164), Rome intervened to place a minor, Antiochus Eupator, on the throne, under Roman guardianship.9 In 168 Egypt formally acknowledged the suzerainty of Rome,10 and in 163 the senate, in the exercise of this new authority, restored Ptolemy Philometor to his throne, but at the same time weakened his position by handing over Cyrene and Cyprus to his brother Euergetes.11

But this display of energy was short-lived. From the death of Eumenes in 159 down to 133 Rome, secure in the absence of any formidable power in the East, and busy with affairs in Macedonia, Africa, and Spain, relapsed into an inactivity the disastrous results of which revealed themselves in the next period, in the rise of Mithradates of Pontus, the spread of Cretan and Cilician piracy, and the advance of Parthia. To the next period also belongs the conversion, on the death of Attalus III., of the kingdom of Pergamum into the Roman province of Asia.

Both the western and eastern Mediterranean now acknowledged the suzerainty of Rome, but her relations with the two were from the first different. The West fell to her as the prize of victory over Carthage, and, the Carthaginian power broken, there was no hindrance to the immediate establishment in Sicily, Sardinia, Spain, and finally in Africa, of direct Roman rule. To the majority, moreover, of her Western subjects she brought a civilization as well as a government of a higher type than any before known to them. And so in the West she not only formed provinces but created a new and wider Roman world. To the east, on the contrary, she came as the liberator of the Greeks ; and it was only slowly that in this part of the empire her provincial system made way. In the East, moreover, the older civilization she found there obstinately held its ground. Her proconsuls governed and her legions protected the Greek communities, but to the last the East remained in language, manners, and thought Greek and not Roman.


5 Egypt had supplied corn to Italy during the Second Punic War (Polyb., ix. 44).
6 Polyb., iii. 2, xv. 20 ; Livy, xxxi. 14. 7 Livy, xxxiii. 19.

1 Livy, xxxi. 6, 7. 2 Livy, xxxiii. 3. 3 lb., 17.
Polyb., xviii. 44-47 ; Livy, xxxiii. 30-34.
Polyb., xviii. 37. 6 Livy, xxxiii. 32. 33. 7 Livy, xxxiv. 48-52.
For the conflicting views of moderns on the acticn of Rome, see Mommsen, R. G., i. 718, and on the other side Ihne, R. G., iii. 52-63, and C. Peter, Studien zur Rom. Gesch., Halle, 1863, pp. 158 sq.
Livy, xxxiii. 38 ; Polyb., xviii. 50. 10 Livy, xxxv. 43.
11 Livy, xxxv. 20, xxxvi. i. 12 Livy, xxxvi. 11.

Livy (xxxvii. 40) describes the composition of Antiochus's army.
Livy, xxxvii. 55, xxxviii. 38 ; Polyb., xxi. 17.
Livy, xxxix. 24 sq.

4 Livy, xlii. 5. 5 Livy, xlii. 19, 36.
6 Livy, xliv. 36-41; Plut., JEm.il., 15 sq.
7 Diod., xxxi. 9 ; Livy, xlv. 42 ; Polyb., xxxvii. 16.
8 Livy, xlv. 9.
9 Livy, xlv. 17, 29 ; Plut., Aemil, 28 ; Mommsen, R. G., i. 769 ; Ihne, R. G., iii. 216 ; Marquardt, Rom. Staatsveno., i. 160.
10 Polyb., xxxvii. 2 ; Livy, Epit., 1.
11 For the boundaries of the province, see Ptolemy, iii. 13 ; Mar-
quardt, loc. cit, 161.

Livy, xlv. 31. 2 Livy, Epit., li., lii.
3 Livy, Epit., lii.; Polyb., xl. 9 sq. ; Pausanias, vii. 16 ; Momm-sen, R. G., ii. 47 sq.
* Mommsen, loc. cit., note ; Marquardt, Rom. Staatsverto., i. 164
sq.; A. W. Zunipt, Commentt. Epigraph., ii. 153.
North of the Drilo, the former kingdom of Perseus's ally Genthius had been treated as Macedon was in 167 (Livy, xlv., 26); cf. Zippel,
Rom. Herrschaft in Illyrien, Leipsic, 1877. Epirus, which had been desolated after Pydna (Livy, xlv. 34), went with Greece; Marquardt, i. 164. 6 Mommsen, R. G., i. 771-780, ii. 50-67.
Livy, xlv. 20 ; Polyb., xxx. 5.

8 Polyb., xxxi. 7. The Rhodian harbour dues suffered severely.
9 Rome had already intervened between Syria and Egypt ; Livy, xlv. 12; Polyb., xxix. 11, xxxi. 12.
10 Livy, xiv. 13, "Regni maximum praesidium in tide populi
Romani." 11 Livy, Epit., xlvi., xlvii.

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