ROME AND MACEDON: PHILIP AGAINST THE ROMANS
PHILIP THE ALLY OF HANNIBAL
THE Hannibalic War raged not only in Italy, Spain, Sicily and Northern Africa: while fighting Carthage and her Italian, Spanish and Sicilian allies, Rome, as has already been shown, had further to defend herself against Philip V of Macedon, who also had made common cause with the Carthaginians. The war, consequently, extended into Lower Illyria and continental and insular Greece, and its repercussions were even felt in part of Asia Minor: it is this side of the great conflict which forms the subject of the present chapter.
It has been told elsewhere how, in order to be free to deal with Rome, Philip, on hearing the result of the battle of Trasimene, patched up a peace with the Aetolians at Naupactus (Sept. 217). Many have blamed him, but unjustly, for his slowness both in decision and in action after this peace. Having chastised the Illyrian Scerdilaidas, Philip returned home fully determined to profit from Hannibal’s victorious invasion of Italy by wresting Lower Illyria from the Romans, and spent the winter of 217-6 in preparations for carrying out his purpose.
Circumstances were favorable. Wholly occupied with the Carthaginians, the Senate, forgetful of Illyria, had, strangely enough, sent no force thither, even after the defeat of Scerdilaidas. Moreover, Philip saw no cause for uneasiness in the Hellenic world. In Greece his resounding successes had established his authority: he was, for the moment, the darling’ of his Allies, whom he had just defended so well; and the Aetolians, guided by the wise Agelaus and schooled by their failures, seemed resigned to remain quiet. In the East, where the peace of Antioch interrupted the secular duel between Syria and Egypt, Antiochus III, after his defeat at Raphia, had the hard task of crushing the usurper Achaeus, and held aloof from western affairs; besides, he had no conceivable reason for hostility towards Philip. Victory won, the imbellis Ptolemy Philopator was resuming the indolent life of a mystic, pleasure loving dilettante, which was shortly to be disturbed by a first rebellion, already brewing, of the Egyptians who had been imprudently enlisted. His all-powerful vizier, Sosibius, engrossed in secretly supporting Achaeus, wished no ill to Macedonia: on the contrary, distrusting Antiochus even though vanquished, and fearing his possible revenge, he desired to engage the goodwill of Philip, to which he had a strong claim by the destruction of Cleomenes. The Egyptian mediation in 217 between Macedon and Aetolia had shown his friendliness. Amicable relations existed between Alexandria and Pella; in Boeotia, a country of especially Macedonian sympathies, Philopator and Sosibius made themselves popular by their munificence; in Crete, where Philip's influence was now predominant, Egypt was left in undisturbed possession of Itanus.
Even before the negotiations at Naupactus were ended, Philip had subdued Zacynthus, a valuable base in the Ionian Sea. He had, in fact, decided to attack by sea the Illyrian coast towns. To this end, it is said, he must first create a great navy; but money was lacking, and the enterprise would have taken time and been noised abroad: now he desired to act swiftly, unknown to the Romans, whom he considered almost invincible at sea. And, indeed, it seemed obvious that with an improvised fleet he had no chance of defeating them; a naval victory off the Ebro had just shown once more their maritime superiority. Advised by Demetrius of Pharos, he merely built a hundred of the light lembi dear to the Illyrians; if the sea remained clear of Roman ships this flotilla carrying about 6-7000 men, joined by forces sent overland, might well take by surprise, in Illyrian fashion, Apollonia and Dyrrachium. But we may presume that Philip aimed at higher game. The vision of Italy, we are told, pursued him even in his sleep. Demetrius ever pointed to it as his necessary objective; there, in fact, would be ultimately settled the fate of Illyria. For to conquer it was not enough; the Romans must be prevented from returning, coerced indeed into resigning it definitely: this was only possible after a decisive defeat of Rome by Carthage in which Philip had played a part. This consideration doubtless decided his conduct: once master of those indispensable bases, the Illyrian seaports, he would sail to Southern Italy with his flotilla increased by the lembi captured in Illyria with fresh troops on board, then intervene in the Italian war now reaching its critical stage, co-operate with Hannibal, who could not reject his help, and share in his victory. Possibly, too, haunted by the memory of Pyrrhus, he had hopes of overseas conquests, saw himself greeted as deliverer by the Hellenes of Italy who viewed Rome and Carthage with impartial hatred, and securing for himself at least a large part of Magna Graecia.
However that may be, in the early summer of 216 he passed Cape Malea with 100 lembi, his Macedonians themselves acting as rowers, and turned northward. At every port of call, at Cephallonia, at Leucas, he inquired anxiously about the Roman fleet lying in Sicilian waters. Hearing that it had not moved from Lilybaeum, he pursued his course towards Apollonia, reached the bay of Aulon, some 14 miles from the mouths of the Aotis, and anchored there. His goal was in sight. Unfortunately, Scerdilaidas had got wind of his purpose and warned the Romans, hitherto so indifferent. At his appeal, ten quinqueremes left Lilybaeum for Apollonia. Learning suddenly of their approach and not knowing their numbers, the Macedonians and Philip himself thought that the whole Roman fleet was coming to destroy them: there was a panic, excusable enough despite Polybius, and Philip gave the signal for a retreat, a disorderly flight which only ended at Cephallenia. The surprise had failed and could not be repeated; after a halt at Cephallonia, Philip returned to Macedonia (July 216).
Cephallonia was a dependency of the Aetolians, who heard immediately of Philip's misfortune and, we may be sure, rejoiced over it. The tide was turning in Aetolia, where Agelaus had lost his political ascendancy. The people were tired of a ruinous peace which closed all Greece to the profitable pillaging expeditions in which they delighted, and the anti-Macedonians were gaining ground. Philip could not view this with indifference; Aetolian hostility might seriously interfere with his new projects, and the desire to be forearmed against it partly explains his designs upon Messene of which we shall speak presently.
No sooner had Philip failed at Apollonia than Hannibal triumphed at Cannae. Philip should, it is said, have straightway concluded an alliance with him; but was there still time? Would not Philip make himself ridiculous by flying, too late, to the succor of the conqueror? Was not Rome, acknowledging defeat, about to come to terms? Uncertainty imposed caution. But by the spring of 215 the situation was clearer: Rome, whom everyone had thought broken, fought doggedly on, and, despite his miraculous success, a hard task lay before Hannibal. The moment had come for Philip to offer his assistance.
His envoys, headed by the Athenian Xenophanes, came to Hannibal’s camp during the summer. In other circumstances, Hannibal would probably not have welcomed a partner as powerful as the King of Macedon; but, at the moment, faced by unforeseen difficulties, he was bound to take account of the possible advantage to be secured by Philip’s aid. The mere existence of this new enemy might at once embarrass Rome by compelling her to divert to the East a part of her forces. A treaty of alliance was concluded of which we know the terms; Polybius has preserved the oath sworn to Xenophanes in the name of Carthage by Hannibal, the Carthaginian gerousiasts who accompanied him and all the Carthaginians serving in his army. The treaty, in its cautious drafting, reflects the situation created by the Punic victories, and recognized the primacy which Hannibal derived from them. Philip, abandoning his dreams of conquest overseas, left him to deal with Italy and confined himself to the role of a second; but his services were to be repaid by valuable advantages.
The alliance was to be permanent, offensive while the war lasted, then defensive. Philip was to act with Carthage against Rome until victory was won. He was to reinforce Hannibal’s army if Hannibal requested it, according to conditions to be agreed upon m concert. Victory won, Carthage, in treating with Rome, was to include Philip and demand that Rome should undertake never to fight against him, to abandon Corcyra, Pharos and all her possessions on the Illyrian mainland, and, moreover, to return to Demetrius his households detained in Italy since 219. The defensive alliance guaranteed the contracting parties generally against all aggression, but was aimed primarily and expressly against Rome: if, breaking the peace, attacked Carthage or Macedonia, the two allies were to help one another. Thus, at the price of co-operation for apparently a short time—the Romans seeming at least half-defeated—Macedonia would be freed from their hateful proximity and, strong m the permanent support of Carthage, need not fear a revanche. Philip and his faithful Demetrius would reign undisturbed along the Adriatic.
Hardly had Philip allied himself with Hannibal than his relations with the Achaeans became strained. He had made the alliance not only in his own name and in the name of the Macedonians, but also in that of his Greek allies; he hoped therefore for help from them, especially from the Achaeans—a legitimate hope after all he had done for them. But the Achaeans, i.e. Aratus, were egotism itself. That the Macedonian king, their unfortunately indispensable protector, should spend himself in their service was well: they owed him no return. Despite Agelaus’ warnings neither Rome nor Carthage meant anything to them; moreover, they were unwilling to strengthen Philip by contributing to his military successes. The king came into the Peloponnese and found Aratus hostile to his designs.
Then to set them further at variance, occurred the obscure “affair of Messene”. The class-war was raging there as in so many other cities: called in as arbitrator, Philip is said to have secretly incited the populace, who massacred the magistrates and 200 optimates. The victors were willing, it seems, for him to occupy Ithome—ambition apart, a golden opportunity. Aetolia, indeed, as we have seen, caused Philip anxiety. During his possible absence in Italy—for if Hannibal asked him for troops, he naturally had it in mind to command in person—might not the Aetolians invade the Peloponnese and take revenge upon the Achaeans? By occupying Ithome, he would anticipate this danger, hold in check Elis and Sparta, Aetolia s friends, and thereby paralyze Aetolia itself. Meanwhile Aratus and his son had hastened to Messene on the heels of Philip, intending to counter the democratic victory. In their eyes the city, always coveted by Achaea, as good as belonged to her; to see Philip intriguing, playing the demagogue, apparently seeking to establish himself in Messene, filled them with anger: he was already too powerful in the Peloponnese. The younger Aratus overwhelmed him with reproaches. Then came the famous scene at Ithome. Having gone there to offer sacrifice with Aratus and Demetrius of Pharos, Philip put to them the momentous question: was he to keep the fortress? Demetrius encouraged him by the celebrated metaphor: to possess Ithome, while already holding Acrocorinth, would be to “hold the bull—the Peloponnese—by both horns”. Aratus countered with a vehement homily. Philip yielded, but henceforth the two men hated one another. Sulky and peevish, Aratus left the king and next year refused point blank to accompany him into Illyria.
From this moment dates Philip's “change of heart” (metabole) so branded by Polybius—his transformation from an exemplary, amiable, beloved prince, into a hateful tyrant. No doubt, irritated by opposition, Philip gave rein to his temper; the wild, Epirote side of his nature showed itself—the passionate lack of self-control which increased with years; and Demetrius, succeeding to Aratus, lost influence, urged him to violent courses. But to the Achaeans his unforgivable sin was to be himself, and no longer merely the champion of their League. The “modest stripling”, whom Aratus thought he held in leading-strings, dared to show himself king of Macedonia, with a will and policy of his own: this was his unpardonable change. However violent and even cruel he might be, he would still have pleased the Achaeans had he used his violence and cruelty in their service.
Philip and Hannibal hoped to keep their treaty secret; the Romans suspected nothing and had even recalled from Apollonia the ten quinquerremes sent thither from Lilybaeum. But the gods watched over Rome. Xenophanes, his companions, and the Carthaginians commissioned to receive Philip’s oath were captured as they left Italy. In consequence, Philip had to send a second embassy to Hannibal, which caused a vexatious delay; and the Senate, at long last discovering the new danger which threatened Rome, strove to avert it. The praetor M. Valerius Laevinus, commanding the army at Tarentum, was ordered to keep watch upon Philip with some 50 warships carrying troops; if Philip became too threatening, he was to cross to Illyria.
Most probably (though direct proof is lacking) the agreement about Macedonian co-operation in Italy, which the treaty had envisaged, was made by the second Macedonian embassy (? winter 215-4): for Hannibal, having for a year been reduced to comparative inactivity, had serious need of reinforcements. The agreement would of necessity fix the number and character of the troops which Philip was to send and, equally of necessity, guarantee him the help of the Carthaginian navy, without which it was from now onwards practically impossible to cross to Italy. But, without waiting for a Punic fleet, Philip, so often accused of indecision, showed in the summer of 214 astonishing enterprise. In his haste to secure the base needed for his overseas expedition, although the Roman quinqueremes were within striking distance, he boldly repeated with 120 lembi his venture of 216, reached again the bay of Aulon, seized Oricus, sailed up the Aous and prepared to besiege Apollonia—a fortunate beginning which did not last. Laevinus, called on for help, hurried to Illyria, retook Oricus, blockaded the mouths of the Aolis, and threw into Apollonia reinforcements which, with the citizens, surprised and sacked the Macedonian camp. The affair was certainly less serious than the Roman annalists make out, but Philip’s situation was becoming none the less critical; cut off from the sea, not knowing the strength of the Roman forces, threatened by the Illyrian clients of Rome whom Laevinus called to arms against him, he had to retire overland to Macedonia after burning his lembi. The worst was that Laevinus established himself permanently in the Illyrian seaports, holding the coast. To dislodge him Philip needed the Punic fleet; till it arrived he could only act vigorously in the interior of Illyria against the Romans and their local allies, and this he did,
THE ROMANS IN ALLIANCE WITH AETOLIA
But, first, determined to strengthen his position in the Peloponnese, the king tried to repeat with better success, probably in the autumn of 214, his attempt on Messene. Again he failed. Little is known of this adventure, but two facts are certain, Demetrius of Pharos was sent against the city, repulsed, and killed, and Philip in futile anger ravaged Messenian territory. The consequences of this brutal attack upon an allied state were deplorable; it roused general indignation in Greece, threw into the arms of Aetolia the Messenians who, rich and poor alike, seceded from the Hellenic League, and completed the rupture between Aratus and his party, and Philip. Shortly afterwards (213) Aratus died, melancholy, consumed with bitterness, believing that Philip had poisoned him. The real poison which caused his death was his cruel disillusionment together with the discovery of the king’s intrigue with his daughter-in-law, Polycrateia of Argos, who soon followed her lover to Macedon and was probably the mother of Perseus.
Philip had blundered in the Peloponnese; in Illyria, whither he returned in 213, he acted with skill and energy. Apollonia and Dyrrhachium, strongly held by Laevinus and open to relief by sea, were beyond his reach; but he invaded Roman territory, subdued the Atintanes and the Parthini, and took Dimale and other towns: the Romans held no more than the extreme fringe of Illyria. Farther north he did even better, drove back Scerdilaidas, wrested from him part of his subjects, finally captured Lissus and its citadel, reputed, impregnable (? autumn 213). By this great stroke, which dismayed the Illyrians, he regained access to the sea; henceforth the Carthaginian admirals would know where to join hands with him.
During the year 212, indeed, Carthage was making a great naval effort: a powerful fleet, constantly reinforced, was attempting to save Syracuse, hard pressed by the Romans. Whether successful or not, it might, unless defeated by Marcellus fleet, reach Lissus, join Philip, help him to wrest Apollonia and Dyrrhachium from Laevinus, destroy or scatter the Roman squadron and, finally, bring Philip to Tarentum, which Hannibal had recently captured. Faced by this danger, prudence urged the Romans to practice the Hellenic, anti-Macedonian policy, till then wholly neglected, which was the logical consequence of their Illyrian expeditions, stir up against Philip a war in Greece which would keep him at home. Laevinus, though somewhat late, came to realize this; in 212 he conferred secretly with some Aetolian leaders, offered them an offensive alliance against Philip and the help of a Roman squadron, and found them ready to listen.
Dorimachus and Scopas of Trichonium, authors of the War of the Allies, dominated the League at the moment; they burned for revenge on Philip and his allies, and judged the time propitious. The war between Philip and Rome, Aratus’ death and the madness of his son, which left Achaea leaderless, the recent alliance of Messene and Aetolia, as a result of which the whole non-Achaean Peloponnese was now on the Aetolian side, all combined to make the opportunity favourable. Moreover, hopeful news came from Asia. Great things had happened there, Achaeus revolt was crushed. In 216/5 Antiochus, allied with Attalus of Pergamum, had blockaded the usurper in Sardes; in 214 he had surprised the town, which the Aetolian mercenaries, surreptitiously sent by Sosibius, had been unable to relieve; Achaeus, who had taken refuge in the unscalable acropolis, had been betrayed by a Cretan, an agent of Sosibius, charged to arrange his escape. Antiochus, merciless to rebels, had ordered him to be mutilated, beheaded, and crucified in an ass’s skin; shortly afterwards his last companions and his wife, Laodice, surrendered. In 213 Asia Minor was pacified: Antiochus, leaving behind as satrap of Lydia Zeuxis, one of his most trustworthy servants, was about to depart for Armenia; so Attalus was free to leave his kingdom and cross into Europe. This meant much to the Aetolians, since for some ten years he had been their friend and even their hope-for future any against Philip.
After the collapse of his short-lived Asiatic empire, Attalus, as anxious as ever to extend his dominions, had, indeed, turned his ambitions westward. He aspired, it seems, to dominate the Aegean, then masterless, and to found a maritime empire stretching along the Islands, including Euboea, to Greece itself. To this end he had created a small but fine navy. But this design would bring him into conflict with Macedonia: hence his understanding with the Aetolians. Even if he had not already concluded a formal alliance with them, they might certainly count on him if they again went to war with Philip. And now, in addition, they would have the help of the Roman navy: they could hesitate no longer. They attributed, and not without some reason, Philip's successes in the previous war to his command of the sea; this time, the sea would belong to the combined Roman and Pergamene fleets. Kept busy repelling their landings, Philip would be forced to leave the Aetolians and their Greek allies a free held on land; his defeat was therefore certain: so reasoned the war party in Aetolia, carried away by an overweening optimism and followed by almost the whole nation.
About the end of September 212, Laevinus visited Aetolia with his fleet—the first Roman fleet seen in the harbours of Greece—and in a federal assembly fired Aetolian enthusiasm, making abundant promises guaranteed by Dorimachus and Scopas, the latter just elected General. An agreement was drawn up, Greek rather than Roman in form, wherein the contracting parties divided the labors and the profits of the war. The Aetolians, who were to take the field immediately, were to operate by land; the Romans at sea with at least 25 quinqueremes. To the former would fall towns and territory conquered in all directions from the Aetolian frontiers, as far north as Corcyra; to the latter the booty, men and goods: they would leave nothing but the bare ground, roofs and walls. In particular the Romans were to aid the Aetolians to conquer Acarnania. Neither party were to make a separate peace with Philip; further, Rome would forbid him ever to attack the Aetolians and their allies, thus taking them under her permanent protection. Elis, Messene, Sparta and Attalus were free to join the alliance on the Aetolian side, Scerdilaidas and his son and co-regent Pleuratus on the Roman.
Such was the first alliance—shameful enough for both parties—which Rome formed with a Greek people. Laevinus was its author and, in arranging it, showed his grasp of the situation. It was, indeed, a very good stroke of business; its effect was not merely to immobilize Philip in Greece but also to allow Rome to recall to Italy half the ships sent to Illyria in 214, and to lay upon her new allies a large share of the burden of war against Macedon, ensuring for herself abundant booty in return for limited naval co-operation. Nevertheless, it is significant that the Senate took two years to ratify it: apparently Roman intervention in Greece was opposed by many senators who disliked the idea of committing Rome to an Eastern policy. But as the agreement came into effect immediately, operations were not thereby delayed. In fact, they were to be directed less against Macedonia itself, which could not easily be attacked, than against her Greek allies: it was indeed at their expense, beginning with the Acarnanians, that Aetolia intended to enlarge her dominions, and they it was whom she cynically exposed to the fierce rapacity of Rome. Thus the Macedonicum bellum became a Roman-Greek war: Rome, through her compact with Aetolia, was to treat mercilessly, as enemies, Greeks whom she could charge with no hostile act, and whose only crime was to be allies, and, till then ineffective allies, of Philip. To his lasting honor Philip shouldered the heavy task of defending them; he resolved to show that he was protector of Hellas as well as king of Macedon. Foreseeing constant, unavoidable absences from his kingdom, he first strengthened himself against the neighboring barbarians. With the amazing swiftness of movement which he had already shown during the War of the Allies, after making a demonstration against Oricus and Apollonia, he ravaged the Illyrian borders, took Sintia from the Dardanians, thus closing the gateway into Macedonia, and their capital, Iamphorynna, from the Thracian Maedi, who were especially formidable (autumn 2i2). Knowing he was far away, Scopas set out against the Acarnanians, who sent their non-combatants, old men, women and children into safety in Epirus, and swore an heroic oath to conquer or die. But, at Philip’s approach, the Aetolians retreated hastily. However, Laevinus, before returning to Corcyra, had served their cause; he had taken Oeniadae and Nasus from the Acarnanians, Zacynthus (except the acropolis) from Philip, and he handed these over to Aetolia. At the very outset three things were clear: Philip’s zeal in succoring his allies, his superiority on land, his impotence at sea.
THE ROMANS IN GREECE
For this impotence there was seemingly an obvious remedy: Carthaginian intervention. Bomilcar’s huge fleet, 130 sail strong, having refused Marcellus’ challenge off Cape Pachynus was intact; it might well detach a squadron for Greece. This was Philip’s ever-recurring but ever-disappointed hope: disappointed first in 211 and 210. The Carthaginians did not appear in either year; yet they would only have had to deal with the 25 Roman quinqueremes. Indeed, although Attalus, as appears certain, immediately joined the anti-Macedonian coalition and promptly sent to the Aetolians auxiliaries whom they used sometimes to garrison their towns, yet, for whatever reasons, he and his fleet tarried in Asia, so that only the Roman commanders operated by sea. But the troops on board their modest squadron were few, and they were perhaps disinclined to risk them for love of Aetolia; hence the war at sea was prosecuted with little energy; it presumably consisted mainly in predatory raids on the Greek coasts which profited the Romans alone. Our information is indeed regrettably scanty; Polybius for the most part fails us, and Livy replaces him to a very inadequate degree, but his exceeding brevity as to Roman operations implies that they were not important. The propraetor Laevinus, who had hastened to take Oeniadae in order to arouse among the Aetolians enthusiasm for the war, did not trouble to conquer the rest of Acarnania for them; in all probability the sole conquest of the coalition in 211 was Anticyra in Phocis, which Laevinus with the Aetolian General Scopas captured in a few days and handed over to Aetolia after enslaving the inhabitants—a conquest which, seemingly, was soon lost. In the late summer the consul P. Sulpicius Galba succeeded Laevinus; but the naval warfare went little better. In spring 210 it did not prevent Philip from taking the initiative in the land operations and vigorously attacking the Aetolians. Resuming the task begun in 217 with the taking of Thebes, he endeavored to expel them from Phthiotic Achaea so as to re-open the roads into Central Greece. His chief operation was the excellently conducted siege of Echinus, which the General Dorimachus, Scopas successor, and Sulpicius attempted to relieve. Sulpicius could not, strange to say, prevent the provisioning of the besiegers by sea; this first expedition of the Roman navy to the Aegean was a pitiful failure. Echinus capitulated; in the same campaign, the Aetolians also lost in Phthiotic Achaea Pteleum and Larissa Cremaste.
The war upon which they had embarked with such high hopes brought them painful disappointment; they considered that the Romans gave them little aid, and they seem to have addressed reproaches to them on this subject. Yet they had in other directions grounds for satisfaction. The coalition was growing. Elis and Messene had joined it at once; Sparta, at first hesitating, followed them in 210 despite the efforts of the Acarnanians who, on Philip’s behalf, urged them to remain neutral. A successful soldier whose antecedents are unknown to us, the tyrant Machanidas, supported by a strong body of mercenaries, was then governing Sparta, as guardian of Pelops, son of Lycurgus who had died at some prior, but uncertain, date. Naturally it was against the Achaeans, already at war with Elis and Messene, that this dangerous opponent would act; their army was feeble and their generals were incompetent; resistance was impossible. Thus a serious problem faced Philip, who would have the burden of protecting them, yet could not act by sea. Moreover, Attalus’ arrival was now certain. Sulpicius, returning from Echinus, had taken Aegina and handed it over to the Aetolians; but as they had no fleet they did not know what to do with the island, so Attalus bought it from them for the trifling sum of 30 talents, thus acquiring in the heart of the Greek waters an incomparable naval base. He obviously added to the 30 talents a promise of immediate maritime co-operation; the Aetolians, with his consent, voted him the honorific title of strategos autokrator for the year 209 (end of September 210).
Philip naturally counted upon the Carthaginians to oppose the Pergamene fleet; he also sought help from Prusias of Bithynia, the old rival of Attalus, who promised him ships. With the entry of new combatants—Machanidas, Attalus, Prusias—this detestable war which had opened Greece to western barbarians, threatened far-reaching developments. The Hellenic East was widely and deeply stirred. The Romans showed all the inhumanity which the Greeks of Magna Graecia and Sicily already knew so well: the slavery they imposed upon conquered populations, the sack of the illustrious Aegina, where Sulpicius had at first not allowed the citizens to ransom themselves,—all excited indignation. Some neutrals, moved also, truth to say, by self-interest, endeavored to break the Roman-Aetolian alliance by reconciling Aetolia with Philip: they were (as in 217) Rhodes, whose commerce was disturbed by any war, Chios, accustomed to act in concert with Rhodes, and finally Egypt. For sixty years she had maintained friendly intercourse with Rome, which had lately become still closer since Philopator had authorized the Romans, who were in great straits for supplies, to come to Egypt for corn (? 210); but this by no means restrained Sosibius, He had reasons for furthering Philip's interests: fearing Antiochus more since the destruction of Achaeus, he was planning a Macedonian alliance against him—a bold novelty in Egyptian policy; and he had also another motive for seeking to bring the war in Greece to an end, namely that it prevented the Egyptian government from raising there the mercenaries which it might require either against the natives who were in revolt or against Antiochus. In the spring of 209 Alexandrian, Rhodian and Chian envoys arrived in Greece; for years they were to labor to reconcile Philip and Aetolia, thereby definitely opposing Roman policy. The Athenians, Ptolemy’s protégés, peace-loving on principle and by necessity, followed their example. This conduct on the part of Egypt, Rhodes and Athens is deserving of notice, since it is usual wrongly to represent these three states as having been from the earliest times the devoted, if not subservient, friends of Rome.
That spring, Philip received a not unexpected appeal from the Achaeans, whose position, caught between Machanidas and the Aetolians, who were crossing the strait at Rhium in large numbers, was becoming untenable. He hastened to their defence. The Aetolian army, increased by Roman and Pergamene auxiliaries, attempted to bar his way; but after suffering two defeats, it was driven back into Lamia with the loss of 1000 men. At this point a faint hope of peace appeared. Neutral ambassadors came to Philip at Phalara, the port of Lamia; with them was Amynander, king of the Athamanians, whom the Aetolians, discouraged by their double defeat, had deputed to act as peace-maker. An armistice was concluded; negotiations were to be opened at Aegium, where Philip was going to preside over the Achaean assembly. But, meanwhile, Sulpicius, tardily enough, arrived at Naupactus, and, more important still, Attalus, bringing 35 warships, landed at Aegina. The Aetolians took heart again; at Aegium, prompted by Sulpicius, they submitted impossible conditions; Philip had to break off negotiations, calling his allies to witness that the rupture was forced upon him (June 209). The peace he desired eluded him. He had another disappointment: a Punic squadron came from Tarentum to Corcyra, but dared advance no farther, and the ships of Bithynia also apparently failed to arrive.
In Achaea, at least, where his presence brought security, Philip scored a political success: having quarreled with the upper classes he courted and won popular sympathy. At Argos, the legendary cradle of the Macedonian monarchy, after the Nemean Games, at which he had wished to preside, he openly put off his royal trappings, mingling with the crowd as one of themselves. The moderate men detested him the more and thought he was playing the tyrant; they were also, and not without reason, indignant at the unbridled effrontery of his gallantries which were bringing dishonor upon the noblest families, but he conquered the hearts of the people. A slight reverse inflicted upon the Romans, who had landed near Sicyon, an expedition against Elis in conjunction with the Achaean army, also endeared him to them. Though he failed to take Elis and nearly met his death being surprised by the Romans who had disembarked secretly, yet he gathered in the country round an immense booty which his allies enjoyed, and this, too, made him beloved. But his destiny condemned him to perpetual motion; the threat of a Dardanian invasion, rendered easy by the treachery of the governor of Lychnidus who had betrayed to a rebel that border stronghold, recalled him to Macedonia. Leaving troops to defend Achaea, he hurried in ten marches across Boeotia and Euboea from Dyme to Demetrias. The Dardanians, emboldened by a false rumor of his death, were already raiding Orestis.
Sulpicius wintered (209-8) at Aegina to discuss concerted action with Attalus. Their arrangement about war-gains closely resembled Laevinus’ compact with Aetolia: the Romans took the booty (in which, however, Attalus might share), the king, the conquered cities. Since Attalus was planning conquests on the east coast of Greece and among the Islands, the maritime war, waged till then by the Romans chiefly in the Ionian Sea and the Corinthian Gulf, would be transferred to the Aegean.
The junction of the Roman and Pergamene fleets roused the fighting spirit of all Philip’s enemies; the campaign of 208, which marked the crucial moment of the war, promised badly for him and his allies. The Aetolians had fortified Thermopylae to prevent his progress farther south; the Illyrians and the Maedi were preparing, it was said, an invasion of Macedonia, Machanidas an attack on Argos. In the early summer Attalus and Sulpicius, having joined forces, sailed east with 60 warships; terror reigned along the Greek coasts. In this crisis Philip, with high courage, promised help to his distracted allies, whose envoys hastened to implore it; sent assistance to those in greatest peril, the Euboeans, Boeotians, Photians; concentrated his army in Thessaly whence it threatened Aetolia, and remained himself at Demetrias, prepared for anything, while a system of beacons on Mt. Tisaeus signaled the operations of the hostile fleets. They achieved little. After an unsuccessful attack on Lemnos which Attalus coveted, the Allies turned and devastated Peparethus (but without taking the town), then, after conferring with the Aetolians assembled at Heraclea in Trachis, attacked Euboea. Oreus was betrayed by its governor, Chalcis held out. They then took Opus in Locris, where Attalus had a narrow escape: he was levying contributions from the wealthy men when Philip appeared, coming from Demetrias at full speed, after forcing the pass of Thermopylae and thrusting aside the Aetolians. Attalus had to flee hurriedly to his ships, and weighed anchor in great confusion. This was his inglorious farewell to Greece: Prusias, no doubt at Philip’s instigation, was invading his kingdom; he returned to Asia, abandoning Opus and Oreus (c. June 208). Sulpicius retired to Aegina and stayed there.
Resuming the land offensive, Philip then captured from the Aetohans Thronium in Locris, Tithronium and Drymaea in Phocis, but, as usual, had to break off to succor the Achaeans. He was at Elatea, conferring with neutrals arrived from Aetolia in pursuance of their pacific task, when he was called again to fight Machanidas (July 2O8) . He returned therefore to the Peloponnese; and Machanidas retreated at his approach. At Aegium, addressing the Achaeans, Philip could truly say that his enemies were as prompt to flee as he to march against them, and that they thus snatched victory from his grasp; his swift arrival, his sanguine spirit, his burning words strengthened his popularity. Yet, fearing the hostility of the ruling class, he promised the Achaeans to cede to them Heraea, bequeathed to rum by Doson, and Triphylia and Alipheira conquered by himself in the War of the Allies. After a profitable descent on the Aetolian coast carried out with their co-operation, he proudly regained Demetrias by sea, Sulpicius not attempting to bar his way.
This fourth campaign, which had seemed so full of danger, ended in his favor: he had suffered no serious loss and gained cities from the Aetolians; but it might have ended in a decisive success. The Carthaginians had again cruised in Greek waters, and even touched at Aegium. Attalus’ departure presented to them a fine chance of winning a victory over Sulpicius which would probably have decided the Aetolians to treat for peace; but without waiting for Philip, who had appointed a rendezvous at Aegium and even sent some ships, they had almost immediately retreated towards Acarnania. Despairing of Carthaginian help, Philip ordered the construction of 100 warships at Cassandreia—an undertaking which was to be indefinitely postponed owing, no doubt, to lack of money. Then, again as usual, he went to fight the Dardanians.
THE PEACE OF PHOENICE. CONCLUSION
The Romans, to make up for Attalus’ withdrawal, should surely have redoubled their activities, but they did exactly the opposite, and for two years (207—6), Livy admits that Greek affairs were neglected. Still, it may have been in the spring of 207 that Sulpicius seized Dyme, sacked it, and carried off the inhabitants; if so, it was his last exploit. He continued to guard the Illyrian coast with some vessels, but took no further part in the war: apparently, nearly all his soldiers had been recalled to Italy, Hasdrubal’s invasion, it is said, made this necessary, but we may doubt whether, even in this emergency, Rome could not spare these few men and, besides, the explanation would not hold good for 206. Much more probably, convinced at last that the Carthaginians would do nothing for Philip, especially since their defeat at sea in 208, the Senate, who had only adopted hair-heartedly Laevinus policy, lost all interest in the fighting in Greece, in spite of their agreement with Aetolia. If Philip succeeded in equipping a fleet, they would take steps to oppose him; in the meantime the Aetolians could be left to deal with him alone. Thus, by Rome's selfish, disloyal, and, moreover, unwise inaction, the war underwent a third transformation: from Roman-Macedonian, then Roman-Hellenic, it became merely Hellenic and Macedonian a second “War of the Allies”.
Henceforth Philip might count on victory, especially if he had not to succor the Achaeans. And suddenly Achaea put off her feebleness and stood forth a military power. This miracle was due to one man, Philopoemen, son of Craugis, an eminent citizen of Megalopolis. Born about 253 BC he was soon left an orphan, and was first brought up by Cleander, an exile from Mantinea, and then became the pupil of his townsmen, the academic philosophers, Ecdemus and Demophanes. Their teaching failed to broaden and elevate his narrowly definite mind or to soften the harshness of his character: he remained over-imperious, quick to anger and brutality, with a pride and egotism which might lead him to sacrifice even his patriotism to his personal hatreds. He may, however, have learnt from these devoted republicans some of that proud spirit of independence, which, added to contempt for gain and simple austerity of life, was his highest quality and steeled him to present an unyielding front, first to Cleomenes, and later to the Romans. In all else he was his own teacher: he owed his career to his own burning and steady energy directed to a single purpose and guided by a truly remarkable practical realism.
A born soldier, the passion for fame in arms filled his soul. Slightly endowed with the abilities of a statesman, in which he fell short of his model Epaminondas, he set himself to be an accomplished master of warfare and quickly attained his ambition. He brought to the task great physical endurance, trained and developed above all by the chase and rustic labor, a diligent apprenticeship in every branch of the soldier’s craft, a precocious experience acquired, in border-raids on Sparta, and the study of tactical treatises which he corrected and supplemented by practical observation of field-manoeuvres and their setting. In early days, at Sellasia, Antigonus had divined in him the promise of high generalship, but his independent spirit was deaf to the king's offers of employment, and for the next ten years, with untiring zeal, he perfected his military skill as a condottiere in Crete. He returned a famous captain, to be raised by the Achaeans to their chief military posts, and from that moment, resenting the sight of Achaea reduced to beg for Macedonian help against Sparta, he determined to enable his country to defend herself with her own forces. With lightning speed he reformed and improved the federal army, first, as Hipparch, the cavalry (210/09), then, when General (208/7), the infantry in the short space of eight months; he introduced Macedonian tactics and armament, drilled and trained his men, and showed what a real leader could do with them.
After taking Tegea (date unknown), Machanidas was marching to besiege Mantinea. Philopoemen, protected by a wide ditch, waited for him south of the town, where the plain narrowed between the last spurs of Maenalus on the south-east and the lowest slopes of Alesion to the north-west. The two armies were of almost equal strength, the Spartans having some 15,ooo, the Achaeans 15-20,000 men, Machanidas with his mercenaries broke the mercenaries and light-armed troops on the Achaean left and pursued them to Mantinea, but Philopoemen reformed and extended his line to cut off the tyrant’s retreat, and hurled back with his phalanx the Spartan phalanx as it crossed the ditch to attack him. Thus he gained the day or, better still, regained it after all seemed lost, and when Machanidas returned to aid his men, he killed him with his own hand, thus proving himself the worthy pupil of the tyrannicide philosophers. The Spartan army, completely routed, lost 4000 dead and still more prisoners; the Achaeans immediately retook Tegea and invaded and ravaged Laconia unhindered.
This battle of Mantinea is memorable for several reasons. The historian of military science notes that, at the outset of the action, Machanidas short down the Achaean phalanx with the catapults destined for the siege of Mantinea: we may call it a first (and the only) employment by the Greeks of field-artillery in a pitched battle on land. Moreover, Mantinea was the last great action in Greek history between Hellenic armies. Finally, while making the fame of Philopoemen, it covered Achaea with a paradoxical glory, she had beaten Sparta. True, this brilliant success was to have no important or lasting consequences; but, for the moment, Achaea could do without Philip.
Philip, therefore, concentrated all his efforts against the Aetolians; fearing renewed Roman intervention, he was anxious to force them to lay down their arms without delay. Yet the hope of further help from Rome prolonged their resistance. The neutrals, now joined, by Byzantium and Mitylene, preached peace to them in vain; vainly Thrasycrates of Rhodes, in a moving speech rewritten, not invented by Polybius, reproached them with their disgraceful treaty with the barbarians and pointed to Rome as the real enemy that threatened Greece. Trusting in their great ally, they continued the struggle; but Rome did nothing, and they were overwhelmed by disasters. Driven from Thessaly, they saw their own land invaded. Philip, to whom the Romans now left freedom of action even by sea, reconquering Zacynthus, handed it to Amynander in return for free passage through Athamania, thus entered Aetolia from the north and, as in 218, sacked Thermum (summer 207). In 206 the Aetolians, brought to bay, yielded at last to the exhortations of peace-makers, and resigned themselves to making a separate treaty—a defection which Rome never forgave though she had made it inevitable.
It was a costly peace for them. Though they retained Oeniadae, they lost Hestiaeotis and Thessaliotis, Dolopia, Epicnemidian, Locris, and at least the greater number of their Phocian towns. It seems, indeed, that Philip, foreseeing that the Romans would do their utmost to make them break the treaty and thinking it would be useful to show himself conciliatory, promised (without, however, any intention of keeping his engagement) to return Pharsalus to them, and if not all, at least much of his conquest in Phthiotic Achaea: Echinus, Larissa Cremaste, and even Thebes. But, even so, the Aetolians had to face a serious diminution of their federal territory. It was a rude awakening after their dream of establishing with Roman help their supremacy over Greece: Macedonia was taking a crushing revenge. The peace obviously included their Peloponnesian allies, Elis, Messene and Sparta, where Nabis, a Eurypontid, now replaced Machanidas as Pelops’ guardian. The Hellenic war was ended.
This peace, for which she was responsible, roused Rome from her lethargy. Philip, his hands free, could turn against Roman Illyria and threaten Apollonia and Dyrrhachium. The Senate considered it necessary to protect them and, by an imposing display of strength, attempt to put heart into the Aetolians, so unwisely left in the lurch. In the spring of 205, the proconsul P. Sempronius Tuditanus, Sulpicius successor, brought to Dyrrhachium 35 warships with 10,000 men and 1000 horse; and while he undertook some operations in Illyria and besieged Dimale, his lieutenant, Laetorius, sailed to Aetolia with 15 ships to add force to his arguments, and urged the Aetolians to take up arms again. But, disgusted with Roman ways, they refused to listen: Laetorius had to go back empty-handed. As nine years before Rome found herself face to face with Philip.
She immediately renounced the prosecution of the war. Not, indeed, that it was impossible, for Sempronius’ forces sufficed for a defensive until peace with Carthage—which might soon be expected—should allow a powerful offensive; but the Senate had no thought of involving Rome in a great war with Philip. To draw him from Illyria, they would again have willingly set up the Aetolians against him, giving them, at need, some assistance; but since Aetolia refused to fight, they were ready to come to terms, and had given Sempronius instructions to this effect. The proconsul refused Philip’s challenge to battle before Apollonia, then, the Epirote magistrates having offered themselves as mediators, he parleyed at Phoenice with Philip, who was equally anxious to extricate himself from the war. An agreement was quickly reached at the price of mutual concessions (autumn 205); Philip restored Parthinian territory, Dimale and other places; the Romans left him Atintania. The peace, being general, included on the Macedonian side Philip’s Greek allies and Prusias; on the Roman side, Pleuratus—we may assume that Scerdilaidas was dead—and Attalus, who had remained faithful to the Roman alliance even after the Aetolian desertion. Attalus kept Aegina, Philip most of his conquests from Pleuratus; the terms of agreement between Attalus and Prusias are unknown. The Senate and the Roman people, the latter by a unanimous vote of all the tribes, ratified the treaty at the end of 205 or the beginning of 204; Sempronius became consul, a proof of the satisfaction felt in Rome at the settlement of Macedonian affairs.
So ended the desultory, intermittent, wholly inglorious war, which first brought the Romans into prolonged contact with Greece—a war which they had neither wished nor even foreseen, which was imposed on them by the enemy, and to which they only made up their minds late, when compelled by the necessity of defending themselves; a war which was, on the whole, nothing more than a tiresome by-product of their great contest with Carthage. The results were scarcely gratifying to them. They had, indeed, gained a distant and unexpected friend—Attalus, with whom they had formed ties which became closer immediately after the peace, when an embassy headed by Laevinus went to Pergamum to seek the famous “Black stone”; but they could not foresee the extraordinary importance which this new friendship was shortly to assume. On the other hand, they had no longer any hold over Greece; they had lost their allies, who cursed them for their faithlessness as Philip’s allies did for their atrocities; and in Greece the Hellenic spirit of solidarity, at length awakened, now rose against them. Finally, Philip came out of the conflict strengthened, aggrandized, at the expense of the Illyrians, clients or allies of Rome, as well as of the Aetolians.
Certainly, if the Romans, as many have supposed, had intended to undermine the Macedonian power, and by forming a permanent, friendly Hellenic group opposed to Philip, to stir up lasting trouble for him in Greece, their disappointment would have been bitter. But they had no such far-reaching aims; otherwise, far from treating Aetolia so cavalierly, they would have carefully cultivated her alliance, which, being perpetual, gave them constant opportunities of interfering in Hellenic affairs. In fact, they had as yet no real Hellenic policy; they had entered Greece and sought allies mere, only accidentally, under pressure of circumstances, and solely to avert an imminent danger. The danger had vanished—thanks above all, it is true, to Carthaginian inaction—and they were satisfied.
They were the more content in that they had not to fear a renewal of it. At close quarters Philip had seemed less formidable than they had imagined. His troops, though excellent, were few; his fleet, not yet in being, had not left the shipyards of Cassandreia; his Greek allies were, on the whole, an embarrassment, and his barbarian neighbours constantly threatened him. Without a powerful ally he could not be dangerous, and where could he find one—a second Hannibal? It mattered little, therefore, that he had enlarged his dominions and even retained the valuable district of Atintania: alone, he could attempt nothing against Rome, and she might allow him to remain as the peace of Phoenice had left him. There is no reason to suppose that, in Roman eyes, this peace without victory was merely a truce.
There are those who blame Philip for concluding it, and maintain that, although it was too late for him to help Hannibal in Italy, the prolongation of hostilities in Illyria would have made easier the last resistance of the Carthaginians, to his and their advantage. But Philip could not have harbored the fantastic notion that the maintenance of a legion or so in Illyria would seriously weaken the Roman effort against Carthage and effectively improve the military situation of Hannibal and his country. Besides, as Carthage had done nothing for him, Philip was justified in considering only his own immediate interests. If she made a successful resistance and so secured a settlement by understanding with Rome, it was very doubtful whether, despite the terms of her alliance with Philip, she could include him within its scope. His greatest danger was to be left exposed alone to Roman vengeance: prudence accordingly impelled him to make peace before Carthage, when the Romans offered honorable terms. Doubtless it was hard for him to recognize by treaty their sovereignty over that Illyrian seaboard (even with the exception of Atintania) which he had hoped to wrest from them, and to leave in their hands the all-important bridge-heads of Dyrrhachium and Apollonia: still he had escaped lightly from his dangerous adventure. Moreover, he had new and urgent reasons for freeing himself from the Roman conflict: the East now occupied his thoughts more than the West. Events of great moment had happened; others were about to happen, of which he did not intend to remain a mere spectator—Antiochus claimed his attention.