ROME AND THE HELLENISTIC STATES (188-146)
THE GENERAL CHARACTER OF ROMAN POLICY
THE preceding chapter has described the Roman settlement with the Macedonian monarchy; it remains to consider Roman policy towards the other states of the Hellenistic world during the period which begins with the Peace of Apamea and ends with the destruction of the Achaean League. For the second half of this period we are very ill-informed. Neither the fragments of Polybius nor the epitomes of those who derived from him give us the means of reconstructing his criticism of the general course of Roman policy. And even where we possess material from Polybius, we have to remember that he has the disadvantages as well as the advantage of being a contemporary. He would have been more than human if he had given us a wholly impartial account of the downfall of the Achaean League, in whose affairs he had borne an honourable part, brought about as it was partly by the agency of leaders of whom he disapproved, partly by a State which had kept him prisoner for sixteen years.
The whole of the period under review is filled with the journeys of envoys to Rome from kings or cities or leagues and of Commissioners sent out by the Republic. The victory of Rome over the two Great Powers, Macedon and Syria, had deeply impressed the rulers and states of the Eastern Mediterranean. They could not know enough of Roman doubts and preoccupations to expect anything but that Rome would be ambitious to spread her influence as far as possible. In disputes it was plainly an advantage to be the first to enlist Roman support, and the common answer of the Senate that, if the facts were as stated, the claimant’s contention seemed to be well-founded, encouraged envoys to report and believe that they were successful. Even where Roman intervention was not expected, it was natural that each party in a dispute should wish the Senate to know its official version. Thus, whether Rome wished it or not, she was bound to be constantly invited to pronounce on questions of internal or external policy which concerned the states of the Hellenistic world.
The Senate could not but be flattered by these constant embassies, and they might legitimately wish to use their influence and to hold high their prestige. If Rome was to judge between the stories of rival embassies, she could find no better way than to send out Commissioners to discover the true facts, and in order to avoid being drawn into wars not of her making, it was in her interest to reach agreed settlements by compromise or to maintain, so far as possible, the existing state of things. The view that Rome constantly sought to promote rivalries and encourage quarrels can be rejected without supposing that she was only moved by the unselfish desire that right should triumph. Besides seeking to avoid exhausting wars, the Senate might well prefer that their advice and judgment should be regarded as equitable and should enhance rather than undermine the reputation of Rome. There were changing currents in the general course of Roman opinion towards foreign powers, due in part to the influence of individuals or groups in the Senate, and an account of these is reserved for a later chapter. But each of the Hellenistic powers presented Rome with a separate problem. Little is to be gained by an annalistic treatment of Rome’s Greek and Eastern policy as a whole, for we have not the evidence necessary for knowing the precise interrelation of its various parts, and we are bound to remain doubtful whether our judgment on each incident does Rome too great or too little justice.
ROME AND THE EASTERN POWERS
Considering first the kingdoms at the greatest distance from Rome, we find that Pontus stands outside the Roman sphere during the earlier part of the period under review. King Pharnaces, it is true, sent ambassadors to Rome to explain away the allegations of his enemy King Eumenes of Pergamum. But on at least one occasion the statement is made that he treated a reference to Rome with contempt; and, when in 180 bc Roman envoys attempted to put an end to a war in which he was involved, they found that he disputed all their points at such length that they apparently gave up the problem as insoluble. Evidently Rome, though prepared to give advice when it was asked, was not ready to take an active part in quarrels at this distance. But when Mithridates V Euergetes offered assistance, it was welcome, and he did in fact help Rome against Carthage and against the pretender Aristonicus.
The king of Cappadocia, Ariarathes IV, who had sided with Antiochus, was promised peace by Manlius at the price of 300 talents. Thenceforward his kingdom remained loyal to Rome and is found supporting Pergamum, for instance, against Pontus. On the death of this Ariarathes in 163 bc there was a dispute as to the succession; for the king of Syria was induced by a gift of 1000 talents to assist Orophernes to supplant the true prince Ariarathes V. The Romans advised that the kingdom should be shared between the two. But they showed a preference for Ariarathes. Thus, when the people of Priene had their territory pillaged by Ariarathes because they insisted on returning 400 talents, which had been deposited with them by Orophernes, to him and not to Ariarathes, who claimed it as part of the property of his kingdom, the Romans do not seem to have taken any steps to check this unjustifiable procedure, though an appeal had been made to them. Perhaps they were influenced by the encouragement given to Ariarathes by their friend Attalus of Pergamum, who had a grudge against Priene. But the Romans interfered as little as possible with Cappadocia, even in the interest of a king whose merits in civilizing his country appear to have been great, and who closed a long reign of friendship to Rome by falling in battle against the Republic’s enemies.
The Roman attitude towards the Galatians seems to be defined in a fragment of Polybius, which tells us that they might preserve their autonomy, provided they remained within their own territory and did not undertake warlike expeditions outside it. It was natural that Manlius, after subjugating them in the expedition that followed the defeat of Antiochus, should have conferred with Eumenes about the terms to be granted them, and should have laid special stress on the need of their keeping peace with Pergamum. When, at the time of Pydna, Eumenes fell into disfavour with Rome, the result was felt at once in a Galatian invasion of his kingdom. The Galatians were certain to act in this way, so soon as any sign appeared that the Romans would no longer regard Eumenes as a friend whose interests they must support by force. It is not probable that Rome encouraged the Galatians or would wish Pergamum to suffer serious injury from them, for such a consequence would have run contrary to the Roman wish not to be driven into interference. Instead of this, we find Roman envoys continuing to urge the Galatians to maintain peaceful relations with their neighbours, though it is likely enough that this warning was accompanied in later days by less explicit insistence on its application to Pergamum.
Bithynia was ruled during most of this period by a father and son named Prusias, of whom the son succeeded the father about 180 bc. Prusias I was the rival and enemy of Eumenes of Pergamum and, though he had remained neutral during the war with Antiochus, he was alarmed at the extension of the Pergamene power which Rome had permitted. In 186 he ventured to challenge the settlement of Apamea, attacked Eumenes, and, what was even more menacing to Rome, took into his service Hannibal, the greatest of Rome’s enemies.
The war that ensued went on the whole in favour of Pergamum, though at sea Hannibal won the last of his victories. The Romans thought it necessary to intervene, and Prusias made peace. Flamininus himself was sent to demand the surrender of Hannibal, the king of Bithynia did not dare to refuse, and Hannibal took his own life. Prusias had learnt his lesson, and his successor acquiesced in the prosperity of Pergamum, until after Pydna he sought to turn to his own advantage the declining fortunes of Eumenes. He visited Rome and, according to Polybius, disgraced himself by assuming the dress of a freedman to show his subservience to his Roman patrons. Livy, though he mentions the account of Polybius and does not explicitly contradict it, indicates that Roman historians gave a less undignified story of his behaviour. Roman writers would hardly have suppressed a tradition so flattering to their pride, and perhaps Polybius accepted a picturesque story which caricatured Prusias’ humble attitude.
The death of Eumenes in 160/59 bc put an end to the hopes of Prusias, for the Romans showed that Attalus II the new king of Pergamum had their support. Prusias had raised up enemies against Pergamum, especially the Galatians, but Rome opposed him by diplomatic intervention, and, though Prusias at first resisted, a short campaign in which Pergamum had support from Cappadocia, Pontus, Rhodes and Cyzicus, induced him to make peace in the presence of three Roman Commissioners. He was compelled to hand over twenty ships, to pay 100 talents on account of damage done to certain towns and a war indemnity of 500 talents in twenty annual instalments. The territory of Pergamum was not increased, and some have seen in this an indication that the Romans were anxious to prevent Attalus from enjoying the results of his victory. But increase of territory is not a necessary criterion of success in war.
Peace followed, but not friendly relations. Attalus incited the prince Nicomedes against his father and supported him in arms. Prusias’ only hope was in Rome, and Rome was slow to move. Nicomedes had resided at Rome and made powerful friends, but at last three Commissioners were sent to cause Attalus to hold his hand. If we may trust Polybius one of them, M. Licinius, was lamed with gout, the second, A. Mancinus, had imperfectly recovered from the fall of a tile upon his head, and the third, L. Malleolus, was reported the stupidest man in Rome. The choice of these in a matter which called for speed moved Cato to tell the Senate that “Before they arrived Prusias would be dead and Nicomedes grown old in his kingdom. For how could a commission make haste, or accomplish anything when it had neither feet, head, nor intelligence?” Their success was what Cato expected. Prusias was killed and Nicomedes reigned in his stead. Rome recognized what it could not or would not hinder, content perhaps to see good relations restored between Bithynia and Pergamum.
In Egypt Ptolemy Epiphanes at the beginning of his reign had received some protection from Rome against Philip, though none against Antiochus; but he forfeited all claim to Roman goodwill by his negotiations with Antiochus. Accordingly Egypt had gained nothing at the settlement of Apamea, and the Ptolemaic monarchy was kept weak by nationalist risings, the last of which was not crushed till 183. In 184 and 183 attempts were made to establish an entente with the Achaean League which suggest that the Egyptian court was reviving its traditional policy of posing as a champion of Greek liberty. The death of Epiphanes in 181/0 bc ended these projects, and Rome was spared the necessity of making it plain that she alone was the arbiter of Greek freedom.
The new king Ptolemy Philometor was a child, and for some time the true ruler of Egypt was the queen-mother Cleopatra. She was of the house of Seleucus and kept peace with Syria, while doing nothing to give Rome cause of complaint. On Cleopatra’s death the proclamation of the king’s majority was hastened by the new regents Eulaeus and Lenaeus, whose barbarian and perhaps servile origin could not gain for them respect. Rome, preoccupied with the Third Macedonian War, was content to recognize the new king and did nothing to hinder the renewal of Egyptian ambition to recover Coele-Syria. The result of the war probably disconcerted the Senate, for Antiochus won a great victory and invaded Egypt (169). Ptolemy was ready to accept a Syrian protectorate which would have united in one power the Hellenistic East. But the Alexandrians would have none of it, and proclaimed as king Ptolemy Euergetes, nicknamed Physcon, the brother of Philometor. The elder Ptolemy chose to share power with his brother rather than to owe the semblance of it to the king of Syria, and Antiochus prepared in the spring of 168 to master Egypt by open force. Rome could hesitate no longer; her envoy, Popillius Laenas, bade Antiochus withdraw from Egypt and the command was obeyed. The Seleucid fleet which, in violation of the treaty of Apamea, had advanced to Cyprus, was forced to withdraw, and the word of Rome had restored the existing balance between the two monarchies.
For the next five years there were two kings in Egypt, but Ptolemy Physcon who, as the creation of a popular movement, was the stronger, worked secretly against his brother. Late in 164 Philometor was forced to fly from Alexandria. The Senate could not evade the responsibility of deciding whether or not to take up the cause of a king whom Rome had once recognized. They proposed that Philometor should rule over Egypt and Cyprus, while his brother received the Cyrenaica. There had been a revulsion of feeling at Alexandria, and Roman Commissioners carried through this arrangement without recourse to military action; But Ptolemy Physcon claimed Cyprus, and the Senate in 162 decided in his favour. The division of Egypt may have been in the best interests of the kingdom, and if the inheritance of the Ptolemies was to be halved, the addition of Cyprus to the Cyrenaica made that share more equivalent to Egypt. But Philometor did not give way, and Rome did not take overt action. In 154 Physcon accused his brother of an attempt on his life; the Senate refused to listen to any answer to the charge and instructed their allies in the East to install him in Cyprus. The allies did little or nothing and Philometor took his brother prisoner but treated him with generosity, leaving him in possession of Cyrenaica. This generosity was politic, and Rome ceased to support Physcon. Philometor had found a powerful advocate in the elder Cato, and had the skill to maintain a correct attitude towards the Republic. The climax of this was the moment when after reconquering Coele-Syria for Egypt he refused to accept the crown of the Seleucids and bring about the union which the Senate had feared in 168 BC. In general during this period the interests of Rome and of Egypt coincided, and the action and the inaction of the Senate may both have been guided by the realization of this fact. Polybius, in one of his most anti-Roman passages, treats Roman policy in regard to Egypt as typical of the method by which Rome availed herself of the mistakes of others to strengthen her own position. But it is not clear that the criticism is justified.
Roman policy in relation to the Syrian monarchy is harder to defend. The death of Antiochus the Great was doubtless felt as a relief, for he might take some opportunity of repairing his sudden and complete defeat. Seleucus, his successor, was too shrewd to provoke the Republic, though the Achaean League thought it wise to decline a present of ten ships which might suggest that they were intriguing with Syria. More dangerous was Antiochus Epiphanes, but he had spent years at Rome as a hostage, and his open admiration for Roman institutions did something to disarm suspicion. The Roman intervention to protect Egypt marked the limit set to his power; not long afterwards we find a Roman embassy instructed to discover if he was making any preparations for war. His death may have been not unwelcome to the Senate, and Roman Commissioners were instructed to settle matters in Syria in such a way as to relieve Rome of any future anxiety. The new king was only nine years of age; his minister Lysias, who had practical control of the kingdom, bore a bad character, and was expected to acquiesce in anything for a consideration. But the Syrians were not so complaisant, and the Roman Commissioners were ill-advised to neglect the warnings of Ariarathes, king of Cappadocia. Without accepting his assistance, they proceeded to Syria and began to carry out what Polybius describes as the Senate’s instructions, by burning ships, killing elephants and generally weakening the resources of the kingdom. The result was an insurrection in which the leading Commissioner Cn. Octavius lost his life (162 bc). The Senate neither accepted nor rejected Lysias’ assurances of his innocence, and remained equally inactive when Demetrius the son of Seleucus escaped from Rome and recovered his father’s kingdom for himself.
Demetrius had acquired the reputation in Rome of being fond of enjoyment, and perhaps the Romans underrated his capacity. But they kept a close watch on his activities, and one of the objects of the treaty which the Senate made with the Jews in 161 BC. may have been to enable it to stir up trouble in Syria. More plainly hostile to Demetrius was the moral support given to the pretender Alexander Balas some ten years later. A decree, which, according to Polybius, did not represent the view of all the senators, accepted his claim to be the son of Antiochus Epiphanes and gave him authority to return to the kingdom of his ancestors. It is not probable, however, that this meant more than moral support, and the Romans did not interfere when Alexander, who had made an end of Demetrius in 150, was killed some five years later by a son of Demetrius with help from Egypt, or when that son was expelled in favour of a son of Alexander. Despite the loyalty of the Graeco-Macedonian population to the Seleucid dynasty and the capacity of several of the kings, the disintegration of the Syrian Empire and with it the weakening of Hellenism went steadily on. Rome had less and less cause for active interference, but the paralysing effects of her passive suspicion were more fatal to Greek culture in the East than any senator can well have anticipated or desired.
ROMAN POLICY TOWARDS PERGAMUM AND RHODES
The extension of the power of Pergamum after the defeat of Antiochus has already been described. Of the capacity of King Eumenes there can be no doubt, and we have already seen how he maintained his extended kingdom against his Galatian and Bithynian neighbours. The reviving power of Macedon under Perseus may have seemed to him a menace and he did more than any other man to bring about the Third Macedonian War. He may well have shared the general belief that the king of Macedon instigated the attempt to assassinate him near Delphi. If he entered into negotiations with Perseus, offering his neutrality or even his active help, it can only be supposed that he was setting aside his personal feelings and trying to secure his country’s position against the possible, though unlikely, event of Perseus proving to be the victor. It is difficult to judge the real meaning of diplomatic proceedings without the account of either negotiator, and perhaps Eumenes deliberately set too high a price on his neutrality or his help. This would prevent the negotiations issuing in action and yet, if Perseus survived the contest, it would serve to show that Eumenes had not been absolutely unwilling to do Macedon a service, in spite of the past. But the suspicion that such negotiations had taken place would be bound to tell heavily against Eumenes at Rome, when, with startling rapidity, the war ended in the utter defeat of Macedon.
Once suspicion was aroused, Eumenes saw all his actions interpreted unfavourably. The visit to Rome of his brother Attalus in 167 bc, to ask for help against the Galatians as well as to offer his congratulations, might easily have had serious consequence for Pergamum. The Romans had nothing against him, and he might have been tempted to try to supplant his brother. But he used his popularity at Rome, both on this and subsequent occasions, solely in the interests of his country. Eumenes was allowed no opportunity of clearing himself and when he proposed to defend himself in the Senate, a resolution was hastily passed that no king should be received in Rome. As the resolution followed closely on the favourable reception of Prusias of Bithynia, it was plain that the Romans regarded Eumenes as one who had received great benefits from Rome and had repaid them by playing false. Eumenes however concealed any resentment that he might have felt, and on his death in 160/59 Attalus with the countenance of Rome was able to maintain his kingdom intact and guard himself against his neighbours.
The kingdom of Pergamum, accordingly, did not lose its position during these years, whatever the personal humiliation to which one of its rulers, Eumenes, was subjected. The republic of Rhodes fared differently. Like Pergamum, she had done Rome good service in the war against Antiochus: indeed, without the Rhodian fleet Rome might have found it very difficult to conduct a campaign in Asia. Her reward was the accession of Caria south of the Maeander and of Lycia, except that the port of Telmessus and perhaps a corridor leading to it were reserved for Eumenes. But the Senate had failed to define the new status of the Lycians, who believed that they were to be allies of Rhodes, whereas Rhodes treated them as subjects. At the outset the Lycians showed themselves very ready to be allies, but soon they made it plain that they would not easily be subjects. Rhodes used force, and in 177 bc, as a result of appeals, the Senate interpreted their decision as having meant that the Lycians were to be assigned to Rhodes only as friends and allies. This interpretation denied to the Lycians complete independence, but it cannot have satisfied the Rhodians, nor was it likely to settle the question now; for the Lycians had ceased to be friendly to Rhodes and the Rhodians thought that Rome was turning against them in annoyance at their having convoyed the bride of Perseus from Syria and receiving in return a present of Macedonian timber for their shipyards. Rome may indeed have resented the parade of Rhodian naval strength, and was probably secretly displeased when the Rhodians invited her to intervene in favour of Sinope against the king of Pontus (183 BC).
Relations were not improving; but when it came to a question of choosing between Rome and Perseus, Rhodes was for the moment under the influence of one Agesilochus, who had been in Rome and was favourable to the Roman side. While, therefore, the envoys sent by Perseus to Rhodes in 171 bc were politely received and Rhodes gave a promise to mediate if Perseus were unjustly attacked, this promise was accompanied by a request that Rhodes should not be asked to do anything which might bear the appearance of hostility to Rome. There was, however, a strong party in Rhodes which took the opposite view, and, even if the motives of its leaders, Deinon and Polyaratus, were as unscrupulous as Polybius says, it is only in accordance with the usual history of Greek politics that differences of opinion should be strongly expressed and should be widely represented among the population. The Roman requests for naval help were agreed to and even exceeded, but the capture of a Rhodian quadrireme by the Macedonian admiral Diophanes heightened the annoyance of the anti-Roman party. Political recriminations increased: each side tried to strengthen its position by securing concessions or promises from the party it supported, and the Romans wisely granted a licence to the Rhodians to import 150,000 bushels of corn from Sicily. Q. Marcius Philippus, when he was in command against Macedonia in 169 bc, flattered Rhodian envoys by suggesting to them that Rhodes could do good service to Rome as well as to the general cause of peace by inducing the kings of Syria and Egypt to cease fighting.
The long continuance of the war against Perseus had its effect on the prevailing policy of Rhodes, as it may have had also on Eumenes. Till 168 bc nothing had been done that could justly offend Rome; but early in that year Perseus induced Rhodes to send an embassy to Rome to urge that the war should cease.The envoys reached Rome at a most unfortunate moment, when the news of Pydna had already been received. They made an attempt to substitute a message of congratulation for what they honestly admitted that they had been sent to say. But they could not hope that this would be well received, for the Senate complained that Perseus had been allowed to do harm in Greece for some two years without remonstrance on the part of Rhodes, and Rhodes had only begun to take action when the position of Perseus was becoming desperate. The reply may not have been quite fair, but it is what the Rhodians must have expected under the circumstances. They were, however, much frightened by it, and sent further embassies, including the orator Astymedes, whose advocacy exaggerating the services of Rhodes and minimizing those of her neighbours earned him the contempt of Polybius. A praetor, Juventius Thalna, even proposed to the people to declare war on Rhodes. This proposal was rejected through the intervention of a tribune and of Cato, who did not scruple to hint that the Romans could not complain if they were more feared than loved. In their relief the Rhodians at once voted a valuable crown to Rome, and decided to depart from the independent policy which they had pursued hitherto by asking for an alliance with Rome. They tried to guard against the humiliation and practical consequences of a refusal by instructing their envoy Theaetetus, who was also navarch, to make the request on his own initiative, a course which the constitution allowed him to adopt without any precedent vote of the people.
The alliance was not conceded at first: the Romans postponed the question at least once, and once gave a negative answer; it was not till some two years later, after several embassies, and after Rhodes had gone through repeated difficulties, that it was granted. The Rhodians had to meet an attack by Mylasa and Alabanda on their possessions; which, indeed, they repelled by a victory won in Caria. Moreover, some of their subjects in the Peraea and in Caunus revolted; the Rhodians put down the revolt without difficulty, but the Romans ordered them to withdraw their garrisons from Caunus and Stratoniceia, and a decree of the Senate declared that all the Carians and Lycians who had been ‘given’ to Rhodes after the war with Antiochus were free. Even if this decree merely reasserted the principle that these peoples were to be regarded as friends and allies of Rhodes and not as subjects, it assumed fresh importance by coming at a time when any sign of Roman dissatisfaction with Rhodes was watched with keen interest by her friends and enemies. Its practical effect would be that all the efforts made to reduce these peoples to order were wasted, while in 165 bc the Rhodians asserted that the loss of Caunus, which they had purchased from Egypt for 200 talents, and of Stratoniceia, which had been given them as a special favour by Antiochus III, meant a loss of revenue amounting to 120 talents a year. A still heavier blow had been inflicted by the transference of Delos to Athens. That Delos was declared a free port may have benefited Italian traders in the Levant; any gain which Rhodian merchants may have shared with others was more than counter-balanced by loss to the Rhodian State, if it is true, as the Rhodians appear to have asserted, that their revenue from harbour dues declined from 1,000,000 to 150,000 drachmae.
Rhodes might justly complain of severe treatment if she was suffering all this in spite of having put to death those who were in any way responsible for her short-lived anti-Roman policy. The Senate evidently thought the humiliation enough, for the alliance was concluded in 165 bc, and hopes may have been held out of further concessions, as we find an embassy some two years later asking not only that the rights of Rhodian citizens who had had property in Lycia or Caria should be recognized, but also that Calynda in Lycia should be assigned to Rhodes. It appears that the Rhodians were now content to play a subordinate part, and they were probably satisfied if their conduct was regarded by Rome as correct. They accepted a present from Eumenes towards the cost of their children’s education: Polybius censures this as undignified, and the Rhodians may not have liked doing it, but they could not afford to offend any possible friend. They showed their gratitude and their wisdom by supporting Attalus in the war which he waged against Prusias with the moral support of Rome.
The latest reference to the Rhodians which we have from Polybius describes the discouragement and despair that were causing them to think of their traditional high position as wholly lost beyond hope of recovery. The opinion was gaining ground that the Romans were well content to see troubles persisting so long as the effect of those troubles was to prevent any other power from attaining importance, and that Rome made little difference in this respect between those who had been her former friends and others. This may not have been just to Rome, for the Romans, unless they were alarmed, desired to interfere as little as possible, and the skill with which a Greek advocate could present a case made it hard to be sure on which side right stood, if indeed either party to a quarrel was wholly right. Nor could Rome readily trust a state which a group of political leaders had caused to change sides during a struggle in which Rome was concerned. Yet sympathy with the past history of Rhodes makes us regret that Rome did not find it possible to show whole-hearted friendship to another republic whose ideals were in some respects so similar to her own.
Whatever may have been the justification for Rome’s attitude from her own point of view, it was disastrous for the Aegean world. The greatest among the many services which Rhodes had rendered to the cause of civilization was the policing of the seas. For two generations the chief scourge to Aegean commerce had been the free-booting of the Cretans. Since the middle of the third century at least, there had existed in Crete a form of federation which had brought neither true unity nor peace to the island. First the influence of Egypt and then that of Macedon had prevailed, but never without opposition, except for the moment of hope for the Greek world in 216, when the Cretan League put itself under the leading of Philip V. But the power of Macedon waned, the cities resumed their feuds and settled down to wars and litigation in which they invoked the help or the judgment of Pergamum and Rome. In 189 the praetor Q. Fabius Labeo tried in vain to end a war waged by Cydonia against Cnossus and Gortyn. Four or five years later a settlement was laid down by Roman Commissioners. In 183 bc thirty Cretan cities allied themselves with Eumenes II, but this group did not compose the whole island: Itanus was still a Ptolemaic protectorate, while Cydonia stood aloof and made a separate alliance with Pergamum. In 174 Rome intervened, but failed to make the intervention effective. During the war with Perseus Cretans are found fighting on both sides, and the sending of troops to help Ptolemy Philometor is a sign that the influence of Egypt was not extinct. Crete, in fact, could not find unity in a foreign policy of dependence on a single external power, and within the island federal justice was not allowed to impose peace and order or to end the disputes which, at the best, issued in shortlived arbitration awards rather than open war.
But whereas their internal differences taxed the patience of their neighbours, all Cretans agreed in a form of activity which made them unbearable. That activity was piracy, which, with mercenary service, provided a livelihood for the surplus population of the island. One way of checking this was by agreements with the Cretan towns which were the bases of the free-booters, and that way Rhodes took. But where that failed, it was to the fleet of Rhodes and her island allies to whom the Aegean had to look for peace. Rome was well content to patrol her own waters and to leave all else to others. In the moment of self-confidence in which she had offered to mediate between Rome and Perseus, Rhodes had invited the Cretans to unite in an alliance with her which might perhaps have proscribed piracy, but the news of Pydna ended all that, and the weakening of Rhodes made her less able to impose order by force. In 155 b.c. she found herself faced by Crete united in defence of piracy, and a war followed in which, even with help from Attalus, the Rhodian squadrons could not crush their nimble enemies. Rome neither supported Rhodes by force at sea nor by diplomatic intervention in Crete itself, and the doubt of the Senate’s good will towards the Rhodians prevented the Achaean League from helping against the common enemy. Siphnos, the treasure-house of the Aegean, was sacked, and the war dragged on, with what final result we do not know. One thing seems certain, that with it ended the capacity of Rhodes to police the seas. Meanwhile the decline of the Seleucids and the enforced limitation of their naval strength permitted the rise of Cilician piracy. In the end the Senate was to pay a heavy penalty for failure to extend the pax Romana to the Eastern Mediterranean.
CENTRAL AND SOUTHERN GREECE: ATHENS AND BOEOTIA
In considering the relations between Rome and the political associations in Central and Southern Greece we have to remember that we only know of a few of the disputes which the Romans were so often called upon to settle, and that the numerous journeys by Roman Commissioners about which we are told represent only a portion of the whole number. Roman envoys were always moving backwards and forwards, endeavouring to restore peace between conflicting parties whose one idea of political liberty was to fight each other. Even though it may be true that there were parts of Greece where politics were conducted without violence, and even if the Greek cities of which we happen to hear nothing all presented exceptions to the general rule, it can be imagined that the feeling must gradually have grown up in Rome that nothing but force would really quiet the Greeks. Further, the wish to do justice between appellants, which the Romans felt during their earlier experiences of such dealings with the Greeks, was seriously prejudiced by the rise of those Greek politicians whose advice at home was to do what the Romans would be likely to approve and who, when in Rome, urged the Senate to assert its will strongly. They represented that the Roman approval would be enough in itself to secure what was desired and to render unnecessary that military effort which seemed to be the only effective alternative. Such men as Lyciscus in Aetolia, Mnasippus at Coronea, Chremes in Acarnania, may not all have been of the same type as Charops of Epirus or Callicrates, but the context in which they are mentioned suggests that they had some of the same characteristics. While there is no reason to suppose that this was the support which the Romans would have wished to have in Greece if they had been able to choose, the mere existence of such unscrupulous supporters, who could not easily be repudiated, was bound to intensify the bitterness of their anti-Roman opponents and to make partisanship for or against Rome into the test question of Greek politics, however little the Romans desired it. The envoys of Perseus found it easy to win sympathy in many cities. Sometimes this movement subsided so soon as it appeared that to favour Perseus would mean fighting against Rome; but elsewhere support was actually given to Macedonia, and the revulsion of feeling which followed on the capture of a town or on the conclusion of the war generally gave the proRomans an opportunity to injure their personal enemies and to make the Roman cause highly unpopular.
With Athens the Romans did not find it hard to maintain friendly relations. If she had wavered for a moment in the days of Antiochus, she showed no hesitation in siding with Rome throughout the struggle with Perseus. Complaints are indeed made that Athens, in common with other allies, was harshly treated by P. Licinius the consul of 171 bc and by the praetor C. Lucretius Gallus, inasmuch as her offers of men and ships were declined and 150,000 bushels of corn were asked for in their place. This was a grievous burden to lay upon a country which could not grow enough corn to feed herself, but the enactment of the Senate which declined to authorize for the future any demands made by Roman officers without a senatorial decree to back them, may have produced an improvement at least so far as Athens was concerned. L. Hortensius, the praetor in charge of the fleet during the next year, received an Attic decree in his honour, and the fact that Lucretius was condemned at Rome shows that some at least of his proceedings were recognized as being incapable of defence.
The unquestioned loyalty of Athens, which allowed her to enter into friendly relations with Ariarathes, Pharnaces, Antiochus Epiphanes and other kings, also put her in a position to adopt in 167 bc the same role as in 190 and 189, and to plead for mercy to a beaten enemy of Rome. But whereas Rome had accepted the request that she should not go to extremities against the Aetolians, she was not inclined to restore Haliartus after it had been destroyed by Lucretius in 171. The Athenians accordingly changed their tone and asked that the territory of Haliartus should be given to them, as well as Delos and Lemnos, possibly Imbros and Scyros also. As we should expect, this action is censured by Polybius, who records with evident satisfaction that the territory of Haliartus brought disgrace and little profit to Athens, while Delos and Lemnos involved her in many troubles. An Athenian cleruchy was sent to Delos, and the former inhabitants, who were ordered to leave but allowed to remove their property, complained that they were not treated fairly, and attempted to retaliate on Athens by becoming citizens of the Achaean League and then laying claims under the commercial treaty between the two countries. The inevitable appeal to Rome produced an answer in which Rome seems not to have entered into the facts of the dispute. As it was a decision on the facts for which both sides must have hoped, if they treated the appeal seriously, this could not settle the quarrel.
The consequences of a dispute between Athens and Oropus were more serious, as it appears to have been somehow responsible for the outbreak of war between Rome and the Achaean League. The Athenians, in the course of collecting tolls and tribute from this city which they claimed as theirs, were asserted by the Oropians to have been guilty of violence and illegality. The Roman Senate appointed the Sicyonians as arbitrators, and the Sicyonians, before whom the Athenians did not appear, condemned them to pay the enormous sum of 500 talents in damages. The Athenians then (in 155 bc) sent to Rome the heads of three of the chief philosophical schools, Carneades, Diogenes, and Critolaus, to make a protest. This visit, which had an important effect on the view taken by many Romans of Greek morals and philosophy, was so far successful that the damages were reduced to 100 talents. It looks as though the Romans took substantially the anti-Athenian view, but, as the question to be settled was on this occasion not so much one of principle as of the proper amount of the penalty, substituted a severe but reasonable sum for one which was plainly unreasonable. The Athenians declined to pay the smaller amount, and the quarrel continued until a temporary arrangement was arrived at, by which the Athenians apparently established cleruchs in Oropus on an understanding that they were not to molest the natives, while the Oropians sent hostages to Athens as security that they would not molest the Athenians, This plan, if such is the correct interpretation of it, could not succeed for long. A further appeal was made by Oropus to the Achaean League against alleged oppression by the Athenian garrison; the League decided against Athens and employed force to carry out their decision. At this point the dispute becomes merged in the obscure quarrels which brought the Achaean League to an end: the leaders of the League were not popular in Rome, and this may be the reason why Athenian charges of bribery and corruption, brought against those leaders in connection with their decision, came to be accepted as true, though the story as told does not sound convincing. It is natural that Athens should have suffered less than most other parts of Greece from the changes which now followed, for her past reputation was quite sufficient to secure her permanently a position of dignity, and her claim to intellectual primacy was one which Rome could recognize without difficulty.
The Leagues naturally fared worse. In any Greek League there was bound to be a contest between those who were zealous for the independence of the individual cities and those who desired to strengthen the central authority. Even where attempts had been made to prevent the central authority from being vested permanently in one city, this was an important difference of principle; but sometimes, as in Boeotia, the superiority of one city was so marked that the question became one between that city and the other members of the League. The Romans may have begun with a prejudice in favour of a strong central authority which tended on the whole to support orderly government; but, in so far as a League, thus made stronger, became a larger and more powerful unit than its neighbours, jealousies, nervousness and quarrels might easily arise, while the endeavours of one city to force other members to associate themselves with the central authority would be repugnant to the Romans, both as being contrary to the principle of liberty, and as never being likely to achieve permanent results. It is not surprising that the opinion of Rome should come to be in favour of the individual cities and against the Leagues, even where the Leagues had few internal troubles.
In Boeotia the Romans were hampered by the zeal of their friends. During the war with Perseus the Theban politician Ismenias offered the support of Boeotia as a whole to the Romans; but it was clear to the Roman Commissioners that he was not in a position to carry out his promise, as feelings were divided, and the only practicable alternative was to deal with the cities individually. Ismenias was apparently trying to secure the unity of Boeotia by helping Rome: but, as there were some who did not wish to help Rome, and others whose main concern was with, the independence of the single cities, he could hardly hope to succeed in this policy, though it may have been patriotic in intention. Coronea, Thisbe and Haliartus joined Perseus and suffered for it. Thebes did not lose anything then, as the party dominant in that city was proRoman. But a period of confusion followed in Boeotia, for Mnasippus of Coronea is one of those named by Polybius among the promoters of disorder whose death some ten years later caused relief and improvement. In the final war against Rome Thebes was less fortunate: for her most influential man at that time, Pytheas, who is described as bold, ambitious, and of bad character, brought Boeotia into the struggle, and the destruction of Thebes followed the defeat of the Achaean League. So far as our knowledge goes, the loss of Boeotian independence gives little cause for regret: Polybius indeed tells us that the severe punishment which befell Boeotia might almost be regarded as retribution for the exceptional good fortune which had enabled her to escape the consequences of political disorder and misgovernment at an earlier date. The study of Boeotian history at any other period than the first half of the fourth century bc leaves us with renewed admiration for the leaders who succeeded in raising Thebes to so great a height at that time.
CENTRAL AND SOUTHERN GREECE: THE ACHAEAN LEAGUE
If there is little reason to regret the disappearance of the Boeotian League, and if in regard to Leagues such as those in Phocis, Locris or Euboea, too little is known for us to be able to judge fairly whether their cessation was a loss or not, it is otherwise with the Achaean League. With it were associated some of the greatest names in the history of Greece, it had contributed a considerable part of what is best in Greek politics since the days of Aratus, and there must have been grave faults (not necessarily confined to one side) in the conduct of affairs which brought this valuable association to its end.
The Achaeans had preferred Rome to Macedon in the war with Philip and had declared war on Antiochus. With the crushing of the Aetolian League, which ceased to have any political importance, they became the chief power in Greece. The reward which they expected for their wisdom in taking the side of Rome was that they should be allowed to complete their domination of the Peloponnese by keeping Sparta and the whole of Messenia. The leader in this policy was Philopoemen, who believed that it could be carried through by the assertion of the legal rights of the League, which the Senate would not contest if they were laid before it firmly but unprovocatively. In this policy he had the support of Archon and of Lycortas, the father of Polybius, who is careful to point out that Philopoemen was not opposed to Rome except in the sense that he did not wish to acquiesce in Roman decisions which seemed to him unjustified. The military strength of the League was largely his creation, his personal position was secured by the dominant Arcadian representation on the League, and he knew himself to be the most famous Hellene of the day. He was too experienced a soldier to wish to provoke a conflict with Rome, but he believed that the rights of the Achaeans could be pressed by arms in Greece and defended by words at Rome, and he resented the attitude of Flamininus, who did not reserve his phil-hellenism for Achaeans and had more than once been in conflict with him. Also he had a rival in Aristaenus who, though reluctant to sacrifice laws or decrees of the League, was willing to do so if it should prove necessary in order to carry out or even to anticipate the wishes of the Romans. Naturally he seemed to Rome better-affected than Philopoemen, and this fact helped to make the Senate unsympathetic to those ambitions of the League which Philopoemen embodied.
In their policy towards outside powers the Achaeans showed themselves prudently unenterprising. Aristaenus prevented the Assembly from a hasty renewal of alliance with Egypt, and though friendship with Syria was renewed at the accession of Seleucus, the League declined a present of ships of war, and also an offer of Eumenes to present them with 120 talents to form a fund for the payment of members of the League’s Council. The acceptance of this gift would have made possible a more democratic representation in the Council of the League; and that may have been one reason why it was unwelcome to those in power. In order to secure its rejection an Aeginetan pointed out that a more acceptable gift would be the restoration of the island of Aegina, which Attalus I had bought from the Aetolians. Behind these considerations of sentiment there may have been the politic calculation that it would be wise not to seem to have important allies or patrons except Rome. On the other hand, the Senate was displeased by the stiffness with which the League stood on its rights towards Q. Caecilius Metellus who, as he returned from Macedonia in 185, lectured the League magistrates on their harshness to Sparta. He was met by long arguments from Philopoemen, Lycortas and Archon, and thereupon demanded that the League assembly should be summoned. This was refused as illegal in the absence of a written demand by the Senate for a meeting to consider a specific point. No doubt law was on the side of the Achaeans, but their action brought a sharp admonition from the Senate to treat envoys with more respect.
The Spartan question continued to be troublesome, and the Senate made an attempt to reach an agreed settlement by the deliberations of a committee of three, including Flamininus and Caecilius. The definite and recognized inclusion of Sparta in the League was at issue, but also the question of the return of several groups of Spartan exiles, and the restoration of their property. It was ruled that Sparta should remain a member of the League but that the exiles should be restored. The Achaean envoys who were at Rome decided to accept this decision; but the return of exiles was always unwelcome to the fierce partisans in Greek cities, the acceptance of this condition meant setting aside a decree of the League, and they may have thought that Rome was giving them nothing that was not already theirs. The settlement was not carried through with goodwill, and the Senate was even less sympathetic with the League when in 183 the Messenians sought to secede. Q. Marcius Philippus, who had just returned from Greece, advised that, if the Senate showed itself unfriendly, the movement for secession might spread and drive the League to welcome Roman protection. The Senate accordingly refused to take steps to prevent arms and food reaching Messenia from Italy and warned the League that persistence in conducting a policy opposed to the views of Rome might cause, not only Sparta, but Corinth and Argos, to secede.
The Achaeans, led by Philopoemen, were not intimidated and the Messenians were quickly defeated, though during the war Philopoemen himself was taken prisoner in a skirmish and put to death.
Plutarch says that a certain Roman called Philopoemen the last of the Greeks. It is true that with him ended the line of Hellenic generals who added a touch of genius to their virtuosity in the art of war. In the forty years that followed his first exploit at Sellasia he had not lost a battle by land, and he had made an army out of the Achaean levies. He had matched his cunning against the Cretans, his courage against the Spartans, and he had withstood Flamininus in the day of his success. Yet herein lay the great disservice that he did to Greece. His fame held high the imperialism of the Achaeans, and his spirit forbade him to make it easy for Rome to leave the Greeks really free. He was more of a soldier than a statesman, at a time when Achaea needed a statesman rather than a soldier. The most Roman of the Greeks, yet he had in him the almost unreasoning rancour of a Greek partisan, and his moments of violence robbed of their effect his insistence on treaty rights which the Romans were generally ready to respect. Furthermore, the successes which had given to the League greater power than it had ever before enjoyed had been achieved in a way which outraged panhellenic feeling so far as that existed, and by a reaction against economic movements which were born of deeply-felt economic stress. If the Achaeans were not to be the servants of Rome, neither could they be the leaders of the Greeks. Had we the whole of Polybius’ history or still more his life of Philopoemen, we should be better able to discover, beneath the qualities which Polybius admired, the defects of judgment and the narrowness of vision to which Polybius could not have been blind. It may well be doubted if any statesman, whether a Cavour, or a Mazzini, or a Bismarck, could have saved Greece from the power of Rome, and made her a nation, but the high qualities of Philopoemen were spent in rendering the task impossible. He died felix opportunitate mortis, and his friend and successor Lycortas was the heir to his policy but not to the influence and capacity which it demanded.
Though compelled to re-enter the League, the Messenians were treated with statesmanlike forbearance. The Senate declared that, after all, they had hindered supplies from reaching Messenia, and the Achaeans were allowed to interpret the return of exiles to Sparta as excluding those who had been definitely hostile to the League. An independent policy had so far proved successful, and only the death of Ptolemy Epiphanes saved the League from the dangerous temptation of an Egyptian alliance. In Sparta the Achaeans had to intervene to put down a demagogue Chaeron who might have become a second Nabis. The Romans were concerned that the restoration of the exiles had not been complete, and the Achaean leaders were divided about the wisdom of giving way on the point. Three envoys were sent to Rome, one of whom, Callicrates of Leontium, gave to the Senate the advice which, in the judgment of Polybius, produced a disastrous change of Roman policy towards Greece. Callicrates pointed out that politicians would always be under a temptation to advocate the strict observance of laws and decrees, since a reputation for patriotism and independence was most easily won in this way, and he urged that the Romans, if they really wished to exert effective influence in Greece, should take strong measures to make their wishes known. The speaker described some of the recent actions of the League, in regard both to Messene and to Sparta, as done without Roman consent or in defiance of Rome’s expressed wishes; and, though the Senate may have suspected that his argument was inspired by political partisanship, it agreed that there was much to be said for the policy which he recommended. Hitherto, though the Romans might have shown occasional impatience, and used language of serious warning, coming near to threats, they had not gone outside the limits permissible to candid friends whose advice had been asked. Henceforward they showed a tendency to regard a desire to carry out the wishes of Rome as the test of patriotism. They included in their official answer a wish that all men in the various states should be like Callicrates; and, in order that now at any rate there should be no ambiguity as to their opinion, they insisted on the restoration of all the Spartan exiles, and, though the question concerned the Achaean League only, they addressed their rescript not only to the Achaeans but also to the Aetolians, Epirotes, Athenians, Boeotians and Acarnanians.
On his return Callicrates played upon the fear of hostility to Rome, and thus secured his election as General, in which capacity he carried out the restoration of the Spartan and Messenian exiles. Sparta was refortified and the constitution of Lycurgus was restored. This seemed to be the end of this thorny question, and for nearly a decade there was an uneasy peace in Achaean politics. But once Roman distrust of the Achaean statesmen had been aroused, there was small prospect of the League being able to pursue a policy which would preserve both its own self-respect and the goodwill of Rome. There was no power to whom the Achaeans could turn, except possibly Macedon, and not only Callicrates but also his political opponents, Archon and Lycortas, had no wish to be friends to that power. Perseus wished to be on good terms with the League but his overtures were rejected, and when at last it came to war between Rome and Macedon, Archon, no less than Callicrates, favoured active assistance against Perseus, though he may have seen the danger to Achaea of the final and complete victory of either side. Lycortas was for neutrality, and in 169 bc there was a rumour that the Roman Commissioners in Greece were thinking of accusing him and his son Polybius and even Archon himself before the League. It is true that none of the three reached Callicrates’ high standard of pro-Romanism, but Rome had no just grounds of complaint. Polybius, indeed, who was Hipparch of the League in this year, was sent to arrange for the co-operation of the full strength of the League in what appeared likely to be the decisive campaign in Thessaly.
During this and the next year the Achaean leaders gave to Rome no reasonable ground for complaint. When Appius Claudius applied to the League for 5000 men to help him in Epirus, Polybius was sent by Marcius Philippus to urge the League to refuse, in the absence of written orders from the Senate. The only other question of policy which arose in the League at this time was of its attitude towards the war between Syria and Egypt. Lycortas and Polybius were in favour of giving help to Egypt, while Callicrates argued that the Achaeans should reserve their strength to assist Rome and should content themselves with offering mediation. This was no doubt what the Senate preferred, but it could not well object if the Achaeans wished to help Egypt, with which they had some kind of treaty engagement and which had so often served the League, if only for its own purposes. Callicrates succeeded in contriving that ambassadors and not troops were sent to Egypt, but their good offices were not needed, for Rome herself intervened.
One thing is certain, that the Romans were not only exasperated by their long-continued ill-success against Perseus, but suspected that Achaean statesmen availed themselves of the complicated machinery of the League constitution to place obstacles in the way of decisions which they did not like. It was doubtless more convenient to have in authority persons like Callicrates who only asked what Rome’s wishes were. But this does not make clear why the Roman Commissioners sent to Achaea behaved as they did. First they asked that a vote be passed condemning to death certain persons unnamed who had supported Perseus; next they said that all the Generals since the beginning of the war were suspect, and finally, when Xenon, one of these Generals, expressed his readiness to be tried before any court that the Romans might appoint, they used this opportunity to command a body of 1000 men, from a list supplied by Callicrates, to proceed to Italy as prisoners. Still less intelligible or defensible is the fact that these accused persons, who were quartered in various parts of Italy, were never brought to trial, and that requests that this should be done, or that they should be allowed to return home, received only curt answers. We hear of such requests being received in or about the years 165, 160, 155 and 153 bc. On one of the occasions the request might have been granted but for the way in which the presiding Roman magistrate put the question; with this exception there is no indication of any division of opinion among the Romans on the subject. It was not till 151 bc that those who still survived (rather less than 300) were allowed to go back, on the contemptuous advice of Cato who suggested that they were too old to do much harm.
The Roman policy of removing from Achaean affairs all experienced statesmen except those who would support Rome blindly was for a time successful in preventing complications. In 165 Rome allowed an Achaean court to settle a boundary dispute between Sparta and Megalopolis: the Achaeans decided in favour of Megalopolis, probably with justice or at least in accordance with previous decisions, but the decision was bound to irritate the Lacedaemonians. In 151/0 the Achaean General Menalcidas, perhaps for a bribe, used force to eject the Athenians from Oropus. Then came the return of the detenus from Rome, with inevitable disputes about their property. That they played any important part in the crisis which soon followed is not recorded, and some of them, like Polybius, may have seen that Rome was too strong for it to be wise to resent her injustices. The poorer in the Achaean cities found leaders in Diaeus and Critolaus, the former of whom became General in 150 bc. He sought to suppress the separatist movement in Sparta, and after his term of office expired he set out with Callicrates for Rome to represent the League before the Senate. Callicrates died on the journey, and his death was of some importance, for, whatever his defects, he was not likely to have encouraged a reckless challenge of Rome. Diaeus, on the other hand, took up so aggressive an attitude as to alienate the Senate. For the moment no answer was given but the Romans decided to weaken the League by encouraging a movement of secession in other states beside Sparta.
The Senate had good reason to proceed slowly. Roman armies were engaged in Spain and in Africa, and the rising in Macedonia was still not crushed. But Diaeus used the delay to press on operations against Sparta, which had formally seceded. A warning from Metellus the praetor in Macedonia went unheeded. Then came news that he had defeated Andriscus; a second message led to an armistice, and, after a further interval of hostilities, Sparta and the Achaeans came nearer to a settlement (summer, 147 bc). But the faint hope of peace was dispelled by the arrival of the Roman commission under L. Aurelius Orestes, who announced to a League assembly at Corinth that the Senate had decided to detach from the League not only Sparta but also Corinth, Argos, Orchomenus in Arcadia and a new accession Heraclea. There was an outburst of anger, in which the Romans could not protect anyone who was suspected of being a Spartan from rough handling and came near to being treated with violence themselves. Rome had no desire for war if she could compel obedience otherwise, but her calmness was misinterpreted; Critolaus was elected General, the punishment of those responsible for the disorder was refused, and the Senate pushed on its preparations. Metellus was to advance from Macedonia, and Attalus was called upon for contingents.
Early in 146 bc it became clear that the Achaeans had behind them wide-spread sympathy. The Boeotians and Euboeans took up arms, the masses in the Greek cities were encouraged by promises of a social revolution, and the new Achaean General Critolaus did not dare to disappoint them. When Metellus once more sent envoys to the League Assembly, his well-meant admonitions were in vain: Critolaus declared that the Achaeans sought in the Romans friends not masters. The Romans wished to be both; the alternative was war. L. Mummius the consul was placed in command of an army of nearly 30,000 men and orders were given to equip a fleet. The task of the Romans was made easier by the faulty strategy of Critolaus who, instead of concentrating on defence, pressed forward to besiege Heraclea with part of the Achaean forces. Metellus saw his opportunity and struck hard, Critolaus was defeated and killed at Scarpheia in Locris as he tried to disengage his army, and the advancing Achaean reinforcements were cut to pieces. The Boeotians, whose accession had perhaps helped to lure the Achaeans north of the Isthmus of Corinth, were at the mercy of Rome.
The courage of the Achaeans rose to face the danger. Diaeus was made General and a promising attempt to negotiate was checked. Metellus reached the Isthmus where the Achaean forces based on Corinth barred his way. The Roman fleet was still in the dockyard and, till it came to turn their position, the Achaeans might hope to hold their own. Meanwhile Mummius arrived and took over the command, and his army followed. Diaeus was encouraged by a slight success to offer battle to the superior Roman forces and was utterly defeated. Corinth opened its gates, most of its inhabitants had fled, the remainder suffered the rigour of a Roman sack. The city itself awaited the decision of the Senate.
Thus one short campaign had broken the last military power in Greece. Diaeus killed himself; the Achaean cities did not venture to resist. Individuals who had opposed Rome were visited with death and confiscation, democracies which had encouraged the masses against Rome were overthrown, leagues—Achaean, Boeotian, Euboean, Phocian and Locrian—were dissolved. Thebes and Chalcis were partly destroyed. But for Corinth was reserved a harder fate. The city was burnt and its contents, above all its art treasures, were sold or carried off to Rome. However much truth there is in the anecdotes about Mummius and about his soldiers dicing on masterpieces, the Greeks may have lost less than the Romans gained. Other trading communities, including Italian, doubtless profited by the destruction of a competitor, but there is no direct evidence that commercial ambitions or jealousy influenced the decision of the Senate. To Livy it is a reprisal for disrespect to the Roman Commissioners: it is more intelligible as a lesson to the Greeks that the patience of Rome was exhausted. It was a crime, but like other crimes in history, in part salutary, and Greece did not forget the lesson.
Such is the story, so far as it can be reconstructed from the scanty and not always trustworthy tradition that has come down to us. The ultimate authority is Polybius, who disapproved of the Achaean policy and despised the Achaean leaders; his account has only reached us, apart from a short fragment elsewhere, in a very unsatisfactory narrative given by Pausanias. That Critolaus, Diaeus and their colleagues could not reasonably hope for victory is clear; whether they were so wholly senseless and irresponsible as the account represents them may be doubted, but we have no materials to paint a more favourable picture. It is equally easy to see that the Romans’ patience gave out with disastrous suddenness. For them to guide Greece without ruling it demanded infinite patience, and they deserve perhaps more praise than blame, even if their policy was rarely idealistic or unselfish. But at last they tried to take a short cut and to solve political problems by removing the men who alone were capable of endeavouring to solve them intelligently. Whatever excuse may have been given for the unjust removal and detention of the Achaean leaders, it carried with it consequences which it became impossible to undo, and the end of the Achaean League is an incident for which admirers of Rome can find nothing but regret.
It was not until much later that the Romans regarded Southern Greece as a district in which they were to be separately represented : for the present, the Roman representative in Macedonia, in addition to his other duties, received a general responsibility for Achaea, as that part came to be called. Measures were adopted to divide cities by abolishing common councils and by preventing individuals from holding property in the territory of more than one community. Part at least of Greece was made subj ect to tribute. Polybius earned the gratitude of his countrymen by counselling moderation to the Roman Commissioners who effected the settlement, by refusing to accept any reward for the help which he or his friends had given to the Romans, and by assisting the cities to accustom themselves to altered conditions and to solve any difficulties which the new position raised. It may be due to his influence that some amelioration was effected very soon: perhaps about 140 BC, which Pausanias gives as the date of the end of the Achaean War.