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Discuss How and Why Rome Became Involved in Mainland Greece and outline Rome’s Actions in Greece Down to Flamininus’ Proclamation of Freedom in 196.
Rome has had its sights set on mainland Greece since they first encountered each other during Pyrrhus’ invasion of Southern Italy and Sicily in 280-275BCE (Grant 12). The Romans have always admired the prestige of the Grecian culture and the fascinating tales that were spread through trade routes about the splendor and elegance of this culture (Shipley 370). Rome adopted Greek surnames and in 220BCE, Romans were the first non-Greek participants in the Grecian Olympic Games (Shipley 370). The Romans desired an accumulation of the Greek culture into their own.
In 241 BCE, the Romans gained control over Sicily at the end of the First Punic War, giving them their first overseas province. Rome’s interaction in the Adriatic Sea was threatening in Philip’s V, king of Macedonia, eyes (Grant 12). To prevent Roman invasion, Philip V created an alliance with Hannibal of Carthage who had previously defeated the Romans in 215BCE, during the Second Punic War. The two sides promised to defend each other against the Romans and to not plot against each other (Austin 61). This alliance began the 1st Macedonian War, which took place outside Macedonia in an area coveted by the Aetolian League. The Aetolian League despised Philip V so in 212 or 211BCE, the Romans made an alliance with the Aetolian League against Philip V promising them control of all the cities that are captured (Shipley 373) (Austin 62). Rome abandoned the Aetolians to Philip V so they could fight their own war with the Carthaginians. In 206BCE, the Aetolians made peace with Philip V, cancelling out his alliance with Hannibal (Austin 64).
The Second Macedonian War began when Rome’s influence spread throughout mainland Greece and Philip V began raiding and pillaging mainland Greece, breaking his treaty with Rome and the Aetolians (Shipley 374). He attacked Pergamum who fled to Rome for help. Rome went to battle with Rome defeating the Macedonian Army in Thessaly for the first time since Philip’s II reign. Philip V was required to surrender his garrisons in Greece and his fleet (Austin 68). Thus, at the Isthmian Games of 196, Roman Commander Titus Quinctius Flamininus announced an edict declaring the Greeks to be free (Shipley 375). The Greeks gave Flamininus a warm reception thinking they were getting their autonomy back with their freedom. The Athenians set the curse decree upon Philip V, trashing and destroying all items and statues dedicated to him and cursed his line, his possessions and all of Macedonia (Austin 66).
Rome then went on in 196BCE to defend the Greeks from Antiochus III who tried to claim parts of Greece from Rome who he viewed as intruders. Rome stated that their war against Antiochus was in defense of Greek autonomy when it was more to protect what they viewed was rightfully theirs now (Shipley 376). Rome defeated Antiochus in Thermopylae and off the coast of Myonnesos. This was about the time that the Greeks realized that their freedom was not the same as liberation. Rome subjected its allies to its control and dictated what was to be done with them. Rome began to fully take over Greece (Shipley 377).
Rome also began to take over more internal affairs in Greece such as whether or not Sparta should remain a part of the Achaean League. Rome decided who could join or leave this league and what the outcomes of such choices were even thought this should have been decided by the city-states themselves. The Greeks began to turn anti-Rome and questioned their allegiances with Roman-controlled Macedonia. Greece experienced some internally chaotic years following Rome’s obvious rise to power (Shipley 379).
The third Macedonian War began when Perseus succeeded his father, Philip V, to the throne. Perseus focused inward on Macedonia’s problems and solved a lot of the economic and political issues Philip V had started working on. Perseus was loyal to Rome but Eumenes II of Pergamon wanted to rule Macedonia (Shipley 380). Eumenes II went to Rome to try and convince Rome that Perseus was plotting against them. Rome was not convinced and sent Eumenes II away. On his way back, Eumenes II was assaulted by a rock slide. Seeing this as an advantage he raced back to Rome claiming that Perseus tried to assassinate him. Rome believed him this time and sent an army to Macedonia to defeat him. Macedonia was backed by the common people as they respected Perseus and hated the Romans (Austin 75). Perseus, however, was defeated and brought back to Rome in chains as a war prize. He was paraded around the city and later executed. Macedonia was split into four separate provinces that were not allowed to interact and were ruled by one Roman governor, thus ending the third Macedonian War.
Athens, for the most part, had come out unscathed at this point. They were prospering in art, culture, and philosophy. Delos had presented a new coinage to them as well. Athens was prospering just in time for the Romans to decide that Athens was theirs. Non-Greek traders began migrating to Delos for new opportunities to sell their wares. They brought their children with them and taught them in Greek customs. Italians, as well, were drawn to the prosperity of Delos and swarmed the island. Eventually they began erecting Roman statues of their distinguished leaders in Delos and in Athens itself (Shipley 383).
The Achaean League began its rise around 168BCE with the goal of strengthening the Peloponnese. The Romans believed their army would lose its edge and sharpness if they went to long without fighting so they were more than eager to meet this challenge. They brought the fight to Dalmatia in 156BCE. Athens and the Achaean League also squabbled over territory now, which brought Sparta into the argument as well (Austin 137). Rome declared war on the League when they removed Sparta, Corinth, and Argos. The Romans defeated the League three times despite the anti-Rome attitude spreading through Greece. Rome had complete control of Greece.