Rome & the Macedonian Wars: (precursor to 146 BC)

28 Jan

The Romans were a young republic, a new power player on the azure waters of the Mediterranean Sea. They had contended with their rivals on the Italian Peninsula, and bitterly fought their rival Carthage, an empire descended from the purple-clothed, mercantile Phoenicians of the Levant. Rome was connected by sea to the greatest empires the world had seen. Egypt and Greece were far older, more mysterious realms that had survived centuries of turmoil, and cataclysm. They were bastions of culture that the Romans were in awe of. The Romans were not hungry for conquest, and would normally invade only when invited into the conflicts between lesser powers. Rome would soon be involved closely with the ancient Mediterranean empires, eventually calling the Mediterranean Sea by the name Mare Nostrum: “our sea”.

The Greek City States had long found themselves in-battled with each other. Petty warlords, generals, and seers all vying against each other like vipers in a pit. The Roman Republic had sought to avoid these conflicts, especially with kingdoms who predated them by centuries. Exceptionally, Rome once intervened in Greece in 227BC to defeat Teuta, the pirate Queen of Illyria.

Alexander the Great who had conquered the world in ten years beginning at the age 19, had brought the kingdom of Macedon a mighty legacy to uphold, but few kings since could fill his mighty shoes. The world was ruled by a Hellenistic, Greek speaking empire. His empire had sundered after his death in 323BC, shattering into seven bickering empires led by his former generals. They were the Seleucids in Persia, Attalids in Pergamum, Ptolemies in Egypt, and four other generals in the Greek heartlands. The world belonged to Greeks, but they fought amongst themselves.

There was a balance of power within Greece during the two centuries that followed, to ensure that no single empire could rise strong enough to conquer the others. Three kings of Macedon in secession: Philip, Perseus, and finally Andriscus attempted to restore the power of Macedon. Spurred on by the legendary past conquests of Alexander the Great, these kings of Macedon began aggressions in Greece that soon involved the powerful Roman Republic. In the four Macedonian wars (214 to 148 BC), Rome defeated the upstart Macedon on behalf of the smaller Greek kingdoms. Rome even protected a beleaguered Ptolemaic Egypt from the depredations of the Seleucids (Greek rulers of Levant/Persia). In the wars, the Macedonian phalanx was thrice defeated, once on the planes of Thessalonica. Macedon was henceforth claimed as a Roman province. The Romans declared the “liberation of Greece” at the Olympic Games, a pompous and ceremonial occasion that was proclaimed so often by victorious kings of the warring Greeks that it had come to mean nothing.IMG_6085.JPG

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