The Major Factors That Led Rome and the Hellenistic Kingdom to Clash Essay
6. What were the major factors that led to clashes between Rome and the Hellenistic kingdoms, down to 146 B.C.? Can one decide what proportion of the responsibility for these clashes belongs to Rome, to the Hellenistic “great powers” (the Antigonids, Seleucids and Ptolemies) and to the minor players?
This essay will what were the major factors that led to clashes between Rome and the Hellenistic kingdom, down to 146 B.C. A brief history of Rome’s increasing involvement in the Hellenistic area starting with its wars with Hannibal of Carthage and how the Hellenistic Kingdoms of Antigonids, the Seleucids and the Ptolemies and several other minor powers in the area came to be after the death of Alexander. The essay will focus on the factors that the writer believes contributed to the clashes. These being, Philips alliance with Hannibal and the Carthaginian empire, the results of ambassadors from Rhodes and Pergamum being received in Rome and telling of an appending alliance between Philip of Macedon and Antiochus of the Seleucids Kingdom, the third factor is that Rome was simply coming to the aid of its ‘friends’, various smaller powers in the area with which it had formed alliances. The essay will then focus on to whom the responsibility for the clashes between Rome and the Hellenistic Kingdoms lies with and what proportion of responsibility can apportioned to each party.
This will focus on the major players of the Hellenistic Kingdoms, the Antigonids, Seleucids and Ptolemies and other smaller players. After the death of Alexander in 323B.C. the empire which he had created began to be broken up into different kingdoms and satraps amid bitter infighting by his generals, including Ptolemy, Cassander, Antigonus, Parmenion and Seleucus. “the ultimate fragmentation of Alexander’s empire was likelihood from the start, and the history of the following generation was to see the emergence of several separate kingdoms and dynasties out of his once unified empire.” Out of these generals three emerged to take control of large pieces of Alexander’s empire, these were, Ptolemy, Antigonus and Seleucus. Ptolemy Soter had campaigned with Alexander from the beginning and had gained Alexanders trust, and had become one of his personal bodyguards as well as one of Alexander’s generals. After Alexanders death Ptolemy was given the satrapy of Egypt and soon used his new found authority to start claiming some of the surrounding areas, including, the region around Cyrene.
His first challenge to the authority of the other satrapies and kingdoms was the claiming of Alexanders remains as his funeral procession toured through his empire. Ptolemy later won the lands of Palestine and Cyprus to further secure Egypt’s borders. The Ptolemy dynasty lasted many centuries until it also came under Roman rule. Antigonus was another one of Alexander’s successors and created the Antigonid dynasty which was to rule Macedonia and parts of Greece. Antigonus had ambitions to recreate Alexanders empire and this was recognized by the other successors who formed an alliance against him, that was fought over many battle but reached no real conclusion, but prevented him from expanding his kingdom any further. Antigonus was constantly under attack from all sides and finally fell in battle and his kingdom now came under the control of his son. Seleucus was another of Alexanders general and after his death was given the satrapy of Babylonia and after first being ousted by Antigonus, he fled to Egypt to seek refuge with Ptolemy, after a number of years in Egypt, Seleucus returned to take over much of Persia.
The lands that he had gained were ethnically diverse and used different parts of each culture to administer his lands. Seleucus managed to gain back much of Alexander’s former empire until he was assassinated and his son took over his leadership. These three successors of Alexander along with the more minor satrap of Lysimachus and Cassander inherited an empire but through almost constant warfare between themselves were not able to resurrect Alexander’s empire either singularly or as an alliance. The three main successors forged dynasties that lasted a couple of centuries until they all were defeated or came under the sway of Rome. Rome fought three wars with Carthage called the Punic wars, these wars were fought between 264B.C. and 146B.C. (First 264-241B.C., Second 218-202B.C., Third 149-146B.C.)
The first two Punic wars were essentially defensive wars for Rome especially the second where Hannibal in command of the Carthaginian forces crossed the Alps and attacked mainland Italy, the Romans were able to repel Hannibal and his army, Hannibal was eventually defeated by the famous General Publius Cornelius Scipio and pushed back to North Africa and Carthage. The second war reduced Carthage to nothing but a city state, but Rome still feared that Carthage could rise once again to its former military might and with the third Punic war; Rome razed Carthage to the ground, slaughtering or enslaving its inhabitants.
“At the sight of the city utterly perishing amidst the flames Scipio burst into tears, and stood long reflecting on the inevitable change which awaits cities, nations, and dynasties.” Rome and the Hellenistic kingdoms fought four wars called the Macedonian wars between 215B.C. and 146B.C. and wars signalled the first clashes between Rome and the Hellenistic kingdoms. The first Macedonian war was fought between Rome and Philip V of Macedon of the Antigonid kingdom and was brought about as a cause of revenge. In 216B.C. Philip V thought that with Hannibal’s continuous victories over the Roman forces that the Italian peninsula would fall and that the time was right to form an alliance with Hannibal, with the ambition of expanding his own domains. This was a war that Rome did not want to be involved in as they were already stretched militarily in their fight against Carthage, and sent only a small force to deal with Philip V and the Macedon kingdom.
According to Livy, Rome made an alliance with the Aetolians to fight against Philip V and sent a larger force to wage war, but on arriving found the Aetolians had made peace with Philip V and it was easier for Rome to seek peace with Philip V than fight alone, and thus the first Macedonian war ended. The Second Macedonian was fought between 200-196B.C. and was started after an apparent secret deal between Philip V of Macedon and Antiochus III of the Seleucid kingdom to attack and divide up the Egyptian kingdom under Ptolemy rule. Ambassadors from Rhodes and Pergamum had sent diplomatic missions to Rome with these reports with the intent of gaining Roman support against Philip V and the threats he posed to their kingdoms. Philip’s aggression towards the Greek city states, some who had alliances with Rome, caused Rome to issue an ultimatum to Philip, to remove his forces back into Macedon, Philip refused and on the pretext of helping its ‘friends’ Rome started t move its forces against Macedon.
It is possible that Rome also feared if Philip and Antiochus gained further footholds in the Eastern Mediterranean, they could at some point threaten Italy, also of note is the ambition of Roman commanders to gain personal advancement and public prestige through the triumphs of winning wars. Philip was defeated in the battle of Cynoscephalae in 196B.C. and was forced to give up all territories outside of Macedonia and become an ally of Rome. At this point Rome proclaimed that all Greek was ‘free’ and essentially Greece came under Rome’s political and military sway. ‘The Senate of the Romans and Titus Quibctius the proconsul having defeated king Philip and the Macedonians in war, allow (Greece) to be free, ungarrisoned, not subject to tribute and using their ancestral laws.” In 192B.C. Antiochus III invaded Greece seemingly at the request of some Greek states to liberate Greece from the Roman’s, Antiochus found little support in Greece for his endeavours, for many of the Greek states had regained independence after the Roman occupation and had no desire to be ruled over by another king.
Rome retaliated and Antiochus was defeated in battles at Thermopylae, Myonnesos and Magnesia-by-Sipylos, these were crushing defeats and forced Antiochus back to Syria and what was left of the Seleucid kingdom and thrust Rome deeper into the affairs of the region. The third Macedonian war fought between 172-167B.C. and was caused by accusation by King Eumenes of Pergamum of Macedonian violations of its territory and an assassination attempt on Eumenes that were both attributed to king Perseus, who had now taken the throne after the death of his father. Perseus tried diplomatic negotiations with Rome who had an alliance with Pergamum, but these only served to give Rome more time to prepare an invasion force. Perseus managed to win a few minor battles, but was crushed in the battle Pydna in 168B.C. and this signalled the ended of the Antigonid kingdom as it was split up into four republics by Rome. In the period between 168-146B.C. Rome consolidated its power in the region with calling on Antiochus to withdraw his troops from Egypt and further decimated the Seleucid kingdom by burning its ships and hamstringing its elephants which effectively brought an end to any resistance.
The so-called forth Macedonian war consisted of local anti-Roman uprisings and invasion from Thrace in 149B.C. by Andriscus who managed to defeats the Macedonian resistance crowned himself Philip VI, but his reign was short-lived and after being handed over to the Romans in 146B.C., Macedon was made a Roman province, thus signalling the end of the Antigonid kingdom. To attribute a proportion of responsibility for the clashes between Rome and the Hellenistic kingdoms cannot be clearly defined as both parties during this era had ideas of expansion and each conflict could potentially be blamed on the other party. An example of this is the second Macedonian war where the responsibility could be split because Philip had been moving forward in taking land off the Greek city states, while Rhodes and Pergamum had been trying to entice the Romans to attack Philip through sending ambassadors to Rome with their grievances and it could be argued that the senators and commanders in Rome wanted to attack Philip for reasons of personal advancement and prestige.
Whilst in many of the other wars Rome could be seen as the aggressor as their seemed to very little provocation or reasoning in some of their attacks, shown by the third Macedonian war. In conclusion this essay has given a history of Roman military movements up until their entry into the Hellenistic realms, along with histories of the major Hellenistic kingdoms and how they ended up clashing with Rome. The major factors which led to these clashes have been identified along with what proportion of responsibility should be given to each party for the clashes. It is possible that the downfall of the Hellenistic kingdoms was inevitable and it was only a matter of time before Rome conquered them all. “the Romans in less than fifty-three years have succeeded in subjecting nearly the whole inhabit ted world to their sole government—a unique thing in history?”
Austin M.M. The Hellenistic World: From Alexander to the Roman Conquest. 2nd Ed Cambridge University Press, Cambridge. 2006 Balsdon, J. P. V. D. Rome and Macedon, 205-200 B.C. Journal of Roman Studies , 44: , 1954 Billows. R.A.. Antigonos the One-Eyed and the Creation of the Hellenistic State. University of California Press, Berkley. 1990 Dorey T.A. Rome Against Carthage. Seeker and Warburg, London, 1971. Great Lives from History: The Ancient World, Salem Press, 2004 Gruen. E.S. Rome and the Seleucids in the aftermath of Pydna Chiron, 6, 1976 Livy The History of Rome trans. Rev. C. Roberts, EP Dutton and Co. New York. 1912 McDonald A.H. Rome and Greece 196-146 B.C. Auckland University Press. 1970 Polybius The Histories of Polybius, trans. Evelyn S. Shuckburgh, Macmillan, London, 1889 Shipley. G The Greek World: After Alexander 323-30B.C. Routledge, London 2000 Walbank F.W. The causes of the Third Macedonian War: recent views The in Ancient Macedonia II: Papers Read at the Second International Symposium Held in Thessaloniki, 1973 , Metsakes, K. , 1977
[ 1 ]. M.M. Austin The Hellenistic World: From Alexander to the Roman
Conquest 2nd Ed Cambridge University Press Cambridge. 2006 pp. 63 [ 2 ]. Great Lives from History: The Ancient World, Salem Press, 2004 pp 25-28 [ 3 ]. Billows. R.A. Antigonos the One-Eyed and the Creation of the Hellenistic State. University of California Press, Berkley. 1990 [ 4 ]. G. Shipley The Greek World: After Alexander 323-30B.C. Routledge, London 2000 pp. 286-287 [ 5 ]. T.A. Dorey Rome Against Carthage Seeker and Warburg, London, 1971. Pp.37-51 [ 6 ]. Polybius 39.51The Histories of Polybius, trans. Evelyn S. Shuckburgh, London Macmillan, 1889 [ 7 ]. J.P.V.D. Balsdon Rome and Macedon, 205-200 B.C. Journal of Roman Studies , 44: , 1954 pp:31-33 [ 8 ]. Livy 31.1-31.4 The History of Rome trans. Rev. C. Roberts, EP Dutton and Co. New York. 1912 [ 9 ]. Livy 31.2 The History of Rome
[ 10 ]. G. Shipley The Greek World: After Alexander 323-30B.C. pp:374-375 [ 11 ]. A.H. McDonald. Rome and Greece 196-146 B.C. Auckland University Press. 1970, 113-114 [ 12 ]. Polybius 18.46 The Histories of Polybius
[ 13 ]. Livy 37.41-37.45 The History of Rome
[ 14 ]. F.W. Walbank The causes of the Third Macedonian War: recent views The in Ancient Macedonia II: Papers Read at the Second International Symposium Held in Thessaloniki, 1973 , Metsakes, K. , 1977 pp. 84-86 [ 15 ]. E.S. Gruen. Rome and the Seleucids in the aftermath of Pydna Chiron, 6, 1976 pp. 74 [ 16 ]. Polybius 1.1 The Histories of Polybius
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