Important Events in Roman History, 150-70

but first some advice on how Obama should deal with the senate

"Something olde, something new; something borrowed, something blue..."

  1. Rome and the Hellenistic States of Asia Minor
    1. The War against Antiochus III (the Macedonian king of Greater Syria) and the Aetolians, 192-189.
      1. The Aetolians, angry over the territorial settlement of the Macedonian War, invite Antiochus to invade and liberate Greece --an explicit refutation of Rome's claim.
      2. Antiochus' invasion (really only a raiding party) may have been a counter, designed to gain Roman recognition of Seleucid hegemony in Asia. If so, it failed, for Rome interpreted the attack as the first step in an invasion of Italy.
      3. Battle of Magnesia decides war.
      4. Settlement (§§ 69-70 note esp. p. 189 and 193): Syria reduced to nonentity pays an enormous indemnity, restricted to Syria proper. The big winner in this war was Pergamum which now has control over all of Anatolia; Seleucids too weak to defend eastern frontier. Over the next 125 years there will be a gradual breakdown in order in the eastern Mediterranean, a dissolution that will engage the Romans again in the eastern Mediterranean. Note page 192: Rome sends 'commissioners who would act as referees and settle affairs..'.
    2. The Third Macedonian War (172-167)
      1. Perseus comes to throne on death of father whose policy had been accomodation with Rome. On the charges against him: §71 --note the recurring themes ['broke the treaty'; 'attacked our allies'; 'to get rid of our Senate by poison'; 'undermined the leading men and cultivated the masses' in Greek states. ..
      2. That is: Perseus, in contrast to earlier policy of Macedonia, had begun to encourage lower classes of Greek city states; Rome is the champion of order and of moderate aristocracy (previously supported by the Macedonians!). §72, esp. 198. That is local and internal
      3. Rome demands reparations. Perseus refuses. After three years of indecisive warfare, Aemilus Paullus defeats Perseus at Pydna, 168. The line of the victorious phalanx broke up under own momentum. Polybius writes: The most probable explanation of the victory is that several separate engagements were going on all over the field, which first shook the phalanx out of its formation and then broke it up. As long as it was compact, its front bristling with leveled spears, its strength was irresistible. If by attacking them at various points you compel them to bring round their spears, which owing to their length and weight are cumbersome and unwieldy, they become a confused and involved mass, but if any sudden and tumultuous attack is made on their flank or rear, they go to pieces like a falling house.
      4. Macedonia divided into four republics (§74, esp p. 200); too weak for defense of self or of Greece.
      5. Rome and Rhodes: The latter had been responsible for peace at sea, but unfortunately, had attempted to mediate between Rome and Perseus. This is not something a client does! Only Rome can mediate
    3. The end of independence for the Hellenistic monarchies
      1. Egypt: the constant strife between members of the Ptolemaic family increasingly led one or the other to appeal to Rome; but, as Rome decided on the basis of who of the applicants was openly the most "pro-Roman", there could be no enduring solution. Note the arrogance of the Roman legate in §75. p.201. And that arrogance probably connected [§77 ] to the Roman atrocity in Epirus.
      2. The Fourth Macedonia War = Achaean War, 150-146 B.C.
        1. The republican militias of Macedonia were not effective against the rebel and alleged son of Perseus, Andriscus. Metellus defeats him in 148 and makes Macedonia a province of the Roman people.
        2. After the Third Macedonian War, Greece had again reverted to its traditional pattern of intra- and extramural strife. To discourage trouble, Rome took to Italy one thousand hostages from the best families of Greece.
        3. Roman brutality and insensitivity led to a revolt under the leadership of Critolaus of Corinth. Metellus crushed the revolt and destroyed the city of Corinth (one of the two greatest in Greece!).
  2. Why had Rome succeeded? Why had the Greco-Macedonian world fail to defend itself?
    1. On the Greco-Macedonian side, it is apparent that there were sufficient resources in men and material to limit the Roman advance. The failure then was at least in part a political failure to act together in common defense.
      1. the various states were more concerned to take advantage of the weakness of their immediate neighbor;
      2. the weaker states appeal to Roman against the stronger;
      3. fueled also by the social divisions within the states and the divisions among the leading families ... a dangerous mix.
    2. Though Rome was inferior to the totality of Hellenistic manpower and weapons, she enjoyed the advantage of a technologically superior "weapons system" and a more flexible mode of fighting.
    3. Rome's attitude also played an important role --to support "freedom of the Greeks"; to defend Greek culture; and to provide for order and moderate oligarchy, to support the weaker and most openly pro-Roman in any controversy all served to legitimize Roman intervention, at least in her own eyes. Implications for Greek opinion makers?
    4. It took, then, only three decisive battles for Rome to gain effective control over the area. She will not be challenged in the Mediterranean until the 4th century, A.D. What does this pattern suggest about the 'acceptability' of Roman administration? and about the 'inadequacies' of Greek self government? .
  3. Events in the West, 202-146 B.C.
    1. Problem areas:
      1. Northern Italy, especially the Po Valley.
      2. Liguria (the area around and to the west of Genoa) is now reduced.
      3. Spain: the source of Hannibal's resources in material and manpower; it could not be ignored or left as a power vacuum. There are continuous wars from 215-15 B.C.
    2. Methods of control: based on solutions of an earlier period.
      1. Colonies
      2. Roads.


Date Event Significance
149-6 4th MacedonianWar; 3rd Punic War; map Rome destroys her most persistent enemies and creates provinces in Macedonia and in Africa (Tunisia), Achaean League dissolved.
143-33 Romans wars in Spain; Slave wars in Sicily Many problems in many places
133 Tribunate of Tib Gracchus Beginning of violence in politics
132 Province of Asia organized First use of province to fund domestic programs
123-2 Tribunates of C. Gracchus Omnibus legislation defeated; escalating violence in Forum.


Jugurtha builds power in Africa/Numidia

Though thoroughly Romanized and connected to family of Scipiones, seeks independence for Numidia


Roman army defeated by Gauls; Roman/Latin colony of Cirta sacked by Jugurtha

Exposes Roman vulnerability to wars on two fronts at same time


Numidia: Roman misadvantentures

Exposes Roman command weakness and corruption of elite


Marius elected consul; leads army to Numidia

A 'new man' who seeks command against Jugurtha; opposed by elite, but elected by lower orders. Division in state intensifies as the elite close access and frustrate reform


Marius successful in Numidia, but Roman armies destroyed in Gaul (Arausio, third major defeat in short period); Italy threatened.

Marius and Sulla, his aide, gain credit while stature of elite/ optimates declines.


Marius elected consul annually; reforms Roman army; defeats Gauls and Germans. Battle of Aque Sextiae: Marius declines, battle, labeled a coward, then attacks rear of unprepared Teutones; forces Cimbri to fight against setting sun.

Clear violation of constitution; army professionalized, but now client of commander.


The tributne, Satuninus, proposes legislation for Marius' veterans, Italians and other issues; Senate opposes; rioting; Marius restores order

Senate feared Marius' unprecedented behavior; could only deny him the settlement for vets. By destroying his own agent Saturninus, Marius lost political control. Implications??


Trial of Rutilius Rufus. The equestrian courts condemns senatorial governor who had protected provincials from equestrian tax collectors.

Exposes deep division between senatorial and equestrian orders


Tribunate of Livius Drusus; his law on franchise; assassination. Social War

Same pattern as earlier; reform legislation that all could support breaks down on over issue of clientele


Social War; leges Julia, Plautia, Papiria, Pompeia extend citizenship to various Italian communities, but they are inequitably distributed..

After several defeats, Roman divide Italians by selective extension of citizenship secured through laws of a number of individuals.


Sulpicius Rufus tribune, proposes law to transfer command in East from Sulla to Marius; Sulla marches on Rome and secures his reappointment

Sulla had been assigned command by senate. The march on Rome by army sets a dangerous precedent..


Sulla in East against Mithradates; Rome controlled by Marius and Cinna. Italians evenly distributed throughout tribes [aka voting districts];

Clear division in state. Senate not functional.


Sulla returns to Italy; marches on Rome and restores senatorial control.* Proscriptions follow.

Sulla becomes dictator for restructuring the constitution. New constitution favors Senate. Proscriptions escalate level of state violence.


Sulla resigns, retires and dies


Lepidus challenges Sullan order, but defeated

Pressure is building to restore "popular" power.


Pirates active and threaten eastern Mediterranean; Roman renegade Sertorius active in Spain; Spartacus revolts in Italy

Pressure at many points. Pompeius markets himself as the man to restore order.


Order restored throughout Mediterranean

Will it last? Does the state need a 'great man'?

70 Pompeius** and Crassus, competitors ally against Senate, are elected consuls and restore traditional tribunician powers.
67-62 Pompeius given special comman (extra-ordinary) to deal with pirates; extended to conclude war with Mithradates and organize east. Gives him imperium throughout the Mediterranean and 50 miles inland, virtual control of Empire
63 Cicero consul; conspiracy of Catiline
62 Pompey returns to Italy and disbands army. Did not want to be seen as another Sulla, but without army loses leverage and cannot get settlement for soldiers


Caesar consul; forms "triumvirate" ("gang of three") ;

Caesar, Pompeius and Crassus were frustrated with the Senate and needed settlement of their affairs. Gain it through control of assemblies, soldiers and equestrian order.

*Sulla’s reforms [directly or indirectly the fact of the empire played a role]:

Sulla's laws-as much as we know of them- are curiously backward-looking but attempt to remedy ills of his time in the way he thought best.  He tried to restore position of authority and the cohesion of the senate by legislation.  Clearly Sulla saw the problems but the surgery was cosmetic and sort lived. To that end


**Career of Pompey the Great to the first triumvirate: