Rome in the East - World History

Rome in the East - World History
Posted on 30-12-2022

Rome in the East (200 ) Rome begins to intervene in Macedonia, Greece, and Asia Minor.

At the beginning of the 2nd century, a huge pyramidal temple (the pyramid of the Sun ) was built in Teotihuacán. Around this time, the Zapotec culture had acquired its most distinctive features: the ceramic funerary urns modeled by hand stand out, with attached figures of divinities with large headdresses.

In Peru, the Chavín culture disappears, and the region fragments, so that almost a different culture emerges in each valley. Various cities come into conflict trying to expand. Fortified cities are built, among which Tiahuanaco and Huari stand out. The high population density forced the exploitation of new lands and the construction of large irrigation and engineering works.

China had finally found stability under Liu Bang (or Gaodi), the first emperor of the Han dynasty. India was still ruled by the Mauryans, although little is known about the monarchs who succeeded Asoka the Great. In western Asia the greatest power was the Seleucid Empire, which under Antiochus III the Great had reached the height of its power. In Egypt the dynasty of the Ptolemies was in danger, since King Ptolemy V was only eleven years old. Greece was ruled by the Achaean League, led by Philopemén, who did not quite dominate Sparta. Carthage had just been reduced to nothing by Rome. Hannibal proved to be as good an administrator as a strategist. He took charge of the state and reorganized the Carthaginian finances, so that Carthage was soon in a position to pay Rome the tribute agreed in the peace treaty. And Rome had a score to settle with Macedonia that it was not willing to ignore. Philip V had allied with Hannibal and had even sent troops to Zama. He just needed an excuse to take action and he had it immediately.

The city of Rhodes was one of the few remaining independent Greek cities. He was in the middle of the battlefield of the Syrian War, so he decided to ask Rome for help fearing that it would end up being absorbed by Antiochus III or by Philip V. Something similar happened with Pergamum, whose king Attalus I asked for the protection of Rome versus Antiochus III. Rome was not made to beg, and decided -naturally- that Philip V had priority. In 200 she sent an embassy to Philip V urging him to avoid any act that could harm Rhodes. The king did not accept and thus began the Second Macedonian War. Rome expected all of Greece to rise up against Philip V, but it did not, and Philip V was a good general, so for two years the war stalemate with neither side gaining a decisive advantage.

At the same time, Rome sent Latin colonists to Cisalpine Gaul and southern Italy, with which the entire peninsula was rapidly Romanized, so that the Gallic, Etruscan and Greek nationalities were diluted. On the other hand, Rome was also in charge of subduing the south and east of Spain, considered as spoils of war. She sent two armies, one to the south and one to the east. She established a tax on the entire population and administered the mining operations. The rebellions of the natives were constant. In 197 Rome organized the territory into two provinces: Hispania Ulterior (which included the southern part) and Hispania Citerior .(the East). This did not mean that the natives were under control. On the contrary, that same year a revolt broke out in the Guadalquivir valley and on the southeastern coast. At the same time, the general Titus Quintius Flaminius was sent to Macedonia, who forced the Macedonians to present battle at Cynoscephalus, in Thessaly. Philip V organized two phalanxes, but the Romans had known about the phalanx since the time of Pyrrhus and the legion knew how to treat it. At the same time Pergamum had defeated another Macedonian army in Asia Minor, so Philip V was forced to surrender. Like Carthage, Macedonia had to renounce all influence over Greece, disband part of its army, cede its fleet, and pay a large tribute. Philip V was allowed to keep his crown, but he never again faced Rome.

Flaminio was invited to participate in the Isthmian Games, where he announced the restoration of freedom to all Greek cities. The Greeks applauded warmly, but their concept of freedom was then reduced to the freedom to fight against each other, and they immediately asked Flaminius to help the Achaean League against Nabis of Sparta, just as Macedonia had done before. Flaminius reluctantly agreed. He was an admirer of Greece and did not like to fight against Greeks. He expelled Nabis from Argos, but did not consent to the Achaean League taking Sparta.

In this campaign, Flaminio had the support of King Eumenes II of Pergamum, who had just succeeded his father Attalo I and thus ratified the alliance that he had established with Rome. He was a great protector of culture and under his reign the library of Pergamum became the great rival of the library of Alexandria. The Egyptians stopped exporting papyrus, and it became increasingly scarce. An alternative was to write on animal skins, which were much more durable, but also more expensive. However, someone in Pergamum discovered a treatment for the skins that allowed writing on both sides, thus cutting the price in half. This type of skin received the name of parchment,by the city where it was discovered, and gradually replaced papyrus.

By this time Ptolemy V was considered of legal age and personally assumed the government of Egypt. The corresponding rituals and festivals were celebrated, and among the various testimonies that were left of the act was an inscription on stone, where the text appeared written in Greek and in two Egyptian modalities. This inscription, known as the Rosetta Stone, was the key two thousand years later to understanding hieroglyphic writing.

Antiochus III had been in theory an ally of Philip V, but not only had he not helped him against the Romans, but upon learning of his defeat he decided to send troops to Macedonia to conquer some territories. This happened in 196, the same year that Rome sent an embassy to Carthage to accuse Hannibal of planning a new war, and demand his immediate surrender. Hannibal had to flee and went to Tire, which was then part of the Seleucid Empire. in 195He went looking for Antiochus III. Both met in Ephesus, and Hannibal proposed that, while Antiochus III continued his campaign in Macedonia, he should provide him with an army that would lead Italy against Rome. Antiochus III did not accept, and instead proposed that he go to Tire to gather a Phoenician fleet with which to dominate the Aegean. At the same time he sent more troops to Greece. Hannibal had communicated to Carthage his plans for an alliance with Antiochus III, but the Carthaginians were scared of the consequences that this could have for their city and immediately notified Rome, which sent an embassy to Antiochus III to try to find out his intentions, embassy to which Antiochus III did not want to pay attention. Meanwhile, Rome sent Spain toMarco Porcio Catón, who disembarked in Emporion and from there marched to Tarraco, clearing all indigenous resistance up to the Ebro.

That year the Chinese Emperor Han Gaodi died, and was succeeded by his son Huidi, who continued his father's policy and preserved the stability achieved by him.

In 194 Flaminius left Greece to return to Rome. Philopemen immediately led the Achaean League against Sparta and forced her to join him. Nabis was assassinated by some Aetolians, with which Sparta finally collapsed.

Meanwhile, Cato's campaigns in Spain had paid off and, after a series of ravages in numerous cities, the rebels were reduced and enslaved. The survivors began a guerrilla war, while, on the borders, the Celtiberians and Lusitanians increased their incursions because Rome had deprived them of all possibility of contact with the civilizations of the south and east, which had been one of their main sources of livelihood.

In 193 Cato returned to Rome with a large booty, largely from the sale as slaves of all the Hispanics who had rebelled against him. He had established a system of plunder and repression that was continued by his successors.

Antiochus III went one step further in his policy of marriage alliances, marrying his daughter Cleopatra to Ptolemy V. The Achaean League dominated Greece with the support of Rome, which put the Aetolian League in a bad situation, and so the Aetolians decided to ask Antiochus III to bring the troops he had in Macedonia to Greece to help him. Antiochus III did more than that. In 192 he invaded Pergamum, crossed the Aegean, and led an army into Greece. Rome immediately intervened, and in 191a Roman army clashed with that of Antiochus III at Thermopylae, where he won an easy victory. Antiochus, terrified, returned to Asia Minor, but Rome was not willing to allow Antiochus III to retain Pergamum, as it was an allied state. A Roman fleet, reinforced by ships from Pergamum and Rhodes, defeated the Seleucid fleet, and for the first time a Roman army landed in Asia. At his command was Lucius Cornelius Scipio, brother of Scipio the African. The senate had been reluctant to entrust command to Lucius, but his sister offered to accompany him as second mate, and this inspired confidence.

That same year, the Chinese Emperor Huidi died. Shortly before his death, he had lifted the ban that Qin Shi Huang Di had imposed on subversive books, and thus many Confucian texts that had remained underground came to light again. It appears that Liu Bang's widow had Huidi's brother assassinated, as well as many of Liu Bang's concubines, allowing her to become empress.

In 190 the Romans clashed with Antiochus III in Magnesia. Scipio the Africanus was bedridden by illness, but his brother Lucius had no difficulty in winning and was therefore nicknamed El Asiatico.   In 189 the Syrian War ended. Antiochus III had to cede all his possessions in Asia Minor, which became part of the domains of Pergamum and Rhodes. He too undertook to pay a heavy indemnity and hand Hannibal over to the Romans, but for the latter he managed to warn Hannibal in time for him to flee.

It is said that Scipio had the opportunity to meet with Hannibal, and that at one point he asked him who he considered to have been the best general of all time. Obviously Scipio wanted Hannibal to opt for one of the two, but Hannibal's response was: Alexander the Great. Then Scipio insisted: And the second best general? This time the answer was: Pirro. Scipio insisted again: And the third? I myself , said Hannibal. Then Scipio said to him smiling: Despite the fact that I have defeated you? And Hannibal replied:It's just that if you hadn't beaten me I would have placed myself in first place, ahead of Alejandro.

Hannibal fled to Bithynia, to the court of King Prusias I. He was Philip V's brother-in-law and had supported him on several occasions, so he was not on very good terms with Rome, just unlike Pergamum, his neighbor and rival. Taking advantage of the defeat of Antiochus III, the governors Artaxias and Zaridis respectively proclaimed themselves kings of Greater Armenia, and of Sóphena and Arzaneno,two regions situated in the south of Armenia. The Armenians had been subject to the Medes since they entered the territory to which they gave their name (the ancient kingdom of Urartu), then under Persian rule, and finally under the Seleucids, and were now taking the first step toward independence.

Antiochus III died in 187, in Elam, at the hands of a mob protesting that the sovereign was trying to loot a temple to pay Rome. He was succeeded by his he son of him Seleucus IV. That same year Euthydemus, the king of Bactria, died, and the throne was disputed by his son Demetrius, married to a daughter of Antiochus III, and a general named Eucratides, who was finally able to seize power. The weak link that united Bactria with the Seleucid Empire was broken forever.

In 185 King Eumenes II of Pergamum, knowing that he had the support of Rome, declared war on Prusias I of Bithynia. That same year Mithridates III of Pontus died and was succeeded by his son Pharnaces I.Meanwhile, in Rome, the Scipios Publius and Lucius were accused of having appropriated part of the money paid by Antiochus III. Scipio Africanus always had enemies in Rome. Partly out of envy, partly because of his blatant conceit. The fact is that Lucio was willing to show the account books, but Publius seized them and destroyed them. Maybe he was guilty, or maybe he was innocent and considered it an offense that his word was not enough to certify it. The fact is that Lucio was fined and Publius was brought to trial accused of having accepted a bribe from Antiochus III. He could have been convicted, but he reminded the court that that day was the anniversary of Zama's victory, and popular outcry forced him to be acquitted.

In India the last Maurya king was assassinated by Pushyamitra, who inaugurated the Sungas dynasty . Under this new dynasty, the Brahmanical religion regained its vigour.

In 184 Philopemen died in Messinia, trying to put down a revolt against the Achaean League. He was later called "the last of the Greeks", because he was the last Greek leader to win victories. That same year the writer Ennius received Roman citizenship. Cato was appointed censor, and so zealously exercised his function that he was ever since known as Cato the Censor. Cato was the epitome of old Roman virtue. He distrusted novelties, such as interest in Greek culture, he was one of the staunchest enemies of the Scipios, and he relentlessly repressed what he considered immoral. It is said that he fined Scipio the Asiatic because he had kissed his wife in the presence of his children. He was also one of the first important Latin prose writers. He wrote a history of Rome and a treatise on agriculture.

Meanwhile, Eumenes II had undertaken a series of campaigns against neighboring kingdoms. In addition to the war against Bithynia, he extended his domain at the expense of the Galatians and against Pharnaces I of Pontus. However, where he encountered serious problems was in Bithynia, because King Prusias I had Hannibal as an adviser, who despite his advanced age had not lost his skills. Pergamum asked Rome for help once more, which did not miss the opportunity to harass Hannibal. in 183an embassy was sent that demanded the delivery of the Carthaginian. Prusias I did not dare to imitate Antiochus III and facilitate Hannibal's escape who, seeing that he had no escape, chose to poison himself at sixty-four years of age. It is said that his last words were: "Let us put an end to the anxiety of the Romans, who consider it too long and painful to wait for the death of a hated old man." That same year Scipio the African died. In 182 Prusias I died and was succeeded by his son Prusias II.

In 181 Ptolemy V died, leaving only two small children. The eldest of them was crowned as Ptolemy VI and his mother, Cleopatra, acted as regent. Since Filipo V of Macedonia was defeated by the Romans, he was always loyal to them. He even helped Rome in the Syrian War, but at the same time he was trying to quietly rebuild Macedonian power. His eldest daughter, Demetrius, was sincerely pro-Roman, so he had him poisoned.

In 180 Empress Lu died, and soon after there was a massacre that wiped out her family, the throne of China reverted to her husband's family, when Wendi, Huidi's brother, was proclaimed Emperor. His reign marked a period of peace for the empire. The state moderated its expenses, while promoting new public works: improvements to roads, canals and ports. Taxes were also lowered.

Rome sent Tiberio Sempronio Graco to Hispania Citerior, who stood out for his diplomacy and signed treaties and truces with Celtiberians and Vacceos, thus definitively pacifying the province, while defeating the Lusitanians and Vascones, strengthening the borders.

In 179 Philip V of Macedon died and was succeeded by his son Perseus, who continued his father's project of strengthening Macedonia while fomenting discontent among the Greeks over Roman domination.

Seleucus IV tried to rebuild the country from the pitiful state in which it had been found after the defeat of his father against the Romans. The tribute demanded by Rome had ruined the state coffers and the monarch had to get money where he could. One of the most popular sources were the temples, but that meant playing with the religious beliefs of the people and had its dangers (just think about the death of Antiochus III). Anyway, he sent an official named Heliodorus to plunder the temple in Jerusalem. At that time, the high priest of the Jews was Onias III,who, apparently, reached an agreement with Heliodoro by which he gave him part of the treasure in exchange for not having to give it all to his master. Heliodorus accepted the bribe, although the Bible relates the episode in slightly different terms:

Heliodorus did not think of anything other than executing his plan; and for this he had already presented himself with his guards at the gate of the treasury. But the spirit of Almighty God made itself manifest there with very obvious signs, in such conformity that, knocked down on the ground by a divine virtue, all those who had dared to obey Heliodorus, were left as stiff and terrified. For there appeared to them, mounted on a horse, a personage of withering appearance and magnificently dressed, whose weapons seemed to be made of gold, who, attacking Heliodorus with impetus, kicked him with the front feet of the horse. Two other gallant and robust young men, full of majesty and richly dressed, also appeared, who,[II Mac III, 23-26] (The following verses, until the end of the chapter, contain one of the funniest biblical manipulations, due to its originality and impudence.)

Perhaps Heliodorus told his lord a similar story to justify his return empty-handed, a story that Seleucus IV must have heard with not a few reservations. So, knowing that if Seleucus IV discovered what had happened, his days would be numbered, in 175 Heliodorus hatched a plot for which both the king and his eldest son ended up assassinated. The Seleucid throne passed to Antiochus IV, brother of Seleucus IV. He was born in Athens and, after the defeat of his father, was taken to Rome as a hostage, where he received good treatment. When he learned of his brother's death, he left Rome for Antioch, where he had no objection to becoming the new king.

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