The conquest of the East - World History

The conquest of the East - World History
Posted on 30-12-2022

The conquest of the East ( 80 ) Rome annexes Bithynia, Pontus, Syria, and Judea.

After his entry into Rome and with the help of Pompey, Sulla had no difficulty in subduing all Roman possessions again, with one exception: Spain had become the center of resistance for Mario's followers. Shortly before Sulla entered Rome, Quintus Sertorius had been appointed praetor of Hispania Citerior, who tried to attract the Celtiberians and the Lusitanians to confront Sulla's supporters in Spain. Once the dictatorship was established, Sertorio had to flee to Cartago Nova, to Ebusus (Ibiza) and from there to Mauritania, but in 80 the Lusitanians called him to lead the resistance against Rome. He embraced guerrilla warfare and successfully confronted Quintus Cecilio Metellus, who was then proconsul of Hispania Ulterior.

Ptolemaic Egypt was going through a unique situation in its history: there was no heir to the throne. The last king, Ptolemy XI, had bequeathed Egypt to the Romans, but Rome was not, for the moment, in a position to occupy Egypt. It seems that Ptolemy X had had an illegitimate son, named Dionysus, who, in the absence of another candidate, decided to aspire to the throne. The Alexandrian court immediately proclaimed him king, making him Ptolemy XII.However, the new king knew that Rome could claim the country at any time based on his predecessor's will, so he took it upon himself to satisfy the Senate with large and periodic bribes.

In Rome a political scandal broke out. An Italian named Sextio Roscio was murdered by relatives who wanted to appropriate his fortune. After the murder, the relatives had legal problems to get hold of the inheritance, so they negotiated with Crisogeno, a servant of Sulla, so that he obtained a sentence against Roscio from the dictator that would legitimize the murder. This allowed them to purchase their property at auction for much less than its actual value. However, Roscio had a son, also called Roscio, who had rights over the assets, so in 79 Crisogeno accused him of the murder of his father to get rid of him. Fortunately, the son found a good lawyer. It was Marcus Tullius Cicero.

Cicero was 27 years old at the time. He belonged to an Italian family of the equestrian class. He had studied in Rome with good orators and jurists. They all belonged to the senatorial class, so Cicero was a conservative. He had been a lawyer for a year and until now he had only defended a routine case (Pro Quinctio). On the contrary, Roscio's defense brought him to the forefront of today. It happened that, even with Sulla's conviction, Roscio's murder had been illegal, since Sulla had set a statute of limitations for all the sentences that he decreed, and Roscio was murdered after said term. Cicero avoided attacking Sulla at all times, on the contrary, his defense was based on the fact that Chrysogenus had abused the trust that Sulla had placed in him, and his speech urged the court to put an end to the corruption he was losing smell. Cicero's magnificent oratory won the cause and indirectly tarnished Sulla's reputation. In fact, Cicero chose to leave the city immediately afterward. He headed for Athens, where he continued his studies at the old Platonic Academy.

Shortly after, a friend of Sulla named Marco Emilio Lépido went over to the popular party and presented himself to the consulate against Sulla's will. The electoral campaign was very violent, Lepidus was elected and the Senate ratified his choice. At sixty years old, Sulla did not want new fights, so he preferred to abdicate and retired to Cumae, where he died the following year, in 78. On the day of his funeral, the consul Lepidus tried to rebel against his colleague. . The Senate banished him to Gallia Narbonensis.

Meanwhile the Alans crossed the Caucasus and attacked the disorganized Parthian Empire.

After his stay in Athens, Cicero had been to Smyrna and Rhodes. That same year he returned to Rome as did Caesar, and both began the "cursus honorum", the long Roman political career that required passing through numerous intermediate positions before being able to aspire to the consulate.

Lepidus was not slow to counterattack, marching on Rome with an army. However, Pompey was able to defeat him in 77 and Lepidus was forced to flee to Spain, along with his friend Marco Vento Perpenna. Lepidus soon died, but Perpenna joined Sertorius, bringing him fifty-three cohorts. By this time Sertorio dominated all of Hispania Citerior. From this moment, Sertorio decided to organize the province in the Roman way: he instituted a Senate of 300 members, in which there was native representation, and founded a school in Osca for the instruction of the children of the indigenous chiefs.

Pompey decided to intervene in Spain, for which, instead of discharging his troops, he used them to intimidate the Senate and force it to name him proconsul of Hispania Citerior. He arrived in Spain in 76 and established his camp at Emporion. Sertorius sent Perpenna against him to prevent his advance, but failed. So Sertorius took matters into his own hands and defeated Pompey again and again for the next two years.

That same year King Alexander Jannaeus died. During his reign, Judea prospered in peace. The only recorded incident was a revolt by the Pharisees who, during a festival, threw citrons (fruits similar to lemons) at the king, in protest at the discrimination they suffered from the Sadducees. The monarch's response was a bloody slaughter.

The king had left two children, but his widow, Salomé Alejandra, decided to name the first-born, Juan Hircano II, high priest , but retained political power for himself. For this, she reversed the policy of her husband and she allied herself with the Pharisees, who were the majority sector of her. Under her reign Judea retained its prosperity.

Meanwhile Julius Caesar had gained some fame, as had Cicero as a court orator, but he must have realized that Cicero's studies made a difference, so he set out for Rhodes to perfect his rhetoric. On the way he was captured by some pirates. They say that the pirates demanded twenty talents as a ransom, but he mockingly told them: You don't know who you have on your hands!, so the sum was raised to fifty talents. During his captivity, Caesar's magnetic personality captivated his captors. He once recited to them some poems that he had composed and, as they did not seem to appreciate them properly, he told them:You uneducated brutes, I'll have you hanged! The pirates laughed at his insolence. When Caesar's family sent the money, the pirates set him free, he hastily marched to Miletus, recruited some men, chartered ships, headed off the pirates, defeated them, divided their possessions among his mercenaries, and sent the pirates to the Pergamum jail. The praetor did not seem concerned about punishing the pirates, apparently because they had promised him a good ransom, but Caesar himself went to Pergamum and had them crucified. He then he returned to Rhodes.

King Mithridates VI of Pontus knew that Rome had not forgiven him for the massacre of Italians he had ordered a few years earlier in Asia Minor. Sulla had tried to avoid warfare with other peoples, probably because he feared that any instability could harm his situation, but after his death it was a matter of time before Rome found an excuse to crush Pontus, just as it had done with Carthage. In 75 Mithridates VI sealed an alliance with Sertorius, to help him keep Rome occupied in the West.

Cyrene had become a refuge for pirates, so Rome finally decided to remember the testament of Ptolemy Apion and turn the territory into one of its provinces.

In 74 , the Chinese emperor Zhaodi died and Liu He, a grandson of Wudi, was named emperor, but for some reason, the new emperor did not want to perform certain rituals and was deposed after 27 days by Huo Guang, the same one who had designated. The next emperor was Xuandi, who to some extent managed to prevail over the palace intrigues.

In 74 King Nicomedes IV of Bithynia died and in his will left his kingdom to Rome. However, Mithridates affirmed that the will was invalid and occupied Bithynia. Rome sent Lucius Licinius Lucullus. He was the general Sulla had left behind in Asia Minor when he returned to Rome. While he was arriving, Caesar left Rhodes and recruited some men to confront Mithridates, but he returned to Rome shortly after Lucullus took command. Lucullus defeated Mithridates VI in a series of battles in Bithynia until he withdrew to Pontus.

At the same time Rome sent reinforcements to Pompey to confront Sertorius. From this moment on, the war in Spain was very unequal and both sides alternately obtained victories.

In 73 Lucullus invaded Pontus and Mithridates VI had to flee to Armenia, where he was welcomed by Tigranes I, who was married to a daughter of Mithridates VI.

Since the end of the preceding century, circus games had become increasingly popular in Rome. In fact, organizing games was one of the means politicians used to curry favor with the people. In addition to racing, wrestling shows were gaining more and more interest. At first the wrestlers were soldiers for whom the game served as training, but it was soon discovered that it was more exciting to make slaves fight, since then sportsmanship could be dispensed with and fights could be to the death. In addition, the slaves lent themselves to more interesting combinations, such as fights between men and various beasts.gladiators used the sword, the reciarios used a network, etc., although it was common to call them generically gladiators. Gladiators were trained in special schools to ensure they would put on a good show. His spur was that a spectacularly successful gladiator could achieve freedom, although most perished in the attempt.

A few years earlier, a Thracian shepherd had joined the auxiliary troops of the Roman army, but then deserted, was captured, made a slave, and sold in Capua to the owner of a gladiatorial school. His name was Spartacus, and he persuaded his schoolmates to run away and use their weapons against the Romans instead of each other. Thus began the Third Servile War,with the difference with respect to the previous two that the battlefield was not Sicily, but Italy itself. The gladiators who escaped numbered about seventy, but Italy was full of latifundia and the latifundia full of slaves, many of whom soon joined their ranks, which soon numbered some 60,000 men.

The bulk of the Roman armies was distributed between Pontus and Hispania, so the slaves had no difficulty in defeating the few forces that Rome sent against them. Spartacus led some 30,000 men northward, apparently with the intention of crossing the Alps and settling in Gaul, outside the Roman borders, while another part preferred to stay in the south and plunder. The latter were disbanded by the Romans in 72,but Spartacus decided to turn around and return to the south, perhaps to help his companions, perhaps because he had supply problems, since his army had reached 100,000 men. The return of Spartacus filled Rome with panic. Spartacus defeated the generals who had defeated the southern slaves and made the first prisoners fight to the death.

Meanwhile Sertorio had suffered a series of defeats in Spain that had undermined his prestige. Perpenna (probably bribed by Rome) organized a plot and assassinated him during a banquet in Osca. Shortly after Perpenna himself was defeated and killed by Pompey, after which he had no difficulty in dominating the entire province.

In northern Germany, the Suevi began a process of expansion. At this time they lived to the east of the Elbe, but they crossed the river and gradually advanced towards the Rhine.

Finally Rome put Crassus in command of ten legions with full powers to finish off Spartacus. He had withdrawn to southern Italy, hoping to go to Sicily on ships of Cilician pirates, which did not arrive.

in 71Crassus was defeated twice by Spartacus's men, but he was eager to win before Pompey arrived from Spain and took all the honors, and in a third combat he was victorious. Spartacus was killed in battle and Crassus had 6,000 prisoners executed, who were crucified on crosses that stretched for miles along the Appian Way. Shortly after Pompey arrived and helped Crassus to end the last isolated resistance. Pompey was then the most acclaimed general in Rome. Actually his fame was greater than his merits,

Originally, Pompey and Crassus were rivals, but both aspired to the consulship and, since the Senate considered the possibility that the best general in Rome and the richest man in Rome could be consuls as a threat, they decided to ally themselves, they sought the support of the party popular and forced their election as consuls for the year 70. Since now their support was on the side of the popular, the two consuls dedicated themselves to demolishing Sulla's work. They restored the powers of the tribunes of the common people and arrogated more and more powers.

That same year, Cicero defended another of his most famous cases. For the past four years, he had been praetor of Sicily Gaius Verres.At the beginning of his career he had been a supporter of Mario, but he discovered his sympathies for Sulla at the same time that he understood that he was going to win. Sulla forgave him the robberies that he had already committed as quaestor then and sent him to Asia Minor as a member of the provincial governor's team, where he extorted whatever he wanted from the provincials. When a praetor ceased to function as him, it was customary for the provincials to denounce him before the Roman courts for his excesses, but the courts were in the hands of the senators, who considered it healthier not to give credence to these unpleasant accusations. When the praetor of Asia was called to trial, Verres arranged for all the blame to fall on him and got away unscathed. His performance as Sicily's praetor exceeded all limits, and he even robbed Rome itself, pocketing money that had been supplied to him to charter grain ships to the capital.

The year before Verres arrived in Sicily, Cicero had served as quaestor on the island and, unlike Verres, the Sicilians remembered him as a model of honesty, so they asked him to bring the prosecution against Verres. Cicero accepted the case, despite the fact that Verres had the support of practically the entire Senate. The senators tried all kinds of tricks: providing Verres with a good lawyer, replacing Cicero with a worse one, delaying the process to change the judge to a more "safe" one, etc., but Cicero knew how to dodge all the obstacles and the only thing that achieved all the machinations is to attract the attention of public opinion, something that benefited the prosecution. After Cicero laid out the evidence showing the defendant's rampant greed and lack of scruples, no court could have acquitted Verres without being immediately lynched. However, Verres managed to escape and was convicted in absentia. What is certain is that he escaped with part of his loot and was able to live peacefully in Massilia for more than twenty years. Verres managed to escape and was convicted in absentia. What is certain is that he escaped with part of his booty and was able to live peacefully in Massilia for more than twenty years. Verres managed to escape and was convicted in absentia. What is certain is that he escaped with part of his booty and was able to live peacefully in Massilia for more than twenty years.

The grateful Sicilians sent Cicero a large shipment of wheat. Anyone else would have kept it, but Cicero remembered that a law prohibited lawyers from receiving exceptional compensation, so he donated the wheat to the granaries of the plebs. This gave him a lot of popularity, to which must be added the fame that he acquired as a lawyer, which caused many cases to be entrusted to him in the following years and thus, little by little, Cicero saw his finances increase.

Pompey and Crassus took advantage of the discredit that the Verres scandal brought to the Senate to reform the judicial system and further weaken the senators.

The Third Servile War had brought the war against Mithridates VI to a stalemate. Lucullus had held the Roman positions in Bithynia and in Pontus, but had refrained from attacking Armenia, where Mithridates VI had taken refuge. Now that Italy and Spain were in order, Rome could concentrate on Asia Minor, so he sent an embassy to Tigranes I to deliver the king of Pontus. Apparently, the attitude of the ambassadors was excessively arrogant, so the Armenian king opted to declare war on Rome. Lucullus invaded Armenia and in 69took Tigranocerta (for the first time a Roman army entered Mesopotamia). The two kings had to retreat towards the mountainous parts of Armenia. Lucullus pursued them, but he was not a general liked by his troops, and the Armenian mountains were inhospitable, so his soldiers ended up mutinying and Lucullus had to retreat to the west and Mithridates VI was able to return to Pontus.

This year Cicero defended Fontenio, ex-governor of Gaul Narbonense, where Verres had taken refuge, who was accused of the aforementioned abuses. We must not forget that Cicero was a lawyer and that lawyers, before people, are lawyers.

It was also the year that the Parthian king Phraates III ascended to the throne. Armenia had lost control of Syria, and this allowed Antiochus X's son to regain his father's kingdom, with Lucullus' consent, and he adopted the name Antiochus XIII. In 68, another Seleucid claimed the territory of Antiochus XII, under the name of Philip II. Both kings relied on Arab armies.

In India Devabhuti, the last Sunga king, died and was succeeded by his prime minister Vasudeva Kanva, a Brahmin who inaugurated the Kanva dynasty.

In 68 Cornelia and Julia, César's wife and aunt (Mario's widow) died, and César scandalized the Senate by including a bust of Mario in the funeral procession. He could afford it because he was gaining the sympathies of the people step by step, while he rose in the political career. King Hiempsal II of Numidia also died, who was succeeded by his son Juba I.

Pirates were rampant in the eastern Mediterranean, and Rome decided to vigorously combat piracy. Metellus was sent for this purpose and his first step was to conquer the island of Crete, which in 67it became a Roman province. But there was still Cilicia, which was the greatest haven for piracy. This time the chosen one was Pompey. Trust in him was so great that food prices plummeted as soon as his appointment was made public. It took him three months to rid the Mediterranean of pirates, and he finally defeated the pirate fleet off the coast of Cilicia and achieved its surrender with promises of leniency. That same year Caesar had married Pompeii, Pompey's sister.

That same year Salome Alexandra, Queen of Judea, died. It was to be expected that his son and high priest John Hyrcanus II would become king, but since Salome had supported the Pharisees, the Sadducees saw an opportunity to change the political course by supporting Alexander's other son Jannaeus and Salome Alexandra, who after defeating his brother on several occasions he proclaimed himself king and high priest, with the name of Aristobulus II.

In 66 Cicero helped Pompey to prepare the speech with which he obtained from the Senate his appointment as proconsul in Asia, with the mission of continuing the war against Mithridates VI. It was evident that Lucullus could not control his armies, so he was recalled to Rome, where he was as unpopular as he was on the battlefield, so he did not try to meddle in politics. Despite the fact that the popular tried to prevent it, he was awarded the triumph and the nickname of Ponticus,and he retired to a rural villa to live off the income from what he had looted in Asia. He soon became famous for the elaborate dinners he hosted, in which expensive and refined dishes were served. Apparently he was the first to bring to Rome a fruit that he had found in the city of Ceraso, in Pontus. The Romans called them ceresa, and they are, naturally, cherries. On the other hand, Lucullus assembled a magnificent library, protected many artists, and wrote in Greek a history of the Social War, in which he had fought under Sulla.

Faced with Pompey's onslaught, Mithridates was forced to flee Pontus once more, but this time Tigranes I decided that he had had enough trouble with the Romans and denied him asylum. The king fled to the Cimmerian Bosporus, which had been a protectorate of Pontus for some time, and Pompey preferred not to follow him. Instead, he invaded Armenia and captured Tigranes I. Pompey judged that it would be difficult for Rome to maintain a territory as wild as Armenia, so he opted to demand a large indemnity from Tigranes I and allow him to keep his throne, making it clear that in the future would be under the orders of Rome.

In 65 Julio César was appointed seat aedile, in charge of the Roman police, markets and, above all, the organization of public games. Such was his waste on this last point that his popularity grew like foam, to the point that he could afford to replace the statue and trophies of Mario in the Capitol. The Senate did not dare to protest, to the euphoria of the people. The climax was a combat of 320 gladiators in silver armor.

Caesar was a colorful character. He was considered soft, and he abhorred social obligations. He even resented having to tighten the belt of his toga and preferred to wear it loosely, which was a sign of weakness and effeminacy. His white and delicate face, or his habit of waxing his entire body and fixing his hair, also pointed to this line. On the other hand, he played sports regularly. He was educated and it seems that he took some first steps in tragedy and poetry. But what was most striking was his charismatic personality. He was friends with everyone, he wasted his money to please everyone and little by little he was getting more and more in debt. He was proud but no offence, he was witty, cheerful, and charming. He also had a great capacity for persuasion, either through oratory, or through his sympathy. These virtues interested Crassus, since he lacked all of them, and he understood that Caesar needed money that he could give him in exchange for his popularity.

In general, Crassus was especially given to allying himself with all those who could be of use to him. He had already been allied with Pompey at the time, now he was interested in Caesar and had also been interested in an individual named Lucio Sergio Catilina.He had been a praetor in Africa and had escaped the usual accusations of corruption. He had presented his candidacy for the consulate, but the Senate vetoed it because a trial for blackmail was pending over Catilina, but the two consuls elected that year were deposed accused of having bought votes. They then joined Catilina in assassinating the two substitute consuls. When they had accomplished this, Caesar would be proclaimed dictator, and Crassus his lieutenant. However, the conspiracy was discovered, the new consuls took office protected by the army and Caesar suspended the operation.

Meanwhile Pompey was dedicated to organizing the conquered territories in Asia with the usual Roman efficiency. In 64 Pontus and Cilicia became Roman provinces. He then moved south, where the last two Seleucids continued to feud over the crumbs of their empire, and he decided to end the pathetic history of his dynasty. He overthrew them and made Syria a new province.

The Parthian king Phraates III defeated Tigranes I of Armenia, but Pompey sent ambassadors and saved Tigranes. Since then Phraates III strove to maintain friendly relations with Rome.

While Pompey was dealing with Asia Minor, disputes between John Hyrcanus II and Aristobulus II over the throne of Judea had continued. John Hyrcanus II had Antipater as an ally, the governor of Idumea (which was part of the kingdom of Judea). Since things were not going well, Antipater had asked for help from the Nabataeans, the Arab people who occupied what had once been Edom and who had forced the Edomites to emigrate to present-day Idumea, in Jewish territory. The Nabataeans gladly agreed to help and besieged Jerusalem. So, Aristobulus II decided to also ask for external help and thus joined the list of the many naive who had requested Roman protection throughout history. He sent an embassy to Syria, where Pompey was, who in turn sent a messenger to Judea ordering a truce. He then he marched on Judea,

It is a pity that no one carved Pompey just in time to be informed that the Jews had refused to fight on the Sabbath for more than two centuries unless attacked. (Apparently, ever since Ptolemy I conquered Jerusalem by attacking on the Sabbath without God doing anything for them, the Jews had come to the conclusion that God would have no objection to their defending themselves in case of attack.) The point is, that Pompey quietly built a ramp to bring the assault devices closer to the wall, spent a Saturday calmly installing it, and waited in wonder for the following Saturday to launch his attack.

Pompey did not want to intervene in religious matters, so he left John Hyrcanus II as high priest and sent Aristobulus II to Rome as prisoners along with his two sons, Alexander and Antigonus Mattathias. As governor of Judea he chose Antipater, who had never offered any resistance to Pompey. It is said that Pompey was curious about the strange Jewish rites, and entered the sancta sanctorum of the Temple, where only the high priest could enter. Inexplicably (for the most pious Jews), Yahveh did not strike him down for it.

Meanwhile Mithridates VI had planned from his exile to gather a horde of barbarians to attack Italy, but his few followers began to rebel against his futile wars against Rome. Finally one of his sons, Pharnaces, organized a revolt against him in 63 with the help of Pompey, and the last king of Pontus ended up committing suicide. Pompey left Pharnaces as king of the Cimmerian Bosporus, which became a Roman protectorate. That same year King Ariobarzanes I of Cappadocia died and was succeeded by his son Arquelao.

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