The triumph of Rome - World History

The triumph of Rome - World History
Posted on 30-12-2022

The triumph of Rome ( 210 ) Rome defeats Carthage and becomes the first power in the West.

In 210The Emperor of China, Qin Shi Huang Di, died during one of his trips. According to his will, he was buried under a huge mound 48 meters high, and some of his wives and the workers who had transported the treasures were walled in his tomb. In 197 a grave attached to the mound was found containing an army of terracotta statues made up of 6,400 foot soldiers, arranged along 11 corridors 200 meters long by 3 meters wide. They are slightly larger than life size, and are followed by horses and chariots. The army was formed according to a common military tactic at the time. In another pit another army was found, this time made of bronze, with slightly smaller figures.

The last years of his reign were especially bloody. Some 460 lawyers were buried alive. There were massive deportations to the territories of the great wall. The emperor's eldest son fell out with his father and was forced to commit suicide. For this reason, the throne was occupied by the second son, who ruled more despotically, if possible, than his father.

In Rome the first important playwright stood out: Tito Maccio Plauto.   He wrote comedies based on the plots of the Greek comedies. Since Rome had conquered the Greek cities of southern Italy, Greek culture had spread more and more among well-bred Romans, who hired Greek teachers for their children, learned their myths, and adapted them into their own religion. Around this time the idea arose that Alba, the Latin city where Romulus and Remus originated, had been founded by Aeneas, after escaping the destruction of Troy.

The war between Rome and Macedonia continued. The Achaean league, which had the support of Philip V of Macedonia, was placed under the command of Philopemn of Megalopolis. He had fought at Sellasia and then gone to Crete in search of adventure. He now had returned to Greece and reformed the Achaean army, with which he faced Sparta, which received, for its part, the support of Rome.

Egypt was declining under the clumsy rule of Ptolemy IV. Years ago, the king made the mistake of raising a native army, and since then the Greeks have had to put down one rebellion after another.

That year the Parthian king Tiridates died, which was immediately taken advantage of by Antiochus III, who in 209 managed to agree with the Parthians to annex their territory to the Seleucid Empire. They retained, however, great autonomy. In this way, the Empire returned to have almost its original extension.

Returning to China, there were many sectors dissatisfied with the imperial regime. On the one hand, the common people felt oppressed by the harsh penal code, the former nobles and feudal lords resented having lost their privileges, and the intellectuals were persecuted and censored. It had not yet been a year after the change of emperor when a popular uprising broke out in what had been the state of Chu. It was headed by Chen She, and it was the first of many rebellions the new monarch had to deal with.

Meanwhile Scipio occupied Cartago Nova. He made the decision to release the hostages that the Carthaginians had captured, thereby earning the sympathy of the natives. Even Indibil sided with Rome. Then Escupion defeated Asdrúbal in Baecula (Bailén).

Despite his victories outside of Italy, Rome did not dare attack Hannibal, whose army was slowly wearing out. She asked Carthage for help, but Carthage never gave it to her. The Carthaginian rulers were suspicious that a victorious and charismatic Hannibal could take over Carthage after the war, so they tried to win the war outside of Italy. Hannibal appealed to Hasdrubal, who in 208 decided to repeat his brother's feat and, avoiding the Romans, headed for Italy across the Alps.

In southern China, the kingdom of Nam-Viet was formed, founded by Trie Da, who established a highly hierarchical manorial regime. The Vietnamese people had emerged from the fusion of various cultures: Muongs, Thais and Chinese.

In China, the rebellions spread throughout the territory. The emperor did not know who he could trust. Minister Li Si himself, the architect of the unification, was accused of treason and died on the gallows. One of the main insurgents was Xiang Yu, a warrior belonging to the old noble class. He took Liu Bang as his lieutenant, who, on the contrary, came from a humble family. He had been a farmer and later held a position as a minor official, a kind of "rural police chief." In 207 he took the capital, Xiang Yang. The emperor abdicated and his son, the third emperor of the dynasty, was no more than a puppet under Liu Bang.

That same year Filopemén defeated the tyrant of Sparta Macánidas, who was succeeded by Nabis. He the latter completed the reforms started by Agis IV and Cleomenes III. He even ended slavery in Sparta. By this time practically all of Egypt was out of control. Ptolemy IV asked for help from the Egyptian priests, who enjoyed great authority over the people. They granted him the rank of pharaoh and managed to keep him in power, but stripped the monarchy for his benefit.

Hasdrubal had arrived in northern Italy, and his goal was to meet with Hannibal, who was in the south. Two Roman armies watched them, but did not dare to attack. The army that guarded Hannibal was under the command of Gaius Claudius Nero, who had fought under Marcelo. Hasdrubal sent messengers to his brother, telling her a route plan and a meeting point, but these messengers were intercepted by Nero, who decided to abandon Hannibal and rush north. The two Roman armies joined forces and attacked Hasdrubal by surprise on the banks of the Metauro River. Hasdrubal tried to retreat across the river, but he wasted a lot of time looking for a ford, and when he found it, it was too late, the Romans fell on him and he had to fight. The Romans won a complete victory. Hasdrubal died in battle, his corpse was found, his head was cut off, taken south and thrown into his brother's camp. Hannibal must have understood that the war was lost, but he had not yet been defeated. He withdrew with his army to Bruttium, at the tip of the Italian boot, where the Romans cornered him, but still not daring to fight him.

In 206 Xiang Yu regretted having left the Chinese capital in the hands of Liu Bang, returned, sacked it and a power struggle began between the two leaders. The third emperor died without issue, so Qin Shi Huang Di's dynasty lasted just three generations, instead of the 10,000 that was planned.

Carthage sent reinforcements to Spain and a large army was assembled to crush Scipio. The meeting took place in Ilipa,about 100 kilometers north of present-day Seville. For several days the armies stood face to face without fighting. Every day, first thing in the morning, the troops were brought into the open field ready for battle, but no one made the first move. One day, Scipio assembled his soldiers earlier than usual and in a different arrangement than expected: he put the Spanish allies in the center and the legions on the wings. They attacked while the Carthaginians were having breakfast. These formed hastily as usual, with the allies at the ends. Thus the legion quickly swept away the enemy Spaniards, surrounded the Carthaginians and won a definitive victory, after which he did not take long to completely expel the Carthaginians from the peninsula. Magón, Hannibal's brother, withdrew to the Balearic Islands, where he founded a city to which he gave his name, the currentMahon.

This same year ended the First Macedonian War. It happened that the Greek allies were already tired of the war, so Rome was forced to sign peace so as not to be left alone. Philip V was also looking forward to it, so it was a compromise peace, whereby Rome lost part of her influence in Illyria.

Scipio reached a secret agreement with the Numidian Masinissa. He had allied himself with Carthage in the hope of reclaiming the throne that Syphax had seized from his father, but now Syphax had allied himself with Carthage and married his fiancee Sofonisbe, so Masinissa became pro-Roman.

in 205Scipio returned to Italy. After his victories in Spain, the Romans thought that if anyone could defeat Hannibal, it would be Scipio. He was only thirty-one years old and had not held all the previous positions that were required to be elected consul, but he was elected anyway. When he proposed to face Hannibal at Bruttium, he offered a better proposal: attack Carthage itself, as Agathocles and Regulus had done. This was opposed by the older generals, especially Fabius, partly because he was dangerous (in fact, neither Agathocles nor Regulus had succeeded), but also partly out of envy of Scipio. The Senate refused to assign him an army, but Scipio asked for volunteers and had thousands of them. In204 set sail for Africa, where he was joined by Masinissa, followed by an army of loyal Numidian horsemen.

Meanwhile, Quintus Ennius arrived in Rome. He had been born in Rudia, an ancient Greek colony in southern Italy. He had fought in Sardinia and was a great promoter of Greek culture among the Romans. He wrote tragedies and epic poems inspired by Greek models, but with a Roman patriotic style.

An example of the insecurity that Hannibal caused in Rome is that the Romans came to wonder if their gods were not powerful enough to protect them, and began to seek additional support from foreign gods. In Asia Minor, the cult of Cybele, a very ancient goddess also called Great Mother, or Mother of the Gods , was widespread . Her cult had spread to Greece and Rome, but this year it was officially sanctioned. An adequate interpretation of the Sibylline Books promised victory if a sacred rock dedicated to Cybele that had fallen from heaven (that is, it was a meteorite) was transferred to Rome and kept in a temple of Pessinonte . (in Galatia), famous for his oracles. Cibeles was supposed to protect men, against temptation and against evil.

The rock was transferred to Rome with all the pomp, accompanied by a court of priests who implanted in the city the strange rites associated with the goddess. The priests were Gallic eunuchs who dressed up as women, and the rites were orgiastic. They were celebrated to the sound of flutes, cymbals and eardrums, and ended in delusions and self-mutilation of the initiates. A few years later, the government prohibited the cult of Cibeles from citizens, so that it became a minority.

That same year Antiochus III returned to Mesopotamia as Alexander the Great had returned in his day: with a totally conquered Orient. This led him to call himself Antiochus the Great (in imitation of Alexander). Meanwhile, Ptolemy IV had fallen in love with Agathoclea, a courtesan from Alexandria, as well as with her brother Agathocles. Both managed to exert a great influence on the king, to the point that Agathoclea managed to get him to order the murder of his mother Berenice and his sister and wife Arsinoe. Ptolemy IV died the following year, in 203, and was succeeded by his only son, Ptolemy V,he was only eight years old. A struggle for the regency ensued. Agathocles tried to seize power, but the people rebelled and he was killed along with his sister. Antiochus III saw a great opportunity in the troubled Egyptian waters and hastened to ally himself with Philip V of Macedon. This year Mago, Hannibal's brother, died when he was going to Carthage by sea. Scipio defeated Asdrúbal Gisco, who was removed from command by the Carthaginian senate.

In 202 Liu Bang finally defeated Xiang Yu and was able to proclaim himself emperor of China, the first emperor of the Han dynasty. He adopted the name Han Gaodi,where "di" is the imperial insignia that Qin Shi Huang Di had already adopted. However Gaodi did not claim to present himself as a god. To prevent this from undermining his authority, he established a complex and magnificent protocol surrounding everything related to the emperor. The previous feudal system was partially recovered. The old feudal princes recovered their rights, which were also extended to the emperor's former companions in arms, all of humble origins. On the other hand, the penal code was softened, with which all sectors felt satisfied and the riots ended. However, this does not mean that the achievements of the preceding dynasty were completely lost. On the contrary, basically the system established by Qin Shi Huang Di continued to influence for the next two thousand years. The only sector that did not receive due attention was that of the intellectuals. Gaodi did not value culture at all, he felt uncomfortable among intellectuals and for this reason he avoided dealing with them. If he did not lift the controversial ban on the possession of subversive books, it was simply because he did not think it was a relevant issue.

Scipio and Masinissa had reached the walls of Carthage. The desperate Carthaginians had no choice but to ask Hannibal to return from Italy. While they entered into negotiations with Scipio that they tried to prolong as long as possible until Hannibal arrived. When Hannibal appeared, the Carthaginians rejected the agreements they had accepted and trusted that Hannibal would deliver them from the Romans. The two armies met near the city of Zama.

Hannibal's army numbered some 24,000 men, most of them Italian, the original army with which he had crossed the Alps having long since disappeared. The rest were made up of the mercenaries recruited by Aníbal Gisco (whom Hannibal replaced in command precisely to be able to count on them), plus a small contingent sent by Philip V of Macedonia. He also had 80 elephants.

Hannibal began the battle with a charge of elephants, but the Romans blew trumpets which frightened them back, disorganizing Hannibal's cavalry, which was destroyed by Masinissa's horsemen, who immediately attacked. The few elephants that did not back down passed through the gaps opportunely left by the legions, which once again displayed their agility in their maneuvers. Scipio then meticulously directed the advance of each of his lines of soldiers, which made all the Carthaginian lines flee except the last, made up of the most veteran soldiers. As they resisted, Scipio pushed back his troops so that Masinissa could attack from the rear, which finally destroyed the Carthaginian army. Scipio was known ever since asScipio the African, in memory of his victory in Africa.

in 201The peace treaty ending the Second Punic War was signed. Carthage lost all its colonies, and its territory was limited to its possessions in Africa. He also had to give up his fleet and his elephants and promised to pay a heavy indemnity over a period of fifty years. Carthage could not wage war, even in Africa, without Roman consent. In addition Masinisa received the throne of Numidia, married Sofonisbe and, as an ally of Rome, had the freedom to harm the defenseless Carthage at will. Many Romans were in favor of also imposing that Hannibal be handed over, but Scipio insisted that a soldier who had always fought honestly be respected. Now Rome controlled the south and east of Spain,

Philip V of Macedonia, seeing his attempts to intervene in the West frustrated alongside Carthage, decided to intervene in Egypt alongside Antiochus III, and thus began the Fifth Syrian War, with which Antiochus III and Philip V faced an Egyptian plunged into chaos. It ended in 200, and by then Antiochus III ruled the entire fertile crescent. Egypt had lost all of her possessions in Asia.

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