Why Did Rome Attack Greece? The inhabitants of Skotussa woke up to yet another morning of downpour and fog.
The inclement weather was unusual for this time of year in Thessaly.
The local agora was deserted… the marketplace and shops closed, as most residents chose to stay inside.
The lone fixture in the empty Amphitheatre was a group of local children running around the stage, wooden swords in their hands, feathers and plumes stuck in their hats, all imitating their legendary hero, Alexander the Great.
But their play was cut short as ground tremors could be felt throughout the town!
Tremors soon turned into a rumble, as just to the east, the armies of Philip of Macedon and Flamininus raced towards Skotussa, where they intended to do battle to end the Second Macedonian War.
Roughly one century before The Battle of Cynoscephalae Macedon under the young king, Alexander.
The Great, conquered the entirety of the Persian Empire in just a few years taking revenge for their previous encounters with the Greek mainland.
But, after all of those achievements Alexander died in 323 BC at just 32 years old.
After the Macedonian empire collapsed, a series of conflicts started to happen between Alexander the Great’s generals over the rule of his vast empire following the king’s death.
The generals established local Greek dynasties in Greece, Egypt, Persia, and Asia Minor that became rivals to each other.
Alexander achieved something no one before him did.
Besides destroying the Persian empire and going as far as India, through his conquests, the Greek culture, language, architecture,
philosophy and morals were spread across the middle east and central Asia.
Alexander himself learned the values of Greek philosophy from Aristotle himself!
Aristotle was a student of Plato, and Plato in turn was a student of Socrates.
These personalities were the base of the Greek Culture, and they will inspire Rome in the next centuries Greek civilization was one of the most influential in ancient times especially in the whole Mediterranean basin as the Greeks had many colonies on the coasts for centuries, including in the Italian Peninsula where the Greeks entered in direct contact with the early Romans who were more and more influenced by the Hellenistic culture, particularly after their future endeavor into Greece.
Even though by the year 300 BC, Rome was still a regional power in Italy, after 50 years a new power emerged in Europe!
The Roman Republic controlled almost all of the Italian Peninsula and became a rival of Carthage which they defeated in the First
The unresolved strategic competition between Rome and Carthage led to the eruption of the Second Punic War in 218 BC.
The emblematic Hannibal, who considered Alexander of Macedon the Greatest General of all time, managed to execute a tremendous campaign in Italy defeating the Romans in multiple battles after he crossed the Alps with his North African
One of those battles was at Cannae in 216 BC.
After that battle the Macedonian king, Philip The Fifth, pledged his support to Hannibal, thus initiating the First Macedonian War against Rome in 215 BC.
4 years later, Rome had contained the threat of Macedonia by allying with the Aetolian League, an anti-Macedonian coalition of Greek city-states.
In 205 BC the First Macedonian War ended with a negotiated peace.
One year later, King Ptolemy, The Fourth Philopator of Egypt died.
Philip The Fifth of Macedon and Antiochus the Great of the Seleucid Empire decided to work together and exploit the weakness of
the Ptolemaic Kingdom and subsequently signed a secret pact, defining spheres of interest and gaining each ruler new lands.
The Macedonian King had expansionist ideas and threatened not just Ptolemaic realms but other territories that were part of the neighboring kingdoms.
In 201 BC, Philip launched a campaign into Asia Minor, besieging the Ptolemaic city of Samos and capturing Miletus His success at
taking other cities concerned the state of Rhodes and King Attalus The First of Pergamon.
As tensions grew in the area, considering Macedon a real danger, The Kingdom of Pergamon and the state of Rhodes sent an appeal to the rising power of Rome, which had just emerged victorious from the Second Punic War against Carthage.
But Phillip’s recent ideas and actions in Thrace and Asia Minor didn’t threaten any Roman interests in the area.
The actions of the Macedonians were instead pointed directly against the Southern Greek states as Phillip supported some raids in
Attica against the Athenians.
Shortly after sending the appeal, King Attalus.
The First of Pergamon arrived in Athens with Rhodian ambassadors and convinced the Athenians to declare war on Macedon!
Because of the embassies that the Romans received from Pergamon, Rhodes, and Athens, in addition to some separate reports, Rome began to consider throwing their hat into the ring as well and becoming directly involved in the region now.
The assembly that had the legal power to make such declarations of war was called together.
Most of the assembly members rejected the proposed war, mainly because of war-weariness given that Rome had just finished a costly war against Carthage not long before which had left Southern Italy in a bit of a chaotic state.
But At a second session, due to a statement made by Consul Publius Sulpicius Galba comparing the growing power of Macedon to
past invaders of Italy, such as Hannibal of Carthage, the assembly was convinced to vote for a war against the Macedonians.
As the Romans readied for war yet again, Phillip was unwavering in his mission for expansion and currently maintained a siege at the city of Abydos while his ally, Antiochus was busy on his own campaign across parts of the Middle East.
This absence left more room for Phillip’s greed and proved as further motivation for the Romans to intervene before the Macedonian
power could become an even larger threat.
Rome first aimed to dissuade Phillip from any further aggression and Marcus Lepidus a Roman ambassador, was eventually able to
catch up with the Macedonian king during the Siege of Abydos and the two began to discuss Rome’s terms and potential options for checking Macedonian expansion.
Lepidus urged the king to refrain from attacking any more territories or possessions belonging to Ptolemy and further encouraged him to meet with the leaders of both Rhodes and Pergamon to make peace.
Phillip was agitated by this demand and insisted that he had not once violated the terms of the prior Peace with the Romans.
The meeting declined into a heated argument of semantics as the Macedonian king became more stubborn in his stance Rome’s plea for a non-violent resolution was painfully in vain, and the discussion finally came to a rough end.
This was the start of the Second Macedonian War.
Rome had two main objectives with their entrance into military conflict with Macedon: One, they were determined to inflict enough
of a crushing defeat on Phillip and his troops that the king would have no choice other than to give up his expansionist policies and would be forced to follow the command of the Romans from that point forward.
Furthermore… they wanted to make an ally out of the Greeks.
The Romans were strategic in their relationship with Greece and they intended to represent themselves as liberators and protectors of Greek freedom.
For Phillip, the start of this war may have been due to a drastic underestimation of Roman aims.
Many believe that the Macedonian king was unaware of the effort that Rome was willing to put into stopping his expansion, and he
likely wasn’t expecting the reaction of Antiochus either, who had also received a set of terms from Rome, which he agreed to Not only did this put an end to Antiochus’s campaign against Egypt, but it also severed his alliance with Phillip and the Macedonian
Upon his successful return from Abydos, Phillip was a bit surprised to find that Galba and two legions of the Roman Army had already landed in Epirus.
Deciding to address this newest threat later, he oddly aimed his attention away from Galba and his roughly 20,000 men and instead turned toward the Peloponnese.
Through the Illyrian countryside, a second Roman force arrived in Athens at the request.
Meanwhile, The Romans were wasting no time in their own offensive as Galba led his men on raids of the Athenians themselves who had been under siege by Phillip.
Under the command of Claudius Centho, these 1,000 men and 20 ships came to the Athenian’s aid but were shortly distracted by a plea from the exiled citizens of Chalcis to assist them there.
Claudius led his men there was and launched an incursion into Chalcis which proved triumphant.
The Romans inflicted heavy casualties and Phillip became aware of the attack, rushing to Chalcis with a force of 5,000 men including 300 cavalry troops…but he was too late.
Claudius and his men had already withdrawn, prompting the Macedonians to make a frantic journey back to Athens where they hoped to prevent any further losses.
When Phillip and his troops arrived at the city walls, they became locked in battle against a coalition of Athenian and Attalid forces which the Macedonians routed before setting fire to various tombs and sanctuaries outside the gate.
Unwilling to stay in any one place for long as he became progressively aware of the growing.
The Roman threat, Phillip now changed course and headed for Corinth and then Argos!
Here, he found an assembly being held by the Achaean League.
The overconfident king attempted to win over the attendees through a bribe of support against Nabis of Sparta, but he was devastatingly unsuccessful.
Unrelenting nonetheless, Phillip changed course yet again and now met up with one of his generals, and an additional 2,000 men.
The Macedonians decided to continue on and launched three separate assaults throughout the Attica region, particularly on Athens,
Piraeus, and Eleusis but none were prosperous.
By this time, the situation for the Macedonians was becoming more precarious, and Phillip decided to begin preparations for a primary clash with the Romans.
Both Rome and Macedon tried to form diplomatic ties with the Aetolian League that they could turn into military support, but neither side could make headway and the league remained neutral for the time being.
But Rome was not without allies!
Through the previous campaigns under Galba, while Phillip was busy elsewhere, the Romans had gained support from other Greek City-States.
As winter came to an end, Phillip recalled his troops from up north and took his full force of 20,000 men and 4,000 cavalry troops
to the west to a hill near the Roman campsite.
Villius Tappulus, who had previously replaced Galba during the prior Roman advancements, was now replaced by a vastly intelligent and well-equipped Roman Consul!
Flamininus was incredibly tactful and also spoke fluent Greek, which made him an ideal candidate for war in Greece.
He was also a strategic negotiator and quickly demanded to meet with The King of Macedon, face to face!
The men and their advisors now approached one another along the Aous River…and negotiations began.
Phillip was quick to aim for a compromise with the Romans, as he was in no form looking to back down despite the growing danger.
The roman general, however, had his own plan there was no real goal on the part of Flamininus, after all, of creating peace, Contrarily, he seemingly intended to anger the Macedonian, and so he did!
Declining any inkling of a compromise, Flamininus demanded that Phillip pay reparations to every Greek city that he had brought harm to throughout his campaigns, and went even further with a requirement that the king must relinquish all of his Hellenic possessions, including Thessaly, which had been under Macedonian authority for nearly two centuries.
The Macedonian King was predictably disgusted by these proposed terms and abruptly ended negotiation talks.
Both men returned to their armies and The Roman General was swift to make his next move.
Sending a portion of his men up to skirmish with the Macedonian troops at their camp, he then ordered the second group of roughly 4,300 to take a path around the mountains, out of view of the Macedonians.
Phillip and his men were perilously preoccupied with the first group of Roman attackers,it wasn’t until the second Roman force was
in a position that the Macedonians became aware of the danger, they were in.
Flamininus now pushed forward with more aggression as the second portion of his troops did the same, nearly trapping the Macedonians between them.
Phillip was forced to make a hasty retreat with as many men as he could but 2,000 Macedonians and all of their baggage were lost nonetheless.
The confidence of Phillip’s soldiers had been plundered as well.
The King and the surviving demoralized men fled to Thessaly, but the Romans shortly followed.
By this time, some of Macedon’s once allies or neighboring neutral powers had now pledged their allegiance to the Romans, while others still refused to support either side.
Flamininus soon reached Thessaly and rapidly attacked, meanwhile his allies of Aetolia and Athamania launched their own assaults
from the south and the west.
This new campaign was not a complete failure, but not a victory either, and Flamininus soon became trapped in conflict at Atrax, which put up an unexpected fight against the Roman siege.
The Roman general was eventually forced to abandon his goals at Atrax but was still able to redirect his troops toward a successful
siege at Elateia more to the south and went to Thebes to reach some support from there too.
As a lull in the war came with the winter months.
Macedonia’s long-time allies of the Achaean League now made their decision to join the clash on behalf of the Romans!
It appeared that Flamininus’s success was inspiring more support for Rome, and Phillip was forced to take up a new strategy.
It was either a compromised peace or a final battle!
In November of 198 BC, Macedonians in a surprising twist, requested peace talks with the Romans.
Desperate to save what success he had managed to create thus far, the Macedonian king was fully aware of the questionable position he was in.
The Roman General agreed to negotiate once again, possibly because his time as consul was nearing its end and he wished to solidify his own success, so a new meeting was held at Nicaea This time, the Romans insisted that Phillip give up his Illyrian territories, as well as those in Greece, and Macedon would also be required to return all possessions that they had seized from Ptolemy.
Flamininus was not the only adversary at this conference though!
Representatives from other Greek City States:Rhodes, the Achaeans, Aetolians, and King Attalus were also present and had their own demands to be met!
Attalus simply wanted reparations, the Achaeans wanted Phillip to hand over Corinth and Argos,Rhodes insisted that the Macedonians cease from continuing any advances into Asia and the Helles-pont, and the Aetolians would settle for no less than the returning of every single city that had been taken from them by the Macedonians.
Phillip was actually open to a possible compromise or a full acceptance of all of these terms,but he refused to give up his fortresses at Chalcis, Acro-Corinth, and Demetrias.
Phillip proposed that the Roman senate take a vote on the fate of the undecided terms,but the situation quickly deteriorated and
no conclusion could be reached, leaving a continuation of war as the only remaining option.
THERE WOULD BE NO PEACE BETWEEN THE ROMANS AND MACEDONIANS!
It was now clear to both sides that this dispute could only end one way! more conflict and bloodshed was inevitable…War was the only path forward and a winner would finally be declared after a final Battle.
In a few months, the Battle of Cynoscephalae was about to begin!
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