CHAPTER XVI. ROME IN THE EAST.
ROME was now in a position to add new nations to her list of subjects. The kingdoms of the East which formerly composed a part of the vast empire of Alexander the Great, and which finally went to swell the limits of Roman authority, were Egypt, Syria, Macedonia, and Greece proper.
EGYPT was governed by the Ptolemies, and included at this time the valley of the Nile, Palestine, Phoenicia, the island of Cyprus, and a number of towns in Thrace.
SYRIA, extending from the Mediterranean to the Indus, was composed of various nations which enjoyed a semi-independence. Under incompetent rulers, she saw portion after portion of her dominions fall from her. Thus arose Pergamus, Pontus, Cappadocia, and Phrygia.
MACEDONIA was ruled by Philip V., and included also a large portion of Northern Greece.
GREECE proper was divided between the ACHAEAN and AETOLIAN LEAGUES, the former including the most of the Peloponnesus, the latter the greater part of Central Greece.
Ever since the repulse of Pyrrhus, Rome had been slowly drifting into closer contact with the East. She formed an alliance with Egypt in 273. From this country had come in part her supply of corn during the Second Punic War. In 205, Ptolemy V. became king, and, through fear of the Macedonian and Syrian kings, sought the protection of Rome.
The punishment of the Illyrican pirates in 228 brought Rome into closer relations with Greece. These connections had been sufficient to open the Eastern ports to her trade, but her struggle with Carthage had left her no time or strength to interfere actively in Eastern politics, until she was forced to take action by the alliance of Philip V. of Macedonia and Hannibal, and by the former's threatened invasion of Italy in 214. A small force was sent into Greece, which was soon largely increased by the dissatisfied subjects of Philip.
The only object of Rome in the First Macedonian War (214-205) was to prevent Philip from lending aid to Hannibal; and in this she was partially successful. None of the Macedonian troops entered Italy, but four thousand of them were at Zama.
The military operations of this war were of slight importance. Marcus Valerius Laevinus was sent to the Adriatic, and pushed the king so hard that he was obliged to burn the fleet in which he intended to sail for Italy. Philip was at this time at war with Aetolia. Laevinus assisted the Aetolians, and the king was too fully occupied at home to think of operations farther away. But in 205, the Romans, wishing to concentrate their energies upon the invasion of Africa, made peace.
Some of Philip's soldiers had been captured at Zama. He demanded their return. The answer was, that, if he wished war again, he could have it.
There were several other reasons which led to the SECOND MACEDONIAN WAR (200-197). Philip had agreed with ANTIOCHUS III., king of Syria, to attempt with him the division of Egypt, since it seemed probable that the young king, Epiphanes (Ptolemy V.), who was only four years old, would not be able to make an effectual resistance. The ministers of Egypt sought the protection of Rome. On their journey, the Roman envoys sent to assume the office of protectorship remonstrated with Philip.
In Asia Minor Philip had conducted himself with such barbarity that the people rose against him; and from a similar cause Greece was driven to seek alliances which would protect her against him.
Rome was unwilling to undertake a new war, but the people were induced to vote for one, on the representation that the only means of preventing an invasion of Italy was to carry the war abroad.
This year (200) the Consul, Publius Sulpicius Galba, was sent with a considerable force across the Adriatic. His campaign, and that of the Consul Villius during the next year, were productive of no decisive results, but in 198 the Consul TITUS QUINCTIUS FLAMINÍNUS, a man of different calibre, conducted the war with vigor. He defeated Philip on the Aóus, drove him back to the pass of Tempe, and the next year utterly defeated him at CYNOSCEPHALAE.
The king had drawn up his forces in two divisions. With the first he broke through the line of the legions, which, however, closed in around him with but little loss. The other division was attacked by the Romans, while it was forming, and thoroughly discomfited. The victory of the Romans was decisive.
About the same time the Achaeans captured CORINTH from Philip, and the Rhodians defeated his troops in Caria.
Further resistance was impossible. Philip was left in possession of Macedonia alone; he was deprived of all his dependencies in Greece, Thrace, and Asia Minor, and was forbidden, as Carthage had been, to wage war without Rome's consent.
The next year (196), at the Isthmian Games, the "freedom of Greece" was proclaimed to the enthusiastic crowds, and two years later Flamininus withdrew his troops from the so called "three fetters of Greece," - Chalcis, Demetrias, and Corinth, - and, urging the Greeks to show themselves worthy of the gift of the Roman people, he returned home to enjoy a well earned triumph.
The chief result of the second Macedonian war was, therefore, the firm establishment of a ROMAN PROTECTORATE OVER GREECE AND EGYPT. The wedge had been entered and the interference of Rome in Eastern affairs was assured.