Former Greece. Former Rome. These phrases conjure up highly tremendous images: the Olympic Games and the siege of Troy for the feeble; emperors, legions and gladiator fights for the latter. Two civilisations that impacted vastly on world history, their effects are easy evident this day in language and factual constructions, in sport, treatment and philosophy. It’s irregular then that the clash between the two powers is so puny-known this day. Researching the length, I modified into amazed that no one had written, no longer too long within the past no longer lower than, about certainly one of primarily the most seismic moments in European history. Conflict of Empires is the consequence, and the vital in a two-section collection.
Let us space the stage. Ahead of the outbreak of the 2d Punic battle in 218 BC (the one with Hannibal and the passage of the Alps with elephants!), the Roman Republic controlled maybe three-quarters of the Italian peninsula. Its only external territories were the islands of Sicily, Corsica and Sardinia. There possess been four diversified powers within the Mediterranean world, two of which were a colossal deal elevated than Rome. In repeat of size these were the Seleucid Empire, which extended from neatly-liked-day Turkey to India, Carthage on the North African soar, which also controlled lots of the Iberian peninsula, Ptolemaic Egypt, ruled by Greek-speaking descendants of certainly one of Alexander’s generals, and Macedon, which dominated a lot of Greece.
By 168 BC, 50 years later, reliable two powers remained: Rome and a tottering Egypt. The others had been defeated by the military bulldozers that were the legions. Rome had modified identification eternally. Now no longer the combative newcomer of the Mediterranean world, it modified into now a confident, brash superpower. The first paving stones of the boulevard to empire had been neatly and if fact be told laid.
The history of Rome and Macedon is a tangled one; to present it in depth goes previous the remit of this text. The two powers if fact be told fought three wars, from 217 to 205 BC, 200 to 197 BC and 171 to 168 BC; the 2d modified into of most consequence. A brief but brutal affair, it modified into also the battle that saw Rome’s authority stamped on Greece, and is the one upon which we are in a position to focal point.
The ruler of Macedon at the time of every and each the vital and 2d conflicts modified into the snappily and unpredictable King Philip V. Scion of a diversified family to Alexander the Huge (whose line had been wiped out after his loss of life), Philip modified into in a position to particular individual acts of military brilliance and colossally rash choices. Cursed by the indisputable fact that nearly all city states in Greece loathed Macedon, as they’d since Alexander’s time, he spent his reign coping with political machinations in opposition to him, invasions from neighbouring territories and commence battle with reasonably just a few his neighbours.
Philip appeared as if it may per chance most likely maybe maybe are dwelling his life by the aged Greek announcing that a king who lived in peace modified into no king at all.
On all aspects of the compass then, Macedon had enemies, commence, hidden or within the making, and when Philip wasn’t coping with these issues, he modified into invading or preventing with diversified kingdoms and territories. Illyria and Epirus (neatly-liked-day Croatia/Montenegro/Albania), Thrace (Bulgaria), the Hellespont (the Straits of Bosphorus) and the western coastline and islands of Asia Minor (Turkey) all suffered his assaults on bigger than one event. Philip appeared as if it may per chance most likely maybe maybe are dwelling his life by the aged Greek announcing that a king who lived in peace modified into no king at all. It’s arduous no longer to arrangement the conclusion that he had aspirations of emulating the feats of his famed predecessor Alexander. Sadly for Philip, he under no circumstances reasonably succeeded in that regard.
By the autumn of 202 BC, the 17-year battle between Rome and Carthage modified into drawing to a end. The closing act took dwelling at Zama, no longer removed from the town of Carthage; the fight resulted in a decisive defeat for Hannibal’s army. After a battle that had lasted a generation, considered colossal swathes of Italy slither over to the enemy, and rate the lives of an total bunch of 1000’s of its electorate, one may maybe rob that the Roman Republic would possess misplaced its appetite for battle by this point. No longer so. Lower than two years after Zama, embassies sent by Philip’s enemies in Asia Minor pleaded for abet in opposition to his assaults on their territories. Conjuring the postulate of a seemingly Macedonian invasion of Italy, these emissaries won over the Senate. There modified into some resistance from the Centuriate, the oldsters’s assembly, but the vote for battle modified into carried within the summertime of 200 BC.
Rome didn’t dangle about, dispatching an army to Apollonia in neatly-liked-day Albania. Autumn had arrived sooner than the legions may maybe march inland; even supposing they succeeded in taking a Macedonian town, a fleshy-blown marketing campaign modified into no longer on the playing cards attributable to the merciless terrain and forthcoming change within the weather. The battle modified into renewed within the spring of 199 BC, the legions led by a seasoned flesh presser and justice of the battle with Hannibal, Sulpicius Galba. Smashing previous Philip’s phalanx in a mountain slither without defeating it fully, the Roman army marched eastward into Macedon. A game of cat and mouse ensued over the summer season, with either aspect searching for fight on its possess terms. A victory for the Romans at Ottolobus, when Philip nearly misplaced his life, modified into countered by a Macedonian take at Pluinna. Harvest-time arrived with out a conclusive consequence. Far from their heinous at Apollonia, with offer lines in possibility of being nick by snow or the Macedonians, Galba took the sparkling possibility and retreated to the soar.
In lots of ways, the politics of two thousand years within the past were no diversified to this day. The newly-elected man consistently likes to preserve preserve an eye on. Soon after his return to Apollonia, Galba learned himself being supplanted by the consul Villius. He in flip modified into modified reliable months later by a more intrepid figure, Titus Quinctius Flamininus. Thirty years aged, terribly younger to remark a sparkling army, Flamininus took the invasion in his scoot. A lover of all things Greek, he may maybe talk and write the language as neatly – one thing irregular for Romans of the time.
His preliminary makes an try to enter Macedon failed, alternatively, and within the spring of 198 BC a 40-day standoff within the narrow Aous valley (the trendy-day River Vjosa) unfolded, with his legionaries unable to push previous the Macedonian fortifications. In scenes harking serve to Thermopylae, the impasse modified into damaged by a native shepherd who led the Romans spherical Philip’s space. Attacked from entrance and rear, his troops fell serve in apprehension. Flamininus’ legions swept into western Macedon and onward to fertile Thessaly. Even though Philip misplaced super swathes of territory, his phalanx delivered a mighty setback to the Roman army soon after at the fortress of Atrax. Over all another time, with autumn drawing come, the battle factual modified into place on steal till the following spring.
Prolonged negotiations for the length of the iciness months saw Philip’s makes an try to dealer a peace settlement thwarted by Flamininus’ trickery. When the selling campaign began all another time within the spring of 197 BC, a showdown modified into inevitable. After just a few weeks of marching and countermarching by Philip and Flamininus in central Thessaly, fight modified into joined (nearly by likelihood) at Cynoscephalae, hills is named The Dogs’ Heads. Invincible on flat ground as long as its flanks were staunch, the phalanx modified into dangerously uncovered on hillsides. Extremely manoeuvrable, veterans of the Hannibalic battle, the legionaries wreaked a gruesome slaughter.
A negotiated settlement saw Philip dwell as king of Macedon, within the vital to lend a hand as a buffer in opposition to the threat of the Seleucid Empire to the east, but the destiny of the Greek city states who had aided and abetted the Roman invasion modified into primarily the most ironic. Even though their freedom modified into proclaimed by Flamininus at the Isthmian video games in 196 BC, they were soon to preserve end that they’d merely exchanged one grasp for one other. No longer for an total bunch of years would the Greeks rule themselves all another time.
Ben Kane’s most modern e book Conflict of Empires is out now (Orion, £14.ninety nine)