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Macedonian Wars

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The Macedonian Wars were a series of wars between Rome and Macedonia during and after the Second Punic War. As a result of the Punic and Macedonian Wars, Rome achieved hegemony in almost the entire Mediterranean basin.

First Macedonian War

The First Macedonian War (214 BC — 205 BC) was a war between Rome and Macedonia. It was conducted simultaneously with The Second Punic War against Carthage.

During the war, Macedonia unsuccessfully attempted to take control of parts of Illyria and Greece. It is generally believed that these clashes prevented the forces of Philip V of Macedon and Hannibal from joining forces in the war with Rome. The war ended in 205 BC with the signing of the peace of Fenica.

Map of Europe at the beginning of the First Macedonian War

While Rome was engaged in a war with Carthage, Philip V of Macedon decided to take advantage of this and expand his possessions in the west. According to the ancient Greek historian Polybius, the main factor that influenced Philip to make this decision was Demetrius of Pharos.

Demetrius after the First Illyrian War from 229 BC ruled over most of the Illyrian coast, including the part of it that was under the protectorate of Rome. However in 219 BC he was defeated by the Romans in the Second Illyrian War he was defeated and fled to the Macedonian King Philip V.

While participating in the war against the Aetolian Alliance, Philip received news of Hannibal's crushing victory over the Romans at Lake Trasimene. At first, Philip showed only Demetrius the news of this victory. Apparently, seeing in this event an opportunity to restore his power over the lost lands, Demetrius advised the young king to make peace with the Aetolians and pay special attention to Illyricum and Italy. Polybius, quoting Demetrius, says:

"And now all Hellas is submissive to him," Demetrius assured him, and will continue to be so: the Achaeans of their own free will, out of favor to him, and the Aetolians out of fear, because of the failures they suffered in the present war. Meanwhile, he continued, Italy and the passage to it would be the first step towards the conquest of the whole world, which befitted him more than anyone else. Now that the Romans have been crushed, the time is ripe for that."

As a result, Philip decided to take revenge on Rome and started the war. First, however, he needed to end the Allied War that he and the Achaean Alliance had waged against the Aetolian Alliance. Philip immediately began peace talks with the Aetolian Union. During negotiations on the coast near Naupaktos, Philip met with Aetolian leaders, and a peace treaty was concluded.

Map of Aetolian lands

Philip spent the winter of 217-216 BC building a fleet of 100 warships, as well as training rowers. Nevertheless, Philip lacked the resources to build and maintain a fleet that could compete on equal terms with the Roman one. Therefore, Philip was going to use it not for battle, but for crossing troops and placing them in their chosen places as soon as possible. However, perhaps the desire to avoid a naval battle was due to the lack of experience and training of the ship's crews. As a result, Philip decided to build lembs. They were small, fast galleys used by the Illyrians. They had 1 tier of oars and in addition to rowers were able to take on board up to 50 soldiers. With such ships, Philip could hope to avoid or evade a battle with the Roman fleet, which he hoped would be more concerned with fighting Hannibal.

Philip, meanwhile, expanded his dominions in the west along the valleys of the Aps and Genusus Rivers, all the way to the borders of Illyricum. It is believed that Philip's plan was to establish control of the Illyrian coast, conquer the lands lying between the coast and Macedonia, and use the captured lands to create a faster supply route and transfer troops through the narrow straits to Italy.

In early summer, Philip led his fleet out of Macedonia, passing through the Eurypus Strait between the islands of Euboea and Boeotia, rounded Cape Malea, and anchored in the waters of the islands of Kefallenia and Leucades, waiting for news of the location of the Roman fleet. After receiving news that he was still in Lilybaeum, Philip sailed north and went to Apollonius in Illyricum. However, while the Macedonian fleet was near the island of Sason, Philip received a report that some Roman quinquiremes had been sighted heading for Apollonia. Convinced that almost the entire Roman fleet was coming at him, Philip ordered them to weigh anchor immediately and return to Kefalonia. Polybius, describing the fleet's hasty retreat, speaks of "panic" and "disorder", and also says that the Romans actually sent a squadron of only ten ships, and that because of "unnecessary alarm" Philip missed the best chance to achieve his goals in Illyricum, and although he returned to Macedonia "without loss, but not without shame".

After learning of the Roman defeat at the Battle of Cannae in 216 BC, Philip sent envoys to Hannibal's camp in Italy to form an alliance. In the summer of 215 BC, the alliance, the text of which is given in Polybius, was concluded. It generally refers to mutual support, the parties promise to be enemies of each other's enemies (with the exception of those with whom they had friendship agreements). The treaty also states that if Rome wishes to conclude a peace treaty with Hannibal, then in it it must give up its authority over Kerkyra, Apollonia, Epidamnos, Pharos, Dimala, Parthipi and Atintania, and also transfer "to Demetrius of Pharos all his subjects that are only located within the Roman state."

The treaty set out by Polybius no longer mentions the invasion of Italy by Philip's troops, which may have been due both to Philip's reluctance to take risks again after the fiasco at Soson Island, and to the fact that Hannibal might not have wanted it. However, on their way back to Macedonia, Philip's envoys and Hannibal's accompanying envoys were captured by the Romans. They were captured by Publius Valerius Flaccus, who commanded a Roman fleet patrolling the southern coast of Apulia. In Hannibal's letter to Philip, the contract was discovered.

The alliance of Philip and Hannibal caused great alarm in Rome, which was already in a very difficult situation. It was decided to add twenty-five more ships to the fleet of twenty-five commanded by the Prefect Publius Valerius Flaccus and send them to Tarentum. Moreover, Publius Valerius was ordered not only to guard the coast of Italy, but also to find out Philip's intentions, and if it was established that Philip really wanted war, then in this case it was necessary to try to keep Philip within the borders of his kingdom.

In the late summer of 214 BC, Philip, at the head of a fleet of 120 lembs, again attempted to invade Illyria from the sea. He managed to capture the city of Oricus, which was poorly defended, and then, leaving a small garrison in it, he sailed down the Aos River to besiege Apollonius. Meanwhile, the Roman fleet moved from Tarentum to Brundisium and continued to closely monitor the actions of Philip, the command of the fleet and the legion transferred to him for reinforcement was entrusted to the propraetor Marcus Valerius Levinus. After receiving news from Orik about the events in Illyria, Levin led his fleet and army across the border. After landing at Orik, Levin captured the city in a light battle.

According to the version provided by Titus Livy, Levinus, having learned that Apollonius was besieged, sent 2,000 soldiers under the command of Quintus Naevius Crist to help the city. Having landed at the mouth of the river, Christ managed to bypass Philip's army and enter the city unnoticed at night. The following night, by a sudden attack on the Macedonian camp, he managed to surprise Philip's forces and forced them to abandon their camp. When the Romans learned of the Macedonian defeat, they sent their fleet into the mouth of the Aoos River and blocked Philip's possible escape route by sea. Fleeing, Philip decided to return to Macedonia through the mountains, leaving behind the fleet, which he ordered to burn before retreating, thousands of dead or captured, along with all the property of the army. Levin and the fleet he led stayed in Orica for the winter.

After twice being defeated in attempts to invade Illyria from the sea, and being held back by Levin's Roman fleet in the Adriatic Sea, Philip devoted the next two years (213-212 BC) to preparing an invasion of Illyria by land.

Second Macedonian War

In 218-201 BC, Rome won the Second Punic War over Carthage and intensified its policy in the Balkans. At the same time, in the eastern Mediterranean, Macedonia and the Seleucid state began to divide their spheres of influence, and in 203 or 202 BC, a secret treaty was signed between Philip and Antiochus III to divide the overseas possessions of Egypt, which was then in decline. At the same time, the signatories did not really trust each other.

Macedonia and Greece before the Second Macedonian War

In 202 BC, the Macedonian king led a campaign to Asia Minor, where, in addition to the Egyptian possessions, he began to attack Pergamum and Rhodes. The ruler of the Kingdom of Pergamum, Attalus I, stepped up efforts to create a coalition against Macedonia with the participation of Aetolia and Athens, and Roman ambassadors also participated in the negotiations.

In Rome itself, there were many opponents of waging wars outside of Italy, especially among large landowners. After the Second Punic War, the people also did not burn with the desire for new bloodshed. The mood was changed by active agitation and propaganda that threatened the Macedonian invasion of Italy itself. First, the Senate gave Philip an ultimatum, citing the grievances inflicted on Pergamum, and sent an embassy to the East, which visited a number of Greek cities. The embassy then visited Philip, who was besieging Abydos, and formally declared war on him.

The 2nd Macedonian War began in 200 BC and lasted until 197 BC. Rome managed to strengthen its influence in Greece. The decisive factor was the appearance of Aetolian on the side of Rome in 199 BC, and in 198 BC — and the former ally of Macedonia — the Achaean Union. Macedonian material resources were depleted, internal opposition to the tsar was growing, and the war with Rome was unpopular. Philip V's attempts to make peace with Rome were unsuccessful. In July 197 BC, the Macedonian forces were defeated at Cynoscephalus.

As a result, a truce was concluded for 4 months, and then a peace treaty was concluded on the following terms:

"Philip pays 1 thousand talents of indemnity (500 — immediately, the balance — in equal installments for 10 years), and before the agreement is approved by the Senate — another 200. The king's son Demetrius is sent to Rome as a hostage, renouncing all conquests, withdrawing military contingents from Greece and issuing a battle fleet except for five ships, returning prisoners, hostages and defectors. The Macedonian army was reduced to five thousand soldiers, it should not have war elephants, Macedonia does not have the right to declare wars without the consent of the Senate. Pergamum received war elephants and the island of Aegina, Rhodes-Stratonikea and other cities of Caria, which previously belonged to Philip, Athens-the islands of Lemnos, Imbros, Delos and Skyros."

The text of the peace treaty was finally approved in Rome, and its implementation was entrusted to a senate commission of 10 people together with Flaminin. The moderation of the treaty was due to the Senate's concern about the actions of another Hellenistic monarch, Antiochus III, against whom the Macedonian king could later be useful. At the same time, unrest was already beginning in Greek cities due to the desire to gain independence, and in Italy a wave of slave uprisings swept through.

One of the terms of the treaty was the proclamation of the "liberation" of Greece, which Flaminin personally announced at the celebration of the Isthmian Games in 196 BC. e. After that, the Senate commission dealt with the political structure of Greece, changing the state system and borders of individual states.

The Third Macedonian War

In 179 BC, King Philip V of Macedon died, and his son Perseus came to power. Perseus married Laodice, the daughter of Seleucus IV, king of Syria, increased the size of his army, and made alliances with Epirus, some Illyrian tribes, and the Odrisian king Cotys IV. He also restored old ties with the Greek poleis. Since the ruling oligarchic circles of the Greek states supported Rome, Perseus turned to the Democrats. The tsar announced that he was going to restore the former power and prosperity of his country. This policy gained support among Greek cities that were unwilling to submit to Rome.

Rome was very concerned about the danger that Perseus could destroy Roman influence in Greece and restore the former supremacy of Macedonia among the Greek poleis. King Eumenes II of Pergamum, who hated Macedonia, accused Perseus of violating the terms of the Roman-Macedonian Peace Agreement. The Romans, frightened by the changing balance of power in the region, declared a new war on Macedonia. Unprepared for the outbreak of war, Perseus began to hesitate and missed the time to win over all of Greece to his side. As a result of Roman diplomacy, the Greeks, who hated the Romans, all sent auxiliary detachments as one. Only a few minor Boeotian cities remained on Perseus ' side.

Zh. F. P. Peyron. "King Perseus of Macedon before Lucius Aemilius Paulus" (1802)

The beginning of the war turned out to be successful for Perseus. At the battle of Larissa, he was able to defeat the army of Publius Licinius Crassus, but due to the intervention of Quintus Marcius Philippus, who assured Perseus that Rome did not want war and offered negotiations, he lost time and allowed the Romans to safely retreat to the sea. As the victor, he offered peace to Rome, but this offer was rejected. The Roman forces began to have problems with discipline, and for a long time the Roman generals could not find a way to successfully invade Macedonia. Meanwhile, Perseus defeated another Roman army stationed in Illyricum. At the same time, he tried to defeat Pergamon, but this attempt was unsuccessful. In 169 BC, Quintus Marcius Philippus, now consul, crossed Olympus and invaded Macedonia. However, his army was too exhausted by the difficult march and Marcius evaded the decisive battle. Finally, in 168 BC, the consul Lucius Aemilius Paulus was given command of the Roman army — an elderly man who was distinguished by firmness of spirit, honesty and incorruptibility. He quickly restored discipline to the troops and successfully drove Perseus out of the mountain passes.

On June 22, 168 BC, a battle took place near the city of Pydna, which decided the outcome of this war. The battle began with a rapid phalanx attack that crushed the Roman legions and put them to flight. But, during the pursuit through the mountainous terrain, the phalanx formation broke, and the deployed legions, cutting into the phalanx, killed almost the entire Macedonian army in less than an hour. In addition, the defeat of the Macedonians was facilitated by the fact that their strong cavalry, which could have turned the tide of the battle, for reasons that are not entirely clear, almost did not take part in the battle. The Macedonians lost up to 20 thousand people killed, and 11 thousand were taken prisoner.

Perseus was one of the first to flee the battlefield, but soon, abandoned by all his supporters, he was forced to surrender to the Romans and died a few years later in a prison in Alba.

As a result of the war, Macedonia as a state was destroyed. In its former territory, the Romans literally implemented a policy of "divide and rule": Macedonia was divided into four regions, resembling republics or unions of cities, on the model of the Greek ones. Between them, the Romans prohibited all economic, political, and even family contacts: marriages and the acquisition of real estate could only be made within one area. These "republics" were forbidden to have their own military forces. Only in the north was a military contingent maintained to protect against the barbarians. They were also taxed in favor of Rome in the amount of half of the tax that they had previously paid to the king. The same policy was followed by the Romans in Illyricum, whose king was an ally of Perseus.

All former Macedonian royal officials were exiled to Italy and only death was imposed on them for attempting to return to their homeland. In Greece, all former supporters of Perseus were severely persecuted, and many of them were executed. The Alliance of Epirus, which had supported Perseus, was dissolved, and Epirus, by order of the Roman Senate, was destroyed and completely devastated, 150 thousand Epirotes were sold into slavery. At the same time, the large Molossian tribe that dominated Epirus was completely enslaved.

But even the Greek allies of Rome did not receive the desired rewards, since from now on the Romans recognized only complete submission to themselves.

The Fourth Macedonian War

Greece lived in peace for almost two decades, until the Macedonian revolt began under the leadership of Andriscus, who declared himself Philip, the son of King Perseus and the Syrian princess Laodice. Supported by Thrace, as well as Byzantium and a number of other cities, Andriscus (False Philipp) occupied Macedonia, attracted most of the country's population to his side, and invaded Thessaly. The Roman Legion sent to suppress the revolt was destroyed. Rome sent a new army under the command of Quintus Caecilius Metellus against Andriscus, thus starting the Fourth Macedonian War. Acting more by bribery than by force, the Romans defeated the forces of Andriscus in 148 BC. Andriscus ' second campaign also ended in failure, and he was captured, marched through Rome during the triumph of Quintus Caecilius Metellus, and executed. In 143 BC, the Romans also quickly suppressed the False Philippus II movement.

Since then, Rome has not left the region, establishing the provinces of Macedonia, Achaea and Epirus. In response, the remaining free Greek poleis, which were part of the Achaean Union, rebelled against the Roman presence. The forces of the Achaean League were completely defeated in the battle of Leucopetra on the Isthmus, the Union itself was dissolved, and as a punishment, the Romans destroyed the ancient city of Corinth to the ground in 146 BC-the year of the destruction of Carthage.

Macedonia before the Fourth Macedonian War


The defeat of Macedonia in the wars with Rome is explained not so much by the greater combat capability of the Roman legions in comparison with the clumsy phalanx and the purely military superiority of the Roman army over the Macedonian as a whole, but by the systemic crisis of the slave-owning economy of Macedonia. Largely depopulated by the exodus of population to the east during the Greco-Macedonian conquest of Asia, as well as the wars of the Diadochi, Celtic invasions, and continuous wars, Macedonia had little to offer against Rome. Defeat on the battlefield was also preceded by a diplomatic defeat in the tangled politics of the Balkans and the Eastern Mediterranean. A weakened Macedonia could no longer be the force that could protect the interests of the ruling class against the backdrop of growing social strife, and therefore the eyes of slave owners both in the cities of Greece and Asia Minor, and even in Macedonia itself, turn to a new force — Rome. Surrounded on all sides by enemies, exhausted by wars and exhausted Macedonia suffered a natural defeat.

The Macedonian wars ended with Greece's loss of independence.

Related topics

Roman Republic, The First Punic War, Second Punic War