Ancient History & Civilisation

4. THE SETTLEMENT OF THE EAST

Antiochus’ ambassadors reached L. Scipio at Sardes, where he had been rejoined by his brother, Africanus, who proposed very similar terms to those demanded before the battle: the withdrawal of Antiochus beyond the Taurus, an indemnity of 15,000 talents, the payment to Eumenes of an old debt of 400 talents and a quantity of corn, and the surrender of Hannibal together with certain Greek agitators. When hostages had been given, an armistice was concluded. The terms were not crushing. The indemnity was large – the largest known to ancient history: Carthage had paid only 10,000 talents after the Hannibalic War – but it was not beyond Antiochus’ power to pay. The surrender of Hannibal merely meant that he must leave Antiochus’ territory; indeed Scipio, ever generous, may have inserted this clause to give him the opportunity of escape, an opportunity which Hannibal did not miss. The terms show that Scipio intended to leave Syria humbled but still alive and to give Rome no further occasion for interference and dispute. These terms were revised later by the Senate when ten commissioners were sent to make the final settlement with Cn. Manlius Vulso who succeeded Scipio in 189. The additional clauses were: Antiochus was not to war in Europe or the Aegean; if attacked by any of these nations he could resist, but he must not have sovereignty over them or attach them to himself as friends; Rome should arbitrate in such disputes; he must surrender his elephants and fleet, except ten ships which were not to sail west of Cape Sarpedonium. Thus the Senate showed a jealous anxiety to exploit the victory and to rob the king of his armaments which would have been useful in the future against a neighbour like Egypt, in crushing internal troubles and in checking the expansion of the Rhodians who, not being allies of Rome, were left considerable scope for expansion. Unable to guarantee that he would not be attacked, Rome gave him the right to resist assaults but not to procure allies in the region from which he had been excluded. Scipio’s more generous terms would have allowed him freedom for development within definitely prescribed limits; Syria could still have flourished under a Roman protectorate. In the Senate, however, there had been a reaction from the policies of the Scipios and the final peace meant that Syria would have little chance to develop a prosperous national life and that the weakening of the central power would hasten the breaking up of the state; Rome would be drawn into the east and the foundations were laid of that Roman predominance which was to last eight hundred years.12

Meanwhile other settlements were made by the consuls of 189, M. Fulvius Nobilior and Cn. Manlius Vulso, who superseded the Scipios. The Aetolians, once again rebuffed by the Senate, had renewed war against Philip during the winter. But their hopes were frustrated by news of Magnesia and then by the arrival of Fulvius with two legions (spring 189). Now for the first time Rome had four consular legions in the east, although the two in Asia were little more than garrison troops. After laying siege to Ambracia, Fulvius was persuaded to offer more lenient terms than unconditional surrender, and by the autumn the Senate had ratified a peace (a foedus iniquum), which subordinated the Aetolians to Rome and involved them in considerable territorial losses including Delphi, together with an indemnity of 500 talents. The long chapter of Aetolia’s independent history was closed and Rome had accomplished in three years a settlement which Macedon had never been able to achieve. There was an epilogue to the war in Greece. Cephallenia had expressly been excluded from the peace. Rome wished to drive the pirates from this island and to gain this valuable base in the Ionian sea. After a four months’ siege Fulvius took Same and subdued the island (January 188).

About the same time the final settlement of Asia was accomplished. The consul Manlius carried out an extensive expedition through the territory of the Galatians and reduced them to complete submission (189). The fact that Manlius acquired a staggering amount of booty and money by systematic extortion and warfare, and that the final defeat of the barbarians in their mountain strongholds of the Phrygian plateau involved great loss of life, tends to obliterate the real value of this achievement. It appears an act of wanton imperialism instead of a necessary piece of police work. The barbarians were a continual menace to the Greek and native communities of Asia Minor and only their complete submission would secure lasting peace, for the small army of Eumenes could hardly be expected to hold them back. The harsh and avaricious conduct of Manlius, who fought the barbarians with their own weapons, had turned a wise plan, well suited to Rome’s protectorate mission, into a shameful blot on her good name.

In the spring of 188 Manlius joined the ten senatorial commissioners at Apamea and the final treaty was signed and honoured by Antiochus. As laid down by the terms, the king was confined to Syria. A great part of the territory ceded by Antiochus was divided between Eumenes and the Rhodians, with the river Maeander as the boundary between; the continental possessions of Rhodes were thus quadrupled, and the kingdom of Pergamum embraced more territory than the Italian federation including Sicily. The status of the Greek towns of the western seaboard proved a thorny question. Eumenes, the former champion of their liberty, now claimed sovereignty over them, but the Rhodians in jealousy urged their liberation, which had in fact been promised by the Scipios to those cities which surrendered. It was decided that cities previously subject to Antiochus were to be free (liberae et immunes), but those which had been tributary to Attalus and those which had opposed or seceded from the Romans during the war were to pay tribute to Eumenes; many individual exceptions were made. But since the liberated towns formed a barrier between Eumenes and the sea the king did not hesitate to claim Pamphylia, alleging that it was ‘on this side Taurus’, although he had been granted Telmessus, an enclave in Rhodian territory. Since the exact frontier was doubtful the Senate granted him western Pamphylia.

This settlement was a far cry from the proclamation of liberation for the Greeks with which Rome had entered the war. But it was a partial fulfilment, and showed clearly that the Romans themselves wished to wash their hands of Asia. In the autumn of 188 Manlius evacuated Asia, and after his army had been attacked by barbarians on its march through Thrace he arrived back in Italy, leaving Eumenes instead of a Roman army to be a bulwark against future disturbances. Pergamum would act as a wedge between Syria and Macedon, and at the same time limit the ambitions of the border states, Bithynia, Pontus, Cappadocia and Galatia. If Pergamum and Rhodes took a large share in frightening the Senate into war with Antiochus, it was certainly they, and not Rome, who reaped the main harvest. In little more than ten years Rome had overthrown the two great Hellenistic monarchies, but so far from having imperialistic aims, she had not left a single soldier behind in either Greece or Asia. She left the Hellenistic world free to abuse its liberty, and only when this occurred was she again unwillingly forced to intervene. But her patience was not inexhaustible.

If you find an error please notify us in the comments. Thank you!