Monday, 13 February 2012

Destruction of Carthage - Regional Background

Roman Territories After the Third Punic War
The final destruction of Carthage took place at a time of unrest throughout Hispanina, Macedonia and Greece - and unrivalled expansion of Rome.

Rome begain military operations for the destruction of Carthage in the year 149 BC.

However, the war against Carthage was delayed as the Lusitani (in present-day Portugal) were again attempting to free themselves from Roman domination, as well as tribes in central Hispania (present-day Spain).

Roman legions overwhelmed the Lusitani. Rome offered them peace and land, trapped them, and then slaughtered 9,000 of them and enslaved 20,000. A new leader arose among the outraged Lusitani and renewed his people's war against the Romans, the Lusitani achieved their first success in the year 147, killing 10,000 Roman soldiers.

One response by Rome to the new trouble in Spain was a change in the New Year. To give one of its generals a longer season for campaigning, the Senate moved the date of the New Year from March 15 to January 1.

While Rome was busy with Spain and Carthage, an adventurer named Andricus, who claimed to be the son of Perseus, defied Rome and reunited Macedonia. Rome sent an army to Macedonia that arrived in 148 and drove out Andricus.

By the fall of 147, Rome's legions were in control of the countryside around Carthage. Rome had not yet penetrated Carthage's wall, but the possibility of a united effort against Rome by Carthage, Macedonia and the Greeks was over. Rome decided that its presence would be needed in Macedonia to keep the Macedonians in line, and it began a permanent rule and military occupation there, Macedonia becoming the first Roman province east of the Adriatic Sea.

At this time, some in the city of Corinth saw the continuing war between Rome and Carthage and the continuing rebellion in Spain as an opportune time to stand against Rome's pretensions of authority over Greek cities. It was a time of economic distress among the Greeks, and a leader from Corinth named Critolaus traveled from town to town in Greece calling for debt reform and opposition to Rome.

Critolaus described the real enemies of the Greeks as those among them who called for conciliation with Rome. Moderate opinion in Corinth was silenced, and, in the spring of 146, Critolaus persuaded the Achaean league to declare war against Rome's presence in their part of the world.

The city of Thebes, resenting Roman interference in their affairs, allied itself with the Achaean league. Across Greece, patriotic clubs appeared and denounced Rome. Athens and Sparta stayed out of the war, but elsewhere across Greece men eagerly joined up to fight Rome. Slaves were freed and recruited for the fight, and wealthy Greeks who favored Rome were frightened into contributing jewelry and money to the cause.

In the spring of 146, Roman soldiers were finally able to penetrate Carthage's walls. Death and destruction followed.

In Greece, Critolaus' army was defeated by the Roman army sent from Macedonia.

Later in 146 a force sent from Rome arrived and defeated an army of Greeks at the city of Corinth. To warn others, the Romans slaughtered all the men they found in Corinth. They enslaved the city's women and children, and they shipped Corinth's treasures to Italy and burned the city to the ground.

Greek cities hostile to Rome had their walls demolished and their people disarmed. The Romans found Thebes entirely empty of people, its inhabitants having fled to wander through mountains and wilderness. According to the Greek historian Polybius, people everywhere were throwing themselves "down wells and over precipices."

Rome dissolved the Achaean league and had its leaders put to death. Rome's governor to Macedonia became governor also of the entire Greek peninsula. Rome would now allow only internal rule by Greek cities by wealthy elites. Border disputes would remain, but they would be settled by Roman power. It was the beginning of Rome's permanent presence in the region and of a rule by foreigners in Greece that was to last two thousand years.

Based on article appears in Frank Eugene Smitha's Macrohistory.

No comments:

Post a Comment