Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Achaean War (146 B.C.E.)

Achaean War (146 B.C.E.)

PRINCIPAL COMBATANTS: Rome vs. the Achaean League

PRINCIPAL THEATER(S): South-central Greece


MAJOR ISSUES AND OBJECTIVES: For the Achaeans the issue was the strength of the Achaean League, which they hoped to force Sparta to join; for the Romans, the object was to maintain their protectorate over Sparta.

OUTCOME: The Achaean League was dissolved, and Rome gained hegemony over all of Greece.




In the shaky political environment of Greece in the second century B.C.E., many of the smaller city-states entered into regional military-political alliances as a security measure against the empires to the north, primarily Macedonia, and the larger Greek city-states, especially Sparta. Although Athens and Sparta stood alone because of their size, they occasionally joined the Aetolian League in northern Greece or the Achaean League—made up of citystates from the Peloponnese—in temporary alliances. Both leagues hoped to gain the two major powers as permanent members, but Athens was strong enough on its own, and Sparta was under Roman protection.

When Rome became preoccupied with the total destruction of Carthage in the Third PUNIC WAR of 149–146 B.C.E., the Achaeans, although poorly organized themselves, took advantage of Sparta’s vulnerability and attacked, hoping to force the city-state to become a permanent member of the league. The Roman Senate quickly dispatched Consul Lucius Mummius Achaicus (fl. mid- 100s) to Greece. There he promptly defeated the Achaean army, which mostly consisted of poorly trained slaves led by Critolaus (d. before 111) near Corinth. Lucius then sacked Corinth and burned it to the ground. The Achaean League was dissolved, and Rome subjugated all of Greece, ending the illusion of independence by rendering the Greeks slaves. Officially, Macedonia and Greece, under the collective name of Achaea, were annexed to Rome.

Further reading: Keith R. Bradley, Slavery and Rebellion in the Roman World, 140 B.C.E.–70 B.C.E. (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1998).

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