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Such, then, was the state of things in the East when Philip of Macedon was induced to break down the wall of political separation, and to interfere in the West. The miserable incompetence he had shown in the first Macedonian war, 215-205 B.C., and the contemptible indolence which caused him to utterly disappoint Hannibal at a critical period, have been already pointed out. Now, however, though Philip was not the man needed at this juncture, he exhibited none of those faults which had marred his first war with Rome. Philip was a true king in the worst and best sense of the term. Inflated with arrogance and pride, incapable of taking advice or brooking opposition, he was utterly callous to the lives and sufferings of those about him; bound by no sense of moral tie or obligation, the slave of passion, combining in singular fashion sagacity and resolution with supineness and procrastination, he was yet gifted with the valor of a soldier and the eye of a general; jealous of his honor as a Macedonian king, he could rise to a spirited and dignified public policy; full of intelligence and wit, he won the hearts of all whom he wished to gain.
At the present moment Philip directed his attentions to Egypt. About 205 B.C. he had formed an alliance with Antiochus of Asia to break up the Egyptian state, now ruled over by Ptolemy Epiphanes, a child five years old, and to divide the spoil. In 201 B.C. Philip had begun his task of plunder, and crossing to Asia had proceeded to make war upon the Greek cities on the coast. Chalcedon saved itself by submission, but Cius and Thasos were stormed and sacked. Rhodes, at the head of her league, declared war against Philip; she was joined by Byzantium and Attalus of Pergamus. Several indecisive battles were fought at sea; towards the close of the year Philip withdrew to Macedonia, where his presence was urgently needed.
At this point the Romans thought right to interfere. They could not view with indifference the possible extension of Philip's power, the conquest of Rhodes and Egypt, the fall of Cyrene, and the future peril of all the Greek cities, whose protectors they claimed to be, and they could not honorably refuse aid to Attalus of Pergamus, who had been their staunch ally since the first Macedonian war. The policy of interference in the East was not actuated by greed for further conquest, but was dictated by necessity; it redounds to the senate's honor that it resolved to prepare for war with Philip at a time when the Roman citizens were thoroughly weary of 200-197 B.C.
and exhausted by one transmarine war, and when such a war was sure to rouse a storm of popular disapprobation.
At first, indeed, the Romans lacked a pretext for war. Their ambassador, sent to Abydus, after the capture of that city by rhil ip in 200 B.C., was politely reproved by the Macedonian king for attempting to interfere with his designs. The Athenians, however, had at this time put to death two Acarnanians who strayed into their mysteries. The Acarnanians at once invoked Philip's aid, and he proceeded to lay waste Attica. Athens applied for help to Rome, and the popular assembly was at length induced by various concessions to ratify the declaration of war by the senate, in 200 B.C. These concessions were chiefly made at the expense of the allies, who had to supply the garrison service in Gaul, Lower Italy, Sicily, and Sardinia; volunteers alone, as was alleged, were enrolled for the Macedonian campaign. Two of the six legions, thus called out, embarked at Brundisium under the leadership of the consul Publius Sulpicius Galba.
The position of Philip was very critical. Antiochus stood aloof; Egypt, despite its anxiety to keep a Roman fleet out of Eastern waters, was utterly estranged from Philip by his recent scheme of partition; the Rhodian confederacy of Greek cities was also, owing to recent events, a pronounced enemy; while in Greece itself many of the most powerful states were ready to welcome the Romans as deliverers, and the Acarnanians and Boeotians alone remained the steadfast allies of Macedonia. The Achaean League, previously estranged by the murder of Aratus, had, under the able leadership of Philopoemen, revived its military power and freed itself from the oppressive influence of Macedonia. Aware of the danger to Greece of invoking Roman aid, this league attempted in vain to mediate between Philip and Rhodes, and in despair remained neutral, awaiting the coming of the Roman troops with undisguised but inactive dread. Thus Philip, by his cruelty and arrogance, had alienated all those Eastern powers which at this critical hour should have proved his staunchest allies in repelling the common danger to Greek freedom and independence.
The Roman army under Galba effected very little, and the result of the first year of the war was on the whole favorable to Philip. A second campaign conducted by a far abler officer, the Consul Titus Quintius Flamininus, was more successful, and the Achaean League went over to the Roman side. Finally, in 197 B.C., 197-195 B.C.
Flamininus succeeded in bringing Philip to a decisive engagement in the district of Scotussa. The battle takes its name from the steep height of Cynoscephalae, which, lying between the two camps, was the scene of the first encounter between the vanguards of both armies. Owing to the success of the Macedonians at the outset, Philip was encouraged to risk a battle with his whole force, and, after a fierce conflict, in which the phalanx exhibited its ancient prowess, Philip was utterly defeated, and escaped to Larissa.
At this defeat, even his most staunch allies, the Acarnanians, submitted to Rome; resistance was no longer possible. The terms imposed do honor to the Romans. They gave no ear to the malignity of the Aetolians, who demanded the annihilation of the Macedonian kingdom; for they clearly saw that it alone could serve as a bulwark against the encroaching Celts and Thracians. A commission of ten was appointed, at the head of which was Flamininus, to settle the complicated affairs of Greece. The result of their deliberations was the decision that Philip should give up all his possessions in Asia Minor, Thrace, Greece, and the islands of the Aegean; that he should pay a contribution of a thousand talents ($1,220,000); that he should conclude no foreign alliances without Rome's consent, and wage no foreign wars; that he should enter into the Roman alliance, and send a contingent when required; that the Macedonian army should not exceed five thousand men, nor its fleet five decked ships; that the territory of Macedonia should remain unimpaired, with the exception of some small strips and of the revolted province of Orestis.
With regard to the disposition of the possessions thus ceded by Philip, Rome, having learned by experience in Spain the doubtful value of transmarine provinces, kept none of the spoil for herself, and decreed freedom to the Greek states—a freedom rather in name than deed, when we consider the value of it to a nation devoid of all union and unity. Athens received the three islands of Paros, Scyros, and Imbros, as a reward for the hardships she had suffered and for the many courtesies she had shown to Rome. All Philip's possessions in the Peloponnese and on the Isthmus were ceded to the Achaean League, which was thus practically made ruler of the Peloponnese: but scant favor was accorded to the boastful and greedy Aetolians, who incorporated Phocis and Locris, but were not suffered to extend their power to Acarnania and Thessaly.
Nabis of Sparta obstinately refused to give up Argos to the 195-194 B.C.
Achaean League, and only yielded to a powerful display of Roman arms; and, though his banditti were dispersed and Sparta captured, both the city and Nabis himself were left intact, the conquerors only requiring the cession of his foreign possessions and his adherence to the usual stipulations touching the right of waging war and of forming foreign alliances.
Peace was thus, outwardly at any rate, established among the petty Greek states. Flamininus acted with great fairness and patience throughout, and strove as far as possible to mete out justice to the claims of each Greek state. He showed an especially wise and tolerant moderation in his punishment of the rebellious Boeotians, who, in their eagerness to attach themselves again to Macedonia, did not refrain from putting to death isolated bands of Roman soldiers.
In 194 B.c. Flamininus, after holding a conference of all the Greek states at Corinth, withdrew his troops from every fortress and departed homeward, thus giving the lie to the Aetolian calumny that Rome had inherited from Philip " the fetters " of Greece.
We cannot doubt the nobleness and sincerity of the Roman endeavor to set Greece free; the reason of its failure was the complete demoralization of the Greek nation. In truth, the necessities of the case demanded the permanent presence of a superior power, not the pernicious boon of a fictitious freedom; the feeble policy of sentiment, with all its apparent humanity, was far more cruel than the sternest occupation. History has a Nemesis for every sin —for an impotent craving after freedom, as well as for an injudicious generosity. The Nemesis in this case was the war with Antiochus of Asia.
WAR WITH ANTIOCHUS AND THE FINAL CONQUEST OF THE EAST. 192-168 B.C.
ANTIOCHUS had long fixed his eyes upon the Syrian coast, which had been wrested from Asia by the Egyptians, and L had seized the occasion of Philopator's death, in 205 B.C., to concert measures with Philip for the partition of the kingdom of the Ptolemies. But he lacked the foresight to make common cause with Philip in repelling Roman interference, and had taken advantage of the second Macedonian war to secure Egypt for himself. At first he attacked the Egyptian possessions in Cilicia, Syria, and Palestine, and by a victory gained in 198 B.C., near the sources of the Jordan, he became absolute master of the two latter countries. He then proceeded with a strong fleet to occupy all the districts on the south and west coasts of Asia Minor, which had formerly belonged to Egypt, but had virtually fallen under the dominion of Philip. Rome had, however, bidden Philip to withdraw from these possessions, and to leave them free and untouched, and now Antiochus came forward to take Philip's place as the oppressor of the Greek cities and free kingdoms in those lands.
Already, in 198 B.c., Attalus of Pergamus had applied to Rome for aid against Antiochus; and in the following year the Rhodians openly protected the Carian cities of Halicarnassus, Caunus, Myndus, and the island of Samos against the attacks of the Great King. Other cities, such as Smyrna and Lampsacus, took heart to resist Antiochus, and they, one and all, called upon Rome to give effect to her promise that they should be free, and to prove that neither Macedonian tyrant nor Asian despot should be suffered to endanger Greek life and liberty. Rome, however, was slow to answer such a call; nor did she resort to other measures than those of diplomacy, when Antiochus, in 196 B.C., landed in Europe and invaded the Thracian Chersonese, and took active measures to convert Thrace into a dependent satrapy on the plea that he was merely reasserting his claim to the land conquered by his ancestor Seleucus.