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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

Stuckenschmidt

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39 - The Antigonid War (244 - 242)

When Isokrates Antigonid became King in 294, he was roughly one year old and inherited a Kingdom in turmoil. The once mighty Realm had collapsed, the few remaining holdings in Asia Minor were rising in revolt. What was left were Thessaly, Paeonia, Chalkidiki and the island of Cyprus.

In 279, just 16 years old, the Regency of his older family members ended and he became King in his own right. The situation had slightly improved, since the Kingdom had begun to gain influence in Boeotia and also controlled the south and west of the Peloponnes. Until 262, Isokrates waged different wars and was able to further expand the borders of his Kingdom, annexing southern Thracia, Boeotia, Attica and Euboea as well as Aeolia in Asia Minor.

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The Antigonid Kingdom (yellow) in 262

As of then, the tide changed against him. In 258 he had to cede Aeolia, Thessaly and parts of Emathia to Ptolemy II. By 253, the Greeks in the southern Peloponnes had revolted against his rule and formed the League of Elis. He tried to compensate his losses by advancing northward into Thracia towards the Danube River. In early 244 he was at war, trying to seize the remaining parts of Odrysia. That was when Roman troops appeared in Boeotia.

It is interesting to note, that even Roman authors put little effort into justifying the ongoing aggressive expansion of the Republic into Greece. Some do quote the plight of the Greek cities under the tyrannical rule of the Diadochi. At the same time they forget to mention, that Roman rule was equally far away from the traditional independence of the Poleis.

Anyway, the Republic continued to advance along the coastline, avoiding the territories of the Ptolemaic Dynasty. Hence the only route left for them was into Boeotia and Attica, the heartland of classical Greece. This caught Isokrates by surprise, since he had to split his attention and forces to two theaters, that were far apart. Although he still had Vassals especially in Asia Minor, such as Ionia, these had little means to effectively support his war efforts versus the Republic.

Nevertheless Isokrates tried to gain the initiative with an advance to Ambrakia, trying to cut the Roman supply routes at land. This resulted in the battle of Ambrakia on 19th March 244, when two armies equal in size of roughly 7.000 soldiers each met on the battlefield. Rome won a clear victory and pursued their opponents eastward, resulting in a second Antigonid loss in June at Larisa.

At the same time Delphi had to surrender and the Roman forces spread into Boeotia and Attica, occupying Athens probably in September 244. Immediately afterward the most notable event of the war began. The siege of Aegina, an island in the Saronic Gulf. The island was heavily fortified and the roman army appearing there in late 244 faced a long siege.

In December, despite bad weather, an Antigonid fleet appeared near the island and defeated the Roman force, sinking probably ten vessels in the process, while the majority of the Roman fleet was able to escape. As of then, the Roman soldiers on Aegina were isolated, although the Antigonid fleet did not take advantage of the success and returned to its base on Euboea. This gave the Romans the opportunity to supply its forces with small coastal vessels. But the situation on Aegina, where hunger and disease took a toll, remained precarious. At least until late 243, when a large Roman fleet arrived with supplies, leading to the surrender of the island.

Shortly later, reports arrived of an Antigonid fleet heading for the island. The Roman Commander took the initiative and sailed southeast, meeting the Antigonids near Myrtoum, where the first large Roman victory in a sea battle occurred on 16th November 243. Both fleets seem to have consisted of roughly 70 vessels each. But the Romans were able to push their enemies back, destroying 12 ships while losing only one themselves.

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Having lost large territories, naval superiority and a last battle near Orchomenos in early 242, Isokrates had to sign a peace treaty, confirming the annexation of Boeotia and Attica by the Romans.
 

Stuckenschmidt

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40 - Developments in the Republic (261 - 242)

In the middle of the 3rd Century, some of the developments, that would lead to the downfall of the Republic, began in earnest. Rome`s territory had significantly expanded over the course of a few decades. It was master of Italy, Illyria and parts of Greece. An ever increasing amount of wealth poured into the capital. Symbol of this increasing prosperity was the large-scale renovation of the Temple dedicated to Jupiter Optimus Maximus in 253.

Since the Senators were barred from financial transactions, they invested their wealth in land. This accumulation of property led to the establishment of the first Latifundia. Large estates, worked by slaves. Although the productivity of Roman agriculture increased, the amount of Roman landowners continuously decreased, leading to a more numerous amount of landless people migrating to the cities. In 255 the first subsidies in the form of grain rations were introduced.

At the same time the decreasing amount of landowners meant, that the traditional backbone of the Roman army slowly diminished at a time, when constant war far away from Rome called for equally permanent armies to be deployed to expand borders or secure them from now more frequent raids by various mountain tribes in Cisalpine Gaul or Illyria. So instead of the peasant conscripts, landless volunteers from the cities gained a more imortant role within the Legions.

This new sort of long-term soldiers meant, that the Roman army became more professional. But since the soldiers owned no property, they completely relied on their salary and who paid it to them. This opened the door for a major shift of the soldiers` loyalty from the Senate to their Commanders, who had the possibility to grant their troops further possessions from the occupied territories in form of gold or slaves or by promises of land allocation.

The Senate was probably aware of the potential centrifugal forces inherent in the expanding borders. The limitation of the Governor`s authorities in their provinces or the appointment of Officers from rivalling families as Staff of Legion Commanders were measures designed to keep control of Officials acting independently away from the Republic`s center. But, ultimately, these forces were impossible to control.
 

DensleyBlair

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The internal workings of deeest darkest Rome are not something I’m all too familiar with, so this little gloss on the significance of the latifundia was super interesting.
 

Stuckenschmidt

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Today was not a good day for my AE :D
 

guillec87

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subbed!
 

Stuckenschmidt

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41 - The Campaign of 241

The Campaign of 241 is a good example, how Historiography revisits and reevaluates events. In older studies, it was either viewed as part of the Antigonid War and its gains as targets of opportunity. Or it was seen as the start of the Second Macedonian War. In recent works, the Event is examined as Campaign in its own right to achieve important operational requirements.

After the end of the Antigonid War, the Republic focused on the Peloponnes. The west and South of the Peninsula was held by the League of Elis and war with it would also mean conflict with Macedonia. Central and Eastern Peloponnes, on the other hand, were part of several other Alliances. The Campaigns of the next years, so the current consensus among Historians, unveils a predefined "order", in which these Alliances were challenged in the most efficient way.

The Campaign of 241 was the first of these scheduled Campaigns, designed to open access to all parts of the Peloponnes, which were part of the next step. In detail, this concerned the city of Megara and the remnants of the Aetolian League, that consisted of the area around Patras and the island of Zakynthos.

1619024919147.png

The Campaign itself lasted for just half a year from February to August, when the city of Megara opened its gates. It is characteristic for its short duration and obscure purpose, that no author gives a detailed report about the Campaign besides a note, that the Roman Commander spared Megara from looting and its population from enslavement.
 

HistoryDude

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Greece is being subjugated. The note about governor's power makes me think that civil war approaches - that was part of the problem with Caesar OTL.
 

Stuckenschmidt

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42 - The Second Macedonian War (240 - 238)

Corinth. Founded maybe in the 10th Century at the Isthmus connecting the Peloponnese with mainland Greece, it was one of the most important and largest Greek cities besides Athens, Sparta and Thebes. Allegedly it was one of the triggers of the Peloponnesian War, during which it fought alongside Sparta versus Athens. At the end of the war, it called for the destruction of Athens, but shortly later it switched sides to counter Spartas increasing Hegemony with Athens as partner.

Its history as an independent city, participating in the struggle for respectively against Hegemony ended in 337, when it fell under the rule of Philipp II of Macedonia. For the next century, this was the status quo. A part of the Isthmus and thus the access to the Peloponnese remained under Macedonian control.

In late 241, Rome had ended its Campaign of that year. It had taken Megara and Patras in the northern Peloponnese. By doing so, it had gained access to all holdings of Macedonia and its Allies. The stage was set for the Second Macedonian War.

1619261855280.png

The interesting thing about the War of 240/238, as was already noticed by ancient authors, was, that such a long conflict, that covered large parts of Greece, happened without a single major battle.

The major disadvantage of Macedonia and its Allies was, that their teritories were separated from one another and that neither of them alone had the means to seriously challenge any Roman army. If we add to that, that the Romans had the advantage of the inner lines, being able to suppress any attempt of its enemies to unite forces, then it is no miracle, that the whole Campaign was a series of sieges and minor skirmishes.

The war began in spring 240. In summer, Corinth had to surrender already, since the city was overcrowded with Refugees and the supply situation had been catastrophic. It is unknown, how many died during the siege due to hunger or illness. But in the course of the plundering an estimated 4.000 people were killed. "To show Corinthian Mercy" would become an ancient term describing violent sackings.

During the next two years, Rome slowly advanced through the heavily fortified enemy territories. In 240, the cities of Lychnidos and Opus surrendered too. In 239 Oreos and Kleitor followed. In early 238, the northeastern Peloponnese remained the last territory not occupied by the Roman armies. In May, the Republic reached Olympia with the Temple dedicated to Zeus. Phidias` Statue of Zeus, one of the seven ancient Wonders of the World, seems to have impressed the invaders.

A month later, Elis itself had to give up. The war was over and all enemy territories were annexed. With the exception of Oreus in northern Euboea. It is speculated, that they spared Oreus for the time being in order to not upset the Antigonid Kingdom in the north, while the Roman focus was still on the Peloponnese.

Whether this was designed as an act of magnanimity or not, it failed to make a positive impression on the Greeks. By mid 238, all large population centers, the heart of Greek culture and its most Holy Sites were occupied. The harsh treatment of Corinth would remain in the collective memory. Whatever the Roman rhetoric concerning its war efforts may have been, the population was well aware, that an Era had come to an end and that the next one was of dubious worth.

Polybios, not a suspect when it comes to anti-Roman feelings, described it as follows: "The vast and, from their [the Greeks] perspective shameless conquests, made the Romans worthy of their hate as inferior people. The Romans shared these feelings toward the easily conquered people...When Appius Cornelius Flax [Commander of the First Legion] was asked by an old woman, whether they would be allowed to remain Greeks, he answered: Aut Romanus, aut Nullus."
 

HistoryDude

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Corinthian Mercy? Not merciful. At all.

Either by the Roman, or by no one? Is he saying that he will let them be Greeks?
 

DensleyBlair

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I read it (with my guessing-level Latin) as saying that you'll either be Roman or you wont be at all. Roman or bust, I suppose.
 

Stuckenschmidt

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I don`t speak Latin either. I just changed the saying "Aut Caesar, aut nihil" (Caesar or nothing). He just wants to say that one may be what one wants to, but if you are not Roman, you are basically nothing, a nobody. So let`s say some cultural chauvinism and a strong implication to assimilate into the mainstream, if you want to be "someone".

I have found no source for that saying either. Sometimes it gets attributed to Cesare Borgia, which is not really an ancient source. Even if true, I have read different interpretations. Either he wanted to express his ambition to get to the top or it was a not so subtle hint to be loyal to him and nobody else.

So, we have a weird and obscure saying further altered to fit into random Fan Fiction. More evidence for people making a mess out of anything. :D
 

guillec87

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that's a strong phrase, more if you consider that although the Romans admired the Greeks, citizenship was only granted to Italic people... so I find it hard that the Greeks would become Roman unless a new citizenship policy is enacted
 

Stuckenschmidt

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43 - The Argolid War (238 - 236)

In the east of the Peloponnese is a landscape consisting of a fertile plain framed by mountain ranges, called the Argolis with the city of Argos being the center. Argos, probably the longest continuously settled place on the Peninsula, has been the natural rival of Sparta for Dominance over the Peloponnese, but lost this struggle around 500.

It became the Pariah among the city states, when it remained neutral during the Persian Invasion. This isolation lasted for a few decades, until it managed to establish a Link with Athens again, with which it fought during the Peloponnesian War. The lost battle of Mantinea in 419 led to internal conflicts, that further weakened the city and contributed to its downfall to the status of a minor Greek power.

The 3rd Century saw a resurgence of Argos` power. While its old rival Sparta lost its independence to the Antigonid Kingdom in the late 280s, Argos remained free and was even able to extend its borders eastward across the Argolid peninsula in the 270s. In the early 230s, after the fall of the League of Elis, Argos was the largest remaining power on the Peloponnese, allied with other cities such as Tegea, Megalopolis and Heraien.

As such, it was the next natural opponent in the Roman expansion plans. Argos and its Allies, contrary to Macedonia, shared a common border and had the ability to quickly unite its forces for a "last stand of the Greek cities", as it is commonly described.

1619454514742.png

Rome began the Campaign in late 238 and no significant actions occurred during the remaining weeks of the year. On 3rd March 237 the battle of Kleonai was fought between a Roman force of maybe 8.000 soldiers and a Greek army of approximately 9 or 10 thousand troops. Despite being slightly outnumbered, Rome managed to turn Kleonai into a victory, although the Roman casualties are estimated at up to 2.000 men.

The battle had several consequences. The city of Kleonai had to surrender shortly later. The Greeks did remain disciplined enough to keep their forces united, despite the fall of Argos in October 237. And the Romans began to operate in larger units in order to counter the still threatening Greek force.

Early 236 saw the climax of the Conflict, as two Greek armies opposed the Roman operations. While Argos and its Allies held the Argolid peninsula, a mercenary force had made landfall in southern Attica and began to advance across the Isthmus toward Corinth. The Romans organized their forces with a strength of maybe 30.000 troops in two Legions of equal size to meet the Greeks on the battlefield.

The battles of Troizen and Corinth, fought in February respectively April 236, sealed the fate of the Argolis. Rome defeated both forces at the cost of maybe another 3.000 casualties. Eventually, with the surrender of Megalopolis and Tegea in late 236, the Conflict came to an end, as Argos and the other cities were seized by the Republic.

With the Argolid War, the last meaningful resistance of the Greek cities came to an end. Although Argos and the other concerned cities had less resources than Macedonia or the Antigonid Kingdom, they were able to put up the hardest fight the Romans encountered in Greece so far and forced the Republic to react to its opponents and change its tactics. It is a popular "What if"-scenario among historians, what had happened, if the whole Peloponnese (not to mention the rest of Greece) had achieved the same level of Unity to fight Rome as Argos and its Allies did.
 

Stuckenschmidt

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44 - Downfall of the Poleis (236 - 235)

With the fall of Argos and its Alliance with other cities, the organized resistance against Roman expansionism among the remaining free cities came to an end. Within roughly 15 years after the beginning of the Epirote War, the essential parts of Greece and its cities had fallen under the rule of the Republic.

In late 236, only three independent cities remained on the Peloponnese. Mantineia, Sykion and Stymphalos were small, politically isolated and militarily insignificant entities. After the considerably significant threat, that the Argolid forces had posed to the Legions, the Republic was able to bring these settlements under its control as the result of a short Campaign from late 236 to early 235.

In mid 235, the whole Peloponnese belonged to the Republic and the "concert" of Greek Poleis, that had constituted the political landscape for Centuries, although significantly weakened since the late 4th Century already, ultimately ceased to exist.
 

Stuckenschmidt

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I am sorry, if the next chapter has to wait until Sunday. But it is a complicated one. :)
 
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