Rome and the Mediterranean World

Rome and the Mediterranean World

Rome and the Mediterranean world (until 133 BC): A cry for help from Messinas (Mamertines) led to the first war with Carthage (Punic Wars), which ended in 241 with the cession of Sicily to Rome. In 238/237 the Carthaginians had to evacuate Sardinia and Corsica, in the 2nd Punic War (218–201) triggered by Hannibal, also Spain, where the local population resisted Roman submission for a long time (Iberian Peninsula). The spread of the Romans to southern Italy and Sicily opened Rome to the influence of Greece, especially in religion (inclusion of Greek gods and cults), in literature and art (design of the city founding saga, reception of the Troy myth, Latin epics and dramas, some with Greek themes, first Roman historical works still in Greek) and in the economy (after 280 first Roman silver coinage in southern Italy according to the Greek monetary standard, the so-called Roman-Campanian didrachms, drachms).

In the three Macedonian Wars (215-205, 200-197 and 172 / 171-168) the Macedonian power was forced out of Greece (197 victory of Titus Quinctius Flamininus over Philip V at Kynoskephalai, 168 victory of Lucius Aemilius Paullus at Pydna Perseus and his capture). The attempt of the Seleucids Antiochus III. Establishing his hegemonic position in Asia Minor ended in 190 with his defeat at Magnesia on Sipylos (today Manisa, Turkey) and his renunciation of Asia Minor. In 189 the Aetolian League (Aetolia), allied with Antiochus, was defeated.

The 3rd Punic War led to the destruction of Carthage in 146 and the establishment of the province of Africa. In the same year, after an uprising by the Achaean League, Corinth was destroyed and Greece was a Roman province. In 133 the Pergamene Empire fell to Rome (province of Asia) by inheritance; the destruction of Numantia brought a temporary end to the wars in Spain.

The crisis of the republic (until 30/27 BC): The rapid rise of Rome to a world power had serious consequences for Rome and Italy. The takeover of large groups inside and outside Italy among the clientele of the leading men and the influence of Hellenistic ideas of rulers (acclamation of the king Scipio the Elder in Spain in 209, gold coins with the portrait of Flamininus in Greece) led to a slow disintegration of the Roman ruling class (187/184 Scipion trials). The Italian peasants, the core of the militia army, suffered great losses and became impoverished in the numerous wars. The destruction of the Hannibal War facilitated the formation of large latifundia and led, especially in southern Italy, to the replacement of grain cultivation by pasture farming. The capital flowing in from abroad and the availability of cheap labor (prisoners of war, slaves) allowed the adoption of Hellenistic farming methods and thus promoted the emigration of impoverished peasants to the cities and – especially in Rome – the formation of a landless proletariat. The attempt of the tribune of the people Tiberius Sempronius Gracchus (133) to create new farm positions by distributing state land met with resistance from the nobility, as did the more far-reaching reforms of his brother Gaius Sempronius Gracchus (People’s tribune 123–121), who sought to strengthen his position by founding colony (inter alia instead of the old Carthage), selling cheap grain to the urban Roman plebs and transferring the courts of justice to the knights. The violent death of the two Gracchi did not end the dispute between the supporters of the Senate, the Optimates, and the reform politicians, the Populares, who supported themselves on the people, but opened the age of the Roman Revolution. The failure of nobility in the fight against the Numid king Jugurtha (111-105) and against the Cimbri and Teutons (113-101) led to the rise of the non-noble Gaius Marius (Consul 104-100), who replaced the militia army of the peasants with an army of professional soldiers who, after the wars were successfully concluded, expected him to receive compensation with land ownership, but this was thwarted by the nobility. From the general crisis, the political Italian in many disadvantaged allies were concerned that the Social War forced the admission to Roman citizenship (91-88).

The plight of Rome allowed King Mithridates VI. occupied by Pontus, Asia Minor and Greece (88 BC). When the Populares wanted to replace the consul Sulla, who was in charge of the war, with Marius, Sulla opened the first civil war with his march on Rome. Then he moved to the east and forced Mithridates to peace (85). During his absence, the Populares in Rome raged among their political opponents. Sulla returned in 83 and, after his victory (82) as dictator, restored the rule of the Optimates (proscriptions, constitutional reform).

Gnaeus Pompeius, who had distinguished himself under Sulla, gave 70 the tribunes therights that Sulla had taken away from the mand received in 67 a comprehensive special command against the pirates and 66 against Mithridates. After his victory over this Pompey rearrangedthe east. Bithynia and Pontus as well as Syria became Roman provinces (63). The refusal of the Senate to confirm Pompey’s orders and to provide for his veterans led in 60 to the Triple Alliance (first triumvirate) of Pompey with Marcus Licinius Crassus and Gaius Iulius Caesar who fulfilled Pompey’s wishes in his consulate (59) against the resistance of the Senate through popular laws. As proconsul, Caesar then subjugated all of Gaul (58–51). After the death of Crassus in the war against the Parthians (53), the Optimates were able to win Pompey over. In order not to be held accountable for his administration as consul, Caesar opened the second civil war in 49 by crossing the Rubicon and defeated 48 Pompey at Pharsalus (further battles against the Pompeians up to 45). Caesar began as a dictator (46 for ten years, 44 for life), based on a cabinet of knights and freedmen, to reorganize the state (measures to reduce the proletariat, granting of civil rights, veteran settlements, increasing the Senate to 900 members, calendar reform). 44 murdered because of his monarchical power.

Caesar’s great-nephew Octavian, as his adopted son, claimed the name, clientele and property of his great-uncle and was able to assert himself in an alliance with the Senate against Marcus Antonius, who also claimed Caesar’s succession. After the battle of Mutina (today Modena) and the death of the two consuls Aulus Hirtius and Vibius Pansa, Octavian marched to Rome and forced the consulate for himself. Soon afterwards he concluded the second triumvirate (43) at Bononia (now Bologna) with Antonius and Marcus Aemilius Lepidus. The following proscriptions fell over 2,000 citizens, including Cicero, victim. In 42 Antony and Octavian defeated the Caesar murderers Marcus Junius Brutus and Gaius Cassius Longinus at Philippi and divided the empire: Antony took over the east and allied himself with the Ptolemaic Cleopatra VII, Octavian received the west, Lepidus Africa; for Italy the common power of the triumvirate was nominally valid. Octavian drove 36Sextus Pompeius, a son of Pompey, from Sicily and forced Lepidus to abdicate. After his victory over Antony at Aktium (31) and his suicide in Alexandria (30), Octavian became sole ruler. Egypt became a Roman province after Cleopatra’s death.

Rome and the Mediterranean World