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The Syrian War Notes

Classics Notes > Roman History 241 BC to 146 BC Notes

This is an extract of our The Syrian War document, which we sell as part of our Roman History 241 BC to 146 BC Notes collection written by the top tier of University Of Oxford students.

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Antiochus the Great and the Freedom of the Greeks The motive behind the Second Macedonian War was not imperialist expansion but rather a desire to limit the power of Philip to the confines of Macedonian and ensure he was suitably chastised so as to do as the Romans wished in the future. One of the weapons that had been used to defeat Philip was the declaration of the freedom of the Greeks and this was expanded as a political and diplomatic tool for use against Antiochus the Great, whose power and influence had been significantly enhanced in Asia since the end of the war after his return from his anabasis to the upper satrapies. In this period Rome seems most concerned for the establishment of a permanent settlement in the Aegean basin that would ensure their hegemony over the grateful Greeks without necessitating direct control or the constant presence of her legions; the negotiations and war with Antiochus as well as Rome's genuine support of Greek freedom are both aspects of the attempts to achieve this aim. Her concept of her own sphere of influence had begun to change from her earliest involvement in Eastern affairs in the Illyrian and Macedonian Wars, where she was strictly concerned with the security of her Italian borders and the humbling of powerful neighbours, and now included Greece and the Aegean. In the war with Antiochus she realised that concern for Greece necessarily required concern for the wider Aegean basin, including Asia Minor; expelling Antiochus from this region and maintaining the good will of the Greeks were both one in the same when it came to establishing a peaceful and secure area of Roman hegemony. Firstly it is important to highlight Antiochus' extensive programme of expansion in Asia Minor and Europe which piqued Roman anxiety about his activities and necessitated first diplomatic and then military action against him. In the preceding years he had tightened Seleucid control in the Far East and the northern satrapies, thereby creating the largest empire since the time of Seleucus the first, but this did not worry the Romans in the least, what happened in the furthest reaches of India and Bactria, or indeed the vast majority of Antiochus' domain, was no concern of theirs. This can be seen from the terms of the treaty of Apamea which ended the war; there was only provision for the territory for the near side of the Taurus Mountains, the area of Asia Minor which bordered the Aegean Sea, thereby a clear indication that Rome was only worried by Seleucid expansion in the region which could have a direct impact on their sphere of influence in the Greek East. In the space of just a few years from 197 BC Antiochus set about systematically capturing the vast majority of cisTauric Asia Minor; he begins recapturing the Ptolemaic cities in Kilikia, Lycia and Karia and has completed in removing all vestiges of their empire in Asia Minor by the time of his marriage alliance with Ptolemy in 196. He took advantage of the power vacuum created by the destruction of Macedonian power and influence in the area, as well as the weakness of the Attalid and Ptolemaic kingdoms caused by the death of their establish kings, in order to easily enhance his control here; this prompted the Roman remark that they had not gone to war with Philip simply so that Antiochus could claim the spoils. By the end of that year his conquests are extensive; the entire southern seaboard of Anatolia from Soloi to Telmessos,

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