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What was the impact of the coming of Rome on the Hellenistic World?
The coming of Rome into the Hellenistic World was gradual and for long periods they showed very little interest in the affairs of the East beyond maintaining the security of their own borders, at least until the second Macedonian war in 200 BC. Furthermore they directly controlled and taxed only relatively small areas until the war with Mithradates in 89 BC, which were the old Antigonid Kingdom in Macedonia and a section of the former Attalid kingdom bequeathed to them in 133 BC. This is not to say, however, that the true extent of Roman hegemony did not have a significant impact on the politics of the Hellenistic world; they could be gracious and giving, often to the great advantage of their allies, but they expected their imperium to recognised, respected and obeyed. Rome humbled the two most powerful and threatening Hellenistic dynasties of the second century, the Antigonids and the Seleucids, and thereby showed herself to be the dominant military and political force in the region; she did not assert this power in an imperialistic way with provincialisation or methodical exploitation through taxation, as can be seen by the settlements imposed after her great victories, but now very little could be done in the Hellenistic world politically without Rome's involvement or without respect for her wishes. This is seen strongly in her relationship with the Attalid kingdom, the countless embassies and requests for arbitration which visit the senate from the East and her dictates to cities and states on how she expected them to act. The settlements of the territories of the two great Hellenistic dynasties destroyed by Rome illustrate their consistent unwillingness to exert direct control over the region. After the second Macedonian War at the Isthmian games the whole of Greece was pronounced free from garrison, tribute and subject only to their own laws before all Roman forces left the area, and then even after the Third Macedonian war, in which the power of the dynasty was finally destroyed, the country was divided into four self-governing provinces which actually paid only half the tribute they had formally been required to give the king. It was only in 148 after the revolt of Andriscus that Macedonia was officially turned into a province, but even then there is not strong evidence for the full provincialisation of the region as was the case in the first century1. For example it appears that the small size of the Roman force stationed there was only intended to support the weakness of the Macedonian state against external invasion rather than as a proper occupation; the security of Rome's borders, rather than direct control of regions in the East for the purposes of economic exploitation, was perhaps still their most pressing concern. This reflects a natural extension of the policy they had previously employed in the region because it shows they were only willing to commit enough men to ensure the general peacefulness of the region rather than wishing to expand their territory in an aggressive way. The final settlement of Macedonia and Greece represents one of the most direct forms of Roman control in the Hellenistic world during the 1
Kallet-Marx, Hegemony to Empire.
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