Battle of Magnesia

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Paralus
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Re: Battle of Magnesia

Post by Paralus »

Xenophon wrote: In addition to the ‘stars’ of Polybius’ narrative referred to above by Paralus, there were many minor players as well, all striving for their own advantage in a bewildering Byzantine world of shifting alliances and diplomatic ‘warfare’ – Aetolia, Achaea, Pergamum Rhodes - these and others would all play a part that led to the clash at Magnesia and the demise of Antiochus.
This is certainly true and while it is rarely good to begin by bemoaning the patchy source tradition, again one feels the loss of Polybios acutely here. Even so, Polybios' surviving narrative goes to some length to paint the Aitolians as the great satan in this war. In truth, I do feel that Sean is on the money though. The real irritant in Roman / Seleukid relations and the driver of this war was the Attalid Eumenes who followed his father's policy of sitting under the Roman table snaffling the scraps proffered. It is no real stretch to say that the war likely would not have happened - at least as it did - were it not for the sedulous urging of Eumenes. Rome and Antiochos were amici and remained so until war broke out as Antiochos’ ambassadors attempt to point out (Liv. 34.57.6-11). Eumenes worked assiduously to destroy this from the time of his father's death due to Antiochos' actions in re-establishing the western marches of his empire. It was Eumenes who reported to Rome Antiochos supposed dangerous and overweening ambitions (Liv.35.23.10 for example). Eumenes used all his powers of persuasion to compel Rome to war when such was not on the Senate’s mind ((Liv.35.13.6-10). When, in 190, Antiochos made overtures for peace and the Roman imperator (Lucius Amelius) and the Rhodians were inclined to entertain such, Eumenes persuaded them to continue the war (Plb. 21.10; Liv.35.19.1-6).

Polybios might well wish to lay the blame for this war at the Aitolians’ feet – and to be sure they played their part – but Eumenes is the largest proponent of this war and it is he that ensured it took place and that it continued. Antiochos seemed not to wholly comprehend the Roman view though he knew enough to know that Rome had little intention of involving itself in Asia (until such was made inevitable). Rome was never going to war on behalf of the Greeks of Asia as was shown in the aftermath of the settlement of the second Macedonian war. Antiochos, like Philip before him, held the entirely correct and understandable view that Rome had no business in his affairs – the affairs of his ancestral empire (see above Antiochos embassy to Rome). No further example need be given than the conference of Lysimachaea where Antiochos treated the Roman legates to masterclass in Hellenistic history – and he was dead right on every point. Rome did not contest the lecture.

The Romans had no intention of rushing to another war as the constant diplomatic exchanges clearly show. She had also not wanted a war with Macedonia after Zama – no matter Philip’s “stab in the back”. Indeed, her commissioners – sent out to deliver Philp an ultimatum – took the better part of two years to eventually get around to meeting the king and deliver their message. Rome preferred the Greeks to fight these wars with the threat of Roman intervention if necessary and that’s exactly what the commissioners sent to Philip were doing all that time – stiffening Greek resistance. Eumenes, though, took a different view and would have none of that this time. He pushed it upon the Romans until he got what he wanted.

On the source tradition and its genesis, Sean asks good questions. As I’ve mentioned, Appian has his own agenda here. His Antiochos is a wholly ambitious animal given to ignoring advice and flights grandiose stupidity (Appian describes him as acting ‘foolishly’ or ‘light headedly’). Livy, on the other hand, is at pains to present the Roman participation as just. He also indulges in the Greco-Macedonian theme of one Roman being the better of ten Asiatics. But it’s late at night and that’s better left for when next the real world grants me time to look in on this most interesting subject.
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Re: Battle of Magnesia

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Thanks! To be fair, its just how people in Achaemenid studies have to look at the sources. We have found that almost every source which seems like it would let us tell stories about war and politics is distorting things- so if we don't want to give up, we have to think carefully about why they say what they say and what they might be hiding. While there is a bit of a push back against rejecting all the "big ideas" in the classical sources, like the Muses they sometimes tell the truth and sometimes lies.
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Re: Battle of Magnesia

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sean_m wrote:Thanks! To be fair, its just how people in Achaemenid studies have to look at the sources. We have found that almost every source which seems like it would let us tell stories about war and politics is distorting things- so if we don't want to give up, we have to think carefully about why they say what they say and what they might be hiding. While there is a bit of a push back against rejecting all the "big ideas" in the classical sources, like the Muses they sometimes tell the truth and sometimes lies.
That's very true - of all sources, especially those of today (imagine if all future historians were left with from today were Rush Limbaugh or, from an Australian perspective, the 'Bolt Report'). There is much in the years 200 - 193 BC that does not always ring true in the sources we have. Again, we've lost much of Polybios for these years and need to rely on reflections of arguable clarity in Appian, Livy and Diodorus (what remains of his work). To read Livy, Antiochos is the ever present danger and clear and present threat to Rome even before the close of the second Macedonian war. This will reflect, to some extent, the Polybian world view that by the closing years of the third century there were only three real powers in the 'contest': Rome, the Seleukid Empire and the Ptolemaic Kingdom. For Polybios, Ptolemy did not matter as he abdicated his place in the fight by withdrawing to waste and pleasure thus allowing his kingdom to decline seriously. By 200, for Polybios, there were only two contestants on the stage: Rome and Antiochos. Livy would seem to take this and run with it in the fashion of Usain Bolt.

Livy rarely misses an opportunity to remark upon Antiochos' ambition and the danger he represented to Rome. Every action Antiochos took in Asia minor and, more so, Thrace, was a clear threat to Rome. Actions, as ever, speak louder than literary device. Despite the supposed threats uttered by the Roman delegation at Lysmimachaia - which don't really add up in the real world - Rome took absolutely no action whatsoever with respect to Antiochos' campaigns in Thrace which followed it. The same can be said for the Greek cities of Asia Minor. Nothing happened until 194/3 and it would seem plain that Livy here, as ever, exaggerates the threat of Antiochos to provide reasons for Roman aggression. Rome had no skin and no standing in Asia; Antiochos most certainly did. The Polybian view of the rule over the oikoumene framed by the two great contestants is a view completely fueled by hindsight. Such hindsight provides the perfect environment for fitting matters to the theme and Livy does so excellently - even unto claiming Hannibal pushed Antiochos into war in 195. The perfect "Roman" story?
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Re: Battle of Magnesia

Post by Xenophon »

I've been meaning to add to Paralus' post of Sept 3, in which poor Eumenes II of Pergamum got something of a 'bad press' as the instigator of the war between Rome and Antiochus III.

"The real irritant in Roman / Seleukid relations and the driver of this war was the Attalid Eumenes who followed his father's policy of sitting under the Roman table snaffling the scraps proffered. It is no real stretch to say that the war likely would not have happened - at least as it did - were it not for the sedulous urging of Eumenes. Rome and Antiochos were amici and remained so until war broke out as Antiochos’ ambassadors attempt to point out (Liv. 34.57.6-11). Eumenes worked assiduously to destroy this from the time of his father's death due to Antiochos' actions in re-establishing the western marches of his empire. It was Eumenes who reported to Rome Antiochos supposed dangerous and overweening ambitions (Liv.35.23.10 for example). Eumenes used all his powers of persuasion to compel Rome to war when such was not on the Senate’s mind ((Liv.35.13.6-10). When, in 190, Antiochos made overtures for peace and the Roman imperator (Lucius Amelius) and the Rhodians were inclined to entertain such, Eumenes persuaded them to continue the war (Plb. 21.10; Liv.35.19.1-6). "


But as the catchphrase of a famous Australian comedienne put it:
"Troy and see it from moy point of view! "
....or in this case, that of Eumenes and the hand he was dealt.....

PERGAMUM:
Pergamum was built on the ashes of the Hellenistic Kingdoms in Asia Minor, and for a brief time became the foremost power in Asia Minor. It came into prominence after the death of Alexander the Great. During the split of Alexander's empire this part of Anatolia fell to Lysimachus, one of the successors (Diadochi) to Alexander. Lysimachus made a great fortune from his possessions in Asia Minor, which he left a great deal of in the care of Philetaerus, one of his officers. Seleucus I Nicator invaded Asia Minor and killed Lysimachus at the critical battle of Corrupedium in west Asia Minor in 281 BCE. Seleucus did not long enjoy his triumph or the fruits of victory, and was assassinated by his 'ally' Ptolemy Keraunos. So, Philetaerus was now in possession of the great city of Pergamum, and the wealth of Lysimachus. Philetaerus did not waste time, strengthening his position, and rebuilt Pergamum, reinforcing its defensive walls built earlier by Lysimachus. Philetaerus never got married, so decided to adopt his nephew Eumenes as his heir to the throne of the small kingdom that he was building.

Eumenes I (263-241 BC)
Although Eumenes I (263-241 BCE), never used the title of King, he is regarded as the first king in the line of the Attalid dynasty who ruled the Kingdom of Pergamum for five generations. This part of Asia Minor was still largely controlled by the Seleucid dynasty. Eumenes I, defeated Antiochus I at the battle of Sardis in 262 BCE, and gained independence. However, the Seleucids weren’t the only problem for his small kingdom, for the fierce Gauls, a division of the Celtic peoples of central Europe, crossed the Dardanelles intent on establishing their own country, and settled in the Galatian region around Ankara to the east of Pergamum. From there they attacked the Pergamene Kingdom numerous times. Eumenes paid 'Danegeld' or bribes to the Gauls, but maintained a strong army, and built fortified cities such as Attalia to the south and Philetaeria in the Troad region.

Attalus I (241-197 BCE)
Eumenes I was succeeded by his nephew Attalus I, who was to rule the country for the next 44 years. Attalus was the first in line to use the royal title. One of the great accomplishments of Attalus I was to defeat the troublesome Gauls. He also had to deal with the Seleucids, against whom he was initially successful. He ultimately made a treaty with Antiochus III 'the Great'. Pergamenes honored their great king with the title "Soter" (saviour) and with monuments built in his name. Attalus' great skills in diplomacy brought Pergamum into close relationships with Rome, and their allies the Aeotolians. During the first Macedonian war, Attalus provided ships for the Romans and Aetolians. Following the war, Attalus gained Aegina, and became the chief magistrate of the Aetolian confederacy. He was also included among the friends of Rome in the peace of Phoenike in 205 BCE. By that time, Philip V, the king of Macedonia was developing his own plans and turned his eyes to Pergamum and Rhodes in 204 BCE, a threat that Attalus was unable to counter alone or with Rhodes. So, he appealed to Rome for help that brought Rome back to Greece for the second Macedonian War (200-197 BCE) in which Attalus actively played a role with his fleet. Pergamum once more secured its position in Asia Minor through diplomatic means. It was said that Attalus gained the support of the Romans by providing for them a sacred stone from Pessinus which was famous for being the main cult center of Cybele, which was believed to represent Cybele or Kybele, the great mother goddess. Attalus was succeeded by his son Eumenes II who would become as famous as his father.

Eumenes II (197-160 BCE)
During the reign of Eumenes II, Pergamum reached its peak. When he succeeded to the throne as the eldest son of Attalus, he gained tremendous support from his family, mother and three brothers. The Seleucid king Antiochus III ‘the Great’ was still a threat to Pergamum and openly showed it. Antiochus claimed his ‘ancestral lands’ in Thrace ( by virtue of his ancestor Seleucus having killed Lysimachus) and Pergamum stood slap bang between Antiochus’ gains in Western Anatolia and Thrace. The very survival of Pergamum ( and its King) was at stake. Eumenes sought the only realistic solution - in the traditional way which his ancestors and he adopted - at Rome again. Eumenes had seen how Flamininus had defeated Philip V of Macedon, and then departed after "freeing" the Greeks, and was thus in no fear that Rome would swallow his little kingdom - unlike Antiochus.

"When, in 190, Antiochos made overtures for peace and the Roman imperator (Lucius Amelius) and the Rhodians were inclined to entertain such, Eumenes persuaded them to continue the war (Plb. 21.10; Liv.35.19.1-6)."

....And from his point of view, quite rightly too! A peace at that time would leave Antiochus as much a threat to Pergamum as ever, and now with a personal grudge besides. Only the complete defeat of Antiochus would suffice to secure Pergamum.

Eumenes in alliance with the Romans swept away the Seleucid army at the battle of Magnesia in 190 BCE, and following the peace treaty of Apameia in 188 BCE, Pergamum was given a large portion of the lands ruled by the Seleucids earlier and now evacuated by Antiochus, driven back beyond the Taurus mountains. This series of events brought Pergamum in a short period of time, from a small city-state status to a large kingdom that ruled most of Asia Minor.

All in all, Eumenes had played his hand pretty well..........
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Re: Battle of Magnesia

Post by Xenophon »

Paralus wrote:
Rome had no skin and no standing in Asia; Antiochos most certainly did.
Up to a point, there is some truth in that, for Rome,both before and after Magnesia showed little interest in Asia, despite its fabled wealth - Rome annexed no territory in Asia, and as can be seen from the maps in my previous post, it was Pergamum that profited from Antiochus' massive defeat.

But while Rome may not have had 'skin in the game' directly, she did so indirectly through her relationship with Pergamum. Readers may have noticed in my previous post that Pergamum was a long standing "Friend of Rome". This was a formal arrangement, an alliance between large power and smaller one that created mutual obligations. A good modern analogy is the relationship between small Australia and the much larger U.S.A, a long standing alliance going back to WW 2. Each country is obliged to help one another militarily etc, and Australia has faithfully followed the U.S.A in all its wars since WW 2 - Korea, Vietnam, the Middle East Wars etc. In return, the U.S.A has extended its military umbrella over Australia and is committed to defend her in the event of an attack by another country. In exactly this way, Pergamum was a staunch ally of Rome in her darkest hour, the struggle for survival with Carthage, and Rome's subsequent wars in Greece against Macedon ( in fact her only ally in Asia, excluding the Aegean island power of Rhodes). In return Rome extended her protection to Pergamum, and was obviously the only power that could stand up to Antiochus 'the Great'. The taking of this sobriquet was an ominous indication of his ambitions to 'conquer the world'. That Rome was exhausted from her 18 year struggle with Carthage was but one of many reasons she was loath to embark on a war with an empire whose military power far exceeded that of Carthage. On the other hand Rome could not help but be alarmed by Antiochus' encroachments into Europe, and his feelers toward an alliance with Carthage against Rome via Hannibal. This was a 'clear and present danger'. Nor could Antiochus' military interference in Greece - a Roman 'sphere of influence' - and his alliance with the former Roman ally of Aetolia be tolerated, a total insult to Rome's 'auctoritas' and 'dignitas'.

The prospect of another massive war of survival was quite enough to send shivers down the spine of any Roman. So if Rome had little 'skin' in Asia beyond its obligations to aid Pergamum, she certainly had her 'whole skin' involved in the much bigger game of possibly confronting Antiochus in Europe in a massive war, which his aggressive invasion of Greece implied.....

"Troy and see it from Rome's point of view" to paraphrase Magda Szubanski's famous catchphrase. :lol: :lol:
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Re: Battle of Magnesia

Post by Paralus »

Xenophon wrote:
But while Rome may not have had 'skin in the game' directly, she did so indirectly through her relationship with Pergamum. Readers may have noticed in my previous post that Pergamum was a long standing "Friend of Rome". This was a formal arrangement, an alliance between large power and smaller one that created mutual obligations. A good modern analogy is the relationship between small Australia and the much larger U.S.A, a long standing alliance going back to WW 2.
Much to say on these matters but very little time to write it. If my memory serves, Rome did not have any alliance as such with Pergamum. Pergamum enjoyed amicitia with Rome but this was nothing like the ANZUS Alliance which is a formal, binding alliance. Rome was not bound to go to war on Pergamum's behalf just as it felt no need to go to war on behalf of any other state enjoying such 'friendship'. Rome's relationship with Aitolia is different: here a binding alliance held. It was alliance - on equal terms - that Antiochos sought for he already enjoyed amicitia with Rome. Something which had existed from at least 200 and which fulsomely renewed in 198/7.

Like Attalos I, you are tending to over egg matters with "staunch ally" and "darkest hour". I'd suggest there is very little evidence of Antiochos looking to ally himself with Carthage. There is a strong Roman scent to the Hannibal stories and Antiochos had been seeking Roman alliance over 196/95. Matters might have cooled between the two powers over 194/3 but Antiochos had no intention of poking Rome in the eye. His campaign in PSidia (rather than Thrace) is a good indicator of such.

I'll get back to you eventually...
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Re: Battle of Magnesia

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Xenophon wrote:"Troy and see it from Rome's point of view" to paraphrase Magda Szubanski's famous catchphrase. :lol: :lol:
There's no need, Magda, to "troy" seeing it from the Roman view; that view pervades almost all modern works on the period. That will be because the source tradition does so as well. The viewpoint has been Roman ever since Renaissance men brought the classics "back to life".

Polybios, as is well known, sets out to explain Rome's imperial position in the Greek east (the entire oikoumene actually) to those Greeks now rudely reduced to provincial status within fifty years (give or take). Although a Greek, Polybios' view is very much a Roman view due to his captivity and Roman patronage. It is, when it comes to the Rome's war with the Seleukid Empire, also infused with much hindsight. Although I repeat myself, it is well to remember that for Polybios a great age dawned at the Olympiad wherein he begins his history. Here in the west we have Rome and Carthage set for a showdown. In the east we have a new Macedonian monarch (Philip V), as well as a new Seleukid and Ptolemaic monarch. Carthage fell, Philip fell and Ptolemy took himself out of the game. Polybios' narrative then bends toward the "ultimate clash" of the only two powers left for control of the oikoumene: Antiochos and Rome. It is, to my view, no little coincidence that Scipio Africanus is represented as pushing for an eastern command because Antiochos is a clear and present threat to Rome. He might well have believed this but it has the taint of self justification.

Livy, as said, takes this theme and runs it on steroids. Antiochos' near every move is a threat to Rome. His narrative reads often as an exculpatory excursus for Roman intervention in the east. There is every reason to believe that he downplays the Roman numbers involved at Magnesia and overplays Antiochos' forces. Ditto Appian who writes of his Rome (of the Principate) as the ideal form of government and society for, of course, he owed everything to it. Even the Republic is presented as seriously flawed and the civil wars a necessity to arrive at this "nirvana". Again, it would be nice to have Polybios' original for Magnesia. Even so, it is not unlikely that a writer who could unblushingly have Syphax and Hasdrabul assembling over 80,000 men to take on Scipio's consular force in Africa would have issues with giving Antiochos 70,000 plus for Magnesia.

If we moderns need to try to see this from a particular view that view should be the Seleukid view! Looking back from the world of 150 odd BCE, it would be quite easy to see Antiochos and his actions over 204-193 as aimed at Rome and / or titling at ta hola. I don't think that was the case. I certainly don't think Antiochos can be demonstrated to have harboured any ambitions of another "Pyrrhic War". Rather, his actions speak to avoiding confrontation with Rome until matters took a deadly turn via Aitolia and Pergamum.
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Re: Battle of Magnesia

Post by Xenophon »

Xenophon wrote:
But while Rome may not have had 'skin in the game' directly, she did so indirectly through her relationship with Pergamum. Readers may have noticed in my previous post that Pergamum was a long standing "Friend of Rome". This was a formal arrangement, an alliance between large power and smaller one that created mutual obligations. A good modern analogy is the relationship between small Australia and the much larger U.S.A, a long standing alliance going back to WW 2.
Paralus wrote:
Much to say on these matters but very little time to write it. If my memory serves, Rome did not have any alliance as such with Pergamum. Pergamum enjoyed amicitia with Rome but this was nothing like the ANZUS Alliance which is a formal, binding alliance. Rome was not bound to go to war on Pergamum's behalf just as it felt no need to go to war on behalf of any other state enjoying such 'friendship'. Rome's relationship with Aitolia is different: here a binding alliance held. It was alliance - on equal terms - that Antiochos sought for he already enjoyed amicitia with Rome. Something which had existed from at least 200 and which fulsomely renewed in 198/7.
I still think the analogy holds true, and as we shall see there was a formal treaty of alliance between Pergmum and Rome. A binding treaty of alliance ‘foedus’ would have legally bound Rome to defend its ally ( and I’ll come back to this). The next best thing was ‘amicitia’, which was formally documented by placing a bronze tablet in the Capitol, and created various rights and privileges to the “Friend.”
This created mutual moral obligations between the parties of a diplomatic and political nature, to their mutual advantage, including Roman protection, and finally, for the sake of completeness there was ‘deditio in fidem’ by which a State sought Rome’s protection, but Rome had a free hand as to whether or not to go to war.

Philip's alliance with Hannibal of Carthage in 215 BC caused concern in Rome, then involved deeply in the Second Punic War. In 211 BC, a treaty was signed between Rome and the Aetolian League, a provision of which allowed for the inclusion of certain allies of the League, Attalus being one of these. Pergamum thus became a formal ‘ally’ of Rome as well as a ‘Friend’. Attalus was elected one of the two strategoi (generals) of the Aetolian League, and in 210 BC his troops participated in capturing the island of Aegina, acquired by Attalus as his base of operations in Greece.

In the following spring (209 BC), Philip marched south into Greece. Under command of Pyrrhias, Attalus' colleague as strategos, the allies lost two battles at Lamia. Attalus himself personally went to Greece in July and was joined on Aegina by the Roman proconsul P. Sulpicius Galba who wintered there. The following summer (208 BC) the combined fleet of thirty-five Pergamene and twenty-five Roman ships failed to take Lemnos, but occupied and plundered the countryside of the island of Peparethos (Skopelos), both Macedonian possessions. Attalus and Sulpicius then attended a meeting in Heraclea Trachinia of the Council of the Aetolians, at which the Roman argued against making peace with Philip. To cut a long story short, the War petered out by 205 BC and the ‘Peace of Phoinike’ was signed, which declared Attalus and Pergamum a “Friend of Rome” inter alia.
Like Attalos I, you are tending to over egg matters with "staunch ally" and "darkest hour". I'd suggest there is very little evidence of Antiochos looking to ally himself with Carthage. There is a strong Roman scent to the Hannibal stories and Antiochos had been seeking Roman alliance over 196/95. Matters might have cooled between the two powers over 194/3 but Antiochos had no intention of poking Rome in the eye. His campaign in PSidia (rather than Thrace) is a good indicator of such.
I don’t believe ‘staunch ally’ and ‘darkest hour’ are exaggerations at all. The second Punic War was certainly the worst threat the Republic faced, and hence its darkest hour, as Rome would remember for centuries with the dread cry of “Hannibal ad Portas”. Even when Rome had been occupied by the Gauls, who extorted a huge ransom, she had not come so close to destruction.
As to ‘staunch ally’, Pergamum and Aetolia had prevented Philip consummating his alliance with Hannibal by sending troops to Italy, and freeing up whole Roman armies. Rome owed them ‘Big Time’. But Rome was to incur an even bigger obligation to Attalus and Pergamum.
In 205 BC, following the "Peace of Phoinike", Rome turned to Attalus, as its only friend in Asia, for help concerning a religious matter. An unusual number of meteor showers, and a famine, caused concern in Rome, and an inspection was made of the Sybilline books, which discovered verses saying that if a foreigner were to make war on Italy, he could be defeated if the Magna Idaea, the Great Mother Goddess, associated with Mt Ida in Phrygia, were brought to Rome. This was the oldest and most venerated Goddess of Asia Minor, and consisted of a large black stone, itself of meteoric origin.Hoping to bring about a speedy conclusion to the war with Hannibal, a distinguished delegation, led by M.Valerius Laevinus was dispatched to Pergamum, to seek Attalus' aid. According to Livy, Attalus received the delegation warmly, and "handed over to them the sacred stone which the natives declared to be 'the Mother of the Gods', and bade them carry it to Rome." In Rome the goddess became known as the Magna Mater and a great statue was made, with the black meteor as the head. Rome’s obligations to Pergamum were now profound, and Antiochus can have been in little doubt that Rome would ‘protect’ Pergamum if she was threatened.

As to an alliance with Carthage against Rome, that was plainly Antiochus’ intention in providing Hannibal with a fleet and 10,000 men to restore Hannibal’s rule there, and as I have said previously, the subterfuge that it was intended to invade Italy or Sicily would only have fooled the most credulous. Not even Hannibal was going to achieve much against Italy with a mere 10,000 men, but they would have been ample to take over a disarmed Carthage. Sadly for Hannibal’s hopes, his invasion force was diverted by Antiochus to Greece instead.

As to ‘poking Rome in the eye’, the mere invasion of Greece was a total humiliation to Rome’s setting up the “Freedom of the Greeks”. Worse still, when Antiochus threatened to ‘take up arms’ on treacherous Aetolia’s behalf from a mere 100 miles or so from Italy across the Adriatic, this was an out-and-out threat which Rome could not and did not ignore, mobilising fleets and armies. As I mentioned earlier, Antiochus badly misjudged Rome’s response to threats, real or perceived.

Paralus wrote:
If we moderns need to try to see this from a particular view that view should be the Seleukid view! Looking back from the world of 150 odd BCE, it would be quite easy to see Antiochos and his actions over 204-193 as aimed at Rome and / or titling at ta hola.
Indeed it is. Beyond protesting diplomatically against Antiochus’ actions against the independent cities of Asia Minor many of whom were “Friends of Rome” or had made ‘deditio in fidem’, when Antiochus threatened them, Rome made no aggressive moves against Antiochus, whilst he did against Rome.
I don't think that was the case. I certainly don't think Antiochos can be demonstrated to have harboured any ambitions of another "Pyrrhic War". Rather, his actions speak to avoiding confrontation with Rome until matters took a deadly turn via Aitolia and Pergamum.
I’d agree – what Antiochus was attempting to do was bully Rome into accepting his conquests in Asia Minor and Thrace, without actually having to go to war, but he really stepped over the mark. He certainly took no steps to avoid confrontation with Rome, rather the opposite. Even stripped of source bias, he is clearly the aggressor here. And it wasn’t under Aetolian influence that Antiochus sought re-instate Hannibal in Carthage and acquire an ally against Rome, or many of his other actions that Rome perceived as threatening. If anyone is 'over-egging' matters, it is you attempting to be an apologist for Antiochus, who was certainly no mild-mannered man of peace seeking to avoid confronting Rome ! :lol:

I daresay Aetolia will come under the microscope next.....
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Re: Battle of Magnesia

Post by sean_m »

Xenophon wrote:
Like Attalos I, you are tending to over egg matters with "staunch ally" and "darkest hour". I'd suggest there is very little evidence of Antiochos looking to ally himself with Carthage. There is a strong Roman scent to the Hannibal stories and Antiochos had been seeking Roman alliance over 196/95. Matters might have cooled between the two powers over 194/3 but Antiochos had no intention of poking Rome in the eye. His campaign in PSidia (rather than Thrace) is a good indicator of such.
I don’t believe ‘staunch ally’ and ‘darkest hour’ are exaggerations at all. The second Punic War was certainly the worst threat the Republic faced, and hence its darkest hour, as Rome would remember for centuries with the dread cry of “Hannibal ad Portas”. Even when Rome had been occupied by the Gauls, who extorted a huge ransom, she had not come so close to destruction.
Its always good to try to see things from a few different perspectives.

On the other hand, I am not sure that Hannibal's goals in 218 extended much beyond breaking up his enemy's system of alliances and confining the Athe-cough-Romans to Att-cough-Latium. That would have been a big deal for everyone living in Italy, but not the destruction of Rome as a city, state, or self-governing community. (In later years Romans liked to scare themselves with the thought that Hannibal could have besieged their city, but even aside from the fact that he never managed it while the Romans besieged and sacked cities beyond number, its hard to see how he could have managed it). Breaking up Roman control of Italy was certainly nothing like the kind of destruction which the Romans had been inflicting on peoples who got in their way (culminating in the events of 146 BCE which Polybius had lived to see). I don't think that anyone reasonable in the 190s could have imagined Antiochus invading Italy, let alone making the Romans give up control of the penninsula.

Explaining that the enemy were a terrible menace and had to be stopped is a very old psychological defence mechanism among people who have just done horrible things to them. The way that the Romans dwelled on the oath of Hannibal, the possibility that he might have besieged Rome, his schemes with Antiochus, etc. suggests that the things that he really did (not said, or might have done) were not enough.
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Re: Battle of Magnesia

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Xenophon wrote:I still think the analogy holds true, and as we shall see there was a formal treaty of alliance between Pergmum and Rome. A binding treaty of alliance ‘foedus’ would have legally bound Rome to defend its ally ( and I’ll come back to this).
Which I take it is this:
Xenophon wrote: In 211 BC, a treaty was signed between Rome and the Aetolian League, a provision of which allowed for the inclusion of certain allies of the League, Attalus being one of these. Pergamum thus became a formal ‘ally’ of Rome as well as a ‘Friend’. Attalus was elected one of the two strategoi (generals) of the Aetolian League, and in 210 BC his troops participated in capturing the island of Aegina, acquired by Attalus as his base of operations in Greece.
Now, a binding treaty of foedus will indeed have bound not only Rome but the other contracting party. Unfortunately, none such existed. Rome was extremely careful not to extend those relationships contracted in Italy to the Hellenistic east until post Magnesia at the very earliest. In fact, securely attested treaties of foedus do not appear until after the settlement of Macedonia (Pydna). Pergamum, Rhodes and others which entered into war against Philip (first Macedonian War), did so on the basis of their separate alliances with Aitolia. That these asked, and were accepted, as adscripti in the following peace (Phoinike) in no way means they were now formally allies of Rome under the relationship of foedus. They were, and remained, amicitia. Rome contracted no formal alliance with any of them and nor did she automatically leap to their immediate defence whenever they were threatened. The alliance with Aitolia was clearly only for the war as the terms specify the defeat of Philip and his allies (who are listed). This is far different to that which the senate, well nose out of joint, contracted with her post Magnesia: this was intended for all time and was dictated by Rome. Hence Aitolia constantly referred to this previous alliance (Plb.18.38.7 as one example). Claiming that Pergamum, added as adscripti to the peace, was now a "formal ally" of Rome simply because she had been allied to Aitolia, who was separately allied to Rome, is something of an exercise in Olympic calisthenics! This is almost as much of a stretch as those who argue (incorrectly) that Phoinike represented a koine eiriene with Rome as the prostates.

Attalos most certainly "participated" in the capture of Aegina - after the payment of thirty talents. Such is the intrepid nature of the strategos of the Aitolian League. He also wound up with Andros. Nice gains for little effort and cash.
Xenophon wrote:The next best thing was ‘amicitia’, which was formally documented by placing a bronze tablet in the Capitol, and created various rights and privileges to the “Friend.” This created mutual moral obligations between the parties of a diplomatic and political nature, to their mutual advantage, including Roman protection, and finally, for the sake of completeness there was ‘deditio in fidem’ by which a State sought Rome’s protection, but Rome had a free hand as to whether or not to go to war.
Indeed Rome was free to act as it wished and it did so. Never at any stage of the diplomatic process involved in getting the Greeks to resist Philip over 201/200 did she ever refer to any obligations under amicitia. The Aitolians might appeal to their alliance of 211/10 but Rome never rallied their "friends" under the basis of shared amicitia. Indeed Rome never even mentioned amicitia. This relationship is, in fact, a Greek one and Rome used it as such (philia).
Xenophon wrote: To cut a long story short, the War petered out by 205 BC and the ‘Peace of Phoinike’ was signed, which declared Attalus and Pergamum a “Friend of Rome” inter alia.
Amici certainly. Foedus no.
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Re: Battle of Magnesia

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sean_m wrote:Explaining that the enemy were a terrible menace and had to be stopped is a very old psychological defence mechanism among people who have just done horrible things to them. The way that the Romans dwelled on the oath of Hannibal, the possibility that he might have besieged Rome, his schemes with Antiochus, etc. suggests that the things that he really did (not said, or might have done) were not enough.
Very true. It is also a time-honoured vehicle for explanation of actions after the fact. As I've said, Livy never misses an opportunity to paint Antiochos as some eastern version of Hannibal: an ever present and dangerous threat. He has Roman envoys, for example, instructing Antiochos to leave off Ptolemy "or else" in the dying days of the third century. This at a time when Rome accords Antiochos (or renews such from Selukos II's time) the status of amicus of Rome. Polybios is certainly more accurate in his reporting that these envoys endeavoured to bring Antiochos and Ptolemy together. Livy also claims that Hannibal successfully exhorted Antiochos to war with Rome during their meeting in 195 after Hannibal had fled Carthage. This despite no such war occurring for over three years! Clearly he did nothing of the sort and this, again, is a Roman story - just as Hannibal's "oath" likely is. If one thing is clear, Antiochos hardly accorded much weight to most anything Hannibal said or advised - even Polybios notes such yet we are to believe the Seleukid monarch, on his first meeting with the Carthaginian, took a decision to make war on Rome. We can also discount the supposed headlong rush to Greece post the Aitolians taking Demetrias that Livy and, worse, Appian paint. Appian declares the king rushed off in a light headed blur which is nonsense. He was campaigning in Thrace when Demetrias fell in the spring. He did not sail from the Hellespont until the autumn, after that campaign was over, and even then took several stops along the way to meet up with other ships. We are now some four or more months since news of Demetrias falling and at least six months from Aitolia inviting him to "liberate the Greeks" and arbitrate between Aitolia and Rome.

As I've said, there is much Roman colour to the received source traditions. Much of it is written with hindsight and quite some is written as explanation for Roman actions. This is not to paint Antiochos as an innocent abroad. He was certainly no "mild mannered man of peace" as Xenophon has worded it. But nor was Rome - in any sense of those words! Antiochos ascended the throne at near the lowest ebb of the Seleukid Empire to date. His entire rule is marked by his sedulous efforts at restoring the realm. He never wavered from this task and such a programme can also be read as simple aggressive conquering. Nevertheless, he explained on more than one occasion what he was about and took pains to avoid any direct confrontation with Rome - particularly in western Asia Minor where he even went so far as to gift Stratonikea to Rhodes. Cities in the Hellespont that Rome had mentioned in the grand "Freedom of the Greeks" manifesto were also left untouched by Antiochos. Pergamum was his big problem and Aitolia (as well as Nabis and Achaia) was Rome's. Eumenes had the offer to maintain the "dependent ally" status with Antiochos that had existed under his father, Attalos I, via marriage. Eumenes refused such, preferring to roll the dice on engaging Rome on his behalf. War between Rome and Antiochos - which neither really wanted as events show - was the grand Monopoly game of gain for Ahcaia and, especially, Aitolia and Pergamum. Both played the game of laying ever increasing little bombs in the path of peace with a firm eye on territory.
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Re: Battle of Magnesia

Post by sean_m »

I definitely see this war as a struggle for territory in Anatolia and the Aegean, not a struggle for survival. it was a big deal for the local powers like Attalus, the Achaeans, Rhodes, and so on, but its hard to imagine a scenario where either Rome or Antiochus lost more than Antiochus did in our world.

Xenophon's maps show why Antiochus was no threat to Rome: his holdings along the coasts of Anatolia were interrupted by large districts controlled by other powers (so bringing in ships and troops from Syria was always difficult), and the centre of his empire was in Babylonia. Anatolia and the Aegean were a mess of kingdoms and factions, and nobody was going to conquer them all while also worrying about Parthia and Bactria and revolts or corrupt officials at home. Of course he was a threat to Rome's dominance over some cities and kingdoms, but I don't think that anyone was entitled to boss them around! Imperialists since the Neo-Assyrians often present their rule as part of the natural order of things, and resistance as inherently wicked and disorderly, but we don't have to accept that framing, let alone decide that one side's sphere was legitimate and the other not.

I think its important to try to look at what happened from different perspectives, and not just accept one side's framing. Livy and Appian both chose which 'facts' to present according to their literary aims ... that does not mean that they are wrong, but it does mean that we should read them at least as sceptically as we read a newspaper opinion piece or a politician's memoir.
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Re: Battle of Magnesia

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sean_m wrote:I think its important to try to look at what happened from different perspectives, and not just accept one side's framing. Livy and Appian both chose which 'facts' to present according to their literary aims ... that does not mean that they are wrong, but it does mean that we should read them at least as sceptically as we read a newspaper opinion piece or a politician's memoir.
It is always the way the "facts" are presented. It is, as I've noted, the after the fact editorialising and colour applied to these facts - almost like an opinion piece as you say. Examples are aplenty and the two I've already mentioned - that of the Roman envoys to Antiochos in 200 and Lysimachaeia - are probably suffficient for the purpose. At Lysimacheia Polybios simply notes that the public reception and the private debate differed in aspect (18.50.5). That is one was informal, cordial and "friendly"; the other rather more serious in nature - especially given the introduction of coached envoys from Smyrna and Lampsakos at the close. Livy is not content with this and adds his own comment which serves make Antiochos far more arrogant and a threat (33.39.7):
He [Antiochos], of course, would deny it, even if he crossed into Italy, but the Romans would not wait for him to have the power to do this.
Appian goes even further. The Alexandrian, who has just set the tone of his Antiochos ("elated by his successes, and by the title ['The Great'] which he had derived from them" - Syr.2), editorialises Antiochos as full of himself and already set against Rome - the only power able to stymie his ambition - and desiring to invade Europe (Syr.3):
The Romans and Antiochus had been suspicious of each other for a long time, the former surmising that he would not keep quiet because he was so much puffed up by the extent of his dominions and the acme of fortune that he had reached. Antiochus, on the other hand, believed that the Romans were the only people who could put a stop to his increase of power and prevent him from passing over to Europe.
Polybios describes the meeting as breaking up with each party "by no means pleased with each other" (18.52.5). Appian, in keeping with his theme, goes further adding his own comment that "both sides broke into more open threats" (Syr.3). According to Polybios, there were no threats - implied or open. In fact, Polybios clearly notes that the break was caused by the Romans' surprise introduction of the envoys of Lampsakos and Smyrna. Here Antiochos brusquely cuts short Parmenion's "harangue" and proposes to the Romans that this dispute be arbitrated by Rome's amicus, Rhodes. At this the conference is terminated. The previous points were not the issue (and discussion of that belongs to another post) but clearly Antiochos was not impressed at being blindsided into Rome arbitrating or directing his business and hence both parties hardly being pleased with each other.

As related earlier, the envoys to Antiochos (and Ptolemy) are hardly to be considered issuing an ultimatum to Antiochos in late 200. Polybios, stating that they were to propose a reconciliation between them, is far more logical. Rome, looking to shore up a Greek coalition against Philip is hardly to be seen as issuing threats to take up arms in yet another war.

The many diplomatic missions between the two powers are also related in similar colour. What becomes clear is that Rome was not concerned that Antiochos was an imminent threat to Rome. For example, Livy, constantly representing Antiochos as an imminent threat, has to bring himself to relate the substance of the report of Galba and Villius to the senate over winter 193/92. These had spent considerable time in the east with both Antiochos, his ministers and Eumenes. They had traveled from Pergamum to Ephesos and Sardis. Livy (35.22.1-2), with apparent disappointment, writes:
About the same time the commissioners returned from the kings to Rome; when they had no report to make which furnished a sufficiently pressing cause for war, except against the Lacedaemonian tyrant, whom the Achaean ambassadors also reported to be attacking the Spartan coast in contravention of the treaty
This, of course, runs counter to Livy’s constant theme of Antiochos as an imminent threat and having decided to go to war with Rome in 195 (!). It is, in fact, congruent with what we do know of these embassies: none reported moves on Antiochos’ part for war with Rome. Quite the opposite, they reported a desire to come to some sort of agreement and hence the continuing dialogue.

Propaganda drove both sides into confrontation. Rome did not go to war with Philip on the basis of the freedom of the Greeks of Asia. Such was never mentioned before nor in the great pronouncement proclaiming the “freedom of the Greeks”. Rome had no interest in Asia and the Asian Greeks – a fact demonstrated by her lack of any action in that regard before and following the Lysimacheia conference. Just as Rome failed to act on any high words regarding the “invasion of Europe” (Antiochos’ campaign in Thrace in 196). It was only as the propaganda war progressed that Rome decided she might extend her liberator status to Asiatic Greeks.
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Re: Battle of Magnesia

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As I flip through Polybius and Michael Taylor's life of Antiochos, I am struck by how moderately he handled his anabasis to the upper satrapies. He was ruthless in liquidating Molon and Achaeus, and must have hoped to conquer Bactria, but when Fortune turned against him he entered into negotiations, announced that it pleased him to grant Euthydemus the title of king and give his handsome son his own daughter to marry, accepted a gift of grain and elephants, and continued his march. That is not the act of someone desperate to conquer at any costs, but more a Philip working to strengthen his kingdom and not spend so long in one area that others fall out of control.

Michael Taylor's other point is that thanks to the Syrian Wars and the revolt of Pergamon, Antiochus did not inherit much of a navy or a harbour network. I remember a distinguished British historian who was hard on Tissaphernes and Pharnabazus for not immediately creating an effective navy as soon as some of the cities on the sea went over to them (because obviously navies and the infrastructure which support them are simple to build in the middle of a war, especially while you are also trying to help an ally which is building its own expanded navy and needs money and rowers and shipwrights and timber and harbours, sigh).
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Re: Battle of Magnesia

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sean_m wrote: Fri Nov 02, 2018 4:58 pm I remember a distinguished British historian who was hard on Tissaphernes and Pharnabazus for not immediately creating an effective navy as soon as some of the cities on the sea went over to them (because obviously navies and the infrastructure which support them are simple to build in the middle of a war, especially while you are also trying to help an ally which is building its own expanded navy and needs money and rowers and shipwrights and timber and harbours, sigh).
During the Ionian War or in the aftermath?

I've not read Taylor's book but he is correct in that Antiochos had to put together or win a navy. The Anatolian littoral was his focus post Panion for that reason. His gaining of territory and harbours put Rhodes' nose out of joint for example. Something he assuaged with some kingly generosity.
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