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Appian's History of Rome: The Macedonian Wars (1)

Legionary standard (of XXX Ulpia Traiana reenactment group). Photo Jona Lendering.
Appian of Alexandria (c.95-c.165) is the author of a Roman History and one of the most underestimated of all Greek historians. Although only his books on the Roman Civil Wars survive in their entirety, large parts of other books have also come down to us. Unfortunately, the Macedonia wars do not belong to these; only a few fragments survive in Byzantine manuscripts. An appendix to Appian's book on the Roman conquest of Macedonia, the Illyrian wars, survives in a better condition.

Because the text has to be reconstructed from several medieval manuscripts, not all editions of Appian's History of the Macedonian Wars are numbered in the same way; here, the separate units are counted strictly chronologically. The translation was made by Horace White; additions in green by Jona Lendering.

Perseus of Macedonia. Coin from the Antikensammlung, Berlin (Germany). Photo Marco Prins.
Perseus (Altes Museum, Berlin; **)

The First Macedonian War

[From Constantine Porphyrogenitus, The Embassies:1] [215]  The Romans paid no attention to [king] Philip [V], the Macedonian, when he began war against them. They were so busy about other things that they did not even think of him, for Italy was still scourged by Hannibal, the Carthaginian general, and they were at war in Africa, Carthage, and Spain, and were restoring order in Sicily. Philip himself, moved by a desire of enlarging his dominions, although he had suffered nothing whatever at the hands of the Romans, sent an embassy, the chief of which was Xenophanes, to Hannibal in Italy, proposing to aid him in Italy if he would promise to assist him in the subjugation of Greece. Hannibal agreed to this arrangement and took an oath to support it, and sent an embassy in return to receive the oath of Philip. A Roman trireme intercepted the ambassadors of both on their return and carried them to Rome. Thereupon Philip in his anger attacked Corcyra, which was in alliance with Rome.

[From the Vatican manuscript of Cardinal Mai: 2] The Sibylline books induced the Romans to make war against Philip by these lines: "The Macedonians boast their descent from Argive kings. Philip will be the arbiter of weal or woe to you. The elder of that name shall give rulers to cities and peoples, but the younger shall lose every honor, and shall die the subject of a western race."

[Although the Romans sent troops across the Adriatic Sea, the war against Philip was one burden too much. Fortunately for Rome, many Greek towns detested the power of Macedonia, and in 212, Rome allied itself to the Aetolian League. The war continued.]

[From Constantine Porphyrogenitus, The Embassies:3] [208]  Ambassadors from Ptolemy [IV Philopator], king of Egypt, and with them others from Chios and Mitylene, and from Amynander, king of the Athamanes, assembled at two different times at the place where the Aetolians were accustomed to call their cities together for consultation, to compose the differences between the Romans, the Aetolians, and Philip. But as [the Roman commander Publius] Sulpicius [Galba] said that it was not in his power to conclude peace, and wrote privately to the Senate that it was for the advantage of the Romans that the Aetolians should continue the war against Philip, the Senate forbade the treaty and sent 10,000 foot and 1,000 horse to assist the Aetolians.

With their help the Aetolians took Ambracia, which Philip recovered, not long afterward, on their departure. Again the ambassadors assembled and said that it was very evident that Philip and the Aetolians, by their differences, were subjecting the Greeks to servitude to the Romans, because they were accustoming the latter to make frequent attempts upon Greece. When Sulpicius rose to reply to them the crowd would not hear him, but shouted that the ambassadors had told the truth.

[4] [206] Finally the Aetolians took the initiative and made peace with Philip by themselves without the Romans, and messengers were sent to Rome by Philip himself and by the commander of the Roman forces in order to come to an agreement. [205] Peace was made between them on the condition that neither party should do any injury to the friends of the other.

This was the result of the first trial of strength between them, and neither of them believed that the treaty would be lasting, since it was not based on good-will.

Appian   :   Roman History   :   Macedonian wars, part 2

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