The Unification of the Mediterranean: Cold War in the Ancient World, Part II

The monarchs of the East had developed an effective technique of establishing control of the Greek cities by volunteering to “liberate” them. This was a method, writes E. Badian, of which Roman statesmen quickly learned to take advantage.

Roman policy towards the east, whose beginnings in the second century B.C. we have been following, was the work of one man—Flamininus. Men like the great Scipio, and the very commissioners sent to Greece, felt uneasy about it and preferred to counter the danger from King Antiochus by more orthodox military means.

But Flamininus saw that, if Rome was to succeed in the Eastern comity of states, she would have to adapt the techniques she had developed in the West to its more sophisticated traditions.

One of those traditions was the courteous attention—due to the importance of the Aegean area in their diplomacy and of the Greek element in their multi-national states—that even the most powerful monarchs had paid to the Greek cities. In particular, they had always been ready to “free” them from one another—with the result that the “liberators” simply took the place of the “oppressors” until the next “liberation.”

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