Achaean War

The Achaean War was an uprising by the Greek Achaean League, an alliance of Achaean and other Peloponnesian states in ancient Greece, against the Roman Republic around 146 BC, just after the Fourth Macedonian War. Rome defeated the League swiftly, and as a lesson, they destroyed the ancient city of Corinth. The war ended with Greece's independence taken away, and Greece became the Roman provinces of Achaea and Epirus.

Achaean War
La Guerra Acaica en 146 aC
Date146 BC
Mainland Greece
Result Decisive Roman victory
Roman annexation of mainland Greece
Vexilloid of the Roman Empire.svg Roman Republic Achaean League
Commanders and leaders
Vexilloid of the Roman Empire.svg Quintus Caecilius Metellus Macedonicus
Vexilloid of the Roman Empire.svg Lucius Mummius Achaicus


The Roman Republic had developed close ties to the Achaean League through similar religious and military beliefs and a cooperation in the previous Macedonian Wars. But despite co-operation in the latter part of the third century and early second century, political problems in Achaea soon came to a head. Two factions began to emerge - one, championed by the Achaean statesmen Philopoemen and Lycortas, which called for Achaea to determine its own foreign policy according to its own law, and one, championed by figures like Aristaenus and Diophanes, who believed in yielding to Rome on all matters of foreign policy.[1]

Achaea was, in addition, undergoing internal pressures beyond the question over the nature of the influence of Rome. The withdrawal of Messene from the Achaean League[2] and further disputes with Sparta over the nature of its position in the League led to growing amounts of micromanagement by the Romans, including the sending in 184 of a Roman, Appius Claudius, to judge the case between Sparta and Achaea.[3][4]

The taking of thousands of hostages by Rome in order to guarantee the compliance of Achaea during the Third Macedonian War, which involved the deportation of the historian Polybius to Rome, was the source of much diplomatic quarrel between Achaea and Rome, and it is arguable that this contributed in large part to the souring of relations between the two powers. No less than five embassies were sent by Achaea to Rome seeking the return of the hostages[5] and Roman intransigence demonstrates the power difference between the two. This diplomatic stand-off was the beginning of the events leading to the Achaean War.

Achaean domestic politics at the time played a large part in the coming about of the war. Upon the election of the populist[6] generals Critolaus and Diaeus, economic proposals were made which would relieve the debt burden of the poor, free native-born and native-bred slaves, and increase taxes on the rich, all of which, according to Polybius, had the desired effect of increasing support for a nationalistic dispute with Rome amongst the lower classes of Achaea. An uprising around this time by the pretender Andriscus in the Fourth Macedonian War may also have spread to Achaea, giving hope that Rome, engaged in the Third Punic War to the West, would be too busy to deal with Greek rebellions against Roman rule.

Roman foreign policy in the Greek east in the period following the Third Macedonian War had also become increasingly in favour of micromanagement and the forced breaking-up of large entities, seen by the regionalisation of Macedon by the general Lucius Mummius Achaicus and the Senate's mission to the magistrate Gallus, upon the application of the town Pleuron to leave the Achaean League, to sever as many cities from it as possible.[7] In 146, things reached a head when the former consul Lucius Aurelius Orestes was sent to Corinth to announce the forced reduction of the Achaean League to its original, narrow grouping - effectively crippling it and ending its territorial ambitions once and for all. A misguided effort at restoring peace, led by Orestes' former co-consul Sextus Julius Caesar, went badly, and the Achaeans, outraged at Rome's actions, and whipping up populist sentiment, declared war on Rome.


The Achaeans were aware that they were entering a suicidal war of defiance, as Rome had just soundly conquered Macedon, a much more powerful kingdom. The Romans won at Scarpheia, then conclusively defeated them at the Battle of Corinth (146 BC). The Achaean league was then disbanded, Corinth and Patras were destroyed as punishment, and virtually all of mainland Greece was annexed by Rome.


  1. ^ P.S. Derow, ‘Rome, the Fall of Macedon and the Sack of Corinth’ in Cambridge Ancient History vol. 8, 290-323
  2. ^ Polybius 23
  3. ^ Livy 39.37
  4. ^ Polybius 23.17
  5. ^ E. Gruen, ‘The Origins of the Achaean War’, JHS 96 (1976): 46-69
  6. ^ Polybius 38
  7. ^ Pausanias 7.11
Achaean League

The Achaean League (Greek: Κοινὸν τῶν Ἀχαιῶν, Koinon ton Akhaion 'League of Achaeans') was a Hellenistic-era confederation of Greek city states on the northern and central Peloponnese. The league was named after the region of Achaea in the northwestern Peloponnese, which formed its original core. The first league was formed in the fifth century BC. The second Achaean League was established in 280 BC. As a rival of Antigonid Macedon and an ally of Rome, the league played a major role in the expansion of the Roman Republic into Greece. This process eventually led to the League's conquest and dissolution by the Romans in 146 BC.

The League represents the most successful attempt by the Greek city states to develop a form of federalism, which balanced the need for collective action with the desire for local autonomy. Through the writings of the Achaean statesman Polybius, this structure has had an influence on the constitution of the United States and other modern federal states.

Arba (Achaea)

Arba (Ancient Greek: Άρβα) was a settlement in northern Achaea, Ancient Greece. Pausanias mentioned it as one of the villages that the inhabitants of Patrae fled to during the Achaean War. Its location is unknown.

Battle of Bibracte

The Battle of Bibracte was fought between the Helvetii and six Roman legions, under the command of Gaius Julius Caesar. It was the second major battle of the Gallic Wars.

Battle of Corinth (146 BC)

The Battle of Corinth was a battle fought between the Roman Republic and the Greek city-state of Corinth and its allies in the Achaean League in 146 BC, which resulted in the complete and total destruction of Corinth. This battle marked the beginning of the period of Roman domination in Greek history.

Battle of the Axona

The Battle of the Axona was fought in 57 BC, between the Roman army of Gaius Julius Caesar and the Belgae. The Belgae, led by King Galba of the Suessiones, attacked, only to be repelled by Caesar. Fearing an ambush, the Romans delayed their pursuit. Caesar's Commentarii de Bello Gallico describes this battle at 2.7 - 2.11.

Domitian's Dacian War

Domitian's Dacian War was a conflict between the Roman Empire and the Dacian Kingdom, which had invaded the province of Moesia. The war occurred during the reign of the Roman emperor Domitian, in the years 86–88 AD. The Roman Empire lost.

First Sacred War

The First Sacred War or Cirraean war, was fought between the Amphictyonic League of Delphi and the city of Kirrha. In the beginning of the 6th century B.C. the attempt of the Pylaeo-Delphic Amphictyony, controlled by the Thessalians, to take hold of the Sacred Land (or Kirrhaean Plain) of Apollo ended up in this war. Its end was marked by the organization of the first Pythian Games. The conflict arose due to Kirrha's frequent robbery and mistreatment of pilgrims going to Delphi and their encroachments upon Delphic land. The war resulted in the defeat and destruction of Kirrha. The war is notable for the use of chemical warfare at the Siege of Kirrha, in the form of hellebore being used to poison the city's water supply.

Fourth Macedonian War

The Fourth Macedonian War (150 BC to 148 BC) was fought between the Roman Republic and a Greek uprising led by the Macedonian pretender to the throne Andriscus. Pretending to be the son of former king Perseus, who had been deposed by the Romans after the Third Macedonian War in 168 BC, Andriscus sought to re-establish the old Macedonian Kingdom. In the process he destabilised Macedonia and much of the Greek world. Andriscus, after some early successes, was eventually defeated by the Roman general Quintus Caecilius Metellus Macedonicus at the Second Battle of Pydna in 148 BC, and the uprising subsequently collapsed. Two years later Macedonia became a Roman province.

In response, the Achaean League in 146 BC mobilized for a new war against Rome. This is sometimes referred to as the Achaean War, and was noted for its short duration and its timing right after the fall of Macedonia. Until this time, Rome had only campaigned in Greece in order to fight Macedonian forces, allies or clients. Rome's military supremacy was well established, having defeated Macedonia and its vaunted Phalanx already on three occasions, and defeating superior numbers against the Seleucids in Asia. The Achaean leaders almost certainly knew that this declaration of war against Rome was hopeless, as Rome had triumphed against far stronger and larger opponents, the Roman legion having proved its supremacy over the Macedonian phalanx.Polybius blames the demagogues of the cities of the league for inspiring the population into a suicidal war. Nationalist stirrings and the idea of triumphing against superior odds motivated the league into this rash decision. The Achaean League was swiftly defeated, and, as an object lesson, Rome utterly destroyed the city of Corinth in 146 BC, the same year that Carthage was destroyed. After nearly a century of constant crisis management in Greece, which always led back to internal instability and war when Rome pulled out, Rome decided to divide Macedonia into two new Roman provinces, Achaea and Epirus.

Greece in the Roman era

Greece in the Roman era describes the period of Greek history when Ancient Greece was dominated by the Roman republic (509 – 27 BC), the Roman Empire (27 BC – AD 395), and the Byzantine Empire (AD 395 – 1453). The Roman era of Greek history began with the Corinthian defeat in the Battle of Corinth in 146 BC. However, before the Achaean War, the Roman Republic had been steadily gaining control of mainland Greece by defeating the Kingdom of Macedon in a series of conflicts known as the Macedonian Wars. The Fourth Macedonian War ended at the Battle of Pydna in 148 BC and defeat of the Macedonian royal pretender Andriscus.

The definitive Roman occupation of the Greek world was established after the Battle of Actium (31 BC), in which Augustus defeated Cleopatra VII, the Greek Ptolemaic queen of Egypt, and the Roman general Mark Antony, and afterwards conquered Alexandria (32 BC), the last great city of Hellenistic Greece. The Roman era of Greek history continued with Emperor Constantine the Great's adoption of Byzantium as Nova Roma, the capital city of the Roman Empire; in AD 330, the city was renamed Constantinople; afterwards, the Byzantine Empire was a generally Greek-speaking polity.

Lucius Mummius Achaicus

Lucius Mummius (2nd century BC), was a Roman statesman and general. He received the agnomen Achaicus for his victories while consul in 146 BC, when he conquered the Achaean League and destroyed the ancient city of Corinth, in the process bringing all of Greece under Roman control.

Macedonian Wars

The Macedonian Wars (214–148 BC) were a series of conflicts fought by the Roman Republic and its Greek allies in the eastern Mediterranean against several different major Greek kingdoms. They resulted in Roman control or influence over the eastern Mediterranean basin, in addition to their hegemony in the western Mediterranean after the Punic Wars. Traditionally, the "Macedonian Wars" include the four wars with Macedonia, in addition to one war with the Seleucid Empire, and a final minor war with the Achaean League (which is often considered to be the final stage of the final Macedonian war). The most significant war was fought with the Seleucid Empire, while the war with Macedonia was the second, and both of these wars effectively marked the end of these empires as major world powers, even though neither of them led immediately to overt Roman domination. Four separate wars were fought against the weaker power, Macedonia, due to its geographic proximity to Rome, though the last two of these wars were against haphazard insurrections rather than powerful armies. Roman influence gradually dissolved Macedonian independence and digested it into what was becoming a leading global empire. The outcome of the war with the now-deteriorating Seleucid Empire was ultimately fatal to it as well, though the growing influence of Parthia and Pontus prevented any additional conflicts between it and Rome.From the close of the Macedonian Wars until the early Roman Empire, the eastern Mediterranean remained an ever shifting network of polities with varying levels of independence from, dependence on, or outright military control by, Rome. According to Polybius, who sought to trace how Rome came to dominate the Greek east in less than a century, Rome's wars with Greece were set in motion after several Greek city-states sought Roman protection against the Macedonian Kingdom and Seleucid Empire in the face of a destabilizing situation created by the weakening of Ptolemaic Egypt.In contrast to the west, the Greek east had been dominated by major empires for centuries, and Roman influence and alliance-seeking led to wars with these empires that further weakened them and therefore created an unstable power vacuum that only Rome was capable of pacifying. This had some important similarities (and some important differences) to what had occurred in Italy centuries earlier, but was this time on a continental scale. Historians see the growing Roman influence over the east, as with the west, not as a matter of intentional empire-building, but constant crisis management narrowly focused on accomplishing short-term goals within a highly unstable, unpredictable, and inter-dependent network of alliances and dependencies. With some major exceptions of outright military rule (such as parts of mainland Greece), the eastern Mediterranean world remained an alliance of independent city-states and kingdoms (with varying degrees of independence, both de jure and de facto) until it transitioned into the Roman Empire. It wasn't until the time of the Roman Empire that the eastern Mediterranean, along with the entire Roman world, was organized into provinces under explicit Roman control.

Perusine War

The Perusine War (also Perusian or Perusinian War, or the War of Perusia) was a civil war of the Roman Republic, which lasted from 41 to 40 BC. It was fought by Lucius Antonius and Fulvia to support Mark Antony against his political enemy (and the future Emperor Augustus), Octavian.

Fulvia, who was married to Mark Antony at the time of the civil war, felt strongly that her husband should be the sole ruler of Rome instead of sharing power with the Second Triumvirate, especially Octavian.

Fulvia and Antony's younger brother, Lucius Antonius, raised eight legions in Italy. The army held Rome for a brief time, but was then forced to retreat to the city of Perusia (modern Perugia, Italy). During the winter of 41–40 BC, Octavian's army laid siege to the city, finally causing it to surrender due to starvation when the besieged realized reinforcements from Italy or the East were not coming. The lives of Fulvia and Lucius Antonius were both spared, Antonius was sent to govern a Spanish province as a gesture to his brother. Fulvia was exiled to Sicyon. Many inhabitants of the city were then butchered; they and others lost their land to veteran soldiers, as grimly remembered by the poet, Sextus Propertius, at the end of his first book of Elegies.

Fulvia died in 40 BC, and with her death came a peace between Antony and Octavian. The peace would be short lived, however, as a civil war began a few years later.

Quintus Caecilius Metellus Macedonicus

Quintus Caecilius Metellus Macedonicus (c. 210 BC – 116 BC/115 BC) was a Praetor in 148 BC, Consul in 143 BC, Proconsul of Hispania Citerior in 142 BC and Censor in 131 BC. He was the oldest son of Quintus Caecilius Metellus and grandson of Lucius Caecilius Metellus.

A brilliant general, he fought in the Third Macedonian War and played a pivotal role in the Fourth. Under his leadership in 148 BC when still a Praetor the Roman troops twice defeated Andriscus, a self-proclaimed pretender to the Macedonian throne who claimed to be son of Perseus, last king of the Antigonid dynasty. Andriscus had risen against Rome intending to liberate Macedonia with an army recruited from Thrace. Under Metellus' authority Macedonia was reduced and made a Roman province. For that he won his agnomen and since then introduced the Clypeus Macedoniccus in his family's medals.

In 147 BC, he defeated Critolaos of Megalopolis at the Battle of Scarpheia and in 146 BC the Arcadians at Chaeronea but Metellus was then sent to fight in the Achaean War to avenge an insult offered to a Roman Embassy at Corinth. He fought under the command of Consul Lucius Mummius Achaicus whose ultimate victory in the war against the Achaean League delayed Macedonicus from celebrating immediately the honours of the Triumph which his success at the battle of Scarpheia merited. On his return to Italy he received the honour of a Triumph and the title of Macedonicus. He then built at the Campus Martius a Porticus of Cecilius (Porticus Caecilii) which later became the Porticus of Octavia (Porticus Octaviae). He also built two grandiose temples: one dedicated to Jupiter and the other to Juno. These were the first marble temples in Rome, ornamented with equestrian statues of the various Generals of Alexander brought by him from Greece.

In 143 BC, when Consul, he campaigned against the Celtiberians in central Hispania during the Numantine War. He defeated one of the Celtiberian tribes, the Arevaci. He did not confront the city of Numantia, which then became the focus of the war and which resisted for ten years.

In 133 BC, he gave a speech attacking Tiberius Gracchus regarding that tribune's plan to bypass the traditional prerogative of the senate and keep the vast fortune of the recently deceased Attalus III of Pergamum under the control of the Plebeian Assembly. Attalus had bequeathed his kingdom to the people of Rome.

Metellus was elected Censor in 131 BC, boldly pledging to halt the growing degradation of Roman custom. In a speech which he delivered at his appointment, he proposed that matrimony was to be mandatory to all citizens, in order to put an end to the libertinage then already widespread. A century later Augustus caused this speech to be read at the Senate and published as an Edict for the knowledge and regeneration of the Roman People. His moralizing efforts awakened strong popular opposition, led by the Tribune Gaius Atinius Labeo Macerio whom he had previously expelled from the Senate. He was almost killed by the mob on the Tarpeian Rock.

Later there were some disagreements between him and Scipio Aemilianus, but he never lost sight of the merit of this adversary, whose death he mourned, ordering his sons to transport Aemilianus' body to the crematory pyre.

Celebrated for his eloquence and his taste for the Arts, he died in 116 BC/115 BC. He was generally respected as the paradigm of the fortunate Roman for from an illustrious birth he united all manner of civil and military honours, and left a large family of four sons, of whom one was then Consul, two had already been and one would be soon. His two sons-in-law, Publius Cornelius Scipio Nasica Serapio and Gaius Servilius Vatia would also attain the Consulship.

Roman–Greek wars

The Roman–Greek wars were a series of conflicts between the Roman Republic and various Ancient Greek states during the late Hellenistic period. The list includes:

the Pyrrhic War (280–275 BC), after which Rome asserted its hegemony over Magna Grecia.

the First Macedonian War (214–205 BC), that ended with the Peace of Phoenice

the Second Macedonian War (200–197 BC), during which the Romans declared "the freedom of Greece" from the Macedonian King.

the Roman–Seleucid War (192–188 BC), that ended with the Peace of Apamea

the Third Macedonian War (171–168 BC), after which Macedonian territory was divided in four client republics

the Fourth Macedonian War (150–148), after which Macedonia was formally annexed

the Achaean War (146 BC), during which Corinth was destroyed and Greece divided in two provinces.

Second Mithridatic War

The Second Mithridatic War (83–81 BC) was one of three wars fought between Pontus and the Roman Republic. This war was fought between King Mithridates VI of Pontus and the Roman general Lucius Licinius Murena.

Second Servile War

The Second Servile War was an unsuccessful slave uprising against the Roman Republic on the island of Sicily. The war lasted from 104 BC until 100 BC.

Servile Wars

The Servile Wars were a series of three slave revolts ("servile" is derived from "servus", Latin for "slave") in the late Roman Republic.

Siege of Gush Halav

The Siege of Gush Halav refers to the Roman siege and sack of the fortified Galilean town of Gush Halav (Gischala, modern Jish), during the Great Jewish Revolt. Following the flight of the main Zealot fighting force from the town, the Romans took it by force.

Siege of the Atuatuci

The Siege of the Atuatuci in September 57 BC was the final battle in the second year of Julius Caesar's campaign that ultimately resulted in the conquest of Gaul. In this siege, Julius Caesar circumvallated the main fortress of the Belgic tribe of the Atuatuci, causing the tribe to surrender their weapons. The night after the surrender, the Atuatuci attempted to break through the Roman lines but failed, resulting in the slaughter of many Celts. The next day the gates were let open and the Roman Army sacked the town.

Ancient Roman wars
Wars of the
Roman Republic
Wars of the
Roman Empire

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