While many ‘modern people’ might consider ourselves figuratively slaves to debt, it was literally the case in early Rome. Citizens unable to pay debts were liable to become bonded to the lender or face tougher punishment.
All posts tagged Politics
The career of Lucius Cornelius Sulla remains an enigma on the political landscape of the Roman Republic. An aristocrat that achieved the ultimate power of the dictatorship and yet abdicated at the height of power (Julius Caesar later labelled him a fool for doing so).
On one hand, Sulla’s exemplary career has been overshadowed by the brutality and illegality of his actions that undermined the authority of the Senate.
On the other hand, Sulla’s legislative reforms were aimed at restoring that same authority, depriving the tribunate of its power and making his own career a political impossibility.
In the second century BC, the Roman aristocracy promoted a value system that emphasised the customs, traditions and reverence of ancestors. The military and political achievements of a man’s lineage permitted entry into a ruling elite that valued name over virtue.
In exceptional circumstances, these credentials could be acquired through patronage, adoption or marriage, albeit with the stigma of a novus homo or ‘new man’ attached to their authority.
Gaius Marius, an ambitious novus homo criticised the aristocracy for the advantages inherited by birth, the political system that supported it and the general avarice of their character. These protestations found a receptive audience among the people, proclaiming the ruling elites unworthy of the professed virtues of their noble lineage.
In our previous post discussing the intentions of the Roman proconsul Titus Quinctius Flamininus when he proclaimed the Freedom of the Greeks at the Istthmian Games in 196 B.C., mention was given to strategic garrison points known as the ‘fetters of Greece‘.
This post will attempt to explain their location in Greece and more importantly, the significance during the reign of Philip V of Macedon.
At the Isthmian Games in 196 B.C., the Roman proconsul Titus Quinctius Flamininus proclaimed the ‘Freedom of the Greeks’ as the outcome of the second Macedonian war.
And the herald, coming forward into the midst of the spectators, made proclamation that the Roman senate and Titus Quintius Flamininus proconsular general, having conquered King Philip and the Macedonians, restored to freedom, without garrisons and without imposts, and to the enjoyment of their ancient laws, the Corinthians, the Locrians, the Phocians, the Euboeans, the Achaeans of Phthiotis, the Magnesians, the Thessalians, and the Perrhaebians. (Plutarch, Life of Flamininus 10.4)
The declaration formally liberated the city-states of European Greece from Macedonian hegemony, declaring the Greeks free from taxes, free from garrisons, and free to live under their own ancestral laws.
This article will attempt to interpret the intentions of the declaration, the implementation of a policy that aligned the interests of the Roman state, her commanders and the Greeks that were brought under protection.