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Lucius Mummius Achaicus

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Perhaps the greatest living ancient historian today, Fergus Millar, introduced his 3-volume work "Rome, the Greek World, and the East" with a telling title, "Polybius was right." It's easy to see why this evaluation could sum up an entire 3-volume work in as many words: Polybius' work was a sustained, coherent search for the cause of Rome's rapid pre-eminence, and the answer that Polybius gave is nearly given universal assent by today's scholars. In the searching of "causes for effects", Polybius has no better.

 

Regrettably, I wasn't able to read the Guy M. Rogers introduction to Millar work and then, I'm not sure at what exactly was right Polybius. Anyway, my bad, because I am no Polybius

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Perhaps the greatest living ancient historian today, Fergus Millar, introduced his 3-volume work "Rome, the Greek World, and the East" with a telling title, "Polybius was right." It's easy to see why this evaluation could sum up an entire 3-volume work in as many words: Polybius' work was a sustained, coherent search for the cause of Rome's rapid pre-eminence, and the answer that Polybius gave is nearly given universal assent by today's scholars. In the searching of "causes for effects", Polybius has no better.

Eureka! I got it; Mr. Guy Rogers (page V): "... following the logic of Millar's argument, in this introduction I set out some of the relative unexplored interpretive implications of accepting that Polybius was right about the role of the people in the structure of the Roman republic." Briefly, Millar's argument is that "the Roman people, not the Senate, was the sovereign power in Republican Rome". And in page XIV "Thus here again one might plausibly say that the people's share in the goverment is the greatest, and that the constitution is a democratic one".

It's a fascinating topic indeed and I think I know a couple of authors that would disagree on this depiction of the Roman Constitution; but that discussion, of course, would require an additional thread.

BTW, I wasn't able to find any quotes about Hellenic (pre-Roman) Corinth on this book.

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You don't need mercantilist theory to understand that the disappearance of a competitor will probably benefit you

No, but it's only mercantilism that depicts nations as competitors rather than businesses. Further, mercantilism blinds one to the more important issue, which is that nations contain customers as well as competitors. And killing your customers is bad business.

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You don't need mercantilist theory to understand that the disappearance of a competitor will probably benefit you

No, but it's only mercantilism that depicts nations as competitors rather than businesses. Further, mercantilism blinds one to the more important issue, which is that nations contain customers as well as competitors. And killing your customers is bad business.

Edited by ASCLEPIADES

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Did "merchants of Rome" have any real influence on foriegn policy? Weren't senators precluded by law from any commercial activity? Did the equites, who were engaged in trade, have enough influence to get the government to destroy a commercial rival by war?

 

I think economic arguments are anachronistic (even from "the master of scholarship (Mommsen)). Wasn't Mummius destruction of Corinth was a calculated act ("terrorism" if you like) to put an end to Greek nonsense. The Romans meant to have peaceful nieghbors and if it required "creating a desert" so be it. He wasn't the first to do it (Alexander re Thebes et al) and he certainly wasn't the last.

Edited by Pompieus

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Ave A,

 

It is true that in actiual fact the destruction of Corinth probably redirected trade to Delos and possibly some Italian ports, enriched Mummius and his troops, and in that sense economics is obviously not anachronistic. But if we're discussing motivations - especially for acts of war and terror - I think economic motivations are usually overstated. I'd argue the destruction of Corinth was intended as a brutal object lesson to the Greeks that the Romans were through fooling with them.

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Ave A,

 

It is true that in actiual fact the destruction of Corinth probably redirected trade to Delos and possibly some Italian ports, enriched Mummius and his troops, and in that sense economics is obviously not anachronistic. But if we're discussing motivations - especially for acts of war and terror - I think economic motivations are usually overstated. I'd argue the destruction of Corinth was intended as a brutal object lesson to the Greeks that the Romans were through fooling with them.

Salve, P.

I'd argue one motivation doesn't exclude the other.

 

We're talking here about Roman Republican Senators managing huge amounts of money; economic motivations can never be overstated.

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BTW - Lucius Mummius' (he did not take the appellation Achaicus, R. Syme) descendant was a Roman Emperor -

His son Mummius had a son, a Mummius, the last one married Lutatia (the daugther of Cos. 78), their daugther, Mummia, married Servius Sulpicius Galba Cos. Suff. 5 CE and their son was the Emperor Galba !

Edited by Caesar CXXXVII

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Salve, CC
BTW - Lucius Mummius' (he did not take the appellation Achaicus, R. Syme)...

Interesting point; the agnomen "Achaicus" seems to have not been mentioned by Polybius or Appianus, but it was by Poseidonius and Mestrius Plutarchus (Vitae Marius, cp. I sec I):

 

"Of a third name for Caius Marius we are ignorant, as we are in the case of Quintus Sertorius the subduer of Spain, and of Lucius Mummius the captor of Corinth; for Mummius received the surname of Acha

Edited by Caesar CXXXVII

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Interesting thread, this.

 

I've recently been spending some time with this period (the inevitable book will be along in due course) and my opinion is that the number of whackos around on both sides was minimal. There is some doubt whether the Achaeans ever intended to go to war with Rome - the sequence of events seems to be -

 

 

1. Critolas was elected on a demagogic anti-Roman, anti-Spartan platform, and his electorate expected him to deliver.

2. C. was not stupid enough to either alienate his voters or the Romans, so he called a conference and told the Romans (this ambassador was a Julius Caesar, and in conciliatory mood) that he alone would represent the Achaeans at the conference, and all decisions would be referred to the main meeting of the league in six months hence. Caesar went home in a huff

3. Crit. was apparently trying to gain six months for everyone to cool down. However,popular opinion meant he had to do something about Sparta, so started raising troops

4. Metellus told the Achaeans to leave Sparta alone (Sparta had been forcibly incorporated into the league and wanted out).

5. The Achaeans pointed to previous judgements by Rome that Sparta was an Achaean issue, and that Rome had no jurisdiction. The Romans went away.

Critolas decided to test the water by attacking Heraclea (another secessionist city), and found the Romans took this as a declaration of war.

6. Metellus advanced as far as Corinth before was replaced by Memmius. (Critolas has gone from the scene by now also)

7. Memmius wins a battle outside Corinth, and then proceeds to sack the place

8. The rest of the Achaean league collapses, and Memmius announces the 'freedom of Greece' (again) except Corinth, and orders all Corinthians at the assembly arrested.

9. He then proceeds to scientifically demolish Corinth.

 

The points to note are: This was almost certainly on orders from the senate rather than a private initiative. The senate also commanded Carthago to be delended in the same year. Though there may have been economic considerations, this was an act of terrorism designed to scare the rest of Greece into line. (Remember Metellus had just crushed the revolt of Andriscus in Macedonia and most of Greece had been sympathetic to him). Rome was also campaigning in Gaul and Spain at this point and was very stretched (eight to ten legions in the field) and just could not afford a prolonged Greek war. So a horrific example was needed. It worked too, for the next sixty years. Rome needed somewhere as an object lesson and Corinth was chosen because - it was the centre of Achaean resistance during the war, Roman ambassadors had earlier been insulted there (and put in actual physical danger), and Corinth had originally been allowed into the league through Roman intervention a generation previously and had failed acknowledge its debt to Rome for this. Oh, and it was a trading rival.

 

Memmius was no philistine - he freed one man who quoted Homer to him whilst he was interviewing slaves for literacy - but it was part of a Roman's bluff public image that he did not care for Greek fripperies, so Memmius probably encouraged the stories about e.g. replacing statues to show that he was a 'real' Roman of the old school.

 

That's my take anyway. I'd love to hear what everyone else has to say - this is highly relevant to what I'm doing right now.

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I think that we should keep in mind 2 remarks from M.M. Astin (The Hellenistic World from Alexander to the Roman Conquest: A Selection of Ancient Sources in Translation, 1981) when discussing the subject -

 

1. "...Polybius account (which was in any case biased against the Achaean leaders)..."

2. "Pausanias, the chief extant source, is inaccurate in many details."

 

So, before judging the people involved we must clean our material from mistakes, deviations, misderstandings etc'

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Salve, M

The senate also commanded Carthago to be delended in the same year.

Nope. The senate commanded Carthago to be delended three years before (DCV AUC / 149 BC).

 

The problem was that the carthaginians didn't cooperate satisfactorily with their own anihilation.

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Memmius was no philistine - he freed one man who quoted Homer to him whilst he was interviewing slaves for literacy - but it was part of a Roman's bluff public image that he did not care for Greek fripperies, so Memmius probably encouraged the stories about e.g. replacing statues to show that he was a 'real' Roman of the old school.
Edited by ASCLEPIADES

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