If these were not to be abandoned, it was necessary to come to terms amicably or by force with the new great-king of Asia.
In the preceding chapter we have described the movements in Italy and Spain connected with the proceedings of the democracy, and their subjugation by the senatorial government. In the present chapter we shall review the external government, as the authorities installed by Sulla conducted or failed to conduct it.
We still recognize the vigorous hand of Sulla in the energetic measures which, in the last period of his regency, the senate adopted almost simultaneously against the Sertorians, the Dalmatians and Thracians, and the Cilician pirates.
The expedition to the Graeco-Illyrian peninsula was designed partly to reduce to subjection or at least to tame the barbarous tribes who ranged over the whole interior from the Black Sea to the Adriatic, and of whom the Bessi (in the great Balkan) especially were, as it was then said, notorious as robbers even among a race of robbers; partly to destroy the corsairs in their haunts, especially along the Dalmatian coast. As usual, the attack took place simultaneously from Dalmatia and from Macedonia, in which province an army of five legions was assembled for the purpose. In Dalmatia the former praetor Gaius Cosconius held the command, marched through the country in all directions, and took by storm the fortress of Salona after a two years' siege. In Macedonia the proconsul Appius Claudius (676-678) first attempted along the Macedono-Thracian frontier to make himself master of the mountain districts on the left bank of the Karasu. On both sides the war was conducted with savage ferocity; the Thracians destroyed the townships which they took and massacred their captives, and the Romans returned like for like. But no results of importance were attained; the toilsome marches and the constant conflicts with the numerous and brave inhabitants of the mountains decimated the army to no purpose; the general himself sickened and died. His successor, Gaius Scribonius Curio (679-681), was induced by various obstacles, and particularly by a not inconsiderable military revolt, to desist from the difficult expedition against the Thracians, and to turn himself instead to the northern frontier of Macedonia, where he subdued the weaker Dardani (in Servia) and reached as far as the Danube. The brave and able Marcus Lucullus (682, 683) was the first who again advanced eastward, defeated the Bessi in their mountains, took their capital Uscudama (Adrianople), and compelled them to submit to the Roman supremacy. Sadalas king of the Odrysians, and the Greek towns on the east coast to the north and south of the Balkan chain--Istropolis, Tomi, Callatis, Odessus (near Varna), Mesembria, and others--became dependent on the Romans. Thrace, of which the Romans had hitherto held little more than the Attalic possessions on the Chersonese, now became a portion--though far from obedient--of the province of Macedonia.
But the predatory raids of the Thracians and Dardani, confined as they were to a small part of the empire, were far less injurious to the state and to individuals than the evil of piracy, which was continually spreading farther and acquiring more solid organization. The commerce of the whole Mediterranean was in its power. Italy could neither export its products nor import grain from the provinces; in the former the people were starving, in the latter the cultivation of the corn-fields ceased for want of a vent for the produce. No consignment of money, no traveller was longer safe: the public treasury suffered most serious losses; a great many Romans of standing were captured by the corsairs, and compelled to pay heavy sums for their ransom, if it was not even the pleasure of the pirates to execute on individuals the sentence of death, which in that case was seasoned with a savage humour. The merchants, and even the divisions of Roman troops destined for the east, began to postpone their voyages chiefly to the unfavourable season of the year, and to be less afraid of the winter storms than of the piratical vessels, which indeed even at this season did not wholly disappear from the sea. But severely as the closing of the sea was felt, it was more tolerable than the raids made on the islands and coasts of Greece and Asia Minor. Just as afterwards in the time of the Normans, piratical squadrons ran up to the maritime towns, and either compelled them to buy themselves off with large sums, or besieged and took them by storm. When Samothrace, Clazomenae, Samos, Iassus were pillaged by the pirates (670) under the eyes of Sulla after peace was concluded with Mithradates, we may conceive how matters went where neither a Roman army nor a Roman fleet was at hand. All the old rich temples along the coasts of Greece and Asia Minor were plundered one after another; from Samothrace alone a treasure of 1000 talents (240,000 pounds) is said to have been carried off. Apollo, according to a Roman poet of this period, was so impoverished by the pirates that, when the swallow paid him a visit, he could no longer produce to it out of all his treasures even a drachm of gold. More than four hundred townships were enumerated as having been taken or laid under contribution by the pirates, including cities like Cnidus, Samos, Colophon; from not a few places on islands or the coast, which were previously flourishing, the whole population migrated, that they might not be carried off by the pirates. Even inland districts were no longer safe from their attacks; there were instances of their assailing townships distant one or two days' march from the coast. The fearful debt, under which subsequently all the communities of the Greek east succumbed, proceeded in great part from these fatal times.
Organization Of Piracy
Piracy had totally changed its character. The pirates were no longer bold freebooters, who levied their tribute from the large Italo-Oriental traffic in slaves and luxuries, as it passed through the Cretan waters between Cyrene and the Peloponnesus--in the language of the pirates the "golden sea"; no longer even armed slave-catchers, who prosecuted "war, trade, and piracy" equally side by side; they formed now a piratical state, with a peculiar esprit de corps, with a solid and very respectable organization, with a home of their own and the germs of a symmachy, and doubtless also with definite political designs.