The Roman fleet conveyed a division of the army from Brundisium to Epirus; Oricum was recaptured from the king, a garrison was thrown into Apollonia, and the Macedonian camp was stormed. Thereupon Philip passed from partial action to total inaction, and notwithstanding all the complaints of Hannibal, who vainly tried to breathe into such a halting and shortsighted policy his own fire and clearness of decision, he allowed some years to elapse in armed inactivity.

Rome Heads A Greek Coalition Against Macedonia

Nor was Philip the first to renew the hostilities. The fall of Tarentum (542), by which Hannibal acquired an excellent port on the coast which was the most convenient for the landing of a Macedonian army, induced the Romans to parry the blow from a distance and to give the Macedonians so much employment at home that they could not think of an attempt on Italy. The national enthusiasm in Greece had of course evaporated long ago. With the help of the old antagonism to Macedonia, and of the fresh acts of imprudence and injustice of which Philip had been guilty, the Roman admiral Laevinus found no difficulty in organizing against Macedonia a coalition of the intermediate and minor powers under the protectorate of Rome. It was headed by the Aetolians, at whose diet Laevinus had personally appeared and had gained its support by a promise of the Acarnanian territory which the Aetolians had long coveted. They concluded with Rome a modest agreement to rob the other Greeks of men and land on the joint account, so that the land should belong to the Aetolians, the men and moveables to the Romans. They were joined by the states of anti- Macedonian, or rather primarily of anti-Achaean, tendencies in Greece proper; in Attica by Athens, in the Peloponnesus by Elis and Messene and especially by Sparta, the antiquated constitution of which had been just about this time overthrown by a daring soldier Machanidas, in order that he might himself exercise despotic power under the name of king Pelops, a minor, and might establish a government of adventurers sustained by bands of mercenaries. The coalition was joined moreover by those constant antagonists of Macedonia, the chieftains of the half-barbarous Thracian and Illyrian tribes, and lastly by Attalus king of Pergamus, who followed out his own interest with sagacity and energy amidst the ruin of the two great Greek states which surrounded him, and had the acuteness even now to attach himself as a client to Rome when his assistance was still of some value.

Resultless Warfare Peace Between Philip And The Greeks Peace Between Philip And Rome

It is neither agreeable nor necessary to follow the vicissitudes of this aimless struggle. Philip, although he was superior to each one of his opponents and repelled their attacks on all sides with energy and personal valour, yet consumed his time and strength in that profitless defensive. Now he had to turn against the Aetolians, who in concert with the Roman fleet annihilated the unfortunate Acarnanians and threatened Locris and Thessaly; now an invasion of barbarians summoned him to the northern provinces; now the Achaeans solicited his help against the predatory expeditions of Aetolians and Spartans; now king Attalus of Pergamus and the Roman admiral Publius Sulpicius with their combined fleets threatened the east coast or landed troops in Euboea. The want of a war fleet paralyzed Philip in all his movements; he even went so far as to beg vessels of war from his ally Prusias of Bithynia, and even from Hannibal. It was only towards the close of the war that he resolved--as he should have done at first--to order the construction of 100 ships of war; of these however no use was made, if the order was executed at all. All who understood the position of Greece and sympathized with it lamented the unhappy war, in which the last energies of Greece preyed upon themselves and the prosperity of the land was destroyed; repeatedly the commercial states, Rhodes, Chios, Mitylene, Byzantium, Athens, and even Egypt itself had attempted a mediation. In fact both parties had an interest in coming to terms. The Aetolians, to whom their Roman allies attached the chief importance, had, like the Macedonians, much to suffer from the war; especially after the petty king of the Athamanes had been gained by Philip, and the interior of Aetolia had thus been laid open to Macedonian incursions. Many Aetolians too had their eyes gradually opened to the dishonourable and pernicious part which the Roman alliance condemned them to play; a cry of horror pervaded the whole Greek nation when the Aetolians in concert with the Romans sold whole bodies of Hellenic citizens, such as those of Anticyra, Oreus, Dyme, and Aegina, into slavery. But the Aetolians were no longer free; they ran a great risk if of their own accord they concluded peace with Philip, and they found the Romans by no means disposed, especially after the favourable turn which matters were taking in Spain and in Italy, to desist from a war, which on their part was carried on with merely a few ships, and the burden and injury of which fell mainly on the Aetolians. At length however the Aetolians resolved to listen to the mediating cities: and, notwithstanding the counter-efforts of the Romans, a peace was arranged in the winter of 548-9 between the Greek powers. Aetolia had converted an over-powerful ally into a dangerous enemy; but the Roman senate, which just at that time was summoning all the resources of the exhausted state for the decisive expedition to Africa, did not deem it a fitting moment to resent the breach of the alliance. The war with Philip could not, after the withdrawal of the Aetolians, have been carried on by the Romans without considerable exertions of their own; and it appeared to them more convenient to terminate it also by a peace, whereby the state of things before the war was substantially restored and Rome in particular retained all her possessions on the coast of Epirus except the worthless territory of the Atintanes. Under the circumstances Philip had to deem himself fortunate in obtaining such terms; but the fact proclaimed--what could not indeed be longer concealed--that all the unspeakable misery which ten years of a warfare waged with revolting inhumanity had brought upon Greece had been endured in vain, and that the grand and just combination, which Hannibal had projected and all Greece had for a moment joined, was shattered irretrievably.

Italian Books
Theodor Mommsen
Classic Literature Library

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