Not as Slaves, but as Friends and Allies:

Rome's Settlement of Lycia and Caria after 188

     Awareness of ancient bewilderment can lead to improved modern
understanding of Rome's actions in Asia Minor after the defeat of
Antiochus III.  A coalition of Rome, the King of Pergamon, and the
Rhodian democracy had ended irretrievably Seleucid control over most
of the Asian sub-continent.  Flushed with spoils and their success at
Magnesia, the Romans were in a generous mood toward their allies of
the late war, and in negotiations preserved in Livy and Polybius's
accounts both the Eumenes II and the Rhodians sought to arrange a
settlement to their advantage (Plb.  21.23.5-7; Liv. 37.52.10-54.1)

     Eumenes desired hegemony over the Hellespontine regions and the
north of Asia Minor, and from his ambitions would come a string of
events leading to the Third Macedonian War and the final collapse of
the balance of power in the Hellenistic World.  The Rhodians
themselves desired free trade with freed cities.  Even at the time,
however, it was difficult to understand the apparent contradiction of
that stated goal with the Rhodians' request for control of the
neighboring mainland regions of Lycia and Caria (Plb.  21.45.8; Liv.
37.55.6).  Good feeling and partial understanding prevailed, but
before a decade had passed Rome's relations with the Rhodians would be
at a crisis level as a result of that transfer of territory.

     It is clear, now, that it was neither a pursuit of revenues nor
imperial grandeur that drove the Rhodians to seek and assert control
over Lycia and Caria.  Modern scholars have overlooked ancient
attestations that both regions were notorious as sources of pirates,
against whom the Rhodians had for centuries been fighting their
longest and most celebrated war (Hom.  Il. 5.628-62; Schol. to Hom.
Il.  639; Timach. 23, FGrh 521 F2 (Polyzalos)/522 (Timakritus);  E.M.
430, 38).  With Seleucid landward control of both regions forever
banished, the Rhodians correctly anticipated that lawlessness in both
regions would be more rife than ever.  As the Romans withdrew back
into Europe, they prepared to assume a role that no land empire saw
fit to undertake and to chain the larcenous mainlanders to their own

     Lack of understanding of this undertaking began with the Lycians
themselves, who confidently approached the Rhodians soon after the
settlement and asked for an alliance.  A stinging rebuke from the
Rhodians led to revolts in both Caria and Lycia, and a series of
embassies to Rome, complaining in tragic language of the Rhodians'
cruelty (Liv. 41.6.9-12).  Certainly the Romans had difficulty in
understanding why the prosperous islanders of Rhodes so grimly made
large tax exactions from their new territories, or treated the region
with such harshness.  The complaints of the mainlanders joined to
Eumenes' own machinations at Rome finally produced the title's warning
to the Rhodians:  the Lycian were not given to the Rhodians as slaves,
but as friends and allies (Plb. 25.4.5; Liv. 41.6.8-12; App. Mac.
11.2, Mit. 62).  At that pronouncement, the Lycians again exploded
into revolt, while the amazed Rhodians sent embassy after embassy to
Rome attempting in vain to clarify a situation that has since then
remained obscure.

     There is no need to suppose, as have some modern scholars, that
the Romans gave the territories to the Rhodians as part of a sinister
scheme to bleed Rhodes' revenue and military resources (e.g., Hatto H.
Schmitt, Rom und Rodos, pp. 93-128).  Rather, the Romans had expected
the Rhodians to control the piratical mainlanders in a means
impossible for the island republic (Liv. 41.6.12, as noted by Walbank,
Commentary 3.280).  Rome's own "friends and allies" were kept
controlled and docile by a system of semi- citizenship and the
absorbtion of their volatile youth into Rome's army and military
aggrandizement.  The surplus population of a beaten enemy could still
fight, and die, but not in combat against Rome.  Rhodes, however, was
a classic, functioning full democracy, with citizenship a
carefully-guarded privilege of those born on the island or in its
oldest federated possessions.  Moreover, the superlative Rhodian navy
had acquired and preserved its fine military edge by its reliance upon
its own citizen sailors.  Putting pirates onto the oar benches of the
ships sent out to destroy such men would have been the height of
folly.  What were needed in Caria and Lycia were outposts and
mercenaries to man them--hence the taxes and exactions.  The Romans,
with Eumenes' help, soon found the Rhodians' actions suspicious (Plb.
25.5.3-5, App. Mac. 11.3), while the Rhodians remained as baffled as
scholars since over the apparent shift in Rome's previous good will.

Text of the 1994 APA Abstract

Rob S. Rice