Friday, April 11, 2014

Robin Waterfield's "Taken at the Flood"

Robin Waterfield is an independent scholar, living in southern Greece. In addition to more than twenty-five translations of works of Greek literature, he is the author of numerous books, including Dividing the Spoils: The War for Alexander the Great's Empire.

Waterfield applied the “Page 99 Test” to his latest book, Taken at the Flood: The Roman Conquest of Greece, and reported the following:
Page 99 of Taken at the Flood covers some of the aftermath of the Second Macedonian War (200-197). This was the war that established Roman dominance in the Greek lands to the east of Italy once and for all. It had been clear for some time that they planned to make themselves the brokers of power in the Greek world, and would tolerate no serious opposition to that goal. The Second Macedonian War was managed for Rome by a youngish consul called Titus Quinctius Flamininus, and in him the Romans found the perfect instrument for the conquest. It was not just his competence on the battlefield, but his ruthless diplomacy that won the war for Rome.

Rome had first intervened militarily in the Greek world only thirty years earlier. What the Romans found was that the Greeks had for over a century looked largely to the Macedonian kings to settle their disputes and keep the peace. So, once the decision had been taken to gain control of Greece, it was Macedon that had to be dealt with. The First Macedonian War (214-205) was inconclusive, chiefly because at exactly the same time Roman resources were being stretched to breaking point by the presence of Hannibal in Italy, and by his remarkable successes. The Romans could not commit fully to the war, and left their allies in Greece to do it for them. The allies were defeated by Philip V of Macedon, a dynamic king who saw himself as the heir to Philip II and Alexander the Great, and so the war ended inconclusively. Everyone knew the Romans would be back as soon as they had dealt with Hannibal.

So the purpose of the Second Macedonian War was to humiliate Philip V, and that was what it did. Page 99 of Taken at the Flood tells of some of the moves the Romans were making to reduce Macedon to the marginal status it had had in the Greek world prior to Philip II. Even that, however, would prove not to be enough to quench Macedonian independence: it would take the Romans a third war, the elimination of the Macedonian monarchy, and the division of the country into four republics, to achieve their goal.
Visit Robin Waterfield's website.

--Marshal Zeringue