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    Greece The Conquest of Greece
    Source: The Library of Congress Country Studies

    Over a period of about 250 years, Greek territory gradually was incorporated into the Roman Empire. The Greek and Roman worlds each changed significantly because of the interaction that resulted.

    The Conquest of Greece

    As the constant military conflicts of the Hellenistic kingdoms raised revenue needs, the tax burden on both rural and urban populations rose. Meanwhile, the Persians, Parthians, and Bactrians threatened from the east; and Roman expansionism in southern Italy and the western Mediterranean set the stage for repeated clashes between Rome and various Hellenistic rulers. The vibrancy, resilience, and resourcefulness of the Roman Republic finally proved to be too much for the fragile kingdoms of the East.

    In the fourth and third centuries B.C., military conquests in central Italy brought Rome into direct competition with the city colonies of Magna Graecia in southern Italy, especially Tarentum (Taranto) and Syracuse. In 280 B.C., Pyrrhus, king of Epirus, began a long period of confrontation between the Greeks and the Romans when he fought a series of battles against the Romans in southern Italy. In this period, however, Rome's major adversary in the Mediterranean was the powerful empire of Carthage, just across the Mediterranean in modern Tunisia, with which Rome fought the Punic Wars over period of forty-five years. Greek forces also became involved in the campaigns of the Punic Wars, setting the stage for future conflicts with Rome.

    The most important episode occurred during the Second Punic War (218-207 B.C.). Campaigning in Italy, the Carthaginian leader Hannibal allied with Philip V of Macedonia, then the most powerful ruler in the Balkans, to protect supply lines from North Africa. Rome responded by supporting Philip's many enemies in the Balkans as they fought the First Macedonian War (215-213 B.C.), which expanded Roman interests into the Balkans. In the Second Macedonian War (200-197 B.C.), Rome's first major military expedition into the Greek world met with brilliant success. Philip lost all his territory outside Macedonia, and the victorious commander Flamininus established a Roman protectorate over the "liberated" Greek city-states. The fortunes of Greece and Rome were henceforth intertwined for about the next 500 years.

    The final incorporation of Greece and the Greek East into the Roman Empire came in 31 B.C. after the Battle of Actium, on the western shore of Greece. There, rule of the Roman Empire was settled when the Roman emperor Octavian defeated the navy of Mark Antony. Because Antony had based his land forces in Greece, the victory of Caesar Augustus made the Greek world an integral and permanent part of the Roman Empire. The yoke of empire on Greece was relatively light, however, and many Greek cities approved the new order. Rome demanded only two things from its Greek holdings-- security and revenue.

    Data as of December 1994

    NOTE: The information regarding Greece on this page is re-published from The Library of Congress Country Studies. No claims are made regarding the accuracy of Greece The Conquest of Greece information contained here. All suggestions for corrections of any errors about Greece The Conquest of Greece should be addressed to the Library of Congress.

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