Twilight of the Hellenistic World – Roberts and Bennett

Since Alexander rewrote the map of the eastern Mediterranean and the near East in the 330s BC, the history of that region was a story of contending states – Egypt under the Ptolemies, Syria, Macedonia – under Greek leadership.  Little in the 220s predicted that it would all be swept away and be replaced by a universal empire under Rome.  Histories of the period often get ahead of themselves and write the history as if this future was apparent from the start, or they just avoid the period and move on to a history of Rome from a Roman point of view.

At this time. Rome was looking to italy and the West, as the second Punic War versus Hannibal was in full swing.  The cities and states of Alexander’s successors had divided up his empire, but no one thought that matters were settled and anyone who thought they could have the power made attempts to carve out an empire of their own.  In Greece, Sparta was finally crushed as a power, and the other city-states formed leagues to attempt to keep up with the power of the states around them.  This was soon found to be a case of too-little, too-late and these leagues would fall under the domination of more powerful neighbors – such as Rome.

There were some major battles – Raphia, where Syria failed to defeat Egypt.  Instead Syria under Antiochus the Great moved East and subdued many of the provinces in Persia as Alexander had done.  Macedonia tried to put Greece under its heel with mixed success, and also tried to create an Empire to the north in the Balkans.

None of these states had any idea that within the next thirty years Rome would change the dynamics entirely – and neither did Rome itself.  It all goes to show that there usually isn’t a master plan for history.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s