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10 Sulla's Settlement of the East
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Asia Minor and Greece in the Aftermath of the Mithridatic War

Much was, therefore, still in flux even in 80. This applies even more to the position "on the ground" in the southern Balkans and Asia Minor. It does not seem to be sufficiently recognized that Sulla had left the East in a state very dose to chaos. Sulla and his legate L. Hortensius had undertaken punitive campaigns against the Illyrians and Thracians in 85 but evidently effected nothing more than to shore up temporarily the northern frontier, which had collapsed in the Pontic invasion of 87.[51] When Sulla left for Italy in 83, he virtually stripped Macedonia and Greece of their defenders, taking with him not only the five legions he had brought from Italy but several thousand Macedonian and Peloponnesian auxiliaries; the two Fimbrian legions stayed with L. Licinius Murena in Asia.[52] A disastrous invasion of Greece by the Maedi followed; the Thracians raided and plundered as deep as Delphi.[53] In the face of the Maedic attack Macedonia must have been temporarily lost once again; as it happens, the senatorial decree for the Stratoniceans in 81 seems to imply that in that year Greece, rather than Macedonia, was assigned as a provincia .[54]


Meanwhile the imperium in Asia Minor looked only a little more secure. Sulla had left behind Murena "to complete the settlement of Asian affairs."[55] The wording is an indication of how incomplete the Sullan dispensation remained at the rime of his departure. Murena's intervention in Cibyra in the southern corner of Phrygia, deposing its traditional dynasty and awarding two dries of the Tetrapolis to the Lycians, Rome's loyal allies in the war, is probably to be related to his task of consolidating the settlement.[56] We have already noted Murena's unsuccessful attempt to intimidate Mithridates into full compliance with the terms of the Dardanus agreement. Meanwhile, Mytilene managed to drag out its bitter resistance until 81 or 80, while pirates ravaged the coasts, even capturing Iasus, Samos, and Clazomenae, and Murena's countermeasures, for which he raised a fleet from among the Greek dries of the coast, availed little in the long run, however helpful they may have seemed at the time.[57] According to


Cicero, Murena credited the cost of the ships against the cities' tribute; a benevolent, or perhaps only realistic, measure, in view of their financial condition at this time.[58]

The huge fine levied by Sulla had been a crushing penalty after what the cities had already suffered in the war. The cities had to mortgage their buildings and properties heavily in order to come up with the amount required, at interest rates so unfavorable that (according to Plutarch) in a little over a decade the original debt had grown sixfold to 120,000 talents, though the principal had been paid twice over.[59] The money was probably lent initially not by Roman publicani , who will not yet have been present with sufficient resources in the winter of 85-84, but by local magnates or temples. It will not have taken long, however, for the shortage of capital in Asia and consequent extraordinary rates of interest to attract the publicani and other Roman financiers, who presumably provided secondary loans to cover the interest on the original debt.[60]

On the other end of the scale, many, if not most, of the cities "freed" by Sulla had suffered much in the war. Fimbria had destroyed Ilium after it had committed the crime of surrendering to Sulla rather than to him; the Chians had finally been expelled from their island by Mithridates; Magnesia, Stratonicea, and Tabae had no doubt suffered under Pontic occupation after their initial resistance; and the tenacity of the Rhodians and Lycians had surely been a considerable strain.[61] Even those who chose


the winning side in this conflict had not been able to escape paying a heavy price. Where we have evidence, it seems that Sulla as a rule rewarded these communities with grants of territory whose revenues will have assisted the cities' recovery: Rhodes received Caunus, and perhaps other territory on the mainland; Stratonicea received certain forts, villages, and harbors.[62] Nevertheless, it seems tolerably dear that in this war there were few winners among the Asian Greek communities. The fighting of 89-88 and 86-85, together with the punitive and repressive measures taken by both Mithridates and Sulla,[63] ensured that the consequences of this conflict for western Asia Minor were much graver than those of any other in the previous century since the expulsion of Antiochus III.

Plutarch's description in the Lucullus (20) of the wretched condition into which the cities of Asia subsequently sank is rhetorical and doubtless overdrawn, but perhaps not for all that entirely misleading. The first Pergamene decree in honor of Diodorus Pasparus and a recently published decree of the Koinon of Asia from Aphrodisias, if, as it appears, it belongs at this time, convey the same general impression of shattered civic finances and a miserable existence subject to the publican's rapacity.[64] There is scattered evidence of the lapse of certain festivals and sacrifices after the war.[65]


Evidence that seems to point in a contrary direction, however, serves to remind us of the inherent weakness of sweeping generalizations. Stratonicea took the opportunity in 81 to ask Roman acceptance of

for their sanctuary of Hecate and sent forth embassies throughout the Greek world to obtain for it international recognition.[66] Stratoniceans, at least, were not prevented by the grim aftermath of the Mithridatic War from pursuing prestige for their city in a great Hellenistic tradition. It is also noteworthy that in Miletus after 82/81 were no more difficult to find than before the war.[67] Contrary to the traditional view, it is also becoming clear that the production of silver coinage was by no means restricted to Ephesus after Sulla, and indeed the volume of cistophoric coinage appears to continue at much the same level in this period.[68] And we may wonder about the supposed financial ruin of Pergamum, which despite much ado about its wretched state could contemplate erecting in honor of one of its benefactors, Diodorus Pasparus, no less than five statues, two of them gilded.[69] It may be no accident that the decree, now dated to 69, immediately followed Lucullus's measures for debt relief. Even so it suggests that the "debt crisis" created by Sulla's fine had little long-term impact on Pergamum's finances. Indeed, the very fact that the debt had grown so large by 70 shows that despite the notorious brutality of the Roman creditors' collectors they had not been able to extract anything near their legal due. The high risk of offering such provincial loans is too often forgotten in our sympathy for the miserable debtors. We may compare the irregularity with which payment of outstanding debts could be


extracted in Asia Minor in the 50s, about which we know a good deal from Cicero's correspondence.[70]

While it would be wrong, then, to conclude that civic life in the Greek cities of Asia Minor had been swept away, it is clear enough that their Hellenistic splendor was now largely past. They still had great orators to exhibit, of course, to young Romans on their grand tour such as Cicero in 79-77 (Cic. Brut . 315-16). But the contraction of their horizons in comparison with the prewar period is unmistakable. The honorary inscriptions on the North Hall at Priene give evidence of a still-vigorous diplomatic life around the turn of the second century: Prienean embassies rove the eastern Mediterranean and exchange courtesies with Seleucid and Cap-padocian kings. The construction of North Hall itself seems to have been linked with the name of an Ariarathes.[71] Rome's imperium and official presence in Asia Minor since 131 had not had an overwhelming impact upon Priene's international standing and participation in an old Hellenistic diplomatic tradition. Further evidence before the Mithridatic wars of such diplomatic vigor among the Greek cities of Asia Minor can be adduced.[72] Nothing similar appears in the epigraphic evidence of the generation following the First Mithridatic War. At Priene, the next honorary inscriptions to appear on the wall of the North Hall, probably late in the century, tell only of local civic affairs.[73]

Mainland Greece, at least, was spared the Sullan fine. Outside of Athens, whose case we have considered in chapter 8, and a few other cities


ravaged in the fighting, such as Anthedon, Larymna, and Halae (Plut. Sull . 26.7), the most significant change brought by the First Mithridatic War to Greece was certainly that large portions of it, very likely most of Boeotia, Euboea, and perhaps Phocis, were now made subject to Roman taxes, to be collected, in the case of Boeotia at least and probably of the others as well, by the publicani , who now at last made their debut in Greece.[74] The presence of publicani inevitably brought closer involvement of the proconsul of Macedonia, and so it is no surprise that in the 70s we at last hear of a rash of extortion accusations brought by Greeks of the mainland against Roman officials.[75] The larger role that the proconsul of Macedonia might now be required to play in Greece is indicated, for example, in the decree of the Senate of 78 B.C. awarding privileges, including tax exemption, to three Greek ship captains, including one from Greece, Polystratus of Carystus on Euboea. The proconsul of Macedonia was to ensure that Polystratus's immunity was secure, including exemption from any public debts; Polystratus might also, at his own discretion, resort to the proconsul's court.[76]

Still, such provisions for the settlement of difficulties do not imply that the proconsul was often required to act upon them, and a most interesting account of a series of incidents in Chaeronea about this time, which happens to be preserved only because Plutarch was a native of the place, suggests that in fact the proconsul of Macedonia was by no means a constant and oppressive presence in central Greece. The affair, minor in itself, deserves to be considered at some length because of the light it sheds on our subject.


Probably early in 87 the commander of a cohort wintering in Chaeronea was murdered, together with some of his men, by a band of local youths led by one Damon, who had rejected his sexual advances.[77] The gang fled, and the city council of Chaeronea passed sentence of death upon them; but one evening, according to Plutarch, Damon and his men returned, murdered a number of magistrates in the

, and fled again. L. Lucullus, passing through with an army, looked into the matter but found the city guilty of no offense. Damon, however, turned to robbery and brigandage until the Chaeroneans persuaded him to return under an amnesty and made him gymnasiarch. Damon was then murdered in turn in the bath. This ugly sequence of events might have ended here, but the Orchomenians, being at odds with the Chaeroneans, hired a Roman advocate to accuse Chaeronea of complicity in Damon's murders before the proconsul of Macedonia. (The name of the proconsul is unfortunately not preserved; as noted above, the first proconsul of Macedonia after the departure of Sulla may well have been Cn. Dolabella, who held the province in 80-78; the lawlessness in Chaeronea would fit well the disruption in Greece generally in the late 80s.) Chaeronea supported its claim of innocence by appealing to Lucullus's judgment at the time. When the proconsul wrote to Lucullus himself to verify their account, he found it true, and thus Chaeronea escaped the grave danger (). A statue of Lucullus was erected in the marketplace in gratitude for his truthful testimony.

This story bears closer scrutiny. It is worth stressing that Chaeronea itself, not a Roman imperator , originally judged Damon guilty of murder and sentenced him to death for the killing of the Romans.[78] Capital crimes against Romans were not, it seems, according to some explicitly enunciated legal principle the sole preserve of Roman authorities, although of course had Lucullus not found Chaeronea's handling of the case satisfactory we


might well expect some Roman intervention, as in the case we have noted of a Colophonian murder suspect summoned to Rome from Asia in the second century (see pp. 128-29). The case came formally before the proconsul, of course, only when it reemerged as a result of a curious reversal in Chaeronea. When the city lifted the ban against Damon and even went on to honor him with the gymnasiarchy, it opened itself to the suspicion that it sanctioned the murder of the Romans. Even so, of course, it was not a Roman who revived the case but the neighboring, hostile city of Orchomenus (


Behind this unseemly conflict between Boeotian neighbors lie, very likely, varying fortunes in the recent fighting in Greece and at the hands of Sulla. Chaeroneans had been instrumental in turning the flank of the Pontic position in the battle of 86, and Sulla had paid them a great compliment by having the names of the leaders of this operation, Homoloechus and Anaxidamus, inscribed in Greek on the trophy he posted at the point where they had broken through. The trophy, amazingly, has recently been discovered, with the inscription "Homoloechus and Anaxidamus, Heroes."[79] The monument itself stood as a powerful reminder that Chaeronea was in Sulla's, and Rome's, good graces. It would be surprising if Chaeronea was not declared "free" for its service in the war, as had been nearby Elatea (Paus. 10.34.2). Very likely, beyond the possibility of punishment for a few individuals, the city now stood to lose that privilege if it were shown to have connived at the murder of the Romans. Orchomenus, whose treatment by Sulla is uncertain but which had been on the wrong side of the battle lines at least once in 86, now perhaps saw an opportunity to raise itself in the estimation of the conqueror at the expense of its neighbor.

It is revealing that the Chaeroneans considered themselves in a position to recall from exile and honor a convicted murderer of Romans, that this occurred without complaint by Roman authorities, and that the case was finally initiated not by Roman authorities but by Orchomenus, which hired a Roman advocate and demanded justice at the tribunal of the proconsul of Macedonia, almost certainly in Macedonia itself, for as Plutarch notes, "the Romans did not yet send out commanders to Greece" (Cim . 2.1).[80] These facts reveal how little able the proconsul of Macedonia was to exercise directly or indirectly, through his subordinates, dose supervision of local affairs in Greece even in the aftermath of the First Mithridatic


War, given his chief duty of seeing to the security of the northern frontier—a perennial problem that was now particularly severe. While the extension of Roman taxation into central Greece inevitably involved Roman officials and publicani much more closely than before in local Greek affairs, the degree to which in practice local autonomy persisted should not be underestimated.

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