Second Macedonian War

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Second Macedonian War
Part of Macedonian Wars
Macedonia and the Aegean World c.200.png
The Aegean on the eve of the Second Macedonian War, c. 200 BC
Date200–197 BC
Result Roman victory
Macedonia gives up all possessions and client states in southern Greece, Thrace and Anatolia

Vexilloid of the Roman Empire.svg Roman Republic
Kingdom of Pergamon
200–197 BC
Kingdom of Dardania
Aetolian League
198–197 BC
Achaian League
197 BC

Boeotian League

Vergina Sun - Golden Larnax.pngAntigonid Macedonia
Boeotian League

Acarnanian League
Commanders and leaders

Vexilloid of the Roman Empire.svg Publius Sulpicius Galba Maximus
Vexilloid of the Roman Empire.svg Titus Flamininus

Attalos I
Vergina Sun - Golden Larnax.png Philip V of Macedon

The Second Macedonian War (200–197 BC) was fought between Macedon, led by Philip V of Macedon, and Rome, allied with Pergamon and Rhodes. The result was the defeat of Philip who was forced to abandon all his possessions in southern Greece, Thrace and Asia Minor. During their intervention, and although the Romans declared the "freedom of the Greeks" against the rule from the Macedonian kingdom, the war marked a significant stage in increasing Roman intervention in the affairs of the eastern Mediterranean which would eventually lead to their conquest of the entire region.


In 204 BC King Ptolemy IV Philopator of Egypt died, leaving the throne to his six-year-old son Ptolemy V. Philip V of Macedon and Antiochus the Great of the Seleucid Empire decided to exploit the weakness of the young king by taking Ptolemaic territory for themselves and they signed a secret pact defining spheres of interest, opening the Fifth Syrian War. Philip first turned his attention to the independent Greek city states in Thrace and near the Dardanelles. His success at taking cities such as Kios worried the state of Rhodes and King Attalus I of Pergamon who also had interests in the area.

In 201 BC, Philip launched a campaign in Asia Minor, besieging the Ptolemaic city of Samos and capturing Miletus. Again, this disconcerted Rhodes and Attalus and Philip responded by ravaging Attalid territory and destroying the temples outside the walls of Pergamon.[1] Philip then invaded Caria but the Rhodians and Pergamenes successfully blockaded his fleet in Bargylia, forcing him to spend the winter with his army in a country which offered very few provisions.

At this point, although they appeared to have the upper hand, Rhodes and Pergamon still feared Philip so much that they sent an appeal to the rising power of Rome, which had just emerged victorious from the Second Punic War against Carthage. The Romans had previously fought the First Macedonian War against Philip V over Illyria, which had been resolved by the Peace of Phoenice in 205 BC. Very little in Philip's recent actions in Thrace and Asia Minor could be said to concern the Roman Republic directly. The Senate passed a supportive decree and Marcus Valerius Laevinus was sent to investigate.[2]

Earlier in 201 BC, Athens' relations with Philip had suddenly deteriorated. A pair of Acarnanians had entered the Temple of Demeter during the Eleusinian Mysteries and the Athenians had put them to death. In response, the Acarnanian League launched a raid on Attica, aided by Macedonian troops which they had received from Philip V. Shortly after this, King Attalus I arrived in Athens with Rhodian ambassadors and convinced the Athenians, who had maintained strict neutrality since the end of the Chremonidean War, to declare war on Macedon. Attalos sailed off, bringing most of the Cycladic islands over to his side and sent embassies to the Aetolian League in the hope of bringing them into the war as well. In response to the Athenian declaration of war, Philip dispatched a force of 2,000 infantry and 200 cavalry under the command of Philokles to invade Attica and place the city of Athens under siege.[3]

Course of the war[edit]

Rome enters the war (200 BC)[edit]

On 15 March 200 BC, new consuls, Publius Sulpicius Galba and Gaius Aurelius took office in Rome. In light of reports from Valerius Laevinus and further embassies from Pergamon, Rhodes, and Athens, the task of dealing with the troubles in Macedonia was allotted to Sulpicius. He called an assembly of the Comitia centuriata, the body with the legal power to make declarations of war. The Comitia nearly unanimously rejected his proposed war, an unprecedented act which was attributed to war weariness. At a second session, Sulpicius convinced the Comitia to vote for war.[4] Sulpicius recruited troops and departed to Brundisium in the autumn, where he added veterans of the Second Punic War who had just returned from Africa to his forces. Then he crossed the Adriatic, landing his troops in Apollonia and stationing the navy at Corcyra.[5]

While these events had been taking place, Philip V himself had undertaken another campaign in the Dardanelles, taking a number of Ptolemaic cities in rapid succession before besieging the important city of Abydus. Polybius reports that during the siege of Abydus, Philip had grown impatient and sent a message to the besieged that the walls would be stormed and that if anybody wished to commit suicide or surrender they had three days to do so. The citizens promptly killed all the women and children of the city, threw their valuables into the sea and fought to the last man.[6] This story illustrates the reputation for atrocities that Philip had earned by this time during his efforts at expanding Macedonian power and influence through the conquest of other Greek cities.[citation needed] During the siege of Abydos, in the autumn of 200 BC, Philip was met by Marcus Aemilius Lepidus, a Roman ambassador on his way back from Egypt,[7] who urged him not to attack any Greek state or to seize any territory belonging to Ptolemy and to go to arbitration with Rhodes and Pergamon. Philip protested that he was not in violation of any of the terms of the Peace of Phoenice, but in vain. As he returned to Macedonian after the fall of Abydos, he learnt of the landing of Sulpicius' force in Epirus.[8]

The Athenians who were now besieged by Macedonian forces sent an appeal to the Roman force in Corcyra and Gaius Claudius Cento was sent with 20 ships and 1,000 men. Philokles and his troops withdrew from Attica to their base in Corinth. In response to a request from Chalkidean exiles, Claudius led a surprise raid on the city of Chalkis in Euboea, one of the key Antigonid strongholds known as the 'fetters of Greece' and inflicting serious damage and heavy casualties.[9]

Philip rushed to Chalkis with a force of 5,000 men and 300 cavalry. Finding that Claudius had already withdrawn, he sped on towards Athens, where he defeated the Athenian and Attalid troops in a battle outside the Dipylon Gate and encamped at Cynosarges. After setting fire to the sanctuaries and tombs outside the city walls, Philip departed to Corinth. From there, Philip went down to Argos where the Achaian League was holding an assembly, which he attempted to bring onto his side in exchange for supporting them in their ongoing conflict with Nabis of Sparta, but he was rebuffed. Joining up with a force of 2,000 men brought by his general Philokles, Philip made a series of three unsuccessful assaults on Eleusis, Piraeus, and Athens and ravaged the territory of Athens. Then he ravaged the sanctuaries throughout Attica and withdrew to Boeotia.[10] The damage to the rural and deme sanctuaries of Attica was severe and marks the permanent end of their use.[11]

Philip spent the rest of the winter preparing for the Roman assault. He sent his young son Perseus with a force to prevent the Romans and Dardanians from advancing over the Šar Mountains into northern Macedonia. Philip had the settlements on the Sporades islands of Peparethos and Skiathos destroyed to prevent enemies using them as naval bases. The Macedonian army was gathered at Demetrias.[12]

Sulpicius and Villius' campaigns (200-199 BC)[edit]

During this time Sulpicius had established a firm base by the Seman river in Illyria. A force under Lucius Apustius was sent to raid the western border of Macedonia, capturing or razing a number of cities, including Antipatrea and Codrion. Following this expedition, Sulpicius received the allegiance of the Illyrians under Scerdilaidas, the Dardanians under Bato, and the Athamanes under Amynander. The diplomatic efforts of Philip, Sulpicius, and the Athenians centred on the Aetolian League, which seemed inclined to support the Romans but remained neutral at this stage.[13]

At the end of winter in 200 BC, Sulpicius led his troops east through the territory of the Dassaretae. Philip gathered 20,000 infantry and 4,000 cavalry, recalling the troops he had stationed in the north with Perseus, and marched west. He encamped on a hill near Athacus which overlooked Sulpicius' camp. After a series of indecisive skirmishes (in one of which Philip was nearly captured), news came that the Dardanians had invaded northern Macedonia, and the Macedonians withdrew secretly in the night.[14] When he realised what had happened, Sulpicius set out in pursuit through Pelagonia, found Philip blocking the pass to Eordaia and forced it. Sulpicius ravaged Eordaia, then Elimeia to the south, and then followed the Haliacmon river valley up to Orestis, where he conquered Celetrum and Pelion and then returned to his base.[15] Philip split his force, sending a contingent of his army north to deal with the Dardanian invasion, which it did, while he himself headed south.

Simultaneously with this campaign, the Roman fleet had left Corcyra under command of Lucius Apustius, rounded Cape Malea, and rendezvoused with King Attalos near Hermione. The combined fleet then launched an assault on the Macedonian military base on the island of Andros and seized it for Pergamum. The fleet was joined by further ships from Issa and Rhodes and headed north to the Chalkidike peninsula where an assault on Cassandreia was a complete failure. They withdrew to northern Euboea, where they besieged and captured Oreus, another key Macedonian naval base. Since it was now autumn and the sailing season was drawing to a close, the contingents of the fleet dispersed back to its home ports.[16]

As these campaigns progressed, Damocritus, the general of the Aetolian League, had decided that it was time to join the war on the Roman side. Together with King Amynander, he led an invasion of Magnesia and Perrhaebia, then continued to ravage Thessaly. There, Philip appeared suddenly and completely defeated their force. He spent some time besieging the Aetolian city of Thaumaci, but gave up and withdrew as winter approached. He spent the winter training his army and engaging in diplomacy, particularly with the Achaian League.[17]

In Rome, the new consuls took office on 15 March 199 BC, and Publius Villius Tappulus was allotted Macedonia as his province. He crossed the Adriatic to Corcyra, where he replaced Sulpicius in command of the army.[18] On his arrival, Villius faced a mutiny by 2,000 troops, who were veterans of the Second Punic War and wished to be demobilised. He resolved this, by forwarding their concerns to the Senate, but was left with little time to prosecute a campaign.[19] Philip marched west and encamped on both sides of the Aoös river where it passed through a narrow ravine. Villius marched to meet him, but was still considering what to do when he learnt that his successor, Titus Quinctius Flamininus had been elected and was on his way to Corcyra to assume command.[20]

In Asia Minor, Pergamum was invaded by the Seleukid king Antiochos III, meaning that Attalos was not able to assist in the naval war in the Aegean. But he was forced to withdraw by a Roman embassy.[21]

Flamininus' first campaign (198 BC)[edit]

When the new consuls took office on 15 March 198, the Senate ordered the recruitment of 8,000 new infantry and 800 cavalry for the war. Command in Macedonia was allotted to Flamininus.[22] He was not yet thirty and was a self-proclaimed ardent Philhellene.

Flamininus was delayed by religious matters for some time, but then he recruited the new forces, crossed the Adriatic, and dismissed Villius. The army encamped in the Aous Valley, across the river from Philip's for forty days.[23] At a peace conference, Flamininus announced the Romans' new peace terms. Up to this point, the Romans had merely ordered Philip to stop attacking the Greek cities. Now Flamininus demanded that he should make reparations to all the Greek cities he had harmed and withdraw all his garrisons from cities outside Macedonia, including Thessaly, which had been part of the Macedonian kingdom continuously since 353 BC. Philip stormed out of the meeting in anger and Flamininus decided to attack.[24]

In the subsequent Battle of the Aous, Flamininus was victorious despite the advantage the terrain gave to the Macedonian army, when he was shown a pass through the mountains which allowed him to send a force to attack the Macedonians from the rear. The Macedonian force collapsed and fled, suffering 2,000 casualties. Philip was able to gather up the survivors and retreat to Thessaly.[25] There he destroyed the city of Tricca to prevent it falling into Roman hands and withdrew to Tempe.[26]

After the Roman victory, the Aetolians led a rapid attack through Ainis and into Dolopia, while King Amynander attacked and captured Gomphi, in the southwestern corner of Thessaly. Meanwhile, Flamininus entered Epirus, which now joined the Roman side. Together with Amynander, he entered Thessaly.[27] The army did not encounter much resistance at first, but he became caught up in a prolonged siege at Atrax. Eventually he was forced to abandon this siege and march south into Phocis in order to secure his supply lines and lodgings for winter by capturing Anticyra.[28] He then besieged and captured Elateia.[29]

While this campaign was taking place, the consul's brother, Lucius Quinctius Flamininus had taken control of the Roman fleet and sailed to Athens. He rendezvoused with the Attalid and Rhodian fleets near Euboea. Eretria was taken after fierce fighting and Carystus surrendered, meaning that the entire island of Euboea was now under Roman control. The fleet travelled back around Attica to Cenchreae and placed Corinth under siege.[30]

From there, Lucius, Attalos, the Rhodians, and the Athenians sent ambassadors to the Achaian League in order to bring them into the war on the Roman side. The meeting of the league at Sicyon was extremely contentious. On the one hand, the Achaians were still at war with Sparta and they were allied to Macedonia, on the other their new chief magistrate Aristaenus was pro-Roman and the Romans promised to give the city of Corinth to the League. The representatives of Argos, Megalopolis, and Dyme, which all had particularly strong ties with Philip, left the meeting. The rest of the assembly voted to join the anti-Macedonian alliance.[31]

The Achaian army joined the other forces besieging Corinth, but after fierce fighting the siege had to be abandoned when 1,500 Macedonian reinforcements commanded by Philokles arrived from Boiotia.[32] From Corinth, Philokles was invited to take control of Argos by pro-Macedonians in the city, which he did without a fight.[33]

Over the winter of 198/197 BC, Philip declared his willingness to make peace. The parties met at Nicaea in Locris in November 198 - Philip sailed from Demetrias, but he refused to disembark and meet Flamininus and his allies on the beach, so he addressed them from the prow of his ship. To prolong the proceedings, Flamininus insisted that all his allies should be present at the negotiations. Flamininus reiterated his demands that Philip should withdraw all his garrisons from Greece, Illyria, and Asia Minor. Philip was not prepared to go this far and he was persuaded to send an embassy to the Roman Senate. The Senate demanded that Philip surrender the "fetters of Greece," Demetrias, Chalkis, and Corinth, but his envoys claimed they had no permission to do this, so the war continued.[34]

According to Polybius and Plutarch, these negotiations were manipulated by Flamininus - Philip's overtures had come just as elections were being held in Rome. Flamininus was eager to take the credit for ending the war but he did not yet know whether his command would be prolonged and had intended to make a quick peace deal with the Macedonian, if it was not. He therefore drew them out until he learnt that his command had been prorogued and then had his friends in Rome scupper the meeting in the Senate.[35]

Once this had become clear, Philip attempted to free up his forces by handing the city of Argos over to Nabis of Sparta, who then engineered a revolution in the city and organised a conference with Flamininus, Attalos and the Achaians at Mycenae, at which he agreed to stop attacking the Achaians and to supply troops to the Romans.[36]

Flamininus' second campaign (197 BC)[edit]

Reinforcements were sent to Flamininus from Italy, numbering 6,000 infantry, 300 cavalry, and 3,000 marines.[37]

Seeing things were going Rome's way, Philip's few remaining allies abandoned him (with the exception of Acarnania) and he was forced to raise an army of 25,000 mercenaries. However the decisive encounter came at Cynoscephalae in Thessaly in June 197 BC, when the legions of Flamininus defeated Philip's Macedonian phalanx. Philip was forced to sue for peace on Roman terms.

The Peace of Flamininus[edit]

An armistice was declared and peace negotiations were held in the Vale of Tempe. Philip agreed to evacuate the whole of Greece and relinquish his conquests in Thrace and Asia Minor. Flamininus' allies in the Aetolian League also made further territorial claims of their own against Philip but Flamininus refused to back them. The treaty was sent to Rome for ratification. The Senate added terms of its own: Philip must pay a war indemnity and surrender his navy (although his army was untouched). In 196, peace was finally agreed and at the Isthmian Games that year Flamininus proclaimed the liberty of the Greeks to general rejoicing of those who were attending the Games. Nevertheless, the Romans kept garrisons in key strategic cities which had belonged to Macedon – Corinth, Chalcis and Demetrias – and the legions were not completely evacuated until 194.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Didodorus XXVIII 5
  2. ^ Livy 31.3
  3. ^ Livy 31.14-16
  4. ^ Livy 31.4-8
  5. ^ Livy 31.12-14
  6. ^ Polybius, Histories XVI 30–31; Livy 31.16-17
  7. ^ He had been sent to Egypt to politely decline an offer by Ptolemy IV to send an army to protect Athens from Philip: Livy 31.9.
  8. ^ Diodorus 28.6; Livy 31.16-17
  9. ^ Livy 31.14, 22-3
  10. ^ Diodoros 28.7; Livy 31.23-26
  11. ^ Mikalson, Jon D. (1998). Religion in Hellenistic Athens. Berkeley/London: University of California Press., ch.6.
  12. ^ Livy 31.28, 33
  13. ^ Livy 31.27-32
  14. ^ Livy 31.33-38
  15. ^ Livy 31.39-40
  16. ^ Livy 31.44-47
  17. ^ Livy 31.41-43, 32.4-5
  18. ^ Livy 32.1
  19. ^ Livy 32.3
  20. ^ Livy 32.5-6
  21. ^ Livy 32.8, 27
  22. ^ Livy 32.8
  23. ^ Livy 32.9
  24. ^ Diodorus XXVIII 11; Livy 32.10
  25. ^ Livy 32.10-12
  26. ^ Livy 32.13
  27. ^ Livy 32.13-15
  28. ^ Livy 32.18
  29. ^ Livy 32.24
  30. ^ Livy 32.16-17
  31. ^ Livy 32.18-23
  32. ^ Livy 32.23
  33. ^ Livy 32.25
  34. ^ Livy 32.32-37
  35. ^ Polybios XVII.12
  36. ^ Livy 32.38-40
  37. ^ Livy 32.28




  • Will, Edouard, L'histoire politique du monde hellénistique (Editions du Seuil, 2003 ed.), Tome II, pp. 121–178.
  • Green, Peter, Alexander to Actium, the historical evolution of the Hellenistic Age, 1993, pp. 305–311.
  • Kleu, Michael, Die Seepolitik Philipps V. von Makedonien, Bochum, Verlag Dr. Dieter Winkler, 2015.

Further reading[edit]

  • Hammond, N. G. L.; Griffith, G. T.; Walbank, F. W. (1972). A History of Macedonia. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
  • Sherwin-White, Adrian N. 1984. Roman foreign policy in the East 168 B.C. to A.D. 1. London: Duckworth.
  • Gruen, Erich S (1984). The Hellenistic World and the Coming of Rome. Berkeley ; London: University of California Press.
  • Eckstein, Arthur M. (2008). Rome Enters the Greek East: From Anarchy to Hierarchy in the Hellenistic Mediterranean, 230-170 B.C. Malden, MA. ; Oxford: Blackwell Publishing.
  • Dmitriev, Sviatoslav (2011). The Greek Slogan of Freedom and Early Roman Politics in Greece. Oxford ; New York: Oxford University Press.