Evidence of an independent Achaea? The League’s foreign policy during the Third Macedonian War (172-168 BC)
Ever since the Romans first set foot in the Eastern part of the Mediterranean in 229 BC, they steadily gained more and more influence within Hellenistic politics. This increased power created new alliances between Rome and several of the Greeks states such as the Achaean League in 198 BC. The relationship between these two states is a perfect example of the Greco-Roman interactions in this period in which Rome became increasingly more powerful in the Greek East. The Achaean League as the most important Greek state in the second century BC, was an important Roman ally in their wars against several of the Hellenistic monarchs until the Third Macedonian War (172-168 BC).
In this short paper I want to look at the League’s foreign policy during this war, since it marked a changing point in Rome’s relationship with the League. Within Achaean politics there had long been a divide on the position that had to be taken towards Rome: one section of Achaean politicians believed that the Achaean alliance with Rome had to dominate the Achaean political actions, while others believed that Achaean political independence was to be the most important political goal. During the Third Macedonian War, discussions are recorded by Polybius in which the Achaean politicians discuss their position in this conflict between Rome and the Macedonian King Perseus. I want to examine these discussions and see if Rome was really dominating the Achaean politics, as has been suggested in the past, or if there is evidence of an Achaea acting politically independent from Rome?