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4 - Rome and Greece to 205 B.C.

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  28 March 2008

R. M. Errington
Affiliation:
Philipps-Universität, Marburg
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Summary

THE EARLIEST CONTACTS

The Romans had had state-to-state contacts, both friendly and unfriendly, with Greek communities and kings of the Greek world east of the Adriatic for many generations before the first trans-Adriatic military adventure in 229 B.C. At a different level, Italian traders were no strangers to the opposite coast of the Adriatic, and Greeks had maintained regular contacts with Italy even before the founding of the first permanent colony in Italy at Cumae in the mid eighth century B.C.; the Greeks of the colonial foundations of Italy had long been naval allies (socii navales); many Greek cities of Sicily were since 241 part of the first Roman province. Greek culture, the Greek language, the Greek way of life were thus all familiar to many, above all upper-class, Romans long before serious political engagement on the Balkan peninsula was even contemplated.

One must nevertheless beware of overemphasizing the nature and intensity of the earliest contacts with the eastern Greeks. Before 229 there was no Greek state east of Italy with which Rome had a contact which was more intense than amicitia – and amicitia was a global term for relationships which extended from the level of polite and distant friendliness to something approaching a recognition of common interests, in which case the relationship might conceivably be defined by a treaty. Amicitia could mean much or little; but for the eastern Greeks before 229 it meant without exception little.

At the religious and cultural level Rome was not above making a dedication in the Greek shrine at Delphi in 394, after her success at Veii. The dedication was made in the treasury of Massilia, which later claimed to have maintained a friendship with Rome since the Phocaean settlers put in at the mouth of the Tiber on their way to Massilia in the early sixth century.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 1989

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References

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