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Titus Flamininus – Liberator of the Greeks

Greek Parallel – Philopoemen

Important People

Philip V – The second-to-last Macedonian king because the Romans play fair in this generation and allow Philip to remain on the throne even after soundly defeating him in battle twice. Philip also has to give up over-lordship of Greece which allows Titus to declare them free.

Antiochus III – Antiochus swoops in when he sees an opportunity and tries to market himself as a liberator for the Greeks. The way Plutarch paints it, no one buys what Antiochus is selling and the Romans defeat him too, though Titus Flamininus isn’t involved in that victory.

Hannibal – The Romans expand into Asia Minor with their influence and power. In so doing, Hannibal, exiled from Carthage

Important Places

Battle of Aous –

Battle of Cynoscephalae –

Key Vices and Virtues

  • Ambitious – φιλοτιμότατος δὲ καὶ φιλοδοξότατος – the first implies a love of honor while the second implies a love of glory. This brings with it the question: how does honor differ from glory? Is the latter longer-lasting and the former more present-focused. If I only care about what my peers think, am I obsessed then with honor. That may be one. Another could be that honor has physical aspects to it whereas glory is entirely intangible. I think this because τιμή is also the Greek word for price. Most of us can (and do) judge price by the look or feel of the thing, some of its tangible attributes.
  • τήν ὄψιν φιλανθρώπῳ (cf. Section 5) – humane in look – Can one look like a philanthropist? Plutarch thinks so.
  • φωνήν τε καὶ διάλεκτον Ἕλληνι – Greek in voice and language – This is a compliment. A Greek calls a Roman Greek!
  • τιμῆς ἀληθοῦς ἐραστῇ – lover of true honor – Back to honor. Not only is there honor vs. glory, but not all honor is worthy of pursuit!

Section 17 –

  • bitterness (πικρός)
  • hastiness (ὀξὺς)
  • levity (κοῦφος)

C. 1 – Character and Early Experience

[Interesting name: Plutarch makes no note of this, but in a series of lives where he has been emphasizing the role of religion, Flamininus’s name comes from the highest priest of the flamines, the three colleges that Plutarch traces back to Numa—one for Jupiter, one for Mars, and one for Romulus—his grandfather held the flamen dialis, the one for Jupiter.

By the Circus Flamininus, his statue still stands (in Plutarch’s time). Quick to anger and to favors, but not equally. Common trope, as a ambitious man eager for glory, he preferred friends to whom he could give something rather than those from whom he could receive something. He was military tribune under Marcellus (Marcellus Outline), where he earned a good name for justice on and off the field of battle. In charge of Tarentum and trusted to be in charge of colonization of Narnia (C.S. Lewis!) and Cosa (later Cusa, where Nicolas of Cusa was from?).

C. 2 – Persuasion Over Force

Bolstered by his political success outside of Rome, he skips the other offices of the Cursus Honorum (tribune, praetor, aedile… not mention of quaestor) and runs for consul. This enrages his elders who think he needs more experience and shouldn’t go against custom (παρὰ τοὺς νόμους – some translations say laws… we should keep in mind this doesn’t necessarily mean written laws). The Senate allows the people to vote and in 198 BC, he is elected consul. They send him against Macedonia and both his military skill as well as his diplomatic skill come in handy there. Philip V needed the support of his Greek poleis and if Titus could lure them away, Philip could more easily be defeated. Greece had had little contact with Romans before this, and so Titus has the chance to make an impression for justice, peace, and truth.

C. 3 – War with Macedon

Background: Macedon had allied itself with Carthage, and the Romans wouldn’t allow Philip V to go unpunished for this.

His predecessors in the war had acted slowly, dallying too long in Rome before setting out. He appointed his brother Lucius as naval commander, and took Scipio’s veterans from Spain and N. Africa (those still young enough to serve: 3K). He arrived safely in Epirus (contrast with Pyrrhus Outline going in the opposite direction). The two armies are at a standoff in a deep and narrow valley dominated by a swift and powerful river.

C. 4 – Strategy Against Philip in the Heights of Epirus

His plan is not to go around by easier, but less fertile roads, but to force himself through this narrow opening. After a few costly skirmishes, some shepherds inform Titus of unguarded paths that would outflank Philip on the heights. Splitting his troops, he sends one contingent around to meet on the third day and surround the enemy. Titus starts battle on the first day fighting uphill and eventually, the other contingent arrives and surrounds the enemy on the rough and steep terrain.

C. 5 – The Greeks’ Impression

Now the Macedonians try to flee but have nowhere to run, for the easiest flight is downhill into the Roman weapons. Even after conquering Epirus in this way, the Roman soldiers showed great restraint and didn’t lay waste or plunder the country. Titus had learned that Philip was pursuing a scorched earth policy in his retreat through Thessaly, and he wanted to establish a reputation as a just conqueror who would not touch what was not his. When they reached Thessaly, the cities all switched sides and all the Greek cities were excited to hear of his coming. The Achaean League left Philip’s alliance and joined the Romans. Pyrrhus had seen nothing barbaric in Roman discipline, when first glimpsing the Roman troops from afar (Pyrrhus Outline 16.5). The Greeks speak similarly of Titus. They eventually see him as a “champion of their liberties” (ἡγεμόνα τῆς ἐλευθερίας). In peace talks with Philip, Titus asks for the freedom of the Greek cities, but Philip will not accept. This makes clear to the Greeks that the Romans had arrived to make war on the Macedonians FOR the Greeks.

C. 6 – Titus in Thebes

The Thebans welcome Titus like the rest of Boeotia, but one Brachyllas is still in sympathy with Philip. Titus, though accompanied by soldiers, does not act as if he already owns Thebes but speaks before the assembled Thebans to convince them to ally with the Romans. [Also, some King Attalus supports him but is old, faints, and later dies]. [Is this the Attalus from Asia Minor who bequeaths his kingdom to the Romans?]

C. 7 – In Alexander’s Shadow

A year elapsed and Titus sent an embassy to the Senate to ask for another year to prosecute the war, or the right to settle the peace so that all the honor would be his (cf. Pompey who steals the limelight from both Crassus and Lucullus by showing up at the end). His numbers bolstered by the Greek allies, and permission once more given by the Senate, he closes in on Philip again near Scotussa [WHERE?] (same battlefield where Pelopidas Outline 32.#). The Romans excited at the opportunity to defeat an army who inherited the greatness and tactics of Alexander. The Macedonians were equally glad, considering the Romans superior tot he Persians and thus able to prove themselves better than Alexander’s men.

C. 8 – The Weaknesses of the Phalanx – Cynocephalae

The day starts with a thick mist, through which the Romans and Macedonians attempt to fight. As the fog clears, Philip’s phlanax on the right crushes the Romans, but the part on rough ground (the left flank) can’t keep its force together. Plutarch analyzes the strength, which is also the weakness, of the phalanx. The depth and unity of the shields and spears augments the force that hits the enemy. As individual fighters, however, they are nearly useless as their arms and shields are too heavy and cumbersome to use in close fighting. As the left side of the phalanx is dispatched, the Romans can then turn and fight the right side from two sides, thus putting them to flight. Philip escapes but thousands of his Macedonians are dead and the Romans clearly won the battle.

C. 9 – Philip Sues for Peace; Hannibal’s Return?

The Aetolian league (technically allied with the Romans) had sacked the Roman camp while the Romans finished the pursuit of the Macedonians. On top of that, the Aetolians were claiming to the rest of the Greeks that they were the ones primarily responsible for the victory. As Titus continues to prosecute the war, the Aetolians annoyed that he doesn’t crush Philip. Rather, he gives him the Macedonian kingdom back, demanding 1000 talents and that Philip leave the Greek cities alone. Hannibal turns up in the court of King Antiochus, who had already developed a particular dislike for the Romans. Thus Plutarch says that peace with Philip was ideal and opportune.

C. 10 – Greek Freedom

Still worried about enemies in the Eastern Mediterranean (not least the two already mentioned), the Senate recommends that Titus free all the Greek cities and keep a garrison in Corinth, Demetrias (the gulf above Euboea, Pagasean Gulf), and Chalcis (controls the straits (euripus) Euboea and the mainland). [basically all three have strategic access to important ports, for trade and military maneuver, that would allow for control of Greece]. Philip had supposedly called these three cities the shackles of Greece. The Aetolians continue to rail against Titus, calling his shackle smoother but heavier, or joking that it had moved from their foot to their neck. The announcement is made at the Isthmian Games (why these and not the Olympic? I have some thoughts… primarily these ones are closer to Corinth and thus will show the good will). Even though the trumpet had blown and asked for silence, the Greeks aren’t sure of the announcement of their freedom so the herald has to repeat himself a second time. Then the crowd goes wild, sending up a shout that kills birds dead and they fall into the stadium.

Giuseppe Sciuti – Tito Quinto da la Liberta ai greci (1879) – Source

C. 11 – Celebration and Reflection

The crowd also rushes upon Titus, who had the foresight to begin removing himself even as the proclamation was being repeated. As they celebrate, they realize how little they had to contribute to this great gift of freedom, especially compared to their past sacrifices. They conclude that the rarest of all blessings is a just man. So many men win battles, but so few do it to restore right and justice. Plutarch points out that, with a handful of exceptions, most Greek wars were fought to further enslave herself. The Romans had undergone more hardships to rescue the Greeks.

C. 12 – Titus Fulfills his Promises

Titus makes good on his promise with a long list of the places from which he banishes Macedonian garrisons, calls back exiles, brokers peace in a bickering city. Titus ends up dedicating silver shields at Delphi to boast of how the gods have helped this “descendant of Aeneas” bring about freedom for the Greeks. He further dedicates a golden crown for Apollo and the Romans continued to grow in their reputation for virtuous and just dealings, so that kings and refugees often invited them in for help. Rome grew not only in conquest, but also in the arts of peace and good governance. Brief mention of Nero doing the same thing as Titus, probably too soon to mock Nero or just no reason to do so in this instance.

C. 13 – Glory, Gifts, and Philopoemen?

Titus wasn’t all perfect, though. In his war with the Spartan tyrant Nabis, he sues for peace and leaves Sparta to themselves, either because he didn’t want his replacement to outshine him by conquering Sparta, or because he was fed up with Philopoemen’s success. Philo had won renown from both his enemies and his allies, making Titus envious though he had conquered more. The best gift the Greek bestowed on Titus was freeing the 1200 Romans who had been sold into slavery during the wars with Hannibal. Dressed as freemen in the hats of libertini, they marched behind Titus’s triumphal chariot as freemen once again unconquered.

C. 14 – Titus in Triumph

The specifics of the money that poured into Roman coffers from Macedonian conquest. Eventually, Titus arranges for Philip to be more of an ally of the Romans, and they even return his son, whom they’d taken as a hostage to guarantee the treaty.

C. 15 – The Rise and Fall of Antiochus

But, in the wake of Philip’s defeat, King Antiochus arrives in Greece around 192 BC. Also styling himself a liberator, he encourages the Greek cities to revolt from Roman rule. Plutarch asserts that the Greeks were already free. Sometimes, just at the sight of Titus, a Greek city would revert back to Roman allegiance. Antiochus was defeated in battle at Thermopylae, in part thanks to a stroke from a young captain who would later be called Cato the Elder (cf. Cato Outline). Titus tries to keep both the Macedonian allies and his Roman consul Manius from being too harsh and extracting more treasure from the Greeks.

C. 16 – Antiochus in Calchis

Antiochus, old as he is, marries a young girl from Chalcis [in Euboea, across from the Euripus – one of the locations Philip had earlier called the manacles of Greece]. Manius, enraged, marches on Chalcis likely with the intent to destroy it for its perfidious alliance with Antiochus. Titus tries to calm him down. In Plutarch’s time, one could still see the inscriptions of gymnasia and delphinia (what is this?) to “Titus and Heracles” or “Titus and Apollo.” The Chalcidians to Plutarch’s day would still elect a priest of the cult of Titus, and Plutarch quotes a snippet of the hymn of praise to Titus. The key words are “We revere the Roman faith, and hail, Titus out savior!” (Ῥωμαίων τε πίστιν… ὦ Τίτε σῶτερ).

θʼ ἅμα Ῥωμαίων

τε πίστιν

ἰήϊε Παιάν, ὦ Τίτε σῶτερ.

C. 17 – The Power of Words

He seems to have promoted good will (εὔνοια) in all who came to know him. Even those he resented—like Philopoemen or Diophanes—he limited himself to bold language in free debate and never boiled over into violent or intemperate action. (ἐν λόγῳ παρρησίαν τινὰ πολιτικὴν), able to express a graceful thing with force (ἐπίχαρις μετὰ δεινότητος). He told the Achaeans, who wanted to acquire the island of Zakynthos, that the Peloponnesians shouldn’t stick their heads out of their Peloponnesian shell. His retort to Philip during their first meeting for peace was BOLD—when Philip comments that Titus brought so many attendants and Philip came alone, Titus reminds him that he has killed his friends and kin, so of course he was alone (like every tyrant ends up).

C. 18 – Titus as Censor; Titus’s Brother…

Titus elected censor in 189 BC and, after ejecting four Senators from the Senate, he added many to freeborn men to the citizen rolls and choosing Scipio as the highest-ranking Senator, over Cato the Elder. Cato also disliked him for something his brother did. His brother, to please a lover, had a prisoner executed in front of all of his party guests. Plutarch examines the evidence and the variously-reported details of the story.

C. 19 – Cato the Censor

Five years later, when Cato is elected Censor, he expels Lucius and Titus. Titus admits ignorance to what happened at the banquet and Cato tells the story before the people. Lucius can’t defend himself, but Titus still makes himself Cato’s political enemy, after coming back into the Senate. (Cato the Elder 19.2; Livy 39.44). Plutarch disapproves of Titus’s behavior here as worthy neihter of a good man nor a good citizen (εὖ καὶ πολιτικῶς). Lucius eventually publicly allowed to sit with the Senators in the theater (not clear he was ever accepted back into the ranks of the Senate).

C. 20 – Hannibal’s End

Titus shined brightly when given military leadership, but in old age he didn’t know when to stop. Hannibal had returned to Carthage, but was going to be put on trial for his life for the way he conducted the war in Italy. He fled Carthage and became a guest of King Antiochus in Asia Minor. After the Romans defeat King Antiochus at the battle of Magnesia, they demand that Antiochus turn over Hannibal as part of the negotiations. Hannibal flees again to Bithynia, with another minor Greek king, Prusias. Titus had been sent to Prusias to conduct other business for Rome, Titus was incensed that an enemy of Rome was still alive. Hannibal had built his house with underground exits, but found his passages blocked and tried to kill himself. One story, he orders a slave to choke him with his own cloak. Some say he drank bull’s blood like Themistocles (cf. Life of Themistocles 31). But Livy says he had poison at the ready and reminds the Romans what a shameful sort of victory this is… how far they have fallen since Fabricius once warned Pyrrhus about the doctor who wanted to kill him (cf. Life of Pyrrhus 21.1-3).

C. 21 – Lessons from Hannibal’s Death

Many Senators hated Titus’s actions toward Hannibal. Contrasts even more strongly with the still-living Scipio who had treated Hannibal humanely after defeating him in pitched battle and never demanding he be turned over by the Carthaginians. (cf. Lee and Grant at Appomatox). We are told one story where Scipio and Hannibal met again at Ephesus, as Hannibal had already fled from Carthage at that point. Hannibal gave himself the more important position as they walked together and at dinner they discussed who was the greatest general, after Alexander. Hannibal ranks himself third after Alexander and Pyrrhus. Scipio asks but what if you’d beaten me? Then Hannibal would put himself first. Plutarch exmaines the evdence for Titus being more cautious. The Romans had other foes who rose again after being beaten and treated with clemency (Aristonicus and Mithridates). “Change, like life, only ends with death” (proverbial wisdom from Plutarch). And so, on that note, we should notice that Titus’s death was a peaceful one (in sharp contrast to Hannibal’s which seems to overshadow the hasty end of this short biography).

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