Text #9498

"First Mithridatic War", in Wikipedia.

In Bithynia Mithridates received a radical and strange piece of advice from a prominent Greek philosopher at his court, Metrodoros of Skepsis, who was known as ho misoromaios (the Roman-hater) on account of the extremity of his anti-Roman sentiments. Metrodoros suggested that in order to bind the communities of the Roman province to the Pontic cause the king should arrange for the extermination of all Romans in the province without regard to age or sex and force the participation of all the Greek civic authorities, thus shaking off Roman rule permanently and irrevocably.

Soon after securing control of the province in about early April Mithridates proceeded with his plans. The massacre was carefully planned and co-ordinated to take the victims by surprise, in every community and all at once. In writing to all the civic authorities of the province, detailing the measures to be taken, the king stipulated that the killings were to be carried out exactly one month after the date of his letter. The date in question is not recorded but fell around early May 88 BC. What took place on that day profoundly affected Roman/Hellenistic relations. Appian states that 80,000 Romans and Italians were killed in these “Asiatic Vespers”.

At this point, Mithridates finished capturing Asia Minor and established a presence in Greece. Archelaus was sent to Greece, where he established Aristion as a tyrant in Athens.

The Romans quickly declared war. In 87 BC, Consul Lucius Cornelius Sulla, landed in Epirus (western Greece), and marched on Athens. The course of Sulla’s expedition has been pieced together through inscriptions (see: Roman Command Structure during First Mithridatic War). Marching into Attica through Boeotia, Sulla found the immediate allegiance of most of its cities, foremost among them Thebes. Most of the Peloponnese would soon follow after a victory mentioned by Pausanias (1.20.5) and Memnon (22.11). Athens, nevertheless, remained loyal to Mithridates, despite a bitter siege throughout the winter of 87/6. Sulla captured Athens on March 1, 86 BC, but Archelaus evacuated Piraeus, and landed in Boeotia, where he was defeated at the Battle of Chaeronea - notably the same site where Philip II of Macedon and a young Alexander the Great defeated combined Athenian and Theban resistance 250 years earlier, securing Macedonian supremacy.

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