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Rome and the Third Macedonian War, by Paul J. Burton

Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 2017. Pp. xii, 344. Maps, tables, appends., notes, biblio., index. $99.99. ISBN: 1107104440.

The Fall of Hellenistic Macedon

In his new work on the Third Macedonian War (172-168 BC), Burton (National University of Australia) incorporates material not available when the last scholarly work on the subject appeared nearly 70 years ago, drawing on Armenian sources and scholarship in the intervening years, while providing critique of the ancient sources and modern accounts of the war.

After an introductory chapter, Burton opens with a chapter reviewing the deep background of the war, covering relations between Rome and Macedon from earliest times, including the origins and events of desultory First Macedonian War (214-205 BC), which the Romans fought in parallel with their great struggle against Hannibal, and the decisive Second War (192-188 BC), which turned King Philip V into a firm ally of the Romans. After a chapter on the waning years of Philipís reign, Burton covers the accession and early years of the reign of his son Perseus (r. 179-168 BC), followed by a detailed discussion of the origins of the Third War.

The events of the Third Macedonian War are covered in considerable detail in a single chapter, in which Burton not only gives the reader a narrative of the course of events, with troop movements and battle pieces, but also delves into terrain analysis and logistics. Thereís an excellent account of the great Battle of Pydna, the final clash between phalanx and legion, and an interesting account of Perseusís fate; after marching in the triumph of Lucius Aemillius Paulus, he was retired to a villa in Italy, and his children later became Roman citizens.

Burton concludes with a discussion of the causes of the eventual Roman annexation of Macedon, two decades after the defeat of Perseus. He argues cogently, if contrary to other scholars, that the Romans were genuinely reluctant to acquire territories east of the Adriatic, preferring ties of friendship with the Illyrians, Greeks, and Macedonians. Having found themselves drawn into war with Macedonia due to Perseusí ambitions, the failure of their postwar arrangements in region led ultimately to further intervention.

Although very scholarly, with extensive -- and often interesting -- footnote, Rome and the Third Macedonian War is a worthwhile read for anyone with an interest in the Roman Republic.

 

Note: Rome and the Third Macedonian War is also available as an eBook, $80.00, ISBN 978-1-1085-4821-2, and in several other e-editions.

 

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Reviewer: A. A. Nofi, Review Editor   


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