Perseus Of Macedonia
PERSEUS OF MACEDONIA (b. c. 212 B.C.), the last king of Macedonia, son of Philip V., king of Macedonia, began at an early age to serve in his father's army, and distinguished himself by some successes against the baibarous nations which bordered on Macedonia. His younger brother Demetrius was carried away as a hostage by (lie consul Klamininius at the time of the peace between Rome and Phi.ip, and after remaining several years at Rome, where he won the favour of the senate, was sent back to Macedonia. After a time he was again sent by his father to Rome, on a mission, in consequence of fresh disagreements which had sprung up between the two slates. Demetrius succeeded in maintaining peace, but after his return to Macedonia, he was accused of ambitious designs, of aspiring to the crown, and of being in secret correspondence with Rome. Perseus, who was jealous of him, supported the charges, and Philip doomed his younger son to death, but not daring to have him openly executed, for fear of the Romans, he caused him to be poisoned. It is said that having discovered his innocence, his remorse and his indignation against Perseus hastened his death. Perseus ascended the throne in the year 179 lie.
Perseus had been brought upby his father with sentiments of hatred against the Romans for the humiliation which they had inflicled upon Macedonia; however, he dissembled his feelings at the beginning of his reign, and confirmed the treaty existing between liis father and the senate. But he soon began to prepare himself for war. and he endeavoured to form alliances with the slates of Greece, and especially with the AcliBcans. The senate, hearing of this, sent legates to Macedonia to examine the state of affairs. Eumenes, king of Pergamus, a staunch ally of the Romans, was also closely watching the doings of Perseus, and he even went to Rome to report to the senate the hostile preparations of the Macedonians. On his return from Italy, as he was going to visit the temple of Delphi, an attempt was made upon his life by assassins hired by Perseus. Eumenes escaped, and the Roman senate declared Perseus to be ihe enemy of Rome, B.C. 172. Tiie consul P. Licinius was appointed to proceed with an army to Macedonia. At the same time commissioners were sent to Greece to exhort the allies of the Romans to join in the impending struggle against Perseus. Perseus had a conference with Q. Marcius, one of the commissioners, who granted him a truce, during which the king might send ambassadors to Home to plead his cause. When the commissioners returned to Rome, ihey boasted of having deceived Perseus by holding out the hope of peace, in order to give time to Rome to prepare for war, whilst the delay could only be of disadvantage to the king, whose army was ready to take the field. Some of the older senators are said to have disapproved of this conduct as more deserving of ihe name of Punic than of Roman faith, but the majority of the senate, ' who cared more for what was advantageous than Vol. XVII.—3 O for what was honest,' supported tho commissioners. (Livy, xlii. 47.) The legates of Perseus, after being heard by the senate, were dismissed without any satisfactory answer. Licinius, on arriving in Thessaly, 171 B.C., mtt the army of Perseus on the hanks of the Pencils, hut only partial engagements took place, in one of which the Roman cavalry was defeated, hut in another it had the advantage, after which both armies went into winter-quarters. The following year, 170 B.C., scorns to have been spent by both parties in preparations and desultory engagements. The consul Hostilius Mancinus made some attempts to enter Macedonia from Thessaly, but did not succeed. His legate AppiusClaudius, being sent to Lychuidus in Illyria, attempted to surprise a town called Usrana, which was held by Perseus, but he was foiled, with the loss of most of his men. Meantime the exactions of the Roman prastois Lucretius and Hortensius had indisposed several of the cities of Greece against Rome, and produced a feeling favourable to Perseus. Those officers plundered Chains in Euboca, a town allied to Rome, and allowed their soldiers to abuse the wives and children of the citizens. A citizen of Chalcis, who came to Rome to complain, said it had been found much safer to shut the gates against the Roman pnetors than to receive them, for those who had shut their gates had escaped unhurt, whilst the allies of Rome were plundered. The people of Abdera, being required to furnish a heavy contingent of money and corn for the army, asked for a respite, but Hortensius entered the town, beheaded the principal citizens, and sold the rest as slaves. Envoys being sent to Rome by those unfortunate cities, the senate ordered the Abderites to bo restored to liberty, and Lucretius, being summoned to Rome, was tried before the tribes, and fined a million of ases. (Livy, xliii. 4, 7, 8.) The Roman commissioners to the friendly stales of Epirus, ./Klolia, and Achoca, acted with less disregard to appearances, but with equal dishonesty. Those stuies, like all weak countries that submit to the dictates of a powerful stranger under the specious name of alliance, were divided into two parties: one willing to keep on friendly terms with Rome, but still mindful of their national honour and independence; the other servilely devoted to Rome. The leaders of the latter party sought the favour of the Roman consuls and pra'tors by accusing those whose views were not the same as their own, of being secret enemies of Rome. Some of the persons thus accused were summoned or in other words transported to Rome, to await the pleasure of the senate.
In the next year, 169 B.C., the new consul Q- Marcius came to take the command of the army against Perseus. He entered Macedonia unopposed, and look possession of the town of Dium, but Dueling it difficult to get supplies for his army, he withdrew to the frontiers ofThessaly, retaining possession however of the strong defile of Dium, which commanded the entrance of Macedonia on thai side. On this occasion, Polybius, with others of his countrymen, being sent by the Achieans to offer their assistance to the consul, remained some time with the Roman army.
In the year 168 tie, Paulus .liuiilius was sent to command the army against Macedonia. He passed the mountains from Thessaly and advanced to Pydno, where he met Perseus with his army. The Romans found means to break through the Macedonian phalanx, and a frightful confusion and butchery followed, in which 2»,000 Macedonians are said lo have lost their lives. This single battle decided the fate of a powerful and autient kingdom ; all Macedonia submitted to the Romans. Perseus tied, almost alone, without waiting for the end of the l>atlle. He went first to Pella, the ontienl scat of the Macedonian kings, then to Amphipolis, and from thence lo I he island of Sumolhrace, whose asylum was considered inviolable. Thence he attempted toescape by sea to Thrace; but a Cretan master of a vessel, after having shipped purt of his treasures, sailed away, leaving the king on the shore. The king's attendants having also forsaken him except one, Perseus, with his eldest Sun Philip, came out of tliu temple where ho had taken refuge, and surrendered to the Romans. He was treated at first by .Emilius with considerate indulgence, but was obliged to parade the streets of Rome with his children, to grace the triumph of his conqueror. He was ulterwaids confined, by order of the senate, ul Alba in the mountains of the Mursi, near the laliu Fucinus, where he died in a few years. His sou Philip also died at Alba. Another and a younger son is said to have become a scribe or writer to the munctpalily of Alba.
Note - this article incorporates content from The Penny Cyclopaedia of the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge (1840)