Achaea (Roman province)


Achaea (Roman province)

Achaea was a province of the Roman Empire, consisting of the modern-day Peloponnese in southern Greece and bordered on the north by the provinces of Epirus and Macedonia. The region was annexed to the Roman Republic in 146 BC after a brutal campaign, in which the city of Corinth was razed by the Roman general Lucius Mummius, its inhabitants slaughtered or sold into slavery, and the temples looted for sculpture for Roman villas. L. Mummius was awarded the cognomen "Achaicus" as "conqueror of Achaea" for his actions.

For 60 years, Greece was competently administered by Rome, as a Senatorial province. Some cities, such as Athens and Sparta, even retained their self-governing status within their own territories. Then, in 88 BC, Mithridates VI Eupator, king of Pontus, began a campaign against Rome and won the support of many of the Greek city-states. Roman legions under Lucius Cornelius Sulla forced Mithridates out of Greece and crushed the rebellion, sacking Athens in 86 BC and Thebes the following year. Sulla's depredations on Greek works of art were notorious. Roman punishment of all the rebellious cities was heavy, and the campaigns fought on Greek soil left the heart of central Greece in ruins. The commerce of Achaea was no longer a rival to that of Rome. Athens did remain a respected intellectual center, though it was outshone by Alexandria.

After the defeat of Antony and Cleopatra, about 31 BC, the Emperor Augustus separated Macedonia from Achaea. Over the next century and a half Greece would slowly rebuild, culminating during the reign of the Hellenophile emperor Hadrian (117 - 138). Along with the Greek scholar Herodes Atticus, Hadrian undertook an extensive rebuilding program. He beautified Athens and restored many of the ruined and depressed Greek cities.

Economy

Copper, lead, and iron mines were exploited in Achaea, though production was not as great as the mines of other Roman-controlled areas, such as Noricum, Britannia, and the provinces of Hispania. Marble from Greek quarries was a valuable commodity. Educated Greek slaves were much in demand in Rome in the role of doctors and teachers, and educated men were a significant export. Achaea also produced household luxuries, such as furniture, pottery, cosmetics, and linens. Greek olives and olive oil were exported to the rest of the Empire.

ee also

*History of Roman and Byzantine Greece
*Roman province


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