This book is the second in a series. Each of its volumes is dedicated to a part of the Roman Empire, and describes the way in which the Romans got involved in adding it to their ever growing sphere of influence. I use the word 'involved' on purpose, because (as Mr. Matyszak clearly points out) the Romans have played any role from avid aggressor to very reluctant bystander and every other possible one in between while enlarging their empire.
Mr. Matyszak describes how the Romans had contacts with the Greek speaking world from a very early date, and over the years got more acquainted with them - and vice versa. Especially the first conflict between Rome and Carthage opened the eyes of the Greek world. In an entertaining way, Mr. Matyszak throws light on the various stages of the ever deepening conflict between the inhabitants of Greece proper and Macedonia on one side and the Romans on the other. What with all the squabbling between them, the Greeks almost never formed a united front against any aggressor (not even against the Persians). There always was a reason to be found not to take part in an alliance, because a former enemy or such was to be part of it too. It was up to Macedonia to be the most coherent force for the Romans to reckon with. Under its leader Philip V, a curious mix of attack, defense and diplomacy marked the fortunes of Macedonia in the early years of the second century BC. His son Perseus tried to emulate his father, but the Roman juggernaut was unstoppable. With their usual refusing to give up, the Romans pressed on, and after some tactical blunders and some luck on the Roman side, things quite suddenly came to an end. Greece was de facto Roman, though some embers kept smouldering and flared up now and then, to be permanently exstinguished in 146 with the destruction of Corinth.
All this stuff Mr. Matyszak presents to us in a very attractive way. The book is well researched, the conclusions he reaches are very reasoned, and above all he tells his story with a certain amount of light humour. This in no way distracts from the story told. On the contrary, the readability of the book becomes even greater.
Nevertheless, let's nog forget that in reality what this history tells us, is a tale of countless people killed, wounded and enslaved; of lots and lots of towns, villages and homes destroyed and plundered; and of an ever growing Rome feeding on the blood and goods of the conquered.
But what a story! And Mr. Matyszak tells it superbly. Only one comment: perhaps a finer editorial comb could have removed the remaining typo's.
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