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A History of Rome to 565 A. D. by Boak

A young chieftain of the Cherusci


Until

the last year of the war in Illyricum the Germanic tribes had remained quiet under Roman overlordship. But in 9 A. D., provoked by the attempt of the new Roman commander, Publius Quinctilius Varus, to subject them to stricter control, they united to free themselves from foreign rule. In the coalition the Cherusci and Chatti were the chief peoples, and Arminius, a young chieftain of the Cherusci, was its leading spirit. Varus and his army of three legions were surprised on the march in the Teutoberg Forest and completely annihilated. Rome was in panic over the news, but the Germans did not follow up their initial success. Tiberius was again sent to the post of danger and vindicated the honor of Rome by two successful expeditions across the Rhine. But no attempt was made to recover permanently the lost ground. The frontier of the Elbe was given up for that of the Rhine with momentous consequences for the future of the empire and of Europe. The coast peoples, however, remained Roman allies and a narrow strip of territory was held on the right bank of the Rhine. The reason lay in the weakness of the Roman military organization, caused by the strain of the Illyrian revolt and the difficulty of finding recruits for the Roman legions among the Italians. The cry of Augustus, "Quinctilius Varus, give back my legions," gives the clue to his abandonment of Germany.

*The eastern frontier.* In the East alone was Rome confronted by a power which was in any

way a match for her military strength and which had disastrously defeated two Roman invasions. The conquest of this, the Parthian kingdom, appeared to Augustus to offer no compensation comparable to the exertions it would entail and therefore he determined to rest content with such a reassertion of Roman supremacy in the Near East as would wipe out the shame of the defeats of Crassus and Antony and guarantee Roman territory from Parthian attack. He was prepared to accept the natural frontier of the Euphrates as the eastern boundary of Roman territory. Between the Roman provinces in Asia Minor and the upper Euphrates lay a number of client kingdoms, Galatia, Pontus, Cappadocia and Lesser Armenia, and Commagene. At the death of Amyntas, king of Galatia, in 25 B. C., his kingdom was made into a province, but the others were left under their native dynasts. Across the Euphrates lay Armenia, a buffer state between the Roman possessions and Parthia, which was of strategic importance because it commanded the military routes between Asia Minor and the heart of the Parthian country. To establish a protectorate over Armenia was therefore the ambition of both Rome and Parthia. During the presence of Augustus in the East (22-19 B. C.), Tiberius placed a Roman nominee on the Armenian throne, and received from the Parthian king, Phraates IV, the Roman standards and captives in Parthian hands, a success which earned Augustus the salutation of _imperator_ from his troops. Later Phraates sent four of his sons as hostages to Rome. But the Roman protectorate over Armenia was by no means permanent; its supporters had soon to give way to the Parthian party. Gaius Caesar between 1 B. C. and 2 A. D. restored Roman influence, but again the Parthians got the upper hand and held it until 9 A. D., when Phraates was overthrown and was succeeded by one of his sons whom Augustus sent from Rome at the request of the Parthians.

*Judaea and Arabia.* To the south of the Roman province of Syria lay the kingdom of Judaea, ruled by Herod until his death in 4 B. C., when it was divided among his sons. Subsequently Judaea proper was made a province administered by a Roman procurator. To the east of the Dead Sea was the kingdom of the Nabataean Arabs, who controlled the caravan routes of the Arabian peninsula and who were firm Roman allies. With their aid a Roman army under Aelius Gallus in 25 B. C. sought to penetrate into the rich spice land of Arabia Felix, but suffered such losses in its march across the desert that it was forced to return without effecting a conquest. At the same time Gaius Petronius defeated the Ethiopians under Queen Candace and secured the southern frontier of Egypt. Through the ports of Egypt on the Red Sea a brisk trade developed with India, from which distant land embassies on various occasions came to Augustus. Further west in Africa, Augustus added the kingdom of Numidia to the province of Africa, and transferred its ruler, Juba II, whose wife was Cleopatra, daughter of Antony the triumvir, to the kingdom of Mauretania (25 B. C.).


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