Year 196 BC was a year of the pre-Julian Roman calendar. At the time it was known as the Year of the Consulship of Purpureo and Marcellus (or, less frequently, year 558 Ab urbe condita). The denomination 196 BC for this year has been used since the early medieval period, when the Anno Dominicalendar era became the prevalent method in Europe for naming years.
A new category of Roman priests, the tresviri epulones, are elected to supervise the feasts of the gods; the first three men selected are Gaius Licinius Lucullus, Publius Manlius, and Publius Porcius Laeca.
At the Isthmian Games at Corinth, the Roman general and pro-consul Titus Quinctius Flamininus proclaims that all Greeks are to be free and governed by their own laws. For this deed he is hailed in many Greek cities as a saviour and accorded homage alongside the gods.
The Rosetta Stone is created. This stone is a Ptolemaic era stele written with the same text in two Egyptian language scripts (hieroglyphic and demotic) and in classical Greek. The translation of the Greek passage reveals that the inscription is a royal edict recording the benefits conferred on Egypt by the pharaoh Ptolemy V Epiphanes at the time of his coronation. This stone will provide the key to the hieroglyphic, or pictographic writing, of ancient Egypt and the decree on it reveals the increasing influence of Egyptian natives, remitted debts and taxes, released prisoners, pardoned rebels who have surrendered, and granted increased benefactions to the temples.
Antiochus III's army crosses the Hellespont into Thrace, where he claims sovereignty over territory that has been won by Seleucus I in 281 BC. A war of harassment and diplomacy with Rome ensues. The Romans send ambassadors demanding that Antiochus stay out of Greece and set free all the autonomous communities in Anatolia. To meet these demands would have meant Antiochus III giving up the western part of his Seleucid Empire. Thus Antiochus refuses the Romans' demands.