Battle of Corinth (146 BC)
|Battle of Corinth|
|Part of The Achaean War|
Last day before the Roman legions looted and burned the Greek city of Corinth in 146 BC. The last day on Corinth, Tony Robert-Fleury, 1870
|Roman Republic||Achaean League|
|Commanders and leaders|
|Lucius Mummius Achaicus||Diaeus|
|Casualties and losses|
The Battle of Corinth of 146 BC was a decisive engagement fought between the Roman Republic and the Greek city-state of Corinth and its allies in the Achaean League. It resulted in the complete and total destruction of Corinth by a Roman army under the command of Lucius Mummius. The battle marked the end of the Achaean War and the beginning of the period of Roman domination in Greek history.
In 146 BC, the Romans finally defeated and destroyed their main rival in the Mediterranean, Carthage, and spent the following months in provoking the Greeks, aiming for a final battle that would also strengthen their hold in this area. Cassius Dio reported that it was the Achaeans (Greeks) who began the quarrel. In the winter of that year the Achaean League rebelled against Roman predominance in Greece. Marching from Macedonia, which had just been turned into a Roman province, the Romans defeated an Achaean army under Critolaos of Megalopolis at the Battle of Scarpheia. After the battle the Roman commander, Metellus put his army into winterquarters.
In 146 BC Lucius Mummius, the new Roman commander, with 23,000 infantry and 3,500 cavalry (probably two legions plus Italian allies) with Cretans and Pergamese allies, advanced into the Peloponnese against the revolutionary Achaean government. The Achaean general Diaeus camped at Corinth with 14,000 infantry and 600 cavalry (plus possibly some survivors of another army that had been defeated earlier). The Achaeans made a successful night attack on the camp of the Roman advance guard, inflicting heavy casualties.
Encouraged by this success they offered battle the next day but their cavalry, heavily outnumbered, did not wait to receive the Roman cavalry charge and instead rapidly dispersed. The Achaean infantry, however, held the legions until a picked force of 1,000 Roman infantry charged their flank and broke them and the Achaeans retreated with order inside the city walls. Some Achaeans took refuge in Corinth but no defense was organized because Diaeus fled to Arcadia.
Corinth was utterly destroyed in this year by the victorious Roman army and all of her treasures and art plundered. Much of the adult male population was put to the sword and the female population and children sold into slavery. The annihilation of Corinth, the same fate met by Carthage the same year, marked a severe departure from previous Roman policy in Greece.
While there is archaeological evidence of some minimal habitation in the years afterwards, Julius Caesar re-established the city as Colonia Laus Iulia Corinthiensis in 44 BC, shortly before his assassination.
The Destruction of Corinth, by Thomas Allom.
In popular culture
- The Battle of Corinth was the central event in the 1961 film The Centurion.
- Cassius Dio 21.31