Talk:First Mithridatic War
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'Massacre' vs. 'genocide'
I changed 'genocide' to 'massacre.' I think we should guard against our contemporary tendency to call every large-scale massacre of a population 'genocide.' For one thing, the overuse of the term diminishes its usefulness; for another, it isn't accurate here. The word "genocide" was coined in the 1940s because circumstances required it; although there are earlier racialist policies of extermination to which it can be usefully applied (the first governor of California, for instance, stated "We will not rest until we exterminate them all", referring to those who populated the continent before the Europeans), it's almost always anachronistic in antiquity. One can argue that the institution of slavery and its economic "benefits" prevented genocide, because there was no reason to exterminate a population when it could be enslaved. In specific wartime circumstances when an entire town was slaughtered, this extreme action was meant to serve as an object lesson about the ability of the perpetrators to crush the enemy. It was not a racialist policy per se.
It appears to have been Mithridates's intention to rid the region of Romans, but it is not clear that he was calling for the extermination of all the Romans in the world. Or no more so than any general at war. I don't mean to make too fine a point. But as far as I know (and I could be wrong), this was a massacre confined to a single occasion for effect, not an action he implemented as policy for the long term. There's also a lack of understanding in the article as to Mithridates' options for addressing what he may have viewed as the economic exploitation of Asia by the negotiatores. The Social War and the Sullan civil wars meant that he could not count on dealing with a united Roman government that could keep its word, because of the factional to-and-fro between Sulla and the Marian-Cinnans. The timing of his actions exploited this division within Rome. To provide a more balanced perspective, one might also note that Mithridates could argue that he was on his home turf (as Ariovistus did, according to Caesar, at the beginning of the Gallic Wars), while the Romans were foreign expansionists in Asia. This is not to "take sides" either way, or to say who was right or justified (Mithridates can also be described as an expansionist), but the words "gruesome" and "racialist" strike me as crossing the neutrality line. Cynwolfe (talk) 15:11, 7 March 2009 (UTC)
'Aww, innocent Romans, victims of their own cruelty'
Definitely..biased by the original writer. Totally shows ignorance of what the Middle and Late Roman Republic period was all about. The Romans got a terrible reputation for massacre and exploitation during this time. In the Greek world, the massacres on Sicily during the FIRST PUNIC WAR, 250'sBC sent shockwaves through the Greek speaking world when the Romans really wrecked Magna Graecia. Sicily was the place where two huge slave revolts occured in the 100'sBC, the precursor to Spartacus. Than in the Hannibalic 2nd punic war, 220'sBC-200BC they sacked Syracuse, famously murdering unarmed scientist Archimedes in the process. They only showed restraint in 200BC-198BC in Greece fighting the first Macedonian war, but in the 2nd Macedonian war, the one that ended with Pydna in 167BC, they destroyed, massacred, looted, enslaved without pity. Polybius recorded all of this, as a Greek eyewitness to Roman cruelty. He was present at the sack of Carthage, which occured at the same year as the sack of Greek Corinth, the center of Greece, in 146BC. The most heinous episode recorded by Polybius and Plutarch involved relatively innocent Epirus, which had been ordered to bring all its gold to avoid massacre and enslavement, and than, Roman general Paulus let his soldiers loose anyway, enslaving at least 200,000. This was after looting the hell out of Macedonia and ending Macedonia as a nation forever, for being the main foe in this war against Rome. And it only got worse, as the murder and exploitation of Greeks by Romans accelerated with Roman victories
When they took over Asia from the last Attalid king, bequeated in a will, they really found a cash cow, making the Senate and Equite class ridiculously rich, and stripping whole regions of Pergamum and Asia minor of all moveable wealth and their freedom. Roman tax farmers, publicani, businessmen extorted the Greeks mercilessly, backed by the fury of the legions. When the legions were on the move in Greek territory, nobody was safe from the famine, rapine, and destruction. Roman Provincial rule was horrible, expoitative, violent during the middle Republic period, and it only got worse as the Civil Wars began. This was the grief and anger that was unleashed by Mithridates, who used the cruelty of the Romans as a rallying cry for Greeks of Asia and Greece to join his war. The Romans were the worst thing to happen to the Greeks, although Greece made a recovery, it took centuries.
Sulla destroyed Athens and burned the temples of Piraeus that were famed throughout the Hellenistic Era. Only when Augustus came along and brought some sense of justice, did Roman rule mean anything other than looting, rapine, murder and famine. This was why Augustus was worshipped as a God during his lifetime in the Greek East. This was what made the Empire last, when administration became somewhat humane, as Greeks began joining the legions and defended Rome, and earning citizenship. But none of this existed in the period in question, Roman barbarism and injustice is a main cause of the Mithridatic wars and the reason why any Greeks joined in the Asiatic vespers and why the Romans were massacred. Without understanding how Hitleresque Roman rule during the Middle and Late Republic 200BC-30BC, Its impossible to understand why the Mithridatic wars occurred. The sources exagerate the number of Italici killed to 80,000, which can only mean, if correct, that collaborating Greeks who joined the Romans in the wholesale looting of other Greeks were also thrown in. Rome had only been ruling Asia for a few decades, the amount of 80,000 is a sure exageration so Romans could justify the extreme cruelty shown when Asia was reconquered. The details of the 'Final Solution' which Rome unleashed when crushing the revolts of the Mithridatic wars have NOT survived, but were sufficiently well known that the Roman historians probably felt the need to omit, since they were writing at a later age when Greeks were Roman citizens, and would rather shed light on Greek cruelty rather than Roman cruelty. This was however, a very interesting time indeed, fun to read about, terrible to live through. However, it is important to mention...that Alexander the great was just as cruel, and many of his Hellenistic successors were equally as bad. And, just like the Romans, their actions did cause resentment among their subject populations, both Greek and non Greek. Ptolemaic Egyptians, hated their Greek foreign kings.
"The Roman Command Structure"
The section on "The Roman Command Structure" strikes me as too long and full of detailed inscriptional evidence that detracts from the main focus of the article. It's a valiant effort to make sense of this large cast of characters (and quite a lot of work to have put in!), but it's a lot to wade through for the general reader. Could I suggest a separate article called "Roman officers in the Mithridatic Wars"? This section could then be condensed and cross-referenced to that article. Cynwolfe (talk) 04:23, 6 March 2009 (UTC)
- Done. I made a new page and moved this whole exegis there. I linked to it so its not an orphan. Its like this, For the battle of the bulge article, would anybody want some shreds of German paperwork detailing whether 1st recon brigade of the 2nd SS panzer division would be in Malmedy on December 24th at 3pm? Its enough to make anybody close the book and never read about WWII again. I dont know who wrote it, and I wanted to delete it for the longest time, it sucks the life out of the article and destroys it, nobody cares about Greek inscriptions about Roman officers who arent even mentioned at all in the battles, they are reading about a war. I made a new page and moved it there, since the man that wrote it either put alot of work into writing it, or cut and pasted it from his own PHD thesis. I doubt anybody else THAT professional would be reading Wikipedia for prosopographical and numismatic analysis of Ancient History. MrMalax (talk) 13:53, 18 November 2009 (UTC) MrMalax
We're not done yet
We can't draw our own conclusions unless those are obvious but the one thing we can do is present. Besides the clean-up of the referencing I would say we still need work in presentation. Why is any given material in there? What is it trying to show and why? The detail has to support some thesis, otherwise it is not too comprehensible. The reader has to be able to follow the thread. Otherwise it is just he-said-she-said, like the material on command structure that was moved. What is the point of reading it? Why are we giving this gobbledeygook to the public? More conclusions, more connecting sentences, more explanation of whys and wherefores. You can quote the modern authors, you know. This article is not bad, but there is a distinction remaining to be made. The article treats Rome's gradual involvement in the affairs of Asia Minor as all Mithridatic War. The greater part of the article is not the Mithridatic War, which does not start until the Senate declares was on Mithridates. I guess I am being critical of the organization. The "Prelude" is everything leading up to the war. The war starts when Sulla as consul is assigned the task of undertaking the bellum Mithridaticum. Before then other officers have been assigned other tasks. I will be going more on this but not just yet.Botteville (talk) 09:36, 6 February 2018 (UTC)