Which Seleukid King Was the First to Establish Friendship with the Romans? Reflections on a Fabricated Letter (Suet. Claud. 25.3), amicitia with Antiochos III (200–193 BC) and the Lack thereof with IlionTriangular Epistolary Diplomacy with Rome from Judas Maccabee to Aristobulos I
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Suetonius, Claud. 25.3 has preserved the summary of an obscure Roman letter to Seleucus Rex, offering him amicitia et societas in return for exempting the citizens of Ilion, their own ‘relatives’, from taxation. While previous generations of scholars had been inclined to reject this letter as a forgery (esp. HOLLEAUX 1921), more recently, its authenticity has been claimed, and the king been identified with Seleukos II Kallinikos (RIZZO 1974; GRUEN 1984), Seuleukos III Keraunos (GRAINGER 2002) or Antiochos III Megas (ERSKINE 2001). But neither Seleukos II nor III seems to have exerted effective control over Ilion to qualify. In the case of Antiochos III, he can be shown to have become an amicus populi Romani probably in 200 BC. Rome was then, however, concerned about the Ptolemaic and the Attalid Kingdoms. Moreover, it seems that Antiochos gained the loyalty of Ilion in 198 BC. When the Romans began to advocate the freedom of some Greek cities in 196 BC, the sources repeatedly specify Lampsakos and Smyrna, which defied the king, never Ilion. The later annalistic tradition presents a polished version of the relation between Rome and Ilion: the city figures among the allies in the peace treaty of Phoinike in 205 BC (LIV. 29.12.14); its citizens went over to Rome in the war with Antiochos, as soon as the first Roman commander C. Livius Salinator set foot on the Ilian coast early in 190 BC; Salinator and soon after him L. Scipio chose to sacrifice to Ilian Athena (LIV. 37.9.6f.; 37.37.1-3); and Ilion is rewarded at Apameia with immunity and territorial gains (LIV. 38.39.8). But this tradition is belied by the telling silence of Polybios and Strabon, Geogr. 13.1.27 (594f. C). The latter, in fact, specifies Caesar as the authority that granted tax exemption and a territorial extension. The second half of the 1st century BC thus emerges as the most likely time both for the upgrade of the pro-Ilion annalistic tradition and the fabrication of the Suetonian letter, which could be produced as uetus epistula in the days of Claudius.
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Altay Coskun (2019). Which Seleukid King Was the First to Establish Friendship with the Romans? Reflections on a Fabricated Letter (Suet. Claud. 25.3), amicitia with Antiochos III (200–193 BC) and the Lack thereof with IlionTriangular Epistolary Diplomacy with Rome from Judas Maccabee to Aristobulos I. UWSpace. http://hdl.handle.net/10012/18876