Quora Question: Why Did The Romans Not Destroy Greece the Way Destroyed Carthage?

The Romans had a lot more respect for the Greeks than they had for the Carthaginians. They had fought two long and bitter wars with Carthage and regarded them as enemies. There was no such animus in the Roman attitude toward the Greeks. The Greek language was prestigious and a Roman was not considered educated unless they were proficient in Greek. Most wealthy Romans relied upon Greek slaves or freedmen to tutor their children.

There were a number of prominent Romans who were considered Graecophiles, including Scipio Africanus, Titus Quinctius Flamininus, Lucius Aemilius Paullus, Scipio Aemilianus, and much later, the Emperor Hadrian.

On the other hand, the Romans were not always kind to the Greeks. After the Third Macedonian War, they enslaved the entire population of Epirus. And in 146 B.C. , the same year they destroyed Carthage, they also destroyed the Greek city of Corinth.

But there is also the fact that Carthage was a single city and, therefore much easier to destroy. There were other Phoenician cities in the area which were not destroyed, such as Utica and Tunis. While the Romans did destroy Corinth, it would have been a much more difficult project to destroy all of the various cities scattered about Greece. They probably thought that the Greeks would take the destruction of Corinth as an object lesson and fall into line.

To Quote the Greek Historian Polybius: “The ruin of Carthage is indeed considered to have been the greatest of calamities, but when we come to think of it the fate of Greece was no less terrible and in some ways even more so. For the Carthaginians at least left to posterity some ground, however slight, for defending their cause, but the Greeks gave no plausible pretext to anyone who wished to support them and acquit them of error. And again the Carthaginians, having been utterly exterminated by the calamity which overtook them, were for the future insensible of their sufferings, but the Greeks, continuing to witness their calamities, handed on from father to son the memory of their misfortune. So that inasmuch as we consider that those who remain alive and suffer punishment are more to be pitied than those who perished in the actual struggle, we should consider the calamities that then befell Greece more worthy of pity than the fate of Carthage, unless in announcing on the matter we discard all notion of what is decorous and noble, and keep our eyes only on material advantage. Everyone will acknowledge the truth of what I say if he recall what are thought to have been the greatest misfortunes that had befallen Greece and compares them with my present narrative.”

Evidently, the Roman conquest of Greece was not without pain.

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