REVOLTS IN ISAURIA DURING THE HELLENISTIC Mustafa Arslan... Hellenistic Period Isaurian Revolts In...

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  • Abstract

    Isauria region starts from northern slopes of Taurus Mountains where Konya Plateau lays above.

    The boundary of region goes around from Mount Geyik in the south through Seydişehir, Lake Suğla in

    the west and Hadim-Göksu River in the east. The geography of the region provides an ultimate

    protection for Isaurians and it gave great difficulties for the powers who wanted to conquest the land.

    Isauria was free during the Persian period and Alexander the Great did not make difficulties for the

    local people there until Balakros was killed by Isaurians who was appointed by Alexander the Great.

    Thus, Perdikkas marched on Isauria to punish the public after the death of Balacros. In the period of

    Rome, the name of Isauria was frequently mentioned with riots, as well. The General, Servilius Vatia

    who fought with the pirates in the eastern Mediterranean made a campaign against Isauria. In the years

    ahead, the general of Mithridates, Eumakhos marched into there region and Galatian Deiotaros

    responded this action. All the seturm oils show us how the touchy and important theare awas. On the

    other hand, the other examples such as the death of Amyntas on the way to build a city in this region

    and Cicero’s efforts and demanding in Isauria areal son oticeable. The chaos and the external

    interference went on in the following periods. It can be stated that there appeared a peace when Turks

    finaly arrived the region. There are many ancient writers who cited about Isaurian revolts of Isaurians

    such as: Strabo, Diodorus, Appianus, Plutarkhos, Tacitus, Cicero etc. They explained the revolts and

    made comments on the reasons and results of them.

    In this study, we aimed to focus the disordinance in Isauria in the Hellenistic and Roman Periods

    based on ancient sources.

    Keywords

    Isauria, Revolt, Hellenistic Period, Roman Period, Piracy

    * Asst. Prof. Dr. Selcuk University Beyşehir Ali Akkanat Faculty of Tourism muarslan@selcuk.edu.tr ** Lecturer, Selcuk University School of Foreign Languages.  Doctoral Student, Selcuk University Graduate School of Social Sciences.

    REVOLTS IN ISAURIA DURING THE HELLENISTIC AND

    ROMAN PERIODS IN THE LIGHT OF ANCIENT SOURCES

    Mustafa ARSLAN *

    Nuriye BAHÇE **

    Esra BULUT

  • 50 REVOLTS IN ISAURIA DURING THE HELLENISTIC AND ROMAN PERIODS IN THE LIGHT OF ANCIENT SOURCES

    ULUSLARARASI SEMPOZYUM: GEÇMİŞTEN GÜNÜMÜZE BOZKIR

    INTRODUCTION

    The Location of Isauria

    The information about the geographical location of Isauria may be gained rom the

    ancient writers. Strabo states that Isauria is in the north of Taurus Mountain1 and between

    Lykaonia and Cilicia. In the region, there are two rivers called Göksu and Çarşamba.

    Isauria region has two villages with the same name, “Isauria Palaia-Old Isauria and

    Isauria Nova-New Isauria” and they were well-protected. With the other villages, these

    ones were robber settlements2. However, there are nothern ancient writers except Strabo

    who used both two names of Isauria. Thus, he started dissidence on this subject. The city

    that Diodoros3 and Ammianus4 mentioned about must be Isauria Palaia. However,

    Sallust5 mentioned only one city, “İsauria Nova”. This uncertainty in the Ancient Ages

    is available among our modern-day scholars. The consensus related to the names and

    locations of these two cities has not built yet6.

    The People of Isauria

    The people of Isauria caused a great deal of trouble to Romans in the period of

    Rome; especially in the time of Servilius. In the ancient sources, different terms and titles

    are used for the local people. However, it is possible to see that these terms find common

    ground. Certain parts of ancient writers describe them as “robbers and pirates”7, the others

    characterize them as “marauder, bandit and raider”8. There is a group of writers who

    1 Strabo, XIV. 5.1. 2Strabo, XII. 6.2. 3Diodorus, XVIII, 22. 4Ammianus, XIV, 2.12; 8.2. 5Sallust. Hist. II, 69. 6City, Isaura Palaia, Hamilton, 1842:412; İsauria Nova, Ramsay, 1912: 220; Isauria Vetus and Isauria Nova,

    Sterret, 1888: 149 et al.; Isauria Nova, Cramer, 1972: 73-74; Isauria Vetus, Isauria Nova Bahar, 1996: 55-

    56. 7Strabo X11. 6.2; Livy, Perioch.-93; Festus. XII.3. 8 Appian, XII 14; Festus, XII.3; Livy, Perioch 93.

  • 51 REVOLTS IN ISAURIA DURING THE HELLENISTIC AND ROMAN PERIODS IN THE LIGHT OF

    ANCIENT SOURCES

    ULUSLARARASI SEMPOZYUM: GEÇMİŞTEN GÜNÜMÜZE BOZKIR

    prefer more innocent terms in their works. For instance, these rebels may be called as

    “Isaurian Warriors”9 and “enemies”10.

    Hellenistic Period Isaurian Revolts

    In the Hellenistic period that started with the dominance of Alexander the Great

    over Greece (330-146 BC), Macedonian army entered into Anatolia after defeating

    Persians and in a short time they captured Cilicia Region11. In this period, one can see

    that the Greek launched expeditions against the Greece chieftains and rebels as a

    punishment. It seems that the aims of the Greek were not to dominate over Isauria but to

    take revenge on Isaurians. As Diodoros stated, Isaurian warriors who killed Balacros, the

    Cilicia satrap of Alexander the Great, were attacked by Perdiccas in 322 BC; faced a

    savage resistance and finally were forced to commit mass suicide. Rather than surrender,

    the warriors set their houses on fire and chose to burn to death with all the family

    members12.

    From this date to the Rome Period, there has been no clear data related to the

    Isaurian revolts. As far as we learn from the current sources, owing to the imperial conflict

    after the death of Alexander the Great, there was a domestic unrest in the region, the

    severe resistance of Isaurians was going on and the Greek could not get any victories after

    the last success. Even though the Isaurian region was an enduring arena of dissidence, it

    might be stated that the Isurians provided benefit to the Greek in severe wars in the sense

    that they were a neutral zone and the constant presence of armed captives. Thus, the

    resistance of Isaurians was accepted with tolerance. In 280-260 BC, this perception did

    not change and any Hellen states could not entirely provide the control of the region13.

    9Diodorus, XVIII. 22. 10Sallust, Hist. II, 69. 11Arrianus. Anabasis, I 11-26. 12Diodorus. XVIII. 22. 13Bevan, I, 1902: 100; Shaw, 1990: 218.

  • 52 REVOLTS IN ISAURIA DURING THE HELLENISTIC AND ROMAN PERIODS IN THE LIGHT OF ANCIENT SOURCES

    ULUSLARARASI SEMPOZYUM: GEÇMİŞTEN GÜNÜMÜZE BOZKIR

    After the Greek, the effects of Seleucids and Ptolemies were seen in the region.

    Rome that began to dominate over the region increased its hegemony in order to prevent

    the current problem, piracy. Yet, Rome had to seriously deal with the Isaurian revolts.

    Roman Period Isaurian Revolts

    In 188 BC, after Apemeia Treaty, Pergamon became the strongest province of

    Anatolia and a buffer state between Rome and the Seleucids. It also entirely came under

    the Roman domination. Seleucids had to leave nearly all the fleets to Rome and thus the

    navigation regressed or passed to just Anatolian coastal cities and this led to the priracy

    on those cites. The fastest area that the piracy spread was the South Anatolian coastline.

    Especially the coastal cities of Cilicia Trachea were preferred as suitable places for piracy

    activities14.

    The fact that this territory is not sufficient for agricultural product may have led

    the local people to find alternative means of living. Thus, some were in the activities of

    piracy, the others joined the Roman military service15. At first, Rome not only overlooked

    the piracy but also utilised them by making them employ as slaves. However, against the

    increased piracy power in the last quarter of the 1st century B.C, Rome had to change its

    tactics and finally started to struggle with the pirates that were active along the coastline

    of Pamphylia, East Lycia and Cilicia Trachea16.

    As Strabo mentions, the Province of Asia suffered from the domestic disturbance.

    The pirates here gradually gained strength by affecting the people with bad status among

    the public and they started to engage in the refugee17 trade activities18.

    Marcus Antonius charged with stopping the pirates that were giving harm to

    Provincia Asia19 but he could not get a victory against the pirates in 102 B. C. and the

    14 Kurt, 2009:117-118. About the emergence of piracy and its activities in Pamphylia and Cilicia see Appian, The Mithridatic Wars XII. 14 (92); Cassius Dio, XXXVI 20-23; Strabo, XIV 3,2. 15Kurt, 2009: 118-119. For the information about the suitable conditions for piracy activities of Cilicia

    Trachea, see Mitford and Andrews 1980, 1237. 16Arslan, 2003: 94; Kurt, 2009:119. 17 Cilicia, first became as a Roman provi