Friday, January 11, 2019


Filippo Canali de Rossi, Le relazioni diplomatiche di Roma. Volume VII. Problemi e contraccolpi della grande espansione egemonica (188 - 183 a.C.). Prassi diplomatiche dello imperialismo romano, 3. Roma: Scienze e lettere, 2017. Pp. ix, 147. ISBN 9788866871262. €30.00 (pb).

Reviewed by Paul Burton, Australian National University (

Version at BMCR home site

The seventh volume of Canali De Rossi's history of Roman diplomacy documents the crucial period after the peace of Apamea (188 BC) when Rome's hegemony over the Greek east was all but complete.

As in previous volumes in the series, Canali De Rossi closely follows Livy's account (and where available, Polybius') in his narrative summaries of events, and includes the relevant epigraphic material, particularly from the East. The format of the book also remains the same as its predecessors', with the narrative portions followed by the catalogue of diplomatic events, consisting of excerpts from the textual and epigraphical evidence in the original languages (with some bibliography). The catalogue of diplomatic events begins with item number 401, continuing the numerical sequence from the end of the second volume of the Prassi diplomatische dello imperialismo romano series, and catalogue numbers are helpfully cross-referenced in bold type in the narrative sections. The trend of the chronological scope of each volume of the Le relazione diplomatische di Roma series that began somewhere around volume 4 continues: the number of years covered shrinks as Rome's diplomatic entanglements increase. As with previous volumes, the bibliography is strong on recent European scholarship, but still frustratingly lacking important English language works.1

Unfortunately, the book contains some problems of concept and organization. As both Michael Fronda and myself have pointed out in previous reviews of Canali De Rossi's series, a definition of "diplomacy" is still lacking.2 In consequence, as in previous volumes, reports of omens are registered as diplomatic episodes (431-432, 511). So, too, any mention of gold crowns (413-415, 463, 483-484). The first chapter is given the thematic title "The Trials of the Scipios (187-186 BC)," but five of the six items have nothing remotely to do with the Scipios, and one of them (406*) is a rhetorical wish by Cn. Manlius Vulso that Eumenes II of Pergamum and the cities of Asia were in Rome. In the second chapter (like the first, given a thematic title—"The Conspiracy of the Bacchanals (187-186 BC)"—even though only the last two of fifteen items have anything to do with that incident) a flashback item receives a catalogue number (416), even though it has already been catalogued and recorded in its proper chronological place.3 Also puzzling is Canali De Rossi's decision in Chapter 3 to designate as discrete diplomatic episodes the appointment of the embassy of Q. Caecilius Metellus to investigate charges against Philip V, and, rather than the conferences at Tempe and Thessalonica themselves, the speakers of the various delegations attending them (444-458). In Chapter 4, the appointment of a new embassy to the East under Ap. Claudius gets its own catalogue number (470), as do, once again, the various speakers at the resulting conference (473-475).

Canali De Rossi also takes the opportunity in this volume to add an item overlooked in volume 5: a Boiian Celt who surrendered himself and his family to the consul of 192 BC, L. Quinctius Flamininus, but was killed by him instead (Livy 39.42.10-12 = 66 bis).

The latest instalment in this ongoing and substantial contribution to the history of Roman international relations, whatever its (relatively minor) shortcomings, will prove of inestimable value as scholarly interest in the field of Roman diplomacy under the Republic continues to grow.


1.   Still missing are my own Friendship and Empire: Roman Diplomacy and Imperialism in the Middle Republic (353-146 BC) (Cambridge, 2011), and my PhD supervisor A.M. Eckstein's Mediterranean Anarchy, Interstate War, and the Rise of Rome (Berkeley and Los Angeles, 2006), and Rome Enters the Greek East: from Anarchy to Hierarchy in the Hellenistic Mediterranean, 230-170 BC (Oxford and Malden, MA, 2008). Even W.V. Harris' seminal War and Imperialism in Republican Rome, 327-70 BC (Oxford, 1979) is missing.
2.   BMCR 2017.11.24 (Burton); BMCR 2014.06.24 (Fronda).
3.   F. Canali de Rossi, Le relazioni diplomatiche di Roma. Volume VI. Dalla spedizione degli Scipioni in Asia alla pace di Apamea (190 - 188 a.C.). Prassi diplomatiche dello imperialismo romano, 2 (Roma: Scienze e lettere, 2017) n. 295.

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