1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Flamininus, Titus Quinctius
FLAMININUS, TITUS QUINCTIUS (c. 228–174 B.C.), Roman general and statesman. He began his public life as a military tribune under M. Claudius Marcellus, the conqueror of Syracuse. In 199 he was quaestor, and the next year, passing over the regular stages of aedile and praetor, he obtained the consulship.
Flamininus was one of the first and most successful of the rising school of Roman statesmen, the opponents of the narrow patriotism of which Cato was the type, the disciples of Greek culture, and the advocates of a wide imperial policy. His winning manners, his polished address, his knowledge of men, his personal fascination, and his intimate knowledge of Greek, all marked him out as the fittest representative of Rome in the East. Accordingly, the province of Macedonia, and the conduct of the war with Philip V. of Macedon, in which, after two years, Rome had as yet gained little advantage, were assigned to him. Flamininus modified both the policy and tactics of his predecessors. After an unsuccessful attempt to come to terms, he drove the Macedonians from the valley of the Aous by skilfully turning an impregnable position. Having thus practically made himself master of Macedonia, he proceeded to Greece, where Philip still had allies and supporters. The Achaean League (q.v.) at once deserted the cause of Macedonia, and Nabis, the tyrant of Sparta, entered into an alliance with Rome; Acarnania and Boeotia submitted in less than a year, and, with the exception of the great fortresses, Flamininus had the whole of Greece under his control. The demand of the Greeks for the expulsion of Macedonian garrisons from Demetrias, Chalcis and Corinth, as the only guarantee for the freedom of Greece, was refused, and negotiations were broken off. Hostilities were renewed in the spring of 197, and Flamininus took the field supported by nearly the whole of Greece. At Cynoscephalae the Macedonian phalanx and the Roman legion for the first time met in open fight, and the day decided which nation was to be master of Greece and perhaps of the world. It was a victory of superior tactics. The left wing of the Roman army was retiring in confusion before the Macedonian right led by Philip in person, when Flamininus, leaving them to their fate, boldly charged the left wing under Nicanor, which was forming on the heights. Before the left wing had time to form, Flamininus was upon them, and a massacre rather than a fight ensued. This defeat was turned into a general rout by a nameless tribune, who collected twenty companies and charged in the rear the victorious Macedonian phalanx, which in its pursuit had left the Roman right far behind. Macedonia was now at the mercy of Rome, but Flamininus contented himself with his previous demands. Philip lost all his foreign possessions, but retained his Macedonian kingdom almost entire. He was required to reduce his army, to give up all his decked ships except five, and to pay an indemnity of 1000 talents (£244,000). Ten commissioners arrived from Rome to regulate the final terms of peace, and at the Isthmian games a herald proclaimed to the assembled crowds that “the Roman people, and T. Quinctius their general, having conquered King Philip and the Macedonians, declare all the Greek states which had been subject to the king henceforward free and independent.” Flamininus’s last act before returning home was characteristic. Of the Achaeans, who vied with one another in showering upon him honours and rewards, he asked but one personal favour, the redemption of the Italian captives who had been sold as slaves in Greece during the Hannibalic War. These, to the number of 1200, were presented to him on the eve of his departure (spring, 194), and formed the chief ornament of his triumph.
In 192, on the rupture between the Romans and Antiochus III. the Great, Flamininus returned to Greece, this time as the civil representative of Rome. His personal influence and skilful diplomacy secured the wavering Achaean states, cemented the alliance with Philip, and contributed mainly to the Roman victory at Thermopylae (191). In 183 he undertook an embassy to Prusias, king of Bithynia, to induce him to deliver up Hannibal, who forestalled his fate by taking poison. Nothing more is known of Flamininus, except that, according to Plutarch, his end was peaceful and happy.
There seems no doubt that Flamininus was actuated by a genuine love of Greece and its people. To attribute to him a Machiavellian policy, which foresaw the overthrow of Corinth fifty years later and the conversion of Achaea into a Roman province, is absurd and disingenuous. There is more force in the charge that his Hellenic sympathies prevented him from seeing the innate weakness and mutual jealousies of the Greek states of that period, whose only hope of peace and safety lay in submitting to the protectorate of the Roman republic. But if the event proved that the liberation of Greece was a political mistake, it was a noble and generous mistake, and reflects nothing but honour on the name of Flamininus, “the liberator of the Greeks.”
His life has been written by Plutarch, and in modern times by F. D. Gerlach (1871); see also Mommsen, Hist. of Rome (Eng. tr.), bk. iii. chs. 8, 9.