Lebanon in History from the Earliest Times to the Present

By Philip K. Hitti | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XIII UNDER ROMAN SWAY

WHEN Pompey in 64 B.C. annexed Syria, he organized it into a Roman province, Provincia Syria, into which he incorporated both Lebanon and Palestine. Therewith officially Phoenicia ceased to exist. It had become clear that if the area was not to revert to its chaotic condition under the spineless last Seleucids, direct Roman rule was necessary. Furthermore, the new province made the boundaries of the possessions of Rome and those of her sole serious rival in the East, Persia, adjoin and as such was of focal importance in the Asiatic possessions. It was therefore put under a high Roman official, a proconsul, with power to levy troops and engage in war.1 The proconsul's seat was the capital of the defunct monarchy, Antioch. Under his command were four legions. The first proconsul was Aulus Gabinius ( 57-55 B.C.), Pompey's able general, who was succeeded by Crassus, member of the first triumvirate.2 The imperial proconsul was, after about A.D. 86, replaced by an imperial legate.3 The leading Lebanese cities -- Tyre, sidon, Tripoli, Aradus -- were confirmed in their rights of self-government and the possession of their respective territories; but none of them played an important rôle in political affairs down to the time of the Crusades.

A sub- division of a province

For a number of years the entire Roman realm was in a state of turmoil in the course of which all the principal contenders for the supreme power found themselves operating on the eastern shore of the Mediterranean. Julius Caesar stopped in the province ( 47 B.C.) and conferred privileges on certain cities. He introduced a special decree addressed to one of the Phoenician cities with these words: "Gaius Julius Caesar, Imperator

____________________
1
Appian, § 51.
2
For a list of the governors consult Gustave A. Harrer, Studies in the History of the Roman Province of Syria ( Princeton, 1915), pp. 11 seq.
3
Joachim Marquardt, Römische Staatsverwaltung, 2nd ed. ( Leipzig, 1881), vol. i, pp. 419-20.

-185-

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