Humanities and Arts

Political Authority and Local Agency: Cilicia Pedias and Syria between the Seleucid Empire and the Roman Republic

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Doi: doi:10.1163/1568525X-bja10064



This paper aims to show how local civic communities, nominally subject to the Seleucid dynasts, integrated Roman magistrates into an existing framework of authority during the late second and early first centuries BCE. I argue that as Roman magistrates played an increasingly significant role in the region, cities initially framed them in quasi-regal terms, which their interlocutors consciously accepted. Through a close reading of two Roman letters to the Cilician city of Mopsuestia, dated to 87 BCE (SEG 44.1227), and analysis of literary, epigraphic, and numismatic evidence for the final collapse of Seleucid authority in the early 60s BCE, I reveal that this was a locally driven process. Consequently, local agents played a critical role in both legitimising Roman hegemony in local contexts and encouraging Roman intervention within the region