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Ephesus Decree

Author(s) : Keaveney Arthur (7/3/2002)

For citation: Keaveney Arthur , "Ephesus Decree", 2002,
Encyclopaedia of the Hellenic World, Asia Minor
URL: <http://www.ehw.gr/l.aspx?id=4085>

Ephesus Decree (2/25/2008 v.1) Διάγγελμα Εφέσου - has not been published yet 

1. Historical framework

During Mithridatic war I (89-85 BC) many Asiatic cities had taken the side of Mithridates and massacred the Italian residents in the province. When Sulla was victorious, he was determined to punish them. So, after their trial at Ephesus the ringleaders of the Mithridatic faction were put to death. Then the chief men of the cities were summoned to Sulla’s presence to hear what punishments their cities would undergo.

2. The Ephesus Decree

Sulla harangued the delegates and Appian has preserved what purports to be a version of his speech. It goes as follows. The Romans had treated the Asiatic Greeks fairly when they first came in contact with them at the time of Antiochus. They had driven him out and restored freedom to the cities. Their recompense was to see many cities side with Aristonicus at the time of the Pergamene bequest. Then, after twenty four years of peace and prosperity they had called in Mithridates while the Romans were busy with the Social War (90-88 B.C.). Worst of all they had joined him in perpetrating a massacre of the Italians resident in their midst. They had already paid for this when Mithridates, as the war went against him, turned on them. Those lately executed had paid also but it was necessary for their communities to suffer as well. As a Roman he would not stoop to the kind of things they and Mithridates had done. He would however, require them to pay back taxes for the years the province was in Pontic hands and also pay an indemnity for the war. Amount and time of payment were to be fixed and failure to meet obligations would be treated as a hostile act.

3. Consequences

This marks the beginning of Sulla’s settlement of Asia. The proposed financial arrangments were ruthlessly carried out and resulted in more than ten years of misery for many cities.


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