169 BC2014-09-17T15:56:19+00:00

Third Illyrian War.

The Illyrian Kingdom of the Ardiae was allied with Rome for at least a generation, since the defeat of Demetrius in the Second Illyrian War in 218 BC. However, with the death of Pleuratus in 181 BC, his son Gentius changed Ardiaean policy. He began by expanding his control to the north and west. He was joined by the Delmatae. And, once again, Illyrian pirates preyed on Adriatic shipping. In 180 BC, the Romans captured some of Gentius’ ships engaged in piratic activity. The Illyrians denied the charge and nothing came of the affair.

In 170 BC, while Rome was at war with Macedonia, the city of Issa accused Gentius of plotting war on the Macedonian side. In response, the Romans seized 54 Illyrian lembi riding anchor at Epidamnus.

Gentius came to an agreement with Macedonia that he would fight with Perseus against the Romans. Perseus helped fund Illyrian war preparations. Meanwhile, Gentius, levied taxes and took control of two royal mints. He built up his fleet to 270 lembi and raised an army of 15,000 men. He then moved south to attack Roman allies on the eastern Adriatic shore; the cities of Bassania, Epidamnus and Apollonia as well as Caravantius. The Romans sent an army under the command of Appius Claudius and Lucius Anicius Gallus. The Roman force, along with that of its allies, outnumbered Gentius’ forces by at least two-to-one. It took about one month for the Romans to defeat the Illyrians. The Illyrian fleet was divided amongst the cities of Corcyra, Apollonia and Epidamnus. The cities that opposed Rome in this war were looted. The Roman treasury received Gentius’ hoard. In contrast, those cities that sided with Rome at the outbreak of war, were granted reduced taxes. Roman garrisons were placed into Illyrian cities in the south. And the legions continued fighting the Illyrians in the north and east for another century.