In 170 BCE, when the Seleucid ruler, Antiochus, decided to invade the Ptolemaic Empire, a Roman envoy, Popilius, arrived to ‘persuade’ him not to. Popilius drew a circle in the sand round the king with a stick: he then told him not to leave the circle until he had agreed to Rome’s ‘request’. The invasion was duly abandoned. At the time, Rome’s borders were officially hundreds of miles away, but in reality nowhere in the Mediterranean was independent of Rome. In 146 BCE, Rome completed both the destruction of the Carthaginian Empire and the conquest of the remnants of Greece, having disposed of Macedonia two years earlier. The conquest of Hispania had begun in 219 BCE, with two imperial provinces established there in the wake of the Second Punic War (197 BCE), while the prosperous port of Massilia was a Roman protectorate.
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