Achaea (Roman province)

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Provincia Achaea
Ἐπαρχία Ἀχαΐας
Province of the Roman Empire

146 BC–7th century
Location of Achaea
The province of Achaea within the Roman Empire, c. 117 AD
Capital Corinth
Historical era Antiquity
 •  Established after the Fourth Macedonian War 146 BC
 •  Balkans invaded by Slavs; Theme of Hellas established 7th century
Today part of  Greece
The Roman Empire under Hadrian (ruled 117-138), showing the senatorial province of Achaea (southern Greece)
Sestertius of Hadrian celebrating Achaea province.

Achaea[1] or Achaia,[2][3] sometimes transliterated from Greek as Akhaïa (Greek: Αχαΐα Achaïa, [axaˈia]), was a province of the Roman Empire, consisting of the Peloponnese, eastern Central Greece, and parts of Thessaly. In the north, it bordered on the provinces of Epirus vetus and Macedonia. The region was annexed by the Roman Republic in 146 BC following the sack of Corinth by the Roman general Lucius Mummius, who was awarded the cognomen "Achaicus" ("conqueror of Achaea").

Achaea was among the most prosperous and peaceful parts of the Roman world until Late Antiquity, when it first suffered from barbarian invasions. The province remained prosperous and highly urbanized however, as attested in the 6th-century Synecdemus.

The Slavic invasions of the 7th century led to widespread destruction, with much of the population fleeing to fortified cities, the Aegean islands and Italy, while some Slavic tribes settled the interior. The territories of Achaea remaining in Byzantine hands were grouped into the theme of Hellas.

It was a senatorial province, thus free from military men and legions, and one of the most prestigious and sought-after provinces for senators to govern.[4] Athens was the primary center of education for the imperial elite, rivaled only by Alexandria, and one of the most important cities in the Empire.[4]


For 60 years, Greece was competently administered by Rome, as a Senatorial province. Some cities, such as Athens and Sparta, even retained their self-governing status within their own territories. Then, in 88 BC, Mithridates VI Eupator, king of Pontus, began a campaign against Rome and won the support of many of the Greek city-states.

Roman legions under Lucius Cornelius Sulla forced Mithridates out of Greece and crushed the rebellion, sacking Athens in 86 BC and Thebes the following year. Sulla's depredations on Greek works of art were notorious. Roman punishment of all the rebellious cities was heavy, and the campaigns fought on Greek soil left the heart of central Greece in ruins.

The commerce of Achaea was no longer a rival to that of Rome. After the defeat of Antony and Cleopatra, about 31 BC, the Emperor Augustus separated Macedonia from Achaea, though it remained a Senatorial province, as under the Republic. In AD 15, Emperor Tiberius, responding to complaints of mismanagement by the Senatorial proconsul made Achaea and Macedonia Imperial provinces.[5] They were restored to the Senate as part of Emperor Claudius' reforms in AD 44.[6]

Over time, Greece would slowly rebuild, culminating during the reign of the Hellenophile Emperor Hadrian (117-138). Along with the Greek scholar Herodes Atticus, Hadrian undertook an extensive rebuilding program. He beautified Athens and many of the Greek cities.

List of Roman governors


Copper, lead, and silver mines were exploited in Achaea, though production was not as great as the mines of other Roman-controlled areas, such as Noricum, Britannia, and the provinces of Hispania. Marble from Greek quarries was a valuable commodity.

Educated Greek slaves were much in demand in Rome in the role of doctors and teachers, and educated men were a significant export. Achaea also produced household luxuries, such as furniture, pottery, cosmetics, and linens. Greek olives and olive oil were exported to the rest of the Empire.

Episcopal sees

Ancient episcopal sees of the Roman province of Greece or Hellas Prima (I) listed in the Annuario Pontificio as titular sees:[7]

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Ancient episcopal sees of the Roman province of Greece or Hellas Secunda (II) listed in the Annuario Pontificio as titular sees:[7]

Lamia? Atachova?)

Ancient episcopal sees of the Roman province of Peloponnesus Primus (I) listed in the Annuario Pontificio as titular sees:[7]

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Ancient episcopal sees of the Roman province of Peloponnesus Secundus II listed in the Annuario Pontificio as titular sees:[7]

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See also


  1. The spelling "Achaea" is the most common in English for both the ancient and modern region (as shown by the entries in the Britannica and Columbia encyclopedias and most dictionaries and other reference works) although this is based on an erroneous but well-established transliteration of the Greek original (which does not have a diphthong) and in disregard of the Latin spelling (Achaia) of the Roman province Achaea. At least in some modern scholarly texts, however, the spellings "Achaia" and "Achaea" are apparently used to make a distinction between the Roman province and the northern Peloponnese (see note 2). The transliteration "Akhaïa" of the (Ancient and Modern) Greek is sometimes used in English, for example by the Encyclopedia Britannica and the Collins English Dictionary as an alternative to "Achaea".
  2. The Cambridge University Press's publication "Pausanias' Greece" claims (on p.1): "Following modern standard usage, 'Achaia' refers to the Roman province, 'Achaea' to an area of the northern Peloponnese." The reference for this claim is a 1993 publication by Susan Alcock. At least in 1993, however, this distinction was not yet established, and a 1993 review of the same Alcock publication pointed out that this was not "an actual distinction" but rather a convenience devised by Alcock. The current (2012) online version of Encyclopedia Britannica does not follow this spelling distinction apparently used at least in some scholarly texts.
  3. Barrington Atlas, map 100
  4. 4.0 4.1 Roman provincial coinage: Τόμος 1, Andrew Burnett, Michel Amandry, Pere Pau Ripollés Alegre - 2003
  5. Tacitus, Annals.1.76
  6. Suetonius, Life of Claudius, 25.3
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 Annuario Pontificio 2013 (Libreria Editrice Vaticana 2013 ISBN 978-88-209-9070-1), "Sedi titolari", pp. 819-1013

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