Documentary Contexts for the ‘Pistiros Inscription’
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In the 250s and 240s continental Greece found itself in a particularly complicated situation. The growth of the Aetolian and Achaean Leagues, as well as Sparta’s awoken ambitions, presented the Ptolemies with favorable conditions to actively pursue efforts to weaken the Macedonian influence there. Initially, the partner of the Ptolemies became the Achaean League. In this way, the Ptolemaic fleet gained important footholds, including both Corinthian ports, Kenchreai in the Saronic Gulf and Lechaion in the Corinthian Gulf. This strengthened the position of the Lagids at sea, and it was the islands on the Aegean Sea and the coasts of Asia Minor that were in the centre of the Ptolemies’ interest. However, the Aetolian League could continue to be seen as one of their possible partners in Greek politics. We should not exaggerate the Achaean-Aetolian conflict. After the death of Antigonus Gonatas in 239, the two conflicted federations were joined by an alliance. It cannot be excluded that Sparta also cooperated with the coalition, and the king of Egypt could have been a convenient link in this cooperation. There is no information whatsoever to suggest an Egyptian initiative to form the coalition. After the defeat of the Egyptian fleet at Andros in ca. 245, the position of the Lagids in the Aegean Sea was not as strong as it had once been. This was all the more reason for Ptolemies to closely observe the Aetolians’ intense activity on the Aegean Sea. The Ptolemies and Aetolians concluded symmachia. Ultimately, however, alliances were reversed: Aratus pushed the Achaean League towards a coalition with Macedonia, but earlier, having learned about the Achaean-Macedonian negotiations, Ptolemy decided to cancel his financial support for the Achaeans and hand it over to Sparta. It is very likely that the situation in the whole Aegean region (especially the expedition of Antigonus Doson to Caria in 227) played a role in changing the Ptolemies’ policy. The contacts which the Aetolian League established in the region were all the more reason for Ptolemy III to choose Cleomenes and the Aetolians at the expense of the Achaean League. At that time, the beginning of closer relations between the Aetolians and the Attalids could also be observed. It cannot be ruled out that the Ptolemaic diplomacy was a mediator, since up until then the Aetolians had no common interests with Pergamum. For the Lagids, on the other hand, the Attalids were a force worth supporting against the Seleucids, just as the Aetolians were a valuable partner in the rivalry against Macedonia.
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