GREECE A ROMAN PROVINCE
FOR centuries the Greeks had been in the habit of
assembling at Corinth every three years for the
celebration of the Isthmian games, in honor of
Poseidon, god of the sea. Here, as at Olympia, there
were races, wrestling and boxing matches, and contests
in verse and song; and as usual the prizes were simple
crowns of olive leaves, which were considered far more
precious than silver or gold.
 In 196 B.C. not only were the Greeks present at this
celebration, but there were also many Romans who wished
to witness the games. The Greeks were then
particularly happy because the War of the Two Leagues
seemed to be ended, and the country was at peace.
In the midst of the festival, Quintius Flamininus, the Roman consul, mounted the orator's block, and
proclaimed that the Roman army had just won a great
victory over the revolted King of Macedon, and that the
Greek states were now indeed free.
These tidings were received with such a tumult of
joyful cries, it is said, that a flock of birds that
were flying overhead fell to the earth, stunned by the
shock of cheers which rent the air.
This joy, however, did not last very long, for the
new-won freedom of Greece existed in name only. As
soon as the Romans had completed the conquest of
Macedon under its last ruler, Perseus, they prepared to
annex Greece also.
Their first move was to accuse the
Achæans of sending aid to Macedon. Under this
pretext, one thousand leading citizens were seized, and
sent to Rome to be tried.
Here they were kept in exile for many a year, longing
to go home, and fuming against their detention. When
they were finally allowed to return, they were so
imbittered, that, as the Romans had foreseen, they soon
stirred up a revolt among the Achæans.
Æmilius Paulus, the conqueror of Macedon, then
marched into Greece, and swept over the whole country.
He took the city of Corinth, and burned it to the
 after carrying off many of its most precious works of
art to adorn his triumph.
Such was the ignorance of the Romans at that time,
however, about all matters of art, that the sailors who
were to carry these treasures to Rome were warned by
the consul to be careful, as they would have to
replace any article they had damaged or lost.
The Romans then placed garrisons in the principal Greek
towns, and the country became a mere province of Rome,
under the name of Achaia.
Thus ends the history of ancient Greece, which, though
so small, was yet the most famous country the world has
ever known,—the country from which later nations
learned their best lessons in art, philosophy, and