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Roman province of
The province of Achaea in the Roman Empire
The province of Achaea in the Roman Empire
set up: 27 BC Chr.
Predecessor: Macedonia
Roman since: 146 BC Chr.
existed until: 395 or 614
Successor: Hellas
Administrative center: Colonia Laus Iulia Corinthiensis

Achaea was a province of the Roman Empire . The region was founded in 146 BC. Subjugated by the Romans to BC, but initially remained nominally free and was only indirectly controlled by the governor of the province of Macedonia . Only under Augustus was Achaea in the Senate session of January 13, 27 BC. Established as an independent senatorial province . The name of the province was derived from the Achaean League , which was established in the first half of the 2nd century BC. Was an important junior partner of Rome in Greece. In addition to the Peloponnese peninsula, it comprised practically the entire Greek heartland with a large part of the islands:

The province was administered by a proconsul pro praetore , who had his seat in the Colonia Laus Iulia Corinthus or Corinthiensis , the Roman colony founded in the same place after the destruction of Corinth . Free cities, which de iure were not part of the province, were mainly Athens and Sparta as well as the colony Nicopolis in Acarnania , which Augustus founded in memory of the battle of Actium and which later became the capital of the province of Epirus when Epirus with parts Akarnania and the Ionian Islands were separated from Achaea and became an independent province (before 117). Other colonies were Dyme , Patrai and Buthroton .


In 15 AD, Achaea became an imperial province under Emperor Tiberius until Emperor Claudius put it back under senatorial control in 44. His successor, Emperor Nero , presented himself as a Philhellene and proclaimed the freedom of all Greeks in Achaea in 67 . This decree was canceled by Vespasian in the year 70 , but formally Achaea was not a Roman province in the meantime. Under Antoninus Pius , Thessaly and Phthiotis were again added to the province of Macedonia . 267 fell Herulians taking advantage of Roman civil wars, plundering the province and sacked Athens and other cities. During the Diocletian reform of the empire , the Cyclades, along with Skyros , Lemnos and Imbros, became part of the newly formed provincia insularum .

Achaea had been part of the Eastern Roman Empire since 395 , even if the Western Roman court initially also made claims on the region. In 396 mutinous Gothic mercenaries ( foederati ) devastated the province; in the late 6th century, the Slavs began to conquer the Balkans , who initially undertook raids, but from the early 7th century also settled in Greece. With that the ancient story of Achaea ended . The area of ​​the medieval Byzantine theme Hellas , which was established after the subjugation of the slaves, however, except for the western part, coincided with that of Achaea .


In late Republican times, Greece suffered particularly badly from the Roman tax lease system. Older research has concluded from the desertification of numerous smaller poles and villages that even the imperial era did not bring prosperity to Greece - at least no rapid economic recovery. However, this view neglected the relative growth of the larger cities (Athens, Sparta, Corinth, Patrae, Elis , Argos , Tegea , Gythion , Hermione , Eleusis , Megara ), which expanded and whose inhabitants were significantly more numerous than in classical times. The agricultural structure also changed due to the establishment of numerous villae rusticae and the emergence of large latifundia (half of Attica was owned by Herodes Atticus ). Against this background, structural change is assumed today instead of impoverishment.

Export goods were mainly wine from the northern Peloponnese, honey and olive oil from Attica and marble from Thessaly, Attica, from the Peloponnese and the islands of Euboea, Skyros , Naxos and Paros (the famous Parian marble came from here ). Artistic and handicraft products were made in Athens, and Patrae was the center of the textile trade. Here the wool from Arcadian sheep and linen from Elis were processed into fine fabrics ( βύσσος ). The precious purple dye was extracted in Gytheion and marble was exported from Laconia .

Another important "export" was education: on the one hand, numerous Romans visited the sites of Classical Greece as a kind of open-air museum, on the other hand, Athens was the seat of the academy and training center for philosophers, where Romans like Cicero attended philosophical, rhetorical and philological lectures. It was not until the end of Late Antiquity that teaching in Athens came to a standstill under Emperor Justinian . And finally, the attraction of the big games remained unbroken for a long time: At Corinth, the Isthmian Games were still celebrated every two years and the Olympic Games even included Emperor Nero among the participants. They were only banned by Theodosius I in 393 AD because they were a thorn in the side of the Christian emperor.



  1. Cassius Dio 53.12; Strabon 17.3.25.
  2. Pliny , naturalis historia 4:24.
  3. Strabo 8.5.5.
  4. Pliny, naturalis historia 4.13.
  5. Pliny, naturalis historia 4.11.
  6. Pliny, naturalis historia 4.4.
  7. Tacitus , Annalen 1,76,4; 1.80.1.
  8. ^ Suetonius , Claudius 25.3; Cassius Dio 60.24.1; Donald Engels: Roman Corinth. An alternative model for the classical city . University of Chicago Press, Chicago 1990, ISBN 978-0-226-20870-1 , pp. 19 .
  9. Sylloge Inscriptionum Graecarum 814; Pausanias 7,17,4; Suetonius, Vespasian 8.4.
  10. Ptolemy , Geography 3: 12-14; Inscriptiones Latinae selectae 1067, 9490.
  11. Laterculus Veronensis 3.
  12. Tilmann Bechert: The provinces of the Roman Empire. Introduction and overview. von Zabern, Mainz 1999, ISBN 3-8053-2399-9 , pp. 79f.
  13. Tilmann Bechert: The provinces of the Roman Empire. P. 80 f.