« A.U.C. 557 = 197 B.C. »

The accounts of Livy and Polybius concerning the campaigns of T. Quinctius Flamininus, cos A.U.C. 556 = 198, against Philip V of Macedon allow us to infer a seasonal synchronism for the winter of 198/197, as was first recognised by M. Holleaux, REG 36 (1923) 115. Livy 32.32.1 notes that, shortly after winter had set in and the Roman troops had entered their winter quarters in Phocis and Locris, Philip requested a parley. Flamininus hesitated to accept, since he did not know whether his command, which he had only just taken up (Livy 32.28.6) would be continued, and his decision to continue the war or to make peace at such a conference would depend on whether he would continue in command. This indicates that the request came near the end of the consular year, since the assignment of provinces to the incoming consuls would decide whether his command should continue. However, Flamininus agreed and attended the parley together with a delegation assembled from Rome's various Greek allies.

Livy 32.36 states that a truce of two months was agreed at the conference, during which time Philip would send an embassy to Rome to seek peace. Flamininus agreed, since the truce would only last for the winter, in which time no action could take place anyway, and since it would also give him the opportunity to find out what peace conditions the senate would ratify, presumably in the event that war continued into the next year and Flamininus was still in charge. Polybius 18.11 notes that the envoys arrived at the senate before the assignment of provinces to the new consuls had been decided, i.e. very shortly after the beginning of the new year, Id. Mart. A.U.C. 557 = 197, and Flamininus' friends in essence delayed the embassy until it was known that Flamininus' appointment would continue. Livy 33.3 states that the envoys returned from Rome unsuccessfully, so that Philip began raising new troops at the beginning of spring, and assembed his forces at Dium shortly after the equinox, and Flamininus began his preparations for war at the same time (Livy 33.1), which was immediately after he received news of the senate's decision (Plutarch, Flamininus 7.2).

The Julian dates involved can only be estimated by dead reckoning from these indications. The chronologies are discussed in P. Marchetti, AC 42 (1973) 473, P. S. Derow, Phoenix 30 (1976) 265 and J. Briscoe, A Commentary on Livy Books XXXIV-XXXVII 20. The following bounds on the chronology seem to be most reasonable working forwards:

And working backwards:

Thus, there is about 6 weeks variability in the Julian date for the embassy, c. 20 December - c. 30 January.

We can estimate the bounds on the Julian equivalent of Id. Mart. A.U.C 557 assuming 0 to 2 intercalations between this year and A.U.C. 564 = 190, the most recent year whose dates are certain, as follows:

Number of Intercalations   Number of intercalated days      Julian date of Id. Mart. A.U.C. 551
     A.U.C. 557-564                                                           

              0                                  0                                     29 January 197
              1                               22-23                                 6-7 January 197    
              2                               44-46                                 14-16 December 198

It is clear that the consuls for A.U.C. 557 = 197 were already in office when the embassy arrived, and were close to settling the allocation of provinces. Hence the possibility that Id. Mart. A.U.C. 557 = 29 January 197 can certainly be excluded.

Derow argues that the late chronology must be preferred. However, he notes that the truce was only barely enough time for the embassy to travel to Rome and back, and Briscoe argues that it may well have formally expired a while before the embassy actually returned. But Briscoe also wishes to argue for intercalations in both A.U.C. 561 = 193 and A.U.C. 563 = 191. If there were two intercalations, then the embassy must have reached Rome in late December, and return to Greece no later than early February, leaving a gap of a couple of weeks before Flamininus resumed his preparations for war, in contradiction to Plutarch. For this reason, I think Derow is almost certainly right.

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