THE FIRST ILLYRIAN WAR
It is not always easy to guess why the Romans acted as they did, but the reason they went to war in 229 BCE genuinely seems to lie on the surface. The killing of their ambassador was an extra spur, but their primary reasons were economic. Why else help the Issaeans, with whom the Romans had no relationship? They may have been touched by their appeal, the first from a Greek state, but they acted pragmatically, not out of sentiment. Nor was it just that Italian traders had been killed; the future threat was just as potent. The Romans did not want a powerful neighbor; they wanted the Adriatic for themselves.
They came late in the season of 229, but in large numbers. Both consular armies assembled at Brundisium and crossed the Adriatic, 22,000 men transported in 200 ships. Nothing should be read into this massive force beyond…
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