Rome

THE UPRISINGS OF THRACE AGAINST ROME

The Thracians were a strong and numerous people. Rome's attempt to destroy them with its legions in several open battles encountered failure at the very beginning. Therefore, the Romans applied the tried and tested "Divide and conquer" tactics. The Roman warlords and rulers took away property belonging to some Thracian tribes and clans, and gave it to their rivals - leaders and tribes who supported Rome. This created the ideal conditions for internal conflicts and feuds between the Thracians themselves. 

One such action of the Roman rule was the confiscation of the shrine of Dionysus from the tribe of the Bessi and its transfer to the Odrysians. This measure was conceived as a reward for the Odrysians, who voluntarily submitted to the authority of Rome. As for the royal-sacerdotal clan of the Bessi, who administrated the famous sanctuary from time immemorial, this became the triggering factor for the rebellion to break out. It had the effect of a natural disaster.

The rebels were led by Vologez, the head priest of the Bessi. The sanctuary of Dionysus became the core of the resistance, and the spark of it spread to the lands of the neighbouring tribes. The rebellion quickly gained the scale of a popular insurgency with an extremely long time frame – five entire years (from 16 to 11 B.C.). After the Roman troops stationed in Macedonia proved to be insufficient to deal with it, Lucius Calpurnius Piso was sent with an immense army from Rome. After prolonged and intense fighting, the uprising was crushed in the fifth year of its existence with a blood bath.

Another great Thracian uprising broke out on the territory of the Dii, a Thracian tribe that was known for its love of freedom and independence since ancient times. The motive for the uprising was the reluctance of the Thracians to send military recruits for the Roman army. Before the uprising, the Dii took their women, children and cattle to the almost inaccessible rock formations and the Hemus and Rhodope Mountains. They then sent envoys to the Roman commander, suggesting that they would remain friends and allies of Rome if he renounced to incorporate their most capable young men into the army.

The Romans did not accept the terms of the Thracians and besieged their mountain fortifications. Despite the courage and pugnacity displayed by the rebellious Dii tribe, the grip around their mountain fortifications tightened. Finding themselves in a stalemate, their leaders chose death before surrendering to the enemy. The leaders of the rebellion, known as Tarsas, Turesis and Dinis, ended their lives in dignity by plunging their swords into their own breasts.

Only one of the rebel leaders, an elderly man, surrendered to the Romans with some of the besieged – the women, children and the elderly.

The desire for freedom and the heroic resistance of the proud Thracians impressed deeply the ancient chroniclers. In their works, they could not hide their admiration for the valour and noble nature of the courageous Dii who dared to challenge the domination of the mighty Rome.


2/29/2020