Classical & Hellenistic Period of Crete

Classical & Hellenistic Period (500-67BC)

classic era statueRegrettably, the following epoch saw constant battles amongst the Cretan cities and further invasions from Asia Minor, mainland Greece and beyond. Cortys, Kydonia (Chania) and Lyttos all challenged the power of Knossos and competed with each other to gain superiority, calling upon powers outside of Crete to assist them in their feuds. Such adversaries turned allies included Macedonia, Rhodes and Ptolemaic Egypt. Nevertheless, for some time, Crete continued to flourish possibly due to the fact that their battles were internal ones and they were not drained of resources by participation in either the Persian or the Peloponnesian wars that were afflicting mainland Greece.

In an attempt to gain support and maybe protection, the Cretans pronounced the Macedonian Philip protector of the island and also drew on the aid of the king of Pontus, Mithridates, for a supply of mercenaries. However, the combat between the city-states of Crete continued and chaos was further exacerbated by pirates of Celichia who plagued the eastern part of the Mediterranean and, using the collaboration of Cretans and Crete as their base, went on to attack the Roman city of Ostia in the 2nd century BC.

The Romans exploited this situation as an excuse to intervene in the political life of Crete. The Roman politician, Marcus Antonius, sent representatives to Crete in an attempt to reach an agreement. However, this was unsuccessful and a war ensued. After three years of fierce battle, led by Quintus Caecilius Metellus, Crete was conquered for Rome in 69 BC, earning Metellus the fourth name, Creticus ..