Macedonian forces led by Perseus of Macedon trap a Roman army led by Consul Quintus Marcius Phillipus near Tempe, but the Macedonians fail to take advantage of their resulting superior tactical position.
King Perseus asks the Seleucid King Antiochus IV to join forces with him against the danger that Rome presents to all of the Hellenic monarchs. Antiochus IV does not respond.
Lex Voconia (The Voconian Law) is introduced in Rome by the tribune, Quintus Voconius Saxa, with the support of Cato the Elder. This law prohibits those who own property valued at 100,000 sesterces from making a woman their heir.
The king of Illyria, Gentius, is defeated at Scodra by a Roman force under Lucius Anicius Gallus and then brought to Rome as a captive to be interned in Iguvium. This loss removes Illyria as an important ally for Macedonia and effectively weakens Perseus of Macedon in his battle with Rome.
June 22 – The Battle of Pydna (in southern Macedonia) gives Roman forces under Lucius Aemilius Paulus a crushing victory over Perseus and his Macedonian forces, thus ending the Third Macedonian War. Perseus is captured by the Romans and will spend the rest of his life in captivity at Alba Fucens, near Rome.
The Macedonian kingdom is broken up by the Romans into four smaller states, and all the Greek cities which have offered aid to Macedonia, even just in words, are punished. The Romans take hundreds of prisoners from the leading families of Macedonia, including the historian Polybius.
Antiochus IV then invades Egypt again and occupies Lower Egypt and his forces camp outside Alexandria. However, the Roman ambassador in Alexandria, Gaius Popillius Laenas, intervenes. He presents Antiochus IV with an ultimatum that he evacuate Egypt and Cyprus immediately. Antiochus, taken by surprise, asks for time to consider. Popillius, however, draws a circle in the earth (i.e. "a line in the sand") around the king with his walking stick and demands an unequivocal answer before Antiochus leaves the circle. Fearing the consequences of a war with Rome, the king agrees to comply with the ambassador's demands. In return, the Romans agree that Antiochus IV can retain southern Syria, to which Egypt has laid claim, thus enabling Antiochus IV to preserve the territorial integrity of his realm.
The Jewish priest Mattathias of Modi'in defies the king Antiochus IV's decrees aimed at hellenizing the Jews and specifically defies the order that Jews should sacrifice to Zeus. Mattathias slays a Syrian official and escapes into the Judean hills with his five sons, beginning the Maccabean Revolt, a Jewish rebellion against Seleucid control of Judea.
On his way back to Rome, the Roman general Lucius Aemilius Paulus is ordered by the Roman Senate to inflict a brutal revenge on Epirus for being an ally of Macedonia. Seventy towns in Epirus are destroyed and at least 100,000 citizens are sold into slavery. These actions take place despite the fact that Epirus has not aided Perseus in his war with Rome.
Lucius Aemilius Paulus returns to Italy with the King of Macedonia, Perseus, as his prisoner for his triumphal procession in Rome, where the Macedonians captured are sold into slavery. The huge amount of booty brought home after the battle enriches Rome allowing the Government to relieve her citizens of direct taxation. As a gesture of acknowledgment for his achievements in Macedonia, the senate awards Lucius Aemilius Paulus the surname Macedonicus.
The Parthians capture the key central Asian city of Herat. This victory effectively chokes off the movement of trade along the Silk Road to China and means that the Hellenic kingdom of Bactria is doomed.
The Seleucid king Antiochus IV mounts a campaign against the Parthians who are threatening his empire in the east. He leaves his chancellor, Lysias, with responsibility for the government of southern Syria and the guardianship of his son.
The leader of the Jewish revolt against Syria rule, Mattathias, dies and his third son, Judas, assumes leadership of the revolt in accordance with the deathbed deposition of his father.
The Battle of Beth Horon is fought between Jewish forces led by Judas Maccabeus and a Seleucid army. Maccabeus gains the element of surprise and successfully routs the much larger Syrian army.
The Battle of Emmaus takes place between the Jewish rebels led by Judas Maccabeus and Seleucid forces sent by Antiochus IV and led by Lysias and his general, Gorgias. In the ensuing battle, Judas Maccabeus and his men succeed in repelling Gorgias and forcing his army out of Judea and down to the coastal plain in what is an important victory in the war for Judea's independence.
The Roman playwright Terence's Andria (The Girl from Andros) is first performed at the Megalesian games.
The Seleucid king Antiochus IV Epiphanes dies while on a campaign in Tabae (or Gabae, now Isfahan) in Persia. He is succeeded by his son Antiochus V Eupator who is only nine years old. The regent for the boy is the late king's chancellor, Lysias, who was left in charge of Syria when Antiochus IV departed for his campaign in Persia. Lysias is, however, seriously challenged by other Syrian generals and finds himself with a precarious hold on power. To make matters worse for him, the Roman Senate is holding Demetrius, the son of the former king Seleucus IV and, therefore, the rightful heir to the Seleucid throne, as a hostage. By threatening to release him, the Senate is able to influence events in the Seleucid kingdom.
The Battle of Beth Zur is fought between Jewish rebel forces led by Judas Maccabeus and a Seleucid army led by the regent Lysias. Judas Maccabeus wins the battle and is able to recapture Jerusalem soon after. Judas purifies the defiled Temple in Jerusalem, destroys the idols erected there by Antiochus IV and restores the service in the Temple. The reconsecration of the Temple becomes an annual feast of dedication in the Jewish calendar, Hanukkah.
Rhodes signs a treaty with Rome and becomes its ally.
Regent Lysias tries to make peace with the Jews in Judea. He offers them full religious freedom if they will lay down their arms. Moderates including the Hasideans consent, but Judas Maccabeus argues for full political as well as religious freedom.
Seleucid forces still control the Acra, a strong fortress within Jerusalem that faces the Temple Mount. Judas Maccabeus lays siege to the fortress and in response, the Seleucid general and regent to the young Seleucid king Antiochus V, Lysias, approaches Jerusalem and besieges Beth-zechariah, 25 kilometres from the city. Judas lifts his own siege on the Acra, and leads his army south to Beth-zechariah. In the ensuing Battle of Beth-zechariah, the Seleucids achieve their first major victory over the Maccabees, and Judas is forced to withdraw to Jerusalem.
Lysias then lays siege to the city. Just when capitulation by the Maccabees seems imminent, Lysias has to withdraw when the commander-in-chief under the late Seleucid king Antiochus IV Epiphanes, Philip, rebels against him. As a result, Lysias decides to propose a peaceful settlement which is accepted by the Maccabees. The terms of peace involve the restoration of religious freedom, permission for the Jews to live in accordance with their own laws, and the official return of the Temple in Jerusalem to the Jews.
With the aid of the Greek statesman and historian Polybius, the son of the former Seleucid king Seleucus IV Philopator, Demetrius escapes from Rome, where he has been held as a hostage for many years, and returns to Syria to claim the throne from his nephew Antiochus V. In the resulting dispute, Antiochus V and his regent, Lysias, are overthrown and put to death. Demetrius then establishes himself on the Seleucid throne.
The rebel Seleucid general and ruler of Media, Timarchus, who has distinguished himself by defending Media against the emergent Parthians, treats Demetrius I's violent accession to the Seleucid throne as the excuse to declare himself an independent king and extend his realm from Media into Babylonia.
With the restoration of peace in Judea, an internal struggle breaks out between the supporters of Judas Maccabeus and the Hellenic party. The influence of the Hellenic Party all but collapses in the wake of the Seleucid defeat.
The Jewish High Priest Menelaus, who is supported by the Hellenist party, is removed from office and is executed. His successor is a moderate member of the Hellenic party, Alcimus. However, when Alcimus executes sixty Jews who are opposed to him, he finds himself in open conflict with the Maccabees. Alcimus flees from Jerusalem and goes to Damascus to ask the Seleucid king, Demetrius I, for help.
In response to the Jewish high priest, Alcimus', request for assistance, the Seleucid general Bacchides leads an army into Judea with the intent of reconquering this now independent kingdom. Bacchides rapidly marches through Judea after carrying out a massacre of the Assideans in Galilee. He quickly makes for Jerusalem, besieging the city and trapping Judas Maccabeus, the spiritual and military leader of the Maccabees, inside. However, Judas and many of his supporters manage to escape the siege.
Judas Maccabeus and many of his supporters regroup to face the Seleucid forces in the Battle of Elasa (near modern day Ramallah). Greatly outnumbered, the Maccabees are defeated and Judas Maccabeus is killed during the battle.
Demetrius I defeats and kills the rebel general Timarchus and is recognized as king of the Seleucid empire by the Roman Senate. Demetrius acquires his surname of Soter (meaning Saviour) from the Babylonians, for delivering them from the tyranny of Timarchus. The Seleucid empire is temporarily united again.
The king of Bactria, Eucratides I, is considered to have killed Apollodotus I, an Indo-Greek king who rules the western and southern parts of the Indo-Greek kingdom, when he invades the western territories of that kingdom.
A Painted banner, from the tomb of the wife of the Marquis of Dai, of the Han Dynasty, in Mawangdui, Changsha, Hunan, is made (approximate date). It is nowadays preserved at the Historical museum in Beijing.
Theodosius of Bithynia, Greek astronomer and mathematician who will write the Sphaerics, a book on the geometry of the sphere (d. c. 100 BC), later translated from Arabic back into Latin to help restore knowledge of Euclidean geometry to the West.
Quintus Ennius, Roman epic poet, dramatist, and satirist, the most influential of the early Latin poets – and often called the founder of Roman literature or the father of Roman poetry. His epic Annales, a poem telling the story of Rome from the wanderings of Aeneas to Ennius' own time, remains the national epic until it is later eclipsed by Virgil's Aeneid.