Crete and Cyrenaica

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Provincia Creta et Cyrene
Ἐπαρχία τῆς Κρήτης καὶ τῆς Κυρηναϊκῆς
Province of the Roman Empire
67 BCE–c. 297 CE
Location of Creta et Cyrenaica
Roman province of Creta et Cyrenaica highlighted.
Capital Gortyn
 •  Established 67 BCE
 •  Disestablished c. 297 CE
Today part of  Greece

Crete and Cyrenaica (Latin: Provincia Creta et Cyrenaica) was a senatorial province of the Roman Empire, established in 67 BCE. It comprised the island of Crete and the region of Cyrenaica in present-day Libya.

Apion's will and Roman rule of Cyrenaica[edit]

Ptolemy Apion, the last king of the Hellenistic Kingdom of Cyrenaica left his kingdom to the Roman Republic when he died childless in 96 BCE.[1] Rome readily accepted this inheritance from Ptolemy Apion but preferred to leave the administration to local rulers, rather than enforcing direct control. However, by the 70s BCE, civil uprisings by Jewish settlers began to destabilise the province and the Senate was forced to take action. In 74 BCE, they sent a low level official, the quaestor Cornelius Lentulus Marcellinus, to officially annex Cyrenaica as a Roman province and restore order. That the Senate sent such a low-ranking official indicates the political difficulty the Republic had in governing its growing empire, as well as indicting the ease with which Cyrenaica was willing to submit to Roman governance and the stability it brought.[2]

Roman conquest of Crete[edit]

Marcus Antonius Creticus attacked Crete in 71 BCE and was repelled. Then in 66 BCE, Rome commissioned Quintus Caecilius Metellus and, following a ferocious three-year campaign, Crete was conquered for Rome in 69 BCE, Metellus earning the agnomen "Creticus" as an honour for his conquest and subjugation of Crete.[3]


In 67 BCE, Crete and Cyrenaica were combined into a single province[4] with its capital at Gortyn in Crete. Because this arrangement was geographically inconvenient Diocletian divided the province in 298 AD.[3][5]

List of Roman governors[edit]


  1. ^ "Ptolemy Apion". Chris Bennett. Retrieved 2016-11-24.
  2. ^ "Cyrenaica". UNRV.com. Retrieved 2016-11-24.
  3. ^ a b "Crete". UNRV.com. Retrieved 2016-11-24.
  4. ^ "Cyrenaica historical region, North Africa". Encyclopaedia Britannica. Retrieved 27 December 2017.
  5. ^ "Cyernaica". Livius.org. Retrieved 2016-11-24.
  6. ^ Unless otherwise stated, the names of the proconsular governors from 71 to 135 are taken from Werner Eck, "Jahres- und Provinzialfasten der senatorischen Statthalter von 69/70 bis 138/139", Chiron, 12 (1982), pp. 281-362; 13 (1983), pp. 147-237
  7. ^ Unless otherwise stated, the names of the proconsular governors from 140 to 165 are taken from Géza Alföldy, Konsulat und Senatorenstand unter der Antoninen (Bonn: Rudolf Habelt Verlag, 1977), pp. 263f

Coordinates: 35°03′44″N 24°56′49″E / 35.0621°N 24.9470°E / 35.0621; 24.9470