Roman Republic

War with the Aequi (304 BC)

Centres with black asterisks - Latin colonies: Alba Fucens (303 BC) and Carseoli (302/1, 300 or 298 BC)

Underlined in blue = centres on Aequan territory that were eventually assigned to the Aniensis

(Afilae, and Treba, Trebula Suffenas and Carseoli: Alba Fucens was eventually assigned to the Fabia)

Adapted from Antonio Sciarretta's Toponymy

It is possible that the Aequi had become wary of Roman intentions because of the eastwards extension of the Via Valeria.  We have only indirect evidence that this extension occurred at this time: Livy recorded that the censors of 307 BC, C. Junius Bubulcus Brutus and M. Valerius Maximus Corvus:

  1. “... built roads through the countryside at the public expense”, (‘History of Rome’, 9: 43: 25-6).

Stephen Oakley (referenced below, 2005, at p. 570) pointed out that, although the hypothesis that one of these roads was the Via Valeria has been disputed, 307 BC is:

  1. “... precisely the time when we should have expected a road from Rome to the central Abruzzi to be built ... : [its] construction can [reasonably] be connected with:

  2. the disaffection of the Aequi in 304 and 302/1 BC, which it may help to explain; and

  3. the subsequent colonisation of Alba Fucens and Carseoli [see below], both of which lay on its route.”

Outbreak of War (304 BC)

Livy recorded that, in 304 BC, immediately after the end of the Second Samnite War: 

  1. “The arms of Rome were ... directed against the Aequi, who had been her enemies of old, but for many years past had remained quiet, under terms of a treaty that they observed unfaithfully”, (‘History of Rome’, 9: 45: 5). 

Livy then (at ‘History of Rome’, 9: 45: 5-8) listed their recent transgressions:

  1. before the Romans’ subjugation of the Hernici in 306 BC, they had repeatedly joined with them in sending assistance to the Samnites;

  2. after the subjugation of the Hernici, most of the Aequi had gone over to the Smnites; and

  3. when, after the defeat of the Samnites in 304 BC,  the Romans had sent fetials to them to demand reparation for their breaches of the treaty, they had:

  4. claimed that the Romans were attempting to intimidate them into becoming Roman citizens, under threats of war; and

  5. referenced the example Hernici, since

  6. -those of them who had been given the option of whether or not to accept Roman citizenship (i.e. Aletrium, Verulae, and Ferentinum) had chosen not to do so; while

  7. -in the case of those who had not been given an option (i.e., for example, Anagnia), citizenship had been inflicted on them as a punishment. 

After their rejection of the fetials’ demands:

  1. “... the Roman people decreed that war should be made upon the Aequi  ... ”, (‘History of Rome’, 9: 45: 10).

It is clear that the Romans initiated the war, and that it was swift and apparently successful.  For example, according to Livy, the consuls P. Sulpicius Saverrio and P. Sempronius Sophus:

  1. “... took up a position four miles from the enemy's camp”, (‘History of Rome, 9: 45: 10).

It seems that the Aequan army fled at the sight of the Romans, who were able to take some 31 (or, in some manuscripts 41) of their cities, all unnamed, in 50 days]:

  1. “Of these, the greater number were dismantled and burnt, and the Aequan name was almost  exterminated.  A triumph was celebrated over the Aequi ...”, (‘History of Rome’, 9: 45: 18). 

Livy, who had Sempronius triumph over the Samnites in 304 BC, implies that both consuls triumphed over the Aequi in this year.  However, Diodorus Siculus named only Sempronius in connection with the Aequi:

  1. “The Romans and the Samnites interchanged envoys and made peace [in 304 BC], after having fought for 22 years and 6 months; and one of the consuls, P. Sempronius, invading the country of the [Aequi] with an army, captured 40 cities in a total of 50 days and, after forcing the entire tribe to submit to Rome, returned home and celebrated a triumph with great applause”, (‘Library of History’, 20: 101: 5).

The ‘fasti Triumphales’ recorded that both consuls received triumphs in 304 BC:

  1. P. Sempronius Sophus against the Aequi; and 

  2. P. Sulpicius Saverrio against the Samnites.

Treaties with Marrucini, Marsi, Paeligni and Frentani (304 BC)

Livy recorded that, in 304 BC:

  1. “... warned by the example of [the downfall of the Aequi], the Marrucini, Marsi, Paeligni, and Frentani sent ambassadors to Rome to sue for peace and friendship.  These nations, at their request, were granted a treaty of alliance”, (‘History of Rome’, 9: 45: 18).

Diodorus Siculus also recorded that, after this victory over the Aequi:

  1. “The Roman people made alliances with the Marsi, the Paligni and the Marrucini”, (‘Library of History’, 20: 101: 5). 

Sora, Arpinum and Frusino (303 BC)

Livy recorded that, in the consulship of L. Genucius and Servius Cornelius (303 BC), during a lull in the war with the Aequi:

  1. “During the consulship of L. Genucius and Ser. Cornelius [in 303 BC], there was almost a complete respite from foreign wars. Colonists were settled at Sora and Alba (see above). ... Sora had been a Volscian town, but the Samnites had occupied it; 4000 men were sent there”, (‘History of Rome’, 10: 1: 1-2).

Sora was among the 30 coloniae populi Romani (colonies of the people of Rome, or Latin colonies) that, according to Livy (‘History of Rome, 27: 9: 7), existed in 209 BC.

Livy then recorded that:

  1. “The right of citizenship was conferred this year upon the Arpinates and the Trebulans”, (‘History of Rome’, 10: 1: 3).

The people of Arpinum must have received civitas sine suffragio at this time, since Livy (‘History of Rome’, 38: 36: 9) recorded that, in 188 BC, its people received full citizenship and were assigned to the Cornelia tribe. 

Finally, Livy recorded that. at the same time:

  1. “The Frusinates were deprived of a third of their territory, for it had been ascertained that they were the instigators of the Hernican revolt.  The Senate decreed that the consuls should hold an inquiry, and the ringleaders were scourged and beheaded”, (‘History of Rome’, 10: 1: 3). 

Diodorus Siculus similarly recorded that, in 306 BC, the Romans:

  1. “... declared war on the Anagnitae, who were acting unjustly and, after taking Frusino, they distributed the land”, (‘Library of History’, 20: 80: 4).

Stephen Oakley (referenced below, 2005, at p. 557 and note 1) suggested that:

  1. “... the easiest interpretation of the evidence is that Frusino revolted in 307-6 BC and was captured by Marcius in 306 BC, but that its punishment was effected only after the Samnites had made peace [in 304 BC.  If so, then] Diodorus will have merged the narrative of several years into one ...”

Incorporation of Trebula Suffenas (303 BC)

Livy recorded that, in the lull in the war with the Aequi in 303 BC:

  1. “The right of citizenship was conferred this year upon the Arpinati [people of Arpinum, see below] and the Trebulani”, (‘History of Rome’, 10: 1: 3).

Pliny the Elder recorded that the territory of the Sabines included:

  1. “... the Trebulani, both those called Mutusci and those called Suffenates; the Tiburtes; and the [now-unknown] Tarinates”, (‘Natural History’, 3:17).

Trebula Mutuesca was well within Sabine territory, but Tibur and Trebula Suffenas were on its borders with (respectively) Latium and the Aequan lands. 

As Stephen Oakley (referenced below, 2007, at pp. 39-40) pointed out, scholars generally assume that the Trebula that was incorporated in 303 BC was Trebula Suffenas.  Since, as discussed below, we know that Arpinum was incorporated sine suffragio (without voting rights) into the Roman state at this point, we might reasonably assume that this was also the case at Trebula Suffenas (see, for example, Lily Ross Taylor, referenced below, at p. 56 and note 36).  Stephen Oakley (referenced below, 2007, at p. 40, note 3) suggested that, if indeed Livy’s sources for this incorporated referred to Trebula Suffenas, this would indicate that:

  1. “... it was the prospective administrative centre of a large area of southern Aequan territory that was incorporated into the Roman state after the campaign of 304 BC.”

Events of the Dictator Year 302/1 BC

Resumed War with the Aequi  and Dictatorship of C. Junius Bubulcus

According to Livy, in the consulship of M. Livius Denter and M. Aemilius Paullus (which the fasti Capitolini place in 302 BC):

  1. “... the Aequi resumed hostilities: they resented the planting of a colony [at Alba Fucens] within their borders, which was to be a stronghold of Roman power.  They therefore made a desperate effort to capture it, but were beaten off by the colonists.  In their weakened condition, it seemed almost incredible that the Aequi could have resumed the war, relying solely upon themselves: this fear of an indefinitely extended war necessitated the appointment of a dictator”, (‘History of Rome’, 10: 1: 6-8). 

It is unclear why one or other of the consuls could not have dealt with the Aequi, although Stephen Oakley (referenced below, 2007, at p. 44) observed that the Romans were dealing with events on a number of fronts in this year and suggested (at p. 45) that the appointment of a dictator was probably occasioned by the consuls’ absence elsewhere.

According to Livy, C. Junius Bubulcus was nominated as dictator in order to deal with the unexpected resumption of hostilities on the part of the Auquii, and:

  1. “... took the field with M. Titinius as Master of the Horse.  He crushed the Aequi in the very first battle and, a week later, returned in triumph to Rome.

The ‘fasti Triumphales’ also record that C. Junius Bubulcus triumphed over the Aequi in 302 BC (o 30th July), and Stephen Oakley (referenced below, at p. 45) argued that there is no reason to doubt Livy’s account of this short dictatorship, and that is supported by Livy’s record that, presumably before he resigned his dictatorship, Junius:

  1. “...  dedicated the Temple of Salus, which he had vowed as consul and [commissioned] as censor”, (‘History of Rome’, 10: 1: 8-9). 

Cicero(in a letter that he wrote to Atticus from Brundisium in 57 BC, shortly after his return to Italy from exilein Greece):

  1. “I landed at Brundisium on [5th] August, ... [which was], as it happens, the foundation day of  ... tuae vicinae Salutis (your neighbour, Salus) ...”, (‘Letter to Atticus’, 73: 4, translated by David Shackleton Bailey, referenced below, in Vol. I,  p. 287).

Cicero referred here to the fact that Salus was the goddess of salvation (and, in this case, his own salvation from his political enemies), and that her temple was near Atticus’ house on the Quirinal.  Thus, it seems that Junius was appointed as dictator on or about 23rd July, triumphed over the Aequi on  30th July, dedicated his temple of 5th August, and then  (presumably) resigned.

Treaty with the Vestini

After a digression in which he recorded the landing of Cleonymus of Sparta in southern Italy,  Livy recorded that:

  1. “The Vestini had requested to be given the status of a friendly state, and a treaty was made with them this year”, (‘History of Rome’, 10: 3: 1). 

Stephen Oakley (referenced below, 2007, at p. 46) observed that this notice:

  1. “... is not to be doubted, although we do not know why [the Vestini] did not join the other tribes of the Abruzzo in making this agreement in 304 BC [above].”

Dictatorship of M. Valerius Maximus Corvus

According to Livy, soon after the agreement of the treaty with the Vestini:

  1. “... several incidents created alarm in Rome:

  2. Intelligence was received [at Rome] of the renewal of hostilities by the Etruscans, owing to disturbances in Arretium.  The powerful house of the Cilnii had created widespread jealousy through their enormous wealth, and an attempt was made to expel them from the city. 

  3. The Marsi also were giving trouble, for a body of 4000 colonists had been sent to Carseoli, and they were prevented by force from occupying the place.  

  4. In view of this threatening state of affairs, M. Valerius Maximus was nominated dictator, and he named M. Aemilius Paulus as his master of the horse”, (‘History of Rome’, 10: 3: 2-3). 

It seems that Livy was aware of other sources that claimed that Valerius first appointed Q. Fabius Maximus Rullianus as his master of horse and then, when Fabius was forced to resign resigned, replaced him by M. Aemilius Paullus (a situation that is reflected in the entry for 301 B C in the fasti Capitolini (see below).  However, Livy insisted that it was highly unlikely:

  1. “...  that Q. Fabius was made master of the horse and, therefore, in a subordinate position to Valerius, in view of his age and the [the many senior] offices that he [had already] held ...”, (‘History of Rome’, 10: 3: 4).

Revolt of the Marsi

According to Livy, Valerius first:

  1. “... took the field and routed the Marsi in one battle.  After forcing them to seek shelter in their fortified cities, he took [the now-unknown] Milionia, Plestina, and Fresilia within a few days.  The Marsi were compelled to surrender a portion of their territory, and then the old treaty with Rome was renewed.  The war was now turned against the Etruscans [see below]”, (‘History of Rome’, 10: 3: 5-6).

Some scholars doubt that the Marsi actually rebelled at this point, since Carseoli was on the territory of the Aequi.  However, Stephen Oakley (referenced below, 2007, at p. 45) pointed out that the foundation of the broadly contemporary colony at Alba Fucens, which was much closer to the border between the Aequi and the Marsi, could have provoked unrest among both peoples.  Any land confiscations cannot have led to a significant level of viritane settlement since, as Lily Ross Taylor (referenced below, at p. 111) pointed out, there is no evidence of a voting tribe in this area until the aftermath of the Social War, when:

  1. “... all of the Marsi and the Paeligni were placed in the Sergia [tribe], in which some of the Paeligni may have been registered earlier ...”

As we shall see, the ‘fasti Triumphales’ record that Valerius triumphed during this dictatorship over both the Etruscans (see below) and the Marsi: Livy does not explicitly state that he triumphed over the Marsi, but Stephen Oakley (referenced below, at p. 46) argued that:

  1. “.. there is no reason to believe that [his]  Marsic successes... were inferior [to those of Junius ] at the expense of the Aequi.”

Revolt in Etruria (Livy’s Shorter Version)

As we have seen, Livy recorded that, immediately after his rapid victory over the Aequi, Valerius turned his attention to the revolt at Arretium against the ‘powerful house’ of the Cilnii, who presumably enjoyed Roman support.  Stephen Oakley (referenced below, at p. 46) observed that:

  1. “The authenticity of these references to the Cilnii has been questioned, on the grounds that he fame of Maecenas in Livy’s own generation [arguably] led to a gratuitous insertion of the clan into [this narrative.  ... However], we know that the family was old, and there is no strong reason for suspicion.”

Livy gave two version of Valerius’ actions  in Etruria, one of which was much longer and more elaborate than the other.  In the shorter version, which served as a postscript to his longer version (below), Livy simply noted that:

  1. “Some of my sources claim that Etruria was pacified without any important battle being fought, simply through the settlement of the troubles in Arretium and the restoration of the Cilnii to popular favour”, (‘History of Rome’, 10: 5: 13).

Revolt in Etruria (Livy’s Longer Version)

Before we look at Livy’s longer account of Valerius’ Etruscan campaign, we should note that, while Livy recorded that he campaigned against both the Marsi and the Etruscans as dictator in during the consulship of Livius and Aemilius:

  1. the fasti Capitolini recorded that he served as dictator for the whole of the following year, which was a (fictitious) dictator year without consuls; and 

  2. the fasti Triumphales recorded that he triumphed over both the Etruscans and the Marsi on 21st November of that year.

Stephen Oakley (referenced below, at pp. 46-7) argued that:

  1. “Livy’s brief version [of Valerius’ Etruscan campaign] exposes his longer version as the product of annalistic elaboration and invention. ... Since the [Augustan fasti, above] make Valerius dictator in the dictator year 301 BC, ... it is conceivable that:

  2. this long tale was invented at the same time as the dictator years; and

  3. Livy’s narrative had been influenced by an account that, [like the fasti], recognised these [fictitious] years.”

I discuss the detail of  Livy’s longer, preferred version, which began at ‘History of Rome’, 10: 3: 7) in my page Fourth Dictator Year (302/1 BC).  For our present purposes, we should simply note that it ended with an account of a battle in the territory of Rusellae in which:

  1. “... the power of the Etruscans was broken or the second time.  After undertaking to provide a year's pay for the army and a two months' supply of corn, [the unspecified Etruscan cities] obtained permission from the dictator to send envoys to Rome to sue for peace.  A regular treaty of peace was refused, but they were granted a two years' truce”, (‘History of Rome’, 10: 5: 12-3).

Stephen Oakley (referenced below, 2007, at pp. 46-7) regarded this version as largely fabricated, for reasons that I discussed.  However, he argued (at p. 47) that:

  1. “Despite the general inauthenticity of Livy’s longer narrative, some items in it could perhaps have originated in an unadorned version and hence be reliable.”

He argued, for example, that:

  1. “... it is not impossible that the fasti Triumphales were correct to record that Valerius really did triumph over the Marsi and the Etruscans: [perhaps] the major fighting had taken place in Marsic territory, but, since he had also accomplished his Etruscan operation successfully, this was included in the triumph.”

Confiscations of Land from the Aequi (304 -298 BC)

Livy  recorded that:

  1. “No sooner had Valerius laid down the dictatorship than he was elected consul [for 300 BC].  Some have thought that he was elected without having been a candidate and, therefore, in his absence, and that the election was conducted by an interrex.  There is no question, however, that he held the consulship with [Q.] Apuleius Pansa”, (‘History of Rome’, 10: 5: 13).

He noted that, as consul, Valerius:

  1. “... conducted a war against the Aequi, who had reopened hostilities, but who retained nothing of their earlier character except their restless temper”, (‘History of Rome’, 10: 9: 8).

Stephen Oakley (referenced below, 2007, at p. 26) observed that, from this point, (and with the possible exception of the Marsi in 295 BC):

  1. “... the tribes [of this region] did not  fight Rome again until the Social War ...”.

Saskia Roselaar (referenced below, at p. 309, entry 18) suggested that much of the territory of the Aequi was confiscated during the four years of this war: although Livy did not explicitly say so, such confiscation is implied by his claim that the people of the Aequan name were almost exterminated, and supported by the facts that:

  1. colonies were founded at Alba Fucens and Carseoli on Via Valeria in 303 - 298 BC (see below); and

  2. the Aniensis tribe was established in 299 BC for the Roman citizens settled around a number of centres that had belonged to the Aequi (see below).

Colonies: Alba Fucens (303 BC) and Carseoli (302/1, 300 or 298 BC)

Livy recorded that

  1. ... in the consulship of L. Genucius and Servius Cornelius (303 BC), during a lull in the war with the Aequi:

  2. “... there was in general a respite from foreign wars.  Colonies were established at Sora [see below] and Alba: 6,000 settlers were enrolled for Alba, in the Aequian country”, (‘History of Rome’, 10: 1: 1-2).

  3. He also made two references to the foundation of a colony at Carseoli:

  4. 302/1 BC:

  5. “The Marsi [see above] ... were giving trouble, for a body of 4000 colonists had been sent to Carseoli, and they were prevented by force from occupying the place”, ‘History of Rome’, 10: 3: 3-5);

  6. 298 BC, at the start of the Third Samnite War:

  7. “... a colony was settled at Carseoli, in the country of the Aequicoli”, (‘History of Rome’, 10: 13: 1).

Velleius Patroculus recorded that, after the foundation of the colony of Interamna Lirenas in 312 BC:

  1. “... the work of colonisation was suspended for ten years.  Then:

  2. the colonies of Sora and Alba were founded; and

  3. two years later [i.e., in 300 BC, allowing for the dictator year of 302/1 BC], that of Carseoli”,  (Roman History’, 1: 14: 5).

Thus, while we might reasonably assume that the colony of Sora was founded in 303 BC (see below), Carseoli might have been funded in any of 302/1, 300 or 298 BC.  Both Alba Fucens and Carseoli were among the 30 coloniae populi Romani (colonies of the people of Rome, or Latin colonies) that, according to Livy (‘History of Rome, 27: 9: 7), existed in 209 BC.

Livy implied that the colony of Carseoli was in the territory of the Marsi.  However, Pliny the Elder (‘Natural History’, 3:17) placed:

  1. the ‘Fucentes’ in the territory of the Marsi;

  2. the ‘town of Alba on Lake Fucinus’ in the territory of the ‘Albenses’; and

  3. the Carseolani in the territory of ‘the Aequiculani’.

As Stephen Oakley (referenced below, 2007, at p. 69) pointed out:

  1. “... the territory of the Marsi probably began only at the Fucine Lake.”

He also noted (at pp. 177-8) that, if there had ever been any distinction between the Aequi and the the Aequicoli, the terms had probably become interchangeable by the Augustan period.  Thus, we might reasonably assume that Carseoli was founded on land confiscated from the Aequi.  Oakley also noted (at p. 45) that, if it was founded in 302/1 BC:

  1. “... then this would provide a second good explanation of [the renewal in that year] of Aequan unrest.”

Aniensis Tribe (299 BC)

According to Livy, in 299 BC:

  1. “The lustrum was closed ... by the censors, P. Sempronius Sophus and P. Sulpicius Saverrio, and two new tribes were added, the Aniensis and the Teretina”, (‘History of Rome’, 10: 9: 14). 

Lily Ross Taylor (referenced below, at pp. 56-7) argued that there can be no doubt:

  1. “... that the [original] site of the Aniensis [was] on land taken from the Aequi, who were subdued in 304 - [300] BC.  The tribe was in the Anio valley, from which it took its name, in a region where the Latin colonies of Alba Fucens (303 BC) and Carseoli ([302/1, 300 or] 298 BC) show that there was was [extensive] confiscation of territory, and where one community, Trebula Suffenas, may have received citizenship without the vote in 303 BC.  The Aniensis was probably made up of viritane assignments to citizens [settled] on the south side of the Anio ... [The] communities of Afilae and Treba perhaps ... developed as civitates sine suffragio, [as Trebula Suffenas certainly did], but eventually [all three had] the vote in the Aniensis.

Border between Romans and Samnites (298 BC)

Roman expansion in Italy between the 2nd and 3rd Samnite Wars (304 - 299 BC)

Red asterisks  = centres incorporated (Arpinum) or probably incorporated (Frusino) sine suffragio in 303 BC

Black asterisks = centres incorporated sine suffragio before 303 BC

Red square (Sora) = Latin colony founded in 303 BC

Black squares = Latin colonies founded around Samnium before 303 BC

Italic tribes underlined = those around Samnium that were allied with Rome by 303 BC

(Note that the Volsci had effectively disappeared as an entity by this time)

The map above illustrates how the Romans had acted to secure their position in the territory to the north and west of Samnium in the short period between the second and third Samnite Wars.   We now need to look at other developments that took place in this period.

Conquest of Nequinum (303 - 299 BC)

Nequinum (modern Narni) was the site of a naturally fortified Umbrian settlement in the valley of the Nar (Nera).  There is archeological evidence of settlement here from the 8th century BC, but it first enters written (i.e Roman) history shortly after the Second Samnite War.   As we have seen in the page on that war, the Romans had:

  1. fought with unspecified Umbrians in the area north of the Ciminian Forest  and west of the Tiber in 310/9 BC; and

  2. defeated an Umbrian army at Mevania in 308 BC, at which point the strategically important Umbrian/ Sabine settlement at Ocriculum had been given a treaty.

We hear no more about the Umbrians until 303 BC, when, according to Livy:

  1. “... in order that the Romans might not pass a whole year without any military operations, a small expeditionary force was sent into Umbria.  A certain cave was reported to be the rendezvous of a body of freebooters, and from this hiding-place, they made armed excursions into the surrounding country.  The Roman troops entered this cave, and many of them were wounded, mostly by stones, owing to the darkness of the place.  At length they discovered another entrance, for there was a passage right through the cave, and both mouths of the cavern were filled up with wood.  This was set on fire, and, stifled by the smoke, the bandits, in trying to escape, rushed into the flames and 2,000 perished”, (‘History of Rome’, 10: 1: 4-6).

The precise location of this cave is unspecified, but Stephen Oakley (referenced below, at p. 29) suggested that this notice by Livy:

  1. “... is likely to reflect fighting in the area of Ocriculum and Nequinum.

The first major Roman engagement in Umbria after the battle at Mevania took place in 300 BC, when, according to Livy, the consul Q. Appuleius Pansa ( the colleague of M. Valerius Maximus - see above):

  1. “.. invested the town of Nequinum in Umbria.  It was situated where [the Latin colony of] Narnia now stands, on high ground that  ... was impossible to take it either by assault or by regular siege works.  It was left to the new consuls of 299 BC], M. Fulvius Paetus and T. Manlius Torquatus, to carry the siege to a successful issue”, (‘History of Rome’, 10: 9: 8-10)

Livy began his account of the following year by noting that:

  1. “...the siege of Nequinum was dragging slowly on and time was being wasted.  At length two of the townsmen, whose houses abutted on the city wall, made a tunnel, and came by that secret passage to the Roman outposts.  They were conducted to the consul, and undertook to admit a detachment of soldiers within the fortifications and the city walls.  It did not seem right to reject their proposal, nor yet to accept it without circumspection.  [Thus, while] one of them was instructed to conduct two spies through the underground passage, the other was detained as a hostage.  The report of the spies was satisfactory, and 300 soldiers, led by the deserter, entered the city by night and seized the nearest gate.  This was broken open, and the consul with his army took possession of the place without any fighting.  Thus Nequinum passed into the power of Rome.  A colony was sent there as an outpost against the Umbrians, and the place was called Narnia from the river Nar [now Nera].  The army marched back to Rome with a large amount of spoil”, (‘History of Rome’, 10: 10: 1-6).

The ‘fasti Triumphales’ record that M. Fulvius Paetinus was awarded a triumph over the Samnites and the Nequinates in 299 BC.  Julius Beloch (referenced below, at p. 271) argued that, since the Third Samnite War (see below) had not yet begun, this triumph might well have been against the Sabines rather than the Samnites, and that this signalled the start of a decade of Sabine hostilities with Rome that culminated in their total defeat in 290 BC.  Stephen Oakley (referenced below, 2007, at pp. 31-3), who did not accept all of Beloch’s rewriting of the history of the 290s BC, nevertheless agreed (at pp. 33-4) that:

  1. “It would [indeed] be surprising if the Sabines had capitulated in just one year, [and] it is [more] likely that the capture of Nequinum [in 299 BC] provoked hostilities [between Rome and] the Sabines.... [This would account for, inter alia,] the very difficult reference to the Samnites in the fasti Triumphales in 299 BC”

Livy (‘History of Rome’, 27: 9 - 27:10) identified the status of Narnia by including it among the 30 Latin colonies that existed in 209 BC. 

At the time of its foundation, Narnia represented the most northerly Roman presence in peninsular Italy.  Its position on the northern border of the Sabina Tiberina is potentially significant: as noted above, it is possible that the triumphs recorded in the fasti Triumphales in 299 BC were against the Nequinates and the Sabines (rather than the Samnites).  If so, then it is at least possible that the Romans had also suspected these two peoples of pro-Samnite sympathies.  In other words, Livy’s assertion that Narnia served as  ‘an outpost against the Umbrians’ might not have fully captured the strategic significance of its foundation.

Read more:

Roselaar S., “Public Land in the Roman Republic: A Social and Economic History of Ager Publicus in Italy, 396 - 89 BC”, (2010) Oxford

Oakley S., “A Commentary on Livy, Books VI-X:Volume IV: Book X”, (2007) Oxford

Oakley S., “A Commentary on Livy, Books VI-X:Volume III: Book IX”, 2005 (Oxford)

Shackleton Bailey D. R. (translator), “Cicero: ‘Letters to Atticus’ (Volumes I-IV)”, (1999), Cambridge MA

Drummond A., “The Dictator Years”, Historia: Zeitschrift für Alte Geschichte, 27:4 (1978), 550-72 

Ross Taylor L., “The Voting Districts of the Roman Republic: The 35 Urban and Rural Tribes”, (1960) Rome

Beloch K. J., “Römische Geschichte bis zum Beginn der Punischen Kriege”, (1926) Berlin and Leipzig

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Roman Conquest of Italy (509 - 241 BC)

Between the 2nd and 3rd Samnite Wars (304 - 299 BC)