Key to Umbria

Underlined in red = Latin colonies founded in this period: Cales (336 BC) and Fregellae (328 BC)

War with the Sidicini (337 -332 BC)

Having secured their control over Latium and Campania in the Second Latin War (341-338 BC), the Romans now turned their attention to their potential unstable position in relation to the the strip of land between Campania and Samnium.

Events of 337 BC

The Sidicini and the Aurunci had been allied with the Latins and Campanians during the Latin War, and  the fasti Triumphalis recorded that T. Manlius Imperiosus Torquatus was awarded triumph over the Latins, Campani, Sidicini and Aurunci in 340 BC.  We hear no more about the Sidicini and the Aurunci until the consulship of C. Sulpicius Longus and P. Aelius Paetus (337 BC), when Livy recorded that:

  1. “... a war broke out between the Sidicini and the Aurunci.  Since the Aurunci had surrendered [to Rome] in the consulship of T. Manlius and had given no trouble since that time, they had the better right to expect assistance from the Romans”, (‘History of Rome’, 8: 15: 1-2).

Stephen Oakley (referenced below, 1998, at p. 572) observed that there is no reason to doubt that the Aurunci had surrendered in 340 BC, and that they had subsequently remained in the Roman sphere of influence.  This passage by Livy suggests that, unlike the Aurunci, the Sidicini had not troubled to endear themselves to the Romans in 340-337 BC. The Senate therefore:

  1. “... directed the consuls to defend the Aurunci.  However,  before they marched from Rome, news arrived that:

  2. the Aurunci had abandoned their [original city on the Monte Roccamonfina] and ... taken refuge ... in [a new city, Suessa Aurunca] ..., which they had fortified; and

  3. the Sidicini had destroyed the original  city of the Aurunci , together with its ancient walls”, (‘History of Rome’, 8: 15: 1-5).

Since the Aurunci were now safely ensconced in Suessa Aurunca, the consuls decided not to march against the Sidicini. 

According to Livy, this failure to take action:

  1. “... made the Senate angry with the consuls, whose tardiness had led to the betrayal of [the Aurunci].  They therefore ordered a dictator to be appointed.  The nomination fell to C. Claudius Inregillensis, who named C. Claudius Hortator as his master of horse.  A religious difficulty was then raised about the dictator and, when the augurs reported that there seemed to have been a flaw in his appointment, the dictator and his master of the horse resigned”, (‘History of Rome’, 8: 15: 5-6). 

Stephen Oakley (referenced below, 1998, at p. 576) argued that the obscurity of C. Claudius Inregillensis and C. Claudius Hortator makes it unlikely that a dictatorship was invented for them.  He was therefore inclined to accept its authenticity, although he considered that Livy’s explanation of  the reasons for the appointment of a dictator was suspect, noting that:

  1. “... this was a period in which there were many dictatorships, and it is easy to believe that only the bare notice of this one survived, without any indication of its purpose.”

War with the Sidicini and the Ausones of Cales (336-5 BC)

Events of 336 BC

According to Livy, the year of the consulship of L. Papirius Crassus and Caeso Duillius (336 BC):

  1. “... was remarkable for a war (more novel than important) with the Ausones of Cales, who had joined forces with their neighbours, the Sidicini”, (‘History of Rome’, 8: 16: 1-2). 

The Ausones, who seem to have been ethnically related to the Aurunci, were based around Cales, a strategically-located stronghold that makes its entry into recorded history at this point.  Stephen Oakley (referenced below, 1998, at p. 571) suggested that:

  1. “The peoples east and west of the Roccamonfina may once have formed part of a united tribe, but it is probable enough that, by 337 BC, the power of the Sidicini had divided them.”

The novel feature of this war was apparently the fact that:

  1. “The Romans defeated the army of the two peoples in a single and by no means memorable battle”, (‘History of Rome’, 8: 16: 3).

This single defeat drove the two enemy armies back into their respective strongholds.  However, it seems that the consuls were unable to take these strongholds and that the consular year ended in stalemate.

Events of 335 BC

According to Livy, as the consular elections approached:

  1. “The Senate ... remained concerned over this war, because the Sidicini ... [had caused the Romans problems] so many times before.  They therefore made every effort to elect M. Valerius Corvus, the greatest soldier of that age, to his fourth consulship, giving him M. Atilius Regulus as his colleague.  [Furthermore], lest there should by chance be some miscarriage, they requested of the consuls that Corvus be given the command, without the drawing of lots ”, (‘History of Rome’, 8: 16: 3-5).

Valerius therefore:

  1. “... took over the victorious army from the previous consuls and marched on Cales, where the war had originated.  He routed the Ausones (who had as yet not even recovered from the panic of the earlier encounter) and ... attacked [Cales] itself. ... [With the help of M. Fabius, a Roman prisoner at Cales who had escaped from his drunken guards], Valerius easily captured the Ausones and their city. ... Huge spoils were taken, a garrison was established in the town, and the legions were led back to Rome, where Valerius  triumphed ... ”, (‘History of Rome’, 8: 16: 6-11).

Livy then recorded that:

  1. “... lest Atilius should go without his share of glory, the Senate directed both consuls to march against the Sidicini, having named a dictator to preside at the elections.  Their choice fell on L. Aemilius Mamercinus, who selected Q. Publilius Philo to be master of the horse.  Under the presidency of the dictator, T. Veturius [Calvinus] and Sp. Postumius [Albinus]were chosen consuls”, (‘History of Rome’, 8: 16: 11).

There are a number of problems with this account:

  1. Livy stressed that the Senate had played a decisive role in securing Valerius’ election as consul, and that the defeat of the Sidicini as his provincia.  As Nathan Rosenstein (referenced below, at p. 31 pointed out:

  2. “Only in a single instance between 367 and 218 BC does evidence exist of a senatorial effort to influence the voters’ choice of consuls: in the elections for 335 BC, Livy reports that the [Senate] moved heaven and earth to ensure that the city's top general, M. Valerius Corvus, held the consulship for the fourth time, in order to lead a war against the Sidicini.  Few, however, would be willing to take Livy's testimony for events [of this type] at such an early date at face value without strong corroborating evidence, of which none is forthcoming here.”

  3. In other words, pace Livy, it is most unlikely that the Senate took unusual steps to ensure Corvus’ election and gave him command over the army of the previous consuls without the drawing of lots.

  4. Livy then had Valerius defeat the Ausones of Cales and return to the city in triumph.  The fasti Triumphalis also record the award of a triumph to Valerius over the Caleni.  However (as we shall see),  the ‘Chronography of 354 AD’ recorded the consuls of 335 BC as ‘Caleno’ and ‘Corvo IV’, suggesting that Valerius’ colleague, Marcus Atilius Regulus (who is known only from these two sources) acquired the cognomen ‘Calenus’.  Thus, as Stephen Oakley (referenced below, 1998, at p. 573) pointed out it is possible that a variant tradition credited him with this victory, and observed that:

  5. “[Although] though the authority of the [Chronography] is not high, a victory is more likely to have been transferred to, rather than away from, Valerius Corvus.  Alternatively, both consuld may have been involved in the fighting.  This kind of problem is common in our sources for this period, ... but it need not affect the credibility of the evidence for the capture of Cales itself.”

  6. In other words, although there is no reason to doubt that Cales was taken in 335 BC, we might reasonably doubt Livy’s insistence that M. Atilius Regulus (Calenus) played no part in this victory

  7. This niggling uncertainty is arguably reinforced by Livy’s somewhat patronising assertion that:

  8. “... so that Atilius might have his share of glory, the Senate [then] directed both consuls to march against the Sidicini ...”, (‘History of Rome’, 8: 16: 11).

  9. It also seems odd that, having identified the defeat of the Sidicini as Valerius’ main responsibility, Livy said nothing about how or to what extent he discharged it. 

Foundation of a Latin Colony at Cales (334/3 BC)

Livy recorded that, without waiting for the Sidicini to be defeated, the new consuls, Veturius and Postumius :

  1. “... brought in a proposal for sending out a colony to Cales, in order to anticipate the desires of the plebs by doing them a service.  The Senate resolved that 2,500 men should be enrolled for it, and they appointed a commission of three (Caeso Duillius, [the consul of 336 BC], T. Quinctius Poenus and M. Fabius, [perhaps the Roman prisoner who had facilitated the capture of the stronghold]) to conduct the settlers to the land and to apportion it amongst them”, (‘History of Rome’, 8: 16: 12-4).

Velleius Patroculus (‘Roman History’, 1: 14: 3) also dated the foundation of this colony to 334/3 BC.  

I discuss the foundation of this colony (and another at Fregellae in 328 BC) below.

Continued War with the Sidicini (334/3 BC)

Livy’s Account of the Events of 334 BC

As noted above, according to Livy, the Senate had explicitly charged M. Valerius Corvus with the task of defeating the Sidicini during his consulship of 335 BC.  He had first taken Cales and then, towards the end of the consular year, he had marched with his colleague, M. Atilius Regulus, into the territory of the Sidicini.  As Stephen Oakley (referenced below, 1998, at p. 573) observed, there is no report of a battle against the Sidicini in this year.  However, the fact that a dictator was apparently appointed to hold the elections at at this time, we might reasonably assume that both consuls remained in the field.  In 334/3 BC, once the new consuls, T. Veturius Calvinus and Sp. Postumius Albinus had presented plans to the Senate for the new colony at Cales, they:

  1. “... took over the army from their predecessors and, entering the territory of the Sidicini, laid it waste as far as the walls of the [unnamed] city”, (‘History of Rome’, 8: 17: 1).

Stephen Oakley (referenced below, 1998, at pp. 573-4) suggested that:

  1. the Romans probably contented themselves with plundering the territory of the Sidicini in 335 BC, possibly because Teanum Sidicinum was so well fortified that they did not dare to attack it; and

  2. the unnamed city mentioned in the passage quoted above in the context of the campaign of 334/3 BC was probably Teanum Sidicinum.

He also suggested (at p. 574) that the bland account in this passage:

  1. “... may well be no more than annalistic reconstruction for a campaign about which the authentic testimony was silent ...”

It seems to me that the most likely scenario is that Valerius and Atilius had begun the siege of Teanum Sidicinum in 335 BC, and that Veturius and Postumius took over this besieging army.

Livy then flagged up a sudden state of emergency:

  1. “At this juncture, since:

  2. the Sidicini had raised an enormous army and seemed likely to make a desperate struggle on behalf of their last hope [of survival]; and

  3. there was a rumour that Samnium was arming;

  4. the Senate authorised the consuls to nominate a dictator.  They appointed P. Cornelius Rufinus, and M. Antonius was made master of horse”, (‘History of Rome’, 8: 17: 2).

Stephen Oakley (referenced below, 1998, at pp. 587-8) observed that Rufinus is not otherwise recorded in our surviving sources, although some of his descendants were much less obscure: his eponymous grandson served as consul in 290 and 277 BC and, perhaps six generations later, his descendant L. Cornelius Sulla served as consul of 88 and 80 BC and as dictator throughout the period 82-79 BC. 

It seems odd that the presumably inexperienced Rufinus was chosen to deal with this emergency.  Fortunately, the wisdom of this choice was apparently never tested, because:

  1. “ ... a scruple was subsequently raised about the regularity of [the] appointment [of Rufinus and his master of horse], and they resigned their office ...”, (‘History of Rome’, 8: 17: 4).

We should pause at this point to assess the reliability of Livy’s account of Rufinus’ vitiated dictatorship.  Mark Wilson (referenced below, at pp. 434-5 and note 34) pointed out that the vitiation of dictatorial appointments in this way seems to have been quite rare: he listed only five cases in Livy’s narrative that explicitly involved such an occurrence (although he observed that there were a fews other cases in which the reported resignation of a dictator might actually have been a vitiation).  Only two of the five dictators in Wilson’s list had been appointed for military reasons:

  1. C. Claudius Inregillensis, in 337 BC (discussed above); and

  2. P. Cornelius Rufinus, in 334/3 BC.

As we have seen, Stephen Oakley (referenced below, 1998, at p. 576) argued that, in the case of C. Claudius Inregillensis and his master of horse, C. Claudius Hortator:

  1. their obscurity makes it unlikely that a dictatorship was invented for them; but

  2. Livy’s explanation of the reason for their appointment was suspect; and

  3. the likelihood is that only the bare notice of of Inregillensis’ dictatorship survived, without any indication of its purpose.

It seems to me that similar considerations apply to the dictatorship of P. Cornelius Rufinus, and that it is most unlikely that he was appointed to succeed against the Sidicini, where M. Valerius Corvus had failed.  However, Livy recorded that there was an epidemic in Rome at the time of his appointment (see below), and he could have been appointed clavi figendi caussa (as were the dictators of 363, 331 and possibly 313 BC).

Livy recorded that the plague that followed this vitiated appointment was taken as a sign that:

  1. “... all the auspices had been affected by this irregularity, and the state reverted to an interregnum”, (‘History of Rome’, 8: 17: 4).

In other words, it seems that the irregularity also removed the consuls’ power to preside over the election of their successors, causing the Senate to appoint one of its members as interrex in order to do so.  The first interrex would have been appointed for a period of 5 days, on the understanding that, if he proved unable to complete these elections within that time, he would choose a successor, in a process that would continue until the elections were completed.  According to Livy, on this occasion:

  1. “... M. Valerius Corvus, the fifth interrex from the beginning of the interregnum, finally achieved the election to the consulship of Aulus Cornelius [Cossus Arvina] (for the second time) and Cn. Domitius [Corvinus]”, (‘History of Rome’, 8: 17: 5).

We should pause again at this point to consider the reliability of Livy’s claims that:

  1. the putative flaw in Rufinus’ appointment impugned ‘all of the auspices’, including those of both consuls, so that an interex was needed to preside over the election of the consuls for the following year; and

  2. four interreges failed before the fifth, M. Valerius Corvus, succeeded.

Confidence in these claims is undermined by facts that Sp. Postumius Albinus and T. Veturius Calvinus held the consulship together on two occasions (in 334/3 BC and again in 321 BC) and that, on each occasion:

  1. the Senate called upon them to appoint a dictator;

  2. his appointment was subsequently vitiated;

  3. this led to an interregnum followed by the election of the consuls for the following year under the auspices of the interrex M. Valerius Corvus.

In 321 BC, after the consuls’ disgrace following the disastrous defeat of their armies by the Samnites at the Caudine Forks and their subsequent return to Rome, they:

  1. “... shut themselves up in their houses and refused to transact any public business, except that the Senate forced them to name a dictator to preside at the election [of their successors].  They designated Q. Fabius Ambustus [as dictator], with P. Aelius Paetus as the master of the horse”, (‘History of Rome’, 9: 7: 12-13).

As in 334/3 BC, the dictator’s appointment was soon vitiated:

  1. “A flaw in [the appointment of the dictator and the master of horse] occasioned [their] replacement by M. Aemilius Papus, as dictator and L. Valerius Flaccus, as master of the horse.  However, they too failed to hold an election and, because the people were dissatisfied with all the magistrates of that year, the state reverted to an interregnum”, (‘History of Rome’, 9: 7: 12-14).

On this occasion:

  1. “The interreges were Q. Fabius Maximus , [followed by] M. Valerius Corvus. ... [who] announced the election to the consulship of Q. Publilius Philo ... and L. Papirius Cursor ... ”, (‘History of Rome’, 9: 7: 15-16).

Stephen Oakley (referenced below, 2005, at p. 113) argued that it is unsurprising that there was a political crisis in Rome after the defeat at the Caudine Forks in 321 BC, and that this probably explains the vitiation in quick succession of the dictatorships Fabius Ambustus and (probably) of M. Aemilius Papus.  Furthermore, the loss of faith among the electorate in the magisterial class probably explains the need for a respected interrex such as M. Valerius Corvus to preside over the election of new consuls.  However, there is nothing in Livy’s account that suggests that there was a similar political crisis at Rome in 334/3 BC.  It is perfectly possible that neither consul was available to preside over the elections and that M. Valerius Corvus performed this task, but, if so, then he is more likely to have done so as dictator (see below).

We might have expected that, given the crisis that Livy  described above, the new consuls would have assumed command of the army outside Teanum Sidicinum.  However, Livy recorded that, by the time that they took office, the threat from the Sidicini had evaporated and “all was tranquil” at Rome.  The Roman army remained in the territory of the Sidicini, but only because:

  1. “Samnium had ... been suspected of hatching revolutionary schemes for the last two years.  [Fortunately], an invasion by Alexander of Epirus [soon] drew them off into Lucania ...”, (‘History of Rome’, 8: 17: 8-9).

Stephen Oakley (referenced below, 1998, at p. 574) pointed out that we hear nothing more about the Sidicini until 297 BC, when the Romans were able to use their territory as one of the bases from which they invaded Samnium at the start of the Third Samnite War.  He suggested that:

  1. “... we should probably assume that some kind of treaty [in this year] had brought an end to the fighting.”

In other words, the likelihood is that, in 334/3 C, the Romans secured a major victory that gave them effective control over the Sidicini, with the effect that they were able to deploy their army on Sidicine territory in 332 BC in order to ward of any attack from the Samnites. 

The odd thing is that Livy seems to have been unable to record what must have been a very significant victory.  Furthermore, the fasti Triumphalis, which are complete at this point, record no Roman triumphs between 335 BC (when M. Valerius Corvus triumphed over the Ausones of Cales) and 329 BC (when L. Aemilius Mamercinus Privernas, triumphed over the Privernates).  One of the reasons for this is probably that, at some time in the late Republic, this victory was assigned to one of the so-called dictator years.

Dictator Year 334/3 BC

As we have seen, the year in which T. Veturius Calvinus and Sp. Postumius Albinus served as consuls is conventionally referred to as 334/3 BC.  I set out the background to this odd dating convention in my page on Dictator Years (334/3; 325/4; 310/9; and 302/1 BC): in summary, it arises because:

  1. a scholar who was working in the late Republic inserted into the annalistic record four fictitious years in which a dictator held office without consuls in order to resolve difficulties with the Roman calendar; and

  2. although these fictitious years were included in (for example) the Augustan fasti Capitolini and were reflected in the contemporary fasti Triumphales, they were ignored by all of our surviving annalistic sources (including Livy). 

Andrew Drummond (referenced below, 1978, at pp. 556-63), in his fundamental paper on the dictator years, suggested that the ‘guilty’ scholar was probably T. Pomponius Atticus, in the ‘Liber Annalis’, which was published in 47 BC.

We no longer have evidence from the fasti Capitolini for a dictator year in the case under discussion here, since most of the relevant entries in no longer survive.  However, the ‘Chronography of 354 AD’, which was probably based on these fasti, recorded the relevant consulships of this period as follows:

  1. 335 BC: Consuls: Caleno (M. Atilius Regulus (Calenus)) and Corvo IV (M. Valerius Corvus)

  2. 334 BC: Consuls: Caudino (Sp. Postumius Albinus (Caudinus)) and Calvino (T. Veturius Calvinus)

  3. 333 BC: In this year there was a dictator and a master of horse, without any consuls

  4. 329 BC: Privernas II (L. Aemilius Mamercinus Privernas) and Deciao (C. Plautius Decianus)

In these transcriptions, I have completed the names of magistrates from other sources, rendered in bold the names of triumphing magistrates recorded in the fasti Triumphales, and completed the entry for 333 BC from the equivalent line in the fasti Capitolini for 309 BC.  We might now compare this dating with that of Livy, who (as noted above) ignored the year in which the fasti recorded the rule of a dictator without consuls: if we designate the consular year of M. Atilius Regulus and M. Valerius Corvus as ‘Year 1’’ and indicate Livy’s triumphing magistrates in bold, we have:

  1. Year 1 (335 BC): Consuls: M. Atilius Regulus and M. Valerius Corvus

  2. Year 2 (334/3 BC): Consuls: Sp. Postumius Albinus and T. Veturius Calvinus

  3. Dictator: P. Cornelius Rufinus (with M. Antonius as his master of horse)

  4. Year 6 (329 BC): Consuls: L. Aemilius Mamercinus Privernas and C. Plautius Decianus.

This illustrates how the conventional designation of Livy’s ‘Year 2’ as 334/3 BC removes the complications caused by the fictitious dictator years in the official fasti

Unfortunately, the ‘Chronography of 354 AD’, which is our only source for a dictator year in 334/3 BC, did not name the corresponding dictator.  However, we can identify the dictators who allegedly held office in the other three dictator years from the fasti Triumphales (which are complete for the whole of the period in which dictator years were inserted):

  1. 325/4 BC: L. Papirius  Cursor, as dictator, defeated the Samnites defeated and was awarded his first triumph for the first time;

  2. 310/9 BC: L. Papirius  Cursor, as dictator for the second time), defeated the Samnites and was awarded his third triumph; and

  3. 302/1 BC: M. Valerius Corvus, as dictator for the second time, defeated the Etruscans and the Marsi and was awarded his fourth triumph.

Livy dealt with these triumphs by describing the heroic deeds of the dictator in question in his account of the preceding consular year.  In order to identify the dictator of ‘333 BC’, Andrew Drummond (referenced below, 1978, at p. 565, note 93 and p. 572) made what he called ‘the usual assumption’ that he was the man whom Livy had recorded as dictator in 334/3 BC: namely P. Cornelius Rufinus. 

This brings us to the question of why Atticus chose these four particular points in Roman history for the insertion of his dictator years: as Andrew Drummond (referenced below, 1978, at p. 565) pointed out:

  1. “... there is little indication in Livy or elsewhere of the kind of emergency in these years [and in these years alone] that would justify such [an unusual arrangement as a dictator serving for an entire year without consuls].”

Having said that, L. Papirius Cursor and M. Valerius Corvus were highly experienced commanders who would have been credible choices for exceptional commands such as these (had they actually existed).  However, as Drummond observed:

  1. “In 334/3 BC, the dictator [whom he assumed to be P. Cornelius Rufinus], charged perhaps with holding the elections, is swiftly forced from office on the grounds of a fault in his appointment”, (my italics). 

It is certainly true that Livy’s record that Rufinus was appointed as dictator during the consulship of Veturius and Postumius in order to deal with a major threat from the Sidicini (and possibly also from the Samnites) is unlikely in the extreme.  However, pace Drummond, it does seem that Atticus had made this unlikely claim.  Furthermore, he must have discounted any record of Rufinus’  immediate resignation: if Rufinus had continued as dictator without consuls throughout the following year, he must have achieved something worthy of recording.  The likelihood is that, according to Atticus, he defeated the Sidicini and agreed the treaty that brought the them firmly under Roman hegemony.  Atticus might well have also recorded that this victory led to a triumph for this victory, albeit that this was not reflected in the fasti Triumphales.

Andrew Drummond (referenced below, at p. 570) argued that Atticus’ invention of the consul-free dictator years was:

  1. “... so anomalous that some deeper motivation seems required beyond mere misunderstanding or the need to fill a supposed chronological gap.  Nor is it difficult to supply that motivation if  ... [these so-called] dictator years were invented, or at least were revived, only in 47 BC.”

His point is that Atticus work would have been publihed at the height of the controversy that attended  Caesar’s second dictatorship.  According to Plutarch, after Caesar’s defeat of Pompey at Pharsalus in 48 BC:

  1. “... he crossed to Italy and went up to Rome, at the close of the year, [and was, for] a second time ... chosen dictator, although that office had never before been for a whole year”, (‘Life of Caesar’, 51: 1).

Caesar left Italy soon after this appointment in order to engage with the remnants of Pompey’s army, and Plutarch noted that:

  1. “... he chose Mark Antony as his master of horse and sent him to Rome.  This office is second in rank when the dictator is in the city; but when he is absent, it is the first  ...”, (‘Life of Mark Antony’, 8:3).

Cassius Dio recorded that:

  1. “... the augurs strongly opposed [the appointment of Mark Antony], declaring that no-one could be master of horse for more than six months.  This gave rise to a great deal of ridicule because, after having decided that the dictator himself should be chosen for a year, contrary to all precedent, they were now splitting hairs about the master of the horse”, (‘Roman History’, 42: 21: 1-2).

This is probably indicative of  the general reaction to the constitutional outrage of a dictator and his master of horse appointed for a year.  The fasti Capitolini for this period record:

  1. 47 BC: Dictator: C. Julius Caesar [(II), magister equitum] Marcus  Antonius [in order to manage public affairs] - It seems that Mark Antony’s name was removed from the fasti (perhaps after his defeat by the future Emperor Augustus in 30 BC) but subsequently reinstated.

  2. Consuls in the same year: Q. Fufius Calenus and P. Vatinius

  3. 46 BC: Consuls: C. Julius Caesar (III) and M. Aemilius Lepidus.  

A passage in a letter that Cicero sent to Atticus in December 48 BC (Letter to Atticus, 11: 7: 2, translated by David Shackleton Bailey, referenced below, at p. 203) indicates that Mark Antony was acting as master of horse by that date.  Thus, the likelihood is that this second dictatorship lasted for a calendar year and was followed by a short period with Q. Fufius Calenus and P. Vatinius as consuls.  Andrew Drummond argued (at p. 571) that:

  1. “It is difficult to believe that the sudden appearance ... of [dictator] years in works of just this period was independent of the controversy of 48 BC, or that Atticus would show sufficient independence to ignore fictions so convenient to Caesar and his lieutenant ...”

This probably explains why Atticus chose to characterise the four years that he added to the calendar as years in which a dictator and his master of horse ruled without consuls.  However, Drummond made another observation as his parting shot (ap pp. 571-2):

  1. “ ...  it was a further particularly happy notion that the [master of horse] of the first of these dictators (P. Cornelius Rufinus in [‘333 BC’ ]) should himself be a M. Antonius.” 

In other words, he chose 334/3 BC as his first dictator year because there was evidence to hand for:

  1. an emergency in that year that had justified the appointment of a dictator; and

  2. the appointment in that year of a dictator, P. Cornelius Rufinus, whose master of horse had been (or who could be represented as) an ancestor of Mark Antony.  

Events of 334/3 BC: Conclusions

During their consulship of M. Valerius Corvus and M. Atilius Regulus (Calenus) in 335 BC, the Romans had defeated the Ausone of Cales.  I argued above that they had also probably begun the siege of Teanum Sidicinum.  Livy recorded that the new consuls of in 334/3 BC, T. Veturius Calvinus and Sp. Postumius Albinus took over the consular army, and they presumably continued the siege.  In my view, there is no reason to doubt Livy’s claim that a sense of crisis developed when it had seemed that Samnites might come to the aid of the Sidicini, and that this led to the appointment of a dictator.  However, it is most unlikely that the man appointed to deal with this situation was P. Cornelius Rufinus: the obvious candidate would have been M. Valerius Corvus. 

I suggest that, before Atticus’ intervention, the traditional view had been that Valerius was appointed as dictator at this point, that he defeated the Sidicini, and that was awarded a triumph.  Furthermore I suggest that, in this tradition, he would have presided over the election of the consuls of the following year before resigning his dictatorship.  There was certainly a surviving record of a dictatorship of P. Cornelius Rufinus in this year, with M. Antonius as his master of horse, perhaps clavi figendi causa.  Atticus would then have:

  1. transferred Valerius’ dictatorship and triumph to Rufinus (in order to serve the interests of Mark Antony); and

  2. preserved Valerius’ recorded iterations by:

  3. inventing his dictatorship of 342 BC, which Stephen Oakley (referenced below, 1998, at p. 363) characterised as a fabrication, to replace that of 334 BC; and

  4. transferring to him the triumph of 335 BC over the Caleni that had probably been awarded to his colleague.

On this model, Rufinus’ putative triumph of ‘333 BC’ would have been omitted from the fasti Triumphales in order to avoid offending Augustus. 

It is likely that Livy could only rely of four pieces of information for his account of this year;

  1. the new consuls had taken over the consular armies in the territory of the Sidicini;

  2. there had been a rumour that the Samnites were arming, which led to the appointment of a dictator;

  3. P. Cornelius Rufinus had held a dictatorship, with M. Antonius as his master of horse; and

  4. M. Valerius Corvus had presided over the election of the consuls of the following year.

Events in Rome (332-1 BC)

Rumours of A Gallic Invasion (332 BC)

As we have seen, Cn. Domitius Calvinus and A. Cornelius Cossus Arvina were elected consuls for 332 BC.  Livy recorded that, at the start of their term of office:

  1. “The rumour of a Gallic war  (coming, as it did, when all was tranquil) worked like an actual rising, and caused the Senate to have recourse to a dictator.  Marcus Papirius Crassus was the man, and he named Publius Valerius Publicola as his master of the horse.  While they were conducting their levy, more strenuously than they would have done for a war against a neighbouring state, scouts were sent out, and returned with the report that all was quiet amongst the Gauls”, (‘History of Rome’, 8: 17: 6-7).

Stephen Oakley (referenced below, 1997, at pp. 362-3) pointed out that Polybius’s account suggests that the Romans were still at peace with the Gauls at this point, it is still possible that Livy’s record of concerns at Rome need not be discounted. 

It seems to me that Livy’s record of the dictatorship of this year is more problematic: during his first consulship in 343 BC, Aulus Cornelius Cossa and his colleague, Marcus Valerius Corvus had secured the definitive victory of the First Samnite War (and both had been awarded triumphs).  Since Livy gave no indication that he was incapacitated in any way or that he was needed in this year for other military duties, it seems odd that the mere rumour of a Gallic invasion led the Senate to call for the appointment of a dictator.  Furthermore, as Mark Wilson (referenced below, at pp. 422-3) observed, once Livy had recorded that:

  1. “The Gauls [were quiet] and the Samnites [had been] drawn off to fight Alexander of Epirus, nothing further is said of Papirius’s dictatorship.”

Evaporation of the Threat from Samnium (331 BC)

According to Livy, 331 BC was:

  1. “A terrible year ... , whether owing to the unseasonable weather or to man's depravity.  The consuls were M. Claudius Marcellus and C. Valerius:  I find Flaccus and Potitus severally given in the annals, as the surname of Valerius, but it does not greatly signify where the truth lies in regard to this”, (‘History of Rome’, 8: 18: 1-2).

The fasti Capitolini record the Valerian consul as C. Valerius Potitus.  More importantly, this was the year of the first known magistracy of Q.Fabius Maximus: as we shall see, he served in this year as he curule aedile.

Livy recorded reluctantly that the year witnessed a spate of deaths among the leading citizens of Rome and, while originally attributed to an epidemic of some sort:

  1. “... were in reality destroyed by poison”, (‘History of Rome’, 8: 18: 3).

The truth came to light when:

  1. “... a certain serving woman came to Quintus Fabius Maximus [Rullianus], the curule aedile, and declared that she would reveal the cause of the general calamity, if he would give her a pledge that she should not suffer for her testimony.  Fabius at once referred the matter to the consuls, and the consuls to the Senate ...”, (‘History of Rome’, 8: 18: 4-6).

This led to an investigation that revealed that some 170 Roman matrons were tried and found guilty of murder.

Livy noted that:

  1. “... there had never before been a trial for poisoning in Rome.  [The behaviour of the matrons] was regarded as a prodigy, and suggested madness rather than felonious intent.  Accordingly, when a tradition was revived from the annals, which recorded that:

  2. in secessions of the plebs, a nail had been driven by the dictator; and

  3. how the minds of men who had been driven mad by civil discord had been restored to sanity by that act of atonement;

  4. [the Senate] resolved on the appointment of a dictator to hammer in the nail.  The appointment went to Cn. Quinctilius, who named L. Valerius master of the horse. The nail was [duly] hammered in  and they [then] resigned”, (‘History of Rome’, 8: 18: 11-13).

The fasti Capitolini record this dictatorship but disagree with Livy as to the identities of the dictator and his master of horse: they named

  1. Cn. Quinctius Capitolinus   as dictator clavi figendi causa; with

  2. C. Valerius Potitus, son of Lucius, as his master of horse (after he resigned as consul).

Privernum and Fundi (330 -328 BC)

With the Sidicini, the Hernici, the Antiates and the northern Campani securely under Roman control, the days of Volscian independence were obviously numbered.  Thus, Livy recorded that, in 330 BC:

  1. “... ambassadors came to Rome from the Volscians of Fabrateria and the Lucani [also Volscian ?], requesting acceptance into the fides of Rome and promising that, if they were defended from the arms of the Samnites, they would faithfully and obediently accept the government of the Roman people.  The Senate sent ambassadors to warn the Samnites to refrain from aggression against these peoples.  This embassy proved effective, not because the Samnites were desirous of peace, but because they were not [yet] prepared for war”, (‘History of Rome’, 8: 19: 1-3).

As Stephen Oakley (referenced below, 1998, at pp. 606-7) explained, the most natural reading of ‘ex Volscis Fabraterni et Lucani’ is that both were Volscian centres, albeit that Volscian Luca is otherwise unknown.     

Revolt of the Peoples of Privernum and Fundi (330 - 329 BC)

We should start by summarising Livy’s account of the relevant events of 341 -33 BC:

  1. In 341 BC, after a brief revolt, Privernum surrendered to Rome.  Although it retained its independence at this point, it suffered the confiscation of two thirds of its territory (‘History of Rome’, 8: 1: 3).

  2. In 340 BC, this confiscated land was distributed in small allotments among the Roman plebs (‘History of Rome’, 8: 11: 15).

  3. In 338 BC:

  4. “... the peoples of Fundi and Formiae [were granted civitas sine suffragio], because they had always afforded [the Romans] a safe and peaceful passage through their territories [presumably even during the Latin War]”, (‘History of Rome’, 8: 14: 10).

Then, in 330 BC, at a time when (as noted above) the Samnites were causing trouble in the area:

  1. “... a war broke out [between Roman and] the people of Privernum, in which the people of [recently-incorporated people of] Fundi were their supporters.  The [rebel] leader was Vitruvius Vaccus of Fundi, who was a man of distinction, not only at home, but also in Rome ... [The consul] L.s Papirius Crassus, having set out to oppose him whilst he was devastating the [Roman-controlled] districts of Setia, Norba, and Cora, posted himself at no great distance from his camp.  ... [Vitruvius’ army was easily defeated and] repaired to Privernum in trepidation, so that the soldiers might protect themselves within its walls ...”, (‘History of Rome’, 8: 19: 4-9). 

In 329 BC, the consul C.  Plautius Decianus was charged with ending the revolt at Privernum.  Livy had at least two sources for the subsequent events:

  1. “Some say, that Privernum was taken by storm, and that Vitruvius was taken alive, while others maintain that the townsmen surrendered to Plautius ... and that Vitruvius was delivered up by his own troops”, (‘History of Rome’, 8: 20: 6).

In any event, after Plautius’ success:

  1. “The Senate ... sent word that Plautius should demolish the walls of Privernum and, leaving a strong garrison there, return to Rome and enjoy the honour of a triumph.  They also ordered that Vitruvius should be kept in prison in Rome until Plautius arrived ... [Furthermore], they decreed that all those who had continued to act as a senator of Privernum during the revolt should henceforth reside on the farther side of the Tiber, under the same restrictions as [the exiled senators] of Velitrae [see above].  ... Vitruvius and his accomplices were put to death Plautius had triumphed”, (‘History of Rome’, 8: 20: 4-10).

The fasti Triumphales record that both consuls (Plautius and his colleague Lucius Aemilius Mamercinus, who is given the surname ‘Privernas’) were awarded triumphs against the Privernates.    

Settlement with Privernum

According to Livy, Plautius argued in the Senate against any further punishment of the people of Privernum, who:

  1. “... are neighbours to the Samnites, whose peaceful relations with ourselves are at this time most precarious:  [we should therefore ensure] that as little bad feeling as possible is created between them and us”, (‘History of Rome’, 8: 20: 12).

This argument prevailed, and it was agreed that:

  1. “... a bill to award civitas to the people of Privernum should be brought before the people”, (‘History of Rome’, 8: 21: 10).  

Stephen Oakley (referenced below, 1998, at p. 620) argued that:

  1. “... this grant of citizenship [to the people of Privernum] must have been sine suffragio ..."

Settlement with Fundi (and Formiae ?)

There had, of course, been repercussions for the people of Fundi: in 330 BC, while Lucius Papirius Crassus was engaged at Privernum:

  1. “The other consul, Lucius Plautius Venox ... led his army into the territory of Fundi.  The senate there met him as he was crossing their borders, declaring that they had not come to intercede on behalf of Vitruvius [and] his faction, but on behalf of the [other, blameless] people of Fundi ... [where there was] ... gratitude for the [Roman] citizenship that the people had received.  They begged Plautius to refrain from war  ....  Plautius ... [duly] despatched letters to Rome [reporting that] the people of Fundi had preserved their allegiance, and then  marched on Privernum”, (‘History of Rome’, 8: 19: 9-13).

Livy acknowledged that the annalist Quintus Claudius Quadrigarius had recorded a different version of the fate of the people of Fundi:

  1. “Claudius states that Plautius first punished those people of Fundi who had been at the head of the conspiracy.  According to him, 350 of the conspirators were sent in chains to Rome, but that the Senate refused to accept their submission because they considered that the people of Fundi wished to escape with impunity by the punishment of needy and humble persons”, (‘History of Rome’, 8: 19: 14).

However, Livy does not inform us of the penalty (if any) inflicted on Fundi in this version of events.

Colonia Maritima at Anxur/ Tarracina (329 BC)

Livy ended his account of 329 BC by recording that:

  1. “... 300 colonists were sent to Anxur, where they each received 200 iugera of land”, (‘History of Rome’, 8: 21: 10-11).

Velleius Patroculus (‘Roman History’, 1: 14: 4) also recorded the foundation of a colony here in 329 BC, albeit that he referred to it by its Roman name, Tarracina.  It was the first citizen colony that the Romans had created since that of Antium in 338 BC.  Livy listed it among the seven coloniae maritimae that resisted an emergency military levy in 207 BC.  As discussed below, it is likely that it was founded on land that had been confiscated from Privernum.  Stephen Oakley (referenced below, 1998, at p. 621) suggested that:

  1. “... its foundation in the year in which Privernum and Fundi were defeated can hardly have been coincidental, and its purpose will have been to exercise some control over the activities of those Volscian towns.”

As we shall see on the following page, the citizen colonists at Tarracina were probably registered in a new tribe, the Oufentina, which was created in 318 BC.


Cales was a Latin colony, as evidenced be the fact that it appeared in Livy’s list of the 30 Latin colonies  that existed in 209 BC (at ‘History of Rome’, 27: 9: 7).  Furthermore, it was the first such colony to be added to the list, alongside five continuing priscae Latinae coloniae (Ardea; Circeii; Norba; Setia; and Signia).  Its foundation thus marked an important development in Rome’s expansionist policy.  Stephen Oakley (referenced below, 1998, at p. 582) observed its site:

  1. “... was a strategic one:

  2. it guarded the western foothills of the Monti Trebulani, which, at this point, were controlled by the Samnites;

  3. its territory separated the Sidicini ... from [the] Samnites; and

  4. above all, it was only 13 km northwest of Capua, which it was thus able to watch.”

Fregellae (328 BC)

Livy noted (somewhat laconically) that the following year (328 BC):

  1. “... was not marked by any significant military or domestic event, except that a colony was sent out to Fregellae, a territory that had belonged [originally] to the people of Signia [sic ?], and afterwards to the Volsci”, (‘History of Rome’, 8: 22: 1-2).

Fregellae occupied a strategically-important site at the confluence of the Liris and the Sacco/Tolerus rivers.  Although Livy claimed here that the new colony had been built on Volscian territory, this was disingenuous: when the Romans sent envoys to the Samnites in 326 BC to demand redress for their alleged transgressions before declaring war, they countered by saying (inter alia) that:

  1. “... they could not disguise the chagrin of the Samnite nation that Fregellae, which they had captured from the Volsci and destroyed, should have been restored by the Roman people, and that a colony [had been] planted in the territory of the Samnites that the Roman settlers called by that name””, (‘History of Rome’, 8: 23: 6).

Fregellae fell to the Samnites at least once during the war that followed, as the Romans and Samnites fought for control of the Liris valley.

Read more:

M. Wilson, "The Needed Man: Evolution, Abandonment, and Resurrection of the Roman Dictatorship" (2017) thesis of City University of New York

J. Gardner, “The Dictator”, in 

  1. M. Griffin (Ed.), “A Companion to Julius Caesar”, (2009) Malden, MA and Oxford, at pp. 57-71

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

D. Shackleton Bailey (translator), “Cicero: Letters to Atticus, Volume III”, (1999) Cambridge MA

S. Oakley, “A Commentary on Livy, Books VI-X:Volume II: Books VII and VIII”, (1998) Oxford

T. Cornell, “The Beginnings of Rome: Italy and Rome from the Bronze Age to the Punic Wars (ca. 1000-264 BC)”, (1995) London and New York

N. Rosenstein, “Competition and Crisis in Mid-Republican Rome”, Phoenix, 47: 4 (1993), 313-38

K. Welch, “The Praefectura Urbis of 45 B.C. and the Ambitions of L. Cornelius Balbus”, Antichthon, 24 (1990) 53-69

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

W. Falconer (translator), “Cicero: On Old Age; On Friendship; On Divination”, (1923) Cambridge MA

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Roman Conquest:

Between the 2nd Latin and

the 2nd Samnite War (337 - 328 BC)

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