Roman Republic

Roman Conquest of Italy (509 - 241 BC)

Latin League

First Latin War (499 - 493 BC)

The first Roman victory recorded in our surviving sources after the expulsion of the kings was against  an alliance of Latin cities in 499 or 496 BC and ended with the so-called foedus Cassianum. According to Dionysius of Halicarnassus,  the most important provisions of this treaty were as follows:

  1. "Let there be peace between the Romans and all the Latin cities as long as the heavens and the earth shall remain where they are.  Let them: neither make war upon another; nor bring in foreign enemies; nor grant a safe passage to those who shall make war upon either [party].  Let them assist one another, when warred upon, with all their forces; and let each have an equal share of the spoils and booty taken in their common wars.  ... ”, (‘Roman Antiquities’, 6: 95: 2).

Stephen Oakley (referenced below, 1997, at p. 337) argued that, while this:

  1. “... cannot be a literal translation of an archaic Latin document, ... what matters is whether [or not] the content [set out by Dionysius] ... was largely invented: and there is, [in fact], no reason to believe that it was.”

He argued (at pp. 335-6) that it can be:

  1. “... [established] beyond reasonable doubt that, in the Republican period before 338 BC, the Latins had a political league that met at [a place called] Ferentina, ... [which] was probably near Nemi and Aricia.”

It seems likely that the foedus Cassianum had been agreed between Rome and this Latin League.   Oakley observed (at p. 336) that this treaty:

  1. “... stopped the fighting between Rome and the other Latin states for over a century, and thus proved to be a turning point in her history.”

Evidence for the success of the alliance included the facts that:

  1. the Hernici joined it in 486 BC; and

  2. the allies founded a number of colonies before the Gallic sack, including at least one (Circeii) in Volscian territory.

Read more:

Oakley S., “A Commentary on Livy, Books VI-X:Volume I: Book VI”, 1997 (Oxford)

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

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