Roman Republic

Foreign Wars (3rd century BC)

Pyrrhic War (280-75 BC)

Velleius Patroculus recorded that, in 291 BC, as the Third Samnite War approached its end and four years after King Pyrrhus of Epirus began his reign:

  1. “... colonists were sent to ... Venusia”,  (History of Rome’, 1: 14: 6).

Venusia was among the 30 coloniae populi Romani (colonies of the people of Rome, or Latin colonies) that, according to Livy (‘Roman History, 27: 10: 7), existed in 209 BC.

A summary of Livy’s now-lost Book 11 recorded that wars against the  ... Lucanians broke out in ca. 282 BC, when the Romans

  1. “... decided to support the inhabitants of Thurii against them”, (‘Periochae’, 11: 12).

This incident  formed part of the growing tension between the Romans and the inhabitants of Tarentum, an important Greek city in southern Italy.   Tarentum regarded  its neighbour Thurii (also Greek) as within its sphere of influence.  Thus, when Thurii turned to Rome rather than to Tarentum for protection from the Lucanians, hostilities became inevitable.

A surviving fragment of Cassius Dio recorded that:

  1. “The Romans had learned that the Tarentines and some others were making ready to war against them ... and, by sending men to the Etruscans, Umbrians and Gauls, [had] caused a number of them also to secede, some immediately and some a little later”, (‘Roman History’, 9: 39: 1).

Book 13 of the epitome of Livy, which largely deals with the Pyrrhic War, contained:

  1. “... an account of the successful wars against the Lucanians, Bruttians, Samnites and Etruscans”, (‘Periochae’, 11: 12).

In 280 BC, Tarentum secured the services of the Greek commander Pyrrhus, in what proved to be the start of the so-called Pyrrhic War. 

The Romans seem to have sent an army into Etruria in order to secure their northern flank ahead of the expected confrontation.  The fasti Triumphales record that Tiberius Coruncanius was awarded a triumph over the Vulcientes (from the Etruscan city of Vulci) and Vulsinienses (from Volsinii) in 280 BC.

The Umbrians seem to have resisted the efforts of the Tarentines to secure their help in ca. 282 BC (above): according to Dionysius of Halicarnassus, they fought for the Romans on this occasion.

  1. Read more:

Fabrini G. and Perna R., “Pollentia - Urbs Salvia (Urbisaglia, MC): Indagini di Scavo nell’Area Forense (Campagne 2011-14)”, Journal of Fasti Online (2015) S. Antolini and S.Marengo, “Regio V (Picenum) e Versante Adriatico della Regio VI (Umbria)”, in

  1. M. Silvestrini (Ed.), “Le Tribù Romane: Atti della XVIe Rencontre sur l’Epigraphie du Monde Romaine (Bari, 8-10 Ottobre 2009)”, (2010) Bari, at pp. 209-15 

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

S. Sisani,  “Umbria Marche (Guide Archeologiche Laterza)”, (2006) Rome and Bari

G. Bandelli, “La Conquista dell’ Ager Gallicus e il Problema della ‘Colonia’ Aesis”, Aquileia Nostra, 76 (2005), columns 13-54

S. Dyson, “The Creation of the Roman Frontier”, (1985), Princeton, New Jersey

Foreign Wars (3rd century BC)