Roman Republic

Renewal of Peace with the Latins (358 BC) 

Livy noted that, in 358 BC:

  1. “Rumours of hostilities on the part of the Gauls were becoming more frequent, causing numerous alarms, but there was one consolation: peace had been granted to the Latins, on their request, and they sent a strong contingent [to support Rome against the Gauls], in accordance with the old treaty [i.e., the foedus Cassianum], which for many years they had not observed”, (‘History of Rome’, 7: 12: 7).

Although Livy announced this peace in a low-key way, it seems to have been extremely effective: as Stephen Oakley (referenced below, 1998, at p. 7) pointed out:

  1. “Livy makes no mention of any hostilities from any Latin states [other than Tibur and Praeneste, for some almost two decades] and they presumably supplied their quota of troops [for most of this period].  This may well have lain behind Rome’s expansion in the 350s and 340s ...”

It seems likely that this peace also extended to the newly-defeated Hernici: Stephen Oakley (referenced below, 1998, at p. 4) observed that:

  1. “... there can be no doubt that, by 358 BC, the Hernici had been subdued: Hernician wars are not mentioned again by Livy until the revolt in 307-6 BC.”

Census of 358 BC

Adapted from Linguistic Landscape of Central Italy

Timothy Cornell (referenced below, 1995, at p. 324) observed that this renewal of peace with the Latins and the Hernici had probably involved terms that were:

  1. “... more favourable to Rome than [those] in the original treaties; in any case:

  2. the Latins had to accept the Roman occupation of the ager Pomptinus; and

  3. the Hernici were [apparently] forced to cede part of their territory in the [Sacco] valley for occupation by Roman settlers.

  4. These annexations were formally carried out in 358 BC, when the two districts were formed into new Roman tribes, respectively the Pomptina and the Poblilia.” 

This was the first occasion on which new tribes had been created since 387 BC, when four new tribes (the Stellatina; the Tromentina; the Sabatina; and the Arnensis) had been created for citizen settlers on land in southern Etruria that had been confiscated from Veii. 

The date of the formation of the Pomptina and the Poblilia in known only for a low-key remark by Livy at the end of his account of the events of 358 BC:

  1. “In this year two additional tribes were formed: the Pomptina and the Poblilia”, (‘History of Rome’, 7: 15: 11).

Although he did not record that a census was held at this time, Stephen Oakley (referenced below, 1998, at p. 174) argued that:

  1. “... we would have expected a censorship in this year so that citizens in the new tribes could have been registered.”


Stephen Oakley (referenced below, 1998, at p. 175) asserted that:

  1. “The Pomptina was established in the Pomptine region, where there had been regular fighting in the previous 30 years: its creation suggests that, by 358 BC, the area was [finally] largely under Roman control.”

He argued (in 1997, at p. 349) that

  1. “... the battle ad Maecium [in which the Romans defeated the Volscians in 389 BC] had been decisive in allowing Rome to continue her penetration of this area.”

As Saskia Roselaar (referenced below, 2010, at p. 38) observed, the fact that the Pomptina was established so long after this battle indicates that, between 389 and 358 BC:

  1. “... no attempts at viritane settlement or colonisation [here had] succeeded”.


Lily Ross Taylor (referenced below, 1960, at p. 52) noted that, although Livy described the Hernici as ‘defeated and reduced to submission’ by 358 BC:

  1. “There is no [record of] the confiscation of land, and the chief Hernician peoples [those of Anagnia, Aletrium, Velitrae and Ferentinum] remained federated with Rome under their own laws.  However, it is likely that

  2. territory in the upper valley of the river Sacco ... was [confiscated by Rome at this time and] annexed as the Poblilia tribe; and

  3. this provided the basis for land assignments to both [existing] citizens from Rome and Hernicians who had been faithful to Rome.”

Stephen Oakley (referenced below, 1998, at p. 175) observed that:

  1. “... Taylor was probably correct to place [the Poblilia] in the upper Saco valley, on territory that had been recently taken from the Hernici: this, at least, would account for Anagnia, Aletrium and Ferentinum  ... belonging to it [when they were eventually enfranchised].”

Lily Ross Taylor (referenced below, at P. 51) suggested that the Poblilia was named for the plebeian gens Publilia and suggested (at note 15) that Q. Publilius Philo (who served as one of the board of five mensari in 352 BC - see below) might well have played an active part in the institution of this tribe, in view of his later interest in the tribal vote.  Stephen Oakley (referenced below, 1998, at p. 175) agreed that it is possible that this tribe was named for:

  1. “... the plebeian Publilii, although a new tribe [named for a particular gens] is unique for the period after 495 BC.”

Privernum (358 - 357 BC)

Likely locations of the Poblilia and Pomptina voting districts (358 BC)

Yellow dots = Rome and the centres of Latium

Red dots = Volscian centres

Timothy Cornell (referenced below, 1995, at p. 324) argued that, in order to secure the renewal of  peace with Rome in 358 BC, the Latins had:

  1. “... had to accept the Roman occupation of the ager Pomptinus.” 

However, it seems that the Volscians were not yet ready to accept this new reality.  Thus, Livy noted that, in 358 BC, Rome witnessed:

  1. “... a sudden predatory incursion on the part of the Privernates”, (‘History of Rome’, 7: 16: 2-3).

Stephen Oakley (referenced below, 1998, at p. 7) observed that:

  1. “Privernum now appears in Livy’s narrative for the first time, and this indicates the southeastern extent of Rome’s involvement in [the ager Pomptinus].” 

Livy recorded that, in 357 BC:

  1. “The consul C. Marcius Rutilus conducted operations against Privernum.  This district had remained uninjured during the long years of peace and, when Marcius led his army thither, they loaded themselves with plunder ... The Privernates had formed a strongly entrenched camp in front of their walls ... [The Romans easily defeated them] and pursued them as far as the town ... When the scaling ladders were actually placed against its walls, the town surrendered.  A triumph was celebrated over the Privernates”, (‘History of Rome’, 7: 16: 2-3).

The fasti Triumphales also record that Marcius triumphed over the Privernates. 

As we shall see, this defeat was to be the opening shot in a squeeze on Volscian territory executed by Rome to the west and by the Samnite tribes to the east.

Tibur, Praeneste and the Gauls (358- 354 BC)

Adapted from Linguistic Landscape of Central Italy

As discussed on the previous page, Tibur and its Gallic allies had been at war with Rome since 361 BC.  Stephen Oakley (referenced below, 1998, at p. 6) argued that, despite Livy’s silence, Praeneste had probably supported Tibur throughout this period.  The events of the next four years indicate that neither of them had participated in the renewal of peace in 358 BC. 

For example, Livy noted that, in 358 BC, after:

  1. “... peace had been granted ... to [most of] the Latins, ... they [i.e., the Latins who had made peace with Rome] sent a strong [military] contingent in accordance with the old [foedus Cassianum] ... Since the cause of Rome was strengthened by this reinforcement, there was less excitement created [than there would otherwise have been] by the news that the Gauls had reached Praeneste and, from there, had settled in the country round Pedum”, (‘History of Rome’, 7: 12: 7-8).

As we shall see below, both of the consuls of this year were already campaigning (one against the Etruscans and the other against the Hernici”  

  1. “It was [therefore] decided that C. Sulpicius Peticus should be nominated dictator ... [and given] the finest troops out of the two consular armies, which he led out against the Gauls”, (‘History of Rome’, 7: 12: 9-10).

Livy then gave a long and very unlikely account of Sulpicius’ initial reluctance to engage.  However, when persuaded to do so, he scored a great victory.  Indeed, in Livy’s opinion:

  1. “No-one since [the great] Camillus celebrated a more justly deserved triumph over the Gauls than C. Sulpicius”, (‘History of Rome’, 7: 15: 8).

The fasti Triumphales also record the award of triumphs in 358 BC to C. Sulpicius Peticus, as dictator, over the Gauls, who might well have received assistance from Praeneste (as Stephen Oakley - see below - assumed). 

Livy then described three successive engagements with the Tiburtines:

  1. In 356 BC, the consul M. Popilius Laenas:

  2. “... waged against the Tiburtines.  [This engagement] presented little difficulty; after driving them into their city, he ravaged their fields”, (‘History of Rome’, 7: 17: 1-2).

  3. In 355 BC

  4. Empulum was taken... from the Tiburtines without any serious fighting.  It seems uncertain whether both consuls [C. Sulpicius Peticus and M. Valerius Poplicola] held joint command in this campaign, as some writers assert, or whether the fields of the Tarquinians [see below] were ravaged by Sulpicius at the same time that Valerius was leading his legions against the Tiburtines”, (‘History of Rome’, 7: 18: 1-2).

  5. In 354 BC:

  6. “The Tiburtines were reduced to submission; the [now unknown] city of Sassula was taken from them and all their other towns would have shared the same fate had they not  laid down their arms and made peace with the consul.  A triumph was celebrated over them,  and the victory was followed by mild treatment of the vanquished”, (‘History of Rome’, 7: 19: 1-2).

  7. Livy was unsure of the identity of this consul in question here, but the fasti Triumphales record the award of this triumph to M. Fabius Ambustus, as consul for the third time.

Diodorus Siculus recorded that, in 354 BC:

  1. “... the Romans made an armistice with the people of Praeneste ...”, (‘Library of History’, 16: 45: 8).

Stephen Oakley (referenced below, 1998, at p. 6) noted that:

  1. “It is rather surprising that only once [i.e, at 7: 12:8 above] does Livy mention the hostility of Praeneste [against the Romans] in these years and, if we did not possess [the testimony of ] Diodorus Siculus, we would be in almost total ignorance of the fact that she supported Tibur against Rome.”

War in Etruria (358-4 BC)

Red italics (Sabatina, Tromentina, Stellatina, Arnensis) = Roman voting tribes

Red squares (Sutrium, Nepete) = Latin colonies

Black dots = peoples given truces (Caere: 100 years, in 353 BC; Tarqunii:40 years, in 351 BC)

Red dot (Falerii): 40 years, in 351 BC apparently exchanged for a treaty in 343 BC

Adapted from Linguistic Landscape of Central Italy

In 359 BC, while Rome was at war with the Hernici and the Tiburtines and beset by Gallic raiders (as described on the previous page), Livy recorded that she faced:

  1. “... another hostile incursion ... :  the Tarquinians were carrying on their depredations within the Roman frontiers, mainly on the side towards Etruria.  When they refused redress, the new consuls [of 358 BC], C. Fabius Ambustus and C. Plautius Proculus, declared war against them by order of the people.  This campaign was allotted to Fabius, the one against the Hernici to Plautius”, (‘History of Rome’, 7: 12: 6).

This marked the start of the first war between Rome and her Etruscan neighbours since 385 BC.  Rome suffered an initial setback:

  1. “The campaigns in which the consuls for the year were engaged ended in a very different way: 

  2. while [Plautius] defeated the Hernici and reduced to submission;

  3. Fabius showed a sad want of caution and skill in his operations against the Tarquinians. 

  4. The humiliation that Rome incurred through his defeat was embittered by the barbarity of the enemy, who sacrificed 307 [Roman] prisoners of war”, (‘History of Rome’, 7: 15: 9-10).

The theatre of war widened in 357 BC when:

  1. “... the Faliscans [committed two acts of hostility: their men had fought in the ranks of the Tarquinians; and they had refused the Fetials’ request that they should  give up [the Romans] who had fled after their defeat to Tarquinii.  This campaign fell to [the consul] Cn. Manlius Capitolinus Imperiosus ...”, (‘History of Rome’, 7: 16: 2-3).

In Livy’s narrative, the only substantial engagement in this war took place in 356 BC: while the consul M. Popilius Laenas was engaged with the Tiburtines (above), his colleague M. Fabius Ambustus:

  1. “... who was operating against the Faliscans and Tarquinians, met with a defeat in the first battle.  The main reason was the extraordinary spectacle presented by the Etruscan  priests, who brandished lighted torches and had what looked like snakes entwined in their hair like so many Furies.  This produced a real terror amongst the Romans, ... who rushed in a panic-stricken mass into their entrenchments.  The consul and his staff ... mocked and scolded them for being terrified by conjuring tricks like a lot of boys.  Stung by a feeling of shame, they ... rushed like blind men against [the priests] from whom had just fled.  After scattering the [priests], they engaged with the armed men behind them and routed the entire army.  The same day, they gained possession of the enemy camp and, after securing an immense amount of booty, returned home flushed with victory,  ... deriding [both] the enemy's contrivance and their own [initial] panic”, (‘History of Rome’, 7: 17: 2-6).

However, this putative victory did not end hostilities: instead, it:

  1. “... led to a rising of omne nomen Etruscum (the whole of Etruria) and, under the leadership of the Tarquinians and Faliscans, they marched to the salt works [at the mouth of the Tiber].  In this emergency, C. Marcius Rutilus was nominated dictator (the first dictator nominated from the plebeians) ... On leaving Rome, he marched along ... the Tiber ... and surprised and captured [the Etruscan] camp; 8,000 prisoners were taken, and the rest were either killed or chased out of the Roman territory. ... a triumph was awarded to him”, (‘History of Rome’, 7: 17: 2-10).

The fasti Triumphales also record that Marcius, as dictator, was awarded a triumph over the Etruscans.  Stephen Oakley (referenced below, 1998, at p. 11) suggested that, although Fabius’ victory:

  1. “... is rather suspect, ... it is not utterly incredible, ... [and] there is no reason to believe that the dictatorship of Marcius was invented.” 

I discuss Marcius’ dictatorship further below. 

Livy then recorded that the Romans concluded two wars  in 354 BC:

  1. The first was against the Tiburtines (above). 

  2. The second was against the Tarquinians, whom they:

  3. “... treated with the utmost severity.  A large number were killed in battle; of the prisoners, all those of noble birth, to the number of 358, were sent to Rome, where they were scourged and beheaded in the middle of the Forum: the rest were put to the sword.  This punishment was an act of retribution for the Romans who had been immolated in the forum of Tarquinii”, (‘History of Rome’, 7: 19: 2-3).

Dictatorship of C. Marcius Rutilus (356 BC)

As we have seen, Livy recorded the C. Marcius Rutilus was appointed as dictator in 356 BC in order to deal with an  army of ‘all the Etruscans’ that attacked the saltworks north of Rome.  Livy recorded that he was:

  1. “... the first dictator to be nominated from among the plebeians and, furthermore, he appointed as his master of the horse C. Plautius, who was also a plebeian.  The patricians were indignant even at the fact of the dictatorship becoming [open to plebeians], and they offered all the resistance in their power to any decree being passed or any preparations being made to help the dictator in prosecuting that war.  [However], this only made the people more ready to adopt every proposal that the dictator made”, (‘History of Rome’, 7: 17: 7-8).

Mark Wilson (referenced below, at p. 357) observed that:

  1. “Minimum requirements [for the dictatorship] seem never to have been formally set out ... Mommsen assumed ... that [these]  requirements ... were similar to those of the consulship ... The best evidence of [this] ... , as noted by Mommsen, is the appearance of a first plebeian dictator, C. Marcius Rutilus, directly in the wake of the [Licinain-Sextian Laws] of 367 BC, without any sign [in our surviving sources] of a provision specifically opening up the dictatorship [as opposed to the consulship] to plebeians.”

In other words, it seems that, once the consulship had been opened up to plebeians in 367 BC, no further legislation was needed in order to allow plebeians to be appointed as dictators.  Marcius’ master of horse, C. Plautius, was not the first plebeian to be chosen for this office: the patrician dictator P. Manlius Capitolinus had appointed a plebeian, C. Licinius as his master of the horse in 368 BC (even before the Licinian-Sextian Laws had been enacted).  However, according to Livy, in the eyes of the Senate, Marcius had compounded the insult if his own appointment as dictator by appointing a fellow-plebeian as his master of horse.  As noted above Stephen Oakley (referenced below, 1998, at p. 11) argued that there is no reason to believe that the dictatorship of Marcius was invented.  Timothy Cornell (referenced below, 2015,  at p. 117) argued that Marcius’ appointment as dictator was one of very few in the 4th century that were made:

  1. “... to deal with a genuinely serious situations, ... [in this case, the situation that arose after] the consul M. Fabius Ambustus was routed by the Faliscans and Tarquinienses.”

The Senate apparently remained indignant even when Marcius dealt successfully with this emergency (whatever it was):

  1. “By an order of the people, which was not confirmed by the Senate, a triumph was awarded to him”, (‘History of Rome’, 7: 17: 10).

Miriam Pelikan Pittenger (referenced below, at p. 37) pointed out that, in the early Republic:

  1. “... a handful of generals triumphed by order of the people alone: two together as early as 449 BC, then one, [C. Marcius Rutilus], in 356 BC, and another in 223 BC.”

She commented (at p. 38) on Livy’s matter-of-fact description of what was a very unusual event:

  1. “Livy just states that he triumphed ‘without the authority of Senate, by order of the people’.”

Stephen Oakley (referenced below, 1998, at p. 188) apparently found no difficulty in accepting the authenticity of this triumph.

Controversy also surrounded the election of the consuls for the following year: according to Livy:

  1. “Since the Senate would not allow the [forthcoming consular] elections to be conducted by a plebeian dictator [Marcius] or by a plebeian consul, they fell back on an interregnum”, (‘History of Rome’, 7: 17: 10). 

Mark Wilson (referenced below, at p. 376) observed that:

  1. “The implication here is that, had it not been ... [for] the patricians’ opposition, it would have been natural for the dictator to conduct elections after his triumph, simply because he was at hand (and [perhaps because he] had the highest imperium).”

However, on this occasion:

  1. “... with the patrician consul [Fabius, presumably still] at war, the result [of the the patrician opposition] was an interregnum.”

According to Livy:

  1. “There was a succession of interreges: Q. Servilius Ahala; M. Fabius; Cn. Manlius; C. Fabius; C. Sulpicius; L. Aemilius; Q. Servilius; and M. Fabius Ambustus.  In the second of these interregna, a contest arose because two patrician consuls were elected.  When the [plebeian] tribunes interposed their veto and appealed to the Licinian Law, Fabius, the interrex, said that it was laid down in the Twelve Tables that, the people’s most recent decree made should have the force of law, and the people had [just] made an order by electing the two consuls. The tribunes' veto served only to postpone the elections, and two patrician consuls were ultimately elected: C. Sulpicius Peticus (for the third time) and M. Valerius Publicola.  They entered upon their office the day they were elected”, (‘History of Rome’, 7: 17: 11-13).

Stephen Oakley (referenced below, 1998, at p. 19) observed that:

  1. “The plebeian settlement of 367 BC [had] led to the plebeians gaining eleven consulships in the eleven years 366-56 BC. .... [However, in the elections for the consuls of 355 BC],  the eighth interrex [secured] the election of two patrician consuls, which the tribunes had previously vetoed.”

Rome’s Alliance with the Samnites (354 BC)

Livy noted, somewhat laconically, that, in 354 BC the Romans’ recent successes against the Tiburtines and the Etruscans:

  1. “... induced the Samnites to ask for amicitia  (formal relations of friendship).  Their envoys received a favourable reply from the Senate, and were accepted as foedere in societatem (allies with a treaty)”, (‘History of Rome’, 7: 19: 3-4).

The Samnites were Oscan-speaking peoples of the southern Apennines who belonged to various tribes, of which we know the names of four (whose respective territories are marked on the map above): the Pentri; the Caudini; the Hirpini; and the Carracini.  Livy’s account of their treaty with Rome is only the third occasion on which Livy mentioned “the Samnites”.  His earlier records, both of which relate to their expansion into Campania (see below), are as follows:

  1. “... [in 423 BC], an affair in a foreign country, but one [that is nevertheless] deserving of record [in a history of Rome], is said to have happened: Vulturnum, a city of the Etruscans, which is now Capua, was taken by the Samnites”, (‘History of Rome’, 4: 37: 1).

  2. “[When they faced famine in 412 BC, the Romans sent] envoys to purchase corn from the states that border on the Etruscan Sea and the Tiber.  [While many of these states were helpful], the Samnites, who were in possession of Capua and Cumae, treated the envoys in an insolent manner and prevented them from trading”, (‘History of Rome’, 4: 52: 5-6).

Thus, it seems that, while Rome had been increasing its grip on southern Etruria and Latium, the Samnites (or, at least some of them) had been doing likewise in Campania.  As they expanded westwards and the Romans expanded southwards, it was only a  matter of time before they would collide.  Rafael Scopacasa (referenced below, 2015, at p. 129) commented on the fact that, according to Livy, the Samnites asked for the treaty of 354 BC because they were impressed by Rome’s recent victories:

  1. “It is clearly being suggested here that the Samnites became aware of Rome’s military supremacy and decided to secure a good relationship with this rising power.  [However], if we move away from Livy’s Rome-centred viewpoint, we may infer that a very similar set of anxieties probably motivated Rome to agree a treaty with the Samnites.”

Stephen Oakley (referenced below, 1997, at p. 197) noted that the amicitia requested by the Samnites at this point implied:

  1. “... an undertaking not to engage in aggression in the sphere of interest of a friendly state and not to help her enemies.  Strictly speaking, it was to be distinguished from societas [the status that the Romans gave the Samnites in the treaty ... [but] the two terms were often interchangeable.  It is hard to see any distinction between them in [the passage above].”

He observed (at p. 198) that:

  1. “It is almost invariably held that this treaty established the river Liris (modern Garigliano) as the line demarcating Roman and Samnite spheres of influence.  This is entirely plausible, but rests only on [the] indirect testimony [of later events].”

In other words, later events suggest that the Samnites recognised Rome’s actual or prospective hegemony north and west of the Liris and that, in return, Rome recognised that the territory to the east and south of the river (including Campania) lay within the Samnites’ sphere of influence. 

War in Etruria (353-1 BC)

Red italics (Sabatina, Tromentina, Stellatina, Arnensis) = Roman voting tribes

Red squares (Sutrium, Nepete) = Latin colonies

Black dots = peoples given truces (Caere: 100 years, in 353 BC; Tarqunii:40 years, in 351 BC)

Red dot (Falerii): 40 years, in 351 BC apparently exchanged for a treaty in 343 BC

Adapted from Linguistic Landscape of Central Italy

According to Livy, in 353 BC, the Romans heard news that:

  1. “... the people of Caere, ... had sided with the Tarquinians.   ...  [The] consul C. Sulpicius Peticus, ... who was directing the operations against Tarquinii, ... reported that the country around the Roman salt-works had been raided, and that [Caere was implicated in this action].  Titus, the son of L. Manlius was nominated [as dictator] and he appointed A. Cornelius Cossus as his master of horse.  ... [He] was authorised by the Senate and the people to declare war on Caere”, (‘History of Rome’, 7: 19: 6-10).

It seems that the mere declaration of war was enough to terrify the Caerites, who immediately sent envoys to Rome.  They reminded the Romans of the help that they had received from Caere at the time of the Gallic sack.   The Romans relented and:

  1. “... chose to forget [a recent] injury [choosing instead to remember  a previous] kindness.  So, peace was granted to the people of Caere, and it was resolved that a truce of 100 years should be made with them and recorded on a tablet of bronze”, (‘History of Rome’, 7: 20: 8).

In 352 BC, news reached Rome that:

  1. “... the duodecim populos (twelve peoples) of Etruria had formed a hostile league, [but this rumour] subsequently proved to be groundless”, (‘History of Rome’, 7: 21: 9).

Nevertheless, in 351 BC, both consuls marched into Etruria:

  1. “... T. Quinctius Pennus Capitolinus Crispinus against Falerii, and C. Sulpicius Peticus against Tarquinii.  ... [They] wore down the resolution of the two peoples, who asked for [and received] truces ... for 40 years”, (‘History of Rome’, 7: 22: 4-5).

William Harris (referenced below, 1971, at pp. 47-8) argued that these accounts are probably unreliable and, in particular:

  1. “Not much trust is to be placed in [Livy’s statement] that the whole of the Etruscan name took part in the fighting against Rome ... the only reliable element in [Livy’s account of the Roman engagement with Caere in 353 BC] is the result: a truce of 100 years.  Similarly, the 40 year truces that Rome made with Tarquinii and with Falerii in 351 BC are by far the most solid elements in his account of [the battles] with these two towns.”

Stephen Oakley (referenced below, 1998, at p. 12) observed that:

  1. “Livy saw [these Etruscan campaigns] as resulting in a Roman victory but, since she made no territorial gains, that is probably going too far.  It was not until the war of 311 - 308 BC ... that her conquest of Etruria really began.” 

In an odd postscript to this event, Livy noted that, during the First Samnite War (see below), the military success of the consul M. Valerius Corvus against the Samnites near Suessula in 343 BC (see my page on the First Samnite War (343 - 341 BC)):

  1. “... made the people of Falerii anxious to convert their 40 years' truce into a foedus [bilateral treaty] with Rome”, (‘History of Rome’, 7: 38: 1).

Status of Caere in 353 BC

Stephen Oakley (referenced below, 1998, at p. 12) observed that:

  1. “Although much of [Livy’s] account of the rebellion of Caere in 353 BC is obvious invention, the [truce] for 100 years guarantees that there was some change in Rome’s relationship with her at this time.”

In fact, the history of this relationship throughout the 4th century BC is complicated and confusing.  It began in ca. 390 BC, at the time of the Gallic sack of Rome, when the surviving sources agree that Caere gave particular assistance to the Romans.  However, these sources disagree about their reward at that time:

  1. According to Livy, the Senate decreed:

  2. “... that a covenant of hospitality should be entered into  ... with the people of Caere”, (‘History of Rome, 5: 50: 3).

  3. However, the other surviving sources do not mention Livy’s ‘covenant of hospitality’, but instead record the granting of civitas sine suffragio:

  4. According to Strabo (Livy’s contemporary), the Romans:

  5. “... do not seem to have remembered the favour of the Caeretani with sufficient gratitude [after the Gallic sack]: although they gave them the right of citizenship, they did not enrol them among the citizens”, (‘Geography’, 5: 2: 3).

  6. According to Aulus Gellus (who was writing in the 2nd century AD:

  7. “... the people of Caere were the first municipes without the right of suffrage” (‘Attic Nights’, 16: 13: 7).

Timothy Cornell (referenced below, 1995, at pp. 320-1) noted that some scholars privilege Strabo and Gellus over Livy here,.  However, he argued that:

  1. “... the case [for doing so] rests on antiquarian and legalistic arguments that make sense only in abstract terms. ... The truth is evidently the other way round: Livy’s version is the correct one ...”

I must say that I find it hard to see how the Romans could have negotiated a truce with a centre that was already  incorporated into the Roman state.  If this is correct, then:

  1. Livy’s account of her reward in 389 BC  (i.e. that Rome simply entered into a reciprocal “covenant of hospitality” with Caere) is probably correct (as Cornell argued on other grounds); and

  2. this makes it more likely that the Romans did indeed agree a 100 year truce with Caere in 353 BC. 

Contested Consular Elections for 352 BC

According to Livy, in late 353 BC:

  1. “... the consular elections were postponed because of a quarrel between the two orders:

  2. the [plebeian] tribunes declared that they would not permit these elections to be held unless they were conducted in accordance with the Licinian Law;

  3. whilst the dictator, [T. Manlius Imperiosus Torquatus, above], was determined to abolish the consulship altogether rather than make it the common property of plebeians and patricians.

  4. Since the elections were still postponed when t[Manlius] resigned his office, matters reverted to an interregnum. The interreges declined to hold the elections because of the hostile attitude of the plebs, and the impasse continued until the eleventh interregnum.  Whilst the tribunes were sheltering themselves behind the Licinian Law and fighting the political battle, the plebs felt their most pressing grievance to be the steadily growing burden of debt; the personal question quite overshadowed the political controversy.  Wearied by the prolonged agitation, the Senate ordered L. Cornelius Scipio, the interrex, to restore harmony to the State by conducting the consular elections in accordance with the Licinian Law.   P. Valerius Publicola was elected and C. Marcius Rutilus was his plebeian colleague”, (‘History of Rome’, 7: 21: 1-5).

Debt Relief

According to Livy:

  1. “Now that there was a general desire for concord, the new consuls took up the financial question that remained the one hindrance to union. The State assumed responsibility for the liquidation of the debts, and five commissioners were appointed and charged with the management of the money and were hence called mensarii (‘bankers’). The impartiality and diligence with which these commissioners discharged their functions make them worthy of an honourable place in every historical record. Their names were:

  2. C. Duilius,

  3. P. Decius Mus;

  4. M. Papirius;

  5. Q. Pub[li]lius; and

  6. T. Aemilius.

  7. The task that they undertook was a difficult one, ... but they carried it out with great consideration for all parties, [facilitated be the prudent use]  of public money ... In this way, an immense amount of debt was written off without any injustice or even complaints from either side, (‘History of Rome’, 7: 21: 5-8).

Gallic Raiders (350 - 349 BC)

As Stephen Oakley (referenced below, 1997, at p. 360-5) explained, the Gauls with whom the Romans engaged in Latium in 350-49 BC were probably bands of warriors who were generally based in southern Italy, and who sometimes ventured further afield, acting as mercenaries or carrying out opportunistic raids in search of booty.

Popilius’ Victory over the Gauls (350 BC)

The consuls elected for 350 BC were M. Popilius Laenas (for the third time) and L. Scipio Cornelius.  According to Livy, Scipio was in poor health, and Popilius was therefore:

  1. “...  entrusted by special arrangement ... [with a war against] an immense army of Gauls had encamped in the territory of Latium”, (‘History of Rome’, 7: 23: 2).  

Apparently fearing another Gallic sack of Rome, Popilius:

  1. “... promptly raised an army, and ordered all who were liable for active service to meet under arms at the temple of Mars, outside the porta Capena ... After bringing up four legions to full strength, he handed over the rest of the troops to the praetor, Publius Valerius Publicola, and advised the Senate to raise a second army to protect the Republic against any emergency”, (‘History of Rome’, 7: 23: 3-4).  

The Gauls attacked the Romans while they were establishing their camp on high ground.  The Romans took advantage of their better position and drove the Gauls back down to the plain, where the larger part of the Gallic army was massed.  Popilius was injured and had to retire for treatment.  However, on his return, he rallied his men and they drove the Gauls back to the Alban Hills, leaving their camp in Roman hands. 

  1. “As both consuls were on the sick list, the Senate found it necessary to appoint a dictator to conduct the elections.  L. Furius Camillus was nominated: ... he was elected consul, and he procured the election of Appius Claudius Crassus as his colleague”, (‘History of Rome’, 7: 24: 10-11).  


  1. “Before the new consuls entered upon their office, Popilius [who had presumably, by this time, recovered sufficiently] celebrated his triumph over the Gauls”, (‘History of Rome’, 7: 25: 1).  

The fasti Triumphales also record that Popilius triumphed over the Gauls.

Gauls and Greeks (349 BC)

Camillus soon found himself in a difficult situation: Gauls soon returned to the plains of Latium; Greek pirates appeared off the coast between Antium and the mouth of the Tiber; and the Latin allies proved reluctant to meet their military obligations.  The Romans were therefore forced to raise a huge army from their own resources and, while the levy was underway, Camillius’ consular colleague, Appius Claudius Crassus,  died:

  1. “The government passed into the hands of Camillus, as sole consul, and the Senate decided against appointing a dictator, either because of the auspicious omen of his name in view of trouble with the Gauls, or because they would not place a man of his distinction under a dictator”, (‘History of Rome’, 7: 25: 10).  

Having raised ten legions, Camillus left two in Rome and split the rest between himself and the praetor, L. Pinarius.  He:

  1. “... kept the conduct of the war against the Gauls in his own hands instead of deciding upon the field of operations by the usual drawing of lots, inspired as he was by the memory of his father's brilliant successes.  The praetor was to protect the coast-line and prevent the Greeks from effecting a landing, while he himself marched down into the ager Pomptinus”, (‘History of Rome’, 7: 25: 11-12).  

Single combat of  M. Valerius

Livy (at 7: 10) had already described the victory of the young T. Manlius Imperiosus Torquatus in single combat with a Gaul in 361 BC.  He now set the scene for another of the famous accounts of single combat in Roman history: with the Roman and Gallic armies camped opposite each other the ager Pomptinus:

  1. “... a gigantic Gaul in splendid armour advanced towards them, and delivered a challenge through an interpreter to meet any Roman in single combat.  There was a young military tribune, M. Valerius, considered himself no less worthy of that honour than [Torquatus] had been.  After obtaining the consul's permission, he marched ... into the open ground between the two armies”, (‘History of Rome, 7: 26: 1 - 2).  

At this point, the gods intervened: just as Valerius was about the engage with the Gaul:

  1. “... a crow suddenly settled on his helmet with its head towards his opponent.  ... Wonderful to relate, not only did the bird keep its place on the helmet, but every time the two men clashed it rose on its wings and attacked the Gaul's face and eyes with beak and talon until, terrified [and blinded ...] the Gaul was slain by Valerius.  Then, soaring away eastwards, the crow passed out of sight”, (‘History of Rome, 7: 26: 3-5).  

Camillius ‘ Victory over the Gauls

Valerius began to dismember the body of his opponent, provoking a furious battle.  The Romans:

  1. “... were exultant at Valerius’ victory and at the manifest presence and help of the gods and, as Camillus ordered them into action, he pointed to Valerius, conspicuous with his spoils, and said:

  2. ‘Follow his example, soldiers, and lay the Gauls in heaps round their fallen champion!’ 

  3. Gods and man alike took part in the battle, and it was fought out to a finish, unmistakably disastrous to the Gauls, who ... dispersed amongst the Volscians and over the Falernian district [of Capua]; from thence they made their way to Apulia and the western sea.  Camillus mustered his troops on parade and, after praising Valerius’ conduct, presented him with ten oxen and a golden chaplet”, (‘History of Rome, 7: 26: 7-9).  

Camillus’ Campaign against the Greek Raiders

According to Livy, the Senate now ordered Camillus to assume command of the:

  1. “... the maritime war and to join his forces with those of the praetor”, (‘History of Rome, 7: 26: 10).  

After describing the election of the consuls for the following year (see below), Livy ended his account of 349 BC by noting that:

  1. “Nothing worth recording took place between Camillus and the Greeks; they were no match for the Romans on land, and the Romans could not defeat them at sea.  Ultimately, ... they abandoned Italy”, (‘History of Rome, 7: 26: 13-15).

War with the Volsci and Aurunci (348 - 345 BC)

Likely locations of the Poblilia and Pomptina voting districts (358 BC)

Yellow dots = Rome and the centres of Latium

Red dots = Volscian centres , including Satricum, which was rebuilt and colonised by Antium in 348 BC (see below)

Green dot (Minturnae) = Auruncan centre

After Rome’s treaty with the Samnites in 354 BC, the Volsci and the Aurunci, whose territories extended along both sides of the lower reaches of the Liris, were obviously in a precarious situation.  In 353 BC, envoys from Latium:

  1. “... reported that a Volscian army  ... was now threatening the  frontiers of Latium  and intended to enter and ravage Roman territory ..., (‘History of Rome’, 7: 19: 6-10).


  1. “The arrival of despatches from [Etruria made the war there] appear to be the more serious of the two.  ...  The consul M. Valerius Publicola, who was acting against the Volscians and had his camp on the frontiers of Tusculum, was [therefore] recalled [to Rome for consultation]...”, (‘History of Rome’, 7: 19: 6-10).

Stephen Oakley (referenced below, 1998, at p. 7) suggested that this indicates:

  1. “... that the Volsci did not pose much of a threat to Roman expansion in the Pomptine region at this time ...” 

First Consulship of M. Valerius Corvus (348 BC)

According to Livy, since Camillus was engaged with the Greeks at the end of 349 BC and his colleague was dead:

  1. “... he was authorised by the Senate to nominate T. Manlius Torquatus as dictator for the purpose of conducting the elections.  After appointing Aulus Cornelius Cossus as master of the horse, Torquatus proceeded to hold the consular elections.  M. Valerius Corvus (for that was henceforth his cognomen, a young man of 23, was declared to be duly elected amidst the enthusiastic cheers of the people. His colleague was the plebeian M. Popilius Laenas, now elected for the fourth time”, (‘History of Rome, 7: 26: 12-13).

Thus M. Valerius was named for the crow that had brought him victory over a Gaul in single combat: fittingly (at least according to Livy) a man who had already matched his achievement presided over his election to what proved to be the first of his six consulships.  This proves to be something of an anti-climax: apart from an outbreak of pestilence at Rome in 348 BC Livy recorded only that:

  1. “... colonists from [Volscian] Antium rebuilt and settled at Satricum, [which had been destroyed by the Latins in 377 BC, as described in my page on the First Samnite War (343 - 341 BC)]”, (‘History of Rome’, 7: 27: 2).

Second Consulship of M. Valerius Corvus (346 BC)

It seems that little happened on the external front in the following year: according to Livy:

  1. “As long as the succeeding consuls T. Manlius Torquatus and C. Plautius Venox held office, the same peaceful conditions prevailed”, (‘History of Rome’, 7: 27: 3).

The, in 346 BC, when M. Valerius Corvus was consul for the second time with C. Poetelius Libo Visolus:

  1. “A report was sent on from Latium that emissaries from Antium were going round the Latin cantons with the view of stirring war.  Valerius was instructed to attack the Volscians before the enemy became more numerous, and he proceeded with his army to Satricum.  Here, he was met by the Antiates and other Volscian troops ... The Volscians, bolder to begin war than to sustain it, were completely defeated and fled precipitately to Satricum.  The city was surrounded and, just as it was on the point of being stormed, [it surrendered]. ... The town was sacked and burnt; only the temple of Mater Matuta was spared ... [Prisoners-of-war] were marched in chains before Valerius’ chariot in his triumphal procession ... ”, (‘History of Rome’, 7: 27: 5-9).

The fasti Triumphales record that Valerius triumphed over ‘the Volsci of Antium and the Satricani’.

Roman Expansion into the Liris Valley (345 BC)

Stephen Oakley (referenced below, 1998, at p. 15) observed that, while :

  1. “... the campaign of 346 BC was only a continuation of the old [Roman policy] of subduing the Volsci of the Pomptine plain, the two campaigns of 345 BC show Roman armies moving further afield.”

Both of these campaigns:

  1. first against the Aurunci; and

  2. then against the Volsci of the Liris Valley;

exploited the putative terms of the recent treaty with the Samnites, which probably gave Rome free reign on the right bank of the Liris:

War with the Aurunci

According to Livy:

  1. “A sudden raid by the Aurunci led to a war with that people.  Fears were entertained that this action, [although] taken by only one people, might have been the joint plan of the consilium omnis nominis Latini (the Latin League).  To meet all Latium in arms, L. Furius Camillus [probably the son of the great M.] was nominated dictator ... The legions were [then] marched as rapidly as possible against the Aurunci ... and the war was finished in the very first battle”, (‘History of Rome’, 7: 28: 1-3).

The site of this Roman victory is unrecorded.  Stephen Oakley (referenced below, 1998, at pp. 15-6) observed that:

  1. “The strongest argument in favour of [its] authenticity ... is the [Romans’ advance into Campania, just south of the Liris] two years later [see below]: Rome  can hardly have embroiled herself into the troublesome affairs of Campania without some entente with the Aurunci. ... We hear nothing of  Formiae and Fundi [until 338 BC], but these were the Volscian settlements lying at the foot of the Monti Aurunci ... and Auruncan Minturnae is very close to Volscian Formiae ... It is [likely that] relations between these Volsci and Aurunci were close. ... Perhaps, then, Formiae, Fundi and Minturnae lie behind this ... campaign: certainly Rome cannot have attacked the Aurunci without getting involved with Formiae and Fundi. ... [If so, then] the Roman involvement in Campania in 343 BC [see below] seems much less remarkable [than it would otherwise be].”

War with the Volsci of the Liris Valley

Immediately after Camillus’ victory over the Aurunci:

  1. “The consuls [M. Fabius Dorsuo and Servius Sulpicius Camerinus] ... made use of [his] army in war with the Volscians and took the city of Sora from them in a surprise attack”, (‘History of Rome’, 7: 28:6).

Stephen Oakley (referenced below, 1998, at p. 15) observed that:

  1. “The capture of Sora [from the Volsci] represents the first recorded Roman campaign in the Liris valley [itself].  ... If, as as seems likely, the Romans had determined utterly to destroy Volscian power, it was natural that [they should extend hostilities in this direction] ... But, whether [they] held Sora [continuously] until 315 BC, when it fell to the Samnites, cannot be known.”

According to Livy, Sora was a Latin colony at that time:

  1. “The seat of war was now shifted ... to Sora, which had gone over to the Samnites, after putting to death the Roman colonists”, (History of Rome’, 9: 23:1).

However, Stephen Oakley (referenced below, 2005, at p. 292) argued that Livy was mistaken here, albeit that:

  1. “... it is entirely credible  ... that Rome had placed a garrison in this strategic site.”

Read more:

Cornell T. C., “Crisis and Deformation in the Roman Republic: The Example of the Dictatorship”, in:

  1. Gouschin V. and  Rhodes P. (editorss),  “Deformations and Crises of Ancient Civil Communities”, (2015)  Stuttgart, at pp. 101-26

R. Scopacasa , “Ancient Samnium: Settlement, Culture, and Identity between History and Archaeology”, (2015) Oxford

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

Pelikan Pittenger M., “Contested Triumphs: Politics, Pageantry and Performance in Livy's Republican Rome”, (2008) Berkeley, Los Angeles and London

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

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

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

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

Harris W., “Rome in Etruria and Umbria”, (1971) Oxford

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

Return to Conquest of Italy (509 - 241 BC)



Roman Conquest of Italy (509 - 241 BC)

From the Renewal of Peace with the Latins (358 BC) to

the Start of the First Samnite War (343 BC)