Key to Umbria

Underlined in red = refused to send troops in 209 BC

Underlined in blue = agreed to send troops in 209 BC

Adapted from the Digital Atlas of the Roman Empire 

From the time of the Roman victory in the Latin War in 338 BC, the Romans founded a number of strategically-placed colonies in peninsular Italy, at which the colonists had Latin rights: that is, they had most of the benefits of Roman citizenship but, crucially, not the right to vote.  Furthermore, like Rome’s Italian allies, they were obliged to provide soldiers for the Roman army at times of war.  Obviously, this obligation became more onerous as Rome’s wars became more common and more prolonged.  Matters came to a head during the Hannibalic War (218-201 BC), with the fortunate side-effect that Livy’s account of these events provides us with a complete list of the Latin colonies that existed at this time.

In 209 BC, the Romans received intelligence to the effect that the Carthaginians were preparing to recapture Sicily.  According to Livy, the consequent:

  1. “... transfer of soldiers to Sicily, most of whom were of Latin status or allies, was the cause of  [complaints from them] ... that, for now the 10th year, they had been exhausted by levies of troops and their pay; [and] that almost every year they fought in a disastrous defeat. ... There were at that time 30 [Latin] colonies, (‘Roman History’, 27: 9 - 27:10).

He then listed

  1. the 12 who informed the Senate that they could no longer furnish soldiers and money:

  2. Alba Fucens; Ardea; Cales; Carseoli; Circeii; Interamna Lirenas; Narnia; Nepete; Setia; Sora; Suessa [Aurunca]; and Sutrium; and

  3. the 18 who confirmed that they had soldiers in readiness and would give more if more were needed:

  4. Aesernia; Ariminum; Beneventum; Brundisium; Cosa; Cremona; Firmum; Fregellae; Hadria; Luceria; Norba; Paestum; Pontiae; Placentia; Saticula; Signia; Spoletium; and Venusia.

These 30 colonies can be usefully discussed in groups, defined chronologically.

Foundations before the Latin War (338 BC)

Seven Latin colonies retained in 338 BC

Adapted from the Digital Atlas of the Roman Empire 

From at least the start of the Republic, Rome co-operated with its Latin-speaking neighbours (who constituted the Latin League) to rid Latium of alien communities.   As Edward Salmon (referenced below, at p. 41) noted:

  1. “When an enemy was defeated and expelled from an area, the allies habitually established a colony on it, composed of both Roman and Latin settlers.”

A number of such colonies were founded, but only seven survived the Roman defeat of the Latin League in 338 BC, albeit that the Romans defined their constitutional status in terms of their obligations only to Rome. 

This was the origin of the seven oldest colonies in Livy’s list of 30:

  1. five were to the south of Latium:

  2. Signia (ancient);

  3. Norba (492 BC);

  4. Ardea (442 BC);

  5. Circeii (393 BC); and

  6. Setia (383 BC); and

  7. two were on Rome’s border with Etruria:

  8. Nepete (383 BC); and 

  9. Sutrium (383 BC).

Colonies Founded in 334 - 291 BC

Underlined in red = colonies founded before the Second Saminite war (326-304 BC):

Cales (334/3 BC); Fregellae 328 BC

Underlined in turquoise = colonies: founded in the lull in the war in 316-2 BC:

Luceria (314 BC); Suessa Aurunca (313 BC) Pontiae (313 BC) Saticula (312 BC); Interamna Lirenas (312 BC)

Underlined in brown = colonies founded after the war:

Sora (303 BC);  Alba Fucens (303 BC); Narnia 299 BC;

Undermined in Blue = colony founded after the Third Samnite War (298-90 BC): Carseoli (291 BC)

Rome’s decisive victory in the Latin war, almost all of the main centres of Latium were either incorporated into the Roman state or subjected as nominally-independent allies under Roman hegemony.  In the decade that followed the war, the main centres of Campania and the western centres of the Volsci met a similar fate.  A significant area of all three regions was confiscated and some of it was used for viritane settlement: this included the fertile ager Falernus, which was confiscated from Capua in 340 BC.

This second phase of consolidation saw the introduction of so-called Latin colonies established de novo.  As Timothy Cornell (referenced below, 1995, at pp. 351-2) pointed out:

  1. “After the [defeat of the Latin League], Latin status had ceased to have a distinct ethnic or linguistic significance ... A Latin state could therefore be created simply by [the conferral] of Latin rights on it. ... The new programme of Latin colonisation ... gave the Romans  and their allies the chance to acquire conquered land even in distant regions, ... while the state was able to consolidate its conquests by planting strategic garrisons in troublesome areasThe first colony to be established under these conditions was [founded in 334/3 BC] at Cales.”

Stephen Oakley (referenced below, 1998, at p. 542) noted that:

  1. “Though the majority of settlers in [these new colonies] seem to have been Roman, these settlements  were isolated from the ager Romanus  and their colonists had to excahnge their Roman citizenship for Latin rights ...”

Foundations before the Second Samnite War (326 - 304 BC)

Cales (334/3 BC)

Cales, which occupied a strategically important site on the border of Campania, belonged to a tribe known as the Ausones, who seem to have been ethnically related to the Aurunci.  The first clashes of these people with Rome in the surviving sources were in 345 BC, and they fought against Rome in the Second Latin War (341 - 338 BC).  The fasti Triumphales record that the consul M. Valerius Corvus was awarded a triumph after his capture of this centre in 335 BC, and Livy recorded that, in the following year:

  1. “... the new consuls ... 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, Titus Quinctius Poenus, and Marcus Fabius [possibly Marcus Fabius Dorsuo]) 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.  Thus, Cales became the first Latin colony to be added to be created de novo. Stephen Oakley (referenced below, 1998, at p. 582) observed, the site on which it  was founded:

  1. “... was a strategic one: ... its territory separated the Sidicini ... from [the] Samnites, and, 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.

Latin Colonies during the Second Samnite War (326 - 304 BC)

Red squares = Latin colonies re-founded in 313 BC: Cales (334 BC) and Fregellae (328 BC) 

Blue squares = Latin colonies founded in 314-2 BC: Luceria (314 BC);

Saticula, Suessa Aurunca  and Pontiae (313 BC); and Interamna Lirenas (312 BC)

Loss of Cales and Fregellae (321 BC)

After their disastrous defeat at the Caudine Forks in 321 BC, the Romans were forced to seek peace terms from the Samnites.  According to Livy, the Samnites agreed that:

  1. “... if the Romans would evacuate the Samnite territory and withdraw their colonies, Romans and Samnites should thenceforward live by their own laws in an equal alliance”, (‘History of Rome’, 9: 4: 3-5).

According to Stephen Oakley (referenced below, 2005, at p. 76) the Romans:

  1. “... almost certainly lost control of Fregellae [under the terms of this treaty]; it is assumed by many historians that they lost control of Cales too, and the [fact that Livy referred to colonies in the plural] perhaps supports this.”

Roman Recovery (314 - 312 BC)

The so-called Caudine Peace probably lasted until 315 BC, for which point hostilities resumed and the Romans began the long road to victory.  Five new colonies are known to have been founded in the crucial period of 314-3 BC:

  1. Luceria, which was probably captured from the Samnites in 315 BC, received a colony and 2,500 colonists, probably in 314 BC.

  2. three sites each received a colony in 313 BC:

  3. Saticula, which had probably been captured from the Samnites in 315 BC;

  4. Suessa Aurunca and Pontiae (an island off the coast of Campania) following the confiscation of the land of the Ausones and Aurunci;

  5. Interamna Lirenas was founded on a previously unoccupied site at the confluence of the Liri and Gari rivers at the start of 312 BC

Furthermore, Fregellae and Cales were probably taken back from the Samnites and re-founded in 313 BC.

In Construction


As illustrated above, unlike the other colonies founded or re-founded in this period, Luceria was on the eastern side of Samnium, just beyond the Samnite’s border with the Apulani.  The Samnites had probably obliterated the Roman presence in Apulia after their victory of 321 BC, but the Romans succeeded in re-establishing their presence in this region during the peace that followed.  However, Luceria seems to have remained in Samnite hands until 315 BC (Diodorus Siculus, ‘Library of History’, 19: 72: 8) or 314 BC (Livy, ‘History of Rome’, 9: 26: 1-5).   Stephen Oakley (referenced below, 2005, at p. 283) argued that:

  1. “... we should accept, [following Diodorus], that there was a major [Roman] campaign in Apulia [in 315 BC] and that Luceria was indeed captured.  This capture was a very significant landmark in Rome’s conquest of the area.  Nevertheless, it is unlikely that Luceria was actually colonised [immediately] and, for this at least, Livy’s date [of 314 BC] is preferable.”

Livy provided important information on the founding of the colony:

  1. “ ... when the Senate was debating the dispatch of colonists to Luceria, there were many who voted to destroy the town instead, because... the remoteness of the place made them shrink from condemning fellow-citizens to an exile so far from home and surrounded by such hostile tribes.  However, the proposal to send colonists prevailed, and 2,500 were sent”, (‘History of Rome’, 9: 26: 1-5). 


Saticula was a Samnite settlement on the border with Campania.  According to Diodorus Sicula (‘Library of History’, 19: 72: 4), the Romans took it after a siege in 315 BC.  According to Festus (458 L, reproduced by Stephen Oakley, referenced below, 2005, at pp. 334-5), a colony was founded  there in 313 BC by three land commissioners: M. Valerius Corvus; D. Junius Brutus Scaeva; and P. Fulvius Longus.  Stephen Oakley (referenced below, 2005, at p. 335) suggested that this colony:

  1. “... drove a wedge into the land of the [Samnite tribe known as the] Caudini and protected the northeastern flank of Campania.” 

Suessa Aurunca and Pontiae

The Ausones and Aurunci had been given unequal treaties with Rome after the Latin War,

Suessa Aurunca

We now learn that they had at least three other strongholds, at Ausona (now unknown), Minturnae, and Vescia, and that, after the Battle at Lautulae, they had, in effect, fallen in Samnite hands.  Therefore, Sulpicius and Poetelius marched into Ausonian territory, where he was met by:

  1. “Twelve young nobles from Ausona, Minturnae and Vescia who conspired to betray their cities [to Rome]”, (‘History of Rome’, 9: 25: 4).

These deserters first  explained the circumstances in which the Ausones had defected:

  1. “... their countrymen had no sooner heard of [the Roman defeat at] the battle at Lautulae than they had concluded that the Romans were vanquished and had aided the Samnites with men and arms”, (‘History of Rome’, 9: 25: 4-5).

They also explained that, now that the Samnites were defeated, the Ausones were unsure of how to react to the Roman advance.  Finally, they suggested a strategy by which the rebel cities could be taken.  This strategy worked, and

  1. “... the three towns were taken in an hour ... Because the leaders were not present when the attacks were made, there was no limit to the slaughter, and the Ausonian nation was wiped out ...”, (‘History of Rome’, 9: 25: 8-9).

As we have seen, the Aurunci had defected to the Samnites in 315 BC.  The Romans retook Suessa Aurunca, Minturnae and Vescia in the following year, and:

  1. “Because the [Auruncian] leaders were not present when the attacks were made, there was no limit to the slaughter, and the Ausonian nation was wiped out ...”, (‘History of Rome’, 9: 25: 8-9).

Stephen Oakley (referenced below, 2005, at p. 301) observed that:

  1. “The inevitable confiscation of territory followed subjugation, and this provided land for both

  2. the Latin colony of Suessa Aurunca, founded in 313 BC; and

  3. the [citizen] maritime colonies of Minturnae and Sinuessa, founded in 296 BC.”


The record of the colony founded at Pontiae is the first time that this location features in our surviving sources.  Thus, we do not know when it passed from Volscian to Roman control.  Stephen Oakley (referenced below, 2005, at p. 335) suggested that it:

  1. “... protected Roman communications with Campania by sea, and [thus provided] a safeguard against the [land] route ... being cut, as it had been in 315-4 BC.”

It seems to have played little part in later Roman history, albeit that, as noted above, it met its obligations to Rome in the trying circumstances of 209 BC. 

Interamna Lirenas

Livy called this colony ‘Interamna Sucasina’, in reference to the fact that it was ‘below’ Casinum (later Montecassino), on the border of Volscian and Samnite territory.  Its name of the colony is clearly Latin, which suggests that it was founded on land that had not previously been settled to any great extent.  ‘Interamna’ signifies that it was between two rivers: Strabo, who called it ‘Interamnium’ and observed that it was sited on via Latina (see below), placed it:

  1. “.... at the confluence of two rivers, the Liris and another”, (‘Geography’, 5: 3: 9)

According to Duane Roller (referenced below, at pp. 260-1), the other river was the Scatebra (modern Gari).   Given its location on the Liris, it presumably played a part in protecting the Romans’ access to Capua along Via Latina. 

Finally, Livy recorded that, in 313 BC:

  1. “The Senate ... passed a resolution that a colony be sent out to Interamna [Lirenas], but it was left [to the consuls of 312 BC] to appoint the three land commissioners and to send out 4,000 settlers”, (‘History of Rome’, 9: 28: 7-8).

Livy recorded that, in 313 BC, the Roman commanders:

“.... on hearing that the Samnites had [recaptured] the arx Fregellana (citadel of Fregellae) ... proceeded to Fregellae.  Having regained possession of the place without a struggle (for the Samnites fled from it in the night), [they] installed a strong garrison there”, (‘History of Rome’, 9: 28: 3).

This implies that the Romans had already regained the citadel of Fregellae: however, there is no surviving record of when this putative recapture took place.  It is however reasonable to assume that the Romans did capture and recolonise Fregellae at this point, and (with Edward Salmon , referenced below, at p. 238 and not 4) that they also recaptured and recolonised Cales. 

Three surviving sources record the foundation of new Latin colonies at this time

  1. Livy recorded that:

  2. “Colonies were planted [in 313 BC] ... at:

  3. Suessa [Aurunca], which had belonged to the Aurunci; and

  4. Pontiae, an island that the Volsci had inhabited, which lay within sight of their own coast.

  5. The Senate also passed a resolution that a colony be sent out to Interamna [Lirenas], but it was left [to the consuls of 312 BC] to appoint the three commissioners and to send out 4,000 settlers”, (‘History of Rome’, 9: 28: 7-8). 

  6. Diodorus recorded only  the foundation of the colonies  of:

  7. Pontiae (‘Library of History’, 19: 101: 3); and

  8. Interamna”, (‘Library of History’, 19: 105: 5)

  9. Velleius Patroculus  recorded that

  10. “... a colony was established at Tarracina [in 329 BC, an then]:

  11. four years later, another at Luceria:

  12. [two] others three years later, at Suessa Aurunca and Saticula;

  13. another two years after these, at Interamna.

  14. After that the work of colonisation was suspended for ten years. (‘Roman History’, 1: 14: 4-5).

We might reasonably assume that Velleius had the colony at Luceria founded 14 years after that at Tarracina, so the chronologies of all three sources are broadly consistent.  However, only Velleius mentioned the foundation of the colony at Saticula.

As Timothy Cornell (referenced below, 1995, at pp. 354) observed:

  1. “The result was that, by 312 BC, Samnium was encircled by military allies of Rome and confronted in the sensitive Liris - Volturnus region by strings of Latin colonies on strategic sites ...  [This was] the turning point of the war ... [The Romans] were no longer in any serious danger of defeat.”

Sora (303 BC)

Alba Fucens (303 BC)

Latin Colonies during the Third Samnite War (298 - 290 BC)

Narnia (299 BC)

Carseoli (298 BC)

Venusia (291 BC)

Colonies Founded in 289 - 218 BC

Colonies Founded on Land Taken from the Gauls

[Sena Gallica (283 BC - Citizen)]

Ariminum (268 BC - Latin)

Placentia (218 BC - Latin)

Cremona (218 BC - Latin)

Other Colonies Founded in Picenum

Hadria (289 BC - Latin)

[Castrum Novum in Picenum (289 BC ? - Citizen)]

Firmum (264 BC - Latin)

Other Colonies Founded North of Rome

Cosa (273 BC - Latin)

Spoletium (241 BC - Latin)

Colonies Founded South of Rome

Paestum (273 BC - Latin) 

Beneventum (268 BC - Latin)

Aesernia (263 BC - Latin)

Brundisium (243 BC - Latin)

  1. Read more:

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

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

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30 Latin Colonies Extant in 209 BC 

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