Key to Umbria

Colonies after Hannibal: (209 - 181 BC)  

Home   Cities    History    Art    Hagiography    Contact

  1. Roman Republic: Roman Prefectures

  2. Victory Temples and the Third Samnite War      Victory Temples in Rome (146 BC)

  3. End of theRepublic

Land Confiscation After the Hannibalic War

According to Livy, after the Romans’ disastrous defeat at Cannae in 216 BC:

  1. “... the loyalty of [their] allies, who had held firm until [that point], now began to waver: ... these are the peoples that revolted:

  2. the Campanians, [including] the Atellani, [and] the Calatini;

  3. ... a part of the Apulians;

  4. all of the Samnites, including the Hirpini [although not] the Pentri;

  5. the Bruttii;

  6. the Lucanians;

  7. ... the Uzentini;

  8. almost all the Greeks on the coast:

  9. the Tarentines;

  10. the Metapontines;

  11. the Crotoniates; and

  12. the Locri;

  13. together with all the Cisalpine Gauls”, (‘Roman History’, 22: 61: 10-12).

In fact, not all of these defections took place in 216 BC: however, Livy is certainly correct that Hannibal enjoyed the support of most of Campania in the period 216-211 BC, and in the rest of southern Italy until  203 BC.  Once Hannibal was driven out of these areas, vast areas were confiscated and became available for new colonies and viritane settlement.

Veterans of Scipio Africanus

In 201 BC, Publius Cornelius Scipio famously defeated the Carthaginians on their home soil, bringing an end to the Second Punic War.  Livy recorded that:

  1. “As peace was now established on land and sea, Scipio ... made his way to Rome through the multitudes who poured out from the cities to do him honour ... The triumphal procession in which he rode into the City was the most brilliant that had ever been seen.  ... Out of the booty he distributed 40 ases to each soldier.  I cannot say for certain whether the sobriquet of Africanus was conferred upon him by the devotion of his soldiers, by the popular breath or in the flattery of his friends.  At all events, he was the first commander-in-chief who was ennobled by the name of the people he had conquered”, (‘Roman History’, 30: 45).

Livy then described a programme undertaken in this and the following year in order to facilitate the settlement of Scipio’s veterans:

  1. “[In 201 BC], when a proposal was made for a distribution of land to the veterans who had brought to an end the war in Africa under the leadership and auspices of Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus, the Senate voted that Marcus Junius, the praetor of the city, should ... appoint a board of ten to survey and assign such lands in Samnium and Apulia as were the public property of this the Roman people.  The board selected consisted of: Publius Servilius; Quintus Caecilius Metellus; Caius and Marcus Servilius (both having the surname Geminus); Lucius and Aulus Hostilius Cato; Publius Villius Tappulus; Marcus Fulvius Flaccus; Publius Aelius Paetus [at the end of his year as consul]; and Titus Quinctius Flamininus [see below]”, (‘History of Rome’, 31: 4: 1-2).

  2. “[In 200 BC,] the games that had been vowed by Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus during his consulship in Africa were celebrated with great splendour.  It was also decreed, regarding lands for his soldiers, that each should receive 2 iugera of land for each year of his service in Spain or Africa; [and] the decemvirate should make the distribution”, (‘History of Rome’, 31: 49: 5).

  3. “[In 199 BC], the authority of [Caius Sergius Plautus, one of] the praetors of the preceding year was extended, ... to permit him to organise the distribution of land to the soldiers who had served for many years in Spain, Sicily, and Sardinia ...”, (‘History of Rome’, 32: 1: 6).

Saskia Roselaar (referenced below, pp. 312-3, entry 24 and pp. 323-4, entry 41) suggested that much of this land had probably been confiscated after the recent revolts.  David Gargola (referenced below, at p. 104) suggested that the decree of 200 BC might have extended the earlier provision to include veterans from Scipio’s campaign against the Carthiginians in Spain in 205 BC.  By 199 BC, the project also included veterans who had served in Sicily (from whence the attack on Africa had been mounted) and Sardinia.  Gargola also suggested that the decemvirate of 201 BC might have been appointed for only a year, in which case, Plautus would have taken over in early 199 BC to complete the project. 

Richard Gabriel (referenced below, at p. ?) pointed out that:

  1. “In theory, Roman soldiers were part-time militiamen, who owned farms to which they would return  ... But, the wars [in which Scipio’s veterans had fought] had lasted so long, and Hannibal had ravaged so much of Italy [while they had been fighting], that many of these farms [would have] been destroyed.  ... Although, during the Spanish campaign [of 205 BC], Scipio had (on his own authority) established the military colony of Italica [there], awarding land for military service was a new practice.”

According to Paul Erdkamp (referenced below, at pp. 112-3):

  1. “... some 40,000 veterans were [potentially involved in the settlement of 201-199 BC].  However, [it seems that] not all of them accepted the offer, since some of [them] signed up for the Second Macedonian War (200-197 BC).  The point is that Roman veterans were settled on public land [on this occasion].  That they were not settled in colonies does not matter: [now that the war was over], the Senate probably saw no reason to found new military strongholds in Samnium and Apulia.”

Reinforcement of the Latin Colony at Venusia (200 BC)

The Latin colony of Venusia had remained faithful to Rome throughout the war, despite the defection  of most of the Apulians: indeed, it had served as a haven for defeated Roman soldiers in 216 BC and had served as a command centre in Apulia thereafter.  Livy reported that, in 200 BC: 

  1. “... a commission of three was created to fill up the number of colonists for the people of Venusia, because the strength of that colony had been diminished in the Hannibalic war.  The commissioners chosen were:

  2. Caius Terentius Varro [the commander at Cannae, who had retreated to Venusia after the defeat of 216 BC];

  3. Titus Quinctius Flamininus [see below],; and

  4. Publius Cornelius Scipio [Nasica], son of Cnaeus [the young cousin of Scipio Africanus];

  5. and they enrolled the colonists for Venusia”, (‘History of Rome’, 31: 49: 6).

It seems likely that the new colonists included veterans recently discharged from Scipio’s army.

Titus Quinctius Flamininus

It is noteworthy that Titus Quinctius Flamininus had also served on the decemvirate that had carried out the settlement of some of Scipio’s veterans in Apulia at this time. 

In many ways, his career was to follow that of Scipio: as Cicero summarised:

  1. “[They] were [both] made consuls very young and [they both] performed such exploits as greatly to extend the empire of the Roman people and to embellish its name”, (‘Fifth Philippic’: 48).

Richard Evans and Marc Kleijwegt (referenced below, at p. 192) noted that he was :

  1. “... [a military tribune serving] under M.Claudius Marcellus [in 208 BC ].  He became a propraetor extra ordinem to command the garrison at Tarentum in 205-4 BC, although he had held no curule office.  He was then 23 years old.  He became consul in 198 BC at the age of 30.”

Amanda Coles (referenced below, at p. 312) summarised his subsequent career: his only known offices between his military tribunate of 205-4 BC and his consulate were these two appointments to colonial commissions and a possible term as quaestor in 199 BC.  Thus Plutarch described his startling rise to the consulate:

  1. “To begin with, ... [Famininus] served as military tribune in the war against Hannibal under Marcellus the consul.  Marcellus fell into an ambush [near Venusia] and lost his life, but [Famininus] was appointed governor of ... [nearby] Tarentum ... Here he won a good name, no less for his administration of justice than for his conduct in the field.  For this reason, he was also[appointed as] director-in‑chief of the colonists sent out to the two cities of Narnia and Cosa [sic.].  This success, more than anything else, so exalted his ambition that he ignored the intervening offices that young men generally sought (the offices of tribune, praetor, and aedile) and thought himself worthy at once of a consulship; so he became a candidate for that office, with the eager support of his colonists”, (‘Life of Titus Flamininus’, 1:3-2:1). 

Plutarch is clearly wrong in making Flamininus ‘director-in‑chief of the colonists sent out to the two cities of Narnia and Cosa [see below]: he must have mistaken these for his positions on the two colonial commissions of 200 BC.

It is likely that many of the veterans that were to settle in Samnium and Apulia were still in Rome during the consular elections, and that their support was instrumental in securing Flamininus’ success.  However, as Paul Erdkamp (above) noted, not all of the 40,000 men who were eligible for resettlement took up the offer: Livy recorded that the new consul was assigned to Macedonia to confront King Philip, and that, before leaving for his province, he:

  1. “... conducted his levy in such a way as to select generally soldiers of tried courage who had served in Spain or Africa ... “, (‘Roman History’, 32: 9: 1).

In other words, Flaminius’ interaction with Scipio’s veterans not only provided the votes for his success in the consular elections of 198 BC: it also provided him with a body of men who would contribute to his triumph over King Philip of Macedonia in 194 BC.

  1. Read more:

P. Erdkamp, “Soldiers, Roman Citizens, and Latin Colonists in Mid- Republican Italy”, 41  (2011) 109-46

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

R. Gabriel, “Scipio Africanus: Rome's Greatest General”, (2008) Washington, DC

D. Gargola, “Lands, Laws, and Gods: Magistrates and Ceremony in the Regulation of Public Lands in Republican Rome”, (1999)

R. J. Evans and M. Kleijwegt , “Did the Romans like Young Men? A Study of the Lex Villia Annalis: Causes and Effects”, Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik, 92 (1992) 181-95

  1. Roman Republic: Roman Prefectures

  2. Victory Temples and the Third Samnite War      Victory Temples in Rome (146 BC)

  3. End of theRepublic

Return to the History Index