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Roman Conquest:

Livy’s Account: Second Dictatorship of

Lucius Papirius Cursor (310/9 BC)


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Second Samnite War II (315 - 304 BC):     Main Page

Livy: Fabius‘ 2nd Consulship (310/9 BC)     Dictator Years (334/3; 325/4; 310/9; and 302/1 BC)

Livy: Papirius and Fabius (325/4 - 310/9 BC)     Livy: Roman Victory at Mevania (308 BC)


Appointment of Papirius as Dictator

According to Livy, just before Fabius’ victory over the Etruscans at Perusia, Marcius suffered a military setback in Samnium, in which:

  1. “... Marcius himself was wounded.  These reverses ... were further exaggerated in the telling, and the Senate...  determined on the appointment of a  dictator”, (‘History of Rome’, 9: 38: 4-10).

Stephen Oakley (referenced below, 2005, at pp. 460-1) argued that Marcius’ setback should be accepted, since:

  1. “... the annalistic tradition is unlikely to have invented a Roman defeat ... .”

According to Livy, once the Senate had decided to appoint a dictator:

  1. “Nobody could doubt that Papirius Cursor, who was regarded as the foremost soldier of his time, would be designated”, (‘History of Rome’, 9: 38: 10).  

Formally, the appointment needed to be made by one of the consuls, but the senators were uncertain whether a messenger could be safely sent to Samnium, where hostilities continued and, if so, whether any such messenger ] would find  Marcius  alive.  They therefore had no alternative but to ask Fabius to make the appointment.   However, according to Livy, since Fabius still:

  1. “... had a private grudge against Papirius, ... the Senate decided to send a deputation of former consuls to him [presumably at his camp in Etruria, ... in order to] induce him to forget those quarrels in the national interest.  The ambassadors [duly] went to Fabius  and delivered the resolution of the Senate, with a discourse that suited their instructions”, (‘History of Rome’, 9: 38: 10-13). 

Fabius, who had recently defeated the Etruscans in upper Etruria and agreed 30-year truces with Arretium, Cortona and Perusia, was presumably still at his camp in this region.  His initial response to the ambassadors’ request were unsettling:

  1. “Fabius, his eyes fixed on the ground, retired without a word ... Then, in the silence of the night, as custom dictates, he appointed Papirius dictator.  When the envoys thanked him ... , he continued obstinately silent, ... so that it was clearly seen what agony his great heart was suppressing”, (‘History of Rome’, 9: 38: 13-15).

Cassius Dio, gave a shorter account of these events:

  1. “The men of the city put forward Papirius as dictator and, fearing that Fabius might be unwilling to name him on account of [their mutual hostility], they sent to him and begged him to place the national interest before his private grudge.  Initially, he gave the envoys no response, but when night had come (according to ancient custom it was absolutely necessary that the dictator be appointed at night), he named Papirius, and by this act gained the greatest renown. (‘Roman History’, 8: 36: 26).

It seems likely that these accounts had a common source, albeit that Livy accepted or invented some elaborations relating to Fabius’ strange behaviour. 

Events of Papirius Second Dictatorship

Papirius’ First Engagement with the Samnites at Longula

Livy recorded that, immediately upon his appointment as dictator, Papirius:

  1. “ ... took command of the legions that had been raised [at Rome] during the scare connected with [Fabius’ earlier campaign in Etruria], and led them to Longula [an unknown location, presumably in Samnium.  There, having also taken] over Marcius’ troops, he marched out and offered battle, which the enemy on their part seemed willing to accept”, (‘History of Rome’, 9: 39: 1-2). 

Livy’s account of the subsequent engagement ended abruptly (at least in the surviving manuscripts):

  1. “... while the two armies stood armed and ready for the conflict, ... night overtook them.  [They retired to their respective camps], which were within a short distance of each other, and remained [there] for some days: they did not doubt their own strength, but neither did they underestimate that of the enemy”, (‘History of Rome’, 9: 39: 3-4). 

Stephen Oakley (referenced below, 2005, at p. 499) pointed out that:

  1. “It is quite likely that [this] was not originally the end of Livy’s description of this part of Papirius’ campaign, but was [instead] leading up to an account of a battle that was about to take place.”

He hardened this conclusion at p. 500:

  1. “The arguments in favour of a lacuna after [“they remained quiet for some days, not through any distrust of their own strength or any feeling of contempt for the enemy’] ... are ... overwhelming.”   

Manuscript Corruption

At this point, Livy’s narrative of events in Samnium comes to an abrupt end (at least in the surviving manuscripts).  The narrative then continues:

  1. “For (nam), a battle was fought with the Umbrians: they were unable to maintain the fury with which they began it, and they fled before they had suffered any great loss.  And, at the lacus Vadimonis, the Etruscans had concentrated an army raised under a lex sacrata ...” (‘‘History of Rome’, 9: 39: 4-5, my translation).

The fact that the introductory word ‘nam’ (for) has no connection with the preceding paragraph  indicates that these manuscripts are deficient at this point.  In some cases, the scribes were obviously aware of this: as Stephen Oakley (referenced below, 2005, at p. 497) pointed out:

  1. a small number of them placed obeli  († ... †) around the words †nam et cum Umbrorum  ... et ad Vadimonis lacum in order to flag that this passage seemed to them to be to be corrupt;

  2. one of them inserted ‘et rurae’ as an introductory supplement before ‘nam’ (presumably to suggest ‘in Etruria’); and

  3. a small number of them inserted ‘interea res in etruria gestae‘ (meanwhile, achievements in Etruria) either before et cum Umbrorum or before et ad Vadimonis lacum.

This passage has been treated in various ways in ‘modern’ editions of the Latin text.  For example:

  1. Martin Hertz and Wilhelm Weissenborn (both referenced below) used asterisks to indicate a lacuna between 39: 3 and 39:4.

  2. Hermann Müller ( in his revision in 1890 of Weissenborn’s edition (above), which was reproduced in 1919, together with a translation by Benjamin Foster, referenced below):

  3. omitted ‘nam et cum Umbrorum  ... et ad Vadimonis lacum’ completely; and

  4. inserted ‘Interea’ (Meanwhile) before ‘the Etruscans had concentrated an army raised under a lex sacrata.   (The manuscript problem is covered in the 1919 version at p. 316, note 1).

  5. Charles Walters and  Robert Conway (referenced below) placed obeli  around the words †nam et cum Umbrorum  ... et ad Vadimonis lacum†, in order to flag the uncertainty surrounding it.  (However, John Yardley, in his translation based on this edition (referenced below), followed Müller and Foster here: he flagged the existence of the obelised passage as † ...† but omitted the content, which he reproduced in Latin in a note at p. 289).

I return to the potential impact of this apparent deficiency below, after first describing the sequence of events in the narrative as it stands. 

The links to Livy’s ‘History of Rome’ in the paragraphs above are to the online version of Benjamin Foster’s English translation (which I usually use in this website).   However, in the remaining sections of this page, the links for the events of 310/9 BC are to are to the translation of Canon William Roberts (referenced below), because includes the passage under discussion here, which (as noted above) Foster omitted.  

Engagement with the Umbrians

As we have seen, all of the surviving manuscripts (before any intervention in transcription) begin abruptly:

  1. “For, in an engagement with the Umbrians, the enemy were unable to keep up the fight with the spirit with which they began it, and, [without having suffered] any great loss, were completely routed.  And, at the lacus Vadimonis ...”, (‘History of Rome’, 9: 39: 4).

Charles Walters and  Robert Conway (referenced below), in their influential edition of the Latin text,  place obeli around this passage in order to flag the uncertainty surrounding it.  As it stands, the narrative does not reveal:

  1. who ‘the Umbrians’ were (or even whether they were recognisably an army, as opposed to an unorganised band of some sort);

  2. where this rout took place; or

  3. who commanded the Roman army that effected it.

Furthermore, Stephen Oakley (referenced below, 2005, at pp. 298-9) identified two other problems with this passage:

  1. In his paragraph (a), he noted that it clearly contradicts a later passage in which Livy claimed that:

  2. “The tranquillity that ... obtained in Etruria [in 308 BC] was disturbed by a sudden revolt of the Umbrians, [who had, up to that point] escaped all the distress of war, except that a [Roman] army had [previously] passed through their territory”, (‘History of Rome’, 9: 41: 8).

  3. In his paragraph (c), he noted that the battles itself:

  4. “... is recounted with extraordinary brevity: this might be expected at the end of the narrative of a year or of a long campaign, but it is something of a surprise in the middle of the account of the campaigns of 310/9 BC.  Sandwiched between ...  a campaign against the Samnites and then one against the Etruscans, the Umbrians make a most odd appearance.”

As we shall see, a number of scholars have suggested means by which some or all of these difficulties might be resolved.

Missing Introduction to 9: 39: 4 ?

Canon William Roberts, in a translation into English published in 1905 (referenced below) included an introductory phrase (which I have italicised) to 9: 39: 4:

  1. “Meanwhile, [i.e. while the Roman and Samnite armies facing each other at Longula]  the Romans were meeting with success in Etruria: for, in an engagement with the Umbrians ...”, (‘History of Rome’, 9: 39: 4). 

I have not been able to discover the basis for this insertion, but a similar suggestion was made (apparently independently) by Robert Ogilvie (referenced below, at p. 167): in a note on his suggested amendments to the edition of Walters and Conway (above), he argued that supplements such as ‘interea res in etruria gestae’, which appear in a small number of the surviving manuscripts (as noted above): 

  1. “... represent independent transcriptions from the fragmentary archetype (where, for instance, a line was damaged or omitted and restored in the margin) and must be judged to have ancient authority.  ... [However, since] Livy did not use ‘res gestae’ without qualification [anywhere else in the books that survive], it is probable that he wrote ‘interea res in Etruria prospere gestae’ [(Meanwhile, undertakings in Etruria were meeting with success)]” (my bold italics).

However, Stephen Oakley (referenced below, 2005, at p. 498) objected that there is only weak manuscript support for this insertion and, rather than having ‘ancient authority’, the insert  ‘interea res in etruria gestae’:

  1. “... reads like a desperate attempt to restore sense to a corrupt text.”

He also argued that, even with the addition of this introductory phrase, the text would still suffer from a number of problems , including all of those discussed above.

Opening Lacuna ?

Stephen Oakley (referenced below, 2005, at p. 499, paragraph d) pointed out that:

  1. “It is quite likely that [line 9: 39: 3] was not originally the end of Livy’s description of this part of Papirius’ campaign, but was [instead] leading up to an account of a battle that was about to take place.”

He hardened this conclusion at p. 500:

  1. “The arguments in favour of a lacuna after [this passage] ... are ... overwhelming.” 

It is certainly true that this would provide an alternative to Ogilvie’s suggestion (above) of a specific introductory phrase crafted from scribal annotations to some of the surviving manuscripts.  Furthermore, it might have:

  1. included an account of a battle that was about to take place at Longula, as Oakley suggested; and/ or

  2. revealed some of the missing details relating to the subsequent Roman engagement with the Umbrians:

  3. the identity of the Roman commander who routed the Umbrians;

  4. the location in Etruria of the place at which this defeat took place;

  5. who ‘the Umbrians’ were (or even whether they were recognisably an army, as opposed to an unorganised band of some sort); and

  6. why they happened to be in Etruria.

However:

  1. the content of the lost narrative has to be purely a matter of speculation;

  2. it is possible (as Oakley recognised) that Livy described the battle that took place at Longula at 9: 40: 1-11, as discussed below; and

  3. even if it included all of the above details relating to the engagement with the Umbrians, this would not resolve the problems that Oakley identified at pp. 298-9, paragraphs (a) and (c), both of which are discussed above.

Obelised  Passage Should be Omitted ?

As noted above, Hermann Müller ( in his revision in 1890 of Wilhelm Weissenborn’s edition of 1869):

  1. omitted the obelised passage completely; and

  2. inserted ‘Interea’ (Meanwhile) before the passage that had followed it.

Benjamin Foster (referenced below) followed this practice in his translation of the 5th edition of the Weissenborn-Müller text: after their first inconclusive engagement at Longula, the Roman and Samnite armies:

  1. “ ... remained quietly in the camps that they had established near one another, neither lacking confidence in themselves nor yet making light of their adversaries.   Meanwhile, the Etruscans, employing a lex sacrata, had raised an army in which each man had chosen his comrade, and joined battle ...”, (‘History of Rome’, 9: 39: 3-4)

John Yardley (referenced below), in his translation of the Walters and Conway edition:

  1. followed Walters and Conway by flagging the existence of the obelised passage as † ...†, and reproduced it in Latin at p. 289; but

  2. omitted the obelised passage from their English narrative. 

This change had the benefit of solving both

  1. the problems identified above; and

  2. the problems  that some scholars have with the notion of locating a subsequent major engagement with the Etruscans at the lacus Vadimonis (discussed below). 

However, as Stephen Oakley (referenced below, 2005, at p. 500) observed:

  1. “... it is hard to see why this insertion would be made [if the obelised words had not been used, either here or elsewhere, in Livy’s original].”

Obelised Passage Should be Moved ?

William Anderson (referenced below, at p. 102)  argued that  the obelised passage should be inserted into 9: 39: 11:

  1. Without this change, the passage in question reads:

  2. “That day [in 310/9 BC] broke, for the first time, the power of the Etruscans after their long-continued and abundant prosperity.  The main strength of their army was left on the field, and their camp was taken and plundered”, (‘History of Rome’, 9: 39: 11)

  3. With this change, it would read:

  4. “That day [in 310/9 BC] broke, for the first time, the power of the Etruscans after their long-continued and abundant prosperity:

  5. For, a battle was fought with the Umbrians: they were unable to maintain the fury with which they began it, and they fled before they had suffered any great loss. 

  6. A battle was also fought at the lacus Vadimonis, [where] the main strength of [the Etruscan] army was left on the field, and their camp was taken and plundered.”

Anderson argued that, in this context, the obelised passage would refer to two later occasions on which the power of the Etruscans was broken:

  1. The reference to an engagement with the Umbrians would be to:

  2. “ ... the battle [of 308 BC described by Livy at 9: 41: 8 - see above], in which the Umbrians, with the aid of a very large contingent of Etruscans, fought with Fabius and were very easily routed.  The [description of the battle in 9: 39: 4 is] fully borne out by the description of the battle in 9: 41]”  (my bold italics).

  3. The reference to an engagement at the lacus Vadimonis would be to:

  4. “ ... the famous battle of 283 BC, the so-called 'second battle of Lake Vadimo’, [when, according to Polybius, (‘Histories’, 2:20), the Romans routed the allied forces of the Etruscans and Gauls on its shores.  If so, then] there is no authority in Livy for placing the great [victory of 310/9 BC against an Etruscan army raised under a lex sacrata] at the lacus Vadimonis, and this need not surprise us, as no authority [other than Livy] ... places it there.  Thus,  the so-called 'first battle of Lake Vadimo' seems to be a myth, based on a textual corruption in Livy.” 

By moving these two engagements forward to 308 BC and 283 BC respectively, Anderson resolved the difficulties mentioned above, while accounting for the presence of the text in all of the surviving manuscripts (which, in this scenario, would have been based on a single archetype in which the passage had been misplaced). 

Stephen Oakley observed (referenced below. 2005, at p. 500) observed that Anderson’s suggestion:

  1. “... makes reasonable sense, ... [although] it is extremely bold, especially as there appears to be nothing missing at this point from [Livy’s] account of the fighting on the northern front.”

It seems to me that there are at least two more significant problems with Anderson’s suggestion:

  1. Although Livy claimed that, in 308 BC, the Umbrians had:

  2. “.... pushed the great part of the Etruscans to rebel ...”, (‘History of Rome’, 9: 41: 8);

  3. he did not claim that any Etruscans shared in the Umbrian defeat. Thus, there is no basis for Anderson’s claim that ‘a very large contingent of Etruscans’ was destroyed on this occasion.

  4. In any case, surely a list of occasions on which the power of the Etruscans had been broken would have included their defeat in the aftermath of the Battle of Sentinum in 295 BC.


My Suggestion

I agree with William Anderson (above) that, in some important respects, there is a close similarity between the battles described in 9: 39: 4 and in 9: 41:

  1. In  the former, which took place in Etruria in 310/9 BC, a now-unnamed Roman commander engaged with:

  2. “... the Umbrians ... , [who] were unable to keep up the fight with the spirit with which they began it, and, [without having suffered] any great loss, were completely routed.”

  3. In  the latter, which took place near the Umbrian city of Mevania in 308 BC:

  4. An Umbrian army began the engagement by threatening to:

  5. “... [leave the consul] Decius in their rear and [march]... on Rome”, (‘History of Rome’, 9: 41: 9)

  6. but, on realising that Decius had outflanked them and that the other consul Fabius (again) had arrived to engage with them, it quickly lost heart.  Thus, in the battle that followed:

  7. “More [Umbrians] were captured than were killed, and only one cry was heard throughout their ranks: ‘Lay down your arms!’  So, on the field of battle, the prime authors of the war surrendered”, (‘History of Rome’, 9: 41: 19)


However, in my view, the most obvious reason for this is that these descriptions relate to the same battle, but that Livy had failed to recognise the this because his sources for it contained conflicting information on (inter alia):

  1. the year in which it was fought (310/BC or 308 BC ??);

  2. the place at which it was fought (Etruria or Mevania ??);

  3. the character of the enemy (an unorganised rabble or a large and properly mustered army);  

  4. the identity of the victorious Roman commander (Fabius, in his second consulship of in 310/9 BC; Papirius, in his second term as dictator in 310/9 BC; Fabius, in his third consulship of 308 BC; or Publius Decius Mus, the other consul of 308 BC ????); and

  5. the importance of this engagement (a minor skirmish in Etruria or the defeat of an army that had been assembled at Mevania and represented a credible threat to Rome itself ??).

Engagement with the Etruscans at the Lacus Vadimonis


Adapted from the Digital Atlas of the Roman Empire

According to the surviving manuscripts:

  1. “An engagement also took place at the lacus Vadimonis, where the Etruscans, using a lex sacrata (sacred law), had raised an army cum vir virum legisset (in which each man had chosen another).  This army fought with more men and with greater courage than ever before.  So savage was the feeling on both sides that ... [the outcome] long hung in the balance.  [It seemed to the Romans that they were engaging] with some new, unknown people, rather than with the Etruscans (whom they had  so often defeated).  ...  [However, an unexpected Roman tactic - see below] threw the Etruscan standards into confusion  ...  and [the Romans] at last broke through their ranks.  Their determined resistance was now overcome and  ...  they soon took flight.  That day, for the first time, broke the power of the Etruscans after their long-continued and abundant prosperity.  The main strength of their army was left [dead] on the field, and their camp was taken and plundered”, (‘History of Rome’, 9: 39: 5-11).

Lacus Vadimonis

As Simon Stoddart and Caroline Malone (referenced below, at p. 3) pointed out:

  1. “Most ancient lakes [in Umbria], such as the  ... Vadimone lake, near [Ameria, modern] Amelia ... , have now disappeared.”

The only useful indication in our surviving sources of its location and appearance comes in a letter that Pliny the Younger wrote in the late 1st century AD:

  1. “My [father-in-law, Calpurnius Fabatus] desired that I should look over Amerina praedia sua (his estate near Ameria).  As I was walking over his grounds, I was shown a lake that lies below them, called Vadimonis, about which several very extraordinary things are told. ... It is perfectly circular in form, ... just as if it had been ... cut out by the hand of art.  The water is of a clear sky-blue, though with somewhat of a greenish tinge; its smell is sulphurous, ... Though it is of only moderate extent, the winds have a great effect upon it, throwing it into violent agitation.  No vessels are allowed to sail here, as its waters are held sacred; but several floating islands swim about it ... This lake empties itself into a river, which, after running a little way, sinks underground, and, if anything is thrown in, it brings it up again where the stream emerges”, (Letter 93: to Gallus).

In his book about his travels in Etruria in the 1840s, the redoubtable George Dennis (referenced below) believed that he had found the remnants of this lake:

  1. “If you follow the banks of the Tiber [westwards] for about 4 miles [from Horta, modern] Orte, you will reach the ‘Laghetto/ Lagherello/ Lago di Bassano’, which [takes its name from] a village in the neighbourhood.  [This was] the Vadimonian Lake of antiquity ...”

This site is on a bend in the Tiber, some 4 km northeast of modern Bassano in Teverina, where a sink hole of some 40 meters in diameter survives.  However, Ardelio Loppi (referenced below) pointed out, Pliny would not have described the Tiber as simply ‘a river’.  He suggested that it was more probably at Poggio del Lago, near modern Vasanello (or Bassanello), some 10 km to the south of of Castellum Amerinum, where the later via Amerina crossed the Tiber.  I have marked both locations on the map above.  Thus, the general location of the ancient lake is clear enough: it was about:

  1. 40 km north of Roman territory (which ended at the Latin colonies of Sutrium and Nepete);

  2. 25 km north of Falerii, which was allied to Rome;

  3. 50 km  southeast of the Etruscan city-state of Volsinii; and

  4. 70 km east of the Etruscan city-state of Tarquinii.

Some scholars reject the existence of an engagement of any kind between the Romans and the Etruscans at the lacus Vadimonis in 310/9 BC: as Stephen Oakley (referenced below, 2005, at p. 498, paragraph (b)) observed:

  1. “It is quite certain that there was a [Roman victory over a coalition of Gauls and Etruscans] at this lake in 283 BC, but [Livy is our only surviving source for] a previous battle against the Etruscans at this site in 310/9 BC.”

In note 3, he cited (inter alia) William Harris (referenced below, at p. 56), who argued that the earlier engagement is:

  1. “... generally regarded as a doublet of ... [that of] 283 BC, which is described by Polybius [see below].  The site of the battle is so specific that it is [indeed] necessary to reject one or the other and, in spite of the difficulties [with  the surviving sources for the battle] of 283 BC, it clearly belongs to that year.”

Oakley (as above) similarly cautioned that:

  1. “... although the notion of [Livy’s putative battle of 310/9 BC] is not ... absolutely incredible, the unreliability of Livy’s general account of events in this year (and, in particular, of 9: 39: 4) means that one should be very cautious indeed about accepting it.”

However, it seems to me that, pace William Harris, it is entirely possible that the Romans engaged with an Etruscan army at the lacus Vadimonis on more that one occasion: as George Dennis (referenced below) observed:

  1. “Whoever visits the [likely site of the] Vadimon will comprehend how it was that decisive battles were fought upon its shores.  The valley here forms the natural pass into the inner or central plain of Etruria.  It ... [occupies] a low, level tract, about a mile wide, hemmed in between the heights [of the mons Ciminius] and the Tiber ... ; ... these heights ... are, even now, densely covered with wood, as no doubt they were in ancient times, this being part of the celebrated Ciminian forest.”

Furthermore, as we have seen, the lacus Vadimonis was only 40 km north of the Latin colonies of Sutrium and Nepete, which defended the road to Rome. 

Did the Romans Win Two Major Battles Against the Etruscans in 310/9 BC ?

Although there is no basis for dismissing Livy’s account of this second major battle against the Etruscans in 310/9 BC simply on the basis of its putative location, we still need to consider whether it should be rejected on other grounds.  For example, could yet another significant Roman victory over the Etruscans really have featured among what Simone Sisani (referenced below, 2007, at pp. 35-6), for example, described as:

  1. “... the events of the [apparently] interminable 310/9 BC” (my translation).

In order to consider this question, we need to go back to the time just  before Papirius’ appointment as dictator, when, according to Livy (‘History of Rome’, 9: 37), Fabius had:

  1. defeated the largest army that the Etruscans and Umbrians had ever sent against the Romans; and

  2. imposed 30-year truces on Arretium, Cortona and Perusia, three of the leading city-states of upper Etruria.

Although Livy thought that this ‘famous battle’ had taken place near Sutrium, he acknowledged that some historians located it near Perusia.  Diodorus Siculus, who also recorded this victory and the truces with Arretium, Cortona and Perusia that followed it, also placed it at Perusia.

However, Livy and Diodorus gave what, at first site, seem to be different accounts of what happened next in Etruria:

  1. As we have seen, Livy recorded that a now-unnamed Roman commander defeated an even larger Etruscan army at the lacus Vadimonis, and that the power of the Etruscans was broken for the first time in this second battle.

  2. According to Diodorus, Fabius marched south from Perusia and:

  3. “... taking by siege the city called Castola, ... forced the Etruscans to raise the siege of Sutrium”, (‘Library of History’, 20: 35: 5).   

Modern scholars have taken different positions on whether either or both of these records should be accepted.  For example:

  1. Simone Sisani (referenced below, 2007, at pp. 35-6) argued that:

  2. “The last clash [in Etruria in 310/9 BC], which must have seen the the Etruscans and Umbrians deployed against the Romans, took place on the route of Fabius’ return towards Sutrium, near the lacus Vadimonis [Livy], not far from the possible location of the otherwise unknown city called Castola, which Fabius had seized [Diodorus].  It is here that the Romans defeated the troops that were still besieging Sutrium, thereby liberating that city and earning Fabius a triumph” (my translation).

  3. Sisani:

  4. suggested (at p. 36, note 37) that ‘Castola’ might have been located at the ancient fortified site that has been excavated at Monte Casoli, near modern Bomarzo, some 15 km west of the lacus Vadimonis, and

  5. marked battles at each of these locations in his reconstruction of Fabius route from Perusia towards Sutrium (in Figure 1, at p. 34).

  6. Stephen Oakley (referenced below, 2005, at p. 456) considered whether the victory at the lacus Vadimonis:

  7. “... is a doublet of that recorded at [near Perusia, mentioned above ... This hypothesis] cannot be proved beyond doubt, but it] involves no historical difficulties and allows a coherent reconstruction of events.”

  8. He elaborated (at p. 498, note 3):

  9. “If the reference to Vadimo really does belong in the text, then either Livy or his ... sources may have either accidentally produced a doublet or deliberately invented another [campaign here].”

  10. However,  Oakley (at p. 457), like Sisani, was inclined to accept Diodorus’ account, arguing that:

  11. “...a reference to so obscure a site is most unlikely to have been invented.”

We can take this discussion forward by considering another observation by Stephen Oakley. who pointed out (at p. 499, paragraph (g)) that, in the original Latin, the link between 39: 4 and 39: 5 is structured as follows:

  1. nam et cum Umbrorum  ... et ad Vadimonis lacum ...”.

He observed that:

  1. “One does not expect a trivial campaign against the Umbrians to be linked ... [by the stylistic device] ‘et ...et ...’ with the opening of [the great battle against the Etruscans]” (my changed order of clauses).

He suggested (at p. 500) that there might originally have been text after ‘ad Vadimonis lacum’ that has been lost.  In other words, the ‘trivial engagement with the Umbrians’ might originally have been followed by now-lost text that:

  1. described a relatively trivial engagement with the Etruscans at the lacus Vadimonis; and then

  2. introduced a the battle in which the Romans broke the power of the Etruscans for the first time.

It seems to me that a more likely explanation for this grammatical construct is that Livy had subsequently embellished what had been a relatively unimportant engagement with the Etruscans in an earlier version of his narrative.  Diodorus’ record of Fabius success at Castola would be an obvious candidate for this relatively trivial engagement with the Etruscans, and it is entirely possible (as Sisani suggested) that this Etruscan city was near the lacus Vadimonis.  In other words, it is at least possible that, at 9: 39: 5-11, Livy provided an embellished account of the Roman engagement at Castola (which Diodorus attributed, not necessarily correctly, to Fabius).

Which Etruscans Were Defeated at the Lacus Vadimonis ?

Livy gave no indication of which Etruscan city-states had sent men to the muster at the lacus Vadimonis.  However, we might make some deductions:

  1. Livy did not suggest that any of Perusia, Cortona or Arretium had violated its recently-agreed 30-year truce. 

  2. Furthermore, the 40-year truce that the Romans had agreed with Tarquinii in 351 BC was not due to expire until 308 BC (allowing for 3 dictator years in the intervening period),.  Since (as we shall see) it was duly renewed for another 40 years at that point., it seems unlikely that Tarquinii had played a significant role in the hostilities of 310/9 BC.

It seems to me that the most obvious candidate would be Volsinii, which might well have assumed responsibility for the continuing the siege of Sutrium after Arretium, Cortona and Perusia submitted to Rome:

  1. both Castola and the lacus Vadimonis might well have been in its territory; and

  2. (as we shall see) it again suffered the hostile attention of the Romans in 308 BC. 

This hypothesis does not exclude the possibility that Etruscans from other city-states had been drawn to Castola from the siege of Sutrium.  However, it seems likely that any Etruscans from cities that had truces with Rome participated in the hostilities without the overt sanction of their city states.

Which Roman Commander Secured this Putative Second Victory ?

As we have seen, the Roman commander who was responsible for this victory:

  1. “... broke the power of the Etruscans for the first time ... The main strength of their army was left [dead] on the field ...”, (‘History of Rome’, 9: 39: 5-11).

In view of the glory that would have attended such an achievement, it is  extremely surprising that, at least in the surviving manuscripts, Livy did not identify him.  In my view, this omission is unlikely to be simply the result of missing text: Livy’s account of the battle implies that the men on both sides fought spontaneously, without needing direction from above:

  1. “So savage was the feeling on both sides that, without discharging a single missile, the soldiers began the fight with swords from the start.  ... There was not the slightest sign of yielding anywhere: as the men in the first line fell, those in the second took their places to defend the standards.  At length, the last reserves had to be brought up, and matters had come to such an extremity of exhaustion and danger that the Roman cavalry dismounted and ... made their way ... to the front ranks of the infantry.  They appeared [there] like a fresh army amongst the exhausted combatants, and immediately threw the Etruscan standards into confusion.  The [Roman infantry], worn out as they were, nevertheless followed up the cavalry attack, and at last broke through the Etruscan ranks ...  They soon took to  flight ... , [leaving] the main strength of their army [dead] on the field, and their camp was taken and plundered”, (‘History of Rome’, 9: 39: 6-10).

This conundrum had apparently occurred to he scribes responsible for one of the surviving surviving manuscripts: Stephen Oakley (referenced below, 2005, at p. 499, paragraph (e)) noted that he inserted the phrase ‘interim ab fabio consule in Etruria res feliciter gestae’ (Meanwhile, the consul Fabius was meeting with success in Etruria) before ‘et ad Vadimonis lacum’.  Oakley agreed that:

  1. “One would rather have expected Fabius to have been in charge on the Etruscan front; but  he is nowhere mentioned ... ”.

Instead, as Oakley pointed out:

  1. “Scholars tend to assume that Papirius was in command ...”

However, in Oakley’s view, this hypothesis:

  1. “... is absurd, [since it has Papirius]  moving from [Longula] to Lake Vadimo and then back to Samnium [see below].”   

He added (at paragraph (f)) that, even if one accepts this hypothesis:

  1. “... there remains the difficulty that there ought to be  some [indication] of how he moved from Longula to Lake Vadimo.”

It is possible that Livy  simply had no information as to the identity of this victorious commander, although it is hard to see how it could have been anyone other that Fabius or Papirius.  It seems to me that Livy’s silence on the matter arose from the fact that he was struggling to reconcile discordant sources:

  1. those that favoured Papirius might well have credited him with an excursion from Longula to Lake Vadimo and back to Samnium (however absurd this might have been); while. 

  2. those that favoured Fabius might well have :

  3. named him as the victorious commander and described the battle as a trivial mopping-up operation; or

  4. denied that it happened at all.

There is, in fact, another indication that much of Livy’s account came from sources who favoured Papirius: as discussed below, his record that:

  1. “The Etruscans, using a lex sacrata (sacred law), had raised an army cum vir virum legisset (in which each man had chosen another)”, (‘History of Rome’, 9: 39: 5);

had probably been taken from an account of the more reliably authentic victory that Papirius’ homonymous son had secured against the Samnites in 293 BC.

Papirius’ Victory in Samnium

Having described the major Roman victory over the Etruscans at the lacus Vadiminis, Livy effected a smooth transition back to Samnium:

  1. “Equally hard fighting and an equally brilliant success characterised the campaign which immediately followed against the Samnites”, (‘History of Rome’, 9: 40: 1).

However, he did not say where this brilliant campaign took place.  Stephen Oakley (referenced below, 2005, at p. 461) observed that the putative lacuna at 39: 4 (above):

  1. “... does not allow us to determine whether [it] ... should also be placed at Longula.”

In other words, it is possible that:

  1. a now-lost passage after 9: 39: 3 completed Livy’s account of Papirius’ engagement at Longula; and

  2. Papirius now engaged another Samnite army Samnite army at another unnamed location in Samnium.

Stephen Oakley (referenced below, 2005, at p. 499, paragraph (d)) observed that:

  1. “Line 40:1 ... does not pick up [line] 39: 3 at all well: [in particular], the mention of the new preparations of the Samnites [see below] seems very sudden.”

Here, he referred to the fact that Livy began his account of this brilliant Roman victory with a long description (‘History of Rome’, 9: 40: 2-5) of the splendid armour now worn by the Samnites: no such splendour had attended the army that Papirius had previously confronted at Longula.  This certainly suggests that Livy was speaking about two different occasions at 9: 39: 1-3 and at  9: 40: 1-14.  However, if this is correct, then Livy launched into the second engagement without having described where and in what circumstances it took place.

Only after Livy’s discourse of Samnite splendour and his account (‘History of Rome’, 9: 40: 5-7) of the terms in which the unnamed Roman imperatores had been reassured their men that this splendid armour would soon be their for the taking, do we learn that:

  1. “Papirius led them into battle.  He took up his own post on the right, and committed the left to the master of the horse [Caius Junius Bubulcus Brutus].  From the first moment, there was a mighty struggle with the enemy, and a struggle no less sharp between Papirius and Junius to decide which wing [of the Roman army] would inaugurate the victory”, (‘History of Rome’, 9: 40: 7-9).

As things turned out:

  1. “... Junius was the first to make an impression on the Samnites. with the Roman left he faced the enemy's right, where [the Samnites] had consecrated themselves, as their custom was, and for that reason were resplendent in white [linen] tunics  and equally white [silver] armour.  Declaring that he offered up these men in sacrifice to Orcus, Junius charged, threw their ranks into disorder, and clearly made their line recoil”, (‘History of Rome’, 9: 40: 79-11).

This again seems odd: one would have expected Papirius himself to have claimed the honour of facing the Samnite corps that was made up of men who had consecrated themselves.

Livy then returned to the theme of the competition between the Roman commanders: when Papirius saw Junius’ success, he:

  1. “... cried [out to his men]:

  2. ‘Shall ... the dictator's division follow the attack of others [rather than] carry off the honours of the victory ?’ 

  3. This fired the [rest of the Roman] soldiers with new energy; nor did ... the [legates display] less enthusiasm than the generals: [Marcus Valerius Maxiumus Corvus] on the right and [Publius Decius Mus] on the left, both men of consular rank, ... charged obliquely against the enemy's flanks.  [The Samnites took flight and] the fields were soon heaped with both dead soldiers and glittering [enemy] armour”, (‘History of Rome’, 9: 40: 10-14).

In other words, there was significant tension between Papirius and his senior colleagues, and only they are recorded as making any significant contribution to the victory.  Nevertheless, whatever his actual contributions:

  1. “... as decreed by the Senate, Papirius celebrated a triumph, in which by far the finest show was afforded by the captured [Samnite] armour”, (‘History of Rome’, 9: 40: 15).  

Fabius’ Decisive Victory over the Etruscans  at Perusia (?)

Having described Papirius’ triumph over the Samnites, Livy immediately turned to a description of what he characterised as Fabius’ decisive victory over the Etruscans:

  1. “In the same year, the consul Fabius fought a battle with the remnants of the Etruscan forces near Perusia, which, together with other cities, had broken the truce.  [He] gained an easy and decisive victory.  After the battle, he marched up to the walls of the city and would have taken the city itself had not ambassadors come out and surrendered the place.  [He] placed a garrison in Perusia, and ... sent on before him to the Senate in Rome the Etruscan deputations that had come to him amicitiam petentibus (seeking friendship) ...”, (‘History of Rome’, 9: 40: 18-20).  

Stephen Oakley (referenced below, 2005, at p. 455) asserted that

  1. “... despite Livy’s comment that [‘Perusia, together with other Etruscan cities, had broken the truce’, this engagement] follows oddly on [the agreement of the 30 year truces] agreed earlier in the year with Arretium, Cortona and Perusia.”

It also seems odd that Livy did not record the Senate’s answer to ’the Etruscan deputations that had come to Fabius seeking friendship’.  The Romans’ apparently easy victory over Perusia seems equally odd: as Stephen Oakley (referenced below, 2005, at p. 455) observed:

  1. “This is [Livy’s] only report of the surrender of a major Etruscan settlement in the war of 311-308 BC ...[and] it is doubtful whether ... the Romans had an army strong enough to capture or force the surrender of any of the major Etruscan cities [at this time].  One cannot prove finally that this section is a doublet ..., but this does seem extremely probable. ”

Simoni Sisani (referenced below, 2007, at p. 35) agreed, and suggested that  the memory of Livy’s second version of Fabius victory of 310 BC, which located it to the north of the Ciminian Forest, near Perusia:

  1. “... must have been so strong as to push Livy to include it [again] at the end of the interminable 310 BC, thereby duplicating the facts of the engagement that, shortly before, had taken place near the Ciminian Forest and had led to the truces with the centres of northern Etruria” (my translation).  

However, in my view, as I discuss further below, Livy inserted this doublet in order to reconcile his account with others that he found in sources that accepted the dictator year of 309 BC.

Livy ended his account of this consular year by recording that:

  1. “ Having placed a garrison in Perusia, and ... sent on before him to the Senate in Rome the Etruscan deputations that had come to him seeking friendship, Fabius was borne in triumph into the City, after gaining ... a success more brilliant even than that of Papirius; indeed the glory of conquering the Samnites was largely diverted [from Papirius to his]legatess, Publius Decius and Marcus Valerius, of whom, at the next election, the people with great enthusiasm made the one [Decius] consul and the other [Valerius] praetor”, (‘History of Rome’, 9: 40: 20-21).    

Livy enlarged on this at the start of his record of the consular year that followed:

  1. “In recognition of his remarkable conquest of Etruria, Fabius was continued in the consulship, and was given Decius for his colleague. [2] Valerius was for the fourth time chosen praetor”, (‘History of Rome’, 9: 41: 1).  




Stephen Oakley (referenced below, 2005, at p. 461) observed that:

  1. “Even though Diodorus ignores Papirius’ campaign against the Samnites, it would probably be an excess of scepticism to reject it out of hand; ...  although it is possible that [it] is an annalistic or Livian invention, no certain arguments for rejecting it have yet been adduced.  Nevertheless, the details of the fighting offered by Livy are unlikely to be sound: many recur in a very similar guise in his account of the victory of [Papirius’ homonymous] son at Aquilonia in 293 BC (discussed in my page on the Third Samnite War), and it is therefore possible that those [recorded for 310/9 BC] are all unauthentic ...”

Edward Salmon (referenced below, at pp. 245-6 and note 1) similarly considered that:

  1. “The crushing victory that [the elder Papirius] is said to have scored in [310/9 BC)] ... is recognised, even by Livy, to contain features borrowed from his son’s victory ... in the Third Samnite War.  ... The victory [of the elder Papirius], if not entirely fictitious, was, at most, merely a local success that helped maintain Roman diversionary pressure on the western borders of Samnium.”

In other words, it is likely that much of Livy’s exuberant description of the elder Papirius’ victory over a consecrated Samnite army that was sworn to fight to the death can be safely discounted.  This is bound to raise the question of whether Livy or his sources ‘borrowed’ details of the the victory of the younger Papirius in 293 BC in order to add colour to what was probably a much less impressive victory won by his father in 310/9 BC.



Triumphs of Papirius and Fabius in 310/9 BC

The ‘fasti Triumphales’ record that, in this year:

  1. Papirius, as dictator, was awarded a triumph over the Samnites on 15th October; and

  2. Fabius, as proconsul, was awarded a triumph over the Etruscans on 13th November.

In fact, as explained above, the likelihood is that, if these triumphs were actually awarded at all, they belong to the later part of Fabius’ second consulship: there is no earlier evidence that he subsequently served as proconsul, and it is almost certain that he held his second and third consulships in consecutive years.

Livy recorded the award of both of these triumphs:

  1. After Papirius, victory over the magnificently attired Samnite army:

  2. “... as decreed by the Senate, [Papirius] celebrated a triumph, in which by far the finest show was afforded by the captured armour.  So magnificent was its appearance that the shields inlaid with gold were divided up amongst the owners of the money-changers' booths [in Rome], to be used in decking out the Forum”, (‘History of Rome’, 9: 40: 15-6).  

  3. Soon after Papirius’ victory in Samnium, Fabius easily defeated the remnants of the Etruscan army near Perusia, following which an Etruscan delegation came to him seeking friendly relations with Rome.  Having sent this delegation to Rome ahead of him, Fabius:

  4. “... was borne in triumph into the City ...”, (‘History of Rome’, 9: 40: 20).

  5. As noted above, the easy victory that Livy described here was almost certainly a doublet of the ‘famous battle’ in which:

  6. “... the Romans were the victors.  And so, ambassadors from Perusia and Cortona and Arretium, which, at that time, were effectively capita Etruriae populorum (the chief cities of the Etruscan people), came to Rome to sue for peace and a foedus (treaty).  They obtained truces for 30 years”, (History of Rome’, 9: 37: 12); and

  7. pace Livy’s preferred sources, this battle was almost certainly fought near perusia in 310/9 BC.

We might reasonably assume that Fabius was indeed awarded a triumph after a victory that led to 30 year truces with three of the leading city-states of upper Etruria.  However, as discussed above, Edward Salmon (referenced below, at pp. 245-6 and note 1), for example, reasonably argued that:

  1. “The crushing victory that ...  [of the elder Papirius], if not entirely fictitious, was, at most, merely a local success that helped maintain Roman diversionary pressure on the western borders of Samnium.”

In other words, there has to be considerable doubt about the triumph over the Samnites that both Livy and the fasti recorded.  I wonder whether Livy had :

  1. some sources that greed with those on the basis of which the fasti had placed Fabius’ triumph a month after that of Papirius; and

  2. other sources that placed Fabius’ famous battle before Papirius’ appointment as dictator.

If so, he (or yet other sources) might well have assumed that there had been a subsequent ‘mopping-up” operation in upper Etruria before Fabius finally received his triumph.  In other words, the putative invention of papirius’ triumph was the main reason for the putative invention of Fabius’ easy victory over the remnants of the Etruscan army at Perusia.

Events in Etruria During the Dictatorship: Conclusions

Livy made no secret that he had a number of sources for the events of Papirius’ dictatorship, and that there were important variances between them.  He had earlier made an interesting observation about his various sources for the events of 322 BC:

  1. “ ... it is not easy to choose between these accounts ... I think that the records have been vitiated by funeral eulogies and by lying inscriptions under portraits, every family endeavouring mendaciously to appropriate victories and magistracies to itself, a practice that has certainly wrought confusion in the achievements of individuals and in the public memorials of events.  Nor is there extant any writer contemporary with that period on whose authority we may safely take our stand”, (‘History of Rome’, 8: 40: 3-5).

It seems to me that he faced the same problems when he grappled with the sources for the events of Papirius’ dictatorship.

In this case, it is easy to identify the families that were ‘endeavouring ... to appropriate victories and magistracies’: they would obviously have been (or, at least, included) the Fabii and the Papirii: thus, William Everton Heitland (referenced below, at p. 145), in his fascinating book written in 1909, observed (in the context of the putative animosity between Fabius and Papirius during the Second Samnite War) that:

  1. “... our tradition is no doubt largely derived from the partial [as in biased] records  of these and other great houses.”

We can surely detect these partial sources in Livy’s account of Papirius’ dictatorship of 310/9 BC:

  1. As noted above, Livy began his account of the events of Papirius’ dictatorship with the process by which he was appointed:

  2. “Nobody could doubt that Papirius Cursor, who was regarded as the foremost soldier of his time, would be designated.  ...  Since ... Fabius, had a private grudge against [him], ... the Senate decided to send a deputation of former consuls to [Fabius, presumably at his camp in Etruria ... in order to] induce him to forget those quarrels in the national interest.  ... [Fabius did so, but with such little grace] that it was clearly seen what agony his great heart was suppressing”, (‘History of Rome’, 9: 38: 10-5).



As noted above, Livy’s account of the Etruscan War prior to the appointment of Papirius as dictator can be broadly reconciled with Diodorus’ parallel account, up to and including the truces agreed with Arretium, Cortona and Perusia:

  1. Diodorus:

  2. “Thereafter, defeating the Etruscans in a second battle near the place called Perusia and destroying many of them, he overawed the nation, since he was the first of the Romans to have invaded that region with an army.  He also made truces with the peoples of: Arretium and [Cortona]; and likewise with those of Perusia”, (‘Library of History’, 20: 35: 4-5). 

  3. Livy:

  4. “... the Romans were the victors [in a battle that was located either at Sutrium or Perusia].  And so, ambassadors from Perusia and Cortona and Arretium, which, at that time, were effectively capita Etruriae populorum (the chief cities of the Etruscan people), came to Rome to sue for peace and a foedus (treaty).  They obtained truces for 30 years”, (History of Rome’, 9: 37: 12).

Thereafter, the accounts of Diodorus and Livy diverge:

  1. Diodorus (‘Library of History’, 20: 35: 5) recorded that Fabius laid siege to a now-unknown Etruscan city called Castola, which forced the Etruscans to raise the siege of Sutrium.  Castola must therefore have been   of sufficient importance to have merited the service of the Etruscan army that was (according to Diodorus) still besieging  Sutrium.

  2. Livy recorded an engagement with the Umbrians (discussed in the following section) and three others that were discussed above:

  3. An unnamed Roman commander defeated an Etruscan army that had been raised under a lex sacrata  and selected by the procedure of vir virum legere (which probably implied self-consecration).  The battle took place in Etruria, possibly at the lacus Vadimonis, and:

  4. “That day, for the first time, [a Roman army] broke the might of the Etruscans ...”, (‘History of Rome’, 9: 39: 11).

  5. It is not clear which Etruscan cities had taken part in this engagement, but there is no indication that any of Arretium, Cortona or Perusia had broken its recently-agreed truce.

  6. Papirius defeated a Samnite army that included a corps of men who:

  7. “... had consecrated themselves, as was their custom, and, for that reason, were resplendent in white [linen] clothing and equally white armour”, (‘History of Rome’, 9: 40: 9).

  8. The honour of breaking through this corps belonged to the master of horse, Junius, while two other consulars, Valerius and Decius, ‘seizing a share of glory’, led cavalry charges against the enemy flanks.  At this, the Samnites crumbled and Papirius was awarded a triumph.

  9. Fabius defeated:

  10. “... the remnants of the Etruscan forces near Perusia, which, together with other cities, had broken the truce.  [He] gained an easy and decisive victory.  ... Having sent on before him to the Senate ... the Etruscan deputations at had come to him amicitiam petentibus (seeking friendship), [he] was borne in triumph into Rome”, (‘History of Rome’, 9: 40: 18-20).  

If we start with Livy’s account of Papirius’ decisive victory in Samnium:

  1. Edward Salmon (referenced below, 1967, at pp. 245-6 and note 1) was of this opinion:

  2. “... if not entirely fictitious, was, at most, merely a local success that helped maintain Roman diversionary pressure on the western borders of Samnium.”

  3. Stephen Oakley (referenced below, 2005, at p. 461) expressed a similar (albeit more nuanced) opinion :

  4. “Even though Diodorus ignored Papirius’ campaign against the Samnites [in 310/9 BC], it would probably be an excess of scepticism to reject it out of hand; ...  Nevertheless, the details of the fighting offered by Livy are unlikely to be sound... [and] it is possible that [they] are all unauthentic ...”

Turning now to Fabius’ engagements in Etruria:

  1. Diodorus’ record a final battle that Fabius fought after the surrender of Arretium Cortona and Perusia: he laid siege to the now-unknown Castola and thereby raised the Etruscan siege of Siutrium.  Both Stephen Oakley (referenced below, 2005, at p. 457) and Simone Sisani (referenced below, 2007, at: p. 36, note 37; and at p. 34, Figure 1), for example, accepted this account of what was presumably a ‘mopping up’ exercise.

  2. However, many scholars have pointed out that Livy’s account of the events of Fabius’ second consulship is impossibly crowded and, in particular, his two engagements during Papirius’ dictatorship are often questioned.  Thus, for example:

  3. While Simone Sisani (referenced below, 2007, at: p. 36, note 37; and p. 34, Figure 1) was inclined to accept the possibility that Fabius defeated another Etruscan army at the lacus Vadimonis on his march south from Perusia, he rejected Livy’s record of Fabius’ last and ‘easy’ victory at Perusia as a doublet.

  4. Stephen Oakley (referenced below, 2005, at p. 457) asserted that:

  5. “... much of Livy’s Etruscan narrative after 37: 12 [in which30 year truces were agreed with Arretium, Cortona and Perusia] duplicates what he recounts between 35:1 and 37:12  ...; all of it is likely to be fictional.”

In other words, the likelihood is that, during Fabius’ second year as consul:

  1. Papirius, as dictator, did little more than ‘hold the fort’ in Samnium during a period when Marcius (Fabius’ colleague) was incapacitated in some way.

  2. Fabius himself :

  3. defeated an Etruscan army that was besieging Sutrium;

  4. secured an alliance with the Umbrian Camertes in order to protect his flank from the Gallic Senones; and then

  5. met with considerable success in upper Etruria. 

  6. The ‘famous battle’ that ended in a decisive victory, after which he agreed 30 year truces with Arretium, Cortona and Perusia, probably took place near Perusia.

Clearly, Papirius’ achievements had been elaborated in some of Livy’s  sources, a situation that is also reflected in the entries in the ‘fasti Triumphales’ in the ‘dictator year’ 309 BC. in which:

  1. Papirius, as dictator, was awarded a triumph over the Samnites; and

  2. Fabius, as proconsul, was awarded a triumph over the Etruscans.

In fact, as explained above, the likelihood is that, if these triumphs were actually awarded at all, they belong to the later part of Fabius’ second consulship: there is certainly no other evidence that he served as proconsul in a period between his second and third consulships.  There is certainly likely that Fabius’ second consulship culminated in the award of a triumph: as Stephen Oakley (referenced below, 2005, at p. 456) pointed out, he:

  1. “... was the most important Roman general of the Samnite wars and, among his exploits, his campaign in [his second year as consul]  had a significance second only to his great victory [over the Samnites, Gauls and Etruscans] at Sentinum in 295 BC.”

However, this record of Papirius’ triumph, as dictator, over the Samnites must be open to question.

The obvious conclusion is that partisan sources that recorded Papirius’ achievements in 310/9 BC reproduced elements of surviving accounts of the victory and triumph of his homonymous son in 293 BC.  Indeed, as is often pointed out, passages in Livy’s account of these later  events betray his awareness of this possibility:

  1. He started his account by observing that: 

  2. ‘The triumph that [the younger Papirius] celebrated while still in office was a brilliant one for those days.  ... The spoils of the Samnites attracted much attention; their splendour and beauty were compared with that of the spoils that his father had won [in 310/9 BC], which were familiar to all through their being used as decorations of public places”, (‘History of Rome, 10: 46: 2-4).  

  3. He noted that the younger Papirius dedicated the temple of Quirinus, presumably at the time of his triumph, and added:

  4. “I do not find in any ancient author that it was he who had vowed this temple in the crisis of a battle, and certainly he could not have completed it in so short a time; it [must have been] vowed by his father when dictator [in 310/9 BC]: the son dedicated [the completed temple] when consul, and adorned it with the spoils of the enemy.  There was such a vast quantity of these spoils that, not only were the temple and the Forum adorned with them, but they were distributed amongst the allied peoples and the nearest colonies to decorate their public spaces and temples”, (‘History of Rome, 10: 46: 7-8).

  5. He had the younger Papirius urging his men not to be intimidated by the magnificence of the enemy armour by pointing out that: 

  6. “My father ... annihilated a Samnite army all in gold and silver [in 310/9 BC], and those [enemy] trappings brought more glory to the victors as spoils than ... to the wearers.   It might, perhaps, be a special privilege granted to my name and family that the greatest efforts that the Samnites ever made should be frustrated and defeated under our  generalship, and that the spoils that we brought back should be sufficiently splendid to serve as decorations for the public places of Rome”, (‘History of Rome’, 10: 39: 9-13).

As Stephen Oakley  (referenced below, 2005, at p. 506) pointed out:

  1. “There is no difficulty [in principal] in believing that two Papirii Cursores won important victories over the Samnites, but it is harder to have confidence that these two victories were won in such similar circumstances ... [Furthermore,] Livy’s awareness of the similarities only increases the suspicion that ... the details of one victory were merged with those of the other.  If this did happen, then it is more likely that a large quantity of Samnite arms was brought to the city in 293 BC than in 310/9 BC, since:

  2. the victory ...at Aquilonia was more celebrated and more important [in strategic terms];

  3. the description of the triumph [that followed it] is one of the more reliable features of [Livy’s Book 10]; and

  4. Livy’s testimony for that year is reinforced by that of Pliny [the Elder - see above].”

It seems to me that we can also see partisanship at work in Livy’s sources for Fabius’ achievements in this period, probably in reaction to the putative lionisation of the elder Papirius.  Thus, for example:

  1. Livy laid great stress on Fabius’ longstanding  quarrel with the elder Papirius and ‘the agony that his great heart was suppressing’ when he appointed him as dictator;

  2. he expanded on the dictator’s propensity to steal his colleagues’ glory by having Junius destroy the corps of consecrated men in the Samnite army of 310/9 BC and by giving the consulars Valerius and Decius other major roles in securing the Roman victory; and

  3. he had a now-unnamed commander, presumably Fabius, defeat an Etruscan army that had been raised the procedure of vir virum legere, a procedure that was implied for the selection of the corp of self-consecrated Samnites who wore linen tunics during Papirius’ contemporary victory.  This detail was almost certainly borrowed in both cases from sources that described the selection of the Samnite Linen Legion in 293 BC.

However, the most explicit indication of Livy’s reliance on partisanship in his sources, as mediated by his own views, comes in his account of Fabius’ triumph, having gained:

  1. “... a success more brilliant even than the dictator's: indeed the glory of conquering the Samnites was largely diverted [from Papirius to his] lieutenants, Publius Decius and Marcus Valerius, of whom, at the next election, the people, with great enthusiasm, made the one consul and the other praetor”, (‘History of Rome’, 9: 40: 18-21).  

I suggest that Livy felt that he could not ignore the existing sources that lionised the success of the elder Papirius in 310/9 BC, but that the main purpose of chapters 9: 38-40 was to correct their excessive bias.  Having done so, he could begin chapter 41 by asserting that:

  1. “In recognition of his remarkable conquest of Etruria, Fabius was continued in the consulship, and was given Decius for his colleague.  Valerius was for the fourth time chosen praetor”, (‘History of Rome’, 9: 41: 1-2).



Livy had the younger Papirius urging his men not to be intimidated by the magnificence of the enemy armour: 

  1. “My father ... annihilated a Samnite army all in gold and silver [in 310/9 BC], and those [enemy] trappings brought more glory to the victors as spoils than ... to the wearers.   It might, perhaps, be a special privilege granted to my name and family that the greatest efforts that the Samnites ever made should be frustrated and defeated under our  generalship, and that the spoils that we brought back should be sufficiently splendid to serve as decorations for the public places of Rome”, (‘History of Rome’, 10: 39: 9-13).




Referring specifically to the participation of Publius Decius Mus, he commented (at p. 342) that:

  1. “He is ... said to have been a legate of Papirius in 310/9C, but this may be one of the many invented details that cluster around Livy’s narrative for this year.”

Finally he noted (at p. 526) that, by having Valerius and Decius participating in Papirius’ victory, he paves the way for Livy to assert that, in Etruria, Fabius gained:

  1. “... a success more brilliant even than the dictator's: indeed the glory of conquering the Samnites was largely diverted upon the lieutenants, Publius Decius and Marcus Valerius, of whom, at the next election, the people, with great enthusiasm, made the one consul and the other praetor”, (‘History of Rome’, 9: 40: 18-21).  

I return below to this comparison between the triumphs of Papirius and Fabius in 310/9 BC.

A Second Engagement with the Perusians ??

Having described Papirius’ triumph over the Samnites, Livy recorded that:

  1. “In the same year, the consul Fabius fought a battle with the remnants of the Etruscan forces near Perusia, which, together with other cities, had broken the truce.  [He] gained an easy and decisive victory.  After the battle, he marched up to the walls of the city and would have taken the city itself had not ambassadors come out and surrendered the place.  [He] placed a garrison in Perusia, and ... sent on before him to the Senate in Rome the Etruscan deputations that had come to him amicitiam petentibus (seeking friendship) ...”, (‘History of Rome’, 9: 40: 18-20).  

Stephen Oakley (referenced below, 2005, at p. 455) asserted that

  1. “... despite Livy’s comment that [‘Perusia, together with other Etruscan cities, had broken the truce’, this engagement] follows oddly on [the agreement of the 30 year truces] agreed earlier in the year with Arretium, Cortona and Perusia.”

It also seems odd that Livy did not record the Senate’s answer to ’the Etruscan deputations that had come to Fabius seeking friendship’.  The Romans’ apparently easy victory over Perusia seems equally odd: as Stephen Oakley (referenced below, 2005, at p. 455) observed:

  1. “This is [Livy’s] only report of the surrender of a major Etruscan settlement in the war of 311-308 BC ...[and] it is doubtful whether ... the Romans had an army strong enough to capture or force the surrender of any of the major Etruscan cities [at this time].  One cannot prove finally that this section is a doublet ..., but this does seem extremely probable. ”

Simoni Sisani (referenced below, 2007, at p. 35) agreed, and suggested that  the memory of Livy’s second version of Fabius victory of 310 BC, which located it to the north of the Ciminian Forest, near Perusia:

  1. “... must have been so strong as to push Livy to include it [again] at the end of the interminable 310 BC, thereby duplicating the facts of the engagement that, shortly before, had taken place near the Ciminian Forest and had led to the truces with the centres of northern Etruria” (my translation).




Events in Etruria During the Dictatorship: Conclusions

Livy made no secret that he had a number of sources for the events of Papirius’ dictatorship, and that there were important variances between them.  He had earlier made an interesting observation about his various sources for the events of 322 BC:

  1. “ ... it is not easy to choose between these accounts ... I think that the records have been vitiated by funeral eulogies and by lying inscriptions under portraits, every family endeavouring mendaciously to appropriate victories and magistracies to itself, a practice that has certainly wrought confusion in the achievements of individuals and in the public memorials of events.  Nor is there extant any writer contemporary with that period on whose authority we may safely take our stand”, (‘History of Rome’, 8: 40: 3-5).

It seems to me that he faced the same problems when he grappled with the sources for the events of Papirius’ dictatorship.

In this case, it is easy to identify the families that were ‘endeavouring ... to appropriate victories and magistracies’: they would obviously have been (or, at least, included) the Fabii and the Papirii: thus, William Everton Heitland (referenced below, at p. 145), in his fascinating book written in 1909, observed (in the context of the putative animosity between Fabius and Papirius during the Second Samnite War) that:

  1. “... our tradition is no doubt largely derived from the partial [as in biased] records  of these and other great houses.”

We can surely detect these partial sources in Livy’s account of Papirius’ dictatorship of 310/9 BC:

  1. As noted above, Livy began his account of the events of Papirius’ dictatorship with the process by which he was appointed:

  2. “Nobody could doubt that Papirius Cursor, who was regarded as the foremost soldier of his time, would be designated.  ...  Since ... Fabius, had a private grudge against [him], ... the Senate decided to send a deputation of former consuls to [Fabius, presumably at his camp in Etruria ... in order to] induce him to forget those quarrels in the national interest.  ... [Fabius did so, but with such little grace] that it was clearly seen what agony his great heart was suppressing”, (‘History of Rome’, 9: 38: 10-5).

  3. In his final comments on the events of this period, Livy recorded the award of triumphs to both Fabius and Papirius, and then asserted that Fabius had gained:

  4. “... a success more brilliant even than that of Papirius; indeed the glory of conquering the Samnites was largely diverted [from Papirius to his] lieutenants, Publius Decius and Marcus Valerius, of whom, at the next election, the people with great enthusiasm made the one [Decius] consul and the other [Valerius] praetor”, (‘History of Rome’, 9: 40: 21).  



As noted above, Livy’s account of the Etruscan War prior to the appointment of Papirius as dictator can be broadly reconciled with Diodorus’ parallel account, up to and including the truces agreed with Arretium, Cortona and Perusia:

  1. Diodorus:

  2. “Thereafter, defeating the Etruscans in a second battle near the place called Perusia and destroying many of them, he overawed the nation, since he was the first of the Romans to have invaded that region with an army.  He also made truces with the peoples of: Arretium and [Cortona]; and likewise with those of Perusia”, (‘Library of History’, 20: 35: 4-5). 

  3. Livy:

  4. “... the Romans were the victors [in a battle that was located either at Sutrium or Perusia].  And so, ambassadors from Perusia and Cortona and Arretium, which, at that time, were effectively capita Etruriae populorum (the chief cities of the Etruscan people), came to Rome to sue for peace and a foedus (treaty).  They obtained truces for 30 years”, (History of Rome’, 9: 37: 12).

Thereafter, the accounts of Diodorus and Livy diverge:

  1. Diodorus (‘Library of History’, 20: 35: 5) recorded that Fabius laid siege to a now-unknown Etruscan city called Castola, which forced the Etruscans to raise the siege of Sutrium.  Castola must therefore have been   of sufficient importance to have merited the service of the Etruscan army that was (according to Diodorus) still besieging  Sutrium.

  2. Livy recorded an engagement with the Umbrians (discussed in the following section) and three others that were discussed above:

  3. An unnamed Roman commander defeated an Etruscan army that had been raised under a lex sacrata  and selected by the procedure of vir virum legere (which probably implied self-consecration).  The battle took place in Etruria, possibly at the lacus Vadimonis, and:

  4. “That day, for the first time, [a Roman army] broke the might of the Etruscans ...”, (‘History of Rome’, 9: 39: 11).

  5. It is not clear which Etruscan cities had taken part in this engagement, but there is no indication that any of Arretium, Cortona or Perusia had broken its recently-agreed truce.

  6. Papirius defeated a Samnite army that included a corps of men who:

  7. “... had consecrated themselves, as was their custom, and, for that reason, were resplendent in white [linen] clothing and equally white armour”, (‘History of Rome’, 9: 40: 9).

  8. The honour of breaking through this corps belonged to the master of horse, Junius, while two other consulars, Valerius and Decius, ‘seizing a share of glory’, led cavalry charges against the enemy flanks.  At this, the Samnites crumbled and Papirius was awarded a triumph.

  9. Fabius defeated:

  10. “... the remnants of the Etruscan forces near Perusia, which, together with other cities, had broken the truce.  [He] gained an easy and decisive victory.  ... Having sent on before him to the Senate ... the Etruscan deputations at had come to him amicitiam petentibus (seeking friendship), [he] was borne in triumph into Rome”, (‘History of Rome’, 9: 40: 18-20).  

If we start with Livy’s account of Papirius’ decisive victory in Samnium:

  1. Edward Salmon (referenced below, 1967, at pp. 245-6 and note 1) was of this opinion:

  2. “... if not entirely fictitious, was, at most, merely a local success that helped maintain Roman diversionary pressure on the western borders of Samnium.”

  3. Stephen Oakley (referenced below, 2005, at p. 461) expressed a similar (albeit more nuanced) opinion :

  4. “Even though Diodorus ignored Papirius’ campaign against the Samnites [in 310/9 BC], it would probably be an excess of scepticism to reject it out of hand; ...  Nevertheless, the details of the fighting offered by Livy are unlikely to be sound... [and] it is possible that [they] are all unauthentic ...”

Turning now to Fabius’ engagements in Etruria:

  1. Diodorus’ record a final battle that Fabius fought after the surrender of Arretium Cortona and Perusia: he laid siege to the now-unknown Castola and thereby raised the Etruscan siege of Siutrium.  Both Stephen Oakley (referenced below, 2005, at p. 457) and Simone Sisani (referenced below, 2007, at: p. 36, note 37; and at p. 34, Figure 1), for example, accepted this account of what was presumably a ‘mopping up’ exercise.

  2. However, many scholars have pointed out that Livy’s account of the events of Fabius’ second consulship is impossibly crowded and, in particular, his two engagements during Papirius’ dictatorship are often questioned.  Thus, for example:

  3. While Simone Sisani (referenced below, 2007, at: p. 36, note 37; and p. 34, Figure 1) was inclined to accept the possibility that Fabius defeated another Etruscan army at the lacus Vadimonis on his march south from Perusia, he rejected Livy’s record of Fabius’ last and ‘easy’ victory at Perusia as a doublet.

  4. Stephen Oakley (referenced below, 2005, at p. 457) asserted that:

  5. “... much of Livy’s Etruscan narrative after 37: 12 [in which30 year truces were agreed with Arretium, Cortona and Perusia] duplicates what he recounts between 35:1 and 37:12  ...; all of it is likely to be fictional.”

In other words, the likelihood is that, during Fabius’ second year as consul:

  1. Papirius, as dictator, did little more than ‘hold the fort’ in Samnium during a period when Marcius (Fabius’ colleague) was incapacitated in some way.

  2. Fabius himself :

  3. defeated an Etruscan army that was besieging Sutrium;

  4. secured an alliance with the Umbrian Camertes in order to protect his flank from the Gallic Senones; and then

  5. met with considerable success in upper Etruria. 

  6. The ‘famous battle’ that ended in a decisive victory, after which he agreed 30 year truces with Arretium, Cortona and Perusia, probably took place near Perusia.

Clearly, Papirius’ achievements had been elaborated in some of Livy’s  sources, a situation that is also reflected in the entries in the ‘fasti Triumphales’ in the ‘dictator year’ 309 BC. in which:

  1. Papirius, as dictator, was awarded a triumph over the Samnites; and

  2. Fabius, as proconsul, was awarded a triumph over the Etruscans.

In fact, as explained above, the likelihood is that, if these triumphs were actually awarded at all, they belong to the later part of Fabius’ second consulship: there is certainly no other evidence that he served as proconsul in a period between his second and third consulships.  There is certainly likely that Fabius’ second consulship culminated in the award of a triumph: as Stephen Oakley (referenced below, 2005, at p. 456) pointed out, he:

  1. “... was the most important Roman general of the Samnite wars and, among his exploits, his campaign in [his second year as consul]  had a significance second only to his great victory [over the Samnites, Gauls and Etruscans] at Sentinum in 295 BC.”

However, this record of Papirius’ triumph, as dictator, over the Samnites must be open to question.

The obvious conclusion is that partisan sources that recorded Papirius’ achievements in 310/9 BC reproduced elements of surviving accounts of the victory and triumph of his homonymous son in 293 BC.  Indeed, as is often pointed out, passages in Livy’s account of these later  events betray his awareness of this possibility:

  1. He started his account by observing that: 

  2. ‘The triumph that [the younger Papirius] celebrated while still in office was a brilliant one for those days.  ... The spoils of the Samnites attracted much attention; their splendour and beauty were compared with that of the spoils that his father had won [in 310/9 BC], which were familiar to all through their being used as decorations of public places”, (‘History of Rome, 10: 46: 2-4).  

  3. He noted that the younger Papirius dedicated the temple of Quirinus, presumably at the time of his triumph, and added:

  4. “I do not find in any ancient author that it was he who had vowed this temple in the crisis of a battle, and certainly he could not have completed it in so short a time; it [must have been] vowed by his father when dictator [in 310/9 BC]: the son dedicated [the completed temple] when consul, and adorned it with the spoils of the enemy.  There was such a vast quantity of these spoils that, not only were the temple and the Forum adorned with them, but they were distributed amongst the allied peoples and the nearest colonies to decorate their public spaces and temples”, (‘History of Rome, 10: 46: 7-8).

  5. He had the younger Papirius urging his men not to be intimidated by the magnificence of the enemy armour by pointing out that: 

  6. “My father ... annihilated a Samnite army all in gold and silver [in 310/9 BC], and those [enemy] trappings brought more glory to the victors as spoils than ... to the wearers.   It might, perhaps, be a special privilege granted to my name and family that the greatest efforts that the Samnites ever made should be frustrated and defeated under our  generalship, and that the spoils that we brought back should be sufficiently splendid to serve as decorations for the public places of Rome”, (‘History of Rome’, 10: 39: 9-13).

As Stephen Oakley  (referenced below, 2005, at p. 506) pointed out:

  1. “There is no difficulty [in principal] in believing that two Papirii Cursores won important victories over the Samnites, but it is harder to have confidence that these two victories were won in such similar circumstances ... [Furthermore,] Livy’s awareness of the similarities only increases the suspicion that ... the details of one victory were merged with those of the other.  If this did happen, then it is more likely that a large quantity of Samnite arms was brought to the city in 293 BC than in 310/9 BC, since:

  2. the victory ...at Aquilonia was more celebrated and more important [in strategic terms];

  3. the description of the triumph [that followed it] is one of the more reliable features of [Livy’s Book 10]; and

  4. Livy’s testimony for that year is reinforced by that of Pliny [the Elder - see above].”

It seems to me that we can also see partisanship at work in Livy’s sources for Fabius’ achievements in this period, probably in reaction to the putative lionisation of the elder Papirius.  Thus, for example:

  1. Livy laid great stress on Fabius’ longstanding  quarrel with the elder Papirius and ‘the agony that his great heart was suppressing’ when he appointed him as dictator;

  2. he expanded on the dictator’s propensity to steal his colleagues’ glory by having Junius destroy the corps of consecrated men in the Samnite army of 310/9 BC and by giving the consulars Valerius and Decius other major roles in securing the Roman victory; and

  3. he had a now-unnamed commander, presumably Fabius, defeat an Etruscan army that had been raised the procedure of vir virum legere, a procedure that was implied for the selection of the corp of self-consecrated Samnites who wore linen tunics during Papirius’ contemporary victory.  This detail was almost certainly borrowed in both cases from sources that described the selection of the Samnite Linen Legion in 293 BC.

However, the most explicit indication of Livy’s reliance on partisanship in his sources, as mediated by his own views, comes in his account of Fabius’ triumph, having gained:

  1. “... a success more brilliant even than the dictator's: indeed the glory of conquering the Samnites was largely diverted [from Papirius to his] lieutenants, Publius Decius and Marcus Valerius, of whom, at the next election, the people, with great enthusiasm, made the one consul and the other praetor”, (‘History of Rome’, 9: 40: 18-21).  

I suggest that Livy felt that he could not ignore the existing sources that lionised the success of the elder Papirius in 310/9 BC, but that the main purpose of chapters 9: 38-40 was to correct their excessive bias.  Having done so, he could begin chapter 41 by asserting that:

  1. “In recognition of his remarkable conquest of Etruria, Fabius was continued in the consulship, and was given Decius for his colleague.  Valerius was for the fourth time chosen praetor”, (‘History of Rome’, 9: 41: 1-2).



Livy had the younger Papirius urging his men not to be intimidated by the magnificence of the enemy armour: 

  1. “My father ... annihilated a Samnite army all in gold and silver [in 310/9 BC], and those [enemy] trappings brought more glory to the victors as spoils than ... to the wearers.   It might, perhaps, be a special privilege granted to my name and family that the greatest efforts that the Samnites ever made should be frustrated and defeated under our  generalship, and that the spoils that we brought back should be sufficiently splendid to serve as decorations for the public places of Rome”, (‘History of Rome’, 10: 39: 9-13).




Referring specifically to the participation of Publius Decius Mus, he commented (at p. 342) that:

  1. “He is ... said to have been a legate of Papirius in 310/9C, but this may be one of the many invented details that cluster around Livy’s narrative for this year.”

Finally he noted (at p. 526) that, by having Valerius and Decius participating in Papirius’ victory, he paves the way for Livy to assert that, in Etruria, Fabius gained:

  1. “... a success more brilliant even than the dictator's: indeed the glory of conquering the Samnites was largely diverted upon the lieutenants, Publius Decius and Marcus Valerius, of whom, at the next election, the people, with great enthusiasm, made the one consul and the other praetor”, (‘History of Rome’, 9: 40: 18-21).  

I return below to this comparison between the triumphs of Papirius and Fabius in 310/9 BC.

Another Victory for Fabius near Perusia??

According to Livy, Fabius achieve one more victory in Etruria during his second consulshipconsulship:

  1. “In the same year, the consul Fabius fought a battle with the remnants of the Etruscan forces near Perusia, which, together with other cities, had broken the truce.  [He] gained an easy and decisive victory.  After the battle, he marched up to the walls of the city and would have taken it, had not ambassadors come out and surrendered the place.  [He] installed a garrison in Perusia, and ... sent on before him to the Senate in Rome the Etruscan deputations that had come to him amicitiam petentibus (seeking friendship) ...”, (‘History of Rome’, 9: 40: 18-20).  

Only now was Fabius’ Etruscan War finally over:

  1. “Having placed a garrison in Perusia and having sent on before him to the Senate in Rome the Etruscan deputations that had come to him seeking friendship, Fabius was borne in triumph into the City”, (‘History of Rome’, 9: 40: 20-21).


Stephen Oakley (referenced below, 2005, at p. 455) pointed to two reasons why this account should be discounted:

  1. “This is [Livy’s] only report of the surrender of a major Etruscan settlement in the wars of 311-308 BC ...[and] it is doubtful whether ... the Romans had an army strong enough to capture or force the surrender of any of the major Etruscan cities [at this time]’. 

  2. “... despite Livy’s comment that [‘Perusia, together with other Etruscan cities, had broken the truce’, the surrender of Perusia] follows oddly on [the agreement of the 30 year truces] earlier in the year with Arretium, Cortona and Perusia.”

He concluded that:

  1. “One cannot prove finally that this section is a doublet ..., but this does seem extremely probable. ”

Simoni Sisani (referenced below, 2007, at p. 35) agreed, and suggested that the memory of Fabius’ victory near Perusia in 310/9 BC:

  1. “... must have been so strong as to push Livy to include [a victory at Perusia] at the end of the interminable 310/9 BC, thereby duplicating the facts of the engagement that had taken place shortly before [south of] the Ciminian Forest and had led to the truces with the centres of northern Etruria” (my translation). 

If this is a doublet of Fabius’ “famous’ battle, then it follows that Fabius’ triumph was awarded immediately after the victory that led to the agreement of 30 year truces with Arretium, Cortona and Perusia.  (I return to the subject of Fabius’ triumph below).

In order to explore this further, we might look again at Livy’s account of the circumstances in which Papirius had been appointed dictator just before this battle.  According to Livy:

  1. “... great the alarm [was] created in Rome by Fabius' expedition through the Ciminian forest.  This was matched by] the pleasure felt by the Samnites when they heard of it ..., [until] they reflected that fortune might transfer the glory of [winning] the Roman war from the Samnites to the Etruscans.  So. they concentrated their whole strength:

  2. on crushing Marcius; or,

  3. if he did not give them a chance of fighting, to march through the country of the Marsi and Sabines into Etruria.

  4. [In the event], Marcius met them [at an unspecified location], and the battle was fiercely contested on both sides, but without a decision being reached.  However, ... , the report gained ground that the Romans had been worsted ... and, .... [that] Marcius himself was wounded. These reverses ... were further exaggerated in the telling, and the Senate...  determined on the appointment of a  dictator (‘History of Rome’, 9: 38: 4-10).

In short, Papirius was appointed as dictator at a moment when (at least according to Livy or his sources) the Romans feared a simultaneous attack by the Samnites and the Etruscans.  There are interesting parallels here with Livy’s account of the appointment of Postumius as dictator in 431 BC:

  1. “After a levy had been raised under the lex sacrata ,... the armies of the Aequi and the Volsci]  advanced and joined forces joined forces on the mons Algidus,  ... The reports of this increased the alarm in Rome.  In view of the fact that these two nations, after their numerous defeats. were now renewing the war with greater energy than they had ever done before and that a considerable number of the Romans of military age had been carried off by the epidemic, the Senate decided upon the nomination of a dictator”, (‘History of Rome’, 4: 26: 4-6).

Postumius orchestrated what proved to be the Romans’ definitive victory over the the Aequi and the Volsci and:

  1. “After placing the consul [Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus] in command of the camp, he entered Rome in triumph and then laid down his dictatorship”, (‘History of Rome’, 4: 29: 4).

It seems to me that later admirers of Papirius might well have developed their account of Papirius’ dictatorship of 310/9 BC on that of Postumius in 431 BC: if so, then they might well have had him rescuing Rome from two armies that had been raised under leges sacratae:

  1. the Etruscan army mustered at (?) the lacus Vadimonis; and

  2. as we shall see, a Samnite army mustered at (?) Longula.


Read more:

P. Camerieri, “Il Castrum e la Pertica di Fulginia in Destra Tinia”, in: 

  1. G. Galli (Ed.), “Foligno, Città Romana: Ricerche Storico, Urbanistico e Topografiche sull' Antica Città di Fulginia”, (2015) Foligno,  at pp. 75-108

S. Stoddart and C.  Malone, introduction to the catalogue:

  1. F. Fulminante (Ed), “Cambridge in Umbria. Umbria in Cambridge: Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, September 2013”, online

J. C. Yardley and D. Hoyos, “Livy: Rome's Italian Wars: Books 6-10”, (2013), Oxford World's Classics

A. Loppi, “Il Lago Vadimone: si Trovava a Vasanello”, Cronos (October 2009)

S. Oakley, “A Commentary on Livy, Books VI-X:Volume IV: Book X”, (2007) Oxford

S. Sisani, “Fenomenologia della Conquista: La Romanizzazione dell' Umbria tra il IV Secolo a.C. e la Guerra Sociale”, (2007) Rome

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

S. Sisani, “Lucius Falius Tinia: Primo Quattuorviro del Municipio di Hispellum”, Athenaeum, 90.2 (2002) 483-505

G. Bradley, "Ancient Umbria", (2000) Oxford

K. Lomas, “Roman Italy, 338 BC - 200 AD: A Sourcebook”, (1996, reprinted 2003) London

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

A. Drummond, “The Dictator Years”, Historia: Zeitschrift für Alte Geschichte, 27:4 (1978), 550-72

R. Ogilvie, “Notes on Livy IX”, Yale Classical Studies, 23 (1973) 159-68

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

E. Salmon, “Roman Colonisation under the Republic”, (1970) New York

E. Salmon, “Samnium and the Samnites’, (1967) Cambridge

J. B. Ward Perkins. “Etruscan and Roman Roads in Southern Etruria”, Journal of Roman Studies, 47:1/2 (1957), 139-43

W. E. Heitland “The Roman Republic, Volume 1”, (1909) Cambridge

W. B. Anderson, “Contributions to the Study of the Ninth Book of Livy”, Transactions and Proceedings of the American Philological Association, 39 (1908) 89-103

G. Dennis, Cities and Cemeteries of Etruria”, (1848) London


Second Samnite War II (315 - 304 BC):     Main Page

Livy: Fabius‘ 2nd Consulship (310/9 BC)     Dictator Years (334/3; 325/4; 310/9; and 302/1 BC)

Livy: Papirius and Fabius (325/4 - 310/9 BC)     Livy: Roman Victory at Mevania (308 BC)


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