Key to Umbria
 

Papirius’ Victory

Livy began by recording that the Samnites:

  1. “... had made their battle lines glitter with new and splendid armour.  There were two corps:

  2. the shields of one were inlaid with gold, ... and their tunics were of many colours; while

  3. the shields of other were inlaid with silver, ... and their tunics were made of dazzling white linen ...

  4. The latter corp fought on the [Samnite] right wing, while the other corp took up position on the left”, (‘History of Rome’, 9: 40: 2-5).

He observed that, by contrast:

  1. “The Roman ... generals had taught [their men] that a soldier should be rough to look on, not adorned with gold and silver but rather putting his trust in iron and in courage”, (‘History of Rome’, 9: 40: 5).

With observations of this kind ringing in the ears of his men:

  1. “Papirius led [them] into battle.  He took up his own post on the [Roman] right, and committed the left to his 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: 2-9).

Livy then provided an important detail of the Samnite corps that confronted Junius:

  1. “It so happened that Junius was the first to make an impression on the Samnites ... He ...  faced the [Samnite] right, where [the men] had consecrated themselves, as was their custom, and for that reason were resplendent in white clothing and equally white armour”, (‘History of Rome’, 9: 40: 9).

These were the men whom Livy had already described as wearing dazzling white linen tunics and carrying shields inlaid with silver.  Stephen Oakley (referenced below, 2007, at p. 397) pointed out that this was probably the origin of the title ‘Linen Legion’ (the designation that Livy gave to a Samnite legion that fought a Roman army led by Papirius’ (the homonymous son in 293 BC  - see the discussion section below): in the act of ‘consecrating themselves’, the men in white linen tunics had almost certainly sworn:

  1. to sacrifice themselves rather than surrender; and

  2. to kill any of their colleagues who attempted to flee from the battle. 

For this reason, as Junius led the charge against them, he declared: 

  1. “... that he offered [them] in sacrifice to Orcus [a god of the underworld] ...”, (‘History of Rome’, 9: 40: 10).

Oakley observed that, in this passage:

  1. “Junius, in a grim jest, pronounces that he will do the sacrificing [of the consecrated men], but on behalf of Rome” (my italics).

When Junius’ charge broke the enemy right, the internal tensions that Livy had already flagged became manifest: when Papirius saw Junius’ charge:

  1. “... he cried:

  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 lieutenants [display] less enthusiasm than the generals: Marcus Valerius on the right and Publius Decius 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).

Papirius’ triumph

Following this victory:

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

The ‘fasti Triumphales’ record that, in the 444th year after the foundation of Rome (309 BC):

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

  2. Fabius, as proconsul, was awarded a triumph over the Etruscans on the ides of 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 the consular year 310/9 BC: there is certainly no other evidence that Fabius served as proconsul in a period between his second and third consulships.

Papirius’ Samnite Victory and Triumph in 310/9

For reasons that will become clear, it is convenient to digress at this point into the contemporary events in Samnium.  According to Livy, immediately after this Roman victory in Etruria:

  1. “The war in Samnium ...  was attended with equal danger and an equally glorious conclusion.”, (‘History of Rome’, 9: 40: 1).    

However, Livy does not say where this ‘glorious conclusion’ 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 [or not it] ... should also be placed at Longula.”

I discuss Livy’s account of this battle in my page on the Second Samnite War II).  As I summarised there, it is characterised by the emphasis he put on:

  1. the appearance and demeanour of the Samnite army, part of which had sworn to fight to the death; and

  2. the rivalry between Papirius and his senior colleagues: Caius Junius Bubulcus Brutus; Marcus Valerius Maximus Corvus; and Publius Decius Mus.

In fact, these are the only things that he described in any detail.  Once again, it culminates in an anti-climax:

  1. “The fields were soon heaped with slain [Samnites] and with glittering [Samnite] armour.  At first, the frightened Samnites took refuge in their camp, but presently even that had to be abandoned and before nightfall, it had been taken, sacked, and set on fire”, (‘History of Rome’, 9: 40: 14).

However, in this case, the victory culminated in the award of a triumph:

  1. “... 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).  

As discussed below, the ‘fasti Triumphales’ also recorded that Papirius, as dictator, was awarded a triumph over the Samnites.

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.

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). 

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).

  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.

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).




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


  1. Roman Conquest: Conquest of Veii - Renewal of Latin Peace (406 - 358 BC)

Renewed Latin Peace to 1st Samnite War (358 - 341 BC)

Between First Two Samnite Wars I (341 - 338 BC)    Between First Two Samnite Wars II (337 - 328 BC) Second Samnite War I (328 - 316 BC)


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‘ 2nd Dictatorship (310/9 BC)     Livy: Roman Victory at Mevania (308 BC)


Between 2nd and 3rd Samnite Wars (304 -298 BC)

Third Samnite War (298 - 290 BC)     

Conquest of the Sabines (290 BC)     Wars with Gauls and Etruscans (285 - 280 BC)

End Game (280-241 BC)


  1. Return to the History Index