Key to Umbria
 


Lacus Vadimonis







However, Stephen Oakley (referenced below 205, at p. 498) cautioned that:

  1. “[Although] it is quite certain that there was a battle [in which the Romans defeated an alliance of Etruscans and Gauls] at this lake in 283 BC, ... nowhere else do we read about a previous battle against the Etruscans [here] in 310/9 BC.  Although this notion of a previous battle [here] is not, in itself, absolutely incredible,  the unreliability of:

  2. Livy’s general account of events in [310/9 BC]; and

  3. particularly, [the obelised passage following] 9: 39: 4;

  4. means that one should be very cautious about accepting it.”

He suggested (at note 3) that:

  1. “If the reference to [the lacus Vadimonis] really does belong in the text, then either Livy or his annalistic sources may have:

  2. accidentally produced a doublet; or

  3. deliberately invented another reference to the lake.”

Before exploring this further, we should consider


  1. , renowned for the defeat of the Etruscans on two separate occasions:

  2. first ... in [310/9 BC], when the might of Etruria was irrecoverably broken after a desperate and hard-contested  battle; and

  3. again in [283 BC - see below], when Cornelius Dolabella utterly routed the allied forces of the Etruscans and Gauls on its shores.

  4. .... Whoever visits Lake Vadimon [today] will comprehend how it [came about that these two] decisive battles were fought upon its shores.  The valley here forms the natural pass into the inner or central plain of Etruria ...  [The lake occupied] a low, level tract ... hemmed in between the heights and the Tiber. ... Even now, [these heights] are densely [wooded], as no doubt they were in ancient times, this being part of the celebrated Ciminian Forest.”

An Isolated Fragment between Two Lacunae ??

If the obelised passage

nam et cum Umbrorum  ... et ad Uadimonis lacum

accurately reflects Livy’s original, then the Romans decisively defeated an Etruscan army that had been raised under a lex sacrata on its shores of this lake in 310/9 BC.  However, Stephen Oakley (referenced below, 2005, at p. 500) considered the possibility that this obelised passage is:

  1. “... an isolated fragment of narrative, and there are lacunae before and after it.”

He pointed out that a second lacuna after ‘et ad Vadimonis lacum’ would at least resolve the difficulty that he had articulated at p. 499, paragraph (g):

  1. “... one does not expect a trivial campaign against the Umbrians to be linked in [a literary device such as ‘et .... et ...’] with the opening of the narrative of [a great battle against an Etruscan army raised under a lex sacrata]”,  (my changed order of phrases).

Thus, assuming that the obelised passage is in the correct position in Livy’s narrative, it might well have been followed by  now-lost passages that described a relatively trivial engagement with the Etruscans at the lacus Vadimonis.

It seems to me is that we have a good candidate for the putative ‘relatively trivial engagement with the Etruscans at the lacus Vadimonis’: according to Diodorus, after Fabius had defeated theEtruscans in upper Etruria and imposed truces on Arretium, Cortona and Perusia:

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

This is the only surviving reference to the existence of an Etruscan centre called Castola: indeed, Stephen Oakley (referenced below, 2005, at p. 457) was inclined to accept this engagement because, in his view:

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

There is no reason why Castola could not have been near the lacus Vadimonis.  If so, then Fabius, having agreed truces with Arretium, Cortona and Perusia, might well have:

  1. crossed the Tiber near Perusia and engaged with an Umbrian army; and

  2. continued along the proto-Amerina to re-cross the Tiber, at which point he would have been able to draw the Etruscans away from Sutrium by attacking an Etruscan centre near the lacus Vadimonis.

However,

(Simone Sisani (referenced below, 2007, at: p. 36, note 37; and p. 34, Figure 1) suggested that it might have been the ancient fortified site at Monte Casoli, near modern Bomarzo, marked on the map above.)


Stephen Oakley (referenced below, 2005,  at p. 499, para. e) observed that Livy did not record the name of the Roman commander at this battle.   He noted that some scholars assume that Papirius Cursor was in command: however, in his opinion:

  1. “... it is absurd to have Papirius moving from Samnium to he lacus Vadimonis and then back again to Samnium.”

He observed  that:

  1. “One would rather have expected Fabius ... to have been in charge on the Etruscan front, but he is nowhere mentioned, [and this] strengthens the case for believing  that the text is lacunose.”

In other words, it is likely that a now-missing passage originally described the context in which this battle took place, including the name of the Roman commander.

Location of the Putative Battle

Thus, assuming for a moment that the battle  that Livy described in 9: 39 actually took place, the first question is whether or not it did so at the lacus Vadimonis.  Simone Sisani (referenced below, 2007, at pp. 35-6) also accepted a battle at the lacus Vadimonis in 310/9 BC.  He asserted that the engagement that brought this phase of the Etruscan War to a close:

  1. “... must have seen the Romans arrayed against the Etruscan and the Umbrians, [and might well have taken] place during [Fabius’] return towards Sutrium, near the lacus Vadimonis, not far from [Diodorus’ Castola (see above)]: it is there that [according to Diodorus] the Romans defeated the troops that still guarded Sutrium, thereby raising the siege and [presumably] meriting Fabius’ triumph” (my translation).

Thus Sisani (see his Figure 1, at p. 34) had Fabius return from Perusia along the proto-Amerina until, immediately after crossing the Tiber, he followed its right bank upstream to the lacus Vadimonis and then to Diodorus’ Castola (which he placed at the ancient fortified site at Monte Casoli, near modern Bomarzo, some 8 km west of the lake).

However, Stephen Oakley (referenced below, 2005,  at p. 498, para. b) observed that:

  1. “[While] it is quite certain that there was a battle at this lake [between the Romans and an alliance of Etruscans and Gauls] in 283 BC, nowhere else do we read of a battle [between the Romans and the Etruscans] on this site in 310/9 BC.  And, although this notion of an [earlier battle here] against the Etruscans [alone] is not, in itself, absolutely incredible, the unreliability of Livy’s general account of events in this year, and particularly of those [described in the obelised passage], means that one should be very cautious indeed about accepting it.”

Oakley considered (at p. 500) the possibility that there had been a second lacuna after ‘et ad Vadimonis lacum’, which would at least resolve the difficulty that he had articulated at p. 499, paragraph (g):

  1. “... one does not expect the opening of the narrative of [a great battle against the Etruscans] to be linked in [a literary device such as ‘et .... et ...’] with a trivial campaign against the Umbrians.”

In other words, the obelised passage might have been in Livy’s original, followed by a now-lost passage that described:

  1. a relatively trivial campaign against the Etruscans at the lacus Vadimonis; followed by

  2. the introduction to a major engagement somewhere else with an Etruscan army that had been raised under a lex sacrata

However, this would mean that Livy’s account of 310/9 BC was even more crowded. Oakley cited (at p. 498,  note 3) a number of other scholars who had therefore simply discounted a second major battle at the lacus Vadimonis or anywhere else, before concluding that:

  1. “If the [obelised] reference to [the lacus Vadimonis] really does belong in the text, then either Livy or his annalistic sources may have either accidentally produced a doublet or deliberately invented another reference to the lake.”

In short, while Livy may have located the battle described below on the shores of the lacus Vadimonis, the doubts about the accuracy of the surviving manuscripts leave the matter open to question. 

Livy’s description of the Putative Battle

Those translations that omit the obelised passages move directly from Papirius’ apparent stand-off with the Samnites at Longula to this Roman victory over the Etruscans, which took place under an unnamed Roman commander and at an unspecified location:

  1. “Meanwhile, the Etruscans, employing a lex sacrata, had raised an army in which vir virum legisset (each man had chosen another).  [For this reason, this army] joined battle [with the Romans] with greater forces and greater valour than ever before. ... The battle began with swords and, furious at the outset, waxed hotter as the struggle continued, for the victory was long undecided.  It seemed as though the Romans were contending, not with the so-often defeated Etruscans, but with some new race.   ... [As a result], the Romans came to such extremity of distress and danger that their cavalry dismounted and made their way over arms and over bodies to the front ranks of the infantry.  Like a fresh line springing up amongst the exhausted combatants, they wrought havoc in the companies of the Etruscans. Then the rest of the [Roman] soldiers, following up their charge, ... at last broke through the [Etruscan] ranks.  At this, their stubbornness began to be overcome ... and [they eventually] took to flight.  That day, for the first time, [a Roman army] broke the might of the Etruscans ... Their strength was cut off in the battle, and their camp was taken and plundered in the same attack.”, (‘History of Rome’, 9: 39: 5-11, from the translation of Benjamin Oliver Foster).

It remains to consider whether this really was yet another battle fought in Fabius’ year as consul, whether at the  lacus Vadimonis or at another (now-unknown) location in Etruria.  As noted above, Simone Sisani (for example) accepted both its authenticity and its location on the shores of the lake.  However, Stephen Oakley (referenced below, 2005, at p. 456) regarded it as a doublet of Fabius’ important victory that led to the truces agreed with Arretium, Cortona and Perusia: since Livy had located this battle at Sutrium, wrongly in Oakley’s opinion, he needed:

  1. “... a victory in north Etruria, beyond the Ciminian Forest, which Fabius was known to have won and which [Livy had not yet] recounted.”

However, two features of the battle that Livy described here distinguish it from those that he had described earlier:

  1. the Etruscans had raised an army using a lex sacrata, and

  2. each man who fought in this army had been chosen by another.

Each of these features had a particular significance:

  1. Festus provided a definition of the phrase lex sacrata:

  2. Sacratae leges sunt, quibus sanctum est, qui[c]quid ad'versus eas fecerit sacer alicui deorum sicut familia pecuniaque’, (‘De verborum signifcatione’, 422 Lindsay)”

  3. “Sacred laws are laws that have the sanction that anyone who breaks them becomes ‘accursed’ to one of the gods”, (translation by Timothy Cornell, referenced below, 1995, at p. 449, note 68).

  4. The earliest occasion on which Livy mentioned recruitment under such a law was in 431 BC, when the Aequi and the Volsci prepared to invade Rome:

  5. “After a levy had been held under a lex sacrata, which was the most powerful means that [these peoples] possessed of compelling men to serve, the armies of both nations advanced [towards Rome]”, (‘History of Rome’, 4: 26: 5-6).

  6. The next occasion was the Etruscan levy of 310/9 BC that is under discussion here.  Thereafter,

  7. there is no explicit reference in the surviving Livian manuscripts to conscription under a lex sacrata until 191 BC, when:

  8. “... the Ligurians had assembled an army under a lex sacrata and made a sudden attack upon the camp where the proconsul Q. Minucius was in command”, (‘History of Rome’, 36: 38: 1).

  9. However, there is evidence that the Samnite army that was mustered at Aquilonia in 293 BC, in the closing phase of the Third Samnite War, was conscripted in this way.  This army was confronted by one of the consuls of that year, Lucius Papirius Cursor (the homonymous son of the dictator of 310/9 BC), whose colleague, Spurius Carvilius Maximus, besieged nearby Cominium.  According to Livy:

  10. “A levy was conducted throughout Samnium under a new rule: if any man of military age:

  11. had not assembled [at Aquilonia] on the General's proclamation; or

  12. had departed without permission;

  13. his life would be Iovi sacraretur (forfeited to Jupiter)”, (‘History of Rome’, 10: 38: 3-5).

  14. Stephen Oakley (referenced below, 2007, at p. 394) pointed out that Livy does not:

  15. “... explicitly state that the Samnites recruited by means of a lex sacrata [on this occasion].  However, there are [a number of] reasons for thinking that this was the impression that he intended to give.”

  16. One of these reasons is the fact that, according to Pliny the Elder, Carvilius:

  17. “... erected the statue of Jupiter that is seen in the Capitol after he had conquered the Samnites, who fought in obedience to a lex sacrata: [this statue was] ... made from their breast-plates, greaves, and helmets ...”, (‘Natural History’, 34: 18).

  18. As Stephen Oakley (referenced below, 2007, at p. 391) observed, this passage:

  19. “... can hardly refer to any other year but [293 BC] ...”.

  20. (I discuss this battle in my page on the Third Samnite War).

  21. Turning now to the selection procedure of vir virum legere (each man choosing another) that was apparently employed in Etruria in 310/9 BC, it is noteworthy that the only other example of this procedure in the surviving Livian manuscripts also relates to the muster at Aquilonia in 293 BC:

  22. “After the foremost men among the Samnites [mustered at Aquilonia] had been bound by a dreadful oath, ten were selected by the General, who then asked vir virum legerent (each man to choose another) [and so on], until they had made up the number of 16,ooo.  These [16,000 men] were called the ‘Linen Legion’ from the material with which the place where they had been sworn was covered.  They were provided with resplendent armour and plumed helmets to distinguish them from the others”, (‘History of Rome’, 10: 38: 12-3). 

  23. In fact, as we shall see, the Linen Legion was almost certainly named for the linen tunics that its members wore in battle. 

Stephen Oakley (referenced below, 2007, at p. 394) asserted that the fact that the procedure of vir virum legere was used for the Etruscan army that had been raised under a lex sacrata in 310/9 BC:

  1. “... leaves no doubt that the selection and binding of one man by another was an ancient and fundamental part of recruiting lege sacrata.”

However, it seems to me that this was not necessarily the case: after all, there is no indication that this selection procedure was used in the three other armies that had been recruited under leges sacratae: those of:

  1. the Aequi and the Volsci in 431 BC; and

  2. the Ligurii in 191 BC.

I think that it is more likely that:

  1. leges sacratae of this kind simply indicated the forced conscription of all eligible men of military age; while

  2. the procedure of vir virum legere added a further dimension: each of the men selected in this way from the pool of forced conscripts:

  3. became the comrade-in-arms (or metaphorical blood-brother) of the man to whom he owed this honour; and

  4. was thus honour-bound to share that man’s fate in the battle ahead. 

If this is correct, then Livy’s account suggests that:

  1. all the eligible Etruscan men of military age had been forcibly conscripted under a lex sacrata in 310/9 BC; and

  2. those that were to fight in the forthcoming battle were selected from this pool of conscripts by the procedure of vir virum legere.

Furthermore, since the Etruscan general who was to lead them in this battle would have been the first to choose a comrade, the entire body of selected men was, in effect, sworn to follow him to the death.  This was the likely reason that, according to Livy (above):

  1. “It seemed as though the Romans were contending, not with the so-often defeated Etruscans, but with some new race.”

In short, Livy’s opening two sentences are very significant:

  1. “Meanwhile, the Etruscans, employing a lex sacrata, had raised an army in which vir virum legisset (each man had chosen another).  [For this reason, this army] joined battle [with the Romans] with greater forces and greater valour than ever before.”

Thus, Livy is describing a victory that would have brought great glory to the now-unnamed Roman commander who secured it.  His closing stwo entences start in a similar vein:

  1. “That day, for the first time, [a Roman army] broke the might of the Etruscans, who had long enjoyed great prosperity.  Their strength was cut off in the battle ...”

However, his account ends on something of a whimper:

  1. “... and their camp was taken and plundered in the same attack.”

I return to this observation in the discussion section below.

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.


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 consulate: there is no earlier evidence that he subsequently served as proconsul, and it is almost certain that he held his second and third consulates 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.








 




I discuss these putative engagements against an Umbrian and then an Etruscan army below: for the moment, we need note only that Livy ended his account of the latter by noting that the day of this battle was:

  1. “... the day that first broke the might of the Etruscans, after their long years of  prosperity.  Their [military] strength was cut off in the battle, and their camp was taken and plundered in the same attack”, (‘History of Rome’, 9: 39: 11).

Livy then returned to events in Samnium.


Livy’s account of this battle 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.

In fact, these are the only things that he described in any detail.

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.

Discussion





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 consulate: there is no earlier evidence that he subsequently served as proconsul, and it is almost certain that he held his second and third consulates 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 consulate: 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 consulate 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 consulate: 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 consulate 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 consulate:

  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 1st and 2nd Samnite War (341 - 328 BC)    

Second Samnite War I: 328 - 312 BC     Second Samnite War II: 311  - 304 BC

Etruscan War  (311 - 308 BC)      Between 2nd and 3rd Samnite Wars (304 -298 BC)

Third Samnite War      End Game (290-241 BC)


  1. Return to the History Index