Key to Umbria
 

An Isolated Fragment between Two Lacunae ??

Stephen Oakley (as above) considered the possibility that the passage

nam et cum Umbrorum  ... et ad Uadimonis lacum

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 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 be in the correct position in Livy’s narrative, but bot preceded by and followed by lacunae: the putative second lacuna would have described:

  1. a relatively trivial engagement with the Etruscans at the lacus Vadimonis; followed by

  2. the introduction to a major engagement, perhaps at another location, with an Etruscan army that had been raised under a lex sacrata

It seems to me is that we have a good candidate for this 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, Cportona 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), for example, 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.”



Simone Sisani (referenced below, 2007, at: p. 36, note 37; and p. 34, Figure 1) also argued that Fabius might well have engaged with an Etruscan army  that was still besieging Sutrium as he marched back to Rome.  He suggested that ‘Castola’ might have been the ancient fortified site at Monte Casoli, near modern Bomarzo, marked on the map above.  If so, then the most convenient route from Perusia would have been back along Via Amerina to the vicinity of Tuder and then along the Tiber valley (as marked on the map above).




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. 


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).


Defeat of an Etruscan Army Raised Under a Lex Sacrata (?)

As noted above, the obelised passage continued:

  1. “... et ad Vadimonis lacum (and, at the lacus Vadimonis)”, (‘History of Rome’, 9: 39: 5). 

If this reference to the lacus Vadimonis actually belonged here in Livy’s original, then the Romans decisively defeated a formidable Etruscan army on its shores in 310/9 BC.  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


Detail of the “Patrimonium SanctiPetri in Tuscia (1580-3) i

Gallery of Maps, Vatican

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.  The redoubtable George Dennis (referenced below) took the surviving manuscript record at face value: thus, in his book about his travels in Etruria in the 1840s, he observed that:

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

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.”

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.




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

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

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

R. S. Conway and C. F Walters, “Titi Livi Ab Urbe Condita: VI–X”, (1919) Oxford

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)


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