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Roman Conquest of Italy:

Political Settlement I: (389 - 358 BC)

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Volscian Territory (389 - 382 BC)

Adapted from K. Walsh et al., referenced below, 2014, Figure 1, p. 31)

Saskia Roselaar (referenced below, at p. 38) pointed out that:

  1. “... the ager Pomptinus was the first large tract of land that the Romans acquired in Latium.”

According to Stephen Oakley (references below, 1997, at p. 434), this territory was made up of:

  1. “... the dry land between [the coastal marshes] and the [Lepine Mountains]: that is, the territory of Norba, Setia and Circeii.”

This region is described in detail in the paper by Kevin Walsh, Peter Attema and Tymon de Haas (referenced below). 

Stephen Oakley (references below, 1997, at p. 333) observed that the Volscians had overrun a number of places in the Latin plain south of Rome in the 5th century, notably: Antium; Circeii; Cora; Satricum; Tarracina; and Velitrae.  He also noted (at p. 347) that, according to Diodorus Siculus, the Romans had begun to make inroads here before the Gallic sack:

  1. at Velitrae in 404 BC (‘Library of History’, 14: 34: 7); and

  2. at Circeii, in 393 BC (‘Library of History’, 14: 102: 4).

However, he argued (at p. 349) that the Roman victory against the Volscians in 389 BC at:

  1. “... the battle ad Maecium was decisive in allowing Rome to continue her penetration of this area.”

Failed Attempts at Viriatne Settlement (388-7 BC)

The earliest surviving evidence of this Roman territorial extension comes in 388 BC, when, according to Livy:

  1. “... the tribunes of the plebs tried to increase attendance at their meetings by bringing forward agrarian proposal. They held out the prospect of acquiring the Pomptine territory, which, now that the Volscians had been reduced by [Marcus Furius] Camillus, had become the indisputable possession of of Rome.  The tribunes warned that this territory was in much greater danger from the nobles than it had been from the Volscians, for the latter only made raids into it ... : the nobles were ... attempting to take possession of what was public land and, unless it was allotted [more widely] before they appropriated everything, there would be no room for plebeians.  This did not make much impression on the plebeians, who  ... had no interest in land that they could not afford to develop”, (‘History of Rome’, 6: 5: 1-5).

In 387 BC:

  1. “The question of the ager Pomptinus was again raised by [the otherwise unknown] Lucius Sicinius, a tribune of the plebs,, in a better-attended meeting of the the popular assembly, and there was more eagerness for land than before”, (‘History of Rome’, 6: 6: 1).

When news reached Rome in 386 BC that Etruria was in arms, the subject was dropped.  However, Livy recorded that:

  1. “... public anxiety was [soon] diverted from the Etruscan war by the arrival in the City of a body of fugitives from the Pomptine territory, who reported that the Antiates were in arms, and that the Latin cantons had sent their fighting men to assist them”, (‘History of Rome’, 6: 6: 1).

Saskia Roselaar (referenced below, at p. 300, note 11) suggested that these fugitives had probably settled in the Pomptine area on their own initiative, rather than as part of a formal viritane settlement.

Foundation of a Colony at Satricum (386-5 BC)

Livy recorded(at ‘History of Rome’, 6: 8: 8-10) that Marcus Furius Camillus took Satricum from the Volsci.  In 386 BC.  In 385 BC, the dictator Aulus Cornelius Cossus triumphed after having expelled an allegedly huge Volscian army supported by Latins and Hernici that had invaded the Pomptine territory.   On his return to Rome, he was confronted by plebeian hostility that was being whipped up by a patrician, M. Manlius Capitolinus.  Since the tense situation was:

  1. “... rapidly drifting towards sedition, the Senate took the initiative in order to assuage it: without any demand having been made, they ordered that 2,000 Roman citizens should be settled as colonists at Satricum, and that each should  receive two and a half iugera  of land.  [However, since] the plebs considered that too little land was being distributed among too small a number, ... the discord was only exacerbated by the [attempted] remedy”, (‘History of Rome’, 6: 16: 7; note that this website gives 6: 15: 13).

Nevertheless, the foundation of the colony must have proceeded, since cthe Volsci attacked it in  382 BC.

Second Attempt at Viritane Settlement (383 BC)

In 383 BC:

  1. “... the Senate decreed that a proposal should be laid before the people ...  for the declaration of war against [the perennially rebellious colony of Velitrae].  In order to make the plebs more amenable to this campaign, they appointed:

  2. five commissioners to divide up the Pomptine land [for viritane distribution]; and

  3. three to conduct a colony to Nepete.

  4. They then asked the people for a declaration of war and, notwithstanding the opposition of the plebeian tribunes, all the [centuries] voted for war.  Preparations for the campaign were made that year, but the army did not take the field owing to the pestilence”, (‘History of Rome, 6: 21: 3-6). 

Livy did not record whether a significant number of Roman citizens were settled in the Pomptine territory at this point. 

Foundation of a Colony at Setia (382 BC)

In 382 BC:

  1. “The Praenestines joined forces with the Volscians and ... took the Roman colony of Satricum by storm ... This incident exasperated the Romans, [who consequently elected] Marcus Furius Camillus as consular tribune for the 6th time”, (‘History of Rome’, 6: 22: 3-4).

After a long and probably invented account of the internal politics within the Roman army, Livy  recorded that  the Volscians were finally ejected (‘History of Rome’, 6: 22: 11).  Stephen Oakley (referenced below, 1997, at p. 628) suggested that this Roman success might be related to a record of Velleius Paterculus, that:

  1. “[Eight] years after the capture of Rome by the Gauls [i.e. in 382 BC ], a colony was founded at Setia”, (‘Roman History’, 1: 14: 2).

This colony was some 30 km west of Satricum, on the edge of Volscian territory, and it is possible that it was founded on land that fell into Roman hands at this time.

Roman Presence in the Ager Pomptinus  (389 - 382 BC): Conclusions


If Livy is to be believed, the Romans considered the ager Pomptinus to be the ‘indisputable possession of Rome’ from 388 BC.  By 382 BC, the Romans had founded at least four colonies on land taken from the Volsci, at:

  1. Velitrae, in 404 BC;

  2. Circeii, in 393 BC;

  3. Satricum, in 386/5 BC; and

  4. Setia, in 382 BC.

However, Livy noted that, in 379 BC:

  1. “The colonists of Setia complained of the fewness of their number, so a fresh body of colonists was sent to join them”, (‘History of Rome’, 6: 30: 9);

which suggests that it was proving difficult to attract colonists.  Furthermore, the Romans’ hold on the colonies at Circeii, Velitrae and Satricum remained precarious, given the hostility of the Volsci, the Latins and the Hernici in the face of Roman expansion. 

Viritane Citizen Settlement

It  seems that the Roman authorities recognised the potential value of the ager Pomptinus as an area in which their poorer citizens might be resettled from at least 388 BC.   However, it is entirely likely that the plebeians were generally unenthusiastic, given the marshy character of the terrain, the obvious insecurity in the area, and its physical isolation from Rome.  There is no reason to doubt that the authorities at least planned a programme of land ivision in 383 BC, with a view to a formal process of viritane citizen settlement in the area. However, as Saskia Roselaar (referenced below, at p. 300, and note 11) pointed out, the earliest evidence for significant viritane settlement here comes in 358 BC, when (as discussed below) two new voting tribes were established: the Pomptina in this area; and the Publilia, on territory confiscated from the Hernici.  It is unclear whether:

  1. the viritane settlement of the ager Pomptinus was relatively insignificant until 358 BC; or

  2. a significant number of citizens who had settled here in or after  383 BC remained assigned to their original tribes until 358 BC.

Latium: Incorporation of Tusculum (381 BC)

White dots:( Vitellia, Labicum, Signia, Velitrae, Norba, Ardea,   Circeii) = coloniae priscae founded in 500 - 390 BC)

Red dots:(Satricum, Setia) = colonies founded in 390 -358 BC)

Red asterisk (Tusculum) = Latin city incorporated into the Roman state (in 381 BC)

Adapted from Linguistic Landscape of Central Italy

A period of unrest in Latium followed the Gallic sack of Rome in ca. 390 BC.  According to Livy, in 381 BC, it became apparent that:

  1. “ ... the Tusculans had abandoned the alliance with Rome ... ”, (‘History of Rome’, 6: 25: 1).

However, when the Romans sent an army against their city, the Tusculans :immediately surrendered and

  1. “... obtained peace ..., not long after, civitatem etiam impetrauerunt (they obtained citizenship)”, (History of Rome’, 6: 26: 8).

Stephen Oakley (referenced below, 1997, at p. 358) observed that:

  1. “It seems reasonable to assume that the incorporation was similar to the later incorporation of [other] Latin states optimo iure (with voting rights) in 338 BC.”

Stephen Oakley (referenced below, 1997, at p. 357) observed that, despite the suspect details recorded in Livy’s account:

  1. “.. we need not doubt that Tusculum was incorporated [into the Roman state] in this year, a striking testimony to the power of Rome [despite the recent Gallic sack of the city].  Livy interpreted this incorporation as a generous gesture on Rome’s part; ... [However], it was rather an aggressive act in retaliation to a [similarly] aggressive act on the part of Tusculum. ... The [real details of the] tension between [Rome and Tusculum] are now irretrievably lost, but we may assume that the incorporation [of the latter] followed a major Roman victory.”

Tusculum, which can be securely assigned to the ancient Papiria tribe, presumably received this assignation at this time.  Daniel Gargola (referenced below, map 4, at p. 95) suggested that this voting district had originally extended towards Tusculum, and it seems likely (at least, to me) that, after the incorporation of Tusculum and its erstwhile territory, it now extended as a continuous tract of Roman territory towards the Alban Mount. Stephen Oakley (referenced below, 1997, at p. 357) observed that, after this incorporation:

  1. “... the ager Romanus [ran] continuously from Veii ... to Tusculum ...”

Latium after the Gallic Sack: Conclusions

In the extracts above, Livy describes a progressive deterioration in the relations between Rome and her Latin ‘allies’ in the two decades or so after the Gallic sack.  However, by the end of the period, little had actually changed ‘on the ground’:

  1. Roman territory now extended to and encompassed Tusculum, whose inhabitants were now Roman citizens; and

  2. two new colonies had been founded on of near what had been Volscian territory: at Satricum (in 385 BC); and at Setia (in 382 BC, reinforced in 379 BC), and these would have facilitated the Roman settlement of the ager Pomptinus, on the southern borders of Latium.

Destruction of Satricum (377 BC)

According to Livy, in 377 BC:

  1. “... the Latins and Volscians ... united their forces and camped at Satricum. ...  [The military tribunes] Publius Valerius Potitus Publicola and Lucius Aemilius Mamercinus [led an army to] Satricum, [where] they found the enemy drawn up for battle  ...  and immediately engaged him. ... [After three days of fighting], the Roman attack became irresistible ... [and the enemy] camp was taken and plundered.  The following night, [the enemy] evacuated Satricum and ... [took refuge in] Antium ... Some days were spent in harrying the country , since the Romans were not sufficiently provided with military engines for attacking the walls, and the enemy was not disposed to run the risk of a battle”, (‘History of Rome’, 6: 32: 4-11).

The enemy alliance at Antium began to crumble, and:

  1. “The Latins took their departure and so dissociated themselves from a [prospective] peace that they considered dishonourable.  The Antiates ... [then] surrendered their city and territory to the Romans”, (‘History of Rome’, 6: 33: 3).

Livy then recorded that:

  1. “The exasperation and rage of the [departing] Latins  ... rose to such a pitch that they set fire to Satricum, which had been their first shelter after their defeat: ... not a single roof of that city escaped, except the temple of Mater Matuta”, (‘History of Rome’, 6: 33: 4).

They then:

  1. “... attacked Tusculum, in revenge for its having deserted the communi concilio Latinorum (national council of the Latins) and ... even accepting her citizenship.   ... [Tusculum] was taken at the first alarm, with the exception of the citadel, to which] the townsmen fled for refuge ... With the alacrity that the honour of the Roman people demanded, an army was marched to Tusculum under the command of the consular tribunes, Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus and Servius Sulpicius Praetextatus. ...  [The Romans forced entry into the city while the people of Tusculum attacked from the citadel].  The double attack ... left the Latins with no strength to fight and no room for escape; ... they were killed to a man”, (‘History of Rome’, 6: 33: 6-12). 

Stephen Oakley (referenced below, 1997, at p. 359) observed that:

  1. “This bizarre tales baffles both explanation and refutation, though we may reasonably hold that most of the details of the fighting at Satricum are invented.  it seems plausible., however, to argue that the [subsequent] attack on Tusculum was occasioned, [as Livy claimed], by Latin resentment about her loss to the league ...”

Siege of Velitrae  (370 - 367 BC)

Livy recorded that, in 370 BC, the Romans enjoyed:

  1. “... a respite from foreign war.  [However], the colonists of Velitrae ... made various incursions into Roman territory and began an attack on Tusculum.  The citizens there, old Roman allies and now citizens, implored help [from Rome] ... [Since the political situation at Rome was difficult],  it was only after a very great struggle that an army was raised.  It dislodged the enemy from Tusculum and forced him to take refuge behind his walls”, (‘History of Rome’, 6: 36: 1-4).  

The Romans now laid siege to Velitrae, but seem to have recalled their army at the start of 369 BC (‘History of Rome’, 6: 38: 1).   Livy the noted that, in 367 BC:

  1. “With the exception of the siege of Velitrae, in which the result was delayed rather than doubtful, Rome was quiet”, (‘History of Rome’, 6: 42: 4).  

Although Livy did not record when Velitrae finally fell, Plutarch  did: he noted that Camillus’ victory over the Gauls near the Alban Mount in 367 BC (see below):

  1. “... was [his] last military exploit ..., for [his subsequent recovery] of Velitrae was a direct sequel of this campaign, and [he secured it] without a struggle,” (‘Life of Marcus Furius Camillus’, 42: 1).

Hernician Revolt (362 - 358 BC)

Adapted from Linguistic Landscape of Central Italy

The Hernici inhabited a territory on the left bank of the Sacco river that was bounded by that of the Aequi, the Marsi and the Volsci.  They used an Oscan dialect that was distinct from that of any of their neighbours, including the Latins.  Livy (‘History of Rome’, 2: 41:1) recorded that they agreed a treaty with Rome in 486 BC , and Dionysius of Halicarnassus (‘Roman Antiquities’, 8: 69: 2) added that this was a copy of the foedus Cassianum.  From this point, they seem to have aided the Romans and Latins in their struggle against the Aequi and the Volsci. 

As mentioned above, Livy began to associate the Hernici with dissident Latins on a regular basis from the time of the Gallic sack of Rome in 389 BC.  However, Stephen Oakley (referenced below, 1998, at p. 3) pointed out that:

  1. “... since he records neither a Hernician attack on Rome nor a Roman attack on the Hernician strongholds in the Sacco valley, we should probably assume that the two powers co-existed more or less peacefully in the period 389 - 367 BC.”

When Livy began his account of the Hernician revolt in 366 BC, it was in the context of a Gallic raid on Latium in 367 BC, which we might usefully consider here.

Prior Event: Gallic Raid of 367 BC ?

Livy recorded that, in 367 BC:

  1. “Rome was suddenly startled by rumours of the hostile advance of the Gauls.  Marcus Furius Camillus was [consequently] nominated dictator for the 5th time ... [Quintus Claudius Quadrigarius] is our authority for the statement that a battle was fought at the river Anio with the Gauls this year, and that it was then that the famous fight took place on the bridge in which Titus Manlius killed a Gaul who had challenged him and then despoiled him of his golden collar in the sight of both armies.  I am more inclined to believe, with the majority of authors, that these events took place [in 361 BC - see below].  However, Camillus did fight a pitched battle against the Gauls in 367 BC, in the ager Albanus”, (‘History of Rome’, 6: 42: 4-8).

Stephen Oakley (referenced below, 1997, at p. 720) located the ager Albanus on the sloped of the Mons Albanus (Alban Mount), which I have marked on the map above.  Thus, if this raid actually did take place during Camillus 5th  dictatorship, then it occurred close to Tusculum, which had been incorporated into the Roman state in 381 BC (see above).  In other words, it would have been very reminiscent of the earlier, catastrophic Gallic raid on Rome.  This point was (of course) not lost on Livy, who noted that:

  1. “Although he Romans felt a great dread of the Gauls, bearing in mind their former defeat [in 389 BC], victory [in 367 BC] was neither doubtful nor difficult.  Many thousands of the barbarians were slain  ...  Many others [fled], mainly in the direction of Apulia ... By the joint consent of the Senate and plebs, a triumph was decreed to Camillus”, (‘History of Rome’, 6: 42: 4-8).

Plutarch (who located this battle on the Anio) gave an otherwise similar (albeit embellished) account. He too stressed that Camillus’ victory was easily won:

  1. “Just before dawn, he led his men down into the plain and drew them up in battle-array ...  The Barbarians now saw [that they were not] the few and timid men that they had expected ... It was this [realisation that first] shattered the confidence of the Gauls.”

Having thus shaken the Gauls, the Romans easily crushed them.  Plutarch ended his account by observing that:

  1. “This battle was , they say, fought 13 years after the [Gallic] capture of Rome ... [Since then, the Romans] had mightily feared [them] ...  So great had been their terror that they made a law exempting priests from military service, except in case of a Gallic war.”

However, Camillus’ victory:

  1. “... produced in the Romans a firm feeling of confidence regarding the Gauls. “

He then noted (as mentioned above) that:

  1. “This was the last military exploit performed by Camillus ...”

Stephen Oakley (referenced below, 1997, at p. 364) argued that:

  1. “... strong suspicions must attach to Camillus’ alleged victory in 367 BC: it is wildly exaggerated by Plutarch ..., and the whole event may have been invented to give the great man one last victory over the Gauls ... On the other hand, it is not absolutely incredible that the Romans fought the Gauls in this year ...”

He referenced Livy’s claim that, in 366 BC:

  1. “... the Gauls were rumoured ... to have regrouped in Apuli”, (‘History of Rome’, 7: 3: 9).

and conceded that this:

  1. “... is precisely the kind of notice one would expect if there had been a band of Gauls on the loose is southern Italy.”

However, notwithstanding this tangential support for the putative Gallic raid of 367 BC, he concluded that:

  1. “It is best to remain undecided on [its authenticity], though inclined to scepticism.”

Hernician Revolt: a ‘Phoney War’ in 366 - 363 BC ?

Livy noted that, at the start of 366 BC:

  1. “... the Hernici were reported to have revolted.  [However, for internal political reasons, all political business was] left in abeyance ...”, (‘History of Rome’, 7: 1: 3-4).

It seems that the Romans were then distracted by an epidemic: Livy recorded that, in the consulship of Lucius Genucius Aventinensis and Quintus Servilius Ahala (365 BC):

  1. “Matters were quiet as regarded domestic troubles or foreign wars, but, lest there should be too great a feeling of security, a pestilence broke out ... The most illustrious victim was Marcus Furius Camillus, whose death, though occurring in ripe old age, was bitterly lamented ... [He] was counted worthy to be named next to Romulus, as the second founder of Rome”, (‘History of Rome’, 7: 1: 7-10).

It must have felt like the end of an era.  The epidemic continued into the following year.  Attempts were made to placate the gods, but they proved ineffective: in 363 BC, the Tiber broke its banks and flooded the Circus, an event that was taken as a sign of the gods’ continuing displeasure.

Lucius Manlius Imperiosus, Dictator Clavi Figendi Causa

According to Livy, at this point:

  1. “Older men are said to have remembered that a pestilence had once been assuaged by the dictator hammering in a nail.  The Senate believed this to be a religious obligation, and ordered the appointment of a dictator clavi figendi causa (for the purpose of fixing the nail) ... ”, (‘History of Rome’, 7: 3: 4-6). 

I discuss the nature of this dictatorship in my page on the Dictatorship Clavi Figendi Causa: in short, dictators of this kind were appointed in 363 BC and on at least three later occasions for the purpose of presiding over a ritual of propitiation of the gods that involved the ‘fixing’ of a sacred nail.  According to Livy, after the Senate had decided on the appointment of a dictator clavi figendi causa:

  1. “... Lucius Manlius was accordingly nominated, and he appointed Lucius Pinarius as his master of the horse”, (‘History of Rome’, 7: 3: 8).

This is confirmed by  a fragmentary record for this year in the fasti Capitolini, which reads:

  1. Dictator: [Lucius Manlius Capitolinus] Imperiosus, magister equitum: [L. Pinarius . . .] Natta: clavi figendi caussa

In fact, Livy did not record whether Manlius actually fixed the propitiatory nail: he simply recorded that he:

  1. “... acted as if his had been appointed for military purposes rather than for the purpose of correcting a failure in religious observance.  He harboured ambitions for war with the Hernici, and angered the men liable to serve [in this war] by the oppressive way in which he conducted their conscription.  [When he found himself  facing] the unanimous resistance of the tribunes of the plebs, he gave way (either voluntarily or through compulsion) and laid down his dictatorship”, (‘History of Rome’, 7: 3: 9).

However, according to Livy, this resignation:

  1. “.. did not... prevent his impeachment the following year ... The prosecutor was Marcus Pomponius, one of the tribunes of the plebs”, (‘History of Rome’, 7: 4: 1).

Livy claimed that one of the charges against Manlius was  that he had used exceptional brutality in order to conscript men to fight the Hernici.   It is at this point that Manlius’ son, the future Titus Manlius Torquatus, entered Livy’s narrative: he recorded a story that was already known to Cicero (‘De Officiis’, 112), in which another of the charges made against the ex-dictator was that he had cruelly exiled the young Titus from Rome for no good reason.  However, far from being pleased by the news of his father’s imminent prosecution, young Titus was:

  1. “... indignant to find himself made the grounds for the charges against [him] and ...determined to let gods and men see that he would rather stand by his father than help his enemies”, (‘History of Rome’, 7: 4: 4). 

In an exemplary display of filial piety, Titus arranged a private meeting with Pomponius in which he drew his sword and threatened to use it unless Pomponius swore that he would drop all charges against his father.  As Cicero recorded: 

  1. “Constrained by the terror of the situation, Pomponius gave his oath.  He reported the matter to the people, explaining why he was obliged to drop the prosecution, and withdrew his suit against Manlius.  Such was the regard for the sanctity of an oath in those days”, (‘De Officiis’, 112).

I discuss this clearly apocryphal story in my page on Titus Manlius Imperiosus Torquatus.

Hernician Revolt: a ‘Phoney War’ in 366 - 363 BC: Conclusions

Stephen Oakley (referenced below, 1998, at p. 4) argued that. although the notices relating to the Hernici in 366 and 363 BC:

“... are vague and imprecise, ... it is unlikely that they are annalistic inventions ..., and some troublewith the Hernici in these years probably underlies them.

There is similarly no reason to doubt the string of natural disasters in Rome in this period and the consequent appointment of the appointment of Lucius Manlius Imperiosus as dictator clavi figendi causa in 363 BC. However, as Stephen Oakley (referenced below, 1998, at p. 84) observed:

  1. “The historicity of the whole tale [of the prosecution of the recently-resigned dictator] is very doubtful ... :

  2. it is hard to see how so much detail could have survived from 362 BC to Livy’s time; and

  3. [the putative defendant] corresponds so well to the stock character of the Manlii.”

War with the Hernici (362 - 358 BC)

The Romans finally declared war on the Hernici in the second consulships of Lucius Genucius Aventinensis and Quintus Servilius Ahala (362 BC).  Livy noted that the conduct of the war fell to Genucius, who was:

  1. “... the first plebeian consul to manage a war under his own auspices ... As chance would have it, when Genucius, fell into an ambush whilst making a vigorous attack upon the enemy, the legions were taken by surprise and routed.  Genucius was surrounded and killed without the enemy being aware his identity”, (‘History of Rome’, 7: 6: 3-6).

The Romans replaced the dead consul by a dictator, Appius Claudius Crassus, at which point, the Hernici:

  1. “... called up omne Hernicum nomen (every man in the Hernican nation) who could bear arms: 8 cohorts were formed of 400 men each, who had been  ... picked [from] the flower of their manhood ... In order to make their courage more conspicuous, [these specially-picked cohorts] occupied a special position in the fighting line”, (‘History of Rome’, 7: 7: 4-6).

Clearly, Livy or his source(s) believed that the Hernici were intent upon a decisive engagement.  He then gave an elaborate account of the ensuing battle, in which Romans were nearly losing heart until they finally:

  1. “.. compelled the enemy to give ground ... [and] routed them ... They followed up the fleeing Hernici as far as their camp but  abstained from attacking it, as it was late in the day.  [The fighting on the second day was inconclusive but, on the following morning, the Romans] found the [enemy] camp abandoned; the Hernici had fled and left some of their wounded behind.  The people of Signia saw the main body of the fugitives streaming past their walls  ... and, sallying out to attack them, they scattered them in headlong flight over the fields. The victory was anything but a bloodless one for the Romans; they lost a quarter of their whole force ...”, (‘History of Rome’, 7: 8: 3-7)

Livy then gave much briefer accounts of the remaining three years of the war:

  1. In 361 BC, the consuls Caius Sulpicius Peticus and Caius Licinius Calvus captured the Hernican stronghold of Ferentinum (‘History of Rome’, 7: 9: 1).  Stephen Oakley (referenced below, 1998, at p. 4) observed that:

  2. “Ferentinum must have beed returned to the Hernici, perhaps in the peace of 358 BC [see below], as it was ... still independent in 306 BC.”

  3. In 360, the consul Marcus Fabius Ambustus crushed the Hernici in successive engagements that culminated in a victory for which he was awarded an ovation (‘History of Rome’, 7: 11: 8-9).

  4. In 358 BC, responsibility for the Hernician War was allotted to the consul Caius Plautius Proculus (‘History of Rome’, 7: 12: 7).  According to Livy: 

  5. “... he defeated the Hernici and reduced them to submission ...”, (‘History of Rome’, 7: 15: 10-12). 

These successful engagements are broadly reflected in two triumphs and an ovation over the Hernici recorded in the fasti Subasio:

  1. in 361 BC, a triumph to Caius Sulpicius Peticus, as consul for the second time;

  2. in 360 BC, an ovation to Marcus Fabius Ambustus; and

  3. in 358 BC, to Caius Plautius Proculus.

Stephen Oakley (referenced below, 1998, at p. 4) observed that:

  1. “Whatever problems we might have with the details of Livy’s narrative, there can be no doubt that, by 358 BC, the Hernici had been subdued: Hernician wars are not mentioned again by Livy until the revolt in 307 - 306 BC.”

Gauls and Tiburtines (361 - 359 BC)

Red asterisk = site of the Roman victory over the Gauls on the Anio in 361 BC

Adapted from Linguistic Landscape of Central Italy

Declaration of War with Tibur (361 BC)

As noted above, the consuls Caiusius Sulpicius Peticus, and Caius Licinius Calvus captured the Hernican stronghold of Ferentinum in 361 BC.  According to Livy:

  1. “... as they were returning to Rome, the Tiburtines closed their gates against them. There had previously been numerous complaints made on both sides, but this last provocation finally decided the Romans ... to declare war against the Tiburtines”, (‘History of Rome’, 7: 9: 1-2).

Engagement with the Gauls (361 BC)

The fasti Capitolini  record the appointment of [T. Quinctius . . . Pennus] Capitolinus Crispus  as dictator in this year, with Ser. Cornelius Maluginensis  as his master of horse.   Although Livy had conflicting sources, Livy argued that Quinctius’ appointment was probably due to:

  1. “... the prospect of a Gallic war ... [In any event], this was in this year in which the Gauls camped by the Via Salaria, three miles from Rome, at the bridge across the Anio. ... the dictator  ...  marched out of Rome with an immense army and fixed his camp on this side the Anio”, (‘History of Rome’, 7: 9: 5-7).

Single combat of Titus Manlius Imperiosus Torquatus

Livy now set the scene for one of the most famous accounts of single combat in Roman history:

  1. “There were frequent skirmishes for the possession of the bridge [on the Anio between the Gallic and the Roman camps.  When these proved indecisive], a Gaul of extraordinary stature strode forward on to the unoccupied bridge, and  ... cried: ‘Let the bravest man that Rome possesses come out and fight me, that we two may decide which people is the superior in war”, (‘History of Rome’, 7: 9: 7-8).

According to Livy, the bravest of the Romans turned out to be Titus Manlius Imperiosus, although, as discussed above, he was aware that Quadrigarius had assigned this exploit to the Gallic raid of 367 BC.   He devoted the whole of the following chapter to the ensuing fight.  Livy’s view of the significance of both the battle in terms of Manlius’ acceptance of military discipline and that he fought for the honour of his family and Rome, is captured in his recreation of the initial exchange between Manlius and Quinctius:

  1. “Thereupon Titus Manlius, the youth who had protected his father from the persecution of the tribune [in 361 BC], left his post and went to the dictator and said: ‘Without  your orders, General, I will never leave my post to fight, not even if I saw that victory was certain; but if you give me permission I want to show that monster as he stalks so proudly in front of [the Gallic] lines that I am a scion of the family that hurled the  Gauls from the Tarpeian rock [a reference to the bravery of Marcus Manlius Capitolinus during the Gallic sack of Rome].’  The dictator replied: ‘Success to your courage, Titus Manlius, and to your affection for your father and your fatherland . Go and, with the help of the gods, show that the name of Rome is invincible”, ‘History of Rome’, 7: 10: 2-4).

Livy returned to the subject of family pride in his account of Manlius’ victory:

  1. “... turning the point of his blade upwards, Manlius gave two rapid thrusts in succession and stabbed the Gaul in the belly and the groin, laying him prostrate over a large extent of ground.  He left the body  ... un-despoiled, with the exception of his chain, which though smeared with blood he placed round his own neck.  Astonishment and fear kept the Gauls motionless; the Romans ran eagerly forward from their lines to meet their warrior, and amidst cheers and congratulations they conducted him to the [dictator.  In the doggerel verses which they extemporised in his honour they called him Torquatus (adorned with a chain), and this soubriquet became proud family name. of his descendants.  The dictator gave him a golden crown and, before the whole army, alluded to his victory in terms of the highest praise”, ‘History of Rome’, 7: 10: 10-14).

Livy attributed the Gaul’s withdrawal entirely to Manlius’ achievement: 

  1. “Strange to relate that single combat had such a far reaching influence on the whole war that the Gauls hastily abandoned their camp and moved to the neighbourhood of Tibur.  They formed an alliance  ... with that city, and the Tiburtines supplied them generously with provisions.  After receiving this assistance they withdrew into Campania”, (‘History of Rome’, 7: 11: 1).

Gellus/Claudius Quadrigarius

The fasti Triumphales record also record the award of:

Victory over Gauls and Tiburtines (360 BC)

Livy then recorded Rome’s response to the Tiburtines’ treachery: in 360 BC: 

  1. “... the consul Caius Poetelius Libo Visolus led an army ... against [them].  ... Although the Gauls had come back from Campania to assist them, it was undoubtedly the Tiburtine generals that carried out the cruel depredations in the territories of Labicum and Tusculum and in the ager Albanus”, (‘History of Rome’, 7: 11: 2).

Livy noted that the Romans would have been content to leave one of the consuls in charge of a war with Tibur, but:

  1. “...  the sudden re-appearance of the Gauls required a dictator: Quintus Servilius Ahala was nominated ...  [He ordered Poetelius’] army to remain [at Tibur], in order to confine the Tiburtines to their own war ... [Servilius’ own battle] against the Gauls] ... took place near the Colline Gate ... There was great slaughter on both sides, but the Gauls were eventually repulsed and fled in the direction of Tibur as though it were a Gaulish stronghold.  Poetelius intercepted the straggling fugitives   not far from Tibur; the townsmen there sallied out to render them assistance and they and the Gauls were driven within their gates”, (‘History of Rome’, 7: 11: 3-7).

Triumphs and Ovations (360 BC)

At this point in the narrative, Livy recorded the success of the other consul, Marcus Fabius Ambustus, against the Hernici (see above). 

Then, rounding off the events of the year, he recorded that:

  1. “The dictator [Servilius] passed splendid encomiums on both consuls ... and even transferred to them the credit for his own success. 

  2. Poetilius celebrated a double triumph over the Gauls and over the Tiburtines.

  3. [However], it was considered a sufficient honour for Fabius to be allowed to enter Rome in an ovation.

  4. The Tiburtines laughed at Poetilius' triumph, ... [since, while] a few of them had come outside their gates to watch the disordered flight of the Gauls, ... [they had quickly] retreated into their city.  [They expressed surprise that] the Romans [should] deem that sort of thing worthy of a triumph”, (‘History of Rome’, 7: 11: 8-11).

Subasio a triumph over both the Gauls and the Tiburtines to Poetelius; and

  1. an ovation over the Hernici to Fabius.

Tiburtine Raid on Rome (359 BC)

Livy then recorded an odd postscript to the war: in 359 BC:

  1. “... an army from Tibur marched against Rome in the early hours of the night ... [This caused some panic but], when the early dawn revealed a comparatively small force before the walls and the enemy turned out to be none other than the Tiburtines, the consuls decided upon an immediate attack. They issued from two separate gates and attacked the Tiburtines ... on both flanks.  [Their easy defeat revealed] that they had been trusting more to the chances of a surprise than to their own courage ... ”, (‘History of Rome’, 7: 12: 1-4).

Tiburtines and Gauls (361-59 BC): Conclusions

In Livy’s account of these events, Tibur alone was of little concern to the Romans, and it was their interaction with ‘the Gauls’ in this period that brought them into the forefront of Roman concerns.   As we shall see, they also featured in Livy’s account of a war with nearby Praeneste in 358 BC.  Stephen Oakley (referenced below, 1997, at p. 363) suggested that the Gauls in question were:

  1. “... a warrior band, who were ... [based in] southern Italy  ... and who raided Rome and Latium from the south.”

If so, then we might reasonably see these raids as opportunist, and it is entirely likely that they offered themselves as mercenaries to dissident Latins. 

Tibur and Praeneste would have been obvious takers of their mercenary services: Stephen Oakley (referenced below, 1997, at p. 356) observed that, by the 4th century BC, they:

  1. “... were the largest Latin towns and the ones best able to challenge Rome.”

He also argued (in 1998, at p. 6) that later events suggest that (despite Livy’s silence), Praeneste supported Tibur against Rome in the period under discussion here.  Indeed, he argued that they were both:

  1. “... at war with Rome from 361 to 354 BC.”

Renewal of Peace with the Latins (358 BC) 

Livy noted that, in 358 BC:

  1. “Rumours of hostilities on the part of the Gauls were becoming more frequent, causing numerous alarms,but there was one consolation: peace had been granted to the Latins, on their request, and they sent a strong contingent [to supprt Rome against the Gauls]. in accordance with the old treaty [i.e., the foedus Cassianum], which for many years they had not observed”, (‘History of Rome’, 7: 12: 7).

Although Livy announced this peace in a low-key way, it seems to have been extremely effective: apart from the on-going war with Tibur and Praeneste, which ended with the submission of both peoples in 354 BC (as set out on the following page), we hear of no unrest in Latium until 341 BC.  Stephen Oakley (referenced below, 1998, at p. 4) suggested that:

  1. “... the serious Gallic threat may explain why the Latins [with the exception of Tibur and Praeneste] made terms with Rome [at this time].”

It seems likely that this peace extended to the newly-defeated Hernici: as noted above, Stephen Oakley (referenced below, 1998, at p. 4) observed that:

  1. “... there can be no doubt that, by 358 BC, the Hernici had been subdued: Hernician wars are not mentioned again by Livy until the revolt in 307-6 BC.”

Poblila and Pomptina Tribes  (358 BC)

Adapted from Linguistic Landscape of Central Italy

Livy recorded that, in 358 BC:

  1. “... two additional tribes were formed: the Pomptine; and the Publilian”, (‘History of Rome’, 7: 15: 10-12). 

This was the first occasion on which new tribes had been created since 387 BC, when (as described above) four new tribes (the Stellatina; the Tromentina; the Sabatina; and the Arnensis) had been created for citizen settlers on land in southern Etruria that had been confiscated from Veii. 


Livy’s record of the creation of these new tribes followed immediately after his record of the end of the Hernician War.  Lily Ross Taylor (referenced below, 1960, at p. 52) noted that, although Livy described the Hernici as “defeated and reduced to submission” at this point:

  1. “There is no [record of] the confiscation of land, and the chief Hernician peoples [those of Anagnia, Aletrium, Velitrae and Ferentinum] remained federated with Rome under their own laws.  However, it is likely that

  2. territory in the upper valley of the river Sacco ... was [confiscated by Rome at this time and] annexed as the Poblilia tribe; and

  3. this provided the basis for land assignments to both [existing] citizens from Rome and Hernicians who had been faithful to Rome.”

Stephen Oakley (referenced below, 1998, at p. 175) observed that:

  1. “... Taylor was probably correct to place [the Poblilia] in the upper Saco valley, on territory that had been recently taken from the Hernici: this, at least, would account for Anagnia, Aletrium and Ferentinum  ... belonging to it [when they were eventually enfranchised].”


Stephen Oakley (referenced below, 1998, at p. 175) asserted that:

  1. “The Pomptina was established in the Pomptine region, where there had been regular fighting in the previous 30 years [as set out above].”

This would account for the facts that:

  1. as Saskia Roselaar (referenced below, at p. 38) observed, between 389 and 358 BC:

  2. “... no attempts at viritane settlement or colonisation [here] succeeded”; and

  3. the Latin colony at Circeii, on the southwestern point of this territory, was assigned to the Pomptina when it was eventually enfranchised.

Oakley (as above) pointed out that the creation of the Pomptina suggests that:

  1. “... by 358 BC, the area was [finally] largely under Roman control.”

  1. Read more: 

D. Gargola, “The Shape of the Roman Order: the Republic and its Spaces”, (2017) Chapel Hill, North Carolina

A. G. Self, “Etruscan Wars’, in:

  1. S. E. Phang et al., (eds), “Conflict in Ancient Greece and Rome: The Definitive Political, Social, and Military Encyclopedia”, (2016) Santa Barbara, CA, at pp. 893-5

K. Walsh, P. Attema and T. de Haas, “The Pontine Marshes (Central Italy): a Case Study

in Wetland Historical Ecology”, BABESCH, 89 (2014) 27-46

A. Calapà, “Sacra Volsiniensia: Civic Religion in Volsinii after the Roman Conquest”, Proceedings of the 22nd Annual Theoretical Roman Archaeology Conference (2013), at pp. 37-48

F. Pina Polo, “The Consul at Rome: The Civil Functions of the Consuls in the Roman Republic”, (2011) Cambridge

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

S. Oakley, “A Commentary on Livy, Books VI-X:Volume II: Books VII and VIII”, (1998) Oxford

S. Oakley, “A Commentary on Livy, Books VI-X:Volume I: Book VI”, 1997 (Oxford)

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

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

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

L. Ross Taylor, “The Voting Districts of the Roman Republic: The 35 Urban and Rural Tribes”, (1960) Rome

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