Key to Umbria

Renewed Peace with the Latins

Tibur, Praeneste and the Gauls (358- 354 BC)

Adapted from Linguistic Landscape of Central Italy

It seems that neither Tibur nor Praeneste had been party to Rome’s renewed peace with the other Latins:

  1. As discussed on the previous page, Tibur and its Gallic allies had been at war with Rome since 361 BC.

  2. Stephen Oakley (referenced below, 1998, at p. 6) argued that (despite Livy’s silence), Praeneste had probably supported Tibur throughout this period. 

The events of the next four years indicate that neither of them had participated in the renewal of peace between the Romans and Latins in 358 BC.  For example, Livy noted that, in 358 BC, after:

  1. “... peace had been granted ... to [most of] the Latins, ... they [i.e., the Latins who had made peace with Rome] sent a strong [military] contingent in accordance with the old [foedus Cassianum] ... Since the cause of Rome was strengthened by this reinforcement, there was less excitement created [than there would otherwise have been] by the news that the Gauls had reached Praeneste and, from there, had settled in the country round Pedum.  It was [therefore] decided that Caius Sulpicius Peticus should be nominated dictator ... [and given] the finest troops out of the two consular armies, which he led out against the Gauls”, (‘History of Rome’, 7: 12: 7-10).

Livy then gave a long and very unlikely account of Sulpicius’ initial reluctance to engage.  However, when persuaded to do so, he scored a great victory.  Indeed, in Livy’s opinion:

  1. “No-one since [the great] Camillus celebrated a more justly deserved triumph over the Gauls than Caius Sulpicius”, (‘History of Rome’, 7: 15: 8).

The fasti Triumphales also record the award of triumphs in 358 BC to Caius Sulpicius Peticus, as dictator, over the Gauls, who might well have received assistance from Praeneste (as Stephen Oakley - see below - assumed). 

Livy then described three successive engagements with the Tiburtines:

  1. In 356 BC, the consul Marcus Popilius Laenas and Marcus Fabius Ambustus:

  2. “... waged against the Tiburtines.  [This engagement] presented little difficulty; after driving them into their city he ravaged their fields”, (‘History of Rome’, 7: 17: 1-2).

  3. In 355 BC

  4. Empulum was taken... from the Tiburtines without any serious fighting.  It seems uncertain whether both consuls [Caius Sulpicius Peticus and Marcus Valerius Poplicola] held joint command in this campaign, as some writers assert, or whether the fields of the Tarquinians [see below] were ravaged by Sulpicius at the same time that Valerius was leading his legions against the Tiburtines”, (‘History of Rome’, 7: 18: 1-2).

  5. In 354 BC:

  6. “The Tiburtines were reduced to submission; the [now unknown] city of Sassula was taken from them and all their other towns would have shared the same fate had they not  laid down their arms and made peace with the consul.  A triumph was celebrated over them,  and the victory was followed by mild treatment of the vanquished”, (‘History of Rome’, 7: 19: 1-2).

  7. Livy was unsure of the identity of this consul in question here, but the fasti Triumphales record the award of this triumph to Marcus Fabius Ambustus, as consul for the third time.

Diodorus Siculus recorded that, in 354 BC:

  1. “... the Romans made an armistice with the people of Praeneste ...”, (‘Library of History’, 16: 45: 8).

Stephen Oakley (referenced below, 1998, at p. 6) noted that:

  1. “It is rather surprising that only once [i.e, at 7: 12:8 above] does Livy mention the hostility of Praeneste [against the Romans] in these years and, if we did not possess [the testimony of ] Diodorus Siculus, we would be in almost total ignorance of the fact that she supported Tibur against Rome.”

Tarquinii, Falerii and Caere (358-1 BC)

Red italics (Sabatina, Tromentina, Stellatina, Arnensis) = Roman voting tribes

Red squares (Sutrium, Nepete) = Latin colonies

Black dots = peoples given truces (Caere: 100 years, in 353 BC; Tarqunii:40 years, in 351 BC)

Red dot (Falerii): 40 years, in 351 BC apparently exchanged for a treaty in 343 BC

Adapted from Linguistic Landscape of Central Italy

In 359 BC, while Rome was at war with the Hernici and the Tiburtines and beset by Gallic raiders (as described on the previous page), Livy recorded that she faced:

  1. “... another hostile incursion ...:  the Tarquinians were carrying on their depredations within the Roman frontiers, mainly on the side towards Etruria.  When they refused redress, the new consuls [of 358 BC], Caius Fabius Ambustusand Caius Plautius Proculus, declared war against them by order of the people.  This campaign was allotted to Fabius, the one against the Hernici to Plautius”, (‘History of Rome’, 7: 12: 6).

This marked the start of the first war between Rome and her Etruscan neighbours since 385 BC.  Rome suffered an initial setback:

  1. “The campaigns in which the consuls for the year were engaged ended in a very different way:  while [Plautius] defeated the Hernici and reduced to submission, Fabius showed a sad want of caution and skill in his operations against the Tarquinians.  The humiliation that Rome incurred through his defeat was embittered by the barbarity of the enemy, who sacrificed 307 [Roman] prisoners of war”, (‘History of Rome’, 7: 15: 9-10).

The theatre of war widened in 357 BC when:

  1. “... the Faliscans [committed two acts of hostility: their men had fought in the ranks of the Tarquinians; and they had refused the Fetials’ request that they should  give up[the Romans] who had fled after their defeat to Tarquinii.  This campaign fell to [the consul] Cnaeus Manlius Capitolinus Imperiosus ...”, (‘History of Rome’, 7: 16: 2-3).

In Livy’s narrative, the only substantial engagement in this war took place in 356 BC:

  1. “The ... consul [Marcus Fabius Ambustus], who was operating against the Faliscans and the Tarquinians, met with a defeat in the first battle. ... [However, he retrieved the situation] ... routing the entire [enemy]  army and ... taking their  camp ... This led to a rising of the omne nomen Etruscum (the whole of Etruria) and, under the leadership of the Tarquinians and Faliscans, they marched to the salt works [at the mouth of the Tiber].  In this emergency, Caius Marcius Rutilus was nominated dictator  ... On leaving Rome, he marched along ... the Tiber ... and surprised and captured [the Etruscan] camp; 8,ooo prisoners were taken, and the rest were either killed or chased out of the Roman territory. ... a triumph was awarded him”, (‘History of Rome’, 7: 17: 2-10).

The fasti Triumphales record that Marcius, as dictator, was awarded a triumph over the Etruscans.  Livy then recorded that the Romans concluded two wars  in 354 BC:

  1. The first was against the Tiburtines (above). 

  2. The second was against the Tarquinians, whom they:

  3. “... treated with the utmost severity.  A large number were killed in battle; of the prisoners, all those of noble birth, to the number of 358, were sent to Rome, where they were scourged and beheaded in the middle of the Forum: the rest were put to the sword.  This punishment was an act of retribution for the Romans who had been immolated in the forum of Tarquinii”, (‘History of Rome’, 7: 19: 2-3).

In 353 BC, the Romans heard news that:

  1. “... the people of Caere, ... had sided with the Tarquinians.   ... the consul Caius Sulpicius Peticus, ... who was directing the operations against Tarquinii, ... reported that the country around the Roman salt-works had been raided, and that [Caere was implicated in this action].  Titus Manlius Torquatus was nominated [as dictator] and  authorised by the Senate and the people to declare war upon Caere”, (‘History of Rome’, 7: 19: 6-10).

It seems that the mere declaration of war was enough to terrify the Caerites, who immediately sent envoys to Rome.  They reminded the Romans of the help that they had received from Caere at the time of the Gallic sack.   The Romans relented and:

  1. “... chose to forget [a recent] injury [choosing instead to remember  a previous] kindness.  So, peace was granted to the people of Caere, and it was resolved that a truce of 100 years should be made with them and recorded on a tablet of bronze”, (‘History of Rome, 7: 20: 8).

  2. I discuss the significance of the 100 year truce below.

In 352 BC, news reached Rome that:

  1. “... the duodecim populos (twelve peoples) of Etruria had formed a hostile league, [but this rumour] subsequently proved to be groundless”, (‘History of Rome’, 7: 21: 9).

However, in 351 BC, both consuls marched into Etruria:

  1. “... Titus Quinctius Pennus Capitolinus Crispinus against Falerii, and Caius Sulpicius Peticus against Tarquinii.  ... [They] wore down the resolution of the two peoples, who asked for [and received] truces ... for 40 years”, (‘History of Rome’, 7: 22: 4-5).

William Harris (referenced below, 1971, at pp. 47-8) pointed out that these accounts are probably unreliable and, in particular:

  1. “Not much trust is to be placed in [Livy’s statement] that the whole of the Etruscan name took part in the fighting against Rome ... the only reliable element in [Livy’s account of the Roman engagement with Caere in 353 BC] is the result: a truce of 100 years.  Similarly, the 40 year truces that Rome made with Tarquinii and with Falerii in 351 BC are by far the most solid elements in his account of [the battles] with these two towns.”

Stephen Oakley (referenced below, 1998, at p. 12) observed that:

  1. “Livy saw [these Etruscan campaigns] as resulting in a Roman victory but, since she made no territorial gains, that is probably going too far.  It was not until the war of 311 - 308 BC ... that her conquest of Etruria really began.” 

In an odd postscript to this event, Livy noted that, during the First Samnite War (see below), the military success of the consul Marcus Valerius Corvus against the Samnites near Suessula in 343 BC:

  1. “... made the people of Falerii anxious to convert their 40 years' truce into a foedus [bilateral treaty] with Rome”, (‘History of Rome’, 7: 38: 1).

Status of Caere in 353 BC

Stephen Oakley (referenced below, 1998, at p. 12) observed that:

  1. “Although much of [Livy’s] account of the rebellion of Caere in 353 BC is obvious invention, the [truce] for 100 years guarantees that there was some change in Rome’s relationship with her at this time.”

In fact, the history of this relationship in the 4th century is complicated and confusing.  It began in ca. 390 BC, at the time of the Gallic sack of Rome, when the surviving sources agree that Caere gave particular assistance to the Romans.  However, these sources disagree about their reward at that time:

  1. According to Livy, the Senate decreed:

  2. “... that a covenant of hospitality should be entered into  ... with the people of Caere”, (‘History of Rome’, 5: 50: 3).

  3. However, the other surviving sources do not mention Livy’s ‘covenant of hospitality’, but instead record the granting of civitas sine suffragio:

  4. According to Strabo (Livy’s contemporary), the Romans:

  5. “... do not seem to have remembered the favour of the Caeretani with sufficient gratitude [after the Gallic sack]: although they gave them the right of citizenship, they did not enrol them among the citizens”, (‘The Geography’, 5: 2: 3).

  6. According to Aulus Gellus, who was writing in the 2nd century AD:

  7. “... the people of Caere were the first municipes without the right of suffrage” (‘Attic Nights’, 16: 13: 7).

Timothy Cornell (referenced below, 1995, at pp. 320-1) noted that some scholars privilege Strabo and Gellus over Livy here,.  However, he argued that:

  1. “... the case [for doing so] rests on antiquarian and legalistic arguments that make sense only in abstract terms. ... The truth is evidently the other way round: Livy’s version is the correct one ...”

I find it hard to see how the Romans could have negotiated a truce with a centre that was incorporated into the Roman state.  If this is correct, then Livy’s account of her reward in 389 BC  (i.e. that Rome simply entered into a reciprocal “covenant of hospitality” with Caere) is probably correct (as Cornell argued on other grounds). 

Privernum (358 - 345 BC)

Likely locations of the Poblilia and Pomptina voting districts (358 BC)

Yellow dots = Rome and the centres of Latium

Red dots = Volscian centres

As noted on the previous page, the Romans established two new voting tribes in 358 BC: the Poblilia and the Pomptina.   Stephen Oakley (referenced below, 1998, at p. 175) noted that the Pomptina had probably been established in the Pomptine region:

  1. “... where there had been regular fighting [mostly with the Volscians] in the previous 30 years.”

He argued ( in 1997, at p. 349) that

  1. “... the battle ad Maecium [in which the Romans defeated the Volscians in 389 BC] had been decisive in allowing Rome to continue her penetration of this area.”

However, as Saskia Roselaar (referenced below, 2010, at p. 38) observed, the fact that the Pomptina was established so long after this battle indicates that, between 389 and 358 BC:

  1. “... no attempts at viritane settlement or colonisation [here had] succeeded”.

Timothy Cornell (referenced below, 1995, at p. 324) argued that, in order to secure the renewal of  peace with Rome in 358 BC, the Latins had:

  1. “... had to accept the Roman occupation of the ager Pomptinus.” 

However, it seems that the Volscians were not yet ready to accept the new reality.  Thus, Livy noted that, in 358 BC, Rome witnessed:

  1. “... a sudden predatory incursion of the Privernates”, (‘History of Rome’, 7: 16: 2-3).

Stephen Oakley (referenced below, 1998, at p. 7) observed that:

  1. “Privernum now appears in Livy’s narrative for the first time, and this indicates the southeastern extent of Rome’s involvement in [the ager Pomptinus].” 

In 357 BC:

  1. “The consul Caius Marcius Rutilus conducted  operations against Privernum.  This district had remained uninjured during the long years of peace and, when Marcius led his army thither, they loaded themselves with plunder ... The Privernates had formed a strongly entrenched camp in front of their walls ... [The Romans easily defeated them] and pursued them as far as the town ... When the scaling ladders were actually placed against its walls, the town surrendered.  A triumph was celebrated over the Privernates”, (‘History of Rome’, 7: 16: 2-3).

The fasti Triumphales also record that Marcius triumphed over the Privernates. 

As we shall see, this defeat was to be the opening shot in a squeeze on Volscian territory executed by Rome to the west and by the Samnite tribes to the east.

Rome’s Alliance with the Samnites (354 BC)

Livy noted, somewhat laconically, that, in 354 BC the Romans’ recent successes against the Tiburtines and the Etruscans:

  1. “... induced the Samnites to ask for amicitia  (formal relations of friendship).  Their envoys received a favourable reply from the Senate, and were accepted as foedere in societatem (allies with a treaty)”, (‘History of Rome’, 7: 19: 3-4).

The Samnites were Oscan-speaking peoples of the southern Apennines who belonged to various tribes, of which we know the names of four (whose respective territories are marked on the map above): the Pentri; the Caudini; the Hirpini; and the Carracini.  Livy’s account of their treaty with Rome is only the third occasion on which Livy mentioned “the Samnites”.  His earlier records, both of which relate to their expansion into Campania (see below), are as follows:

  1. “... [in 423 BC], an affair in a foreign country, but one [that is nevertheless] deserving of record [in a history of Rome], is said to have happened: Vulturnum, a city of the Etruscans, which is now Capua, was taken by the Samnites”, (‘History of Rome’, 4: 37: 1).

  2. “[When they faced famine in 412 BC, the Romans sent] envoys to purchase corn from the states that border on the Etruscan Sea and the Tiber.  [While many of these states were helpful], the Samnites, who were in possession of Capua and Cumae, treated the envoys in an insolent manner and prevented them from trading”, (‘History of Rome’, 4: 52: 5-6).

Thus, it seems that, while Rome had been increasing its grip on southern Etruria and Latium, the Samnites (or, at least some of them) had been doing likewise in Campania.  As they expanded westwards and the Romans expanded southwards, it was only a  matter of time before they would collide.  Rafael Scopacasa (referenced below, 2015, at p. 129) commented on the fact that, according to Livy, the Samnites asked for the treaty of 354 BC because they were impressed by Rome’s recent victories:

  1. “It is clearly being suggested here that the Samnites became aware of Rome’s military supremacy and decided to secure a good relationship with this rising power.  [However], if we move away from Livy’s Rome-centred viewpoint, we may infer that a very similar set of anxieties probably motivated Rome to agree a treaty with the Samnites.”

Stephen Oakley (referenced below, 1997, at p. 197) noted that the amicitia requested by the Samnites at this point implied:

  1. “... an undertaking not to engage in aggression in the sphere of interest of a friendly state and not to help her enemies.  Strictly speaking, it was to be distinguished from societas [the status that the Romans gave the Samnites in the treaty ... [but] the two terms were often interchangeable.  It is hard to see any distinction between them in [the passage above].”

He observed (at p. 198) that:

  1. “It is almost invariably held that this treaty established the river Liris (modern Garigliano) as the line demarcating Roman and Samnite spheres of influence.  This is entirely plausible, but rests only on [the] indirect testimony [of later events].”

In other words, later events suggest that the Samnites recognised Rome’s actual or prospective hegemony north and west of the Liris and that, in return, Rome recognised that the territory to the east and south of the river (including Campania) lay within the Samnites’ sphere of influence. 

War with the Volsci and Aurunci (353 - 345 BC)

Likely locations of the Poblilia and Pomptina voting districts (358 BC)

Yellow dots = Rome and the centres of Latium

Red dots = Volscian centres , including Satricum, which was rebuilt and colonised by Antium in 348 BC (see below)

Green dot (Minturnae) = Auruncan centre

Clearly, the Volsci and the Aurunci, whose territories extended along both sides of the lower reaches of the Liris, must have found themselves in a very precarious situation in 354 BC, after Rome’s treaty with the Samnites.  It seems that they attempted pre-emptive action: in 353 BC, the Romans heard news that:

  1. “... envoys from Latium ... reported that a Volscian army  ... was now threatening the  frontiers of Latium  and intended to enter and ravage Roman territory ... The arrival of despatches from [Etruria made the war there] appear to be the more serious of the two.  ...  The consul Marcus Valerius Publicola, who was acting against the Volscians and had his camp on the frontiers of Tusculum, was [therefore] recalled [to Rome for consultation]...”, (‘History of Rome’, 7: 19: 6-10).

Stephen Oakley (referenced below, 1998, at p. 7) suggested that this indicates:

  1. “... that the Volsci did not pose much of a threat  to Roman expansion in the Pomptine region at this time ...” 

Livy recorded that, in 348 BC:

  1. “... colonists from Antium rebuilt and and settled at Satricum, [which had been a Latin colony until 377 BC, when it] had been destroyed by the Latins”, (‘History of Rome’, 7: 27: 2).

In 346 BC, when Marcus Valerius Corvus Calenus was consul for the second time with Caius Poetelius Libo Visolus:

  1. “A report was sent on from Latium that emissaries from Antium were going round the Latin cantons with the view of stirring war.  Valerius was instructed to attack the Volscians before the enemy became more numerous, and he proceeded with his army to Satricum.  Here, he was met by the Antiates and other Volscian troops ... The Volscians, bolder to begin war than to sustain it, were completely defeated and fled precipitately to Satricum.  The city was surrounded and, just as it was on the point of being stormed, [it surrendered]. ... The town was sacked and burnt; only the temple of Mater Matuta was spared ... [Prisoners-of-war] were marched in chains before Valerius’ chariot in his triumphal procession ... ”, (‘History of Rome’, 7: 27: 5-9).

The fasti Triumphales record that Valerius triumphed over “the Volsci of Antium and the Satricani”.

Stephen Oakley (referenced below, 1998, at p. 15) observed that, while :

  1. “... the campaign of 346 BC was only a continuation of the old [Roman policy] of subduing the Volsci of the Pomptine plain, the two campaigns of 345 BC show Roman armies moving further afield.”

Both of these campaigns exploited the putative terms of the recent treaty with the Samnites, which probably gave Rome free reign on the right bank of the Liris:

  1. According to Livy, the first of them was prompted by:

  2. “A sudden raid by the Aurunci, [which] led to a war with that people.  Fears were entertained that this action, [although] taken by only one people, might have been the joint plan of the consilium omnis nominis Latins  (the Latin League).  To meet all Latium in arms, Lucius Furius Camillus [probably the son of the great Marcus] was nominated dictator ... The legions were [then] marched as rapidly as possible against the Aurunci ... and the war was finished in the very first battle”, (‘History of Rome’, 7: 28: 1-3).

  3. The site of this Roman victory is unrecorded.  Oakley observed (at pp. 15-6) that:

  4. “The strongest argument in favour of [its] authenticity ... is the [Romans’ advance into Campania, just south of the Liris] two years later [see below]: Rome  can hardly have embroiled herself into the troublesome affairs of Campania without some entente with the Aurunci. ... We hear nothing of  Formiae and Fundi [until 338 BC], but these were the Volscian settlements lying at the foot of the Monti Aurunci ... and Auruncan Minturnae is very close to Volscian Formiae ... It is [likely that] relations between these Volsci and Aurunci were close. ... Perhaps, then, Formiae, Fundi and Minturnae lie behind this ... campaign: certainly Rome cannot have attacked the Aurunci without getting involved with Formiae and Fundi. ... [If so, then] the Roman involvement in Campania in 343 BC [see below] seems much less remarkable [than it would otherwise be].”

  5. Immediately after Camillus’ victory:

  6. “The consuls [Marcus Fabius Dorsuo and Servius Sulpicius Camerinus] ... made use of [his] army in war with the Volscians and took the city of Sora from them in a surprise attack”, (‘History of Rome’, 7: 28:6).

  7. Stephen Oakley (referenced below, 1998, at p. 15) observed that:

  8. “The capture of Sora [from the Volsci] represents the first recorded Roman campaign in the Liris valley [itself].  ... If, as as seems likely, the Romans had determined utterly to destroy Volscian power, it was natural that [they should extend hostilities in this direction] ... But, whether [they] held Sora [continuously] until 315 BC, when it fell to the Samnites, cannot be known.”

  9. According to Livy, Sora was a Latin colony at that time:

  10. “The seat of war was now shifted ... to Sora, which had gone over to the Samnites, after putting to death the Roman colonists”, (‘History of Rome’, 9: 23:1).

  11. However, Stephen Oakley (referenced below, 2005, at p. 292) argued that Livy was mistaken here, albeit that:

  12. “... it is entirely credible  ... that Rome had placed a garrison in this strategic site.”

First Samnite War (343 - 341 BC)

Livy began his account of the events of 343 BC by observing that this was the year in which:

  1. “... the [Roman] sword was [first] drawn against the Samnites, a people powerful in arms and in resources ...”, (‘History of Rome’, 7: 29: 1-2).

Cause of the War

It seems odd to find the Romans and Samnites at war only eleven years after the agreement of the treaty of friendship between them.  However, according to Livy, the war:

  1. “... was of external origin rather than of their own making.  The Samnites had unjustly attacked the Sidicini, ... [who had turned for help] to the Campani.  ... The Samnites, disregarding the Sidicini and attacking the Campani, ... seized and ... occupied [the Monti Tifatini], a range of hills looking down on Capua, before descending in battle-order into the plain that lies between.  A second battle was fought there, in which the Campani, being worsted, had been shut up within their walls ... [and] driven to seek assistance of the Romans”, (‘History of Rome’, 7: 29: 3-7).

This request for help by the Campani in 343 BC was delicate, given the Romans’ recently-agreed treaty with the Samnites, and (at least according to Livy), the Romans initially refused it.  However, the Campani then made them an offer that was too good to refuse:

  1. “Since you decline to ... [protect] what belongs to us, you will at least defend your own [possessions]; therefore, we surrender [to Rome] ... populum Campanum urbemque Capuam (the people of Campania and the city of Capua), together with our lands, the shrines of our gods and everything else [that we possess]; whatever we endure henceforth, we shall endure as your surrendered subjects”, (‘History of Rome’, 7: 31: 3-4).

In other words, Livy contrived to show that external circumstances had forced the Romans into a position in which war with their erstwhile Samnite friends became inevitable. 

A more objective view would start with the observations of Stephen Oakley (above) that the Roman advance into the territory of the Aurunci in 345 BC had paved the way for a subsequent advance into the fertile territory of the Campani.  It is certainly possible that the Samnites viewed matter in this light, and that their advance into the territory of the Sidicini had a similar purpose. Rafael Scopacasa (referenced below, 2015, at p. 131)argued that:

  1. “If we look beyond Livy’s suspiciously neat chain of events [that led to war], it seems likely that hostilities may have been sparked by competition between a number of entities, [not least among whom were the Romans and the Samnites], all of which had vested interests in Campania and its rich natural resources.”

Stephen Oakley (referenced below, 1998, at p. 284) pointed out:

  1. “... Capua was still a large and perhaps even great city, but her military forces were not sufficient to withstand aggression from either Rome or the Samnites, [and was therefore] a tempting prize for [either of them].”

She therefore had to choose between them: whether or not Livy’s reconstruction of events is entirely accurate, there is no doubt that she was forced to make this decision in 343 BC and that she chose Rome. 

Capua and the Campani

Adapted from Michael Fronda (referenced below, at p. xxi: Map 8: Campania)

Underlined in red: Capua and its satellites: Atella; Casilinum; and Calatia

As noted above, Roman historians believed (probably correctly) that Capua had been an Etruscan city until 423 BC, when it had been taken by “the Samnites”.  However, as Rafael Scopacasa (referenced below, 2015, at p. 128) pointed out:

  1. “It seems clear that the Samnites who, according to Livy, descended towards Campania in the late 5th century BC were probably not the same Samnites who are [said to have agreed] a treaty with Rome in 354 BC.”

He argued (at p. 127) that, by the time of the First Samnite War:

  1. “... the use of the Oscan language ... affords palpable evidence of Campania’s  connection with Samnium.”


  1. “... the archeological record at Capua shows no sign of abrupt or violent change after the alleged Samnite takeover.  Quite to the contrary, excavation and survey have revealed substantial continuity with the preceding Etruscan phase ..., especially as regards the organisation of the city’s territory, with the main urban centre surrounded by a number of outlying villages. ... Rather than the outcome of a ‘Samnite’ conquest or migration, [the spread of Oscan to Capua]  can be seen as a key stage in the long-term process of interregional interaction.”

In other words, the Samnites and the people of Capua both used the Oscan language by this time but, while the Samnites of the Apennines eschewed urbanisation, Capua still retained the ‘city-state’ culture of its Etruscan and Greek colonial past.

According to Livy:

  1. the ‘Campani’ sought the protection of Rome in 343 BC; and,

  2. the ‘people of Campania’ and the city of Capua) surrendered to Rome in order secure it. 

We might reasonably assume that Livy equated the Campani with the people of Campania, but he did not elaborate on their identity.  According to Stephen Oakley (referenced below, 1998, at p. 289):

  1. “The Campani were the inhabitants of Capua ....”

However, it is possible that Livy meant more than this.  For example, in 342 BC, the new consul, Caius Marcius Rutulus was:

  1. “...  assigned Campania for his province ...”, (‘History of Rome, 7: 38: 8); and

the army that he took over had been:

  1. “...had been distributed among the cities of Campania ...”, (‘History of Rome, 7: 38: 10)

As Michael Fronda (referenced below, at p. 128) pointed out, this implies:

“... that more cities than just Capua had been placed under Roman protection.”

  1. Fronda (as above) also noted that:

  2. “Most scholars agree that Capua was the hegemonic power in Campania, dominating a cluster of subordinate or satellite cities including Atella, Calatia, [the now-unknown] Sabata and Casilinum.”

  3. Stephen Oakley (referenced below, 1998, at p. 290) also identified Capua in the first half of the 4th century BC as the:

  4. “... mistress of smaller neighbouring communities like Atella, Casilinum and Calatia”

  5. Thus, although it is impossible to be certain, it seems likely that Capua included Atella, Casilinum and Calatia in its surrender, and it is possible that Cumae also surrendered to Rome at this point.

Thus, it is possible that Atella, Casilinum and Calatia also surrendered to Rome in 343 BC.  As Dexter Hoyos (in Yardley and Hoyos, referenced below, at p. 318) argued (reasonably, in my view) that:

  1. “The name [Campanians or Campani] applies in Livy, not to all Campania’s communities, but to powerful Capua and its subordinate cities like Atella and Casilinum.”

In what follows I assume that Livy’s Campani were the people of Capua, Atella, Casilinum and Calatia.

Some scholars  doubt that Capua and the other Campani would have voluntarily surrendered to Rome   in order to escape the greater misfortune of Samnite hegemony.  However, Stephen Oakley (referenced below, 1998, at pp. 287-8) observed that:

  1. “[Although] the Romans often referred to states  seeking their protection as coming into their fides, ... they also used the term deditio (in fidem) for many of these appeals, and regarded the juridicial status [of such states] as technically the same as that of an enemy that had been defeated in war and then surrendered.  [However], in reality, ... [cities] that had appealed [to Rome for protection as the Campani had done were] almost invariably treated differently from a defeated opponent.”

In other words, Livy might well have over-stated the reluctance with which the Romans broke the putative terms of their treat with the Samnites, but this does not necessarily mean that he or his sources had been driven to invent the deditio (‘surrender’) of Capua and the Campani. 

Course of the War

Having accepted hegemony over Capua and the Campani (as described above), the Romans sent envoys to the Samnites:

  1. “... to request that, out of regard for the friendship and alliance of the Romans, [they] would ... make no hostile incursion into a territory that now belonged to Rome.  If soft words proved ineffectual, they were to warn the Samnites, ... not to meddle with the city of Capua or the Campanian domain, (‘History of Rome’, 7: 31: 9-10).

However, these overtures were rebuffed, and:

  1. “When the news of [this] reached Rome, the Senate ... sent fetials to demand redress: when they failed to obtain it, they declared war [on the Samnites] in the customary fashion”, (‘History of Rome’, 7: 32: 1).

Both consuls, Marcus Valerius Corvus Calenus  and Aulus Cornelius Cossus Arvina, now engaged with the Samnites in Campania and Samnium respectively:

  1. Valerius first camped at the foot of Mount Gaurus, east of Cumae  (‘History of Rome’, 7: 32: 2), where he defeated a Samnite army (‘History of Rome’, 7: 33: 4-1515).

  2. Cornelius  marched into a Samnite ambush in a narrow valley near Saticula (‘History of Rome’, 7: 34: 1-2), from which he was saved from disaster by a military tribune, Publius Decius Mus (‘History of Rome, 7: 36: 2-5), and the Samnites suffered a second defeat on the following day (‘History of Rome, 7: 36: 11-12).

  3. The recently-defeated Samnite armies regrouped in a single force at Suessula in Campania, from whence they threatened Capua.  Valerius marched against  them and achieved a major victory (‘History of Rome, 7: 37: 4-17).

The fasti Triumphales record that both consuls were awarded triumphs over the Samnites.  As noted above, Valerius’ success at Suessula:

  1. “... made the people of Falerii anxious to convert their 40 years' truce into a foedus [bilateral treaty] with Rome”, (‘History of Rome’, 7: 38: 1).

Rome was beset by internal problems throughout 342 BC.  Livy thus recorded no further action against the shattered Samnites until 341 BC, when:

  1. “The consul Lucius Aemilius Mamercus, having entered Samnite territory, nowhere encountered a Samnite camp or levies.  As he was ravaging their fields... , he was approached by Samnite envoys, who begged for peace.   Aemilius referred the envoys to the Senate, ... where they pleaded with Romans to grant them peace and the right to war against the Sidicini ... , a people who had always been [hostile to Samnium] and who had never been friendly to Rome; neither were they under the protection of the Roman people, nor yet their subject.  Titus Aemilius, the praetor, laid the Samnites’ petition before the Senate, which voted to renew the treaty with them”, (‘History of Rome’, 8: 1:  7-10).

Read more:

R. Scopacasa , “Ancient Samnium: Settlement, Culture, and Identity between History and Archaeology”, (2015) Oxford

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

M. Fronda, “Between Rome and Carthage: Southern Italy during the Second Punic War”, (2010) 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 III: Books IX”, (2005) 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: Introduction and 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

  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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