Key to Umbria

Events of 311 BC

The consuls of this year were Caius Junius Bubulcus Brutus and Quintus Aemilius Barbula. Diodorus Siculus (‘Library of History’, 20: 26: 3) placed both consuls in Samnium in 311 BC, and made no reference to any Roman activity in Etruria.  However:

  1. According to Livy:

  2. “The consuls divided the commands between them: to Junius the lot assigned the Samnites, to Aemilius the new war with Etruria”, (‘History of Rome’, 9: 31: 1).

  3. ; and

  4. the ‘fasti Triumphales’ record that, in this year:

  5. Caius Junius  Bubulcus Brutus was awarded a triumph over over the Samnites; and

  6. Quintus Aemilius Barbula was awarded a triumph over the Etruscans.

Junius in Samnium

Cluviae = (probably) modern Piano Laroma, near Casoli

Bovianum = modern Boiano

Red dot = Interamna Lirena (Latin colony)

Adapted from the Digital Atlas of the Roman Empire

According to Livy:

  1. “In Samnium the Roman garrison at Cluviae, which had defended itself successfully against assault, was starved into submission.  The Samnites ... [executed] the prisoners.  Incensed by this ... Junius the place by storm on the day he arrived before it, and killed all the adult males. From there, he led his victorious army to Bovianum [which was also taken]”, (‘History of Rome’, 9: 31: 2-5).

Livy then had ambushed in saltum avium (in a remote glade), but they escaped and:

  1. “... the Samnites[were caught] in a trap of their own devising: very few were able to escape, and some 20,000 of them men were killed”, (‘History of Rome’, 9: 31: 16).

However Zonoras, after Cassius Dio, recorded that, in this ambush, the Romans:

  1. “... met with disaster ... the Samnites surrounded them and slaughtered them until completely exhausted”, (‘Roman History’, 8: 1).

Stephen Oakley (referenced below, 2007, at p. 403) observed that there is no compelling reason to reject an attack on the relatively obscure settlement at Cluviae (assuming that it was near modern Casoli): since the Romans had already had successes against the Frentani in 319 BC so its location would not have posed a problem.  However, he doubted that they could have marched on Bovianum, the capital of the territory of the Pentri, at this time.  He pointed to a two later records by Livy, in which Junius:

  1. as censor in 306 BC:

  2. “... let the contract for the temple of Salus [on the Quirinal], which he had vowed, while consul, during the Samnite war”, (‘History of Rome’, 9: 43: 25).

  3. as dictator in 303 BC:

  4. “...   he dedicated the temple of Salus, which he had vowed as consul ,and the construction of which he had contracted for when censor”, (‘History of Rome’, 10: 1: 9).

The Calendar of Philocalus records that the temple was dedicated on the nones (5th) of August.  Stephen Oakley (referenced below, 2007, at p. 404) argued that:

  1. the fact that Junius vowed a temple in 311 BC:

  2. “... probably guarantees that Junius was not defeated too heavily, or at least that he finished the campaign with honour in tact”; but

  3. since the fasti Triumphales allege that his triumph was on the same day as the dedication of the temple (nones of August):

  4. “...  it is perhaps best to reject it.”

Aemilius in Etruria

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

Red dots = Latin colonies (Sutrium and Nepete)

Bluedots = centre that was probably given treaties: Falerii (343 BC);)

Green dots = Etruscan cities with truces: Caere (100 years from 353 BC);

Tarquinii (40 years: 351 - 308 BC, allowing for three dictator years in this period);

Adapted from the Digital Atlas of the Roman Empire

During their wars in Etruria in 358-1 BC, the Romans had extended their territory northwards as far as the Latin colonies of Sutrium and Nepete.  They also agreed

  1. a truce of 100 years  with the Etruscan city-state of Caere in 353 BC;

  2. a truce of 40 years with the Etruscan city-state of Tarquinii in 351 BC:

  3. a truce of 40 years with Faleri (the main centre of the Faliscans) in 351 BC, which was exchanged for a treaty of friendship in 343 BC

However, Livy noted that, in 312 BC, after almost 40 years of peace in Etruria:

  1. ... the rumour of an Etruscan war sprang up.  In those days, there was no other race ( apart the risings of the Gauls) whose arms were more dreaded, not only because their territory lay so near, but also because of their numbers.  Accordingly, ... [the Romans prepared for war]”, (‘History of Rome’, 9: 29: 1-5).

Livy did not specify which Etruscans were restive, but it is unlikely that they included those of nearby Tarquinii, whose treaty with Rome was still in force (allowing for the three dictator years in the intervening period), and was renewed for another 40 years when it expired in 308 BC (as we shall see).  Stephen Oakley (referenced below, 2005, at p. 344) suggested that the Etruscans:

  1. “... chose ... to make their move [against Rome at this decisive point in the Samnite War] because they wished to preserve the balance of power in central Italy ...”

Etruscan Siege of Sutrium

According to Livy:

  1. “... omnes Etruriae populi (all the peoples of Etruria) except those of Arretium  had  ... set in train a tremendous war, beginning with the siege of Sutrium, a city in alliance with Rome and forming, as it were, the key to Etruria”, (‘History of Rome’, 9: 32: 1). 

Although, in this passage, Livy described Sutrium as an ally of Rome, it had been a Latin colony since ca. 383 BC.  Aemilius duly marched there at the head of an army.  After what Livy characterised as a Roman victory over the besieging Etruscans:

  1. “... both armies retired to their camps.  Thereafter, there was nothing worth recording done at Sutrium in that year”, (‘History of Rome’, 9: 32: 1-11).

Stephen Oakley (referenced below, 2005, at pp. 404-5) reviewed the evidence for or against these records.  He concluded that:

  1. “... there is no compelling reason to reject the Etruscan campaign of this year.  Whether the fasti Triumphales were correct to record a triumph for Aemilius Barbula is more doubtful: Livy’s narrative suggests that he accomplished little, and ... it is easier to believe that a triumph was invented for this year than that it was ignored [by Livy].”

As we shall see, it is certainly the case that the Etruscan siege of Sutrium continued into the following year.

Events of Fabius’ Second Consulate (310/9 BC)

The consular year that followed that of 311 BC (which is designated as 310/9 BC, for reasons I will explain) began with the election as consuls of:

  1. Quintus Fabius Maximus Rullianus (for the second time); and

  2. Caius Marcius Rutilus. 

Livy’s account of this year splits into two discrete parts:

  1. Fabius and Marcius fought in (respectively) Etruria and Samnium for much of the year; but

  2. after Marcius was wounded in Samnium, his responsibilities fell to a dictator, Lucius Papirius Cursor (while Fabius continued to campaign in Etruria).

So-called Dictator Years

Our surviving sources do not agree about the length of time that Papirius served as dictator on this occasion: 

  1. Livy clearly assumed that his dictatorship ended before the start of the next consular year, when:

  2. “In recognition of his remarkable conquest of Etruria, Fabius was continued in the consulship, and was given [Publius Decius Mus] for his colleague.” (‘History of Rome’, 9: 41: 1).

  3. Diodorus (who made no mention of Papirius’ dictatorship) also placed Fabius’ second and third consulship in consecutive years, as we can see from his designations of the contemporary eponymous archons of Athens (search on ‘Charinus’):

  4. “When Demetrius of Phalerum was archon in Athens [309-8 BC], in Rome Quintus Fabius received the consulship for the second time and Caius Marcius for the  first”, (‘Library of History’, 20: 27: 1).

  5. “When Charinus was archon at Athens [308-7 BC], the Romans gave the consulship to Publius Decius and  Quintus Fabius”, (‘Library of History’, 20: 37: 1).

  6. However, two other sources assume a different chronology:

  7. in the fasti Capitolini:

  8. -Fabius’ second year as consul, with Marcius as his colleague, was 444 years ‘Ab Urbe Condita’ (AUC: after the foundation of Rome);

  9. -Papirius served as dictator in 445 AUC; and

  10. -Fabius’ third year as consul, with Decius as his colleague, was in the year 446 AUC.

  11. in the ‘fasti Triumphales’, in 445 AUC:

  12. -Lucius Papirius Cursor, as dictator, was awarded a triumph over the Samnites; and

  13. -Quintus Fabius Maximus Rullianus, as proconsul, was awarded a triumph over the Etruscans.

  14. The implication here is that Fabius served as proconsul in Etruria in the year between his second and third years as consul.

  15. More importantly, according to the fasti, Papirius, as dictator, ruled without consuls for what would normally have been an entire consular year. 

This is not the only occasion in which such a dictatorship was recorded our surviving sources: as Andrew Drummond (referenced below, at p. 550) pointed out, it was also the case in:

  1. 421 AUC (333 BC)

  2. 430 AUC (324 BC), when Papirius had again been the dictator in question; and

  3. 453 AUC (301 BC).

However, Drummond pointed out (at p. 562) that the surviving sources for these dictator years are all relatively late:

  1. “... the first reasonably certain appearance of the dictator years is in Atticus' ‘liber annalis’ of 47 BC.”

He suggested that they were an annalistic invention that might have been associated with Julius’ Caesar’s use of the dictatorship:

  1. briefly in December of 49 BC:

  2. from October 48 to September 47 BC;

  3. from April 46 to March/April 45  BC; and then

  4. as dictator in perpetuity, his official status at the time of his murder.

Specifically Drummond argued (at p. 571) that:

  1. “It is difficult to believe that the sudden appearance (or reappearance) of [dictator] years  in works of just this period is independent of the controversy of 48 BC, or that Atticus would show sufficient independence to ignore fictions so convenient to Caesar ...”

In other words, although this annalistic tradition (that, on these four occasions, a dictator had ruled without consuls for what would normally have been an entire consular year) might have existed from an earlier period (perhaps in order to reconcile Roman and Greek dating systems), the likelihood is that its reappearance in Atticus' ‘liber annalis’  was associated with Caesar’s need to demonstrate the legality of his dictatorships.

As Dexter Hoyos (in Yardley and Hoyos, referenced below, at pp. xi-xii), pointed out, modern scholars agree that, in reality:

  1. “Such magistrate-free years ... cannot have existed: [thus, for example] the  year that we call [310 BC was almost certainly] followed by the year that we call [308 BC.  However], rather than disrupt long-standing conventions, [they] generally us the traditional dates ... and employ a double numeral to designate the actual year before each fictitious year ...”

In other words, if we accept that Papirius actually did take over Marcius’ consular responsibilities at this time, then:

  1. the end of his term as dictator would have coincided with the end of Fabius’ second term as consul (which is therefore designated 310/9 BC); and

  2. the ‘dictator year’ recorded in the fasti (traditionally 309 BC) never existed. 

Period Before Papirius’ Dictatorship

As we shall see, Livy’s account of the events of Fabius’ second consulate are is extremely confused.  Fortunately, we have a more comprehensible  record from Diodorus Siculus.  However, Diodorus cannot always be preferred to Livy: 

  1. He made no mention of Marcius’ demise and his replacement by a dictator but, as we shall see, this does not, in itself, prove that Livy was incorrect here. 

  2. More importantly, while Livy did not credit Marcius with any engagements in Etruria in this year, Diodorus recorded that, since the Etruscans still maintained the siege of Sutrium at the start of this year:

  3. “... [both] consuls, coming out to its aid with a strong army, defeated them in battle and drove them into their camp”, (‘Library of History’, 20: 35: 1).

  4. Shortly thereafter, the Samnites took advantage of the absence of a Roman army to begin:

  5. “... plundering with impunity the Iapyges [in southeastern Italy] who supported the Romans.  The consuls, therefore, were forced to divide their armies ... Marcius, set out against the Samnites ...”, (‘Library of History’, 20: 35: 2).

Stephen Oakley (referenced below, 2005, at p. 457) argued that, in this case, Livy’s testimony should be accepted. since:

  1. “.... Diodorus is not [usually] a good guide on consular provinces and, with war on two fronts, one would not have expected both consuls to have set off for Etruria.” 

Marcius in Samnium

According to Livy, at the start of his consulate, Marcius:

  1. “... captured Allifae [in the valley of the Volturnus] from the Samnites by assault.  Many other forts and villages were also either wiped out in the course of hostilities or fell to the Romans”, (‘History of Rome’, 9: 38: 1).

As we shall see, if Allifae did indeed fall into Roman hands at this point, then the Samnites soon recovered it.

Livy then switched to events in Etruria and, by the time that he returned to events in Samnium, Fabius had marched north from Sutrium through the silva Ciminia (Ciminian Forest) and into upper Etruria (as discussed below).  Livy described how the Romans feared that he might be marching into an ambush, similar to that of 321 BC at the Caudine Forks, and asserted that these fears among the Romans were matched by:

  1. “... the rejoicings that took place among the Samnites  ...  However, their joy soon began to be mixed with [resentment] that Fortune should have transferred the glory of the Roman war from the Samnites to the Etruscans.  So, they hastened to bring all their strength to bear upon crushing Caius Marcius ... Marcius met them [at an unspecified location], and the battle was fiercely contested on both sides, but without a decision being reached.  Yet, although it was doubtful which side had suffered most, the report gained ground that the Romans had been worsted ... and, most conspicuous of their misfortunes, Marcius himself was wounded. These reverses ... were further exaggerated in the telling, and the Senate...  determined on the appointment of a  dictator”, (‘History of Rome’, 9: 38: 4-10).

Stephen Oakley (referenced below, 2005, at pp. 460-1) pointed out that Marcius probably did suffer a reverse at this time, since:

  1. “... the annalistic tradition is unlikely to have invented a Roman defeat; ... [Furthermore, since ] the appointment of a dictator was a regular Roman response to military difficulty in this period, ... there is  no compelling reason to doubt the dictatorship of Papirius, even if Livy’s account of panic at Rome after the defeat of Marcius derives only from his own imagination or that of his sources.”

(I return to the authenticity of Papirius’ second dictatorship in 310/9 BC below).

Fabius in Etruria

Approximate route for Fabius’ campaign of 310/9 BC,  following Diodorus

I have shown here the direct route from Sutrium, along the later route of Via Amerina to Perusia

Asterisks = sites of the four battles described by Diodorus (the first of which he attributed to both consuls)

Adapted from the Digital Atlas of the Roman Empire

As noted above, Livy’s account of Fabius achievements in Etruria before Papirius’ appointment as dictator is extremely confusing.  I have therefore described in in detail on my page Livy's Account: Fabius (310/9 BC).  In this section, I follow the more straightforward account of Diodorus Siculus, and then suggest additional elements that should be salvaged from Livy.

Diodorus described three engagements in Etruria after the consuls’ putative victory at Sutrium and Marcius’ putative departure for Samnium:

  1. First, as the Etruscans moved to reinforce the army besieging Sutrium, Fabius outflanked them by slipping away to the north:

  2. “While the Etruscans were gathering in great numbers against Sutrium, Fabius marched without their knowledge through the country of their [Umbrian] neighbours and into upper Etruria, which had not been plundered for a long time.  Falling upon it unexpectedly, he ravaged a large part of the country; and, in a victory over those of the inhabitants who came against him, he killed many of them and took no small number of them alive as prisoners”, (‘Library of History’, 20: 35: 2-3). 

  3. On the map above, I have assumed that:

  4. Fabius marched along the line of the later Via Amerina, through Umbrian Ameria and Tuder, before crossing the Tiber into upper Etruria (although, as we shall see, Livy had him first slip away from Sutrium to the top of the mons Ciminius); and

  5. Fabius’ first battle in upper Etruria (like his second) took place near Perusia (although Diodorus Diodorus was unspecific  here).

  6. Fabius then fought a much more important battle near Perusia:

  7. “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). 

  8. He then marched south and:

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

  10. This is the only surviving reference to the existence of the Etruscan centre of Castola.  Stephen Oakley (referenced below, 2005, at p. 457) was inclined to accept Diodorus account precisely because, in his view:

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

  12. 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).

As discussed below, the engagement at ‘Castola’ might have followed the appointment of Papirius as dictator, which Diodorus did not record.  I will therefore return to it in the section on the period of Papirius’ dictatorship. 

Reconciliation with Livy’s account

As set out on my page Livy's Account: Fabius (310/9 BC), Stephen Oakley (referenced below, 2005, at pp. 454) demonstrated that much of the accounts Diodorus and Livy can be reconciled by assuming that Fabius:

  1. marched to relieve Sutrium and defeated the Etruscans there;

  2. crossed the Ciminian Forest, as reported only by Livy;

  3. defeated a peasant army in upper Etruria;

  4. defeated a  significant Etruscan army near Perusia; and then

  5. agreed truces with Arretium, Cortona and Perusia.

Although Livy preferred a version of events that had this last battle fought at Sutrium, he acknowledged other sources, according to which:

  1. “... this famous battle was fought on the other side of the Ciminian Forest, near Perusia ... But, wherever it was fought, the Romans were the victors.  And so, ambassadors from Perusia and Cortona and Arretium, which, at that time, were effectively capita Etruriae populorum (the chief cities of the Etruscan people), came to Rome to sue for peace and a foedus (treaty).  [Instead], they obtained truces for 30 years”, (History of Rome’, 9: 37: 12).

Livy is the only surviving source for the valuable information that these were truces for 30 years.

Treaty with the Umbrian Camertes

According to Livy, while Fabius was still at Sutrium, he sent out scouts who:

  1. “... are said to have penetrated as far as the ‘Camertes Umbros’ (the Umbrian people of Camertium or Camerinum, modern Camerino) ... It is said that [their leader] was introduced into the [local] senate, with whom he spoke, in the consul's name, de societate amicitiaque (of an agreement of friendship and alliance). ... He was warmly received and told to report to the Romans:

  2. that 30 days' provisions  would be waiting for the them if they came into that region; and

  3. that the young men of the Umbrian Camertes would be armed and ready to obey their orders”, (‘History of Rome’, 9: 36: 7-8).

As I set out on my page Livy's Account: Fabius (310/9 BC), there is no doubt that Camerinum  secured a famously ‘equal’ treaty with Rome at an early date.  Some scholars argue that:

  1. this equal treaty with Camerinum was agreed at the time of the Battle of Sentinum (295 BC); and

  2. the treaty that Livy discussed here was made with the Etruscans of Clusium, which was apparently also known a s Camars.

However, other scholars accept Livy’s account (once it is shorn of its fanciful elaboration).  For example: 

  1. William Harris (referenced below, at p. 56) argued that:

  2. “... a plausible explanation of [a Roman treaty with Camerinum] being made in 310/9 BC can be found: Camerinum was threatened by the Gallic Senones.”

  3. Stephen Oakley (referenced below, at p. 460) argued that:

  4. “There is no reason why Rome should not have had contact with Camerinum in [310/9 BC].  ... Camerinum’s ... well-known and [equal treaty] .. would be well-explained by an alliance with Rome in advance of the Roman conquest of Umbria.”

It seems to me that the Camertes Umbros would certainly have been an attractive candidate for such a treaty, since they controlled a tract of strategically important territory that Cicero implied (in a speech of  63 BC) was of a similar extent and/or importance to that which the Romans subsequently took from Picenes and the Gallic Senones:

  1. “Where ... was Sulla? ... Was he in agro Camerti, Piceno, Gallico (the lands of the Camertes, the Picenes or the [Senonian] Gauls), which ... that frenzy [i.e. the Catilinarian conspiracy] had infected most particularly ?”, (‘pro Sulla’, paragraph 53).

The Camertes might well have agreed to the treaty at this point because they feared the intentions of their Gallic neighbours (as argued, for example, by William Harris, above).  However, Fabius would have been equally anxious to deter the Gauls from joining the fray as he prepared to march a Roman army into upper Etruria for the first time in its history.  Thus, it is entirely possible that Fabius’ scouts set out for Camerinum via the Ciminian Forest with this objective in mind. 

In other words, although Livy’s tale of the exploits of Fabius’ scouts had probably grown in the telling,  we should probably accept his record of the agreement of an alliance between the Romans and the the Camertes Umbros 310/9 BC

Period of the Dictatorship of Lucius Papirius Cursor (310/9 BC)

As noted above, Stephen Oakley (referenced below, 2005, at pp. 460-1) argued that Fabius’ consular colleague, Caius Marcius Rutilius, probably did suffer a reverse in Samnium, since:

  1. “... the annalistic tradition is unlikely to have invented a Roman defeat; ... [Furthermore, since ] the appointment of a dictator was a regular Roman response to military difficulty in this period, ... there is  no compelling reason to doubt the dictatorship of Papirius ...”

Oakley acknowledged (at note 1) that some scholars have doubted that a dictator was appointed at this time, particularly since Livy said no more about Marcius’ fate.  However, most scholars accept that Papirius probably did serve in Samnium as dictator at this time, as recorded not only by Livy and by Cassius Dio (see below) but also by the fasti Capitolini and the fasti Triumphales.

Papirius’ Appointment

According to Livy, once the Senate had decided to appoint a dictator to replace Marcius in Samnium:

  1. “Nobody could doubt that Papirius Cursor, who was regarded as the foremost soldier of his time, would be designated”, (‘History of Rome’, 9: 38: 10). 

Formally, the appointment had to be made by one of the consuls and, since Marcius was missing in action, it had to be made by Fabius.  Since he:

  1. “... had a private grudge against Papirius, ... the Senate decided to send a deputation of former consuls to him ... [in order to] induce him to forget those quarrels in the national interest.  The ambassadors [duly] went to Fabius  and delivered the resolution of the Senate, with a discourse that suited their instructions”, (‘History of Rome’, 9: 38: 10-13). 

Fabius, who had recently defeated the Etruscans in upper Etruria and agreed truces with Arretium, Cortona and Perusia, was presumably still at his camp in this region.  His initial response to the ambassadors’ request were unsettling:

  1. “Fabius, his eyes fixed on the ground, retired without a word ... Then, in the silence of the night, as custom dictates, he appointed Papirius dictator.  When the envoys thanked him ... , he continued obstinately silent, ... so that it was clearly seen what agony his great heart was suppressing”, (‘History of Rome’, 9: 38: 13-15).

Cassius Dio, gave a shorter account of these events:

  1. “The men of the city put forward Papirius as dictator and, fearing that Fabius might be unwilling to name him on account of [their mutual hostility], they sent to him and begged him to place the national interest before his private grudge.  Initially, he gave the envoys no response, but when night had come (according to ancient custom it was absolutely necessary that the dictator be appointed at night), he named Papirius, and by this act gained the greatest renown. (‘Roman History’, 8: 36: 26).

It seems likely that these accounts had a common source, albeit that Livy accepted or invented some elaborations relating to Fabius’ strange behaviour.

Papirius’ First Engagement with the Samnites at Longula

Livy recorded that, immediately upon his appointment as dictator, Papirius:

  1. “ ... took command of the legions that had been raised [at Rome] during the scare connected with [Fabius’ earlier campaign in Etruria], and led them to Longula [an unknown location, presumably in Samnium.  There, having also taken] over Marcius’ troops, he marched out and offered battle, which the enemy on their part seemed willing to accept”, (‘History of Rome’, 9: 39: 1-2). 

Livy’s account of the subsequent engagement ended abruptly (at least in the surviving manuscripts):

  1. “... while the two armies stood armed and ready for the conflict, ... night overtook them.  [They retired to their respective camps], which were within a short distance of each other, and remained [there] for some days: they did not doubt their own strength, but neither did they underestimate that of the enemy”, (‘History of Rome’, 9: 39: 3-4). 

Stephen Oakley (referenced below, 2005, at p. 499) pointed out that:

  1. “It is quite likely that [this] was not originally the end of Livy’s description of this part of Papirius’ campaign, but was [instead] leading up to an account of a battle that was about to take place.”

He hardened this conclusion at p. 500:

  1. “The arguments in favour of a lacuna after [“they remained quiet for some days, not through any distrust of their own strength or any feeling of contempt for the enemy’] ... are ... overwhelming.”   

Livy then returned to events in Samnium.

Papirius’ Victory the Samnites (perhaps at Longula)

Livy recorded that the war in Samnium that followed this Roman victory over an Etruscan army that had been raised under a lex sacrata:

  1. “... ...involved as much danger, and reached an equally glorious conclusion”, (‘History of Rome’, 9: 40: 1).    

However, he does not say where this ‘second glorious conclusion’ took place: Stephen Oakley (referenced below, 2005, at p. 461) observed that the putative lacuna at 39: 4 (above):

  1. “... does not allow us to determine whether [it] ... should also be placed at Longula.”

I discuss Livy’s account of this second glorious battle in my page ...  However, a number of scholars have raised doubts about its authenticity.  For example:

  1. Stephen Oakley (referenced below, 2005, at p. 461) observed that:

  2. “Even though Diodorus ignores Papirius’ campaign against the Samnites, it would probably be an excess of scepticism to reject it out of hand; ...  although it is possible that [it] is an annalistic or Livian invention, no certain arguments for rejecting it have yet been adduced.  Nevertheless, the details of the fighting offered by Livy are unlikely to be sound: many recur in a very similar guise in his account of the victory of [Papirius’ homonymous] son at Aquilonia in 293 BC, and it is therefore possible that those [recorded for 310/9 BC] are all unauthentic ...”

  3. Edward Salmon (referenced below, at pp. 245-6 and note 1) similarly considered that:

  4. “The crushing victory that [the elder Papirius] is said to have scored in [310/9 BC)] ... is recognised, even by Livy, to contain features borrowed from his son’s victory ... in the Third Samnite War.  ... The victory [of the elder Papirius], if not entirely fictitious, was, at most, merely a local success that helped maintain Roman diversionary pressure on the western borders of Samnium.”

In other words, it is likely that much of Livy’s exuberant description of the elder Papirius’ victory over a consecrated Samnite army that was sworn to fight to the death can be safely discounted.

Diodorus and Livy each mentioned another engagement in Etruria thereafter:

  1. As noted above, Diodorus recorded that, after his victory at Perusia, Fabius finally raised the siege of Sutrium by drawing the besieging army to ‘a city called Castola’, where he defeated it.  He did not refer to Papirius’ putative dictatorship, but, if this engagement is accepted, it would have taken place during this period.

  2. Livy referred to a major Roman victory over an Etruscan army during Papirius’ putative dictatorship but (at least in the surviving manuscripts) he did not name the Roman who was in command.

I discuss both of these records below.

Stephen Oakley (referenced below, 2005, at p. 452) pointed out that Livy had devoted considerable space to the quarrel that had erupted between Fabius and Papirius during Papirius’ previous term as dictator in 325/4 BC, when Fabius had then been his master of horse (as described in my page Second Samnite War I: 326 - 312 BC).  In this earlier account, Livy observed that he had:

  1. “... [found] it stated by certain writers that Fabius twice fought the enemy in Papirius’ absence, and twice gained a brilliant victory.  [However]:

  2. the oldest historians give [only one such] battle; and

  3. certain annals omit the story altogether, (‘History of Rome’, 8: 30: 7).

We might therefore reasonably wonder whether the putative animosity between the two men in both 325/4 and 310/9 BC was a relatively late annalistic fabrication or exaggeration. 

Events of 308 BC

According to Livy, in 308 BC:

  1. “In recognition of his remarkable conquest of Etruria, Quintus Fabius Maximus Rullianus was continued in the consulship, and was given Publius Decius Mus for his colleague. ... The consuls cast lots for the commands, Etruria falling to Decius and Samnium to Fabius.”, (‘History of Rome’, 9: 41: 1-3).

Fabius in Samnium

Victory at Nuceria Alfaterna

Asterisks (Capua, Cumae, Suessula, Acerrae) =  centres incorporated sine suffragio in Campania before 308 BC

Black squares (Suessa Aurunca, Cales) = Latin colonies founded near Campania before 308 BC

Underlined (Neapolis, Nola) = Campanian centres allied to Rome before 308 BC

According to Livy, Fabius’ first campaign took place in Campania.  Soon after his re-election, he:

  1. “... marched against Nuceria Alfaterna  ...”, (‘History of Rome’, 9: 41: 3).

Prior Events

We know from Diodorus Siculus that, in 317 BC:

  1. “The inhabitants of Nuceria, which is called Alfaterna, yielding to the persuasion of certain persons, [had] abandoned their friendship for Rome and made an alliance with the Samnites, (‘Library of History’, 19: 65: 7).

As Stephen Oakley (referenced below, 2005, at p. 462) pointed out, once the Campanian city of Nola had fallen to Rome in 313 BC (as described on the previous page), Nuceria Alfaterna still still represented a significant threat to Rome’s allies in this region.  It seems that, during Fabius’ second consulship in 310/9 BC, the Romans attempted one of their earliest-known naval attacks:  according to Livy:

  1. “... a Roman fleet, commanded by Publius Cornelius, whom the Senate had placed in charge of the coast, sailed for Campania and put into Pompeii.  From there the sailors and rowers set out to pillage the territory of Nuceria.  Having quickly ravaged the nearest fields, from which they might have returned in safety to their ships, they were lured on ... by the love of booty ... While they roamed through the fields, nobody interfered with them, though they might have been utterly annihilated; but as they came trooping back, ... the local farmers overtook them not far from the ships, stripped them of their plunder, and even killed some of them; those who escaped the massacre were driven, a disordered rabble, to their ships”, (‘Roman History’, 9: 38 2-4).

See Stephen Oakley (referenced below, 2005, at p. 483) for the candidates for the identity of this naval commander.

Fabius’ Victory

According to Livy, Fabius rejected:

  1. “... the overtures of peace [made by Nuceria Alfaterna] because its people had declined [peace] when it  had been previously] offered to them.  [Instead]. he laid siege to the place and forced it to surrender”, (‘History of Rome’, 9: 41: 3).

With the submission of Nuceria Alfaterna, Roman control of Campania was complete.

Campaigns Against the Samnites, Marsi and Paeligni

According to Livy, immediately after the submission of Nuceria Alfaterna:

  1. “A battle was fought with the Samnites, in which the enemy were defeated without much difficulty.  Indeed, the engagement would not have been remembered but for the fact that it was the first time that the Marsi had made war against the Romans.  The Paeligni, who imitated the defection of the Marsi, met with the same fate”, (‘History of Rome’, 9: 41: 4-5).

Diodorus Siculus had a different version of this encounter: when Charinus was archon at Athens (i.e. in 308-7 BC):

  1. “In Italy, the Roman consuls went to the aid of the Marsi, against whom the Samnites were making war.  [They] were victorious in the battle and killed many of the enemy”, (‘Library of History’, 20: 44: 8).

Stephen Oakley (referenced below, 2005, at p. 530) observed that Livy was probably correct to claim that the Romans fought against the Marsi at this time, while:

  1. “There can be little doubt that Diodorus was in error [when he claimed that the Romans were protecting the Marsi from the Samnites].”

Diodorus was probably also in error when he claimed that both consuls engaged with the Samnites at this time: although Livy does not specifically name the Roman commander, this engagement:

  1. followed on from Fabius’ victory at Nuceria Alfaterna, and

  2. was followed by the observation that

  3. “Decius, the other consul, was also successful in war”, (‘History of Rome’, 9: 41: 5).

Thus, we might reasonably assume (with, for example, Stephen Oakley, referenced below, 2005, at p. 532), that Livy attributed it to Fabius. 

Livy makes it clear that this was the first time that the Marsi (and by implication, the neighbouring Paeligni, had engaged in hostilities with Rome.  Both tribes bordered on northern Samnium, and it is interesting to note that, in 310/9 BC, the Samnites had considered whether they should:

  1. “... march forthwith into Etruria, through the countries of the Marsi and the Sabines”, (‘History of Rome’, 9: 38: 4-8);

in order to reinforce the Etruscan army that was about to engage with the Romans.  Given the strategic importance of the Marsi and Paeligni to both the Romans and the Samnites, we might reasonably assume that:

  1. the Samnites had incited and aided their respective rebellions; and

  2. the consequent battles took place on their respective territories.

Although both tribes were easily defeated, they did not apparently agree treaties with Rome until 304 BC (as described in my page ...).

Decius in Etruria

As noted above, Livy recorded that, while Fabius was fighting with some success on the borders of Samnium, Decius was also successful in his campaigns in Etruria.

Truce with Tarquinii 

Livy first noted that Decius:

  1. “... frightened the people of Tarquinii into furnishing corn for his army and seeking a truce for 40 years”, (‘History of Rome’, 9: 41: 6).

According to Diodorus, after both consuls had settled matters with the Samnites in the territory of the Marsi, they crossed

  1. “... the territory of the Umbrians and invaded Etruria, which was hostile, and took by siege the [now-unknown] fortress called Caerium.  When the people of the region sent envoys to request a truce, the consuls made truces:

  2. for 40 years with the Tarquinians; but

  3. for only one year with all of the other Etruscans”, (‘Library of History’, 20: 44: 8).

[30 year truces with Perusia, Cortona and Arretium in 310/9 BC ??]

Raids in Volsinian Territory

According to Livy, after Decius had agreed the new 40-year truce with Tarquinii, he:

  1. “... captured by storm a number of strongholds belonging to the people of Volsinii and dismantled some of them, lest they should serve as a refuge for the enemy.  By devastating far and wide, [Decius] made himself so feared that nomen omne Etruscum (all who bore the Etruscan name) begged him to grant them a foedus (treaty).  They were denied this privilege, but truces for a year was granted them, [in return for which] they were required to furnish the Roman army with a year's pay and two tunics for each soldier”, (‘History of Rome’, 9: 41: 6-8).

The identity of ‘Caerium’ is unknown, but it was presumably one of the ‘strongholds belonging to the people of Volsinii’ that, according to Livy (below), were captured by Decius in 308 BC.


Livy recorded that:

  1. “The consuls [of 308 BC] cast lots for the commands, Etruria falling to Decius and Samnium to Fabius:

  2. [Fabius put down pro-Samnite revolts in the territory of the Marsi and the Paeligni]. 

  3. Then, as we shall see, Decius fell back towards Rome while Fabius marched from Samnium to engage with and defeat an Umbrian army that was camped at Mevania.

Reconciliation of these Sources

We might reasonably follow Livy by placing Fabius in Samnium and Decius in Etruria at the start of the consular year. 

Decius in Etruria

Livy had Decius’ campaign begin at Tarquinia.  Since the truce between the Romans and the Tarquinians had ended in 311 BC, it seems likely that they had participated in the Etruscan army that threatened Sutrium at that time.  Thus, after the Etruscans’ defeat in the ‘famous battle’ near Perusia, it is entirely possible that Decius was able to bully them into supplying his army and agreeing a new 40 year truce (as Livy stated).  Diodorus also recorded the agreement of this truce, albeit that he did not record the circumstances in which it was agreed.  Livy’s record that Decius then marched north into the territory of Volsinii is equally unsurprising: as Stephen Oakley (referenced below, 2005, at p. 531) observed, Volsinii was now probably:

  1. “... the centre of Etruscan resistance to Rome.”

Oakley also observed that the Volsinian strongholds that, according to Livy, Decius captured might have included Diodorus’ ‘Caerium’ .  In other words, the brief accounts by Diodorus and Livy of Decius’ engagements in Etruria in 308 BC are broadly consistent and comprehensible.

Both Diodorus and Livy agreed that this Etruscan War ended with the agreement of one-year truces with:

  1. ‘all of the other Etruscans’ (Diodorus); or

  2. ‘all who bear the Etruscan name’ (Livy).

This suggests that they both relied on one or more then-extent sources that made this claim.  However, any such claim is difficult to take at face value: for example, there is no evidence that Caere, with whom (according to Livy) Rome had agreed a truce of 100 years in 353 BC, had participated in either the siege of Sutrium in 310/9 BC or the fighting in upper Etruria that followed it.  Why, then, did nomen omne Etruscum (all who bore the Etruscan name, including, for example, Caere) feel so intimidated by Decius’ depredations in 308 BC that they sought a treaty with Rome and, when this was refused, settled for a truce of only a year? 

It is interesting to note that Livy used the expression omne nomen Etruscum in connection with the Etruscan War of  the 350s, in which only Tarquinii, Falerii and Caere were mentioned by name.  In 356 BC, the consul Marcus Fabius Ambustus:

  1. “... who was operating against the Faliscans and Tarquinians, met with a defeat in the first battle. ... This led to a rising of omne nomen Etruscum and, under the leadership of the Tarquinians and Faliscans, they marched to the salt-works”, (‘History of Rome’, 7: 17: 3 and 6).

William Harris (referenced below, at p. 46 observed that:

  1. “Not much trust is to be placed in the statement by Livy that the whole Etruscan nomen took part in the fighting against Rome [at this time]. .... the  only reliable element in this narrative is the result:

  2. the truce of 100 years [that the Romans made with Caere in 353 BC]; and

  3. ... the truce of 40 years  that [they] made with Tarquinii and Falerii in 351 BC ...”.

In other words, the phrase omne nomen Etruscum in this context seems also to have been applied to those who were directly involved in the conflict in question, on this occasion to Tarquinii, Falerii and Caere.  Thus, the similar expression that he used in 308 BC would relate to all those affected by Decius’ depredations, presumably with the exception of Tarquinii.  This is probably why Stephen Oakley (referenced below, 2005, at p. 531) assumed that the one-year truces of 308 BC had been agreed with:

  1. “... Volsinii and other Etruscan states.”

It would be reasonable to assume that these other states included a number that, like Tarquinii, and Volsinii, had not had truces in place at the start of 308 BC.  Whether or not any or all of Arretium, Cortona and Perusia broke their recently-agreed 30 year truces at this point is impossible to say.

Conclusion: Roman Activity in Umbria in 308 BC

The only  significant divergence between the accounts of Diodorus and Livy relates to events in Umbria:

  1. Diodorus had a Roman army crossing Umbrian territory in order to invade Etruria; while

  2. Livy had it marching into Umbria after the invasion of Volsinian territory, with the sole purpose of engaging with the Umbrians at Mevania.

Stephen Oakley (referenced below, 2005, at p. 531) suggested the part of this apparent difference might be resolved by assuming that:

  1. “... the Romans marched through Umbria, fought the Etruscans, and returned once more to Umbria.”

In other words, the only significant difference between the two accounts is that Diodorus either ignored or was unaware of Livy’s source(s) for Fabius’ victory over the Umbrians at Mevania.

Campaign at Allifae (307 BC)

The Samnite centre at Allifae, which occupied a strategic position in valley of the Volturnus (see the map below), has already appeared twice in Livy’s account of the war:

  1. At the start of the war, in 326 BC. the Romans:

  2. “... conducted a successful campaign in Samnium: three towns (Allifae, [the now-unknown] Callifae and Rufrium) fell into their hands, and the rest of the country was devastated far and wide ...”, (‘History of Rome’, 8: 25: 4).

  3. Stephen Oakley (referenced below, 1998, at p. 649) argued that:

  4. “... the Romans did no more than raid in 326 BC and may not have tried to install  a garrison.”

  5. In 310 BC:

  6. “... Caius Marcius Rutulus, captured Allifae from the Samnites by assault.  Many forts and villages besides were either wiped out in the course of hostilities or came intact into the hands of the Romans”, (‘History of Rome’, 9: 38: 1).

  7. Diodorus also recorded this engagement: he had both consuls campaigning in Etruria, until they received news that:

  8. “ ... the Samnites ... were plundering with impunity those Iapyges who supported the Romans. The consuls, therefore, were forced to divide their armies; Fabius remained in Etruria, but Marcius, setting out against the Samnites, took the city Allifae by storm and freed from danger those of the allies who were being besieged”, (‘Library of History’, 20: 35: 1-2).

If Allifae did indeed fall into Roman hands in 310 BC, then the Samnites soon recovered it: according to Livy: 

  1. “The proconsul Quintus Fabius Maximus Rullianus fought a pitched battle with the army of the Samnites near the city Allifae. The result was decisive, for the enemy were routed and driven into their camp, which they only managed to hold because there[was] very little daylight left. ... The next day, before dawn, they began to surrender.  The Samnites among them bargained to be dismissed in their tunics; all these were sent under the yoke.  The allies of the Samnites were protected by no guarantee, and were sold into slavery ... ”, (‘History of Rome’, 9: 42: 6-8).

However, Stephen Oakley (referenced below, 2007, at p. 25) suggested that the Romans gained permanent control of this part of the valley of the Volturnus only at the end of the Third Samnite War (298 - 290 BC).

Hernician War (307 - 306 BC)

Green dots (Anagnia and Frusino) = rebels in the Hernician War

Yellow dots (Aletrium, Ferentinum, Verulae) = non-combatants in the Hernician War

As already discussed, the Hernici had submitted to Rome in 358 BC, and part their territory in the upper Sacco valley was confiscated for viritane citizen settlement and designated as the Poblilia voting district.  From this point, although the Hernici retained their independence, they did so under the hegemony of Rome.

Thus, it was a serious matter when (according to Livy) the Romans discovered that Hernician soldiers had been serving in a Samnite army that had surrendered to them at Alifae in 307 BC.  For this reason, the captured Hernici were separated from the other prisoners-of-war and:

  1. “... sent to the Senate in Rome ...  There, an enquiry was held as to whether they had been conscripted or had fought voluntarily for the Samnites against the Romans.  They were then parcelled out amongst the Latins to be guarded.  [In the following year], the new consuls, Publius Cornelius Arvina and Quintus Marcius Tremulus, ... [initiated] fresh action, [which] the Hernici resented.  The people of Anagnia assembled a concilium populorum omnium (council of all the Hernician people) except for those of Aletrium, Ferentinum and Verulae, [at which, the assembled rebels] declared war on Rome”, (‘History of Rome’, 9: 42: 8-11).

In response, while Cornelius remained in Samnium, Marcius was sent to deal with: 

  1. “The new enemies (for, by this time, the Romans had declared on the men of Anagnia and other Hernici) ... [These rebels], having lost three camps in the space of a few days, negotiated a truce of 30 days so that they could send envoys to the Senate in Rome ... The Senate sent them back to Marcius, having passed a resolution empowering him to deal with them as he saw fit.  He received their ... unconditional surrender”, (‘History of Rome’, 9: 43: 2-7).

After further activity in Samnium:

  1. “Marcius returned to Rome, which he entered in a triumph over the Hernici.  An equestrian statue was decreed to him and erected in front of the temple of Castor in the Forum”, (‘History of Rome’, 9: 43: 24).

The ‘fasti Triumphales’ record that, in this year, Marcius was awarded a triumph ‘over the Anagnini and Hernici’.  

Incorporation of Anagnia

Livy noted that, after the Roman victory:

  1. “Their own laws were restored to the three Hernican peoples of Aletrium, Verulae, and Ferentinum [who had remained loyal throughout the war], because they preferred them to Roman citizenship ... [However], the people of Anagnia and the others that had borne arms against Rome were:

  2. admitted to citizenship without voting right;

  3. prohibited from holding councils; ... and

  4. allowed no magistrates other than those who had charge of religious rites”, (‘History of Rome’, 9: 43: 24).

In other words, Aletrium, Verulae, and Ferentinum retained their nominal independence under Roman hegemony, but the people of Anagnia and other Hernici who had joined their rebellion were incorporated into the Roman state


Our surviving sources link the town of nearby Volscian town of Frusino to this conflict:

  1. Following his account of Roman activity in Samnium in 306 BC, Diodorus Siculus recorded that:

  2. “[The Romans] declared war on the Anagnitae, who were acting unjustly, and, taking Frusino, they distributed the land”, (‘Library of History’, 20: 80: 4).

  3. Livy recorded that:

  4. “The Frusinonians were fined a third part of their lands [in 303 BC], because it was discovered that they had incited the Hernici to rebel [three years before]; and the heads of that conspiracy ... were beaten with rods and beheaded”, (‘History of Rome’, 10: 1: 3).

Stephen Oakley (referenced below, 2005, at p. 557 and note 1) suggested that:

  1. “... the easiest interpretation of the evidence is that Frusino revolted in 307-6 BC and was captured by Marcius in 306 BC, but that its punishment was effected only after the Samnites had made peace [in 304 BC.  If so, then] Diodorus will have merged the narrative of several years into one ...”

End Game (306 - 304 BC)

Timothy Cornell (referenced below, at pp. 354-5) provided a good summary of the final years of this war:

  1. “... the Samnites  ...returned to the attack in 306 BC and invaded northern Campania.  The Romans retaliated with a full-scale invasion of Samnium and captured the stronghold of Bovianum,  The Samnites were then destroyed in a pitched battle in which their leader, Statius Gellius, was killed.  ... In 304 BC, the Samnites sued for peace: the ‘old treaty’ ... was renewed, and the 20 years war was at an end. “

Livy’s description of this humiliation of the Samnites is oddly low-key:

  1. “[In 304 BC], the Samnites, whether seeking to end or simply to postpone hostilities, sent envoys to Rome to sue for peace.  The Romans’ answer to their humble supplications was  that, if they had not frequently sought peace [in the past] while preparing for war, a treaty could have been arranged by mutual discussion: as it was, since [their] words had hitherto proved worthless, the Romans would have to take their stand on facts.  Publius Sempronius, the consul, who was someone whom they would be unable to deceive as to whether [they really wanted] peace or war, would shortly be in Samnium with an army.  After a thorough investigation, he would report his findings to the Senate and, on his leaving Samnium, their envoys might attend him.  The Roman army [duly] marched all over Samnium; the people were peaceable and furnished the army liberally with supplies.  Accordingly, in that year, the ancient treaty was restored again to the Samnites”, (‘History of Rome’, 9: 45: 1-4).

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 (translation) and D. Hoyos (introduction and notes), “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

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

A. Drummond, “The Dictator Years”, Historia: Zeitschrift für Alte Geschichte, 27:4 (1978), 550-72

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

E. Salmon, “Samnium and the Samnites’, (1967) 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

  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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