Theodor Mommsen.

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Yet this passage of the river, and a victory at the same time obtained
over the Paelignians by the general Servius Sulpicius, compelled the
Marsians to draw their line of defence somewhat back, and Marius, who
by decree of the senate succeeded Lupus as commander-in-chief, at least
prevented the enemy from gaining further successes. But, when Quintus
Caepio was soon afterwards associated in the command with equal powers,
not so much on account of a conflict which he had successfully
sustained, as because he had recommended himself to the equites then
leading the politics of Rome by his vehement opposition to Drusus,
he allowed himself to be lured into an ambush by Silo on the pretext
that the latter wished to betray to him his army, and was cut to
pieces with a great part of his force by the Marsians and Vestinians.
Marius, after Caepio's fall once more sole commander-in-chief, through
his tenacious resistance prevented his antagonist from profiting by
the advantages which he had gained, and gradually penetrated far into
the Marsian territory. He long refused battle; when he at length
gave it, he vanquished his impetuous opponent, who left on the battle -
field among other dead Herius Asinius the chieftain of the Marrucini.
In a second engagement the army of Marius and the corps of Sulla
which belonged to the army of the south co-operated to inflict on
the Marsians a still more considerable defeat, which cost them 6000 men;
but the glory of this day remained with the younger officer, for, while
Marius had given and gained the battle, Sulla had intercepted the retreat
of the fugitives and destroyed them.

Picenian War

While the conflict was proceeding thus warmly and with varying success
at the Fucine lake, the Picenian corps under Strabo had also fought
with alternations of fortune. The insurgent chiefs, Gaius Iudacilius
from Asculum, Publius Vettius Scato, and Titus Lafrenius, had
assailed it with their united forces, defeated it, and compelled it
to throw itself into Firmum, where Lafrenius kept Strabo besieged,
while Iudacilius moved into Apulia and induced Canusium, Venusia, and
the other towns still adhering to Rome in that quarter to join the
insurgents. But on the Roman side Servius Sulpicius by his victory
over the Paeligni cleared the way for his advancing into Picenum and
rendering aid to Strabo; Lafrenius was attacked by Strabo in front
and taken in rear by Sulpicius, and his camp was set on fire; he
himself fell, the remnant of his troops fled in disorder and threw
themselves into Asculum. So completely had the state of affairs
changed in Picenum, that the Italians now found themselves confined
to Asculum as the Romans were previously to Firmum, and the war was
thus once more converted into a siege.

Umbro-Etruscan Conflicts

Lastly, there was added in the course of the year to the two difficult
and straggling wars in southern and central Italy a third in the
north. The state of matters apparently so dangerous for Rome after
the first months of the war had induced a great portion of the
Umbrian, and isolated Etruscan, communities to declare for the
insurrection; so that it became necessary to despatch against the
Umbrians Aulus Plotius, and against the Etruscans Lucius Porcius Cato.
Here however the Romans encountered a far less energetic resistance
than in the Marsian and Samnite countries, and maintained a most
decided superiority in the field.

Disadvantageous Aggregate Result of the First Year of the War

Thus the severe first year of the war came to an end, leaving behind
it, both in a military and political point of view, sorrowful
memories and dubious prospects. In a military point of view both
armies of the Romans, the Marsian as well as the Campanian, had been
weakened and discouraged by severe defeats; the northern army had
been compelled especially to attend to the protection of the capital,
the southern army at Neapolis had been seriously threatened in its
communications, as the insurgents could without much difficulty break
forth from the Marsian or Samnite territory and establish themselves
between Rome and Naples; for which reason it was found necessary to
draw at least a chain of posts from Cumae to Rome. In a political
point of view, the insurrection had gained ground on all sides during
this first year of the war; the secession of Nola, the rapid
capitulation of the strong and large Latin colony of Venusia, and
the Umbro-Etruscan revolt were suspicious signs that the Roman symmachy
was tottering to its very base and was not in a position to hold out
against this last trial. They had already made the utmost demands on
the burgesses; they had already, with a view to form that chain of
posts along the Latino-Campanian coast, incorporated nearly 6000
freedmen in the burgess-militia; they had already required the
severest sacrifices from the allies that still remained faithful;
it was not possible to draw the string of the bow any tighter
without hazarding everything.

Despondency of the Romans

The temper of the burgesses was singularly depressed. After the
battle on the Tolenus, when the dead bodies of the consul and the
numerous citizens of note who had fallen with him were brought back
from the neighbouring battlefield to the capital and were buried there;
when the magistrates in token of public mourning laid aside their
purple and insignia; when the government issued orders to the
inhabitants of the capital to arm en masse; not a few had resigned
themselves to despair and given up all as lost. It is true that the
worst despondency had somewhat abated after the victories achieved by
Caesar at Acerrae and by Strabo in Picenum: on the news of the former
the wardress in the capital had been once more exchanged for the dress
of the citizen, on the news of the second the signs of public mourning
had been laid aside; but it was not doubtful that on the whole the
Romans had been worsted in this passage of arms: and above all the
senate and the burgesses had lost the spirit, which had formerly
borne them to victory through all the crises of the Hannibalic war.
They still doubtless began war with the same defiant arrogance as then,
but they knew not how to end it as they had then done; rigid obstinacy,
tenacious persistence had given place to a remiss and cowardly
disposition. Already after the first year of war their outward and
inward policy became suddenly changed, and betook itself to compromise.
There is no doubt that in this they did the wisest thing which could
be done; not however because, compelled by the immediate force of
arms, they could not avoid acquiescing in disadvantageous conditions,
but because the subject-matter of dispute - the perpetuation of the
political precedence of the Romans over the other Italians - was
injurious rather than beneficial to the commonwealth itself.
It sometimes happens in public life that one error compensates another;
in this case cowardice in some measure remedied the mischief which
obstinacy had incurred.

Revolution in Political Processes

The year 664 had begun with a most abrupt rejection of the
compromise offered by the insurgents and with the opening of a war
of prosecutions, in which the most passionate defenders of patriotic
selfishness, the capitalists, took vengeance on all those who were
suspected of having counselled moderation and seasonable concession.
On the other hand the tribune Marcus Plautius Silvanus, who entered
on his office on the 10th of December of the same year, carried a
law which took the commission of high treason out of the hands
of the capitalist jurymen, and entrusted it to other jurymen who
were nominated by the free choice of the tribes without class -
qualification; the effect of which was, that this commission was
converted from a scourge of the moderate party into a scourge of the
ultras, and sent into exile among others its own author, Quintus
Varius, who was blamed by the public voice for the worst democratic
outrages - the poisoning of Quintus Metellus and the murder of Drusus.

Bestowal of the Franchise on the Italians Who Remained Faithful -
or Submitted

Of greater importance than this singularly candid political
recantation, was the change in the course of their policy toward
the Italians. Exactly three hundred years had passed since Rome had
last been obliged to submit to the dictation of peace; Rome was now
worsted once more, and the peace which she desired could only be got
by yielding in part at least to the terms of her antagonists. With
the communities, doubtless, which had already risen in arms to subdue
and to destroy Rome, the feud had become too bitter for the Romans to
prevail on themselves to make the required concessions; and, had they
done so, these terms would now perhaps have been rejected by the other
side. But, if the original demands were conceded under certain
limitations to the communities that had hitherto remained faithful,
such a course would on the one hand preserve the semblance of voluntary
concession, while on the other hand it would prevent the otherwise
inevitable consolidation of the confederacy and thereby pave the way
for its subjugation. Accordingly the gates of Roman citizenship, which
had so long remained closed against entreaty, now suddenly opened when
the sword knocked at them; yet even now not fully and wholly, but in
a manner reluctant and annoying even for those admitted. A law carried
by the consul Lucius Caesar(16) conferred the Roman franchise on the
burgesses of all those communities of Italian allies which had not up
to that time openly declared against Rome; a second, emanating from
the tribunes of the people Marcus Plautius Silvanus and Gaius Papirius
Carbo, laid down for every man who had citizenship and domicile in
Italy a term of two months, within which he was to be allowed to acquire
the Roman franchise by presenting himself before a Roman magistrate.
But these new burgesses were to be restricted as to the right of
voting in a way similar to the freedmen, inasmuch as they could only
be enrolled in eight, as the freedmen only in four, of the thirty-five
tribes; whether the restriction was personal or, as it would seem,
hereditary, cannot be determined with certainty.

Bestowal of Latin Rights on the Italian Celts

This measure related primarily to Italy proper, which at that time
extended northward little beyond Ancona and Florence. In Cisalpine
Gaul, which was in the eye of the law a foreign country, but in
administration and colonization had long passed as part of Italy,
all the Latin colonies were treated like the Italian communities.
Otherwise on the south side of the Po the greatest portion of the
soil was, after the dissolution of the old Celtic tribal communities,
not organized according to the municipal system, but remained withal in
the ownership of Roman burgesses mostly dwelling together in market-
villages (-fora-). The not numerous allied townships to the south of
the Po, particularly Ravenna, as well as the whole country between the
Po and the Alps was, in consequence of a law brought in by the consul
Strabo in 665, organized after the Italian urban constitution, so that
the communities not adapted for this, more especially the townships in
the Alpine valleys, were assigned to particular towns as dependent and
tributary villages. These new town-communities, however, were not
presented with the Roman franchise, but, by means of the legal fiction
that they were Latin colonies, were invested with those rights which
had hitherto belonged to the Latin towns of inferior legal position.
Thus Italy at that time ended practically at the Po, while the
Transpadane country was treated as an outlying dependency. Here
to the north of the Po, with the exception of Cremona, Eporedia
and Aquileia, there were no burgess or Latin colonies, and even
the native tribes here had been by no means dislodged as they were
to the south of the Po. The abolition of the Celtic cantonal, and
the introduction of the Italian urban, constitution paved the way
for the Romanizing of the rich and important territory; this was the
first step in the long and momentous transformation of the Gallic stock -
which once stood contrasted with Italy, and the assaults of which
Italy had rallied to repel - into comrades of their Italian masters.

Considerable as these concessions were, if we compare them with the
rigid exclusiveness which the Roman burgess-body had retained for
more than a hundred and fifty years, they were far from involving a
capitulation with the actual insurgents; they were on the contrary
intended partly to retain the communities that were wavering and
threatening to revolt, partly to draw over as many deserters as
possible from the ranks of the enemy. To what extent these laws and
especially the most important of them - that of Caesar - were applied,
cannot be accurately stated, as we are only able to specify in general
terms the extent of the insurrection at the time when the law was
issued. The main matter at any rate was that the communities hitherto
Latin - not only the survivors of the old Latin confederacy, such as
Tibur and Praeneste, but more especially the Latin colonies, with the
exception of the few that passed over to the insurgents - were thereby
admitted to Roman citizenship. Besides, the law was applied to the
allied cities that remained faithful in Etruria and especially in
Southern Italy, such as Nuceria and Neapolis. It was natural that
individual communities, hitherto specially privileged, should hesitate
as to the acceptance of the franchise; that Neapolis, for example,
should scruple to give up its former treaty with Rome - which
guaranteed to its citizens exemption from land-service and their
Greek constitution, and perhaps domanial advantages besides - for
the restricted rights of new burgesses. It was probably in virtue of
conventions concluded on account of these scruples that this city, as
well as Rhegium and perhaps other Greek communities in Italy, even
after their admission to Roman citizenship retained unchanged their
former communal constitution and Greek as their official language.
At all events, as a consequence of these laws, the circle of Roman
burgesses was extraordinarily enlarged by the merging into it of
numerous and important urban communities scattered from the Sicilian
Straits to the Po; and, further, the country between the Po and the
Alps was, by the bestowal of the best rights of allies, as it were
invested with the legal expectancy of full citizenship.

Second Year of the War
Etruria and Umbria Tranquillized

On the strength of these concessions to the wavering communities, the
Romans resumed with fresh courage the conflict against the insurgent
districts. They had pulled down as much of the existing political
institutions as seemed necessary to arrest the extension of the
conflagration; the insurrection thenceforth at least spread no
farther. In Etruria and Umbria especially, where it was just
beginning, it was subdued with singular rapidity, still more, probably,
by means of the Julian law than through the success of the Roman arms.
In the former Latin colonies, and in the thickly-peopled region of the
Po, there were opened up copious and now trustworthy sources of aid:
with these, and with the resources of the burgesses themselves, they
could proceed to subdue the now isolated conflagration. The two former
commanders-in-chief returned to Rome, Caesar as censor elect, Marius
because his conduct of the war was blamed as vacillating and slow, and
the man of sixty-six was declared to be in his dotage. This objection
was very probably groundless; Marius showed at least his bodily
vigour by appearing daily in the circus at Rome, and even as
commander-in-chief he seems to have displayed on the whole his old
ability in the last campaign; but he had not achieved the brilliant
successes by which alone after his political bankruptcy he could have
rehabilitated himself in public opinion, and so the celebrated champion
was to his bitter vexation now, even as an officer, unceremoniously laid
aside as useless. The place of Marius in the Marsian army was taken
by the consul of this year, Lucius Porcius Cato, who had fought with
distinction in Etruria, and that of Caesar in the Campanian army by
his lieutenant, Lucius Sulla, to whom were due some of the most
material successes of the previous campaign; Gnaeus Strabo retained -
now as consul - the command which he had held so successfully in
the Picenian territory.

War in Picenum
Asculum Besieged
And Conquered
Subjugation of the Sabellians and Marsians

Thus began the second campaign in 665. The insurgents opened it,
even before winter was over, by the bold attempt - recalling the grand
passages of the Samnite wars - to send a Marsian army of 15,000 men to
Etruria with a view to aid the insurrection brewing in Northern Italy.
But Strabo, through whose district it had to pass, intercepted
and totally defeated it; only a few got back to their far distant
home. When at length the season allowed the Roman armies to assume
the offensive, Cato entered the Marsian territory and advanced,
successfully encountering the enemy there; but he fell in the region
of the Fucine lake during an attack on the enemy's camp, so that the
exclusive superintendence of the operations in Central Italy devolved
on Strabo. The latter employed himself partly in continuing the
siege of Asculum, partly in the subjugation of the Marsian, Sabellian,
and Apulian districts. To relieve his hard-pressed native town,
Iudacilius appeared before Asculum with the Picentine levy and
attacked the besieging army, while at the same time the garrison
sallied forth and threw itself on the Roman lines. It is said that
75,000 Romans fought on this day against 60,000 Italians. Victory
remained with the Romans, but Iudacilius succeeded in throwing himself
with a part of the relieving army into the town. The siege resumed
its course; it was protracted(17) by the strength of the place and the
desperate defence of the inhabitants, who fought with a recollection of
the terrible declaration of war within its walls. When Iudacilius
at length after a brave defence of several months saw the day of
capitulation approach, he ordered the chiefs of that section of
the citizens which was favourable to Rome to be put to death under
torture, and then died by his own hand. So the gates were opened,
and Roman executions were substituted for Italian; all officers and
all the respectable citizens were executed, the rest were driven forth
to beggary, and all their property was confiscated on account of
the state. During the siege and after the fall of Asculum numerous
Roman corps marched through the adjacent rebel districts, and induced
one after another to submit. The Marrucini yielded, after Servius
Sulpicius had defeated them decidedly at Teate (Chieti). The praetor
Gaius Cosconius penetrated into Apulia, took Salapia and Cannae, and
besieged Canusium. A Samnite corps under Marius Egnatius came to the
help of the unwarlike region and actually drove back the Romans, but
the Roman general succeeded in defeating it at the passage of the
Aufidus; Egnatius fell, and the rest of the army had to seek shelter
behind the walls of Canusium. The Romans again advanced as far
as Venusia and Rubi, and became masters of all Apulia. Along the
Fucine lake also and at the Majella mountains - the chief seats of
the insurrection - the Romans re-established their mastery; the Marsians
succumbed to Strabo's lieutenants, Quintus Metellus Pius and Gaius
Cinna, the Vestinians and Paelignians in the following year (666) to
Strabo himself; Italia the capital of the insurgents became once more
the modest Paelignian country-town of Corfinium; the remnant of the
Italian senate fled to the Samnite territory.

Subjugation of Campania As Far As Nola
Sulla in Samnium

The Roman southern army, which was now under the command of Lucius
Sulla, had at the same time assumed the offensive and had penetrated
into southern Campania which was occupied by the enemy. Stabiae was
taken and destroyed by Sulla in person (30 April 665) and Herculaneum
by Titus Didius, who however fell himself (11 June) apparently at the
assault on that city. Pompeii resisted longer. The Samnite general
Lucius Cluentius came up to bring relief to the town, but he was
repulsed by Sulla; and when, reinforced by bands of Celts, he
renewed his attempt, he was, chiefly owing to the wavering of these
untrustworthy associates, so totally defeated that his camp was taken
and he himself was cut down with the greater part of his troops on
their flight towards Nola. The grateful Roman army conferred on its
general the grass-wreath - the homely badge with which the usage of
the camp decorated the soldier who had by his capacity saved a division
of his comrades. Without pausing to undertake the siege of Nola and
of the other Campanian towns still occupied by the Samnites, Sulla
at once advanced into the interior, which was the head-quarters of
the insurrection. The speedy capture and fearful punishment of
Aeclanum spread terror throughout the Hirpinian country; it submitted
even before the arrival of the Lucanian contingent which had set itself
in motion to render help, and Sulla was able to advance unhindered as
far as the territory of the Samnite confederacy. The pass, where the
Samnite militia under Mutilus awaited him, was turned, the Samnite army
was attacked in rear, and defeated; the camp was lost, the general
escaped wounded to Aesernia. Sulla advanced to Bovianum, the capital of
the Samnite country, and compelled it to surrender by a second victory
achieved beneath its walls. The advanced season alone put an end
to the campaign there.

The Insurrection on the Whole Overpowered

The position of affairs had undergone a most complete change.
Powerful, victorious, aggressive as was the insurrection when it
began the campaign of 665, it emerged from it deeply humbled, everywhere
beaten, and utterly hopeless. All northern Italy was pacified.
In central Italy both coasts were wholly in the Roman power, and the
Abruzzi almost entirely; Apulia as far as Venusia, and Campania as far
as Nola, were in the hands of the Romans; and by the occupation of the
Hirpinian territory the communication was broken off between the only
two regions still persevering in open resistance, the Samnite and the
Lucano-Bruttian. The field of the insurrection resembled the scene
of an immense conflagration dying out; everywhere the eye fell on
ashes and ruins and smouldering brands; here and there the flame
still blazed up among the ruins, but the fire was everywhere mastered,
and there was no further threatening of danger. It is to be
regretted that we no longer sufficiently discern in the superficial
accounts handed down to us the causes of this sudden revolution.
While undoubtedly the dexterous leadership of Strabo and still more
of Sulla, and especially the more energetic concentration of the
Roman forces, and their more rapid offensive contributed materially
to that result, political causes may have been at work along with the
military in producing the singularly rapid fall of the power of the
insurgents; the law of Silvanus and Carbo may have fulfilled its design
in carrying defection and treason to the common cause into the ranks
of the enemy; and misfortune, as has so frequently happened, may
have fallen as an apple of discord among the loosely-connected
insurgent communities.

Perseverance of the Samnites

We see only - and this fact points to an internal breaking up of Italia,
that must certainly have been attended by violent convulsions - that
the Samnites, perhaps under the leadership of the Marsian Quintus Silo
who had been from the first the soul of the insurrection and after the
capitulation of the Marsians had gone as a fugitive to the neighbouring
people, now assumed another organization purely confined to their
own land, and, after "Italia" was vanquished, undertook to continue
the struggle as "Safini" or Samnites.(18) The strong Aesernia was
converted from the fortress that had curbed, into the last retreat
that sheltered, Samnite freedom; an army assembled consisting, it was
said, of 30,000 infantry and 1000 cavalry, and was strengthened by the
manumission and incorporation of 20,000 slaves; five generals were
placed at its head, among whom Silo was the first and Mutilus next to
him. With astonishment men saw the Samnite wars beginning anew after
a pause of two hundred years, and the resolute nation of farmers making

Online LibraryTheodor MommsenThe History of Rome, Book IV The Revolution → online text (page 24 of 50)