Theodor Mommsen.

The History of Rome (Volumes 1-5) online

. (page 42 of 216)
Online LibraryTheodor MommsenThe History of Rome (Volumes 1-5) → online text (page 42 of 216)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

numerous army and his military skill into the scale in favour of
freedom for the cities and peoples of Italy. But Tarentum did not
act as Rome would in similar circumstances have acted; and prince
Cleonymus himself was far from being an Alexander or a Pyrrhus. He
was in no hurry to undertake a war in which he might expect more blows
than booty, but preferred to make common cause with the Lucanians
against Metapontum, and made himself comfortable in that city, while
he talked of an expedition against Agathocles of Syracuse and of
liberating the Sicilian Greeks. Thereupon the Samnites made peace;
and when after its conclusion Rome began to concern herself more
seriously about the south-east of the peninsula - in token of which
in the year 447 a Roman force levied contributions, or rather
reconnoitred by order of the government, in the territory of the
Sallentines - the Spartan -condottiere- embarked with his mercenaries
and surprised the island of Corcyra, which was admirably situated as
a basis for piratical expeditions against Greece and Italy. Thus
abandoned by their general, and at the same time deprived of their
allies in central Italy, the Tarentines and their Italian allies,
the Lucanians and Sallentines, had now no course left but to solicit
an accommodation with Rome, which appears to have been granted on
tolerable terms. Soon afterwards (451) even an incursion of
Cleonymus, who had landed in the Sallentine territory and laid
siege to Uria, was repulsed by the inhabitants with Roman aid.

Consolidation of the Roman Rule in Central Italy

The victory of Rome was complete; and she turned it to full account.
It was not from magnanimity in the conquerors - for the Romans knew
nothing of the sort - but from shrewd and far-seeing calculation that
terms so moderate were granted to the Samnites, the Tarentines, and
the more distant peoples generally. The first and main object was not
so much to compel southern Italy as quickly as possible to recognize
formally the Roman supremacy, as to supplement and complete the
subjugation of central Italy, for which the way had been prepared by
the military roads and fortresses already established in Campania and
Apulia during the last war, and by that means to separate the northern
and southern Italians into two masses cut off in a military point of
view from direct contact with each other. To this object accordingly
the next undertakings of the Romans were with consistent energy
directed. Above all they used, or made, the opportunity for getting
rid of the confederacies of the Aequi and the Hernici which had once
been rivals of the Roman single power in the region of the Tiber and
were not yet quite set aside. In the same year, in which the peace
with Samnium took place (450), the consul Publius Sempronius Sophus
waged war on the Aequi; forty townships surrendered in fifty days; the
whole territory with the exception of the narrow and rugged mountain
valley, which still in the present day bears the old name of the
people (Cicolano), passed into the possession of the Romans, and here
on the northern border of the Fucine lake was founded the fortress
Alba with a garrison of 6000 men, thenceforth forming a bulwark
against the valiant Marsi and a curb for central Italy; as was also
two years afterwards on the upper Turano, nearer to Rome, Carsioli
- both as allied communities with Latin rights.

The fact that in the case of the Hernici at least Anagnia had taken
part in the last stage of the Samnite war, furnished the desired
reason for dissolving the old relation of alliance. The fate of the
Anagnines was, as might be expected, far harder than that which had
under similar circumstances been meted out to the Latin communities
in the previous generation. They not merely had, like these, to
acquiesce in the Roman citizenship without suffrage, but they also
like the Caerites lost self-administration; out of a portion of their
territory on the upper Trerus (Sacco), moreover, a new tribe was
instituted, and another was formed at the same time on the lower Anio
(455). The only regret was that the three Hernican communities next
in importance to Anagnia, Aletrium, Verulae, and Ferentinum, had not
also revolted; for, as they courteously declined the suggestion that
they should voluntarily enter into the bond of Roman citizenship and
there existed no pretext for compelling them to do so, the Romans were
obliged not only to respect their autonomy, but also to allow to them
even the right of assembly and of intermarriage, and in this way
still to leave a shadow of the old Hernican confederacy. No such
considerations fettered their action in that portion of the Volscian
country which had hitherto been held by the Samnites. There Arpinum
and Frusino became subject, the latter town was deprived of a third
of its domain, and on the upper Liris in addition to Fregellae the
Volscian town of Sora, which had previously been garrisoned, was now
permanently converted into a Roman fortress and occupied by a legion
of 4000 men. In this way the old Volscian territory was completely
subdued, and became rapidly Romanized. The region which separated
Samnium from Etruria was penetrated by two military roads, both of
which were secured by new fortresses. The northern road, which
afterwards became the Flaminian, covered the line of the Tiber; it
led through Ocriculum, which was in alliance with Rome, to Narnia, the
name which the Romans gave to the old Umbrian fortress Nequinum when
they settled a military colony there (455). The southern, afterwards
the Valerian, ran along the Fucine lake by way of the just mentioned
fortresses of Carsioli and Alba. The small tribes within whose bounds
these colonies were instituted, the Umbrians who obstinately defended
Nequinum, the Aequians who once more assailed Alba, and the Marsians
who attacked Carsioli, could not arrest the course of Rome: the two
strong curb-fortresses were inserted almost without hindrance between
Samnium and Etruria. We have already mentioned the great roads and
fortresses instituted for permanently securing Apulia and above all
Campania: by their means Samnium was further surrounded on the east
and west with the net of Roman strongholds. It is a significant
token of the comparative weakness of Etruria that it was not deemed
necessary to secure the passes through the Ciminian Forest in a
similar mode - by a highway and corresponding fortresses. The former
frontier fortress of Sutrium continued to be in this quarter the
terminus of the Roman military line, and the Romans contented
themselves with having the road leading thence to Arretium kept
in a serviceable state for military purposes by the communities
through whose territories it passed.(4)

Renewed Outbreak of the Samnite-Etruscan War -
Junction of the Troops of the Coalition in Etruria

The high-spirited Samnite nation perceived that such a peace was more
ruinous than the most destructive war; and, what was more, it acted
accordingly. The Celts in northern Italy were just beginning to
bestir themselves again after a long suspension of warfare; moreover
several Etruscan communities there were still in arms against the
Romans, and brief armistices alternated in that quarter with vehement
but indecisive conflicts. All central Italy was still in ferment and
partly in open insurrection; the fortresses were still only in course
of construction; the way between Etruria and Samnium was not yet
completely closed. Perhaps it was not yet too late to save freedom;
but, if so, there must be no delay; the difficulty of attack
increased, the power of the assailants diminished with every year
by which the peace was prolonged. Five years had scarce elapsed since
the contest ended, and all the wounds must still have been bleeding
which the twenty-two years' war had inflicted on the peasantry of
Samnium, when in the year 456 the Samnite confederacy renewed the
struggle. The last war had been decided in favour of Rome mainly
through the alliance of Lucania with the Romans and the consequent
standing aloof of Tarentum. The Samnites, profiting by that lesson,
now threw themselves in the first instance with all their might on the
Lucanians, and succeeded in bringing their party in that quarter to
the helm of affairs, and in concluding an alliance between Samnium and
Lucania. Of course the Romans immediately declared war; the Samnites
had expected no other issue. It is a significant indication of the
state of feeling, that the Samnite government informed the Roman
envoys that it was not able to guarantee their inviolability, if
they should set foot on Samnite ground.

The war thus began anew (456), and while a second army was fighting
in Etruria, the main Roman army traversed Samnium and compelled the
Lucanians to make peace and send hostages to Rome. The following
year both consuls were able to proceed to Samnium; Rullianus conquered
at Tifernum, his faithful comrade in arms, Publius Decius Mus, at
Maleventum, and for five months two Roman armies encamped in the land
of the enemy. They were enabled to do so, because the Tuscan states
had on their own behalf entered into negotiations for peace with Rome.
The Samnites, who from the beginning could not but see that their only
chance of victory lay in the combination of all Italy against Rome,
exerted themselves to the utmost to prevent the threatened separate
peace between Etruria and Rome; and when at last their general,
Gellius Egnatius, offered to bring aid to the Etruscans in their own
country, the Etruscan federal council in reality agreed to hold out
and once more to appeal to the decision of arms. Samnium made the
most energetic efforts to place three armies simultaneously in the
field, the first destined for the defence of its own territory, the
second for an invasion of Campania, the third and most numerous
for Etruria; and in the year 458 the last, led by Egnatius himself,
actually reached Etruria in safety through the Marsian and Umbrian
territories, with whose inhabitants there was an understanding.
Meanwhile the Romans were capturing some strong places in Samnium and
breaking the influence of the Samnite party in Lucania; they were not
in a position to prevent the departure of the army led by Egnatius.
When information reached Rome that the Samnites had succeeded in
frustrating all the enormous efforts made to sever the southern
from the northern Italians, that the arrival of the Samnite bands in
Etruria had become the signal for an almost universal rising against
Rome, and that the Etruscan communities were labouring with the utmost
zeal to get their own forces ready for war and to take into their pay
Gallic bands, every nerve was strained also in Rome; the freedmen and
the married were formed into cohorts - it was felt on all hands that
the decisive crisis was near. The year 458 however passed away,
apparently, in armings and marchings. For the following year (459)
the Romans placed their two best generals, Publius Decius Mus and the
aged Quintus Fabius Rullianus, at the head of their army in Etruria,
which was reinforced with all the troops that could be spared from
Campania, and amounted to at least 60,000 men, of whom more than a
third were full burgesses of Rome. Besides this, two reserves were
formed, the first at Falerii, the second under the walls of the
capital. The rendezvous of the Italians was Umbria, towards which the
roads from the Gallic, Etruscan, and Sabellian territories converged;
towards Umbria the consuls also moved off their main force, partly
along the left, partly along the right bank of the Tiber, while at
the same time the first reserve made a movement towards Etruria, in
order if possible to recall the Etruscan troops from the main scene
of action for the defence of their homes. The first engagement did
not prove fortunate for the Romans; their advanced guard was defeated
by the combined Gauls and Samnites in the district of Chiusi. But
that diversion accomplished its object. Less magnanimous than the
Samnites, who had marched through the ruins of their towns that they
might not be absent from the chosen field of battle, a great part of
the Etruscan contingents withdrew from the federal army on the news
of the advance of the Roman reserve into Etruria, and its ranks
were greatly thinned when the decisive battle came to be fought on
the eastern declivity of the Apennines near Sentinum.

Battle of Sentinum -
Peace with Etruria

Nevertheless it was a hotly contested day. On the right wing of
the Romans, where Rullianus with his two legions fought against the
Samnite army, the conflict remained long undecided. On the left,
which Publius Decius commanded, the Roman cavalry was thrown into
confusion by the Gallic war chariots, and the legions also already
began to give way. Then the consul called to him Marcus Livius the
priest, and bade him devote to the infernal gods both the head of
the Roman general and the army of the enemy; and plunging into the
thickest throng of the Gauls he sought death and found it. This
heroic deed of despair on the part of one so eminent as a man and so
beloved as a general was not in vain. The fugitive soldiers rallied;
the bravest threw themselves after their leader into the hostile
ranks, to avenge him or to die with him; and just at the right moment
the consular Lucius Scipio, despatched by Rullianus, appeared with the
Roman reserve on the imperilled left wing. The excellent Campanian
cavalry, which fell on the flank and rear of the Gauls, turned the
scale; the Gauls fled, and at length the Samnites also gave way,
their general Egnatius falling at the gate of the camp. Nine thousand
Romans strewed the field of battle; but dearly as the victory was
purchased, it was worthy of such a sacrifice. The army of the
coalition was dissolved, and with it the coalition itself; Umbria
remained in the power of the Romans, the Gauls dispersed, the remnant
of the Samnites still in compact order retreated homeward through the
Abruzzi. Campania, which the Samnites had overrun during the Etruscan
war, was after its close re-occupied with little difficulty by the
Romans. Etruria sued for peace in the following year (460); Volsinii,
Perusia, Arretium, and in general all the towns that had joined the
league against Rome, promised a cessation of hostilities for four
hundred months.

Last Struggles of Samnium

But the Samnites were of a different mind; they prepared for their
hopeless resistance with the courage of free men, which cannot
compel success but may put it to shame. When the two consular armies
advanced into Samnium, in the year 460, they encountered everywhere
the most desperate resistance; in fact Marcus Atilius was discomfited
near Luceria, and the Samnites were able to penetrate into Campania
and to lay waste the territory of the Roman colony Interamna on the
Liris. In the ensuing year Lucius Papirius Cursor, the son of the
hero of the first Samnite war, and Spurius Carvilius, gave battle on
a great scale near Aquilonia to the Samnite army, the flower of which
- the 16,000 in white tunics - had sworn a sacred oath to prefer death
to flight. Inexorable destiny, however, heeds neither the oaths nor
the supplications of despair; the Roman conquered and stormed the
strongholds where the Samnites had sought refuge for themselves and
their property. Even after this great defeat the confederates still
for years resisted the ever-increasing superiority of the enemy with
unparalleled perseverance in their fastnesses and mountains, and still
achieved various isolated advantages. The experienced arm of the old
Rullianus was once more called into the field against them (462), and
Gavius Pontius, a son perhaps of the victor of Caudium, even gained
for his nation a last victory, which the Romans meanly enough avenged
by causing him when subsequently taken to be executed in prison (463).
But there was no further symptom of movement in Italy; for the war,
which Falerii began in 461, scarcely deserves such a name. The
Samnites doubtless turned with longing eyes towards Tarentum, which
alone was still in a position to grant them aid; but it held aloof.
The same causes as before occasioned its inaction - internal
misgovernment, and the passing over of the Lucanians once more to the
Roman party in the year 456; to which fell to be added a not unfounded
dread of Agathocles of Syracuse, who just at that time had reached the
height of his power and began to turn his views towards Italy.
About 455 the latter established himself in Corcyra whence Cleonymus
had been expelled by Demetrius Poliorcetes, and now threatened the
Tarentines from the Adriatic as well as from the Ionian sea.
The cession of the island to king Pyrrhus of Epirus in 459 certainly
removed to a great extent the apprehensions which they had cherished;
but the affairs of Corcyra continued to occupy the Tarentines - in the
year 464, for instance, they helped to protect Pyrrhus in possession
of the island against Demetrius - and in like manner Agathocles did not
cease to give the Tarentines uneasiness by his Italian policy. When
he died (465) and with him the power of the Syracusans in Italy went
to wreck, it was too late; Samnium, weary of the thirty-seven years'
struggle, had concluded peace in the previous year (464) with the
Roman consul Manius Curius Dentatus, and had in form renewed its
league with Rome. On this occasion, as in the peace of 450, no
disgraceful or destructive conditions were imposed on the brave people
by the Romans; no cessions even of territory seem to have taken place.
The political sagacity of Rome preferred to follow the path which it
had hitherto pursued, and to attach in the first place the Campanian
and Adriatic coast more and more securely to Rome before proceeding to
the direct conquest of the interior. Campania, indeed, had been long
in subjection; but the far-seeing policy of Rome found it needful, in
order to secure the Campanian coast, to establish two coast-fortresses
there, Minturnae and Sinuessa (459), the new burgesses of which were
admitted according to the settled rule in the case of maritime
colonies to the full citizenship of Rome. With still greater energy
the extension of the Roman rule was prosecuted in central Italy. As
the subjugation of the Aequi and Hernici was the immediate sequel of
the first Samnite war, so that of the Sabines followed on the end of
the second. The same general, who ultimately subdued the Samnites,
Manius Curius broke down in the same year (464) the brief and feeble
resistance of the Sabines and forced them to unconditional surrender.
A great portion of the subjugated territory was immediately taken into
possession of the victors and distributed to Roman burgesses, and
Roman subject-rights (-civitas sine suffragio-) were imposed on the
communities that were left - Cures, Reate, Amiternum, Nursia. Allied
towns with equal rights were not established here; on the contrary the
country came under the immediate rule of Rome, which thus extended as
far as the Apennines and the Umbrian mountains. Nor was it even now
restricted to the territory on Rome's side of the mountains; the last
war had shown but too clearly that the Roman rule over central Italy
was only secured, if it reached from sea to sea. The establishment
of the Romans beyond the Apennines begins with the laying out of the
strong fortress of Atria (Atri) in the year 465, on the northern slope
of the Abruzzi towards the Picenian plain, not immediately on the
coast and hence with Latin rights, but still near to the sea, and the
keystone of the mighty wedge separating northern and southern Italy.
Of a similar nature and of still greater importance was the founding
of Venusia (463), whither the unprecedented number of 20,000 colonists
was conducted. That city, founded at the boundary of Samnium, Apulia,
and Lucania, on the great road between Tarentum and Samnium, in an
uncommonly strong position, was destined as a curb to keep in check
the surrounding tribes, and above all to interrupt the communications
between the two most powerful enemies of Rome in southern Italy.
Beyond doubt at the same time the southern highway, which Appius
Claudius had carried as far as Capua, was prolonged thence to Venusia.
Thus, at the close of the Samnite wars, the Roman domain closely
compact - that is, consisting almost exclusively of communities with
Roman or Latin rights - extended on the north to the Ciminian Forest,
on the east to the Abruzzi and to the Adriatic, on the south as far as
Capua, while the two advanced posts, Luceria and Venusia, established
towards the east and south on the lines of communication of their
opponents, isolated them on every side. Rome was no longer merely the
first, but was already the ruling power in the peninsula, when towards
the end of the fifth century of the city those nations, which had been
raised to supremacy in their respective lands by the favour of the
gods and by their own capacity, began to come into contact in council
and on the battle-field; and, as at Olympia the preliminary victors
girt themselves for a second and more serious struggle, so on the
larger arena of the nations, Carthage, Macedonia, and Rome now
prepared for the final and decisive contest.

Notes for Book II Chapter VI

1. It may not be superfluous to mention that our knowledge Archidamus
and Alexander is derived from Greek annals, and that the synchronism
between these and the Roman is in reference to the present epoch only
approximately established. We must beware, therefore, of pursuing too
far into detail the unmistakable general connection between the events
in the west and those in the east of Italy.

2. These were not the inhabitants of Satricum near Antium (II. V.
League with The Hernici), but those of another Volscian town
constituted at that time as a Roman burgess-community without right
of voting, near Arpinum.

3. That a formal armistice for two years subsisted between the Romans
and Samnites in 436-437 is more than improbable.

4. The operations in the campaign of 537, and still more plainly the
formation of the highway from Arretium to Bononia in 567, show that
the road from Rome to Arretium had already been rendered serviceable
before that time. But it cannot at that period have been a Roman
military road, because, judging from its later appellation of the
"Cassian way," it cannot have been constructed as a -via consularis-
earlier than 583; for no Cassian appears in the lists of Roman consuls
and censors between Spurius Cassius, consul in 252, 261, and 268 - who
of course is out of the question - and Gaius Cassius Longinus, consul
in 583.


Struggle between Pyrrhus and Rome, and Union of Italy

Relations between the East and West

After Rome had acquired the undisputed mastery of the world, the
Greeks were wont to annoy their Roman masters by the assertion that
Rome was indebted for her greatness to the fever of which Alexander of
Macedonia died at Babylon on the 11th of June, 431. As it was not too
agreeable for them to reflect on the actual past, they were fond of
allowing their thoughts to dwell on what might have happened, had the
great king turned his arms - as was said to have been his intention at
the time of his death - towards the west and contested the Carthaginian
supremacy by sea with his fleet, and the Roman supremacy by land with
his phalanxes. It is not impossible that Alexander may have cherished
such thoughts; nor is it necessary to resort for an explanation of
their origin to the mere difficulty which an autocrat, who is fond
of war and is well provided with soldiers and ships, experiences in
setting limits to his warlike career. It was an enterprise worthy of
a Greek great king to protect the Siceliots against Carthage and the
Tarentines against Rome, and to put an end to piracy on either sea;
and the Italian embassies from the Bruttians, Lucanians, and
Etruscans,(1) that along with numerous others made their appearance at
Babylon, afforded him sufficient opportunities of becoming acquainted
with the circumstances of the peninsula and of entering into relations
with it. Carthage with its many connections in the east could not but
attract the attention of the mighty monarch, and it was probably one
of his designs to convert the nominal sovereignty of the Persian king
over the Tyrian colony into a real one: it was not for nothing that
a Phoenician spy was found in the retinue of Alexander. Whether,
however, these ideas were dreams or actual projects, the king died

Online LibraryTheodor MommsenThe History of Rome (Volumes 1-5) → online text (page 42 of 216)