Text #9212"Lucius Cornelius Scipio Barbatus; Battle of Volterra", in .
Lucius Cornelius Scipio Barbatus rose to preeminence as a patrician officer of the Roman Republic during the crucial period of the Third Samnite War, when Rome finally defeated a coalition of neighboring states: the Etruscans, Umbrians and Samnites assisted by the Gauls, thereby extending its leadership and sovereignty over most of Italy. A member of the noble Roman family of Scipiones, he was the father of Lucius Cornelius Scipio and Gnaeus Cornelius Scipio Asina and great-grandfather of Scipio Africanus.
Prior to 298 BC war had already broken out between Rome and Etruria when the Etruscans decided to invade Rome in combination with some Gallic allies they had purchased. The planned attack was a violation of a former treaty with Rome. The Gauls reneged and the Etruscans found themselves facing a Roman army under consul Titus Manlius who however died after a fall from his horse in a display of horsemanship. The election held to replace him made Marcus Valerius Corvus consul. He joined the army in Etruria and began to waste the country hoping to provoke the Etruscans to battle, which they refused.
In 298 BC Appius Claudius followed by Publius Sulpicius became interreges for reasons unknown. Sulpicius held an election, which brought Barbatus and Gnaeus Fulvius Maximus Centumatus into consular office. The Lucanians spoke before the Senate saying that the Samnites were devastating their country and asking for the protection of Rome in exchange for a treaty and hostages. The Senate assented after a few moments’ deliberation and dispatched heralds to tell the Samnites to withdraw. Encountering the Samnite army they were told that if they spoke in Samnium they would never leave there alive; consequently, the Senate declared war on Samnium. In a casting of lots as to which consul would take which war Barbatus won command of the army in Etruria while Centumatus undertook the initial campaign in the Third Samnite War.
The Etruscans attacked immediately before Volterra. A day-long battle brought no victory but in the night the Etruscans withdrew to their fortified cities leaving their camp and equipment to the Romans. Encamping his army at the Etrurian border Barbatus led a lightly armed force in the devastation of the countryside.