Text #9786

Livy. History of Rome. Vol. 1
  1. In the consulship of Servius Sulpicius and1 Manius Tullius nothing worthy of note occurred. They were succeeded by Titus Aebutius and Gaius Vetusius. [2] During their year of office Fidenae was besieged, Crustumeria taken; Praeneste went over from the Latins to the Romans, and it was no longer possible to postpone the Latin war, which had now been smouldering for several years. [3] Aulus Postumius as dictator,2 and Titus Aebutius as master of the horse, set out with large forces of infantry and cavalry, and at Lake Regillus, in the territory of Tusculum, met the enemy’s advancing column. [4] The Romans had learned that the Tarquinii were with the Latin army, and were so enraged that they could not be withheld from instantly attacking, and the battle itself, in consequence of this report, was fought with a good deal more determination and bitterness than any other had been. [5] For the leaders were not only in the field to direct the engagement with their strategy, but joined battle and fought in their own persons. Almost none of the nobles on either side came off unscathed, except the Roman dictator. [6] Postumius was in the front rank encouraging his men and forming them, when Tarquinius Superbus, though now burdened with years and broken in strength, rode full-tilt against him. But the old man received a thrust in the side, and his followers rushed in and rescued him. [7] Similarly on the other wing, Aebutius, the master of the horse, charged Octavius Mamilius. But the Tusculan commander saw him coming, and he too spurred his horse to3 the encounter; [8] and so great was the force in their levelled lances as they met, that the arm of Aebutius was transfixed, while Mamilius was struck in the breast. [9] Mamilius was received by the Latins within their second line: Aebutius, being unable to manage a weapon with his wounded arm, retired from the battle. [10] The Latin leader, not a jot discouraged by his wound, urged on the fighting, and, because he saw that his men were in retreat, called up a cohort of Roman exiles, commanded by a son of Lucius Tarquinius,4 and these, fighting with greater fury on account of the loss of their property and native land, restored the battle for a while.

  2. When the Romans were now beginning to give way in that part of the field, Marcus Valerius, Publicola’s brother, espied the young Tarquinius, who was boldly inviting attack in the front rank of the exiles. [2] Valerius found in his brother’s glory an additional incentive, and resolving that the family which had the honour of expelling the tyrants should also gain the credit for their death, he dug his spurs into his charger and rode at Tarquinius with levelled spear. [3] Tarquinius drew back within the company of his followers to avoid his desperate antagonist. Valerius was plunging blindly into the exiles’ line when one of them attacked him in the flank and ran him through the body. But the rider’s wound did not check the career of his horse, and the dying Roman came down in a heap upon the ground with his arms upon him. [4] When the dictator Postumius perceived that so brave a soldier had fallen, that the exiles [5] were advancing boldly at the double, and that his troops were checked and were giving ground, he issued orders to his own cohort, a picked1 body of men which he kept about his person as a guard, that if they saw any Roman running away they should treat him as an enemy. [6] Being thus between two dangers, the Romans faced about to meet the foe, and the battle-line was formed again. The cohort of the dictator then entered the engagement for the first time. [7] With fresh strength and spirit they attacked the weary exiles and cut them to pieces. Then began another combat between leaders. The Latin general, perceiving that the cohort of the exiles was nearly cut off by the Roman dictator, took a few companies of his reserves and hurried them to the front. [8] As they came marching up, Titus Herminius, the lieutenant, caught sight of them, and in their midst, conspicuous in dress and accoutrements, he saw and recognized Mamilius. [9] Whereupon he hurled himself upon the enemy’s commander with so much more violence than the master of the horse had done a little before, that not only did he pierce Mamilius through the side and slay him with a single lunge, but in the act of stripping the body of his antagonist he was himself struck by a hostile javelin, and after being borne off in the moment of victory to the Roman camp, expired just as they began to dress his wound. [10] The dictator then dashed up to the knights and besought them, since the foot-soldiers were exhausted, to dismount and enter the fight. They obeyed: they leaped down from their horses, hastened to the front, and covered the front-rankers with their shields. [11] It restored at once the courage of the foot to see the young nobles on even terms with themselves and sharing in the danger. Then at last the Latins received a check, and their battle-line was2 forced to yield. [12] The knights had their horses brought up that they might be able to pursue the enemy, and they were followed by the infantry. Then the dictator, neglecting no help, divine or human, is said to have vowed a temple to Castor, and to have promised rewards to the soldiers who should be first and second to enter the camp of the enemy; [13] and so great was the ardour of the Romans, that with a single rush they routed their opponents and took their camp. Such was the battle at Lake Regillus. The dictator and his master of the horse returned to the City and triumphed.

  1. B.C. 500-499

  2. Postumius had not held the consulship, which in chap. xviii. 5 Livy stated to have been a necessary qualification for the dictatorship.

  3. B.C. 500-499

  4. Of the sons of Tarquinius, Sextus’s death is mentioned in I. lx. 2 and that of Arruns in II. vi. 9. This must therefore have been Titus (I. lvi. 6).

Text #9785

Livy. History of Rome. Vol. 1
  1. For the next three years [498-495] there was neither1 a stable peace nor war. The consuls Quintus Cloelius and Titus Larcius were followed by Aulus Sempronius and Marcus Minucius. [2] In the latter year a temple to Saturn was dedicated and the Saturnalia was established as a festal day.2 Next Aulus Postumius and Titus Verginius were made consuls. [3] It was not until this year, according to some authorities I have consulted, that the battle of Lake Regillus was fought. They say that Aulus Postumius, because his colleague was of doubtful loyalty, resigned the consulship, and was then made dictator. [4] One is involved in so many uncertainties regarding dates by the varying order of the magistrates in different lists that it is impossible to make out which consuls followed which, or what was done in each particular year, when not only events but even authorities are so shrouded in antiquity.

Text #9784

Rickard. "Battle of Lake Regillus, 499 or 496 B.C."


The battle of Lake Regillus (499 or 496 BC) was a narrow Roman victory over the Latin League early in the life of the Republic that helped to prevent the last of the kings of Rome from regaining his throne.

Rome under the kings may have dominated Latium, but the expulsion of the last of the kings and the campaign of Lars Porsenna allowed the cities of the Latin League to escape Roman control (if it had ever existed).

Livy is our main source for the events of the war between Rome and the Latin League, and even he admitted that the dates of the events couldn’t be accurately pinned down. In Livy’s account the war broke out during the consulships of T. Aebutius and C. Vetusius, but the Roman army at Lake Regullus was commanded by the Dictator Aulus Postumius and his master of horse T. Aebutius. By Livy’s time two different historical traditions existed, one dating the war to this first year and another placing it three years later. In later Roman history the appearance of a Dictator would indicate that there had been some sort of disaster, but in the 490s the Roman Republic was in its infancy, having only been proclaimed in 509 B.C., and the constitution was still evolving so that may not have been the case.

The Latin army was commanded by Octavius Mamilius of Tusculum, the son-in-law of the last Roman king. As well as the Latin troops it also contained a group of Roman exiles led by the young Lucius Tarquinius, while L. Tarquinius Superbus, the deposed last king of Rome was present with the army.

The battle was fought at Lake Regillus, close to Tusculum (to the south-east of Rome). According to Livy, who gives a detailed account of the battle, most of the senior officers on both sides were wounded. The deposed king saw the Roman dictator addressing his men and charged him on horseback. Roman troops intervened, wounding Tarquinius Superbus, who was taken to safety. On the other flank of the battle Aebutius clashed with Octavius Mamilius, and in the clash both men were wounded and forced to retreat. The Latins were now under severe pressure, and so Mamilius called in Lucius Tarquinius and the Roman exiles, who temporarily forced the Romans to retreat. An attempt by M. Valerius to restore the situation ended with his death, and the Romans were close to defeat.

Postumius responded by ordered his own bodyguard to attack any Roman troops who attempted to retreat. This restored the line, and when the Dictator’s bodyguard joined the fight the Roman exiles were almost surrounded. Mamilius responded by leading his reserves into the battle, but was killed in single combat with T. Herminius, who later died of his wounds.

Despite the death of their leader the Latins were still holding out, and so Postumius ordered the Roman cavalry to dismount and fight on foot. He also vowed to build a temple to Castor and Pollox, the cavalry gods if the battle was won (the temple was dedicated in 484 B.C.). According to a later Greek myth the gods themselves, mounted on white horses, helped the Romans to victory.

According to Livy the appearance of the Roman noble cavalry in the front ranks decided the battle. As the Latins began to retreat the cavalry remounted and charged, finally breaking the Latin line and also capturing their camp.

The battle of Lake Regillus didn’t end the war, but it does seem to have ended the fighting - Livy records three years of ‘neither settled peace nor open war’. The war finally ended with the signing of a treaty between Rome and the Latin League, traditionally dated to 493 B.C. (after the death of Tarquinius Superbus in exile). A summary of the terms of the treaty can be found in the works of Dionysius of Halicarnassus, written at a time when the original bronze pillar with the treaty text was still on display in Rome.

This was a treaty between equals. Rome and the Latin League agreed to form a defensive military alliance, to perpetual peace between the two parties, not to assist or give free passage to the enemies of the other and to split the spoils of any successful campaign equally. This alliance was probably forced on the two sides by the invasions of the Volsci and the Aequi, two Italic peoples who threatened to overrun Latium. It remained the basis of relationships between Rome and the Latins for the next century and a half, until the end of the Latin War.

Text #9220

"Roman-Latin Wars", in Wikipedia.

In 501 BC word reached Rome that thirty of the Latin cities had joined in league against Rome, at the instigation of Octavius Mamilius of Tusculum. Because of this (and also because of a dispute with the Sabines), Titus Lartius was appointed as Rome’s first dictator, with Spurius Cassius as his magister equitum.[8]

However war with the Latins did not come to pass until at least two years later.

In 499 BC, or possibly 496 BC, war broke out. At first Fidenae was besieged (although it is not clear by whom), Crustumerium was captured (again it is not clear by whom), and Praeneste defected to the Romans. Aulus Postumius was appointed dictator, with Titus Aebutius Elva as his magister equitum. With the Roman army, they marched into the Latin territory and were victorious at the Battle of Lake Regillus.

Text #9730

"Battle of Lake Regillus", in Wikipedia.

The Battle of Lake Regillus was a legendary Roman victory over the Latin League shortly after the establishment of the Roman Republic. The Latins were led by an elderly Lucius Tarquinius Superbus, the seventh and last King of Rome, who had been expelled in 509 BC, and his son-in-law, Octavius Mamilius, the dictator of Tusculum. The battle marked the final attempt of the Tarquins to reclaim their throne. According to legend, Castor and Pollux fought on the side of the Romans.

The threat of invasion by Rome’s former allies in Latium led to the appointment of Aulus Postumius Albus as dictator.

The year in which the battle occurred is unclear, and has been since ancient times. Livy places the battle in 499 BC, but says some of his sources also suggest the battle occurred during Postumius’ consulship in 496 BC. The other major source for this historical period, Dionysius of Halicarnassus also places the battle in 496 BC. Modern authors have also suggested 493 BC or 489 BC.

Lake Regillus was located in the relic of a volcanic crater between Rome and Tusculum. The lake was drained in the fourth century BC.

According to Livy, the Volsci (a neighbouring tribe to the south of Latium) had raised troops to send to the aid of the Latins against Rome, however the haste of the Roman dictator in joining battle meant that the Volscian forces did not arrive in time.

The dictator Postumius led the Roman infantry, while Titus Aebutius Elva was Master of the Horse. Tarquin was accompanied by his eldest and last remaining son, Titus. It was said that the presence of the Tarquinii caused the Romans to fight more passionately than in any previous battle.

Early in the battle, the king was injured attacking Postumius. The magister equitum charged at Mamilius, and both were wounded, Aebutius in the arm, and the Latin dictator in the chest. The magister equitum had to withdraw from the field, and direct his troops from a distance. The king’s soldiers, including many exiled Romans, began to overpower the republican forces, and the Romans suffered a setback when Marcus Valerius Volusus (consul in 505 BC) was killed by a spear while attacking Titus Tarquinius, but Postumius brought fresh troops from his own bodyguard, and halted the exiles’ progress.

Meanwhile, Titus Herminius Aquilinus, who had won fame fighting alongside Horatius at the Sublician bridge, and served as consul in 506 BC, engaged Mamilius, and slew him; but while attempting to strip his fallen enemy and claim the spoils, Herminius was killed by a javelin. As the outcome of the battle seemed in doubt, Postumius ordered the equites to dismount and attack on foot, forcing the Latins to retreat and capturing the Latin camp. Tarquin and the Latin army abandoned the field, and the result was a decisive Roman victory. Postumius and his army returned to Rome, where the dictator celebrated a triumph.

A popular legend reported that the Dioscuri, Castor and Pollux, fought alongside the Romans, transfigured as two young horsemen. Postumius ordered a temple built in their honour in the Roman Forum, in the place where they had watered their horses.

Text #9731

Editorial comment by Laura Knight-Jadczyk

The story is suspiciously similar to the account of the Battle of Plataea in 479 BC where there was an apparition of Athena claimed. See events #48 and #2647.

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