Text #9224

"Roman-Latin Wars", in Wikipedia.

In 390 a Gaulish warband first defeated the Roman army at the Battle of Allia and then sacked Rome. According to Livy the Latins and Hernici, after a hundred years of loyal friendship with Rome, used this opportunity to break their treaty with Rome in 389. In his narrative of the years that followed, Livy describes a steady deterioration of relations between Rome and the Latins. In 387 the situation with Latins and Hernici was brought up in the Roman senate, but the matter was dropped when news reached Rome that Etruria was in arms. In 386 the Antiates invaded the Pomptine territory and it was reported in Rome that the Latins had sent warriors to assist them. The Latins claimed they had not sent aid to the Antiates, but had not prohibited individuals from volunteering for such service. A Roman army under Marcus Furius Camillus and P. Valerius Potitus Poplicola met the Antiates at Satricum. In addition to Volscians the Antiates had brought a large number of Latins and Hernicans to the field. In the battle that followed the Romans were victorious and the Volscians were slaughtered in great number. The Latins and Hernicans now abandoned the Volscians. and Satricum fell to Camillus. The Romans demanded to know from the Latins and Hernici why for the last few years’ wars they had not furnished any contingents. They claimed not to have been able to supply troops due to fear of Volscian incursions. The Roman senate considered this defence to be insufficient, but that time was not right for war.

In 385 the Romans appointed Aulus Cornelius Cossus Dictator to deal with the Volscian war. The Dictator marched his army into the Pomptine territory which he had heard was being invaded by the Volscians. The Volscian army was once again swelled by Latins and Hernici, including contingents from the Roman colonies of Circeii and Velitrae, and in the battle that followed the Romans were once again victorious. The majority of the captives are found to be Hernici and Latins, including men of high rank, which the Romans take as proof that their states are formally assisting the Volscians. However the sedition of Marcus Manlius Capitolinus prevented Rome from declaring war on the Latins. When the Latins, Hernici, and the colonists of Circeii and Velitrae tried to persuade the Romans to release those of their countrymen who had been made prisoner, they were refused. That same year Satricum was colonized with 2000 Roman citizens, each to receive two and a half jugera of land.

Some modern historians have questioned Livy’s portrayal of the Latins as rebelling from Rome. Cornell (1995) believes that there was no armed uprising of Latins, rather the military alliance between Rome and the other Latin towns seems to have been allowed to wither. In the preceding decades Rome had grown considerably in power, especially with the conquest of Veii, and the Romans might now have preferred freedom of action to the obligations of the alliance. Also, several Latin towns appear to have remain allied to Rome, based on later events these would have included at least Tusculum and Lanuvium to which Cornell adds Aricia, Lavinium and Ardea. The colonies of Circeii and Velitrae are likely to have remained partly inhabited by Volsci, which helps explain their rebellion, but these two settlements more than any other Latin towns would have felt vulnerable to Rome’s aggressive designs for the Pomptine region.

Division among the Latins is also the stance taken by Oakley (1997) who substantially accept Cornell’s analysis. The continued loyalty of Ardea, Aricia, Gabii, Labicum, Lanuvium and Lavinium would help explain how Roman armies could operate in the Pomptine region. In their writings on the early Roman Republic Livy and Dionysius of Halicarnassus often mention men from states formally at peace with Rome fighting in the armies of Rome’s enemies in a private capacity. Though this might genuinely reflect Italic warfare of this era, Livy appears here to be using it as a literary motif to bring continuity to his narrative of the 380s.

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