Text #9226"Roman-Latin Wars", in .
In the last years of the 380s Praeneste emerged as the leading Latin city in opposition to Rome. In terms of territory Praeneste was the third largest city in Latium, but between 499 and 383 Praeneste is wholly absent from the sources and much of the fighting against the Aequi by Rome and the Latin League appear to have taken place to the south of her territory. Modern historians have therefore proposed that Praeneste was overrun or at least came to some kind of understanding with the Aequi. If this was the case Praeneste would not have been part of the Latin League for most of the 5th century. The end of the Aequan threat by the early 4th century freed Praeneste to move against Rome.
Livy records that in 383 Lanuvium, which had so far been loyal to Rome, rebelled. In Rome, on the advice of the senate, the tribes unanimous declared for war on Velitrae after five commissioners have been appointed to distribute the Pomptine territory and three to settle a colony at Nepete. However, there was pestilence in Rome throughout the year and no campaign was launched.
Among the revolting colonists a peace party was in favour of asking Rome for pardon, but the war party continued hold the population’s favour and a raid was launched into Roman territory effectively ending all talk of peace. There was also a rumour that Praeneste had revolted, and the peoples of Tusculum, Gabii and Labici complained that their territories had been invaded, but the Roman senate refused to believe these charges. In 382 consular tribunes Sp. and L. Papirius marched against Velitrae, their four colleagues being left to defend Rome. The Romans defeated the Veliternian army, which included a large number of Praenestine auxiliaries, but refrained from storming the place, doubting whether a storm would be successful and not wanting to destroy the colony. Based on the report of the tribunes, Rome declared war on Praeneste.
Of all the old Latin towns, Lanuvium was closest to Pomptine plain, it is therefore no surprise that she now joined the struggle against Rome. Rumours of wars about to break out are common in Livy’s writings, but of doubtful historicity; such rumours would have been easy inventions for the annalists seeking to bring life to their narratives. However some of them may be based on authentic records, if this is the case here, it may represent an attempt by Praeneste to win over the Latin cities still loyal to Rome. While the details provided by Livy for the campaign of 382 are plausible, the original records likely only stated there was fighting against Praeneste and Velitrae.