Text #9231

"Roman-Volscian War", in Wikipedia.

According to Livy in 377 the Volsci and Latins united their forces at Satricum. The Roman army, commanded by consular tribunes P. Valerius Potitus Poplicola (the same Valerius who had commanded with Camillus against the Volsci in 386) and L. Aemilius Mamercinus, marched against them. The battle that followed was interrupted on the first day by a rainstorm. On the second the Latin resisted the Romans for some time, being familiar with their tactics, but a cavalry charge disrupted their ranks and when the Roman infantry followed up with a fresh attack they were routed. The Volsci and Latins retreated first to Satricum and thence to Antium. The Romans pursued, but lacked the equipment to lay siege to Antium. After a quarrel whether to continue the war or sue for peace, the Latin forces departed and the Antiates surrendered their city to the Romans. In fury the Latins set fire to Satricum and burned the whole city down except the temple of Mater Matuta - a voice coming from the temple is said to have threatened terrible punishment if the fire was not kept away from the shrine.

Casting the blame on the commanders rather than the soldiers, as Livy does in his description of the Roman defeat in 379, is a common theme in his writings. Livy’s summary treatment of the 378 campaign suggest that there were no major Roman successes that year. Frequently mentioned in the Volscian wars of the 5th century, Ecetra appears here for the last time in recorded history. Modern historians have not been able to securely determine the location of this Volscian town.

Mater Matuta was a deity originally connected with the early morning light. The temple at Satricum was the chief centre of her cult. However, Livy also records the burning of Satricum, except the temple of Mater Matuta, in 346, this time by the Romans. Modern historians agree that this twice burning of Satricum in 377 and 346 is a doublet. Beloch, believing that the Romans would not have recorded a Latin attack on Satricum, considered the burning in 377 a retrojection of the events of 346. Oakley (1997) takes the opposite view, believing that the ancient historians are less likely to have invented the burning by the Latins than the burning by the Romans. Though the twice miraculous saving of the temple is discarded as a doublet, it does not automatically follow that hotly contested Satricum could not have been captured both in 377 and 346. Livy records the recolonized of Satricum by the Volsci in 348, but this is unlikely to be historical, if Satricum was destroyed by the Latins, it must have been soon have been reoccupied.

Judged by the foundation of colonies and land allotments in the Pomptine region, it appears that by this time the Volsci no longer posed a serious threat to Roman power. After two decades of successful conquest and consolidation, Rome now entered an era of internal struggle and political reform.

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