Society / Politics

375BC± 5y , Duration 5Y

Event #5288: Period of anarchy in Rome

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Text #9232

"Roman-Volscian War", in Wikipedia.

According to traditional Roman chronology the years 375-371 were supposed to have been a period of Anarchy in which no curule magistrates elected at Rome. Modern historians consider the Anarchy to have lasted no longer than a year, if it existed at all, and attribute the extension into five years being due to ancient historians’ attempts to synchronize Roman and Greek history. The apparent break six year break in Roman-Volscian affairs after 377 is therefore deceptive. Ancient narratives

Livy chose to focus his account of the years 376-367 on internal political struggles at Rome leading up to the decision in 367 to replace the consular tribunes with two consuls as Rome’s chief, annually elected, magistrates, and the opening of this office to plebeians; making only make passing references to Rome’s external affairs. He writes that in 370 the Velitraeans raided Roman territory and attacked Tusculum. A Roman relief army broke the siege of Tusculum and in return laid siege to Velitrae. This siege is then supposed to have lasted a number of years in which nothing worth mention took place, until it ended with Roman success in 367. According to Plutarch, Velitrae surrendered to Camillus, dictator for the fifth time in 367, without a struggle. The capture of Velitrae is Camillus’ last recorded exploit. He would fall victim to a plague that ravaged Rome in 365.

That Velitrae should have been under continuous siege for several years is unlikely. More probably she was the target of series of annual campaigns until finally taken. After this defeat Livy makes no mention of conflict between Velitrae and Rome until 357.


Cornell, T. J. (1995). The Beginnings of Rome- Italy and Rome from the Bronze Age to the Punic Wars (c. 1000-264 BC). New York: Routledge. ISBN 978-0-415-01596-7.
Forsythe, Gary (2005). A Critical History of Early Rome. Berkeley: University of California Press. ISBN 0-520-24991-7.
Oakley, S. P. (1997). A Commentary on Livy Books VI-X, Volume 1 Introduction and Book VI. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-815277-9.
Oakley, S. P. (1998). A Commentary on Livy Books VI-X, Volume II: Books VII-VII. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-815226-2.

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