The Latin League and the Unification of Italy

Italian Hegemony
Ivory plaque from Palestrina
probably dates to the first half
of the third century BCE
Evidence for appearance of
Roman soldiers in this period
from T. Cornell and J. Matthews,
Atlas of the Roman World, pg. 37
Romans, Latins, and Common Enemies
Aftermath of Expulsion of Etruscan Monarchy
 Battle at Lake Regillus: 496 BCE
 Cassian Treaty (foedus Cassianum): mutual
defensive alliance between Rome and all Latins
based on equality: 493 BCE
Etruscans to the North
 Siege of Veii: 406-396 BCE (10 years; Trojan War as
“Hill Peoples”: Aequi (northeast); Volsci
(southeast); Sabines (northeast): 500-350 BCE
Livy on the Ransom of Rome
“Thereupon the Senate met, and instructed the tribunes of the
soldiers to arrange the terms. Then, at a conference between
Lucius Sulpicius the tribune and the Gallic chieftain Brennus,
the affair was settled, and a thousand pounds of gold was agreed
on as the price of a people that was destined presently to rule the
nations. The transaction was a foul disgrace in itself, but an
insult was added: the weights brought by the Gauls were
dishonest, and on the tribune’s objecting, the insolent Gaul
added his sword to the weight, and a saying intolerable to Roman
ears was heard--Woe to the conquered!”
Livy, 5.48.8-9
Gallic Catastrophe: 390-386 BCE
Battle at the Allia:
 10,000-15,000
Roman casualties
Vae victis! Rome ransomed
Recovery: The “Servian” wall encloses
some 1,000 acres
Local and Distant Troubles
Latin towns assert independence (Tusculum,
Praeneste, Tibur)
Rome reasserts authority
Compels Latin towns to rejoin Confederacy
by 358 BCE
The Samnite Wars: Apennine “Hill People”
move into Campania (Capua, Cumae)
Latin Wars of the Fourth Century
Latin Rebellion in 343 BCE (note that this
rebellion occurred at a time when Rome was
preoccupied with events in the south =
Samnite raids of the lowlands in Campania)
Rebellion crushed and Latin League dissolved
in 338 BCE (with the aid of the Samnites,
temporarily at peace with Rome)
Policy of Incorporation: municipium and
civitas sine suffragio
“In the years immediately preceding 354 [the year of a Romano-Samnite nonaggression pact] both Romans and Samnites had been extending the radius of their
influence. In the fifth century the Romans, with the cooperation of their allies, the
Latins and Hernici, had repelled the various assailants of Latium: Etruscans, Sabines,
Aequi, Volsci [cf. Polybius, 1.6]. In the fourth century they were busy rolling back the
last-named, the most persistent and stubborn of all the non-Latin speaking intruders.
The Samnites, for their part, had been using the device of the Sacred Spring from time
immemorial to relieve the pressure of population on their own poor land by pouring into
the lands of their neighbours. Thus, they had spilled out into Picenum, the Fretani
country, Northern Apulia, Lucania, and Campania. In the fourth century their target
was the area to the west of Samnium, where the valley of the River Liris beckoned.”
“By the mid-fourth century…the valley of the Middle Liris was rapidly becoming the
mecca towards which two powerful peoples were inflexibly headed.”
E.T. Salmon, Samnium and the Samnites (Cambridge, 1967) pp.
189 and 191
Gate at
from Salmon,
Samnium and
Roman Roads:
link Roman and
Latin sites.
into Liris valley a
provocation to the
Samnite Wars
Capua appeals to Rome for assistance in 343
First Samnite War: 343-341 BCE
Second Samnite War: 327-304 BCE
Provoked by Latin colonies in central Italy?
 Rome builds the via Valeria across the peninsula
and the via Appia to Capua (132 miles)
Third Samnite War: 298-290 BCE--Last gasp
Samnite effort
“Conflict arose between them over an area on
which they had not reached prior agreement.
Northern Campania became the bone of
contention: it was a fertile and populous
region, and neither side could afford to let the
other get control of it.”
E.T. Salmon, Samnium and the Samnites
(Cambridge, 1967) pg. 194
Blue = Latini; Red = Samnite; Caudine Forks marked (ca. 350 BCE)
Disaster at the Caudine Forks: 321 BCE
“First the consuls, little better than half-naked, were
sent under the yoke, then their subordinates were
humbled, each in the order of his rank; and then, one
after another, the several legions. The enemy under
arms stood on either side, reviling them and mocking
them; many they actually threatened with the sword,
and some, whose resentment of the outrage showing
too plainly in their faces gave their conquerors offence,
they wounded or slew outright”
Livy, 9.6.1-2
Battle at Sentinum in 295 BCE
“This ‘battle of the nations’, as it has been
called, settled the destiny of peninsular Italy.
Years of hard fighting still lay ahead for
Rome, but henceforth she could deal with her
enemies one by one and she was more than a
match for them singly.”
Samnium and the Samnites, pg. 268
Bronze statuette
of a Samnite
from Salmon,
Samnium and the
A Patchwork Confederation
Political Statuses of Italian States
Latin Peoples all provide troops
 civitas optimo iure: full Roman citizenship (Tusculum)
 Independent allies with equal treaties (foedera aequa);
mutual defense pacts (Tibur, Praeneste)
 Half-way status (civitas sine suffragio) = Roman rights of
legal contract (commercium) and intermarriage
(conubium), but no vote.
Non-Latins = allies (socii); also provide troops (but some nonLatin peoples given municipal status)
All treaties bilateral--no state allowed to make an alliance with
any state but Rome
Roman policy: support local aristocracies
Black = Roman/Latin
Horizontals = Roman
gains, 298-263 BCE
Verticals = Roman
in 298 BCE
Dots = Roman allies,
298-263 BCE
Cross-hatch =
241-218 BCE
from M. Grant,
History of
Rome, pg. 64
Extension of Roman Power
Roman Colonies: Strategic places along the
Italian western coast
Strategic Latin Colonies in Central Italy (e.g.
Fregellae, Interamna, Sora, Cales, Suesse
Some 50,000 square miles after 300 BCE
Key to following map: dark red = civitas
optimo iure; red = civitas sine suffragio;
lavender = Latin colonies; bright purple =
old Latins and Hernici assimilated to
Latins; yellow = socii