How the collision arose, and how it was decided, tradition does not tell: the battle of the three Roman with the three Alban brothers born at one birth is nothing but a personification of the struggle between two powerful and closely related cantons, of which the Roman at least was triune. We know nothing at all beyond the naked fact of the subjugation and destruction of Alba by Rome.(3)
It is not improbable, although wholly a matter of conjecture, that, at the same period when Rome was establishing herself on the Anio and on the Alban hills, Praeneste, which appears at a later date as mistress of eight neighbouring townships, Tibur, and others of the Latin communities were similarly occupied in enlarging their territory and laying the foundations of their subsequent far from inconsiderable power.
Treatment Of The Earliest Acquisitons
We feel the want of accurate information as to the legal character and legal effects of these early Latin conquests, still more than we miss the records of the wars in which they were won. Upon the whole it is not to be doubted that they were treated in accordance with the system of incorporation, out of which the tripartite community of Rome had arisen; excepting that the cantons who were compelled by arms to enter the combination did not, like the primitive three, preserve some sort of relative independence as separate regions in the new united community, but became so entirely merged in the general whole as to be no longer traced.(4) However far the power of a Latin canton might extend, in the earliest times it tolerated no political centre except the proper capital; and still less founded independent settlements, such as the Phoenicians and the Greeks established, thereby creating in their colonies clients for the time being and future rivals to the mother city. In this respect, the treatment which Ostia experienced from Rome deserves special notice: the Romans could not and did not wish to prevent the rise -de facto- of a town at that spot, but they allowed the place no political independence, and accordingly they did not bestow on those who settled there any local burgess-rights, but merely allowed them to retain, if they already possessed, the general burgess-rights of Rome.(5) This principle also determined the fate of the weaker cantons, which by force of arms or by voluntary submission became subject to a stronger. The stronghold of the canton was razed, its domain was added to the domain of the conquerors, and a new home was instituted for the inhabitants as well as for their gods in the capital of the victorious canton. This must not be understood absolutely to imply a formal transportation of the conquered inhabitants to the new capital, such as was the rule at the founding of cities in the East. The towns of Latium at this time can have been little more than the strongholds and weekly markets of the husbandmen: it was sufficient in general that the market and the seat of justice should be transferred to the new capital. That even the temples often remained at the old spot is shown in the instances of Alba and of Caenina, towns which must still after their destruction have retained some semblance of existence in connection with religion. Even where the strength of the place that was razed rendered it really necessary to remove the inhabitants, they would be frequently settled, with a view to the cultivation of the soil, in the open hamlets of their old domain. That the conquered, however, were not unfrequently compelled either as a whole or in part to settle in their new capital, is proved, more satisfactorily than all the several stories from the legendary period of Latium could prove it, by the maxim of Roman state-law, that only he who had extended the boundaries of the territory was entitled to advance the wall of the city (the -pomerium-). Of course the conquered, whether transferred or not, were ordinarily compelled to occupy the legal position of clients;(6) but particular individuals or clans occasionally had burgess-rights or, in other words, the patriciate conferred upon them. In the time of the empire there were still recognized Alban clans which were introduced among the burgesses of Rome after the fall of their native seat; amongst these were the Julii, Servilii, Quinctilii, Cloelii, Geganii, Curiatii, Metilii: the memory of their descent was preserved by their Alban family shrines, among which the sanctuary of the -gens- of the Julii at Bovillae again rose under the empire into great repute.
This centralizing process, by which several small communities became absorbed in a larger one, of course was far from being an idea specially Roman. Not only did the development of Latium and of the Sabellian stocks hinge upon the distinction between national centralization and cantonal independence; the case was the same with the development of the Hellenes. Rome in Latium and Athens in Attica arose out of a like amalgamation of many cantons into one state; and the wise Thales suggested a similar fusion to the hard-pressed league of the Ionic cities as the only means of saving their nationality. But Rome adhered to this principle of unity with more consistency, earnestness, and success than any other Italian canton; and just as the prominent position of Athens in Hellas was the effect of her early centralization, so Rome was indebted for her greatness solely to the same system, in her case far more energetically applied,
The Hegemony Of Rome Over Latium--Alba
While the conquests of Rome in Latium may be mainly regarded as direct extensions of her territory and people presenting the same general features, a further and special significance attached to the conquest of Alba. It was not merely the problematical size and presumed riches of Alba that led tradition to assign a prominence so peculiar to its capture. Alba was regarded as the metropolis of the Latin confederacy, and had the right of presiding among the thirty communities that belonged to it. The destruction of Alba, of course, no more dissolved the league itself than the destruction of Thebes dissolved the Boeotian confederacy;(7) but, in entire consistency with the strict application of the -ius privatum- which was characteristic of the Latin laws of war, Rome now claimed the presidency of the league as the heir-at-law of Alba.