About this period their levy amounted to 30,000 infantry and 4000 cavalry. Towards the end of the fourth century mention first occurs of the separate confederacy of the Bruttii,(19) who had detached themselves from the Lucanians--not, like the other Sabellian stocks, as a colony, but through a quarrel --and had become mixed up with many foreign elements. The Greeks of Lower Italy tried to resist the pressure of the barbarians; the league of the Achaean cities was reconstructed in 361; and it was determined that, if any of the allied towns should be assailed by the Lucanians, all should furnish contingents, and that the leaders of contingents which failed to appear should suffer the punishment of death. But even the union of Magna Graecia no longer availed; for the ruler of Syracuse, Dionysius the Elder, made common cause with the Italians against his countrymen. While Dionysius wrested from the fleets of Magna Graecia the mastery of the Italian seas, one Greek city after another was occupied or annihilated by the Italians. In an incredibly short time the circle of flourishing cities was destroyed or laid desolate. Only a few Greek settlements, such as Neapolis, succeeded with difficulty, and more by means of treaties than by force of arms, in preserving at least their existence and their nationality. Tarentum alone remained thoroughly independent and powerful, maintaining its ground in consequence of its more remote position and its preparation for war--the result of its constant conflicts with the Messapians. Even that city, however, had constantly to fight for its existence with the Lucanians, and was compelled to seek for alliances and mercenaries in the mother-country of Greece.
About the period when Veii and the Pomptine plain came into the hands of Rome, the Samnite hordes were already in possession of all Lower Italy, with the exception of a few unconnected Greek colonies, and of the Apulo-Messapian coast. The Greek Periplus, composed about 418, sets down the Samnites proper with their "five tongues" as reaching from the one sea to the other; and specifies the Campanians as adjoining them on the Tyrrhene sea to the north, and the Lucanians to the south, amongst whom in this instance, as often, the Bruttii are included, and who already had the whole coast apportioned among them from Paestum on the Tyrrhene, to Thurii on the Ionic sea. In fact to one who compares the achievements of the two great nations of Italy, the Latins and the Samnites, before they came into contact, the career of conquest on the part of the latter appears far wider and more splendid than that of the former. But the character of their conquests was essentially different. From the fixed urban centre which Latium possessed in Rome the dominion of the Latin stock spread slowly on all sides, and lay within limits comparatively narrow; but it planted its foot firmly at every step, partly by founding fortified towns of the Roman type with the rights of dependent allies, partly by Romanizing the territory which it conquered. It was otherwise with Samnium. There was in its case no single leading community and therefore no policy of conquest. While the conquest of the Veientine and Pomptine territories was for Rome a real enlargement of power, Samnium was weakened rather than strengthened by the rise of the Campanian cities and of the Lucanian and Bruttian confederacies; for every swarm, which had sought and found new settlements, thenceforward pursued a path of its own.
Relations Between The Samnites And The Greeks
The Samnite tribes filled a disproportionately large space, while yet they showed no disposition to make it thoroughly their own. The larger Greek cities, Tarentum, Thurii, Croton, Metapontum, Heraclea, Rhegium, and Neapolis, although weakened and often dependent, continued to exist; and the Hellenes were tolerated even in the open country and in the smaller towns, so that Cumae for instance, Posidonia, Laus, and Hipponium, still remained--as the Periplus already mentioned and coins show--Greek cities even under Samnite rule. Mixed populations thus arose; the bi-lingual Bruttii, in particular, included Hellenic as well as Samnite elements and even perhaps remains of the ancient autochthones; in Lucania and Campania also similar mixtures must to a lesser extent have taken place.
The Samnite nation, moreover, could not resist the dangerous charm of Hellenic culture; least of all in Campania, where Neapolis early entered into friendly intercourse with the immigrants, and where the sky itself humanized the barbarians. Nola, Nuceria, and Teanum, although having a purely Samnite population, adopted Greek manners and a Greek civic constitution; in fact the indigenous cantonal form of constitution could not possibly subsist under these altered circumstances. The Samnite cities of Campania began to coin money, in part with Greek inscriptions; Capua became by its commerce and agriculture the second city in Italy in point of size--the first in point of wealth and luxury. The deep demoralization, in which, according to the accounts of the ancients, that city surpassed all others in Italy, is especially reflected in the mercenary recruiting and in the gladiatorial sports, both of which pre-eminently flourished in Capua. Nowhere did recruiting officers find so numerous a concourse as in this metropolis of demoralized civilization; while Capua knew not how to save itself from the attacks of the aggressive Samnites, the warlike Campanian youth flocked forth in crowds under self-elected -condottteri-, especially to Sicily. How deeply these soldiers of fortune influenced by their enterprises the destinies of Italy, we shall have afterwards to show; they form as characteristic a feature of Campanian life as the gladiatorial sports which likewise, if they did not originate, were at any rate carried to perfection in Capua. There sets of gladiators made their appearance even during banquets; and their number was proportioned to the rank of the guests invited.