The only regret was that the three Hernican communities next in importance to Anagnia, Aletrium, Verulae, and Ferentinum, had not also revolted; for, as they courteously declined the suggestion that they should voluntarily enter into the bond of Roman citizenship and there existed no pretext for compelling them to do so, the Romans were obliged not only to respect their autonomy, but also to allow to them even the right of assembly and of intermarriage, and in this way still to leave a shadow of the old Hernican confederacy. No such considerations fettered their action in that portion of the Volscian country which had hitherto been held by the Samnites. There Arpinum and Frusino became subject, the latter town was deprived of a third of its domain, and on the upper Liris in addition to Fregellae the Volscian town of Sora, which had previously been garrisoned, was now permanently converted into a Roman fortress and occupied by a legion of 4000 men. In this way the old Volscian territory was completely subdued, and became rapidly Romanized. The region which separated Samnium from Etruria was penetrated by two military roads, both of which were secured by new fortresses. The northern road, which afterwards became the Flaminian, covered the line of the Tiber; it led through Ocriculum, which was in alliance with Rome, to Narnia, the name which the Romans gave to the old Umbrian fortress Nequinum when they settled a military colony there (455). The southern, afterwards the Valerian, ran along the Fucine lake by way of the just mentioned fortresses of Carsioli and Alba. The small tribes within whose bounds these colonies were instituted, the Umbrians who obstinately defended Nequinum, the Aequians who once more assailed Alba, and the Marsians who attacked Carsioli, could not arrest the course of Rome: the two strong curb-fortresses were inserted almost without hindrance between Samnium and Etruria. We have already mentioned the great roads and fortresses instituted for permanently securing Apulia and above all Campania: by their means Samnium was further surrounded on the east and west with the net of Roman strongholds. It is a significant token of the comparative weakness of Etruria that it was not deemed necessary to secure the passes through the Ciminian Forest in a similar mode--by a highway and corresponding fortresses. The former frontier fortress of Sutrium continued to be in this quarter the terminus of the Roman military line, and the Romans contented themselves with having the road leading thence to Arretium kept in a serviceable state for military purposes by the communities through whose territories it passed.(4)

Renewed Outbreak Of The Samnite-Etruscan War-- Junction Of The Troops Of The Coalition In Etruria

The high-spirited Samnite nation perceived that such a peace was more ruinous than the most destructive war; and, what was more, it acted accordingly. The Celts in northern Italy were just beginning to bestir themselves again after a long suspension of warfare; moreover several Etruscan communities there were still in arms against the Romans, and brief armistices alternated in that quarter with vehement but indecisive conflicts. All central Italy was still in ferment and partly in open insurrection; the fortresses were still only in course of construction; the way between Etruria and Samnium was not yet completely closed. Perhaps it was not yet too late to save freedom; but, if so, there must be no delay; the difficulty of attack increased, the power of the assailants diminished with every year by which the peace was prolonged. Five years had scarce elapsed since the contest ended, and all the wounds must still have been bleeding which the twenty-two years' war had inflicted on the peasantry of Samnium, when in the year 456 the Samnite confederacy renewed the struggle. The last war had been decided in favour of Rome mainly through the alliance of Lucania with the Romans and the consequent standing aloof of Tarentum. The Samnites, profiting by that lesson, now threw themselves in the first instance with all their might on the Lucanians, and succeeded in bringing their party in that quarter to the helm of affairs, and in concluding an alliance between Samnium and Lucania. Of course the Romans immediately declared war; the Samnites had expected no other issue. It is a significant indication of the state of feeling, that the Samnite government informed the Roman envoys that it was not able to guarantee their inviolability, if they should set foot on Samnite ground.

The war thus began anew (456), and while a second army was fighting in Etruria, the main Roman army traversed Samnium and compelled the Lucanians to make peace and send hostages to Rome. The following year both consuls were able to proceed to Samnium; Rullianus conquered at Tifernum, his faithful comrade in arms, Publius Decius Mus, at Maleventum, and for five months two Roman armies encamped in the land of the enemy. They were enabled to do so, because the Tuscan states had on their own behalf entered into negotiations for peace with Rome. The Samnites, who from the beginning could not but see that their only chance of victory lay in the combination of all Italy against Rome, exerted themselves to the utmost to prevent the threatened separate peace between Etruria and Rome; and when at last their general, Gellius Egnatius, offered to bring aid to the Etruscans in their own country, the Etruscan federal council in reality agreed to hold out and once more to appeal to the decision of arms. Samnium made the most energetic efforts to place three armies simultaneously in the field, the first destined for the defence of its own territory, the second for an invasion of Campania, the third and most numerous for Etruria; and in the year 458 the last, led by Egnatius himself, actually reached Etruria in safety through the Marsian and Umbrian territories, with whose inhabitants there was an understanding. Meanwhile the Romans were capturing some strong places in Samnium and breaking the influence of the Samnite party in Lucania; they were not in a position to prevent the departure of the army led by Egnatius. When information reached Rome that the Samnites had succeeded in frustrating all the enormous efforts made to sever the southern from the northern Italians, that the arrival of the Samnite bands in Etruria had become the signal for an almost universal rising against Rome, and that the Etruscan communities were labouring with the utmost zeal to get their own forces ready for war and to take into their pay Gallic bands, every nerve was strained also in Rome; the freedmen and the married were formed into cohorts--it was felt on all hands that the decisive crisis was near.

Italian Books
Theodor Mommsen
Classic Literature Library

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