No resistance was encountered. Nevertheless Rome, by seizing the keys to her neighbour's house, had converted that neighbour into an adversary who, should he recover his power, or should a favourable opportunity occur, might be expected to know how to break the silence. Had the energetic and prudent king Antigonus Doson lived longer, he would have doubtless taken up the gauntlet which the Romans had flung down, for, when some years afterwards the dynast Demetrius of Pharos withdrew from the hegemony of Rome, prosecuted piracy contrary to the treaty in concert with the Istrians, and subdued the Atintanes whom the Romans had declared independent, Antigonus formed an alliance with him, and the troops of Demetrius fought along with the army of Antigonus at the battle of Sellasia (532). But Antigonus died (in the winter 533-4); and his successor Philip, still a boy, allowed the Consul Lucius Aemilius Paullus to attack the ally of Macedonia, to destroy his capital, and to drive him from his kingdom into exile (535).

Northern Italy

The mainland of Italy proper, south of the Apennines, enjoyed profound peace after the fall of Tarentum: the six days' war with Falerii (513) was little more than an interlude. But towards the north, between the territory of the confederacy and the natural boundary of Italy--the chain of the Alps--there still extended a wide region which was not subject to the Romans. What was regarded as the boundary of Italy on the Adriatic coast was the river Aesis immediately above Ancona. Beyond this boundary the adjacent properly Gallic territory as far as, and including, Ravenna belonged in a similar way as did Italy proper to the Roman alliance; the Senones, who had formerly settled there, were extirpated in the war of 471-2,(12) and the several townships were connected with Rome, either as burgess-colonies, like Sena Gallica,(13) or as allied towns, whether with Latin rights, like Ariminum,(14) or with Italian rights, like Ravenna. On the wide region beyond Ravenna as far as the Alps non-Italian peoples were settled. South of the Po the strong Celtic tribe of the Boii still held its ground (from Parma to Bologna); alongside of them, the Lingones on the east and the Anares on the west (in the region of Parma)--two smaller Celtic cantons presumably clients of the Boii-- peopled the plain. At the western end of the plain the Ligurians began, who, mingled with isolated Celtic tribes, and settled on the Apennines from above Arezzo and Pisa westward, occupied the region of the sources of the Po. The eastern portion of the plain north of the Po, nearly from Verona to the coast, was possessed by the Veneti, a race different from the Celts and probably of Illyrian extraction. Between these and the western mountains were settled the Cenomani (about Brescia and Cremona) who rarely acted with the Celtic nation and were probably largely intermingled with Veneti, and the Insubres (around Milan). The latter was the most considerable of the Celtic cantons in Italy, and was in constant communication not merely with the minor communities partly of Celtic, partly of non-Celtic extraction, that were scattered in the Alpine valleys, but also with the Celtic cantons beyond the Alps. The gates of the Alps, the mighty stream navigable for 230 miles, and the largest and most fertile plain of the then civilized Europe, still continued in the hands of the hereditary foes of the Italian name, who, humbled indeed and weakened, but still scarce even nominally dependent and still troublesome neighbours, persevered in their barbarism, and, thinly scattered over the spacious plains, continued to pasture their herds and to plunder. It was to be anticipated that the Romans would hasten to possess themselves of these regions; the more so as the Celts gradually began to forget their defeats in the campaigns of 471 and 472 and to bestir themselves again, and, what was still more dangerous, the Transalpine Celts began anew to show themselves on the south of the Alps.

Celtic Wars

In fact the Boii had already renewed the war in 516, and their chiefs Atis and Galatas had--without, it is true, the authority of the general diet--summoned the Transalpine Gauls to make common cause with them. The latter had numerously answered the call, and in 518 a Celtic army, such as Italy had not seen for long, encamped before Ariminum. The Romans, for the moment much too weak to attempt a battle, concluded an armistice, and to gain time allowed envoys from the Celts to proceed to Rome, who ventured in the senate to demand the cession of Ariminum--it seemed as if the times of Brennus had returned. But an unexpected incident put an end to the war before it had well begun. The Boii, dissatisfied with their unbidden allies and afraid probably for their own territory, fell into variance with the Transalpine Gauls. An open battle took place between the two Celtic hosts; and, after the chiefs of the Boii had been put to death by their own men, the Transalpine Gauls returned home. The Boii were thus delivered into the hands of the Romans, and the latter were at liberty to expel them like the Senones, and to advance at least to the Po; but they preferred to grant the Boii peace in return for the cession of some districts of their land (518). This was probably done, because they were just at that time expecting the renewed outbreak of war with Carthage; but, after that war had been averted by the cession of Sardinia, true policy required the Roman government to take possession as speedily and entirely as possible of the country up to the Alps. The constant apprehensions on the part of the Celts as to such a Roman invasion were therefore sufficiently justified; but the Romans were in no haste. So the Celts on their part began the war, either because the Roman assignations of land on the east coast (522), although not a measure immediately directed against them, made them apprehensive of danger; or because they perceived that a war with Rome for the possession of Lombardy was inevitable; or, as is perhaps most probable, because their Celtic impatience was once more weary of inaction and preferred to arm for a new warlike expedition.

Italian Books
Theodor Mommsen
Classic Literature Library

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