The Early Wars of the Republic

  • M. Cary
  • H. H. Scullard


Etruscan power in Latium had collapsed with the defeat of Porsenna’s forces at Aricia, and Rome was freed not only from the Tarquins but also from the vanquished Porsenna (p. 55). The new Republic in its treaty with Carthage had boldly reasserted Rome’s claim to considerable control in Latium (p. 55): this the now victorious Latins would not recognise, and so conflict soon followed. Their League, from which of course Rome was now excluded, presumably corresponded to the old federation of Diana at Aricia which met ad caput Ferentinae and whose members are recorded by Cato (pp. 55 and 584). The alliance which had been so successful against the Etruscans was now turned against Rome, and Tusculum may have regained the leadership which she had apparently held before Rome had overshadowed her.. The cleavage led to a trial of strength at Lake Regillus (496).1 Since this lake lay in Tusculan territory Rome may have taken the initiative: having shaken off Porsenna, she was now ready to contest the leadership of Latium. The battle lived long in Roman memory, and was embellished by the many patriotic legends; the most famous was the divine intervention of Castor and Pollux, the great Twin Brethren and horsemen gods, on Rome’s behalf. The issue, however, was probably left open. Nevertheless a temple to Castor and Pollux was dedicated in the Roman Forum some ten years later, and a parade of horsemen (Transvectio Equorum), which took place on 15 July during the later Republic and was revived by the emperor Augustus, long commemorated the battle and the divine epiphany.


Northern Plain Divine Intervention Roman Tradition Roman Army Roman Memory 
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Notes and References

  1. 2.
    On the Cassian treaty see Dionys. Halic. vi. 95 and Livy, ii. 33.4. On its reliability see A. N. Sherwin-White, The Roman Citizenship2 (1973), 20 ff. It was made between Rome and the Thirty Latin cities; Dionys. Halic. v. 61 lists the Thirty, but this may be the total reached by the League some time before 338 B.c. rather than that existing at the time of the treaty. Livy (ii. 22.5) may suggest that the treaty was made in 495 by Cassius as a fetial priest rather than in 493, the year of his second consulship, where Livy (ii. 33.4) later places it; it would make better sense nearer the battle. The text of the treaty survived in the early days of Cicero (Pro Balbo, 53). On the machinery of the League and arrangements for military leadership (which are quite uncertain) see Ogilvie, Livy, 400.Google Scholar
  2. 3.
    A record of the founding of these early federal colonies is given by the Roman annalists, who probably drew this information from the AnnalesMaximi. On the colonies see E. T. Salmon, Roman Colonization (1969), 40 ff., and, in more detail, Phoenix 1953, 93 ff. and 123 ff.Google Scholar
  3. 9.
    On the site of Veii see J. B. Ward-Perkins, PBSR 1961 (and for the ager Veientanus, ibid. 1968)Google Scholar
  4. and briefly H. H. Scullard, The Etruscan Cities and Rome (1967), 104 ff. On Livy’s account (v. 1–23) of the siege see Ogilvie, Livy, 626 ff., etc. (he would date the fall to 392–1). Archaeological evidence shows that the natural defences were artificially strengthened at the end of the fifth century, against the Roman attack: the tufa rock was cut back and elsewhere a stone and earth wall was built. The story that the Romans captured the city by driving a long tunnel into its very centre must be rejected; it may have arisen from the fact that the neighbourhood had been honeycombed with drainage tunnels (cuniculi) by Etruscan engineers. It is remarkable, however, that at the Roman camp in the north-west the newly built wall was constructed over cuniculi which had been filled in with earth and stones. The Romans possibly could have entered the city, but not the citadel as Livy says, by clearing one of these. With this may be linked the story that an Etruscan soothsayer revealed to the Romans that they would not capture Veii until they drained the overflow of the Alban Lake. As the siege of Veii dragged on, the Romans are said to have had recourse to religious help. On the advice of the Sibylline Books (sge p. 109) they held a lectisternium (a Greek ceremony at which the images of certain gods were exposed on couches to partake of a sacrificial feast) and also they may have consulted the oracle at Delphi. After the fall of Veii they solemnly transferred the statue and cult of Juno Regina by a ritual of evocatio to Rome: the statue of Veii’s tutelary deity was installed by the victorious Camillus in a temple on the Aventine.Google Scholar
  5. 10.
    On the Celts see T. G. E. Powell, The Celts (1958).Google Scholar
  6. On their invasion of northern Italy, G. A. Mansuelli and R. Scarani, L’Emilia prima dei Romani (1961), ch. vii;Google Scholar
  7. L. Barfield, North Italy before Rome (1971), 149 ff. Ogilvie, Livy, 700 ff., argues that the source for Livy’s account of the Celtic migrations v. 34–35) was Greek, either Poseidonius or Timagenes.Google Scholar
  8. 14.
    O. Skutsch, JRS 1953, 77 f., has drawn attention to traces of a tradition (which can perhaps be discerned in Ennius, Ann. frg. 164 and Silius Italicus, Pun. i. 525 f., iv. 150 f., vi. 555 f.) that the Capitol fell to the Gauls; this tradition should be rejected.Google Scholar
  9. 15.
    For traces of devastation see L. G. Roberts, Memoirs of the American Academy in Rome, 1918, 55 f.Google Scholar
  10. and E. Gjerstad, Early Rome, iii (1960), index, s.v. ‘Gallic invasion’.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The representatives of the estate of the late M. Cary and H. H. Scullard 1975

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. Cary
    • 1
  • H. H. Scullard
    • 1
  1. 1.University of LondonUK

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