The Third Romano-Samnite War - Phase 1: 316 – 312 BC
by Gordon Davis
In 316 BC war broke out once again between Rome and the Samnite tribes of the central Apennines – the third such conflict between the Italian belligerents since their initial clash in 343 BC. This new conflagration was to become the longest period of sustained warfare between the two powers, eventually, during its course widening its scope of contestants to include the Sabellians of the Abruzzi and the cities of the Etruscan League. The initial five years of this new war, however, only concerned the forces of the Romans and the Samnites and it is this phase of the third war’s operations which is covered in this study. The next and final phase of this war (311 – 304 BC) will be analysed in a later document. During the fighting in these years Rome’s military endeavors gained in scope and scale, as it punched and counter-punched with its Samnite foe. The standard compliment of the army had by now very likely increased from two to four legions, as necessity demanded and as new manpower resources came online from the maturing sections of Rome’s expanding hegemony. The evolution of the manipular legion and its attendant battle tactics would have continued apace during these years, driven by the realities of fighting war against the rustic but martial mountain tribes of the central Apennines, although it is impossible to trace any details of this metamorphosis from the extant sources. The planting of new colonies once again makes an appearance, along with, significantly, the commencement of Rome’s first military road-building project. Against this growing Roman menace, the Samnites tribes waged war as best they could, against a foe which continued to grow stronger.
The reason why republican Rome decided to return to war against the Samnites is not related by the existent accounts, other than a rather confusing statement by Livy  that that a Roman attack gave the Samnites an excuse to renew the war. But in light of Roman actions between 321 and 317 BC, their renewal of hostilities should not come as a surprise. While honouring the imposed terms of the Caudine peace and not attacking the Samnites directly, Rome had warred elsewhere, particularly in Apulia. Rebellions in Apulia and the Liris/Trerus valley were ruthlessly crushed and gains made in the eastern littoral. Following this interlude, at the first opportunity the Romans renewed the conflict with Samnium, intending to further neutralize and subdue the dangerous mountain foe. Some main reasons for such a course of action, while greatly obscured to the modern reader and no doubt complex, may be ventured. The remote upland valleys of the Apennine Samnites, while not serving as a particularly enticing economic prospect in the vein of Apulia or Campania, remained the home of a strong, dangerous and un-bowed people whom Rome had so recently lost a war to. Hard-headed strategic logic and the drivers to external conquest inherent in Roman society demanded action be taken against the Samnites, whatever the price. The tribally confederated Samnites, whatever the thinking of its leading voices at the time, had no choice but to accept the challenge, which they did with their characteristic determination and martial prowess.
The resumption of hostilities between the Romans and Samnites took place in 316 BC in the Volturnus valley, which is the inland valley of the Campanian region of Italy. This was Samnite Campania, overlooked on all sides by fortified communities of that people and in particular the Caudine tribe of Samnites. Among these communities ringing the valley lay the fortress of Saticula at its southern end. Saticula lay within a zone of combat that had been rather of a disaster area for Roman armies in previous conflicts of the 4th century BC. A consular army under the command of A. Cornelius Cossus had been savaged nearby in 343 BC, while attempting to thread its way up into the pass to the valley of the Isclero. More recently, the men of Saticula had no doubt taken part in the defeat, entrapment and surrender of the full Roman field army of 321 BC, leading to Samnite victory in that war. That the Romans chose to test their enemy at this place in 316 BC is not surprising. Strategic success in this area would further protect Roman Campania and allow for the opening of a potential route of invasion into the large upland plateau of the Samnite homeland to the east. For the Samnites, holding onto this strategic area was equally important for the opposite reason – protecting their homeland and allowing them to continue to threaten Roman Campania and keep communications open to allies such as Nola and the Alfaterni.
Confusingly, Livy  reports that the Romans marched on and besieged Saticula in both 316 BC and again in the following year 315 BC, while the Samnites in the same years besieged the nearby town of Plistica in both years. This is obviously a duplication of the same event. Diodorus  , records the same sieges only once, but condenses the years 316-315 BC into one notice, which is not helpful in pinpointing the year. Plistica is an unknown town, which Livy describes as an ally of Rome and Diodorus says contained a Roman garrison. It lay somewhere on the border between Rome and Samnium, and is most likely to be looked for somewhere on the Mons Tifata, the range of hills that separates outer Campania from inner-Campania, not far from Saticula. Having a community on the Tifata declare for Rome, inside which was otherwise Samnite-dominated territory would not have sat well with the mountain people, so it is not surprising that it became a target for Samnite aggression. Because of the widespread events of the following year, it makes more sense to ascribe the outcome of the sieges to 315 BC  , so in the first year of the war (316 BC), it appears that there was a Roman invasion of the Volturnus valley touching off the conflict, which did not lead to any immediate accomplishments. By the end of the year though, the Samnite tribes were clearly mobilizing against the Roman aggression, setting the stage for momentous events of the next year.
In 315 BC the war continued in Campania and burst forth onto several other new fronts. The Romans assembled their standard consular armies on the Campus Martius and placed them for this year under two notable generals: L. Papirius Cursor and Q. Publilius Philo. Papirius marched east from Rome into the Apennines heading for Apulia, while Publilius moved south into Campania to renew the previous years fighting there. This disposition of Roman forces, while harbouring concrete strategic goals, was not fortuitous as for the second year on a row the frontier in the Liris-Trerus valley was left exposed. This zone had been a key battleground during the Second Romano-Samnite War of 327-321 BC and it lay on the frontier of the large and powerful tribe of the Pentrian Samnites. It was here, apparently unknown to the Romans, that the mountain tribes chose in 315 BC to concentrate their main field army. Having reach Apulia Papirius marched against Luceria, a strategic fortress overlooking the Apulian plain that had fallen into the hands of the Samnites at the end of the last war. Livy’s notices for 320 BC concerning Papirius’ siege of the same town should probably be ascribed to this year . As the siege drew on, both Romans and the Samnite garrison suffered from food shortages and starvation, with Samnite forces in the area harassing the besiegers and their supply columns from nearby friendly towns, but not being able to break the encirclement or deliver succours to their encircled comrades. Livy reports that a Greek delegation arrived at this time from the city-state of Taras, attempting to convince the both sides to enter into negotiations, but these entreaties were firmly rebuffed by old general. Pressing the siege Papirius managed to capture Luceria before the end of the season, according to the annals by a direct assault. This was a significant victory for the Romans, adding a strong defensive point to their hegemony in Apulia, while further hemming in the Samnites to their upland plateaus and valleys. In the Volturnus valley, Publilius Philo successfully approached and set about besieging the Samnite fortress of Saticula. Despite sallies from the town and attacks from outside forces, efforts to break the Roman cordon failed and Publilius was successful in forcing Saticula to capitulate by the end of 315 BC. The Samnites were able to salvage some military success in this zone by assaulting and capturing Roman-held Plistica somewhere nearby, but the capture of Saticula from the Caudini was both a significant strategic and morale victory for the Romans.
While the Consuls conducted the above successfully operations in Apulia and Campania, the main Samnite field army concentrated and marched forth from fortresses in the Liris-Trerus valley, throwing the Roman war effort into great confusion. The strategic fortress of Sora fell to the Samnites for the first time and local Roman forces were routed or penned within the walls of their strongholds. Riding on this success the un-named Samnite commander has several choices for further courses of action. He could march directly on Rome up the Trerus valley, or head south to attempt to aid the Caudini at Saticula. Instead he decided to move west towards the coast and then north against Rome’s home territory in Latium. Nothing stopped the Samnites from making this march, including the Roman colony at Cales, but without a field army operating in the area there was not much the Romans could hope to do. When reports of this incursion reached Rome, there was understandable consternation and fear. The patrician Q. Fabius Rullianus was immediately made Dictator, with Q. Aulius Cerratanus as his Master of Horse and a new army was hastily organized. Marching from Rome Fabius headed south to meet this new threat. In the meantime the Samnite army moved north along the coast through former Auruncian and Volscian territory, gathering local contingents from those communities eager to throw off the Roman yoke.
Fabius managed to reach the hills at the south end of Latium and moved up into them. He encountered the Samnites at the pass of Lautulae just inland from Terracina, where his army likely could not deploy for maximum effect and a large battle was fight there. The result was a shattering defeat for the Roman army. It appears that the wing held by Aulius Cerratanus crumbled first. The Master of Horse attempted in vain to rally his men but was surrounded by enemies and cut down. Q. Fabius, unable to restore order was able to reach safety and thereafter began organizing the remnants of his army as best he could. But he could no longer challenge the Samnites in the field. The defeat, being total, left Roman territory effectively cut in half, with its possessions in Campania exposed to confusion and insurrection. While it is not possible to ascribe any particular tactical stroke that won the Samnites the victory, one can posit that fighting on uneven ground, perhaps within the confined space of the pass gave the advantage in this battle to the Samnites, who were considered by the Romans to be second only to the Celts in the ferocity and impetuosity of their charge. Fabius Rullianus, one of the outstanding commanders of Rome’s Samnite wars, was also likely hampered by his hastily thrown together legions, but a tactical mistake on his part may possibly be ascertained given the undue haste with which his new levies were thrown into a set piece battle – something a good military commander would normally avoid. These thoughts, admittedly, can be little more than speculation, given the paucity of our sources.
Exploiting its victory, the Samnite array now marched across the intervening hills and onto the plain of Latium. Towns and colonies shut their gates to the invaders and watched helplessly as their fields and homesteads were ravaged by fire and sword. Strabo  reports that Samnite depredations reached as far as Ardea, and it is quite possible that detachments laid their eyes on the walls of Rome itself - although the city, held in force and protected by its strong walls, was not besieged. Papirius and Publilius, having garrisoned their newly captured towns, were now moving back upon Rome to protect the home city, but the campaign season ended without any further actions. Having pillaged the Latin plain and with no enemy army in sight, the Samnite army made its way back south and wintered somewhere along the coast, likely within the Volscian and Auruncian territories south of Latium. There they would have continued to gather adherents to their cause as well as reinforcements from home, while preparing for further operations in the spring. Diodorus  reports that most of Campania, including Capua, rose up in revolt at this time against Rome.
It is not hard to imagine that the Romans, despite their capture of Saticula and Luceria, would have been confounded by the successful Samnite invasion of Latium. This was the second great military disaster at the hands of the Samnites within a period of six years and news of this defeat must have been the talk of Italy. But their characteristic determination and will-power did not fail at this juncture. Indeed they had little choice. One more major defeat and the Roman state would have been in the gravest danger. Angry and frustrated, the republic resolved to mobilize its full resources and press on with the war on all fronts. Fabio’s’ shattered army was brought home and cashiered and new legions were enrolled in 314 BC. They were placed under the command of two veteran consuls: C. Sulpicius Longus and M. Poetelius Libo. To face the imminent threat to Latium, the two commanders apparently combined the now standard compliment of four legions and gathered their allies into a huge host, possibly comprising as many as 40,000 spears - something not seen since the crisis of the dual Greek/Celtic incursion of Latium in 349 BC. Sulpicius evidently took precedence of command in this large array. Marching south as soon as the campaign season opened or possibly even before given the gravity of the situation, Diodorus  reports that they encountered the Samnites besieging Terracina  and compelled them to raise the siege and concentrate their forces.
Some details of the battle are recorded in Livy  and these notices may have come from actual accounts of the battle recorded in a family history, monuments or elsewhere. Both armies were initially divided by a pass between two plains, neither wanting to disadvantage themselves by moving into it. Finally the Samnites found a track and were able to thread across and make their way down onto the plain near to the Romans, where they encamped nearby. There was some inconclusive skirmishing at first, mostly between cavalry, until the Samnites decided to force the action and drew up their full army to fight. The Romans followed suit, with Poetelius taking his station on the left and Sulpicius on the right. It was a standard battle line with infantry in the centre and cavalry on the wings, but taking the Roman battle reserves, the consuls reinforced the left wing while the right wing along with the Samnite forces opposite was elongated and thinly spread. Poetelius gave the signal for an advance on the left to begin the battle. Here the Romans soon made progress, throwing the Samnite ranks into disarray. The Samnite cavalry attempted to charge the Roman flank to take pressure off their infantry but the Roman cavalry counter-charged and drove them off. The Samnite right-wing then began to collapse. Sulpicius, who was not engaged in the early stages of the battle, had temporarily ridden over to see what was happening with the other consul. When he returned his line was being hard pressed by a Samnite assault and was itself beginning to crumble. He was however able to get his line under control and averted the danger. Eventually this wing of the Samnites line also collapsed into retreat, pursued closely by the Romans. The resulting slaughter was very great, Livy giving the number of 30,000 Samnites killed, while Dionysius gives a more believable number of 10,000 dead.
With this victory Rome’s fortunes were restored, while the power of the Samnites and in particular their strongest tribe of the Pentri, was correspondingly diminished. Following up its great restorative success, the Roman army next moved south into Auruncian territory. A large number of this people had rebelled and joined the Samnites and as recent members of the Roman hegemony they now lay open and exposed to Roman vengeance, their towns too fearful to even shut their gates. The token gesture did not avail them and Auruncia was laid waste. The towns of Ausona, Minturnae and Vescia were plundered into ruin and their inhabitants slaughtered. So thorough were the revenge operations of the Romans that Livy  tells us that the Aurunci were effectively wiped out and ceased to exist as a separate people – their depopulated lands being opened up to colonization in the following years. Next the Romans moved into Campania, which also did not put up a fight. Capua opened its gates to the consuls, as the pro-Roman faction there regained control of the city. Only Calatia, a satellite town of Capua, is reported to have shut its gates to the Romans. A Dictator, C. Maenius Antiaticus, was appointed at Rome and arrived in Capua after its capitulation, to investigate those within the city who had chosen to rebel. To avoid a more ignominious death of whips and the executioner’s axe, the accused committed suicide before being brought to trial. By the end of 314 BC therefore, the Samnite success of the previous year in Latium had been rolled back and Roman fortunes restored. But a realization on both sides must have manifested itself at the end of these two tumultuous years. The fortunes of war are always doubtful went the ancient maxim and before the struggle would be completed one could only expect further swings of cruel fate. The smouldering funeral pyres, dismal trophy monuments and burned out settlements across the land would have provided a fitting exclamation point to this realization.
The following year the Romans dispatched settlers to no less than four new colonies: Luceria, Saticula, Suessa Aurunca, and Pontia, while voting for a fourth to be planned for the following year at Interamna Lirenas. Luceria was to be a linchpin of Roman hegemony over Apulia. Saticula secured the lower Volturnus valley and guarded the southern portion of Roman Campania, while Cales watched over the north. Suessa Aurunca occupied for former lands of the Auruncian people and helped to secure the coastal communication between Latium and Campania. Pontia, lastly, guarded Roman sea lanes between Latium and Campania. Luceria and Saticula in particular also served to confine further the Samnites into their mountain plateaus and valleys, while serving as bases and supply depots for armies invading further into the Apennines. In addition to setting down colonies in 313 BC, Rome sent forth its legions as well, determined to exploit the success of the preceding year. There was fighting in Campania and in the Liris-Trerus valley, where the Samnites and their allies continued to hold many important towns.
In the Liris-Trerus valley a Roman army, possibly commanded by the consul L. Papirius Cursor, marched on and besieged Fregellae, the former Roman colony whose establishment had been a major cassus belli between the Romans and Samnites in 327 BC, and which had fallen into Samnite hands at the end of the Second Romano-Samnite War. Likely it was the fortress, or Arx, of Fregellae that was held by the Samnites and besieged. This bastion reportedly lay on a spur of the Apennines back from the Liris River, where the former Roman colony previously lay. From this perch the Arx dominated the valley below and the routes up and down the inland route of the later via Latina. The Romans pressed the siege of this place and the Samnites in the communities nearby were either unwilling or unable to thwart them. These Pentrian Samnite communities had no doubt lost a great deal of men in the defeat at Terracina the year before, impeding their ability to contend with the Romans in the field. Fregellae was captured and received a Roman garrison, while its leading men were sent to Rome and executed in the Forum. Pressing their advantage in this zone, the Romans are also reported to have captured Atina, a Samnite community a day’s march to the south-east, in the Val de Comino. They are not reported to have garrisoned this town, perhaps considering it too risky to try to hold such an isolated community.
To the south, another Roman army commanded by C. Junius Bubulcus Brutus marched into Campania and made for the city of Nola at the southern end of the plain. If one may speculate, targeting Nola from a strategic standpoint served two different but related purposes. Firstly, it can be seen as a continuation of the successful Roman offensive in the nearby Volturnus valley, working to further secure Roman Campania at the south end of the coastal plain. Secondly, it is quite possible that Nola had played a role in the uprisings in Campania that had followed the Roman defeat at Lautulae in 315 BC, perhaps even sending a contingent of soldiers to join the Samnite army, as it did in when it moved to garrison Neapolis at the beginning of the last war with Rome. Un-challenged on the open plain, Junius approached the town, set his lines of circumvallation, cleared the outbuildings from around the walls pressed the siege. With no Samnite field army making an attempt to relieve the Nolans, the city and its citadel succumbed at last to the siege. The Romans reportedly gathered a large amount of spoils from this rich Campanian town, and it was also mulcted of some of its fertile territory. That same campaign season, Junius Bubulcus was also able to capture or compel nearby Calatia to surrender. This town was part of the former Capuan League and had probably switched over to the Samnites following the Roman disaster at Lautulae. Southern Campania would continue to be a focus of Roman interest in the years to come, studded as it was prosperous communities, good farmland and access to the sea.
Taken together the fighting of 313 BC represents some incremental success for the Romans. Absent a willingness by the Samnites to field an army and contest the valleys, the initiative would continue to lay with Rome and its generals. Livy  states confidently that at this point the war with Samnium was all but won, but this notice it more literary in nature than factual, as the annalist is pivoting his audience towards a new phase of the contest that was to begin in 311 BC. This new phase represented an expansion of the war to include new combatants within its maelstrom, all facing off against the surging Roman tide. Diodorus captures this sense of the expanding scale of the conflict in his opening comments for 313 BC:
“…in Italy the Romans continued their war with the Samnites, and there were repeated raids through the country, sieges of cities, and encampments of armies in the field, for the two most war-like of the peoples of Italy were struggling as rivals for the supremacy and meeting in conflicts of every sort.” 
Events in Wider Italy
It is perhaps worthwhile to take a quick survey of other notable conflicts that were taking place in Italy and Sicily at this time. In Magna Graecia to the south Acrotatus, a King of Sparta, had sailed into Taras in 315 BC, fresh from warring in Illyricum. He did not tarry long but no doubt the Lucani and Samnites had cast a wary glance that year toward a city that was known to hire foreign generals and dispatch powerful armies into the interior. Acrotatus had been invited by the city of Acragas  into Sicily to war against the tyrant Agathocles of Syracuse. Agathocles, an enigmatic figure, was the bane of both Greeks and Carthaginians in the latter half of the 4th century BC. In addition to campaigning in Sicily and North Africa during this period, he also fought throughout the toe of Italy, just beyond the frontiers of the Romano-Samnite conflict. At the north end of the Italian peninsula the dominant powers were the Celtic tribes of the Po Valley. Their wars against other peoples in the region: Veneti, Ligurians, Picentes, Umbrians, Etruscans and even amongst themselves are largely lost to history but were no doubt epic and ferocious. Over the past century the Celts had driven the Etruscans out of the Po valley and back across the Apennines, capturing their towns and even sacking Rome in 390 BC. For the next 40 years hosts of adventuring Celts had pillaged and plundered throughout central Italy and both Romans and Samnites knew them well and feared them. But while Romans and Samnites were prudent to keep an eye on these events to the south and north, they did not impinge directly upon their mutual struggle during the years of the Second and Third Romano-Samnite Wars. Central Italy was its own zone of conflict for the time being, and its scope contained enough centrifugal force to draw within its orbit nations and tribes in the coming years who had hitherto managed to avoid the storm going on just outside their borders.
According to Livy  the Etruscans in these times were still respected and feared by the Romans. Despite their gradual decline the Etruscan city-states remained rich, populous and fully outside Roman hegemony, with their frontiers laying only a day’s march from the walls of Rome itself. In 312 BC Livy reports of rumours that the Etruscans were preparing to declare war on Rome. Although it is unsurprising that the Etruscans would have wanted to break Rome’s growing might, why they chose to prepare for war in 312 BC and not three years earlier following Rome’s defeat in Latium is an open question. Politically Etruria comprised a rather anarchic league and not a federal state, so it may have taken time for the war factions to organize in the various cities for action. Another factor may have been religious in nature, as Livy  makes mention of a 40-year treaty between Tarquinii and the Faliscans and Rome which was set to expire in 311 BC. Despite the urging of Samnite embassies who certainly visited their courts during these years, it is not surprising that the Etruscan cities took time to deliberate and decide to join the hazardous undertaking. On hearing this alarming news the Romans reportedly appointed a Dictator  and took some measures to prepare, but as yet no enemy materialized on the northern frontier. Very significantly it is reported this year that the censor Appius Claudius Caecus began the construction of the via Appia, the military road that was to link Rome to Capua and eventually beyond. This was the beginning of road-building on a massive scale by the Romans and in addition to the obvious economic and cultural benefits, a road such as the via Appia could greatly increase the speed at which Roman armies could move and concentrate their power.
Elsewhere in 312 BC the Romano-Samnite war continued and a new theater of operations also opened along the Adriatic coast, to the north of Rome’s possessions in Apulia. In the Liris-Trerus valley M. Valerius Maximus continued where Junius Bubulcus had left off, campaigning with a consular army against the Pentrian communities holding out in the valley. The Fasti Triumphales attribute to him the capture of Sora in this year, the strategic fortress that had fallen to the Samnites in 315 BC. Southwards down the Liris valley, the Romans established a colony in this year at Interamna Lirenas, to hold that that section of the valley and hem the Pentri into their mountain communities to the east, including Casinum only five miles (8 km) way. To the east of these affairs Diodorus Siculus reports for 312 BC that a strong Roman army  marched across the Apennines and invaded the territory of the Marrucini, a Sabellian tribe who occupied the Adriatic coast roughly between the Aterno and Foro Rivers and whose main community was the town of Teate. The reported result of this fighting was the capture of the unknown town of Pollitium  and the garrisoning of the nearby town of Cluviae. If Cluviae is the modern Casoli as has been widely suggested, it becomes clear that the Romans were exploring a new avenue of approach into Samnium from the east. Cluviae-Casoli stood near the entrance to the valley of the Sagrus  River, the homeland of this Samnite tribe of the Caraceni. There are several possibilities as to why the Romans targeted this area. The Caraceni and Marrucini may have been staging raids out of the Sagrus valley against Roman territories along the coast, perhaps even cutting off communication to Apulia. The Romans may have decided that this entrant into the Samnite heartland was worth attacking and exploiting, while entrants to the west proved tougher nuts to crack. Advocates at Rome for exploiting Apulia as a jump-off point for invasion into Samnium may have been at work here, and these voices no doubt included the patrician C. Junius Bubulcus Brutus, who had recently seen at first hand the stiff barrier that the Apennines presented Roman armies along the western littoral. Most intriguingly, with the Etruscans arming for war to the north-west, Rome may have been trying to bottle up the Samnites and prevent the possibility of a link-up of Etruscan and Samnite armies. In any case, this fighting represents the advent of a widened Central Italian War, drawing in the Sabellian tribes of the Abruzzi along with the Etruscans on the western coast. Resistance to Rome was increasing and Samnium in a dark hour was gaining allies to its side. It is a testament to the growing power and resources of Rome that the Latin state would go on an offensive along the Adriatic coast when both the Samnites and Etruscans threatened in Tyrrhenian Italy.
In conclusion, the five year period comprising 316 – 312 BC clearly displays the determination of the Romans to continue their expansion and reduce their primary enemy, the Samnite tribes, to a client status within their hegemony. The policy of expansion can be seen not only in the continued yearly campaigning, but also in the enlarging of the consular armies, the planting of colonies and a beginning of the construction of military roads to connect the strategic outposts of Rome`s growing territory. On the part of the Samnite tribes, war with Rome at this point was an inevitable fact and they met the challenge with their characteristic fortitude. Their great attack in 315 BC, whether planned or simply the result of a seized opportunity for the second time in a decade threw the Latin power into confusion and consternation, but ultimately ended in a decisive battlefield defeat and a clear diminution in their fortunes. For the next several years while unable to muster the strength necessary to counter a Roman offensive and prevent some incremental territorial losses on their frontiers, the Samnites did show to the Romans that their subjugation was going to be a long and difficult process, as the Samnite heartland remained protected behind mountain ranges and fortresses, inviolate and beyond the reach of Roman generals. However, with the widening of the war to come, bringing into the field other serious adversaries against Rome, the Samnites could breathe a little, take heart and experience a resurgence of sorts in the final bloody stage of their third war with Rome.
Show Footnotes and
. Livy, 9.21
. Livy, 9.21 and 9.22
. Diodorus Siculus (DS), 19.72
. The ruins above Castel Morrone on the Tifata have been posited as the ancient Plistica, but there is little to back up this claim other than local legend, which speaks of a bloody sack by the Samnites
. See Oakley, Commentary on Livy Books 6-10, 2004.
. See Salmon, 1967, pg. 229, Nissen, 1870, pg. 18-33), contra Oakley, Commentary on Livy Books 6-10, 2004.
. In the previous Romano-Samnite War, the Tarentines had offered Neapolis the service of their fleet against Rome and had also thwarted Roman diplomacy in Lucania. It is not surprising that the Romans rebuffed Taras at this point.
. Like the events in Apulia recorded by Livy for 319 BC, The Triumph for Papirius Cursor reported in the Fasti for that year over the Samnites should properly belong to this year
. No doubt the hope of bringing in new allies was a major factor in Samnite thinking for this advance
. Strabo 5.3.5, 5.4.11
. DS 19.76
. DS 19.76
. The is no certainty that the locale Diodorus relates, ‘Kinna’ or ‘Kina’ in separate manuscripts, is actually Terracina, but the Roman town at the bottom of Latium is posited by various scholars and its site makes sense for the battle given surrounding events. If this is the case the battles of Lautulae and Terracina were fought nearby to one another. See Oakley, 2004.
. Livy 9.27
. For this feat Sulpicius Longus was awarded a well-deserved Triumph (Tr. Fasti, 314/13 BC over the Samnites)
. Livy (9.25) calls them Ausonians
. Diodorus (19.76) reports that Maenus arrived at the head of an army separate from the consuls, prepared for war and that Capua shut its gates to him and prepared to fight until they heard of the Samnite defeat at Terracina. This is possible if he operated independently and took the inland route through the Liris-Trerus valley to reach Campania. A later investigation of Maenus’ at Rome put Q. Publilius Philo on trial and evidently ended his career. Publilius may have been blamed for his operations allowing the Samnites to invade Latium in 314 BC.
. For Saticula see Velleius Paterculus 1.14, for Luceria see Livy 9.26, for Suessa Auruncia and Pontia see Livy 9.28. Diodorus’ (19.72) report of Luceria being colonized in 315 BC is a year early if the fortress was captured in that year, but the Romans would have voted for the colony at the end of 315 BC.
. 327-321 BC
. The modern Rocca d'Arce.
. Some scholars posit Atella in Campania instead of Atina. This is possible but there is no good reason to reject Atina, which was within the campaigning zone of a Roman army this year.
. Livy (9.28)
. DS (19.101)
. Modern Agrigento
. The Servian Walls at Rome had been built during the 370’s-360’s BC with great effort, as a direct result of the Gallic sack.
. Livy (9.29)
. Livy (7.22)
. C. Junius Bubulcus, according to Livy (9.29). He was obviously one of Rome’s most highly regarded generals at this time, along with Q. Fabius Rullianus
. Livy (9.24) reports that Sora was taken by the consuls in 314 BC and this is possible, but in 314 BC Sulpicius and Poetelius were busy further west along the coast. Most scholars agree with the Tr. Fasti in this case. See Oakley, 2004 for a more detailed discussion.
. The likely candidates for commander are the consul P. Decius Mus, although Livy (9.29) has him sick in Rome, or D. Junius Brutus, who campaigned here the following year but who Livy places at Rome. As usual for this period the confusion around magistracies and army commands is impossible to sort out.
. Modern Chieti.
. Torrevecchia Teatina has been posited as the ancient Pollitium, with apparently little to back it up except its existence on Marrucinan territory
. Now called the Sangro River
. See Salmon, 1967, pg. 241
Copyright © 2015 Gordon Davis.
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About the author:
Gordon Davis is an amatuer military historian, residing in Toronto, Canada. He is especially
interested in the Early Roman Republic and Napoleonic History.
Published online: 03/08/2015.
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