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(Metropolitan New York)

Ancient texts

Liv. (8.23-40)

Second war against the Samnites

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    3rd Samnite war

326-304 bc



Rome's everlasting war
In the period between the two Samnites wars there was certainly no peace. Now the Romans made war with: Ausonians; Sidicines; Privernum;Fundi; the Greek (living in Greece Magna). But in 326 bc the Samnites felt they were strong and prepared enough to challenge the Romans once more.

Neapolis and Palaeopolis
Now Livius tells a story about a city called Palaeopolis (old city) and Neapolis (new city) ruled by one administration started to raid on Roman territory. Palaeopolis accepted 2000 men from Nola and 4000 Samnites in her walls to help defend her against the Romans, after Rome had sent her fetials. When the Romans start to besiege the cities, the citizens of Palaeopolis regret their decision, but mainly because of the misbehavior of the Nolans and Samnites. They decide now to surrender to the Romans and with a ruse they got rid of the Samnites, while the Nolans fled when the Romans entered the city. Strangely enough there is no archeological evidence the city of Palaeopolis ever existed. But now the war with the Samnites was a fact.

Debt slavery
In 326 bc also debt slavery got a face. When the heavily beaten boy and debt slave C. Publilius showed himself in the forum and made clear he had refused to act as a lust slave for his master, he caused a furious crowd. This in it's turn caused the consuls to propose this law: "that no man be kept in irons or in the stocks, except such as have been guilty of some crime, and then only till they have worked out their sentence; and, further, that the goods and not the person of the debtor shall be the security for the debt." Of course the people accepted this law.

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Papirius Cursor and Fabius Rulianus
When the consul Furius Camillus fel seriously ill, a dictator was appointed: L. Papirius Cursor, who in his turn nominated Q. Fabius Rulianus. They marched into Samnium, but Papirius was called back to Rome because it seemed necessary to repeat the auspices in Rome. Before he left he ordered to stay where they were and not to engage the enemy. As soon as a good opportunity presented it self Q. Fabius Rulianus attacked and brilliantly defeated a Samnite army. When Papirius returned he was furious and wanted Fabius executed. His whole army protested but he wouldn't give in. Fabius fled to Rome , followed by Papirius. Here the senate and the people pledged for the life of Fabius. In the end Papirius would give in. He returned to the army without Fabius and beat another Samnite army. He was granted a triumph on his return to Rome. The Samnites sued for peace,
but couldn't agree to the Roman terms. The Samnite envoys
went home with one year truth.

Battle in Samnium
After that year (in 322 bc) A. Cornelius Arvina was nominated dictator. He raised an exceptionally fine army, which he led into Samnium.
Here he fought a Battle with the Samnites. Since the exact place is unknown I'll call it the battle of Samnium. He came home victoriously.

Caudine forks
Less fortunate were the consuls of the next year. T. Veturius and Sp. Postumius. The Samnites had laid a beautiful trap in the Caudine forks and the Romans ran right into the trap. Probably the Samnites hadn't expected the trap to work so well: They trapped two complete armies without loosing one single man. Livius describes their doubts splendidly. If the story of the father giving his son Pontius, the Samnite commander, two contradicting pieces of advise about what to do with the Romans is true or not is not important. (How would the Romans know about it, and why should the son who didn't had to ask for the advice ignore his father's advice). These doubts certainly will have been in the thoughts of the trapped Romans; "what will they do to us?"

Romans humiliated
After a severe humiliation, being sent under the yoke, they were allowed to leave physically unharmed. Though generally accepted that the Romans did not return the next year; the story Livius gives us beautifully illustrates the way of Roman thinking. Whether true or the Romans wanted it to be true is less important. The Romans wanted the war and bent and twisted till they could call it a just war. Even Livius acknowledges this, though he puts his thoughts in Pontius' mouth! And there were more examples to come. The end of the (presumed) campaign where the Samnite commander Pontius is sent under the yoke like he had sent the Romans, is certainly to good to be true.
The Romans kept relying on their brute force and would keep walking into traps, mainly because of insufficient scouting. In this same war the consul C. Iunius Brutus would lead his legion into a Samnite ambush in another valley. This time the Romans could fight their way out of the ambush.

First aqueduct built
In this periode the first paved road and the first aqueduct were built by Appius Claudius
Look here for more information about aqueducts.

End of the war
In 310 bc The Etruscans started to make war too. This war would last for three years. The war with the Samnites would end in 404 bc when the Samnites had had enough.


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