HotFreeBooks.com
The History of Rome (Volumes 1-5)
by Theodor Mommsen
Previous Part     1 ... 5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16  17  18  19 ... 58     Next Part
Home - Random Browse

New Fortresses in Apulia and Campania

Apulia and Campania were thus in the hands of the Romans. In order finally to secure and permanently to command the conquered territory, several new fortresses were founded in it during the years 440-442: Luceria in Apulia, to which on account of its isolated and exposed situation half a legion was sent as a permanent garrison; Pontiae (the Ponza islands) for the securing of the Campanian waters; Saticula on the Campano-Samnite frontier, as a bulwark against Samnium; and lastly Interamna (near Monte Cassino) and Suessa Aurunca (Sessa) on the road from Rome to Capua. Garrisons moreover were sent to Caiatia (Cajazzo), Sora, and other stations of military importance. The great military road from Rome to Capua, which with the necessary embankment for it across the Pomptine marshes the censor Appius Claudius caused to be constructed in 442, completed the securing of Campania. The designs of the Romans were more and more fully developed; their object was the subjugation of Italy, which was enveloped more closely from year to year in a network of Roman fortresses and roads. The Samnites were already on both sides surrounded by the Roman meshes; already the line from Rome to Luceria severed north and south Italy from each other, as the fortresses of Norba and Signia had formerly severed the Volsci and Aequi; and Rome now rested on the Arpani, as it formerly rested on the Hernici. The Italians could not but see that the freedom of all of them was gone if Samnium succumbed, and that it was high time at length to hasten with all their might to the help of the brave mountain people which had now for fifteen years singly sustained the unequal struggle with the Romans.

Intervention of the Tarentines

The most natural allies of the Samnites would have been the Tarentines; but it was part of that fatality that hung over Samnium and over Italy in general, that at this moment so fraught with the destinies of the future the decision lay in the hands of these Athenians of Italy. Since the constitution of Tarentum, which was originally after the old Doric fashion strictly aristocratic, had become changed to a complete democracy, a life of singular activity had sprung up in that city, which was inhabited chiefly by mariners, fishermen, and artisans. The sentiments and conduct of the population, more wealthy than noble, discarded all earnestness amidst the giddy bustle and witty brilliance of their daily life, and oscillated between the grandest boldness of enterprise and elevation of spirit on the one hand, and a shameful frivolity and childish whim on the other. It may not be out of place, in connection with a crisis wherein the existence or destruction of nations of noble gifts and ancient renown was at stake, to mention that Plato, who came to Tarentum some sixty years before this time, according to his own statement saw the whole city drunk at the Dionysia, and that the burlesque farce, or "merry tragedy" as it was called, was created in Tarentum about the very time of the great Samnite war. This licentious life and buffoon poetry of the Tarentine fashionables and literati had a fitting counterpart in the inconstant, arrogant, and short-sighted policy of the Tarentine demagogues, who regularly meddled in matters with which they had nothing to do, and kept aloof where their immediate interests called for action. After the Caudine catastrophe, when the Romans and Samnites stood opposed in Apulia, they had sent envoys thither to enjoin both parties to lay down their arms (434). This diplomatic intervention in the decisive struggle of the Italians could not rationally have any other meaning than that of an announcement that Tarentum had at length resolved to abandon the neutrality which it had hitherto maintained. It had in fact sufficient reason to do so. It was no doubt a difficult and dangerous thing for Tarentum to be entangled in such a war; for the democratic development of the state had directed its energies entirely to the fleet, and while that fleet, resting upon the strong commercial marine of Tarentum, held the first rank among the maritime powers of Magna Graecia, the land force, on which they were in the present case dependent, consisted mainly of hired soldiers and was sadly disorganized. Under these circumstances it was no light undertaking for the Tarentine republic to take part in the conflict between Rome and Samnium, even apart from the—at least troublesome—feud in which Roman policy had contrived to involve them with the Lucanians. But these obstacles might be surmounted by an energetic will; and both the contending parties construed the summons of the Tarentine envoys that they should desist from the strife as meant in earnest. The Samnites, as the weaker, showed themselves ready to comply with it; the Romans replied by hoisting the signal for battle. Reason and honour dictated to the Tarentines the propriety of now following up the haughty injunction of their envoys by a declaration of war against Rome; but in Tarentum neither reason nor honour characterized the government, and they had simply been trifling in a very childish fashion with very serious matters. No declaration of war against Rome took place; in its stead they preferred to support the oligarchical party in the Sicilian towns against Agathocles of Syracuse who had at a former period been in the Tarentine service and had been dismissed in disgrace, and following the example of Sparta, they sent a fleet to the island—a fleet which would have rendered better service in the Campanian seas (440).

Accession of the Etruscans to the Coalition— Victory at the Vadimonian Lake

The peoples of northern and central Italy, who seem to have been roused especially by the establishment of the fortress of Luceria, acted with more energy. The Etruscans first drew the sword (443), the armistice of 403 having already expired some years before. The Roman frontier-fortress of Sutrium had to sustain a two years' siege, and in the vehement conflicts which took place under its walls the Romans as a rule were worsted, till the consul of the year 444 Quintus Fabius Rullianus, a leader who had gained experience in the Samnite wars, not only restored the ascendency of the Roman arms in Roman Etruria, but boldly penetrated into the land of the Etruscans proper, which had hitherto from diversity of language and scanty means of communication remained almost unknown to the Romans. His march through the Ciminian Forest which no Roman army had yet traversed, and his pillaging of a rich region that had long been spared the horrors of war, raised all Etruria in arms. The Roman government, which had seriously disapproved the rash expedition and had when too late forbidden the daring leader from crossing the frontier, collected in the greatest haste new legions, in order to meet the expected onslaught of the whole Etruscan power. But a seasonable and decisive victory of Rullianus, the battle at the Vadimonian lake which long lived in the memory of the people, converted an imprudent enterprise into a celebrated feat of heroism and broke the resistance of the Etruscans. Unlike the Samnites who had now for eighteen years maintained the unequal struggle, three of the most powerful Etruscan towns—Perusia, Cortona, and Arretium—consented after the first defeat to a separate peace for three hundred months (444), and after the Romans had once more beaten the other Etruscans near Perusia in the following year, the Tarquinienses also agreed to a peace of four hundred months (446); whereupon the other cities desisted from the contest, and a temporary cessation of arms took place throughout Etruria.

Last Campaigns in Samnium

While these events were passing, the war had not been suspended in Samnium. The campaign of 443 was confined like the preceding to the besieging and storming of several strongholds of the Samnites; but in the next year the war took a more vigorous turn. The dangerous position of Rullianus in Etruria, and the reports which spread as to the annihilation of the Roman army in the north, encouraged the Samnites to new exertions; the Roman consul Gaius Marcius Rutilus was vanquished by them and severely wounded in person. But the sudden change in the aspect of matters in Etruria destroyed their newly kindled hopes. Lucius Papirius Cursor again appeared at the head of the Roman troops sent against the Samnites, and again remained the victor in a great and decisive battle (445), in which the confederates had put forth their last energies. The flower of their army—the wearers of the striped tunics and golden shields, and the wearers of the white tunics and silver shields—were there extirpated, and their splendid equipments thenceforth on festal occasions decorated the rows of shops along the Roman Forum. Their distress was ever increasing; the struggle was becoming ever more hopeless. In the following year (446) the Etruscans laid down their arms; and in the same year the last town of Campania which still adhered to the Samnites, Nuceria, simultaneously assailed on the part of the Romans by water and by land, surrendered under favourable conditions. The Samnites found new allies in the Umbrians of northern, and in the Marsi and Paeligni of central, Italy, and numerous volunteers even from the Hernici joined their ranks; but movements which might have decidedly turned the scale against Rome, had the Etruscans still remained under arms, now simply augmented the results of the Roman victory without seriously adding to its difficulties. The Umbrians, who gave signs of marching on Rome, were intercepted by Rullianus with the army of Samnium on the upper Tiber—a step which the enfeebled Samnites were unable to prevent; and this sufficed to disperse the Umbrian levies. The war once more returned to central Italy. The Paeligni were conquered, as were also the Marsi; and, though the other Sabellian tribes remained nominally foes of Rome, in this quarter Samnium gradually came to stand practically alone. But unexpected assistance came to them from the district of the Tiber. The confederacy of the Hernici, called by the Romans to account for their countrymen found among the Samnite captives, now declared war against Rome (in 448)—more doubtless from despair than from calculation. Some of the more considerable Hernican communities from the first kept aloof from hostilities; but Anagnia, by far the most eminent of the Hernican cities, carried out this declaration of war. In a military point of view the position of the Romans was undoubtedly rendered for the moment highly critical by this unexpected rising in the rear of the army occupied with the siege of the strongholds of Samnium. Once more the fortune of war favoured the Samnites; Sora and Caiatia fell into their hands. But the Anagnines succumbed with unexpected rapidity before troops despatched from Rome, and these troops also gave seasonable relief to the army stationed in Samnium: all in fact was lost. The Samnites sued for peace, but in vain; they could not yet come to terms. The final decision was reserved for the campaign of 449. Two Roman consular armies penetrated—the one, under Tiberius Minucius and after his fall under Marcus Fulvius, from Campania through the mountain passes, the other, under Lucius Postumius, from the Adriatic upwards by the Biferno—into Samnium, there to unite in front of Bovianum the capital; a decisive victory was achieved, the Samnite general Statius Gellius was taken prisoner, and Bovianum was carried by storm.

Peace with Samnium

The fall of the chief stronghold of the land terminated the twenty-two years' war. The Samnites withdrew their garrisons from Sora and Arpinum, and sent envoys to Rome to sue for peace; the Sabellian tribes, the Marsi, Marrucini, Paeligni, Frentani, Vestini, and Picentes followed their example. The terms granted by Rome were tolerable; cessions of territory were required from some of them, from the Paeligni for instance, but they do not seem to have been of much importance. The equal alliance was renewed between the Sabellian tribes and the Romans (450).

And with Tarentum

Presumably about the same time, and in consequence doubtless of the Samnite peace, peace was also made between Rome and Tarentum. The two cities had not indeed directly opposed each other in the field. The Tarentines had been inactive spectators of the long contest between Rome and Samnium from its beginning to its close, and had only kept up hostilities in league with the Sallentines against the Lucanians who were allies of Rome. In the last years of the Samnite war no doubt they had shown some signs of more energetic action. The position of embarrassment to which the ceaseless attacks of the Lucanians reduced them on the one hand, and on the other hand the feeling ever obtruding itself on them more urgently that the complete subjugation of Samnium would endanger their own independence, induced them, notwithstanding their unpleasant experiences with Alexander, once more to entrust themselves to a -condottiere-. There came at their call the Spartan prince Cleonymus, accompanied by five thousand mercenaries; with whom he united a band equally numerous raised in Italy, as well as the contingents of the Messapians and of the smaller Greek towns, and above all the Tarentine civic army of twenty-two thousand men. At the head of this considerable force he compelled the Lucanians to make peace with Tarentum and to install a government of Samnite tendencies; in return for which Metapontum was abandoned to them. The Samnites were still in arms when this occurred; there was nothing to prevent the Spartan from coming to their aid and casting the weight of his numerous army and his military skill into the scale in favour of freedom for the cities and peoples of Italy. But Tarentum did not act as Rome would in similar circumstances have acted; and prince Cleonymus himself was far from being an Alexander or a Pyrrhus. He was in no hurry to undertake a war in which he might expect more blows than booty, but preferred to make common cause with the Lucanians against Metapontum, and made himself comfortable in that city, while he talked of an expedition against Agathocles of Syracuse and of liberating the Sicilian Greeks. Thereupon the Samnites made peace; and when after its conclusion Rome began to concern herself more seriously about the south-east of the peninsula—in token of which in the year 447 a Roman force levied contributions, or rather reconnoitred by order of the government, in the territory of the Sallentines—the Spartan -condottiere- embarked with his mercenaries and surprised the island of Corcyra, which was admirably situated as a basis for piratical expeditions against Greece and Italy. Thus abandoned by their general, and at the same time deprived of their allies in central Italy, the Tarentines and their Italian allies, the Lucanians and Sallentines, had now no course left but to solicit an accommodation with Rome, which appears to have been granted on tolerable terms. Soon afterwards (451) even an incursion of Cleonymus, who had landed in the Sallentine territory and laid siege to Uria, was repulsed by the inhabitants with Roman aid.

Consolidation of the Roman Rule in Central Italy

The victory of Rome was complete; and she turned it to full account. It was not from magnanimity in the conquerors—for the Romans knew nothing of the sort—but from shrewd and far-seeing calculation that terms so moderate were granted to the Samnites, the Tarentines, and the more distant peoples generally. The first and main object was not so much to compel southern Italy as quickly as possible to recognize formally the Roman supremacy, as to supplement and complete the subjugation of central Italy, for which the way had been prepared by the military roads and fortresses already established in Campania and Apulia during the last war, and by that means to separate the northern and southern Italians into two masses cut off in a military point of view from direct contact with each other. To this object accordingly the next undertakings of the Romans were with consistent energy directed. Above all they used, or made, the opportunity for getting rid of the confederacies of the Aequi and the Hernici which had once been rivals of the Roman single power in the region of the Tiber and were not yet quite set aside. In the same year, in which the peace with Samnium took place (450), the consul Publius Sempronius Sophus waged war on the Aequi; forty townships surrendered in fifty days; the whole territory with the exception of the narrow and rugged mountain valley, which still in the present day bears the old name of the people (Cicolano), passed into the possession of the Romans, and here on the northern border of the Fucine lake was founded the fortress Alba with a garrison of 6000 men, thenceforth forming a bulwark against the valiant Marsi and a curb for central Italy; as was also two years afterwards on the upper Turano, nearer to Rome, Carsioli —both as allied communities with Latin rights.

The fact that in the case of the Hernici at least Anagnia had taken part in the last stage of the Samnite war, furnished the desired reason for dissolving the old relation of alliance. The fate of the Anagnines was, as might be expected, far harder than that which had under similar circumstances been meted out to the Latin communities in the previous generation. They not merely had, like these, to acquiesce in the Roman citizenship without suffrage, but they also like the Caerites lost self-administration; out of a portion of their territory on the upper Trerus (Sacco), moreover, a new tribe was instituted, and another was formed at the same time on the lower Anio (455). 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. The year 458 however passed away, apparently, in armings and marchings. For the following year (459) the Romans placed their two best generals, Publius Decius Mus and the aged Quintus Fabius Rullianus, at the head of their army in Etruria, which was reinforced with all the troops that could be spared from Campania, and amounted to at least 60,000 men, of whom more than a third were full burgesses of Rome. Besides this, two reserves were formed, the first at Falerii, the second under the walls of the capital. The rendezvous of the Italians was Umbria, towards which the roads from the Gallic, Etruscan, and Sabellian territories converged; towards Umbria the consuls also moved off their main force, partly along the left, partly along the right bank of the Tiber, while at the same time the first reserve made a movement towards Etruria, in order if possible to recall the Etruscan troops from the main scene of action for the defence of their homes. The first engagement did not prove fortunate for the Romans; their advanced guard was defeated by the combined Gauls and Samnites in the district of Chiusi. But that diversion accomplished its object. Less magnanimous than the Samnites, who had marched through the ruins of their towns that they might not be absent from the chosen field of battle, a great part of the Etruscan contingents withdrew from the federal army on the news of the advance of the Roman reserve into Etruria, and its ranks were greatly thinned when the decisive battle came to be fought on the eastern declivity of the Apennines near Sentinum.

Battle of Sentinum— Peace with Etruria

Nevertheless it was a hotly contested day. On the right wing of the Romans, where Rullianus with his two legions fought against the Samnite army, the conflict remained long undecided. On the left, which Publius Decius commanded, the Roman cavalry was thrown into confusion by the Gallic war chariots, and the legions also already began to give way. Then the consul called to him Marcus Livius the priest, and bade him devote to the infernal gods both the head of the Roman general and the army of the enemy; and plunging into the thickest throng of the Gauls he sought death and found it. This heroic deed of despair on the part of one so eminent as a man and so beloved as a general was not in vain. The fugitive soldiers rallied; the bravest threw themselves after their leader into the hostile ranks, to avenge him or to die with him; and just at the right moment the consular Lucius Scipio, despatched by Rullianus, appeared with the Roman reserve on the imperilled left wing. The excellent Campanian cavalry, which fell on the flank and rear of the Gauls, turned the scale; the Gauls fled, and at length the Samnites also gave way, their general Egnatius falling at the gate of the camp. Nine thousand Romans strewed the field of battle; but dearly as the victory was purchased, it was worthy of such a sacrifice. The army of the coalition was dissolved, and with it the coalition itself; Umbria remained in the power of the Romans, the Gauls dispersed, the remnant of the Samnites still in compact order retreated homeward through the Abruzzi. Campania, which the Samnites had overrun during the Etruscan war, was after its close re-occupied with little difficulty by the Romans. Etruria sued for peace in the following year (460); Volsinii, Perusia, Arretium, and in general all the towns that had joined the league against Rome, promised a cessation of hostilities for four hundred months.

Last Struggles of Samnium

But the Samnites were of a different mind; they prepared for their hopeless resistance with the courage of free men, which cannot compel success but may put it to shame. When the two consular armies advanced into Samnium, in the year 460, they encountered everywhere the most desperate resistance; in fact Marcus Atilius was discomfited near Luceria, and the Samnites were able to penetrate into Campania and to lay waste the territory of the Roman colony Interamna on the Liris. In the ensuing year Lucius Papirius Cursor, the son of the hero of the first Samnite war, and Spurius Carvilius, gave battle on a great scale near Aquilonia to the Samnite army, the flower of which —the 16,000 in white tunics—had sworn a sacred oath to prefer death to flight. Inexorable destiny, however, heeds neither the oaths nor the supplications of despair; the Roman conquered and stormed the strongholds where the Samnites had sought refuge for themselves and their property. Even after this great defeat the confederates still for years resisted the ever-increasing superiority of the enemy with unparalleled perseverance in their fastnesses and mountains, and still achieved various isolated advantages. The experienced arm of the old Rullianus was once more called into the field against them (462), and Gavius Pontius, a son perhaps of the victor of Caudium, even gained for his nation a last victory, which the Romans meanly enough avenged by causing him when subsequently taken to be executed in prison (463). But there was no further symptom of movement in Italy; for the war, which Falerii began in 461, scarcely deserves such a name. The Samnites doubtless turned with longing eyes towards Tarentum, which alone was still in a position to grant them aid; but it held aloof. The same causes as before occasioned its inaction—internal misgovernment, and the passing over of the Lucanians once more to the Roman party in the year 456; to which fell to be added a not unfounded dread of Agathocles of Syracuse, who just at that time had reached the height of his power and began to turn his views towards Italy. About 455 the latter established himself in Corcyra whence Cleonymus had been expelled by Demetrius Poliorcetes, and now threatened the Tarentines from the Adriatic as well as from the Ionian sea. The cession of the island to king Pyrrhus of Epirus in 459 certainly removed to a great extent the apprehensions which they had cherished; but the affairs of Corcyra continued to occupy the Tarentines—in the year 464, for instance, they helped to protect Pyrrhus in possession of the island against Demetrius—and in like manner Agathocles did not cease to give the Tarentines uneasiness by his Italian policy. When he died (465) and with him the power of the Syracusans in Italy went to wreck, it was too late; Samnium, weary of the thirty-seven years' struggle, had concluded peace in the previous year (464) with the Roman consul Manius Curius Dentatus, and had in form renewed its league with Rome. On this occasion, as in the peace of 450, no disgraceful or destructive conditions were imposed on the brave people by the Romans; no cessions even of territory seem to have taken place. The political sagacity of Rome preferred to follow the path which it had hitherto pursued, and to attach in the first place the Campanian and Adriatic coast more and more securely to Rome before proceeding to the direct conquest of the interior. Campania, indeed, had been long in subjection; but the far-seeing policy of Rome found it needful, in order to secure the Campanian coast, to establish two coast-fortresses there, Minturnae and Sinuessa (459), the new burgesses of which were admitted according to the settled rule in the case of maritime colonies to the full citizenship of Rome. With still greater energy the extension of the Roman rule was prosecuted in central Italy. As the subjugation of the Aequi and Hernici was the immediate sequel of the first Samnite war, so that of the Sabines followed on the end of the second. The same general, who ultimately subdued the Samnites, Manius Curius broke down in the same year (464) the brief and feeble resistance of the Sabines and forced them to unconditional surrender. A great portion of the subjugated territory was immediately taken into possession of the victors and distributed to Roman burgesses, and Roman subject-rights (-civitas sine suffragio-) were imposed on the communities that were left—Cures, Reate, Amiternum, Nursia. Allied towns with equal rights were not established here; on the contrary the country came under the immediate rule of Rome, which thus extended as far as the Apennines and the Umbrian mountains. Nor was it even now restricted to the territory on Rome's side of the mountains; the last war had shown but too clearly that the Roman rule over central Italy was only secured, if it reached from sea to sea. The establishment of the Romans beyond the Apennines begins with the laying out of the strong fortress of Atria (Atri) in the year 465, on the northern slope of the Abruzzi towards the Picenian plain, not immediately on the coast and hence with Latin rights, but still near to the sea, and the keystone of the mighty wedge separating northern and southern Italy. Of a similar nature and of still greater importance was the founding of Venusia (463), whither the unprecedented number of 20,000 colonists was conducted. That city, founded at the boundary of Samnium, Apulia, and Lucania, on the great road between Tarentum and Samnium, in an uncommonly strong position, was destined as a curb to keep in check the surrounding tribes, and above all to interrupt the communications between the two most powerful enemies of Rome in southern Italy. Beyond doubt at the same time the southern highway, which Appius Claudius had carried as far as Capua, was prolonged thence to Venusia. Thus, at the close of the Samnite wars, the Roman domain closely compact—that is, consisting almost exclusively of communities with Roman or Latin rights—extended on the north to the Ciminian Forest, on the east to the Abruzzi and to the Adriatic, on the south as far as Capua, while the two advanced posts, Luceria and Venusia, established towards the east and south on the lines of communication of their opponents, isolated them on every side. Rome was no longer merely the first, but was already the ruling power in the peninsula, when towards the end of the fifth century of the city those nations, which had been raised to supremacy in their respective lands by the favour of the gods and by their own capacity, began to come into contact in council and on the battle-field; and, as at Olympia the preliminary victors girt themselves for a second and more serious struggle, so on the larger arena of the nations, Carthage, Macedonia, and Rome now prepared for the final and decisive contest.



Notes for Book II Chapter VI

1. It may not be superfluous to mention that our knowledge Archidamus and Alexander is derived from Greek annals, and that the synchronism between these and the Roman is in reference to the present epoch only approximately established. We must beware, therefore, of pursuing too far into detail the unmistakable general connection between the events in the west and those in the east of Italy.

2. These were not the inhabitants of Satricum near Antium (II. V. League with The Hernici), but those of another Volscian town constituted at that time as a Roman burgess-community without right of voting, near Arpinum.

3. That a formal armistice for two years subsisted between the Romans and Samnites in 436-437 is more than improbable.

4. The operations in the campaign of 537, and still more plainly the formation of the highway from Arretium to Bononia in 567, show that the road from Rome to Arretium had already been rendered serviceable before that time. But it cannot at that period have been a Roman military road, because, judging from its later appellation of the "Cassian way," it cannot have been constructed as a -via consularis- earlier than 583; for no Cassian appears in the lists of Roman consuls and censors between Spurius Cassius, consul in 252, 261, and 268—who of course is out of the question—and Gaius Cassius Longinus, consul in 583.



CHAPTER VII

Struggle between Pyrrhus and Rome, and Union of Italy

Relations between the East and West

After Rome had acquired the undisputed mastery of the world, the Greeks were wont to annoy their Roman masters by the assertion that Rome was indebted for her greatness to the fever of which Alexander of Macedonia died at Babylon on the 11th of June, 431. As it was not too agreeable for them to reflect on the actual past, they were fond of allowing their thoughts to dwell on what might have happened, had the great king turned his arms—as was said to have been his intention at the time of his death—towards the west and contested the Carthaginian supremacy by sea with his fleet, and the Roman supremacy by land with his phalanxes. It is not impossible that Alexander may have cherished such thoughts; nor is it necessary to resort for an explanation of their origin to the mere difficulty which an autocrat, who is fond of war and is well provided with soldiers and ships, experiences in setting limits to his warlike career. It was an enterprise worthy of a Greek great king to protect the Siceliots against Carthage and the Tarentines against Rome, and to put an end to piracy on either sea; and the Italian embassies from the Bruttians, Lucanians, and Etruscans,(1) that along with numerous others made their appearance at Babylon, afforded him sufficient opportunities of becoming acquainted with the circumstances of the peninsula and of entering into relations with it. Carthage with its many connections in the east could not but attract the attention of the mighty monarch, and it was probably one of his designs to convert the nominal sovereignty of the Persian king over the Tyrian colony into a real one: it was not for nothing that a Phoenician spy was found in the retinue of Alexander. Whether, however, these ideas were dreams or actual projects, the king died without having interfered in the affairs of the west, and his ideas were buried with him. For but a few brief years a Greek ruler had held in his hand the whole intellectual vigour of the Hellenic race combined with the whole material resources of the east. On his death the work to which his life had been devoted—the establishment of Hellenism in the east—was by no means undone; but his empire had barely been united when it was again dismembered, and, amidst the constant quarrels of the different states that were formed out of its ruins, the object of world-wide interest which they were destined to promote—the diffusion of Greek culture in the east—though not abandoned, was prosecuted on a feeble and stunted scale. Under such circumstances, neither the Greek nor the Asiatico-Egyptian states could think of acquiring a footing in the west or of turning their efforts against the Romans or the Carthaginians. The eastern and western state-systems subsisted side by side for a time without crossing, politically, each other's path; and Rome in particular remained substantially aloof from the complications in the days of Alexander's successors. The only relations established were of a mercantile kind; as in the instance of the free state of Rhodes, the leading representative of the policy of commercial neutrality in Greece and in consequence the universal medium of intercourse in an age of perpetual wars, which about 448 concluded a treaty with Rome —a commercial convention of course, such as was natural between a mercantile people and the masters of the Caerite and Campanian coasts. Even in the supply of mercenaries from Hellas, the universal recruiting field of those times, to Italy, and to Tarentum in particular, political relations—such as subsisted, for instance, between Tarentum and Sparta its mother-city—exercised but a very subordinate influence. In general the raising of mercenaries was simply a matter of traffic, and Sparta, although it regularly supplied the Tarentines with captains for their Italian wars, was by that course as little involved in hostilities with the Italians, as in the North American war of independence the German states were involved in hostilities with the Union, to whose opponents they sold the services of their subjects.

The Historical Position of Pyrrhus

Pyrrhus, king of Epirus, was himself simply a military adventurer. He was none the less a soldier of fortune that he traced back his pedigree to Aeacus and Achilles, and that, had he been more peacefully disposed, he might have lived and died as "king" of a small mountain tribe under the supremacy of Macedonia or perhaps in isolated independence. He has been compared to Alexander of Macedonia; and certainly the idea of founding a Hellenic empire of the west—which would have had as its core Epirus, Magna Graecia, and Sicily, would have commanded both the Italian seas, and would have reduced Rome and Carthage to the rank of barbarian peoples bordering on the Hellenistic state-system, like the Celts and the Indians—was analogous in greatness and boldness to the idea which led the Macedonian king over the Hellespont. But it was not the mere difference of issue that formed the distinction between the expedition to the east and that to the west. Alexander with his Macedonian army, in which the staff especially was excellent, could fully make head against the great-king; but the king of Epirus, which stood by the side of Macedonia somewhat as Hesse by the side of Prussia, could only raise an army worthy of the name by means of mercenaries and of alliances based on accidental political combinations. Alexander made his appearance in the Persian empire as a conqueror; Pyrrhus appeared in Italy as the general of a coalition of secondary states. Alexander left his hereditary dominions completely secured by the unconditional subjection of Greece, and by the strong army that remained behind under Antipater; Pyrrhus had no security for the integrity of his native dominions but the word of a doubtful neighbour. In the case of both conquerors, if their plans should be crowned with success, their native country would necessarily cease to be the centre of their new empire; but it was far more practicable to transfer the seat of the Macedonian military monarchy to Babylon than to found a soldier-dynasty in Tarentum or Syracuse. The democracy of the Greek republics—perpetual agony though it was—could not be at all coerced into the stiff forms of a military state; Philip had good reason for not incorporating the Greek republics with his empire. In the east no national resistance was to be expected; ruling and subject races had long lived there side by side, and a change of despot was a matter of indifference or even of satisfaction to the mass of the population. In the west the Romans, the Samnites, the Carthaginians, might be vanquished; but no conqueror could have transformed the Italians into Egyptian fellahs, or rendered the Roman farmers tributaries of Hellenic barons. Whatever we take into view—whether their own power, their allies, or the resources of their antagonists—in all points the plan of the Macedonian appears as a feasible, that of the Epirot an impracticable, enterprise; the former as the completion of a great historical task, the latter as a remarkable blunder; the former as the foundation of a new system of states and of a new phase of civilization, the latter as a mere episode in history. The work of Alexander outlived him, although its creator met an untimely death; Pyrrhus saw with his own eyes the wreck of all his plans, ere death called him away. Both were by nature daring and great, but Pyrrhus was only the foremost general, Alexander was eminently the most gifted statesman, of his time; and, if it is insight into what is and what is not possible that distinguishes the hero from the adventurer, Pyrrhus must be numbered among the latter class, and may as little be placed on a parallel with his greater kinsman as the Constable of Bourbon may be put in comparison with Louis the Eleventh.

And yet a wondrous charm attaches to the name of the Epirot—a peculiar sympathy, evoked certainly in some degree by his chivalrous and amiable character, but still more by the circumstance that he was the first Greek that met the Romans in battle. With him began those direct relations between Rome and Hellas, on which the whole subsequent development of ancient, and an essential part of modern, civilization are based. The struggle between phalanxes and cohorts, between a mercenary army and a militia, between military monarchy and senatorial government, between individual talent and national vigour —this struggle between Rome and Hellenism was first fought out in the battles between Pyrrhus and the Roman generals; and though the defeated party often afterwards appealed anew to the arbitration of arms, every succeeding day of battle simply confirmed the decision. But while the Greeks were beaten in the battlefield as well as in the senate-hall, their superiority was none the less decided on every other field of rivalry than that of politics; and these very struggles already betokened that the victory of Rome over the Hellenes would be different from her victories over Gauls and Phoenicians, and that the charm of Aphrodite only begins to work when the lance is broken and the helmet and shield are laid aside.

Character and Earlier History of Pyrrhus

King Pyrrhus was the son of Aeacides, ruler of the Molossians (about Janina), who, spared as a kinsman and faithful vassal by Alexander, had been after his death drawn into the whirlpool of Macedonian family-politics, and lost in it first his kingdom and then his life (441). His son, then six years of age, was saved by Glaucias the ruler of the Illyrian Taulantii, and in the course of the conflicts for the possession of Macedonia he was, when still a boy, restored by Demetrius Poliorcetes to his hereditary principality (447)—but only to lose it again after a few years through the influence of the opposite party (about 452), and to begin his military career as an exiled prince in the train of the Macedonian generals. Soon his personality asserted itself. He shared in the last campaigns of Antigonus; and the old marshal of Alexander took delight in the born soldier, who in the judgment of the grey-headed general only wanted years to be already the first warrior of the age. The unfortunate battle at Ipsus brought him as a hostage to Alexandria, to the court of the founder of the Lagid dynasty, where by his daring and downright character, and his soldierly spirit thoroughly despising everything that was not military, he attracted the attention of the politic king Ptolemy no less than he attracted the notice of the royal ladies by his manly beauty, which was not impaired by his wild look and stately tread. Just at this time the enterprising Demetrius was once more establishing himself in a new kingdom, which on this occasion was Macedonia; of course with the intention of using it as a lever to revive the monarchy of Alexander. To keep down his ambitious designs, it was important to give him employment at home; and Ptolemy, who knew how to make admirable use of such fiery spirits as the Epirot youth in the prosecution of his subtle policy, not only met the wishes of his consort queen Berenice, but also promoted his own ends, by giving his stepdaughter the princess Antigone in marriage to the young prince, and lending his aid and powerful influence to support the return of his beloved "son" to his native land (458). Restored to his paternal kingdom, he soon carried all before him. The brave Epirots, the Albanians of antiquity, clung with hereditary loyalty and fresh enthusiasm to the high-spirited youth—the "eagle," as they called him. In the confusion that arose regarding the succession to the Macedonian throne after the death of Cassander (457), the Epirot extended his dominions: step by step he gained the regions on the Ambracian gulf with the important town of Ambracia, the island of Corcyra,(2) and even a part of the Macedonian territory, and with forces far inferior he made head against king Demetrius to the admiration of the Macedonians themselves. Indeed, when Demetrius was by his own folly hurled from the Macedonian throne, it was voluntarily proffered by them to his chivalrous opponent, a kinsman of the Alexandrid house (467). No one was in reality worthier than Pyrrhus to wear the royal diadem of Philip and of Alexander. In an age of deep depravity, in which princely rank and baseness began to be synonymous, the personally unspotted and morally pure character of Pyrrhus shone conspicuous. For the free farmers of the hereditary Macedonian soil, who, although diminished and impoverished, were far from sharing in that decay of morals and of valour which the government of the Diadochi produced in Greece and Asia, Pyrrhus appeared exactly formed to be the fitting king, —Pyrrhus, who, like Alexander, in his household and in the circle of his friends preserved a heart open to all human sympathies, and constantly avoided the bearing of an Oriental sultan which was so odious to the Macedonians; and who, like Alexander, was acknowledged to be the first tactician of his time. But the singularly overstrained national feeling of the Macedonians, which preferred the most paltry Macedonian sovereign to the ablest foreigner, and the irrational insubordination of the Macedonian troops towards every non-Macedonian leader, to which Eumenes the Cardian, the greatest general of the school of Alexander, had fallen a victim, put a speedy termination to the rule of the prince of Epirus. Pyrrhus, who could not exercise sovereignty over Macedonia with the consent of the Macedonians, and who was too powerless and perhaps too high spirited to force himself on the nation against its will, after reigning seven months left the country to its native misgovernment, and went home to his faithful Epirots (467). But the man who had worn the crown of Alexander, the brother-in-law of Demetrius, the son-in-law of Ptolemy Lagides and of Agathocles of Syracuse, the highly-trained tactician who wrote memoirs and scientific dissertations on the military art, could not possibly end his days in inspecting at a set time yearly the accounts of the royal cattle steward, in receiving from his brave Epirots their customary gifts of oxen and sheep, in thereupon, at the altar of Zeus, procuring the renewal of their oath of allegiance and repeating his own engagement to respect the laws, and—for the better confirmation of the whole—in carousing with them all night long. If there was no place for him on the throne of Macedonia, there was no abiding in the land of his nativity at all; he was fitted for the first place, and he could not be content with the second. His views therefore turned abroad. The kings, who were quarrelling for the possession of Macedonia, although agreeing in nothing else, were ready and glad to concur in aiding the voluntary departure of their dangerous rival; and that his faithful war-comrades would follow him where-ever he led, he knew full well. Just at that time the circumstances of Italy were such, that the project which had been meditated forty years before by Pyrrhus's kinsman, his father's cousin, Alexander of Epirus, and quite recently by his father-in-law Agathocles, once more seemed feasible; and so Pyrrhus resolved to abandon his Macedonian schemes and to found for himself and for the Hellenic nation a new empire in the west.

Rising of the Italians against Rome— The Lucanians— The Etruscans and Celts— The Samnites— The Senones Annihilated

The interval of repose, which the peace with Samnium in 464 had procured for Italy, was of brief duration; the impulse which led to the formation of a new league against Roman ascendency came on this occasion from the Lucanians. This people, by taking part with Rome during the Samnite wars, paralyzed the action of the Tarentines and essentially contributed to the decisive issue; and in consideration of their services, the Romans gave up to them the Greek cities in their territory. Accordingly after the conclusion of peace they had, in concert with the Bruttians, set themselves to subdue these cities in succession. The Thurines, repeatedly assailed by Stenius Statilius the general of the Lucanians and reduced to extremities, applied for assistance against the Lucanians to the Roman senate—just as formerly the Campanians had asked the aid of Rome against the Samnites—and beyond doubt with a like sacrifice of their liberty and independence. In consequence of the founding of the fortress Venusia, Rome could dispense with the alliance of the Lucanians; so the Romans granted the prayer of the Thurines, and enjoined their friends and allies to desist from their designs on a city which had surrendered itself to Rome. The Lucanians and Bruttians, thus cheated by their more powerful allies of their share in the common spoil, entered into negotiations with the opposition-party among the Samnites and Tarentines to bring about a new Italian coalition; and when the Romans sent an embassy to warn them, they detained the envoys in captivity and began the war against Rome with a new attack on Thurii (about 469), while at the same time they invited not only the Samnites and Tarentines, but the northern Italians also—the Etruscans, Umbrians, and Gauls—to join them in the struggle for freedom. The Etruscan league actually revolted, and hired numerous bands of Gauls; the Roman army, which the praetor Lucius Caecilius was leading to the help of the Arretines who had remained faithful, was annihilated under the walls of Arretium by the Senonian mercenaries of the Etruscans: the general himself fell with 13,000 of his men (470). The Senones were reckoned allies of Rome; the Romans accordingly sent envoys to them to complain of their furnishing warriors to serve against Rome, and to require the surrender of their captives without ransom. But by the command of their chieftain Britomaris, who had to take vengeance on the Romans for the death of his father, the Senones slew the Roman envoys and openly took the Etruscan side. All the north of Italy, Etruscans, Umbrians, Gauls, were thus in arms against Rome; great results might be achieved, if its southern provinces also should seize the moment and declare, so far as they had not already done so, against Rome. In fact the Samnites, ever ready to make a stand on behalf of liberty, appear to have declared war against the Romans; but weakened and hemmed in on all sides as they were, they could be of little service to the league; and Tarentum manifested its wonted delay. While her antagonists were negotiating alliances, settling treaties as to subsidies, and collecting mercenaries, Rome was acting. The Senones were first made to feel how dangerous it was to gain a victory over the Romans. The consul Publius Cornelius Dolabella advanced with a strong army into their territory; all that were not put to the sword were driven forth from the land, and this tribe was erased from the list of the Italian nations (471). In the case of a people subsisting chiefly on its flocks and herds such an expulsion en masse was quite practicable; and the Senones thus expelled from Italy probably helped to make up the Gallic hosts which soon after inundated the countries of the Danube, Macedonia, Greece, and Asia Minor.

The Boii

The next neighbours and kinsmen of the Senones, the Boii, terrified and exasperated by a catastrophe which had been accomplished with so fearful a rapidity, united instantaneously with the Etruscans, who still continued the war, and whose Senonian mercenaries now fought against the Romans no longer as hirelings, but as desperate avengers of their native land. A powerful Etrusco-Gallic army marched against Rome to retaliate the annihilation of the Senonian tribe on the enemy's capital, and to extirpate Rome from the face of the earth more completely than had been formerly done by the chieftain of these same Senones. But the combined army was decidedly defeated by the Romans at its passage of the Tiber in the neighbourhood of the Vadimonian lake (471). After they had once more in the following year risked a general engagement near Populonia with no better success, the Boii deserted their confederates and concluded a peace on their own account with the Romans (472). Thus the Gauls, the most formidable member of the league, were conquered in detail before the league was fully formed, and by that means the hands of Rome were left free to act against Lower Italy, where during the years 469-471 the contest had not been carried on with any vigour. Hitherto the weak Roman army had with difficulty maintained itself in Thurii against the Lucanians and Bruttians; but now (472) the consul Gaius Fabricius Luscinus appeared with a strong army in front of the town, relieved it, defeated the Lucanians in a great engagement, and took their general Statilius prisoner. The smaller non-Doric Greek towns, recognizing the Romans as their deliverers, everywhere voluntarily joined them. Roman garrisons were left behind in the most important places, in Locri, Croton, Thurii, and especially in Rhegium, on which latter town the Carthaginians seem also to have had designs. Everywhere Rome had most decidedly the advantage. The annihilation of the Senones had given to the Romans a considerable tract of the Adriatic coast. With a view, doubtless, to the smouldering feud with Tarentum and the already threatened invasion of the Epirots, they hastened to make themselves sure of this coast as well as of the Adriatic sea. A burgess colony was sent out (about 471) to the seaport of Sena (Sinigaglia), the former capital of the Senonian territory; and at the same time a Roman fleet sailed from the Tyrrhene sea into the eastern waters, manifestly for the purpose of being stationed in the Adriatic and of protecting the Roman possessions there.

Breach between Rome and Tarentum

The Tarentines since the treaty of 450 had lived at peace with Rome. They had been spectators of the long struggle of the Samnites, and of the rapid extirpation of the Senones; they had acquiesced without remonstrance in the establishment of Venusia, Atria, and Sena, and in the occupation of Thurii and of Rhegium. But when the Roman fleet, on its voyage from the Tyrrhene to the Adriatic sea, now arrived in the Tarentine waters and cast anchor in the harbour of the friendly city, the long, cherished resentment at length overflowed. Old treaties, which prohibited the war-vessels of Rome from sailing to the east of the Lacinian promontory, were appealed to by popular orators in the assembly of the citizens. A furious mob fell upon the Roman ships of war, which, assailed suddenly in a piratical fashion, succumbed after a sharp struggle; five ships were taken and their crews executed or sold into slavery; the Roman admiral himself had fallen in the engagement. Only the supreme folly and supreme unscrupulousness of mob-rule can account for those disgraceful proceedings. The treaties referred to belonged to a period long past and forgotten; it is clear that they no longer had any meaning, at least subsequently to the founding of Atria and Sena, and that the Romans entered the bay on the faith of the existing alliance; indeed, it was very much their interest—as the further course of things showed—to afford the Tarentines no sort of pretext for declaring war. In declaring war against Rome—if such was their wish—the statesmen of Tarentum were only doing what they should have done long before; and if they preferred to rest their declaration of war upon the formal pretext of a breach of treaty rather than upon the real ground, no further objection could be taken to that course, seeing that diplomacy has always reckoned it beneath its dignity to speak the plain truth in plain language. But to make an armed attack upon the fleet without warning, instead of summoning the admiral to retrace his course, was a foolish no less than a barbarous act—one of those horrible barbarities of civilization, when moral principle suddenly forsakes the helm and the merest coarseness emerges in its room, as if to warn us against the childish belief that civilization is able to extirpate brutality from human nature.

And, as if what they had done had not been enough, the Tarentines after this heroic feat attacked Thurii, the Roman garrison of which capitulated in consequence of the surprise (in the winter of 472-473); and inflicted: severe chastisement on the Thurines—the same, whom Tarentine policy had abandoned to the Lucanians and thereby forcibly constrained into surrender to Rome—for their desertion from the Hellenic party to the barbarians.

Attempts at Peace

The barbarians, however, acted with a moderation which, considering their power and the provocation they had received, excites astonishment. It was the interest of Rome to maintain as long as possible the Tarentine neutrality, and the leading men in the senate accordingly rejected the proposal, which a minority had with natural resentment submitted, to declare war at once against the Tarentines. In fact, the continuance of peace on the part of Rome was proffered on the most moderate terms consistent with her honour—the release of the captives, the restoration of Thurii, the surrender of the originators of the attack on the fleet. A Roman embassy proceeded with these proposals to Tarentum (473), while at the same time, to add weight to their words, a Roman army under the consul Lucius Aemilius advanced into Samnium. The Tarentines could, without forfeiting aught of their independence, accept these terms; and considering the little inclination for war in so wealthy a commercial city, the Romans had reason to presume that an accommodation was still possible. But the attempt to preserve peace failed, whether through the opposition of those Tarentines who recognized the necessity of meeting the aggressions of Rome, the sooner the better, by a resort to arms, or merely through the unruliness of the city rabble, which with characteristic Greek naughtiness subjected the person of the envoy to an unworthy insult. The consul now advanced into the Tarentine territory; but instead of immediately commencing hostilities, he offered once more the same terms of peace; and, when this proved in vain, he began to lay waste the fields and country houses, and he defeated the civic militia. The principal persons captured, however, were released without ransom; and the hope was not abandoned that the pressure of war would give to the aristocratic party ascendency in the city and so bring about peace. The reason of this reserve was, that the Romans were unwilling to drive the city into the arms of the Epirot king. His designs on Italy were no longer a secret. A Tarentine embassy had already gone to Pyrrhus and returned without having accomplished its object. The king had demanded more than it had powers to grant. It was necessary that they should come to a decision. That the civic militia knew only how to run away from the Romans, had been made sufficiently clear. There remained only the choice between a peace with Rome, which the Romans still were ready to agree to on equitable terms, and a treaty with Pyrrhus on any condition that the king might think proper; or, in other words, the choice between submission to the supremacy of Rome, and subjection to the —tyrannis— of a Greek soldier.

Pyrrhus Summoned to Italy

The parties in the city were almost equally balanced. At length the ascendency remained with the national party—a result, that was due partly to the justifiable predilection which led them, if they must yield to a master at all, to prefer a Greek to a barbarian, but partly also to the dread of the demagogues that Rome, notwithstanding the moderation now forced upon it by circumstances, would not neglect on a fitting opportunity to exact vengeance for the outrages perpetrated by the Tarentine rabble. The city, accordingly, came to terms with Pyrrhus. He obtained the supreme command of the troops of the Tarentines and of the other Italians in arms against Rome, along with the right of keeping a garrison in Tarentum. The expenses of the war were, of course, to be borne by the city. Pyrrhus, on the other hand, promised to remain no longer in Italy than was necessary; probably with the tacit reservation that his own judgment should fix the time during which he would be needed there. Nevertheless, the prey had almost slipped out of his hands. While the Tarentine envoys—the chiefs, no doubt, of the war party—were absent in Epirus, the state of feeling in the city, now hard pressed by the Romans, underwent a change. The chief command was already entrusted to Agis, a man favourable to Rome, when the return of the envoys with the concluded treaty, accompanied by Cineas the confidential minister of Pyrrhus, again brought the war party to the helm.

Landing of Pyrrhus

A firmer hand now grasped the reins, and put an end to the pitiful vacillation. In the autumn of 473 Milo, the general of Pyrrhus, landed with 3000 Epirots and occupied the citadel of the town. He was followed in the beginning of the year 474 by the king himself, who landed after a stormy passage in which many lives were lost. He transported to Tarentum a respectable but miscellaneous army, consisting partly of the household troops, Molossians, Thesprotians, Chaonians, and Ambraciots; partly of the Macedonian infantry and the Thessalian cavalry, which Ptolemy king of Macedonia had conformably to stipulation handed over to him; partly of Aetolian, Acarnanian, and Athamanian mercenaries. Altogether it numbered 20,000 phalangitae, 2000 archers, 500 slingers, 3000 cavalry, and 20 elephants, and thus was not much smaller than the army with which fifty years before Alexander had crossed the Hellespont

Pyrrhus and the Coalition

The affairs of the coalition were in no very favourable state when the king arrived. The Roman consul indeed, as soon as he saw the soldiers of Milo taking the field against him instead of the Tarentine militia, had abandoned the attack on Tarentum and retreated to Apulia; but, with the exception of the territory of Tarentum, the Romans virtually ruled all Italy. The coalition had no army in the field anywhere in Lower Italy; and in Upper Italy the Etruscans, who alone were still in arms, had in the last campaign (473) met with nothing but defeat. The allies had, before the king embarked, committed to him the chief command of all their troops, and declared that they were able to place in the field an army of 350,000 infantry and 20,000 cavalry. The reality formed a sad contrast to these great promises. The army, whose chief command had been committed to Pyrrhus, had still to be created; and for the time being the main resources available for forming it were those of Tarentum alone. The king gave orders for the enlisting of an army of Italian mercenaries with Tarentine money, and called out the able-bodied citizens to serve in the war. But the Tarentines had not so understood the agreement. They had thought to purchase victory, like any other commodity, with money; it was a sort of breach of contract, that the king should compel them to fight for it themselves. The more glad the citizens had been at first after Milo's arrival to be quit of the burdensome service of mounting guard, the more unwillingly they now rallied to the standards of the king: it was necessary to threaten the negligent with the penalty of death. This result now justified the peace party in the eyes of all, and communications were entered into, or at any rate appeared to have been entered into, even with Rome. Pyrrhus, prepared for such opposition, immediately treated Tarentum as a conquered city; soldiers were quartered in the houses, the assemblies of the people and the numerous clubs (—sussitia—) were suspended, the theatre was shut, the promenades were closed, and the gates were occupied with Epirot guards. A number of the leading men were sent over the sea as hostages; others escaped the like fate by flight to Rome. These strict measures were necessary, for it was absolutely impossible in any sense to rely upon the Tarentines. It was only now that the king, in possession of that important city as a basis, could begin operations in the field.

Preparations in Rome— Commencement of the Conflict in Lower Italy

The Romans too were well aware of the conflict which awaited them. In order first of all to secure the fidelity of their allies or, in other words, of their subjects, the towns that could not be depended on were garrisoned, and the leaders of the party of independence, where it seemed needful, were arrested or executed: such was the case with a number of the members of the senate of Praeneste. For the war itself great exertions were made; a war contribution was levied; the full contingent was called forth from all their subjects and allies; even the proletarians who were properly exempt from obligation of service were called to arms. A Roman army remained as a reserve in the capital. A second advanced under the consul Tiberius Coruncanius into Etruria, and dispersed the forces of Volci and Volsinii. The main force was of course destined for Lower Italy; its departure was hastened as much as possible, in order to reach Pyrrhus while still in the territory of Tarentum, and to prevent him and his forces from forming a junction with the Samnites and other south Italian levies that were in arms against Rome. The Roman garrisons, that were placed in the Greek towns of Lower Italy, were intended temporarily to check the king's progress. But the mutiny of the troops stationed in Rhegium—one of the legions levied from the Campanian subjects of Rome under a Campanian captain Decius—deprived the Romans of that important town. It was not, however, transferred to the hands of Pyrrhus. While on the one hand the national hatred of the Campanians against the Romans undoubtedly contributed to produce this military insurrection, it was impossible on the other hand that Pyrrhus, who had crossed the sea to shield and protect the Hellenes, could receive as his allies troops who had put to death their Rhegine hosts in their own houses. Thus they remained isolated, in close league with their kinsmen and comrades in crime, the Mamertines, that is, the Campanian mercenaries of Agathocles, who had by similar means gained possession of Messana on the opposite side of the straits; and they pillaged and laid waste for their own behoof the adjacent Greek towns, such as Croton, where they put to death the Roman garrison, and Caulonia, which they destroyed. On the other hand the Romans succeeded, by means of a weak corps which advanced along the Lucanian frontier and of the garrison of Venusia, in preventing the Lucanians and Samnites from uniting with Pyrrhus; while the main force—four legions as it would appear, and so, with a corresponding number of allied troops, at least 50,000 strong—marched against Pyrrhus, under the consul Publius Laevinus.

Battle near Heraclea

With a view to cover the Tarentine colony of Heraclea, the king had taken up a position with his own and the Tarentine troops between that city and Pandosia (3) (474). The Romans, covered by their cavalry, forced the passage of the Siris, and opened the battle with a vehement and successful cavalry charge; the king, who led his cavalry in person, was thrown from his horse, and the Greek horsemen, panic-struck by the disappearance of their leader, abandoned the field to the squadrons of the enemy. Pyrrhus, however, put himself at the head of his infantry, and began a fresh and more decisive engagement. Seven times the legions and the phalanx met in shock of battle, and still the conflict was undecided. Then Megacles, one of the best officers of the king, fell, and, because on this hotly-contested day he had worn the king's armour, the army for the second time believed that the king had fallen; the ranks wavered; Laevinus already felt sure of the victory and threw the whole of his cavalry on the flank of the Greeks. But Pyrrhus, marching with uncovered head through the ranks of the infantry, revived the sinking courage of his troops. The elephants which had hitherto been kept in reserve were brought up to meet the cavalry; the horses took fright at them; the soldiers, not knowing how to encounter the huge beasts, turned and fled; the masses of disordered horsemen and the pursuing elephants at length broke the compact ranks of the Roman infantry, and the elephants in concert with the excellent Thessalian cavalry wrought great slaughter among the fugitives. Had not a brave Roman soldier, Gaius Minucius, the first hastate of the fourth legion, wounded one of the elephants and thereby thrown the pursuing troops into confusion, the Roman army would have been extirpated; as it was, the remainder of the Roman troops succeeded in retreating across the Siris. Their loss was great; 7000 Romans were found by the victors dead or wounded on the field of battle, 2000 were brought in prisoners; the Romans themselves stated their loss, including probably the wounded carried off the field, at 15,000 men. But Pyrrhus's army had suffered not much less: nearly 4000 of his best soldiers strewed the field of battle, and several of his ablest captains had fallen. Considering that his loss fell chiefly on the veteran soldiers who were far more difficult to be replaced than the Roman militia, and that he owed his victory only to the surprise produced by the attack of the elephants which could not be often repeated, the king, skilful judge of tactics as he was, may well at an after period have described this victory as resembling a defeat; although he was not so foolish as to communicate that piece of self-criticism to the public—as the Roman poets afterwards invented the story—in the inscription of the votive offering presented by him at Tarentum. Politically it mattered little in the first instance at what sacrifices the victory was bought; the gain of the first battle against the Romans was of inestimable value for Pyrrhus. His talents as a general had been brilliantly displayed on this new field of battle, and if anything could breathe unity and energy into the languishing league of the Italians, the victory of Heraclea could not fail to do so. But even the immediate results of the victory were considerable and lasting. Lucania was lost to the Romans: Laevinus collected the troops stationed there and marched to Apulia, The Bruttians, Lucanians, and Samnites joined Pyrrhus unmolested. With the exception of Rhegium, which pined under the oppression of the Campanian mutineers, the whole of the Greek cities joined the king, and Locri even voluntarily delivered up to him the Roman garrison; in his case they were persuaded, and with reason, that they would not be abandoned to the Italians. The Sabellians and Greeks thus passed over to Pyrrhus; but the victory produced no further effect. The Latins showed no inclination to get quit of the Roman rule, burdensome as it might be, by the help of a foreign dynast. Venusia, although now wholly surrounded by enemies, adhered with unshaken steadfastness to Rome. Pyrrhus proposed to the prisoners taken on the Siris, whose brave demeanour the chivalrous king requited by the most honourable treatment, that they should enter his army in accordance with the Greek fashion; but he learned that he was fighting not with mercenaries, but with a nation. Not one, either Roman or Latin, took service with him.

Attempts at Peace

Pyrrhus offered peace to the Romans. He was too sagacious a soldier not to recognize the precariousness of his footing, and too skilled a statesman not to profit opportunely by the moment which placed him in the most favourable position for the conclusion of peace. He now hoped that under the first impression made by the great battle on the Romans he should be able to secure the freedom of the Greek towns in Italy, and to call into existence between them and Rome a series of states of the second and third order as dependent allies of the new Greek power; for such was the tenor of his demands: the release of all Greek towns—and therefore of the Campanian and Lucanian towns in particular—from allegiance to Rome, and restitution of the territory taken from the Samnites, Daunians, Lucanians, and Bruttians, or in other words especially the surrender of Luceria and Venusia. If a further struggle with Rome could hardly be avoided, it was not desirable at any rate to begin it till the western Hellenes should be united under one ruler, till Sicily should be acquired and perhaps Africa be conquered.

Provided with such instructions, the Thessalian Cineas, the confidential minister of Pyrrhus, went to Rome. That dexterous negotiator, whom his contemporaries compared to Demosthenes so far as a rhetorician might be compared to a statesman and the minister of a sovereign to a popular leader, had orders to display by every means the respect which the victor of Heraclea really felt for his vanquished opponents, to make known the wish of the king to come to Rome in person, to influence men's minds in the king's favour by panegyrics which sound so well in the mouth of an enemy, by earnest flatteries, and, as opportunity offered, also by well-timed gifts—in short to try upon the Romans all the arts of cabinet policy, as they had been tested at the courts of Alexandria and Antioch. The senate hesitated; to many it seemed a prudent course to draw back a step and to wait till their dangerous antagonist should have further entangled himself or should be no more. But the grey-haired and blind consular Appius Claudius (censor 442, consul 447, 458), who had long withdrawn from state affairs but had himself conducted at this decisive moment to the senate, breathed the unbroken energy of his own vehement nature with words of fire into the souls of the younger generation. They gave to the message of the king the proud reply, which was first heard on this occasion and became thenceforth a maxim of the state, that Rome never negotiated so long as there were foreign troops on Italian ground; and to make good their words they dismissed the ambassador at once from the city. The object of the mission had failed, and the dexterous diplomatist, instead of producing an effect by his oratorical art, had on the contrary been himself impressed by such manly earnestness after so severe a defeat—he declared at home that every burgess in that city had seemed to him a king; in truth, the courtier had gained a sight of a free people.

Pyrrhus Marches against Rome

Pyrrhus, who during these negotiations had advanced into Campania, immediately on the news of their being broken off marched against Rome, to co-operate with the Etruscans, to shake the allies of Rome, and to threaten the city itself. But the Romans as little allowed themselves to be terrified as cajoled. At the summons of the herald "to enrol in the room of the fallen," the young men immediately after the battle of Heraclea had pressed forward in crowds to enlist; with the two newly-formed legions and the corps withdrawn from Lucania, Laevinus, stronger than before, followed the march of the king. He protected Capua against him, and frustrated his endeavours to enter into communications with Neapolis. So firm was the attitude of the Romans that, excepting the Greeks of Lower Italy, no allied state of any note dared to break off from the Roman alliance. Then Pyrrhus turned against Rome itself. Through a rich country, whose flourishing condition he beheld with astonishment, he marched against Fregellae which he surprised, forced the passage of the Liris, and reached Anagnia, which is not more than forty miles from Rome. No army crossed his path; but everywhere the towns of Latium closed their gates against him, and with measured step Laevinus followed him from Campania, while the consul Tiberius Coruncanius, who had just concluded a seasonable peace with the Etruscans, brought up a second Roman army from the north, and in Rome itself the reserve was preparing for battle under the dictator Gnaeus Domitius Calvinus. In these circumstances Pyrrhus could accomplish nothing; no course was left to him but to retire. For a time he still remained inactive in Campania in presence of the united armies of the two consuls; but no opportunity occurred of striking an effective blow. When winter came on, the king evacuated the enemy's territory, and distributed his troops among the friendly towns, taking up his own winter quarters in Tarentum. Thereupon the Romans also desisted from their operations. The army occupied standing quarters near Firmum in Picenum, where by command of the senate the legions defeated on the Siris spent the winter by way of punishment under tents.

Second Year of the War

Thus ended the campaign of 474. The separate peace which at the decisive moment Etruria had concluded with Rome, and the king's unexpected retreat which entirely disappointed the high-strung hopes of the Italian confederates, counterbalanced in great measure the impression of the victory of Heraclea. The Italians complained of the burdens of the war, particularly of the bad discipline of the mercenaries quartered among them, and the king, weary of the petty quarrelling and of the impolitic as well as unmilitary conduct of his allies, began to have a presentiment that the problem which had fallen to him might be, despite all tactical successes, politically insoluble. The arrival of a Roman embassy of three consulars, including Gaius Fabricius the conqueror of Thurii, again revived in him for a moment the hopes of peace; but it soon appeared that they had only power to treat for the ransom or exchange of prisoners. Pyrrhus rejected their demand, but at the festival of the Saturnalia he released all the prisoners on their word of honour. Their keeping of that word, and the repulse by the Roman ambassador of an attempt at bribery, were celebrated by posterity in a manner most unbecoming and betokening rather the dishonourable character of the later, than the honourable feeling of that earlier, epoch.

Battle of Ausculum

In the spring of 475 Pyrrhus resumed the offensive, and advanced into Apulia, whither the Roman army marched to meet him. In the hope of shaking the Roman symmachy in these regions by a decisive victory, the king offered battle a second time, and the Romans did not refuse it. The two armies encountered each other near Ausculum (Ascoli di Puglia). Under the banners of Pyrrhus there fought, besides his Epirot and Macedonian troops, the Italian mercenaries, the burgess-force—the white shields as they were called—of Tarentum, and the allied Lucanians, Bruttians, and Samnites—altogether 70,000 infantry, of whom 16,000 were Greeks and Epirots, more than 8000 cavalry, and nineteen elephants. The Romans were supported on that day by the Latins, Campanians, Volscians, Sabines, Umbrians, Marrucinians, Paelignians, Frentanians, and Arpanians. They too numbered above 70,000 infantry, of whom 20,000 were Roman citizens, and 8000 cavalry. Both parties had made alterations in their military system. Pyrrhus, perceiving with the sharp eye of a soldier the advantages of the Roman manipular organization, had on the wings substituted for the long front of his phalanxes an arrangement by companies with intervals between them in imitation of the cohorts, and— perhaps for political no less than for military reasons—had placed the Tarentine and Samnite cohorts between the subdivisions of his own men. In the centre alone the Epirot phalanx stood in close order. For the purpose of keeping off the elephants the Romans produced a species of war-chariot, from which projected iron poles furnished with chafing-dishes, and on which were fastened moveable masts adjusted with a view to being lowered, and ending in an iron spike—in some degree the model of the boarding-bridges which were to play so great a part in the first Punic war.

According to the Greek account of the battle, which seems less one-sided than the Roman account also extant, the Greeks had the disadvantage on the first day, as they did not succeed in deploying their line along the steep and marshy banks of the river where they were compelled to accept battle, or in bringing their cavalry and elephants into action. On the second day, however, Pyrrhus anticipated the Romans in occupying the intersected ground, and thus gained without loss the plain where he could without disturbance draw up his phalanx. Vainly did the Romans with desperate courage fall sword in hand on the -sarissae-; the phalanx preserved an unshaken front under every assault, but in its turn was unable to make any impression on the Roman legions. It was not till the numerous escort of the elephants had, with arrows and stones hurled from slings, dislodged the combatants stationed in the Roman war-chariots and had cut the traces of the horses, and the elephants pressed upon the Roman line, that it began to waver. The giving way of the guard attached to the Roman chariots formed the signal for universal flight, which, however, did not involve the sacrifice of many lives, as the adjoining camp received the fugitives. The Roman account of the battle alone mentions the circumstance, that during the principal engagement an Arpanian corps detached from the Roman main force had attacked and set on fire the weakly-guarded Epirot camp; but, even if this were correct, the Romans are not at all justified in their assertion that the battle remained undecided. Both accounts, on the contrary, agree in stating that the Roman army retreated across the river, and that Pyrrhus remained in possession of the field of battle. The number of the fallen was, according to the Greek account, 6000 on the side of the Romans, 3505 on that of the Greeks.(4) Amongst the wounded was the king himself, whose arm had been pierced with a javelin, while he was fighting, as was his wont, in the thickest of the fray. Pyrrhus had achieved a victory, but his were unfruitful laurels; the victory was creditable to the king as a general and as a soldier, but it did not promote his political designs. What Pyrrhus needed was a brilliant success which should break up the Roman army and give an opportunity and impulse to the wavering allies to change sides; but the Roman army and the Roman confederacy still remained unbroken, and the Greek army, which was nothing without its leader, was fettered for a considerable time in consequence of his wound. He was obliged to renounce the campaign and to go into winter quarters; which the king took up in Tarentum, the Romans on this occasion in Apulia. It was becoming daily more evident that in a military point of view the resources of the king were inferior to those of the Romans, just as, politically, the loose and refractory coalition could not stand a comparison with the firmly-established Roman symmachy. The sudden and vehement style of the Greek warfare and the genius of the general might perhaps achieve another such victory as those of Heraclea and Ausculum, but every new victory was wearing out his resources for further enterprise, and it was clear that the Romans already felt themselves the stronger, and awaited with a courageous patience final victory. Such a war as this was not the delicate game of art that was practised and understood by the Greek princes. All strategical combinations were shattered against the full and mighty energy of the national levy. Pyrrhus felt how matters stood: weary of his victories and despising his allies, he only persevered because military honour required him not to leave Italy till he should have secured his clients from barbarian assault. With his impatient temperament it might be presumed that he would embrace the first pretext to get rid of the burdensome duty; and an opportunity of withdrawing from Italy was soon presented to him by the affairs of Sicily.

Relations of Sicily, Syracuse, and Carthage— Pyrrhus Invited to Syracuse

After the death of Agathocles (465) the Greeks of Sicily were without any leading power. While in the several Hellenic cities incapable demagogues and incapable tyrants were replacing each other, the Carthaginians, the old rulers of the western point, were extending their dominion unmolested. After Agrigentum had surrendered to them, they believed that the time had come for taking final steps towards the end which they had kept in view for centuries, and for reducing the whole island under their authority; they set themselves to attack Syracuse. That city, which formerly by its armies and fleets had disputed the possession of the island with Carthage, had through internal dissension and the weakness of its government fallen so low that it was obliged to seek for safety in the protection of its walls and in foreign aid; and none could afford that aid but king Pyrrhus. Pyrrhus was the husband of Agathocles's daughter, and his son Alexander, then sixteen years of age, was Agathocles's grandson. Both were in every respect natural heirs of the ambitious schemes of the ruler of Syracuse; and if her freedom was at an end, Syracuse might find compensation in becoming the capital of a Hellenic empire of the West. So the Syracusans, like the Tarentines, and under similar conditions, voluntarily offered their sovereignty to king Pyrrhus (about 475); and by a singular conjuncture of affairs everything seemed to concur towards the success of the magnificent plans of the Epirot king, based as they primarily were on the possession of Tarentum and Syracuse.

League between Rome and Carthage— Third Year of the War

The immediate effect, indeed, of this union of the Italian and Sicilian Greeks under one control was a closer concert also on the part of their antagonists. Carthage and Rome now converted their old commercial treaties into an offensive and defensive league against Pyrrhus (475), the tenor of which was that, if Pyrrhus invaded Roman or Carthaginian territory, the party which was not attacked should furnish that which was assailed with a contingent on its own territory and should itself defray the expense of the auxiliary troops; that in such an event Carthage should be bound to furnish transports and to assist the Romans also with a war fleet, but the crews of that fleet should not be obliged to fight for the Romans by land; that lastly, both states should pledge themselves not to conclude a separate peace with Pyrrhus. The object of the Romans in entering into the treaty was to render possible an attack on Tarentum and to cut off Pyrrhus from his own country, neither of which ends could be attained without the co-operation of the Punic fleet; the object of the Carthaginians was to detain the king in Italy, so that they might be able without molestation to carry into effect their designs on Syracuse.(5) It was accordingly the interest of both powers in the first instance to secure the sea between Italy and Sicily. A powerful Carthaginian fleet of 120 sail under the admiral Mago proceeded from Ostia, whither Mago seems to have gone to conclude the treaty, to the Sicilian straits. The Mamertines, who anticipated righteous punishment for their outrage upon the Greek population of Messana in the event of Pyrrhus becoming ruler of Sicily and Italy, attached themselves closely to the Romans and Carthaginians, and secured for them the Sicilian side of the straits. The allies would willingly have brought Rhegium also on the opposite coast under their power; but Rome could not possibly pardon the Campanian garrison, and an attempt of the combined Romans and Carthaginians to gain the city by force of arms miscarried. The Carthaginian fleet sailed thence for Syracuse and blockaded the city by sea, while at the same time a strong Phoenician army began the siege by land (476). It was high time that Pyrrhus should appear at Syracuse: but, in fact, matters in Italy were by no means in such a condition that he and his troops could be dispensed with there. The two consuls of 476, Gaius Fabricius Luscinus, and Quintus Aemilius Papus, both experienced generals, had begun the new campaign with vigour, and although the Romans had hitherto sustained nothing but defeat in this war, it was not they but the victors that were weary of it and longed for peace. Pyrrhus made another attempt to obtain accommodation on tolerable terms. The consul Fabricius had handed over to the king a wretch, who had proposed to poison him on condition of being well paid for it. Not only did the king in token of gratitude release all his Roman prisoners without ransom, but he felt himself so moved by the generosity of his brave opponents that he offered, by way of personal recompense, a singularly fair and favourable peace. Cineas appears to have gone once more to Rome, and Carthage seems to have been seriously apprehensive that Rome might come to terms. But the senate remained firm, and repeated its former answer. Unless the king was willing to allow Syracuse to fall into the hands of the Carthaginians and to have his grand scheme thereby disconcerted, no other course remained than to abandon his Italian allies and to confine himself for the time being to the occupation of the most important seaports, particularly Tarentum and Locri. In vain the Lucanians and Samnites conjured him not to desert them; in vain the Tarentines summoned him either to comply with his duty as their general or to give them back their city. The king met their complaints and reproaches with the consolatory assurance that better times were coming, or with abrupt dismissal. Milo remained behind in Tarentum; Alexander, the king's son, in Locri; and Pyrrhus, with his main force, embarked in the spring of 476 at Tarentum for Syracuse.

Previous Part     1 ... 5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16  17  18  19 ... 58     Next Part
Home - Random Browse