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THE THIRD SAMNITE WAR The period of peace following the Second Samnite War was brief.1 Since we are not informed of the exact terms of the settlement of 304 B.C., we have no way of knowing to what extent, if any, the terms of peace created resentment or set up potential areas of conflict and thereby contributed to the outbreak of war six years later in 298 B.C. Livy’s explanation of the cause (10.11.11–12.3) casts the blame squarely upon the Samnites, and looks all too suspiciously like his explanation for the beginning of the First Samnite War. When the Samnites approached the neighboring Lucanians for an alliance against Rome, the Lucanians refused. The Samnites then invaded their land and began to lay it waste. The Lucanians sent ambassadors to Rome, to place themselves in the fides of the Roman people and to ask them to put an end to the Samnites’ violence against their land. The senate received their appeal and sent fetials to the Samnites in the field to demand reparations. Their demands were haughtily refused. The Samnites even went so far as to claim that if the fetials had spoken in Samnium before a public meeting, they would not have been allowed to go away unharmed. Thereupon the senate and people of Rome declared war. This account portrays the Romans as embarking upon a war in order to defend an innocent people from an aggressive neighbor. The Lucanians treat the Romans as if they are to be counted on to make Italy safe for selfdetermination . Moreover, the alleged Samnite reply to the Roman fetials further justifies the Roman cause and condemns the Samnites, because the 324 Chapter 10 Rome’s Conquest and Unification of Italy, 299–264 B.C. 1. For other modern treatments of the events covered in this chapter, see Salmon 1967, 255–92; Harris 1971, 61–84; Heurgon 1973, 209–21; Scullard 1980, 136–53; Cornell, Staveley , and Frank in CAH VII.2 1989, 389–485; and Cornell 1995, 357–98. rome’s conquest and unification of italy 325 mere suggestion of harm to fetials is almost as great a sacrilege as if the violence had actually been perpetrated. Such an infraction of international law would have given the Romans a legitimate reason to go to war. On the other hand, Rome’s actions during the brief interval of peace indicate no abating of expansion or in settlement of frontier areas. These ongoing processes suggest that the Roman state was not content to stay within fixed borders. Military campaigns were conducted in Etruria and Umbria to extend Roman influence further in these areas. The Umbrian stronghold of Nequinum was captured and resettled as the Latin colony of Narnia. When both the Romans and Samnites sought an alliance with Picenum, Rome’s position in northern Italy was further strengthened by the Picentes’ decision to align themselves with Rome. Military operations were also conducted against the Aequians and Marsi, who apparently resented and resisted the Roman construction of the Via Valeria and the colonial foundations of Alba Fucens and Carseoli. Roman settlement in the area of the Liris also continued. In addition to founding the colony of Sora as an outpost against northern Samnium, censors in 299 B.C. created two new tribes: the Aniensis and Teretina, thus bringing the total of Roman tribes up to thirty-three. The Aniensis was located beyond the Anio in the territory of the Aequians, and the Teretina included the coastal area between the mouths of the Liris and the Volturnus (Taylor 1960, 56–59). It is noteworthy that both these new tribes were situated on or near Rome’s newly created roads, the Via Valeria and the Via Appia, which apparently facilitated and encouraged Roman settlement. The censorial creation of tribes can serve as a rough gauge for the pace and scale of Roman expansion . During the early years of the republic they numbered twenty-one. Their final total was thirty-five, which was not reached until the creation of the last two tribes in 241 B.C., fifty-eight years after the Aniensis and Teretina. During the thirty-three years 332–299 B.C. six new tribes were organized, and during the eighty-eight years 387–299 B.C. twelve tribes were established. Livy’s tenth book contains a detailed account of the first six years of the Third Samnite War (298–293 B.C.), but unfortunately, unlike...


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