Biggest War in the History of Rome

The Romans, as you can already guess, fought a lot of wars. Initially, it was for self-preservation, then dominance in the Italian peninsula and ultimately to conquer. Whatever the reason, Rome has seen a lot of wars (and by lot I mean a LOT of wars). There have been attacks by neighboring Latin states, civil wars and full frontal assaults and of which we’re going to talk about (HUZZAH!!!!!). Today we’re going to talk two of the earliest (post Lars Porsena attack which we talked about before) battles in the nascent (and then not so nascent) Republic’s life. These were solely defensive because Rome couldn’t afford otherwise then.

The Pometian revolt (503 BC)

Biggest war in the Roman History

So in 503 BC, just a few years after our favorite Republic in the entire ancient world had come into existence (magically of course), it went to war. No fault of it’s own obviously (it was a teensy weensy baby at that time). The apparently Roman colonies of Pometia (hence the Pometian revolt) and Cora, colluding with the Aurunci tribe, revolted against our favorite city-state in the entire ancient world, Rome.

According to Livy (and Livy only), the Romans were led by consuls Agrippa Menenius Lanatus (who was a Patrician and Plebeian both or maybe one of them? Nobody knows) and Publius Postumius Tubertus (I don’t know about you but I would NOT have liked to be called Publius Postumius Tubertus). Livy, who seems to be the only source I can find to cite, said that the Romans defeated most of their enemies after which the fight was confined to Pometia. Prisoners of war were brutally slaughtered on both sides. Livy also says that the consuls celebrated a triumph.

The following consuls, Opiter Virginius and Spurius Cassius Viscellenus attempted to lay siege on Pometia but the Aurunci destroyed the siege engines, massacred the Romans and also killed a consul. The Romans knew when to back out, so they when back to Rome. THE END. Ha-ha no. They came back with more troops but before they could taste the sweet joy of victory, the Pometians surrendered and were sold into slavery (just coz). The Aurunci leaders were beheaded too.

Battle of Lake Regillus and Foedus Cassianum (501 BC – 493 BC)

Biggest War in the Roman History

Now in 501 BC, one Octavius Mamilius of Tusculum decided that he was big boy who wanted to pick up a fight with Rome. He rallied 30 Latin cities to his cause, who formed a league against Rome. Remember how I told you the Romans would appoint a dictator in times of war or crises, this is the first time that happened. Titus Lartius was appointed Dictator with Spurius Cassius as his magister equitum (the Master of the Horse, that sounds cool). But the war didn’t start until two years later.

In 499 BC, or possibly 496 BC, war broke out. An unidentified party besieged Fidenae and another or possibly the same unidentified party captured Crustumerium. Praeneste defected to the Romans (smart move). Aulus Postumius was appointed dictator. He led the army into the Latin territory and returned victorious from the Battle of Lake Regillus.

In 495 BC, the Volsci decided to enlist the Latins’ help to attack Rome. The Latins tactfully declined the offer and handed Volscian ambassadors to Rome. Rome being a generous friend, freed 6000 Latin prisoners. In return the Latins sent a crown of gold to the Temple of Jupiter Optimus Maximus in Rome. The Latins also warned Rome of the Volscian invasion, shortly after in the same year.

In 493 BC, the Foedus Cassianum or the Treaty of Cassius was concluded. It was a treaty that instituted a military alliance between Rome and the Latin cities of the Italian Peninsula. The coalition was obviously led by Rome as the leading city-state. Rome had power equal to that of all the Latin cities combined i.e. Rome and the thirty Latin cities became two independent powers.  Apart from establishing peace, it required that armies would be joined to provide mutual defense from Italic tribes. All spoils taken in war would be split between the two parties.

The treaty, of which a bronze copy survived in the Roman Forum until Cicero’s day, was a landmark in the early history of Rome. The original does not survive.

“Let there be peace among the Romans and all the Latin cities as long as the heavens and the earth shall remain where they are. Let them neither make war upon one another themselves, nor bring in foreign enemies nor grant a safe passage to those who shall make war upon either. Let them assist one another when warred upon, with all their forces, and let each have an equal share of the spoils and booty taken in their common wars. Let suits relating to private contracts be determined within ten days, and in the nation where the contract was made. And let it not be permitted to add anything to, or take anything away from these treaties except by consent both of the Romans and of all the Latins”

Dionysius of Halicarnassus

A second people, the Hernici, joined the alliance late In 486 BC Rome through the efforts of Spurius Cassius Viscellinus.

Biggest War of Roman History

This was not the first time Rome came in conflict with its neighbours, nor will it be the last. The Latins and the Romans would remain in an unending frenzy of war and peace till the later would finally subjugate and assimilate the Latins. Both of these cultures would have an impact on each other, though Rome will always remain the more dominant entity. The Latins would be steady allies and bitter enemies throughout the history of Rome. 

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