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every farm. (3.) Two consuls were to be elected, of whom one every year should be a plebeian.
65. The strongest objection to a plebeian consulship was on religious grounds; for high patricians held it an impiety to place in the supreme magistracy one who had no right to take the auspices, and whom they regarded as no true Roman. To attack this prejudice in the boldest manner, Licinius proposed to increase the number of keepers of the Sibylline Books from two to ten, and to appoint five of these from the plebeians. These laws were not passed without many years' violent opposition. At length they were ratified by the Senate and the Comitia Curiata (B. C. 367); and to celebrate this happy agreement between the two orders, a Temple of Concord was built upon the Capitoline Hill. At the same time, a new office, the prætorship, was instituted and confined to the patricians, comprising most of the civil and judicial duties which had hitherto belonged to the consuls, while the latter kept their absolute military power. The first plebeian consul under this arrangement was L. Sextius.
66. The restless and turbulent Gauls re-appeared in Latium, during the same year with the passing of the Licinian laws. They were defeated by the aged general Camillus, who had been six times military tribune and five times dictator. On their second invasion they encamped within five miles of the city, and struck terror, we may well believe, into the hearts of those who remembered the desolations of thirty years before; but, at length, they broke up their camp without fighting, and passed into Campania. On their return through Latium they were signally defeated. In 350 B. C., they spent the winter upon the Alban Mount, and joined the Greek pirates on the coast in ravaging the country, until they were dislodged by L. Furius Camillus, a son of the general.
They made a treaty B. C. 346, after which they never again appeared in Latium. They continued to be the ruling race between the Alps and the northern Apennines, and along the Adriatic as far south as the Abruzʼzi. Many towns, like Milan, were held, however, by the Etruscans in a sort of independence, while the Gauls lived in unwalled villages. From their Tuscan subjects, the Gauls learned letters and the arts of civilized life, which spread from them, in a greater or less degree, to all the Alpine populations.
Veii taken B. C. 396, after a ten years' siege. Defeat of the Romans on the Allia, and capture of their city by the Gauls, B. C. 390. Massacre of the senators. Manlius saves the Capitol, during a seven months' siege. Rome in ruins. Distress of the poor. Treason of Manlius. The Licinian laws, passed after nine years' contest, relieve debtors and divide the public lands among the common people. The Gauls overrun central Italy, B. C. 361-346, but at length retire north of the Apennines.
SECOND PERIOD, B. C. 343-264.
67. From the political struggles which developed the Roman constitution, we turn to the series of foreign wars between Rome and her most powerful rival for the supremacy of southern Italy. The Samnites were a Sabine ráce, settled as conquerors in the Oscan country. Their possessions were mostly inland, comprising the snow-covered mountain range which separates the Apulian from the Campanian plains, but they extended to the coast between Naples and Pæstum, where they included the once famous cities of Herculaneum and Pompeii.
The Samnites ranked with the Latins, as the most warlike races of Italy; but the conquests of the former, at the period to which we have now come, had been by far the more brilliant and extensive. In the decline both of Greek and Etruscan power in southern Italy (see Book III, % 90), they had gained control of the whole lower portion of the peninsula, except a few Greek colonies like Tarentum and Neapolis. But Latium, under the leadership of Rome, had advanced surely though slowly, securing each advantage by the formation of Roman colonies, bound by the strongest ties of obedience to the mother city, while the Samnite nation had no settled policy and no regularly constituted head. Each new settlement, therefore, divided and diminished their strength.
68. The conquerors of Cuma and Capua adopted the luxurious habits of the Greeks and Etruscans, whom they had supplanted, but with whom they continued to live on friendly terms. The Greek-loving inhabitants of the coast dreaded their rude countrymen of the hills, almost as much as did the refined Hellenes themselves, and thus a great division took place in the Samnite stock. The civilized and Hellenized Samnites besought the aid of the Romans against the predatory hordes of their own race, who were constantly swooping down from the Samnian hills to ravage their fields. The Romans consented, on condition of their own supremacy being acknowledged throughout Campania, and their former treaty with Samnium was broken.
69. The First Samnite War began with the march of two Roman armies into Campania, while the Latin allies invaded the Pelignian country on the north. The Roman armies were victorious, and both consuls obtained a triumph. A large force was left, at the request of the Campanians, to guard their cities during the winter. The common soldiers were still burdened with poverty, and the prolonged absence from their farms occasioned serious suffering to their families.
In the second year of the war, mutinous plots were discovered, and a large body of the troops were sent home. On their way they released all the bondmen for debt whom they found working in the fields of their creditors, fortified a regular camp on the slope of the Alban Hills, and
were joined by a large body of oppressed common people from the city. But when they met the army hastily raised by the patricians, and sent forth under Valerius the dictator whose family had always been faithful friends to the people, and who was himself greatly beloved by all classes for his generous character, no less than his military glory—these men, whose revolt had been occasioned by real distress, and not by defect of loyalty, could not bring themselves to fight their fellow-citizens and the defenders of their common country. The two armies stood facing each other, until remorse on one side and pity on the other had overcome all mutual resentment; then, both pressing forward, they grasped hands or rushed into each others' arms with tears and demands for pardon. The just requirements of the soldiers were granted by the Senate, together with amnesty for their irregular proceedings, and this singular rebellion ended in a lasting peace.
70. The Latins, meanwhile, had been left to carry on the Samnite war by themselves, and their repeated successes encouraged them to assert their independence of Rome. The Romans now (B. C. 341) made peace with the Samnites, and, two years later, turned their arms against the Latins, who were strengthened by alliance with their late opponents, the Campanians and Volscians. The two consuls with their forces moved into Campania, and encamped in the plain of Capua, opposite the army of the three allies. Strict orders were issued against skirmishing or personal encounters, and disobedience was to be punished with death. Ignorant or heedless of the command, Titus Manlius, the consul's son, accepted a challenge from a Latin warrior, killed his opponent, and brought the spoils in triumph to lay at his father's feet. The consul turned away his face, and summoning his guards, ordered them to behead the young man before his tent, in the presence of all the soldiers. Roman discipline knew no ties of affection. Manlius, the father, was forever regarded with horror, but Manlius, the consul and general, was strictly obeyed as long as he commanded the armies of Rome.
71. The decisive battle in the Latin war took place at the foot of Vesuvius. The augurs, having taken the auspices as usual, declared that fate demanded the sacrifice of a general on one side and an army on the other. It was therefore made known to the Roman officers that, whichever portion of the army should begin to yield, the consul commanding in that quarter would devote himself to the gods of death and the grave, in order that the army which must perish might be that of the Latins.
Manlius led the Roman right; Publius Decius, the people's consul, the left. The battle was severe, and bravely fought on both sides; but, at length, the Latin right wing prevailed, and the Roman left began to give way. Decius instantly called the chief pontiff — for, as a plebeian, he himself was ignorant of the ceremonies by which the gods must be addressed
and bade him dictate the form of words in which he was to devote himself to death. By the direction of the pontiff, he wrapped his toga around his face, set his feet upon a javelin, and repeated the imprecation. Then sending his guard of lictors to the other consul to announce his fate, he mounted his horse, plunged into the host of the enemy, and was quickly slain. The Latins saw and understood the act, but they still fought fiercely, like men who struggled against fate. So equally matched were the main forces, that Manlius gained the day at last only by bringing on the poorer supernumeraries, whom he had armed to constitute a double
72. A second battle was much more easily won, and the Latins had no strength to rally for a third. The Latin League was wholly broken up, Roman law every-where took the place of local constitutions, and some cities even became Roman colonies. The Latins were one in race and language with Rome, and their transient hostility was exchanged for a close and permanent alliance. The battle under Mount Vesuvius was one of the most important in the history of Rome, for by securing the sovereignty of Latium, it opened the way to the conquest of the world.
73. For the next twelve years the Romans were unable to undertake any great foreign war. Italy was invaded by Alexander of Epirus, uncle of the great Macedonian conqueror, B. C. 332. His quarrel was with the Samnites, but if his success had been equal to his ambition, no engagements with the Romans would have prevented his overrunning the whole peninsula. He was defeated and slain, however, in 326 B. C., and the Romans immediately prepared for a renewed contest with the Samnites, which was to last twenty-two years, B. C. 326-304. The two chief states of Italy fought for sovereignty, and their allies included almost all the other nations in the peninsula.
The events of the first five years were too indecisive to be worth recording. The advantage was generally with the Romans, but the Samnite power was still unbroken, and was able, in 321 B. C., to inflict one of the most severe and disgraceful defeats that Roman arms had ever sustained.
The form, which has been strictly preserved, may be of interest, as illustrating Roman ideas: "Thou Janus, thou Jupiter, thou Mars our father, thou Quirinus, thou Bellona; ye Lares, ye the nine gods, ye the gods of our fathers' land, ye whose power disposes both of us and of our enemies, and ye also, gods of the dead, I pray you, I humbly beseech you..... that ye would prosper the people of Rome and the Quirites with all might and victory, and that ye would visit the enemies of the people of Rome..... with terror, dismay, and death. And according to these words which I have now spoken, so do I now, on the behalf of the commonwealth of the Roman people..... on behalf of the army, both the legions and the foreign aids . . . . . devote the legions and the foreign aids of our enemies, along with myself, to the gods of the dead and to the grave." It was deemed an impiety to ask for victory without making a sacrifice, for Nemesis avenged unmingled prosperity no less than crime.
The combined forces of Rome, led by the two consuls, were entrapped in a mountain-pass between Naples and Ben ́even'tum, known as the "Caudine Forks." Half the soldiers fell in the fight which ensued; the rest surrendered, but were generously spared by Pontius, the Samnite general, on condition of an honorable peace being signed by the two consuls and by two tribunes of the people, who were present with the troops. The soldiers were then made to "pass under the yoke," in token of surrender, and were permitted to march away, without their arms, toward Rome. But the Senate, having got back its forces, refused to be bound by the agreement of the consuls. The signers of the treaty, stripped and bound, were given up to the vengeance of the Samnites, but Pontius refused to receive them. He did not choose to punish the innocent for the guilty, nor to justify the Roman government in taking all the advantage of the agreement, and refusing all the sacrifices.
74. The war went on six years without any very important event, until, in 315 B. C., the Samnites gained another great success at Lau'tulæ. Almost all the allies of Rome now deserted what seemed the losing cause. Campania revolted; the Ausonians and Volscians joined the Samnite alliance. But, in the following year, a still more severe and decisive battle gave victory to the Romans. The Samnites were crushed beyond all power of recovery. The war was continued, however, ten years longer, chiefly by the efforts of the Etruscans, Oscans, and Umbrians, to preserve the balance of power in Italy. But these efforts were never united, and the Romans were able to defeat them, one by one, until, in 304 B. C., the Samnites became subject to Rome, and all the other parties concluded a peace. Rome was now, without question, the first nation in Italy; and, considering the disputes which weakened the fragments of Alexander's empire, might almost be considered the greatest in the world. In intellectual culture, the Romans were still inferior to the conquered Samnites. Pontius, the Samnite general, was well versed in Greek philosophy, and in the elevation of his character far surpassed the proudest Romans of his time.
75. Near the close of the Second Samnite War, the Equi, who had been for eighty years in a state of neutrality, took up arms against Rome; and immediately after the treaty of B. C. 304, the consuls marched 40,000 men into their territory. A sharp and severe struggle of fifty days resulted in the capture and destruction of forty-one towns. A large portion of the people were sold into slavery, and the rest became subjects of Rome. A few years later, however, they received the rights of citizens, were enrolled in the tribes, and served in the wars against the Samnites.
*I. e., to march between two spears planted in the ground and surmounted by a third. Hence, our term "subjugation" sub jugum ire.