The first authentic history of Rome begins about 400. The city then possessed, possibly, three hundred square miles of territory. The number of tribes had been increased to twenty-five. Later it became thirty-five.

In 391 a horde of Celtic barbarians crossed the Apennines into Etruria and attacked CLUSIUM. Here a Celtic chief was slain by Roman ambassadors, who, contrary to the sacred character of their mission, were fighting in the ranks of the Etrurians. The Celts, in revenge, marched upon Rome. The disastrous battle of the ALLIA, a small river about eleven miles north of the city, was fought on July 18, 390. The Romans were thoroughly defeated and their city lay at the mercy of the foe. The Celts, however, delayed three days before marching upon Rome. Thus the people had time to prepare the Capitol for a siege, which lasted seven months, when by a large sum of money the barbarians were induced to withdraw.

During this siege the records of the city's history were destroyed, and we have no trustworthy data for events that happened previous to 390.

The city was quickly rebuilt and soon recovered from the blow. In 387 the lost territory adjacent to the Tiber was annexed, and military colonies 
 were planted at Sutrium and Nepete upon the Etruscan border, and also at Circeii and Setia. [Footnote: These military colonies, of which the Romans subsequently planted many, were outposts established to protect conquered territory. A band of Roman citizens was armed and equipped, as if for military purposes. They took with them their wives and children, slaves and followers, and established a local government similar to that of Rome. These colonists relinquished their rights as Roman citizens and became Latins; hence the name LATIN COLONIES.] The neighboring Latin town of TUSCULUM, which had always been a faithful ally, was annexed to Rome.

The trying times of these years had caused numerous enemies to spring up all around Rome; but she showed herself superior to them all, until finally, in 353, she had subdued the whole of Southern Etruria, and gained possession of the town of CAERE, with most of its territory. The town was made a MUNICIPIUM, the first of its kind.

The inhabitants, being of foreign blood and language, were not allowed the full rights of Roman citizenship, but were permitted to govern their own city in local matters as they wished. Many towns were subsequently made MUNICIPIA. Their inhabitants were called CIVES SINE SUFFRAGIO, "citizens without suffrage."

During the next ten years (353-343) Rome subdued all the lowland countries as far south as TARRACÍNA. To the north, across the Tiber, she had acquired most of the territory belonging to VEII and CAPÉNA.

In 354 she formed her first connections beyond the Liris, by a treaty with the SAMNITES, a race that had established itself in the mountainous districts of Central Italy. This people, spreading over the southern half of Italy, had in 423 captured the Etruscan city of CAPUA, and three years later the Greek city of CUMAE. Since then they had been practically masters of the whole of Campania.

After the treaty of 354 mentioned above, both the Romans and Samnites had, independently of each other, been waging war upon the Volsci. The Samnites went so far as to attack Teánum, a city of Northern Campania, which appealed to Capua for aid. The Samnites at once appeared before Capua, and she, unable to defend herself, asked aid of Rome.

Alarmed at the advances of the Samnites, Rome only awaited an excuse to break her treaty. This was furnished by the Capuans surrendering their city unconditionally to Rome, so that, in attacking the Samnites, she would simply be defending her subjects.

Thus began the SAMNITE WARS, which lasted for over half a century with varying success, and which were interrupted by two truces. It is usual to divide them into three parts, the First, Second, and Third Samnite Wars.


The accounts of this war are so uncertain and confused that no clear idea of its details can be given. It resulted in no material advantage to either side, except that Rome retained Capua and made it amunicipium, annexing its territory to her own.

THE LATIN WAR (340-338).

The cities of the LATIN CONFEDERACY had been for a long time looking with jealous eyes upon the rapid progress of Rome. Their own rights had been disregarded, and they felt that they must now make a stand or lose everything. They sent to Rome a proposition that one of the Consuls and half of the Senate be Latins; but it was rejected. A war followed, in the third year of which was fought the battle of Trigánum, near Mount Vesuvius. The Romans, with their Samnite allies, were victorious through the efforts of the Consul, TITUS MANLIUS TORQUÁTUS, one of the illustrious names of this still doubtful period. The remainder of the operations was rather a series of expeditions against individual cities than a general war.

In 338 all the Latins laid down their arms, and the war closed. The Latin confederacy was at an end. Rome now was mistress. Four of the Latin cities, TIBUR, PRAENESTE, CORA, and LAURENTUM, were left independent, but all the rest of the towns were annexed to Rome. Their territory became part of the Ager Románus, and the inhabitants Roman plebeians.

Besides acquiring Latium, Rome also annexed, as municipia, three more towns, Fundi, Formiae, and Velítrae, a Volscian town.

LATIUM was now made to include all the country from the Tiber to the Volturnus.

Rome about this time established several MARITIME (Roman) COLONIES, which were similar to her MILITARY (Latin) COLONIES, except that the colonists retained all their rights as Roman citizens, whereas the military colonists relinquished these rights and became Latins. The first of these colonies was ANTIUM (338); afterwards were established TARRACÍNA (329), MINTURNAE, and SINUESSA (296). Others were afterwards founded.

Later, when Antium was changed into a military colony, its navy was destroyed, and the beaks (rostra) of its ships were taken to Rome, and placed as ornaments on the speaker's stand opposite the Senate-House. Hence the name ROSTRA.

At this time the FORUM, which had been used for trading purposes of all kinds, was improved and beautified. It became a centre for political discussions and financial proceedings. The bankers and brokers had their offices here. Smaller Fora were started near the river, as the Forum Boarium (cattle market) and the Forum Holitorium (vegetable market).

Maenius, one of the Censors, was chiefly instrumental in bringing about these improvements.


The results of the First Samnite War and the Latin War were, as we have seen, to break up the Latin confederacy, and enlarge the domain of Rome.

There were now in Italy three races aiming at the supremacy, the Romans, the Samnites, and the Etruscans. The last of these was the weakest, and had been declining ever since the capture by the Romans of Veii in 396, and of Caere in 353.

In the contest which followed between Rome and the Samnites, the combatants were very nearly matched. Rome had her power more compact and concentrated, while the Samnites were superior in numbers, but were more scattered. They were both equally brave.

During the first five years of the war (326-321), the Romans were usually successful, and the Samnites were forced to sue for peace. In this period Rome gained no new territory, but founded a number of military posts in the enemy's country.

The peace lasted for about a year, when hostilities were again renewed. By this time the Samnites had found a worthy leader in Gavius Pontius, by whose skill and wisdom the fortune of war was turned against the Romans for seven years (321-315). He allured the Romans into a small plain, at each end of which was a defile (Furculae Caudinae). On reaching this plain they found Pontius strongly posted to oppose them. After a bloody but fruitless attempt to force him to retreat, the Romans themselves were compelled to give way. But meanwhile Pontius had also occupied the defile in their rear, and they were obliged to surrender.

A treaty was signed by the Consuls Titus Veturius and Spurius Postumius, according to which peace was to be made, and everything restored to its former condition.

Such was the affair at the Caudine Forks (321), one of the most humiliating defeats that ever befell the Roman arms. The army was made to pass under the yoke, - which was made of three spears, two stuck into the ground parallel to each other and the third placed above them, - and then suffered to depart.

Rome was filled with dismay at the news. The citizens dressed in mourning, business and amusements were suspended, and every energy was devoted to repairing the disaster. Compliance with the terms of the treaty was refused, on the ground that no treaty was valid unless sanctioned by a vote of the people. It was determined to deliver the Consuls who had signed it to the enemy.

Pontius, indignant at the broken faith, refused to accept them, and the war was renewed. It continued for seven years, when (310) the Samnites were so thoroughly whipped by QUINTUS FABIUS, then Dictator, at LAKE VADIMÓNIS in Etruria, that they could no longer make any effective resistance, and at last (304) agreed to relinquish all their sea-coast, their alliances and conquests, and acknowledge the supremacy of Rome.

During this war the Etruscans made their last single effort against the Roman power. An expedition was sent in 311 to attack the military colony of Sutrium, which had been founded seventy-six years before. The Consul Quintus Fabius went to the rescue, raised the siege, drove the Etruscans into the Ciminian forests, and there completely defeated them.

Six years intervened between the Second and the THIRD SAMNITE WAR (298-290). This time was employed by the Samnites in endeavoring to unite Italy against Rome. They were joined by the UMBRIANS, GAULS, and ETRUSCANS. The LUCANIANS alone were with Rome.

The war was of short duration, and was practically decided by the sanguinary battle of SENTINUM (295) in Umbria. The Samnites, led by Gellius Egnatius, were routed by the Roman Consuls QUINTUS FABIUS MAXIMUS and PUBLIUS DECIUS MUS.

In this battle the struggle was long and doubtful. The Samnites were assisted by the Gauls, who were showing themselves more than a match for the part of the Roman army opposed to them, and commanded by Decius. Following the example of his illustrious father, the Consul vowed his life to the Infernal Gods if victory were granted, and, rushing into the midst of the enemy, was slain. [Footnote: It is said that the father of Decius acted in a similar manner in a battle of the Latin war.] His soldiers, rendered enthusiastic by his example, rallied and pushed back the Gauls. The victory was now complete, for the Samnites were already fleeing before that part of the army which was under Fabius.

The war dragged on for five years, when the Consul MANIUS CURIUS DENTÁTUS finally crushed the Samnites, and also the SABINES, who had recently joined them. The Samnites were allowed their independence, and became allies of Rome. The Sabines were made Roman citizens (sine suffragio), and their territory was annexed to the Ager Románus. This territory now reached across Italy from the Tuscan to the Adriatic Sea, separating the Samnites and other nations on the south from the Umbrians, Gauls, and Etruscans on the north.

In 283, at Lake Vadimónis, the Romans defeated the Senonian and Boian Gauls, and founded the military colony of SENA GALLICA.