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 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.
Embarkation of Pyrrhus for Sicily—The War in Italy Flags
By the departure of Pyrrhus the hands of the Romans were set free in Italy; none ventured to oppose them in the open field, and their antagonists everywhere confined themselves to their fastnesses or their forests. The struggle however was not terminated so rapidly as might have been expected; partly in consequence of its nature as a warfare of mountain skirmishes and sieges, partly also, doubtless, from the exhaustion of the Romans, whose fearful losses are indicated by a decrease of 17,000 in the burgess-roll from 473 to 479. In 476 the consul Gaius Fabricius succeeded in inducing the considerable Tarentine settlement of Heraclea to enter into a separate peace, which was granted to it on the most favourable terms. In the campaign of 477 a desultory warfare was carried on in Samnium, where an attack thoughtlessly made on some entrenched heights cost the Romans many lives, and thereafter in southern Italy, where the Lucanians and Bruttians were defeated. On the other hand Milo, issuing from Tarentum, anticipated the Romans in their attempt to surprise Croton: whereupon the Epirot garrison made even a successful sortie against the besieging army. At length, however, the consul succeeded by a stratagem in inducing it to march forth, and in possessing himself of the undefended town (477). An incident of more moment was the slaughter of the Epirot garrison by the Locrians, who had formerly surrendered the Roman garrison to the king, and now atoned for one act of treachery by another. By that step the whole south coast came into the hands of the Romans, with the exception of Rhegium and Tarentum. These successes, however, advanced the main object but little. Lower Italy itself had long been defenceless; but Pyrrhus was not subdued so long as Tarentum remained in his hands and thus rendered it possible for him to renew the war at his pleasure, and the Romans could not think of undertaking the siege of that city. Even apart from the fact that in siege-warfare, which had been revolutionized by Philip of Macedonia and Demetrius Poliorcetes, the Romans were at a very decided disadvantage when matched against an experienced and resolute Greek commandant, a strong fleet was needed for such an enterprise, and, although the Carthaginian treaty promised to the Romans support by sea, the affairs of Carthage herself in Sicily were by no means in such a condition as to enable her to grant that support.
Pyrrhus Master of Sicily
The landing of Pyrrhus on the island, which, in spite of the Carthaginian fleet, had taken place without interruption, had changed at once the aspect of matters there. He had immediately relieved Syracuse, had in a short time united under his sway all the free Greek cities, and at the head of the Sicilian confederation had wrested from the Carthaginians nearly their whole possessions. It was with difficulty that the Carthaginians could, by the help of their fleet which at that time ruled the Mediterranean without a rival, maintain themselves in Lilybaeum; it was with difficulty, and amidst constant assaults, that the Mamertines held their ground in Messana. Under such circumstances, agreeably to the treaty of 475, it would have been the duty of Rome to lend her aid to the Carthaginians in Sicily, far rather than that of Carthage to help the Romans with her fleet to conquer Tarentum; but on the side of neither ally was there much inclination to secure or to extend the power of the other. Carthage had only offered help to the Romans when the real danger was past; they in their turn had done nothing to prevent the departure of the king from Italy and the fall of the Carthaginian power in Sicily. Indeed, in open violation of the treaties Carthage had even proposed to the king a separate peace, offering, in return for the undisturbed possession of Lilybaeum, to give up all claim to her other Sicilian possessions and even to place at the disposal of the king money and ships of war, of course with a view to his crossing to Italy and renewing the war against Rome. It was evident, however, that with the possession of Lilybaeum and the departure of the king the position of the Carthaginians in the island would be nearly the same as it had been before the landing of Pyrrhus; the Greek cities if left to themselves were powerless, and the lost territory would be easily regained. So Pyrrhus rejected the doubly perfidious proposal, and proceeded to build for himself a war fleet. Mere ignorance and shortsightedness in after times censured this step; but it was really as necessary as it was, with the resources of the island, easy of accomplishment. Apart from the consideration that the master of Ambracia, Tarentum, and Syracuse could not dispense with a naval force, he needed a fleet to conquer Lilybaeum, to protect Tarentum, and to attack Carthage at home as Agathocles, Regulus, and Scipio did before or afterwards so successfully. Pyrrhus never was so near to the attainment of his aim as in the summer of 478, when he saw Carthage humbled before him, commanded Sicily, and retained a firm footing in Italy by the possession of Tarentum, and when the newly-created fleet, which was to connect, to secure, and to augment these successes, lay ready for sea in the harbour of Syracuse.
The Sicilian Government of Pyrrhus
The real weakness of the position of Pyrrhus lay in his faulty internal policy. He governed Sicily as he had seen Ptolemy rule in Egypt: he showed no respect to the local constitutions; he placed his confidants as magistrates over the cities whenever, and for as long as, he pleased; he made his courtiers judges instead of the native jurymen; he pronounced arbitrary sentences of confiscation, banishment, or death, even against those who had been most active in promoting his coming thither; he placed garrisons in the towns, and ruled over Sicily not as the leader of a national league, but as a king. In so doing he probably reckoned himself according to oriental-Hellenistic ideas a good and wise ruler, and perhaps he really was so; but the Greeks bore this transplantation of the system of the Diadochi to Syracuse with all the impatience of a nation that in its long struggle for freedom had lost all habits of discipline; the Carthaginian yoke very soon appeared to the foolish people more tolerable than their new military government. The most important cities entered into communications with the Carthaginians, and even with the Mamertines; a strong Carthaginian army ventured again to appear on the island; and everywhere supported by the Greeks, it made rapid progress. In the battle which Pyrrhus fought with it fortune was, as always, with the "Eagle"; but the circumstances served to show what the state of feeling was in the island, and what might and must ensue, if the king should depart.
Departure of Pyrrhus to Italy
To this first and most essential error Pyrrhus added a second; he proceeded with his fleet, not to Lilybaeum, but to Tarentum. It was evident, looking to the very ferment in the minds of the Sicilians, that he ought first of all to have dislodged the Carthaginians wholly from the island, and thereby to have cut off the discontented from their last support, before he turned his attention to Italy; in that quarter there was nothing to be lost, for Tarentum was safe enough for him, and the other allies were of little moment now that they had been abandoned. It is conceivable that his soldierly spirit impelled him to wipe off the stain of his not very honourable departure in the year 476 by a brilliant return, and that his heart bled when he heard the complaints of the Lucanians and Samnites. But problems, such as Pyrrhus had proposed to himself, can only be solved by men of iron nature, who are able to control their feelings of compassion and even their sense of honour; and Pyrrhus was not one of these.
Fall of the Sicilian Kingdom—Recommencement of the Italian War
The fatal embarkation took place towards the end of 478. On the voyage the new Syracusan fleet had to sustain a sharp engagement with that of Carthage, in which it lost a considerable number of vessels. The departure of the king and the accounts of this first misfortune sufficed for the fall of the Sicilian kingdom. On the arrival of the news all the cities refused to the absent king money and troops; and the brilliant state collapsed even more rapidly than it had arisen, partly because the king had himself undermined in the hearts of his subjects the loyalty and affection on which every commonwealth depends, partly because the people lacked the devotedness to renounce freedom for perhaps but a short term in order to save their nationality. Thus the enterprise of Pyrrhus was wrecked, and the plan of his life was ruined irretrievably; he was thenceforth an adventurer, who felt that he had been great and was so no longer, and who now waged war no longer as a means to an end, but in order to drown thought amidst the reckless excitement of the game and to find, if possible, in the tumult of battle a soldier's death. Arrived on the Italian coast, the king began by an attempt to get possession of Rhegium; but the Campanians repulsed the attack with the aid of the Mamertines, and in the heat of the conflict before the town the king himself was wounded in the act of striking down an officer of the enemy. On the other hand he surprised Locri, whose inhabitants suffered severely for their slaughter of the Epirot garrison, and he plundered the rich treasury of the temple of Persephone there, to replenish his empty exchequer. Thus he arrived at Tarentum, it is said with 20,000 infantry and 3000 cavalry. But these were no longer the experienced veterans of former days, and the Italians no longer hailed them as deliverers; the confidence and hope with which they had received the king five years before were gone; the allies were destitute of money and of men.
Battle near Beneventum—Pyrrhus Leaves Italy—Death of Pyrrhus
The king took the field in the spring of 479 with the view of aiding the hard-pressed Samnites, in whose territory the Romans had passed the previous winter; and he forced the consul Manius Curius to give battle near Beneventum on the -campus Arusinus-, before he could form a junction with his colleague advancing from Lucania. But the division of the army, which was intended to take the Romans in flank, lost its way during its night march in the woods, and failed to appear at the decisive moment; and after a hot conflict the elephants again decided the battle, but decided it this time in favour of the Romans, for, thrown into confusion by the archers who were stationed to protect the camp, they attacked their own people. The victors occupied the camp; there fell into their hands 1300 prisoners and four elephants—the first that were seen in Rome—besides an immense spoil, from the proceeds of which the aqueduct, which conveyed the water of the Anio from Tibur to Rome, was subsequently built. Without troops to keep the field and without money, Pyrrhus applied to his allies who had contributed to his equipment for Italy, the kings of Macedonia and Asia; but even in his native land he was no longer feared, and his request was refused. Despairing of success against Rome and exasperated by these refusals, Pyrrhus left a garrison in Tarentum, and went home himself in the same year (479) to Greece, where some prospect of gain might open up to the desperate player sooner than amidst the steady and measured course of Italian affairs. In fact, he not only rapidly recovered the portion of his kingdom that had been taken away, but once more grasped, and not without success, at the Macedonian throne. But his last plans also were thwarted by the calm and cautious policy of Antigonus Gonatas, and still more by his own vehemence and inability to tame his proud spirit; he still gained battles, but he no longer gained any lasting success, and met his death in a miserable street combat in Peloponnesian Argos (482).
Last Struggles in Italy—Capture of Tarentum
In Italy the war came to an end with the battle of Beneventum; the last convulsive struggles of the national party died slowly away. So long indeed as the warrior prince, whose mighty arm had ventured to seize the reins of destiny in Italy, was still among the living, he held, even when absent, the stronghold of Tarentum against Rome. Although after the departure of the king the peace party recovered ascendency in the city, Milo, who commanded there on behalf of Pyrrhus, rejected their suggestions and allowed the citizens favourable to Rome, who had erected a separate fort for themselves in the territory of Tarentum, to conclude peace with Rome as they pleased, without on that account opening his gates. But when after the death of Pyrrhus a Carthaginian fleet entered the harbour, and Milo saw that the citizens were on the point of delivering up the city to the Carthaginians, he preferred to hand over the citadel to the Roman consul Lucius Papirius (482), and by that means to secure a free departure for himself and his troops. For the Romans this was an immense piece of good fortune. After the experiences of Philip before Perinthus and Byzantium, of Demetrius before Rhodes, and of Pyrrhus before Lilybaeum, it may be doubted whether the strategy of that period was at all able to compel the surrender of a town well fortified, well defended, and freely accessible by sea; and how different a turn matters might have taken, had Tarentum become to the Phoenicians in Italy what Lilybaeum was to them in Sicily! What was done, however, could not be undone. The Carthaginian admiral, when he saw the citadel in the hands of the Romans, declared that he had only appeared before Tarentum conformably to the treaty to lend assistance to his allies in the siege of the town, and set sail for Africa; and the Roman embassy, which was sent to Carthage to demand explanations and make complaints regarding the attempted occupation of Tarentum, brought back nothing but a solemn confirmation on oath of that allegation as to its ally's friendly design, with which accordingly the Romans had for the time to rest content. The Tarentines obtained from Rome, presumably on the intercession of their emigrants, the restoration of autonomy; but their arms and ships had to be given up and their walls had to be pulled down.
Submission of Lower Italy
In the same year, in which Tarentum became Roman, the Samnites, Lucanians, and Bruttians finally submitted. The latter were obliged to cede the half of the lucrative, and for ship-building important, forest of Sila.
At length also the band that for ten years had sheltered themselves in Rhegium were duly chastised for the breach of their military oath, as well as for the murder of the citizens of Rhegium and of the garrison of Croton. In this instance Rome, while vindicating her own rights vindicated the general cause of the Hellenes against the barbarians. Hiero, the new ruler of Syracuse, accordingly supported the Romans before Rhegium by sending supplies and a contingent, and in combination with the Roman expedition against the garrison of Rhegium he made an attack upon their fellow-countrymen and fellow-criminals, the Mamertines of Messana. The siege of the latter town was long protracted. On the other hand Rhegium, although the mutineers resisted long and obstinately, was stormed by the Romans in 484; the survivors of the garrison were scourged and beheaded in the public market at Rome, while the old inhabitants were recalled and, as far as possible, reinstated in their possessions. Thus all Italy was, in 484, reduced to subjection. The Samnites alone, the most obstinate antagonists of Rome, still in spite of the official conclusion of peace continued the struggle as "robbers," so that in 485 both consuls had to be once more despatched against them. But even the most high-spirited national courage—the bravery of despair—comes to an end; the sword and the gibbet at length carried quiet even into the mountains of Samnium.
Construction of New Fortresses and Roads
For the securing of these immense acquisitions a new series of colonies was instituted: Paestum and Cosa in Lucania (481); Beneventum (486), and Aesernia (about 491) to hold Samnium in check; and, as outposts against the Gauls, Ariminum (486), Firmum in Picenum (about 490), and the burgess colony of Castrum Novum. Preparations were made for the continuation of the great southern highway—which acquired in the fortress of Beneventum a new station intermediate between Capua and Venusia—as far as the seaports of Tarentum and Brundisium, and for the colonization of the latter seaport, which Roman policy had selected as the rival and successor of the Tarentine emporium. The construction of the new fortresses and roads gave rise to some further wars with the small tribes, whose territory was thereby curtailed: with the Picentes (485, 486), a number of whom were transplanted to the district of Salernum; with the Sallentines about Brundisium (487, 488); and with the Umbrian Sassinates (487, 488), who seem to have occupied the territory of Ariminum after the expulsion of the Senones. By these establishments the dominion of Rome was extended over the interior of Lower Italy, and over the whole Italian east coast from the Ionian sea to the Celtic frontier.
Before we describe the political organization under which the Italy which was thus united was governed on the part of Rome, it remains that we should glance at the maritime relations that subsisted in the fourth and fifth centuries. At this period Syracuse and Carthage were the main competitors for the dominion of the western waters. On the whole, notwithstanding the great temporary successes which Dionysius (348-389), Agathocles (437-465), and Pyrrhus (476-478) obtained at sea, Carthage had the preponderance and Syracuse sank more and more into a naval power of the second rank. The maritime importance of Etruria was wholly gone;(6) the hitherto Etruscan island of Corsica, if it did not quite pass into the possession, fell under the maritime supremacy, of the Carthaginians. Tarentum, which for a time had played a considerable part, had its power broken by the Roman occupation. The brave Massiliots maintained their ground in their own waters; but they exercised no material influence over the course of events in those of Italy. The other maritime cities hardly came as yet into serious account.
Decline of the Roman Naval Power
Rome itself was not exempt from a similar fate; its own waters were likewise commanded by foreign fleets. It was indeed from the first a maritime city, and in the period of its vigour never was so untrue to its ancient traditions as wholly to neglect its war marine or so foolish as to desire to be a mere continental power. Latium furnished the finest timber for ship-building, far surpassing the famed growths of Lower Italy; and the very docks constantly maintained in Rome are enough to show that the Romans never abandoned the idea of possessing a fleet of their own. During the perilous crises, however, which the expulsion of the kings, the internal disturbances in the Romano-Latin confederacy, and the unhappy wars with the Etruscans and Celts brought upon Rome, the Romans could take but little interest in the state of matters in the Mediterranean; and, in consequence of the policy of Rome directing itself more and more decidedly to the subjugation of the Italian continent, the growth of its naval power was arrested. There is hardly any mention of Latin vessels of war up to the end of the fourth century, except that the votive offering from the Veientine spoil was sent to Delphi in a Roman vessel (360). The Antiates indeed continued to prosecute their commerce with armed vessels and thus, as occasion offered, to practise the trade of piracy also, and the "Tyrrhene corsair" Postumius, whom Timoleon captured about 415, may certainly have been an Antiate; but the Antiates were scarcely to be reckoned among the naval powers of that period, and, had they been so, the fact must from the attitude of Antium towards Rome have been anything but an advantage to the latter. The extent to which the Roman naval power had declined about the year 400 is shown by the plundering of the Latin coasts by a Greek, presumably a Sicilian, war fleet in 405, while at the same time Celtic hordes were traversing and devastating the Latin land.(7) In the following year (406), and beyond doubt under the immediate impression produced by these serious events, the Roman community and the Phoenicians of Carthage, acting respectively for themselves and for their dependent allies, concluded a treaty of commerce and navigation— the oldest Roman document of which the text has reached us, although only in a Greek translation.(8) In that treaty the Romans had to come under obligation not to navigate the Libyan coast to the west of the Fair Promontory (Cape Bon) excepting in cases of necessity. On the other hand they obtained the privilege of freely trading, like the natives, in Sicily, so far as it was Carthaginian; and in Africa and Sardinia they obtained at least the right to dispose of their merchandise at a price fixed with the concurrence of the Carthaginian officials and guaranteed by the Carthaginian community. The privilege of free trading seems to have been granted to the Carthaginians at least in Rome, perhaps in all Latium; only they bound themselves neither to do violence to the subject Latin communities,(9) nor, if they should set foot as enemies on Latin soil, to take up their quarters for a night on shore—in other words, not to extend their piratical inroads into the interior—nor to construct any fortresses in the Latin land.
We may probably assign to the same period the already mentioned(10) treaty between Rome and Tarentum, respecting the date of which we are only told that it was concluded a considerable time before 472. By it the Romans bound themselves—for what concessions on the part of Tarentum is not stated—not to navigate the waters to the east of the Lacinian promontory; a stipulation by which they were thus wholly excluded from the eastern basin of the Mediterranean.
Roman Fortification of the Coast
These were disasters no less than the defeat on the Allia, and the Roman senate seems to have felt them as such and to have made use of the favourable turn, which the Italian relations assumed soon after the conclusion of the humiliating treaties with Carthage and Tarentum, with all energy to improve its depressed maritime position. The most important of the coast towns were furnished with Roman colonies: Pyrgi the seaport of Caere, the colonization of which probably falls within this period; along the west coast, Antium in 415,(11) Tarracina in 425,(12) the island of Pontia in 441,(13) so that, as Ardea and Circeii had previously received colonists, all the Latin seaports of consequence in the territory of the Rutuli and Volsci had now become Latin or burgess colonies; further, in the territory of the Aurunci, Minturnae and Sinuessa in 459;(14) in that of the Lucanians, Paestum and Cosa in 481;(15) and, on the coast of the Adriatic, Sena Gallica and Castrum Novum about 471,(16) and Ariminum in 486;(17) to which falls to be added the occupation of Brundisium, which took place immediately after the close of the Pyrrhic war. In the greater part of these places—the burgess or maritime colonies(18)—the young men were exempted from serving in the legions and destined solely for the watching of the coasts. The well judged preference given at the same time to the Greeks of Lower Italy over their Sabellian neighbours, particularly to the considerable communities of Neapolis, Rhegium, Locri, Thurii, and Heraclea, and their similar exemption under the like conditions from furnishing contingents to the land army, completed the network drawn by Rome around the coasts of Italy.
But with a statesmanlike sagacity, from which the succeeding generations might have drawn a lesson, the leading men of the Roman commonwealth perceived that all these coast fortifications and coast garrisons could not but prove inadequate, unless the war marine of the state were again placed on a footing that should command respect. Some sort of nucleus for this purpose was already furnished on the subjugation of Antium (416) by the serviceable war-galleys which were carried off to the Roman docks; but the enactment at the same time, that the Antiates should abstain from all maritime traffic,(19) is a very clear and distinct indication how weak the Romans then felt themselves at sea, and how completely their maritime policy was still summed up in the occupation of places on the coast. Thereafter, when the Greek cities of southern Italy, Neapolis leading the way in 428, were admitted to the clientship of Rome, the war-vessels, which each of these cities bound itself to furnish as a war contribution under the alliance to the Romans, formed at least a renewed nucleus for a Roman fleet. In 443, moreover, two fleet-masters (-duoviri navales-) were nominated in consequence of a resolution of the burgesses specially passed to that effect, and this Roman naval force co-operated in the Samnite war at the siege of Nuceria.(20) Perhaps even the remarkable mission of a Roman fleet of twenty-five sail to found a colony in Corsica, which Theophrastus mentions in his "History of Plants" written about 446, belongs to this period. But how little was immediately accomplished with all this preparation, is shown by the renewed treaty with Carthage in 448. While the stipulations of the treaty of 406 relating to Italy and Sicily(21) remained unchanged, the Romans were now prohibited not only from the navigation of the eastern waters, but also from that of the Atlantic Ocean which was previously permitted, as well as debarred from holding commercial intercourse with the subjects of Carthage in Sardinia and Africa, and also, in all probability, from effecting a settlement in Corsica;(22) so that only Carthaginian Sicily and Carthage itself remained open to their traffic. We recognize here the jealousy of the dominant maritime power, gradually increasing with the extension of the Roman dominion along the coasts. Carthage compelled the Romans to acquiesce in her prohibitive system, to submit to be excluded from the seats of production in the west and east (connected with which exclusion is the story of a public reward bestowed on the Phoenician mariner who at the sacrifice of his own ship decoyed a Roman vessel, steering after him into the Atlantic Ocean, to perish on a sand-bank), and to restrict their navigation under the treaty to the narrow space of the western Mediterranean—and all this for the mere purpose of averting pillage from their coasts and of securing their ancient and important trading connection with Sicily. The Romans were obliged to yield to these terms; but they did not desist from their efforts to rescue their marine from its condition of impotence.
Quaestors of the Fleet—Variance between Rome and Carthage
A comprehensive measure with that view was the institution of four quaestors of the fleet (-quaestores classici-) in 487: of whom the first was stationed at Ostia the port of Rome; the second, stationed at Cales then the capital of Roman Campania, had to superintend the ports of Campania and Magna Graecia; the third, stationed at Ariminum, superintended the ports on the other side of the Apennines; the district assigned to the fourth is not known. These new standing officials were intended to exercise not the sole, but a conjoint, guardianship of the coasts, and to form a war marine for their protection. The objects of the Roman senate—to recover their independence by sea, to cut off the maritime communications of Tarentum, to close the Adriatic against fleets coming from Epirus, and to emancipate themselves from Carthaginian supremacy—were very obvious. Their already explained relations with Carthage during the last Italian war discover traces of such views. King Pyrrhus indeed compelled the two great cities once more—it was for the last time —to conclude an offensive alliance; but the lukewarmness and faithlessness of that alliance, the attempts of the Carthaginians to establish themselves in Rhegium and Tarentum, and the immediate occupation of Brundisium by the Romans after the termination of the war, show clearly how much their respective interests already came into collision.
Rome and the Greek Naval Powers
Rome very naturally sought to find support against Carthage from the Hellenic maritime states. Her old and close relations of amity with Massilia continued uninterrupted. The votive offering sent by Rome to Delphi, after the conquest of Veii, was preserved there in the treasury of the Massiliots. After the capture of Rome by the Celts there was a collection in Massilia for the sufferers by the fire, in which the city chest took the lead; in return the Roman senate granted commercial advantages to the Massiliot merchants, and, at the celebration of the games in the Forum assigned a position of honour (-Graecostasis-) to the Massiliots by the side of the platform for the senators. To the same category belong the treaties of commerce and amity concluded by the Romans about 448 with Rhodes and not long after with Apollonia, a considerable mercantile town on the Epirot coast, and especially the closer relation, so fraught with danger for Carthage, which immediately after the end of the Pyrrhic war sprang up between Rome and Syracuse.(23)
While the Roman power by sea was thus very far from keeping pace with the immense development of their power by land, and the war marine belonging to the Romans in particular was by no means such as from the geographical and commercial position of the city it ought to have been, yet it began gradually to emerge out of the complete nullity to which it had been reduced about the year 400; and, considering the great resources of Italy, the Phoenicians might well follow its efforts with anxious eyes.
The crisis in reference to the supremacy of the Italian waters was approaching; by land the contest was decided. For the first time Italy was united into one state under the sovereignty of the Roman community. What political prerogatives the Roman community on this occasion withdrew from all the other Italian communities and took into its own sole keeping, or in other words, what conception in state-law is to be associated with this sovereignty of Rome, we are nowhere expressly informed, and—a significant circumstance, indicating prudent calculation—there does not even exist any generally current expression for that conception.(24) The only privileges that demonstrably belonged to it were the rights of making war, of concluding treaties, and of coining money. No Italian community could declare war against any foreign state, or even negotiate with it, or coin money for circulation. On the other hand every declaration of war made by the Roman people and every state-treaty resolved upon by it were binding in law on all the other Italian communities, and the silver money of Rome was legally current throughout all Italy. It is probable that the formulated prerogatives of the leading community extended no further. But to these there were necessarily attached rights of sovereignty that practically went far beyond them.
The Full Roman Franchise
The relations, which the Italians sustained to the leading community, exhibited in detail great inequalities. In this point of view, in addition to the full burgesses of Rome, there were three different classes of subjects to be distinguished. The full franchise itself, in the first place, was extended as far as was possible, without wholly abandoning the idea of an urban commonwealth as applied to the Roman commune. The old burgess-domain had hitherto been enlarged chiefly by individual assignation in such a way that southern Etruria as far as towards Caere and Falerii,(25) the districts taken from the Hernici on the Sacco and on the Anio(26) the largest part of the Sabine country(27) and large tracts of the territory formerly Volscian, especially the Pomptine plain(28) were converted into land for Roman farmers, and new burgess-districts were instituted mostly for their inhabitants. The same course had even already been taken with the Falernian district on the Volturnus ceded by Capua.(29) All these burgesses domiciled outside of Rome were without a commonwealth and an administration of their own; on the assigned territory there arose at the most market-villages (-fora et conciliabula-). In a position not greatly different were placed the burgesses sent out to the so-called maritime colonies mentioned above, who were likewise left in possession of the full burgess-rights of Rome, and whose self-administration was of little moment. Towards the close of this period the Roman community appears to have begun to grant full burgess-rights to the adjoining communities of passive burgesses who were of like or closely kindred nationality; this was probably done first for Tusculum,(30) and so, presumably, also for the other communities of passive burgesses in Latium proper, then at the end of this period (486) was extended to the Sabine towns, which doubtless were even then essentially Latinized and had given sufficient proof of their fidelity in the last severe war. These towns retained the restricted self-administration, which under their earlier legal position belonged to them, even after their admission into the Roman burgess-union; it was they more than the maritime colonies that furnished the model for the special commonwealths subsisting within the body of Roman full burgesses and so, in the course of time, for the Roman municipal organization. Accordingly the range of the full Roman burgesses must at the end of this epoch have extended northward as far as the vicinity of Caere, eastward as far as the Apennines, and southward as far as Tarracina; although in this case indeed we cannot speak of boundary in a strict sense, partly because a number of federal towns with Latin rights, such as Tibur, Praeneste, Signia, Norba, Circeii, were found within these bounds, partly because beyond them the inhabitants of Minturnae, Sinuessa, of the Falernian territory, of the town Sena Gallica and some other townships, likewise possessed the full franchise, and families of Roman farmers were presumably to be even now found scattered throughout Italy, either isolated or united in villages.
Among the subject communities the passive burgesses (-cives sine suffragio-) apart from the privilege of electing and being elected, stood on an equality of rights and duties with the full burgesses. Their legal position was regulated by the decrees of the Roman comitia and the rules issued for them by the Roman praetor, which, however, were doubtless based essentially on the previous arrangements. Justice was administered for them by the Roman praetor or his deputies (-praefecti-) annually sent to the individual communities. Those of them in a better position, such as the city of Capua,(31) retained self-administration and along with it the continued use of the native language, and had officials of their own who took charge of the levy and the census. The communities of inferior rights such as Caere(32) were deprived even of self-administration, and this was doubtless the most oppressive among the different forms of subjection. However, as was above remarked, there is already apparent at the close of this period an effort to incorporate these communities, at least so far as they were -de facto- Latinized, among the full burgesses.
Among the subject communities the most privileged and most important class was that of the Latin towns, which obtained accessions equally numerous and important in the autonomous communities founded by Rome within and even beyond Italy—the Latin colonies, as they were called —and was always increasing in consequence of new settlements of the same nature. These new urban communities of Roman origin, but with Latin rights, became more and more the real buttresses of the Roman rule over Italy. These Latins, however, were by no means those with whom the battles of the lake Regillus and Trifanum had been fought. They were not those old members of the Alban league, who reckoned themselves originally equal to, if not better than, the community of Rome, and who felt the dominion of Rome to be an oppressive yoke, as the fearfully rigorous measures of security taken against Praeneste at the beginning of the war with Pyrrhus, and the collisions that evidently long continued to occur with the Praenestines in particular, show. This old Latium had essentially either perished or become merged in Rome, and it now numbered but few communities politically self-subsisting, and these, with the exception of Tibur and Praeneste, throughout insignificant. The Latium of the later times of the republic, on the contrary, consisted almost exclusively of communities, which from the beginning had honoured Rome as their capital and parent city; which, settled amidst regions of alien language and of alien habits, were attached to Rome by community of language, of law, and of manners; which, as the petty tyrants of the surrounding districts, were obliged doubtless to lean on Rome for their very existence, like advanced posts leaning upon the main army; and which, in fine, in consequence of the increasing material advantages of Roman citizenship, were ever deriving very considerable benefit from their equality of rights with the Romans, limited though it was. A portion of the Roman domain, for instance, was usually assigned to them for their separate use, and participation in the state leases and contracts was open to them as to the Roman burgess. Certainly in their case also the consequences of the self-subsistence granted to them did not wholly fail to appear. Venusian inscriptions of the time of the Roman republic, and Beneventane inscriptions recently brought to light,(33) show that Venusia as well as Rome had its plebs and its tribunes of the people, and that the chief magistrates of Beneventum bore the title of consul at least about the time of the Hannibalic war. Both communities are among the most recent of the Latin colonies with older rights: we perceive what pretensions were stirring in them about the middle of the fifth century. These so-called Latins, issuing from the Roman burgess-body and feeling themselves in every respect on a level with it, already began to view with displeasure their subordinate federal rights and to strive after full equalization. Accordingly the senate had exerted itself to curtail these Latin communities—however important they were for Rome—as far as possible, in their rights and privileges, and to convert their position from that of allies to that of subjects, so far as this could be done without removing the wall of partition between them and the non-Latin communities of Italy. We have already described the abolition of the league of the Latin communities itself as well as of their former complete equality of rights, and the loss of the most important political privileges belonging to them. On the complete subjugation of Italy a further step was taken, and a beginning was made towards the restriction of the personal rights—that had not hitherto been touched—of the individual Latin, especially the important right of freedom of settlement. In the case of Ariminum founded in 486 and of all the autonomous communities constituted afterwards, the advantage enjoyed by them, as compared with other subjects, was restricted to their equalization with burgesses of the Roman community so far as regarded private rights —those of traffic and barter as well as those of inheritance.(34) Presumably about the same time the full right of free migration allowed to the Latin communities hitherto established—the title of every one of their burgesses to gain by transmigration to Rome full burgess-rights there—was, for the Latin colonies of later erection, restricted to those persons who had attained to the highest office of the community in their native home; these alone were allowed to exchange their colonial burgess-rights for the Roman. This clearly shows the complete revolution in the position of Rome. So long as Rome was still but one among the many urban communities of Italy, although that one might be the first, admission even to the unrestricted Roman franchise was universally regarded as a gain for the admitting community, and the acquisition of that franchise by non-burgesses was facilitated in every way, and was in fact often imposed on them as a punishment. But after the Roman community became sole sovereign and all the others were its servants, the state of matters changed. The Roman community began jealously to guard its franchise, and accordingly put an end in the first instance to the old full liberty of migration; although the statesmen of that period were wise enough still to keep admission to the Roman franchise legally open at least to the men of eminence and of capacity in the highest class of subject communities. The Latins were thus made to feel that Rome, after having subjugated Italy mainly by their aid, had now no longer need of them as before.
Non-Latin Allied Communities
Lastly, the relations of the non-Latin allied communities were subject, as a matter of course, to very various rules, just as each particular treaty of alliance had defined them. Several of these perpetual alliances, such as that with the Hernican communities,(35) passed over to a footing of complete equalization with the Latin. Others, in which this was not the case, such as those with Neapolis(36), Nola(37), and Heraclea(38), granted rights comparatively comprehensive; while others, such as the Tarentine and Samnite treaties, may have approximated to despotism.
Dissolution of National Leagues—Furnishing of Contingents
As a general rule, it may be taken for granted that not only the Latin and Hernican national confederations—as to which the fact is expressly stated—but all such confederations subsisting in Italy, and the Samnite and Lucanian leagues in particular, were legally dissolved or at any rate reduced to insignificance, and that in general no Italian community was allowed the right of acquiring property or of intermarriage, or even the right of joint consultation and resolution, with any other. Further, provision must have been made, under different forms, for placing the military and financial resources of all the Italian communities at the disposal of the leading community. Although the burgess militia on the one hand, and the contingents of the "Latin name" on the other, were still regarded as the main and integral constituents of the Roman army, and in that way its national character was on the whole preserved, the Roman -cives sine suffragio- were called forth to join its ranks, and not only so, but beyond doubt the non-Latin federate communities also were either bound to furnish ships of war, as was the case with the Greek cities, or were placed on the roll of contingent-furnishing Italians (-formula togatorum-), as must have been ordained at once or gradually in the case of the Apulians, Sabellians, and Etruscans. In general this contingent, like that of the Latin communities, appears to have had its numbers definitely fixed, although, in case of necessity, the leading community was not precluded from making a larger requisition. This at the same time involved an indirect taxation, as every community was bound itself to equip and to pay its own contingent. Accordingly it was not without design that the supply of the most costly requisites for war devolved chiefly on the Latin, or non-Latin federate communities; that the war marine was for the most part kept up by the Greek cities; and that in the cavalry service the allies, at least subsequently, were called upon to furnish a proportion thrice as numerous as the Roman burgesses, while in the infantry the old principle, that the contingent of the allies should not be more numerous than the burgess army, still remained in force for a long time at least as the rule.
System of Government—Division and Classification of the Subjects
The system, on which this fabric was constructed and kept together, can no longer be ascertained in detail from the few notices that have reached us. Even the numerical proportions of the three classes of subjects relatively to each other and to the full burgesses, can no longer be determined even approximately;(39) and in like manner the geographical distribution of the several categories over Italy is but imperfectly known. The leading ideas on which the structure was based, on the other hand, are so obvious that it is scarcely necessary specially to set them forth. First of all, as we have already said, the immediate circle of the ruling community was extended—partly by the settlement of full burgesses, partly by the conferring of passive burgess-rights—as far as was possible without completely decentralizing the Roman community, which was an urban one and was intended to remain so. When the system of incorporation was extended up to and perhaps even beyond its natural limits, the communities that were subsequently added had to submit to a position of subjection; for a pure hegemony as a permanent relation was intrinsically impossible. Thus not through any arbitrary monopolizing of sovereignty, but through the inevitable force of circumstances, by the side of the class of ruling burgesses a second class of subjects took its place. It was one of the primary expedients of Roman rule to subdivide the governed by breaking up the Italian confederacies and instituting as large a number as possible of comparatively small communities, and to graduate the pressure of that rule according to the different categories of subjects. As Cato in the government of his household took care that the slaves should not be on too good terms with one another, and designedly fomented variances and factions among them, so the Roman community acted on a great scale. The expedient was not generous, but it was effectual.
Aristocratic Remodelling of the Constitutions of the Italian
It was but a wider application of the same expedient, when in each dependent community the constitution was remodelled after the Roman pattern and a government of the wealthy and respectable families was installed, which was naturally more or less keenly opposed to the multitude and was induced by its material interests and by its wish for local power to lean on Roman support. The most remarkable instance of this sort is furnished by the treatment of Capua, which appears to have been from the first treated with suspicious precaution as the only Italian city that could come into possible rivalry with Rome. The Campanian nobility received a privileged jurisdiction, separate places of assembly, and in every respect a distinctive position; indeed they even obtained not inconsiderable pensions —sixteen hundred of them at 450 -stateres- (about 30 pounds) annually—charged on the Campanian exchequer. It was these Campanian equites, whose refusal to take part in the great Latino-Campanian insurrection of 414 mainly contributed to its failure, and whose brave swords decided the day in favour of the Romans at Sentinum in 459;(40) whereas the Campanian infantry at Rhegium was the first body of troops that in the war with Pyrrhus revolted from Rome.(41) Another remarkable instance of the Roman practice of turning to account for their own interest the variances between the orders in the dependent communities by favouring the aristocracy, is furnished by the treatment which Volsinii met with in 489. There, just as in Rome, the old and new burgesses must have stood opposed to one another, and the latter must have attained by legal means equality of political rights. In consequence of this the old burgesses of Volsinii resorted to the Roman senate with a request for the restoration of their old constitution—a step which the ruling party in the city naturally viewed as high treason, and inflicted legal punishment accordingly on the petitioners. The Roman senate, however, took part with the old burgesses, and, when the city showed no disposition to submit, not only destroyed by military violence the communal constitution of Volsinii which was In recognized operation, but also, by razing the old capital of Etruria, exhibited to the Italians a fearfully palpable proof of the mastery of Rome.
Moderation of the Government
But the Roman senate had the wisdom not to overlook the fact, that the only means of giving permanence to despotism is moderation on the part of the despots. On that account there was left with, or conferred on, the dependent communities an autonomy, which included a shadow of independence, a special share in the military and political successes of Rome, and above all a free communal constitution—so far as the Italian confederacy extended, there existed no community of Helots. On that account also Rome from the very first, with a clear-sightedness and magnanimity perhaps unparalleled in history, waived the most dangerous of all the rights of government, the right of taxing her subjects. At the most tribute was perhaps imposed on the dependent Celtic cantons: so far as the Italian confederacy extended, there was no tributary community. On that account, lastly, while the duty of bearing arms was partially devolved on the subjects, the ruling burgesses were by no means exempt from it; it is probable that the latter were proportionally far more numerous than the body of the allies; and in that body, again, probably the Latins as a whole were liable to far greater demands upon them than the non-Latin allied communities. There was thus a certain reasonableness in the appropriation by which Rome ranked first, and the Latins next to her, in the distribution of the spoil acquired in war.
Intermediate Functionaries—Valuation of the Empire
The central administration at Rome solved the difficult problem of preserving its supervision and control over the mass of the Italian communities liable to furnish contingents, partly by means of the four Italian quaestorships, partly by the extension of the Roman censorship over the whole of the dependent communities. The quaestors of the fleet,(42) along with their more immediate duty, had to raise the revenues from the newly acquired domains and to control the contingents of the new allies; they were the first Roman functionaries to whom a residence and district out of Rome were assigned by law, and they formed the necessary intermediate authority between the Roman senate and the Italian communities. Moreover, as is shown by the later municipal constitution, the chief functionaries in every Italian community,(43) whatever might be their title, had to undertake a valuation every fourth or fifth year—an institution, the suggestion of which must necessarily have emanated from Rome, and which can only have been intended to furnish the senate with a view of the resources in men and money of the whole of Italy, corresponding to the census in Rome.
Italy and the Italians
Lastly, with this military administrative union of the whole peoples dwelling to the south of the Apennines, as far as the Iapygian promontory and the straits of Rhegium, was connected the rise of a new name common to them all—that of "the men of the toga" (-togati-), which was their oldest designation in Roman state law, or that of the "Italians," which was the appellation originally in use among the Greeks and thence became universally current. The various nations inhabiting those lands were probably first led to feel and own their unity, partly through their common contrast to the Greeks, partly and mainly through their common resistance to the Celts; for, although an Italian community may now and then have made common cause with the Celts against Rome and employed the opportunity to recover independence, yet in the long run sound national feeling necessarily prevailed. As the "Gallic field" down to a late period stood contrasted in law with the Italian, so the "men of the toga" were thus named in contrast to the Celtic "men of the hose" (-braccati-); and it is probable that the repelling of the Celtic invasions played an important diplomatic part as a reason or pretext for centralizing the military resources of Italy in the hands of the Romans. Inasmuch as the Romans on the one hand took the lead in the great national struggle and on the other hand compelled the Etruscans, Latins, Sabellians, Apulians, and Hellenes (within the bounds to be immediately described) alike to fight under their standards, that unity, which hitherto had been undefined and latent rather than expressed, obtained firm consolidation and recognition in state law; and the name -Italia-, which originally and even in the Greek authors of the fifth century—in Aristotle for instance—pertained only to the modern Calabria, was transferred to the whole land of these wearers of the toga.
Earliest Boundaries of the Italian Confederacy
The earliest boundaries of this great armed confederacy led by Rome, or of the new Italy, reached on the western coast as far as the district of Leghorn south of the Arnus,(44) on the east as far as the Aesis north of Ancona. The townships colonized by Italians, lying beyond these limits, such as Sena Gallica and Ariminum beyond the Apennines, and Messana in Sicily, were reckoned geographically as situated out of Italy—even when, like Ariminum, they were members of the confederacy or even, like Sena, were Roman burgess communities. Still less could the Celtic cantons beyond the Apennines be reckoned among the -togati-, although perhaps some of them were already among the clients of Rome.
First Steps towards the Latininzing of Italy—New Position of Rome as a Great Power
The new Italy had thus become a political unity; it was also in the course of becoming a national unity. Already the ruling Latin nationality had assimilated to itself the Sabines and Volscians and had scattered isolated Latin communities over all Italy; these germs were merely developed, when subsequently the Latin language became the mother-tongue of every one entitled to wear the Latin toga. That the Romans already clearly recognized this as their aim, is shown by the familiar extension of the Latin name to the whole body of contingent-furnishing Italian allies.(45) Whatever can still be recognized of this grand political structure testifies to the great political sagacity of its nameless architects; and the singular cohesion, which that confederation composed of so many and so diversified ingredients subsequently exhibited under the severest shocks, stamped their great work with the seal of success. From the time when the threads of this net drawn as skilfully as firmly around Italy were concentrated in the hands of the Roman community, it was a great power, and took its place in the system of the Mediterranean states in the room of Tarentum, Lucania, and other intermediate and minor states erased by the last wars from the list of political powers. Rome received, as it were, an official recognition of its new position by means of the two solemn embassies, which in 481 were sent from Alexandria to Rome and from Rome to Alexandria, and which, though primarily they regulated only commercial relations, beyond doubt prepared the way for a political alliance. As Carthage was contending with the Egyptian government regarding Cyrene and was soon to contend with that of Rome regarding Sicily, so Macedonia was contending with the former for the predominant influence in Greece, with the latter proximately for the dominion of the Adriatic coasts. The new struggles, which were preparing on all sides, could not but influence each other, and Rome, as mistress of Italy, could not fail to be drawn into the wide arena which the victories and projects of Alexander the Great had marked out as the field of conflict for his successors.
Notes for Book II Chapter VII
1. The story that the Romans also sent envoys to Alexander at Babylon on the testimony of Clitarchus (Plin. Hist. Nat. iii. 5, 57), from whom the other authorities who mention this fact (Aristus and Asclepiades, ap. Arrian, vii. 15, 5; Memnon, c. 25) doubtless derived it. Clitarchus certainly was contemporary with these events; nevertheless, his Life of Alexander was decidedly a historical romance rather than a history; and, looking to the silence of the trustworthy biographers (Arrian, l. c.; Liv. ix. 18) and the utterly romantic details of the account—which represents the Romans, for instance, as delivering to Alexander a chaplet of gold, and the latter as prophesying the future greatness of Rome—we cannot but set down this story as one of the many embellishments which Clitarchus introduced into the history.
2. II. VI. Last Struggles of Samnium
3. Near the modern Anglona; not to be confounded with the better known town of the same name in the district of Cosenza.
4. These numbers appear credible. The Roman account assigns, probably in dead and wounded, 15,000 to each side; a later one even specifies 5000 as dead on the Roman, and 20,000 on the Greek side. These accounts may be mentioned here for the purpose of exhibiting, in one of the few instances where it is possible to check the statement, the untrustworthiness—almost without exception—of the reports of numbers, which are swelled by the unscrupulous invention of the annalists with avalanche-like rapidity.
5. The later Romans, and the moderns following them, give a version of the league, as if the Romans had designedly avoided accepting the Carthaginian help in Italy. This would have been irrational, and the facts pronounce against it. The circumstance that Mago did not land at Ostia is to be explained not by any such foresight, but simply by the fact that Latium was not at all threatened by Pyrrhus and so did not need Carthaginian aid; and the Carthaginians certainly fought for Rome in front of Rhegium.
6. II. IV. Victories of Salamis and Himera, and Their Effects
7. II. IV. Fruitlessness of the Celtic Victory
8. The grounds for assigning the document given in Polybius (iii. 22) not to 245, but to 406, are set forth in my Rom. Chronologie, p. 320 f. [translated in the Appendix to this volume].
9. II. V. Domination of the Romans; Exasperation of the Latins
10. II. VII. Breach between Rome and Tarentum
11. II. V. Colonization of the Volsci
12. II. V. Colonization of the Volsci
13. II. VI. New Fortresses in Apulia and Campania
14. II. VI. Last Struggles of Samnium
15. II. VII. Construction of New Fortresses and Roads
16. II. VII. The Boii
17. II. VII. Construction of New Fortresses and Roads
18. These were Pyrgi, Ostia, Antium, Tarracina, Minturnae, Sinuessa Sena Gallica, and Castrum Novum.
19. This statement is quite as distinct (Liv. viii. 14; -interdictum mari Antiati populo est-) as it is intrinsically credible; for Antium was inhabited not merely by colonists, but also by its former citizens who had been nursed in enmity to Rome (II. V. Colonizations in The Land Of The Volsci). This view is, no doubt, inconsistent with the Greek accounts, which assert that Alexander the Great (431) and Demetrius Poliorcetes (471) lodged complaints at Rome regarding Antiate pirates. The former statement is of the same stamp, and perhaps from the same source, with that regarding the Roman embassy to Babylon (II. VII. Relations Between The East and West). It seems more likely that Demetrius Poliorcetes may have tried by edict to put down piracy in the Tyrrhene sea which he had never set eyes upon, and it is not at all inconceivable that the Antiates may have even as Roman citizens, in defiance of the prohibition, continued for a time their old trade in an underhand fashion: much dependence must not however, be placed even on the second story.
20. II. VI. Last Campaigns in Samnium
21. II. VII. Decline of the Roman Naval Power
22. According to Servius (in Aen. iv. 628) it was stipulated in the Romano-Carthaginian treaties, that no Roman should set foot on (or rather occupy) Carthaginian, and no Carthaginian on Roman, soil, but Corsica was to remain in a neutral position between them (-ut neque Romani ad litora Carthaginiensium accederent neque Carthaginienses ad litora Romanorum…..Corsica esset media inter Romanos et Carthaginienses-). This appears to refer to our present period, and the colonization of Corsica seems to have been prevented by this very treaty.
23. II. VII. Submission of Lower Italy
24. The clause, by which a dependent people binds itself "to uphold in a friendly manner the sovereignty of that of Rome" (-maiestatem populi Romani comiter conservare-), is certainly the technical appellation of that mildest form of subjection, but it probably did not come into use till a considerably later period (Cic. pro Balbo, 16, 35). The appellation of clientship derived from private law, aptly as in its very indefiniteness it denotes the relation (Dig. xlix. 15, 7, i), was scarcely applied to it officially in earlier times.
25. II. IV. South Etruria Roman
26. II. VI. Consolidation of the Roman Rule in Central Italy
27. II. VI. Last Struggles of Samnium
28. II. V. Complete Submission of the Volscian and Campanian Provinces
29. II. V. Complete Submission of the Volscian and Campanian Provinces
30. That Tusculum as it was the first to obtain passive burgess-rights (II. V. Crises within the Romano-Latin League) was also the first to exchange these for the rights of full burgesses, is probable in itself and presumably it is in the latter and not in the former respect that the town is named by Cicero (pro Mur. 8, 19) -municipium antiquissimum-.
31. II. V. Complete Submission of the Volscian and Campanian Provinces
32. II. IV. South Etruria Roman
33. -V. Cervio A. f. cosol dedicavit- and -lunonei Quiritri sacra. C. Falcilius L. f. consol dedicavit-.
34. According to the testimony of Cicero (pro Caec. 35) Sulla gave to the Volaterrans the former -ius- of Ariminum, that is—adds the orator—the -ius- of the "twelve colonies" which had not the Roman -civitas- but had full -commercium- with the Romans. Few things have been so much discussed as the question to what places this -ius- of the twelve towns refers; and yet the answer is not far to seek. There were in Italy and Cisalpine Gaul—laying aside some places that soon disappeared again—thirty-four Latin colonies established in all. The twelve most recent of these—Ariminum, Beneventum, Firmum, Aesernia, Brundisium, Spoletium, Cremona, Placentia, Copia, Valentia, Bononia, and Aquileia—are those here referred to; and because Ariminum was the oldest of these and the town for which this new organization was primarily established, partly perhaps also because it was the first Roman colony founded beyond Italy, the -ius- of these colonies rightly took its name from Ariminum. This at the same time demonstrates the truth of the view—which already had on other grounds very high probability—that all the colonies established in Italy (in the wider sense of the term) after the founding of Aquileia belonged to the class of burgess-colonies.
We cannot fully determine the extent to which the curtailment of the rights of the more recent Latin towns was carried, as compared with the earlier. If intermarriage, as is not improbable but is in fact anything but definitely established (i. 132; Diodor. p. 590, 62, fr. Vat. p. 130, Dind.), formed a constituent element of the original federal equality of rights, it was, at any rate, no longer conceded to the Latin colonies of more recent origin.
35. II. V. League with the Hernici
36. II. VI. Pacification of Campania
37. II. VI. Victory of the Romans
38. II. VII. The War in Italy Flags
39. It is to be regretted that we are unable to give satisfactory information as to the proportional numbers. We may estimate the number of Roman burgesses capable of bearing arms in the later regal period as about 20,000. (I. VI. Time and Occasion of the Reform) Now from the fall of Alba to the conquest of Veii the immediate territory of Rome received no material extension; in perfect accordance with which we find that from the first institution of the twenty-one tribes about 259, (II. II. Coriolanus) which involved no, or at any rate no considerable, extension of the Roman bounds, no new tribes were instituted till 367. However abundant allowance we make for increase by the excess of births over deaths, by immigration, and by manumissions, it is absolutely impossible to reconcile with the narrow limits of a territory of hardly 650 square miles the traditional numbers of the census, according to which the number of Roman burgesses capable of bearing arms in the second half of the third century varied between 104,000 and 150,000, and in 362, regarding which a special statement is extant, amounted to 152,573. These numbers must rather stand on a parallel with the 84,700 burgesses of the Servian census; and in general the whole earlier census-lists, carried back to the four lustres of Servius Tullius and furnished with copious numbers, must belong to the class of those apparently documentary traditions which delight in, and betray themselves by the very fact of, such numerical details.
It was only with the second half of the fourth century that the large extensions of territory, which must have suddenly and considerably augmented the burgess roll, began. It is reported on trustworthy authority and is intrinsically credible, that about 416 the Roman burgesses numbered 165,000; which very well agrees with the statement that ten years previously, when the whole militia was called out against Latium and the Gauls, the first levy amounted to ten legions, that is, to 50,000 men. Subsequently to the great extensions of territory in Etruria, Latium, and Campania, in the fifth century the effective burgesses numbered, on an average, 250,000; immediately before the first Punic war, 280,000 to 290,000. These numbers are certain enough, but they are not quite available historically for another reason, namely, that in them probably the Roman full burgesses and the "burgesses without vote" not serving, like the Campanians, in legions of their own, —such, e. g., as the Caerites, —are included together in the reckoning, while the latter must at any rate -de facto- be counted among the subjects (Rom. Forsch. ii. 396).
40. II. VI. Battle of Sentinum
41. II. VII. Commencement of the Conflict in Lower Italy
42. II. VII. Quaestors of the Fleet
43. Not merely in every Latin one; for the censorship or so-called -quinquennalitas- occurs, as is well known, also among communities whose constitution was not formed according to the Latin scheme.
44. This earliest boundary is probably indicated by the two small townships -Ad fines-, of which one lay north of Arezzo on the road to Florence, the second on the coast not far from Leghorn. Somewhat further to the south of the latter, the brook and valley of Vada are still called -Fiume della fine-, -Valle della fine- (Targioni Tozzetti, Viaggj, iv. 430).
45. In strict official language, indeed, this was not the case. The fullest designation of the Italians occurs in the agrarian law of 643, line 21; -[ceivis] Romanus sociumve nominisve Latini, quibus ex formula togatorum [milites in terra Italia imperare solent]-; in like manner at the 29th line of the same -peregrinus- is distinguished from the -Latinus-, and in the decree of the senate as to the Bacchanalia in 568 the expression is used: -ne quis ceivis Romanus neve nominis Latini neve socium quisquam-. But in common use very frequently the second or third of these three subdivisions is omitted, and along with the Romans sometimes only those Latini nominis are mentioned, sometimes only the -socii- (Weissenborn on Liv. xxii. 50, 6), while there is no difference in the meaning. The designation -homines nominis Latini ac socii Italici- (Sallust. Jug. 40), correct as it is in itself, is foreign to the official -usus loquendi, which knows -Italia-, but not -Italici-.