The causes and effects of the Latin War
The Latin War took place between 340 BC and 338 BC. The war was a fierce conflict, pitting the Roman Republic and its neighboring cities, occupied by Latinos of ancient Italy. The war was a major step for the Roman control of the Italian Peninsula. By the end of the fight, several changes took place including the disbanding of the Latin League. With the incorporation of its neighbors into its sphere of influence, the Latins were to have limited rights and varying degrees of citizenship. Importantly, the war further resulted into a change in the manner in which the Roman Republic related with her former Latin friends.
Events that led to the Latin War
The Latins were not comfortable with the assimilation of Campania, forcing them to launch an attack against Rome. This was necessary for the sake of their independence. The city had become powerful and dominant in the Latin League, especially after the Gallic sack of Rome of 390 BC. In 381 BC, Tusculum came under Romans’ control, with its people getting Roman citizenship. In 358 BC, Rome would form two rural tribes, stemming from the territories it had conquered along the coast of Volscian.
The Samnites also played a major role in the Latin War. However, their display of military incapacity during the First Samnite War was enough morale for the Rome’s Latin allies to launch attacks. As a result, the Samnites ordered Rome to be in charge of its allies, while Rome warned Latins against any interference of the Samnites.
While some Latins disliked Rome’s massive interference, some had the conviction that Rome was determined to control the entire Latium. Consequently, members of Rome’s Latin League pushed for equal rights within the league, including governing of Rome itself. Rome was not ready to accept the demand and within two years, declared her supremacy in the war. What started as a move by Rome towards peace and stability, culminated in 340 with Rome and her Latin neighbors going to war.
Account of the Latin War
During the Latin War, Campania and Capua supported the Latins while the Samnites, who were Rome’s most recent and future enemies sided with Rome. Consuls Decius Mus and Manlius Torquatus were in charge of the Roman army of 340 even though they did not have their usual Latin allies. According to Livy, Roman troops used a long route across Marsi and Paeligni into Samnium. This led them to Campania. Upon their arrival, they camped outside the city, five miles from the Latins and Campanians.
Under the command of the two Consuls, the Romans defeated the Latins in the Battle of Vesuvius. The two celebrated their victory differently. For example, as documented by the Roman sources, Manlius restored discipline in the military by executing his son who had committed unconditional disobedience. On his part, Decius killed himself, giving his life to the Roman gods.
Beyond the Latin War
The Latin-Rome war had far-reaching effects that later shaped the relationship between the warring sides. For Rome, it was a big win. Following the War, in which Latins lost terribly, Rome stamped its dominance. First was the disbanding of the Latin League, with Rome incorporating the former member states. Following this merger, Rome admitted the Latins to civil rights but not political rights of Rome citizenship.
After winning the Latin War, Rome was sure of solving some of her problems. However, it tightened its hold on Latium. This was necessary as it provided more land for agriculture. Praeneste and Tibur retained their nominal independence by becoming friends of Rome. This meant that the Latins still had their legal rights even after the abolition of the Latin League. For centuries, this legal status was used an intermediate step different levels of citizenship between non-Roman status and full Roman status. Rome spent years pushing its frontier and advancing its quest for colonization. With this strategy, it spread its wings of power across Italy. Its dominance position allowed Rome to regulate its relations with Italian cities. It made alliances and created colonies.
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