Episode 80 – The Year 478 BCE

Rome and Veii

Rome and Veii are central to the politics and military activity of c. 478 BCE.

Rome and the Fabians have developed a whole new military tactic by building a fortress near Veii. This is momentous! It allows Rome to station soldiers outside the City in preparation for battle. This force though is made up largely of Fabians and their supporters which will have implications.

Livy and Dionysius of Halicarnassus continue to offer competing narratives for this very early period. Both are quite concerned with what is happening in the north including both the immediate threat, the people of Veii and their even further northern allies, the Tyrrhenians. The Romans now realise there are more hostile people behind Veii than previously suspected.

The Distribution of Roman Forces

The traditional levy of troops continues this year but without the usual report of Plebeian discontent. Lucius Aemilius Mamercus (cos II) takes his troops north to join the Fabians while his co-consul Gaius Servilius Structus Ahala heads south to deal with the Volscii. An additional army is sent out against the Aequians in the north east led by one Servius Furius. The extent of the armies raised and the fact they they are sent out in all directions suggests that Rome sees itself as at the centre of threat in the region.

The major conflict (no surprise here!) is between Rome and Veii. For some reason Veii has set up a camp for their troops outside their city, which Aemilius attacks continuously…

When Rome finally breaks through to take the camp they are in for some surprises!

Rome’s Place in the Region

The Romans’ challenges in this year are bound up in the divisions of the forces. The Fabians in their Cremera fortress are acting as a single gens force largely beyond senatorial control.

The Roman forces sent north in support are led by Mamercus who previously held the consulship with Caeso Fabius in 484 BCE, so there is a block of pro-Fabian forces near Veii.

This feeds into the complexities of the situation when Veii sues for peace. Without telling you how it ends, let’s just say that things start to get weird when Aemilius makes a very favourable deal with Veii…

Hear all the details: The Year 478 BCE

Rome and Veii
Etruscan male torso from Veii, probably Hercules, c 550 BCE / Image courtesy of Rjdeadly / Wikimedia Commons

Drs R and G laugh and spar their way through the ancient Roman world!

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