Episode 92 – The Pestilence of 463 BCE

We’re jumping back into the narrative. The title might be a bit of a giveaway, yes yes, we’ll be talking about … pestilence! But before we get there we need to consider the circumstances.

Rome has been having lots of problems with their neighbours, particularly the Aequians and we’ve seen a shift in tactics from Aequians engaging in guerilla style raiding to seeking out the Romans in pitched battle. To say that Rome has been vexed by this is an understatement. Livy has offered some portents for the times ahead which, in a narrative history of Rome, can’t be good!

Our Main Players

The Consuls for c. 463 BCE:

  • Lucius Aebutius Helva
  • Publius Servilius Priscus


Livy kinds informs us of some dreadful details about a plague that is sweeping through the countryside. We take you through the grisly details from both Livy and Dionysius of Halicarnassus.

What initially seems confined beyond the city though soon moves within and this means problems for urban citizens, visitors, and the body politic (both figuratively and literally).


While Romans struggle just to stay alive, the Aequians and the Volscians consolidate their growing friendship of mutual convenience into a straight up alliance. This places Rome in a difficult spot between needing to keep her own allies – the Latins and the Hernicans – appeased as well as the knowledge that their previous irritations have formally combined forces.


…Other excitement afoot!

Things to look forward to in this episode. We’ll consider:

  • The first acts of the new Aequian-Volscian alliance
  • The Roman response to their allies’ call for support
  • The defence systems of the City
  • The power of divine intervention
  • Some reasons why Rome doesn’t fall in this moment
  • And questions and discussion about the role of the interreges
Episode 92 – The Pestilence of 463 BCE
The angel of death striking a door during the plague of Rome.
Engraving by Levasseur after J. Delaunay
Image credit: Wikimedia Commons and Wellcome Images
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Drs R and G laugh and spar their way through the ancient Roman world!

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