Episode 97 – Surprising Sabines

We return to our narrative of Rome’s history of its foundation with some surprising Sabines. It’s still 460 BCE , which is an indication of just how complicated Rome’s history is becoming when we read our sources.

Both Livy and Dionysius of Halicarnassus are very focused on the ongoing conflict between the Roman elites and the emerging claims to power from the plebeians.

We wouldn’t would to give too many spoilers away, but while the Romans are busy trying to figure out what their internal politics will look like, there might just be an enemy on the horizon!

Episode 97 – Surprising Sabines

You can catch up on the earlier action of this year here.

Just Your Everyday Ongoing Political Conflict

Some of the complications in the City stem from the young patricians who have become a force to be reckoned with, terrorising plebeians. The tribunes have been lobbying for changes that would make Roman law transparent but so far there’s been no real movement on the issue. There are a number of things to consider, such as:

  • connections between this conflict and the First Succession;
  • the use of annual levies by the patricians as a means of controlling the plebeians;
  • and the role of local warfare in preventing plebeians from engaging fully in Rome’s politics.

Surprise, Surprise, it’s the Sabines!

Just when the Romans are caught up in their own problems, the Sabine Appius Herdonius turns up with a goodly number of supporters and seizes the Capitol. Our sources disagree on just how large Herdonius’ force is or who is part of it, but, regardless of the figures and identities, the narrative follows the same trajectory – infiltration!

We discuss the various strategies credited to Herdonius for entering the city and his apparent aims in making such a bold move. Suffice it to say, word of Rome’s internal unrest has spread…

Sabine Attack as a Microcosm of Rome’s Internal Trouble

Needless to say, the Romans are less than pleased to have an intruder in the heart of the City. Like a kicked beehive, the citizens rally to defend themselves! It’s not long though before this chaos turns into competing calls to arms. The consuls and tribunes seize upon the moment to offer differing opinions about the situation and urging the citizen body to divergent actions.

Hear how the tensions rise and the Romans respond to the Sabine threat in this episode!

Our Main Players


  • Publius Valerius P. f. Volusi n. Publicola (cos. II)
  • Gaius Claudius Ap. f. M. n. Inrigillensis (or Regillensis) Sabinus


  • Aulus Verginius
  • Marcus Volscius Fictor


  • Appius Herdonius


  • Lucius Mamilius

Our Sources

  • Livy Ab Urbe Condita 3.15-18
  • Dionysius of Halicarnassus Roman Antiquities 9.14-16
Surprising Sabines
Topography of the ancient Capitol, according to the arbitrary reconstitution of Nardini, in The Roman Capitol in Ancient and Modern Times (1906). Source: Wikimedia Commons
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Drs R and G laugh and spar their way through the ancient Roman world!

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