In this episode we tackle the years 413 and 412 BCE. These years come hard on the back of the murder of the patrician Postumius. Rome is facing challenges that seem to be bound up in the spolia in times of war and the broader annalist focus on the idea of the Struggle of the Orders which has been the defining feature of the early republic in Livy and Dionysius of Halicarnassus. To catch up on the unfortunate fate of Postumius, check out Episode 142 – A Wrongheaded Man.
Episode 143 – Special Victims Unit
Onwards and Upwards?
Murder is not something to be overlooked lightly, especially when the victim is a Roman patrician. It might be time for an investigation! And not just any investigation, but a special taskforce is assembled to consider all the evidence and follow the clues wherever they lead.
Livy mentions this group as a quaestio perpetua, but there’s good reason to be suspicious of this classification for the investigators. Strong evidence for the quaestio perpetua doesn’t emerge until the second century BCE over 250 years on from 413 BCE!
Will Rome find a way to reform its practices around conquered land? This topic comes back to the fore as we have the name for a of the tribunes of plebs. Roman conquest of new lands also brings this thorny subject back into the public discourse. How historical could the issue be at this point in the early republic? And will the patricians finally offer the plebeians something on this matter? Time will tell!
Issues with the Volscians
Rome’s perennial tousle with their neighbours, the Volscii, continues in 413 BCE. The Hernicians seek Rome’s aid against the Volscian forces and Rome is happy to oblige. The city of Ferentinum comes to our attention through this situation. We learn about the location of Ferentinum as likely corresponding with modern Ferentino, which is to the southeast of Rome, and likely part of the territory of the Hernicians at this time. What happens next to the city of Ferentinum? Tune in to find out!
Is that Ferentinum way down to the southeast of Rome in the territory of the Hernicii? It surely is! Source: https://www.heritage-history.com/
The Return of the Icilii
Perhaps Rome’s most famous plebeians gens at this point in early republican history is the Icilii. And in 412 BCE, we see another member of the Icilii gens come into the role of tribune of the plebs. Famously, the Icilii are connected with the Lex Icilia de Aventino Publicando which our annalist tradition places as early as 456 BCE. Looking to brush up on this? Check out our Episode 104 – Aventine, Aventine. Another Icilius is also connected with the second decemvirate on account of being engaged to Verginia. To revisit Verginia’s tale, see Episode 114 – The Tale of Verginia.
Things to Listen Out For
- Ancient sources? What sources?
- Leniency for those found guilty
- Land redistribution in Bolae?
- Does Rome even have ager publicus to redistribute???
- Volero returns!?
- The introduction of later sources Florus and Zonaras
- The Latin League
- Is Rome entering an expansionist phase?
- A history of the Icilius gens
- The Hernician Federation
Our Players 413 BCE
- Aulus (or Marcus) Cornelius – f. – n. Cossus (Pat.)
- Lucius Furius (L. f. Sp. n.?) Medullinus (Pat.)
- Quintus Fabius Vibulanus (Pat.)
Our Players 412 BCE
- Quintus Fabius – f. – n. Ambustus Vibulanus (Pat.)
- Gaius Furius – f. – n. Pacilus (Pat.)
Tribune of the Plebs
- Lucius Icilius
- Dr Rad reads Livy 4.51.1-4.52.1
- Dr G reads Diodorus 13.43.1, 14.54.1; Florus 1.17.1-2; Zonarus 7.20
- Broughton, T. R. S., Patterson, M. L. 1951. The Magistrates of the Roman Republic Volume 1: 509 B.C. – 100 B.C. (The American Philological Association)
- Cornell, T. J. 1995. The Beginnings of Rome: Italy and Rome from the Bronze Age to the Punic Wars (c. 1000-264 BC) (Taylor & Francis)
- Ogilvie, R. M. 1965. A Commentary on Livy: Books 1-5 (Clarendon Press).
Our music was composed by Bettina Joy de Guzman. Sound effects courtesy of Freesounds.
The Roman remains at Ferentino (ancient Ferentinum) include a first-second century CE archway which now has a road running around and through it. Image credit to Pietro Scerrato.
Edited for Latin terminology and to support our wonderful Australian accents!
Dr Rad 0:12
Welcome to The Partial Historians.
Dr G 0:15
We explore all the details of ancient Rome.
Dr Rad 0:20
Everything from political scandals to love affairs, the battles waged, and when citizens turn against each other. I’m Dr. Rad.
Dr G 0:30
And I’m Dr. G. We consider Rome as the Romans saw it by reading different ancient authors and comparing their accounts.
Dr Rad 0:41
Join us as we trace the journey of Rome from the founding of the city.
Dr G 0:55
Hello, and welcome to a brand new episode of The Partial Historians. I am Dr. G.
Dr Rad 1:04
And I am Dr. Rad
Dr G 1:07
Whoohoo, together at last across the waves of the internet.
Dr Rad 1:13
Excellent. Well, Dr G., here we are chatting about the history of Rome from the founding of the city. It’s been a bit of a weird moment, I think lately, because we’ve just been speeding through, you know, in a way that we never had really before. It’s crazy. The years are whizzing by
Dr G 1:30
Our sources are crumbling around us its the sort of thing that makes ancient historians concerned. And also avoid writing scholarship on because they’re like, I don’t know what to say. Everything’s, it’s just cracks, cracks and no evidence. Ah!
Dr Rad 1:49
Definitely. I mean, one of our big themes of light has definitely been this conflict of the orders between the patricians and the plebeians, that seems to be the narrative that they are flogging to death.
Dr G 2:00
It is a narrative that we’re not sure is real, but continues nonetheless in the sources that survive.
Dr Rad 2:08
You gotta love that when you when you’re not sure that it’s real, and yet it continues on.
Dr G 2:14
It’s amazing. It’s amazing. So we’ve had some trials and tribulations with a certain Postumius over the last couple of years,
Dr Rad 2:24
Yes, we have indeed, and this kind of fits into this whole conflict of the orders thing. So the last year we were talking about was 414 BCE, and in this year, a very shocking event happened, actually, because the Romans are big on military stuff. Most people I think, know that. There you go. headlines around the world academic says, “Rome was big on military stuff”. No one’s ever said that before. So they’re big on their military stuff, which means that they are big on order, discipline. And yet, we had the murder of a patrician elite one Postumius by his own men, seemingly insulted by a comment that he made during a conflict of the orders moment where there was debate about what was happening, you know, with the policies back in Rome. .
Dr G 3:20
Yeah, now, this is interesting, because I do have a source that’s going to come up in this episode. So we’re going to be looking at 413 BCE. And it suggests that this moment with Postumius is one that like many things in this early period of ruins history is difficult to nail down to a very specific time period.
Dr Rad 3:43
Okay, okay. I’m intrigued, I’m intrigued.
Dr G 3:46
Does he come back from the dead only to be killed again?
Dr Rad 3:50
He had some more sick burns and he hasn’t done leveling them at the plebeians yet
Dr G 3:57
Look, he wakes up from his grave has another shout and gets murdered for a second time.
Dr Rad 4:03
How dare you all question me you lowly vagabonds.
Dr G 4:09
Dr Rad 4:10
But we did leave on this very dramatic moment, because I mean, honestly, I think in any society, the murder of someone who’s supposed to be in charge is a big thing. And I think in any society, they say it’s particularly the murder of someone who’s like a general or something like that. Yeah. Someone who’s really invested with authority in that society. It is a really big deal. So I don’t think that the Senate are just going to turn around and go, Well, he was a bit of a douchebag. I, I think they’re going to want answers!
Dr G 4:42
I didn’t like him either!
Dr Rad 4:43
I think they’re going to want the truth!
Dr G 4:46
This is hugely problematic, as you say, because he was invested with legitimate power as a general of the Roman army. He is one of these figures that we assume is legally capable wielding what we call imperium, this capacity to lead troops for those troops to then turn around and murder him, suggests a severe breakdown of Roman discipline on the one hand, but also calling into question the whole apparatus of how does legitimate power function. And part of the way it’s upheld is through the process of enacting it repeatedly. So power gets reified over and over again, through every Roman general being able to successfully lead an army, whether they win or lose, coming back with that may where possible, and still in charge of them. And for him to not get to that point and for the troops to make the decision that revolting against the general is a is the best course of action, in any scenario suggests that there is some real internal problems in Rome, if this story is to be believed.
Dr Rad 5:58
Definitely. And I mean, even though what he said was despicable. I mean, he’s patrician elite now come on. At the same time, it was just a comment. It was just a comment said in passing, for them to, you know, take it so personally, that they’re going to go to murder. I mean,
Dr G 6:18
sources might disagree, though, as well. So like, the one sort of source that I had was talking about how he just refused to allow them to have an appropriate cut of the spoils.
Dr Rad 6:28
That’s true. That’s true, like there was the backstory, but it seems to have been this comment that kind of tipped them over the edge, which to me, suggests that there is something more serious going on here. If that’s the trigger. There’s something really serious going on.
Dr G 6:43
Yeah. What is it that we don’t know?
Dr Rad 6:45
Yeah. And in my account, as well, last episode, we really did leave on a cliffhanger not just in the sense of the murder happening, but also a real fear amongst a senatorial slash patrician class, because in Livy, they’re interchangeable that there was going to be a plebeian elected for the first time to supreme command: military tribune with consular power if they didn’t do something to try and prevent that from happening. So they definitely concerned that once this is that they’re taking it seriously because they’re like, if we don’t step in right now, we’re going to actually have plebeians get ultimate power, which even though technically we agree that that was possible. We also secretly agree that it was never gonna happen.
Dr G 7:31
I’m having to agree on paper. Never want to see it in real life.
Dr Rad 7:34
Yeah, absolutely. So.
Dr G 7:36
Dr Rad 7:37
I know. So shall we segue to 413 BCE and see what the Romans are going to make of this mess?
Dr G 7:43
Let’s do it.
It’s 413 BCE in ancient Rome.
Dr Rad 8:20
And I know we’re not having military tribunes with consular power this time because it’d be too much of a risk – a plebeian might get in so Dr G., tell me who are the consuls for this year?
Dr G 8:30
We have first off, we have Aulus or Marcus – we’re not sure about his praenomen – Cornelius Cossus.
Dr Rad 8:39
A name we know well.
Dr G 8:42
Yeah, but from a branch of the family that has been in power before certainly, but we’re not sure that this guy has necessarily had the top job before.
Dr Rad 8:52
No, no. I mean, he’s not the famous Cossus that was very involved in the conflicts that we were talking about in the 430s and the 420s.
Dr G 9:00
But presumably related to him.
Dr Rad 9:02
Dr G 9:04
And we also have Lucius Furius Medullinus.
Dr Rad 9:11
Dr G 9:14
Now this is a guy that you want to remember. Okay. He is going to go on to have a very illustrious career.
Dr Rad 9:23
You didn’t even need to tell me that Dr. G. Oh, you need to say it’s a word Furii and I know it’s going to be on fire.
Dr G 9:29
That family they can do no wrong. I also have listed an interrex for this year.
Dr Rad 9:36
Dr G 9:37
A certain Quintus Fabius Vibulanus who you may recall or not, because all Roman names start to sound the same, was previously consul in 423 and was also a military tribune with consular power in 416 and no less than the very previous year 414.
Dr Rad 9:58
Well, that all makes sense, doesn’t it? So they want some continuity there.
Dr G 10:02
Old mate knows how an election goes.
Dr Rad 10:04
Yeah, well, basically, in my account he comes in because they have an interregnum because there’s this standoff about are they going to have military tribunes or are they going to have consuls. Obviously the plebeians are pushing to have military tribunes, the Senate like, “Absolutely no way, no how is that going to happen. Because we know that you’re going to elect a plebeian and and that’s disgusting. How dare you even thinking it!” And so they hold out. There’s like this extended interregnum period apparently, until eventually they get their consular elections and consuls, which means that only patricians can hold supreme office in this year. So that guy that guy becomes interrex because as we know, interrex means that it is period where you don’t have the official magistrates being elected, you’ve got a sharing of power happening. It’s a weird hangover from the regal period that we continue to call interrex even though there is no king the king is dead. And this guy was the one that organized the consular elections whilst he was holding the temporary power of interrex.
Dr G 11:11
Yeah, and I’m sure he does an excellent job. I don’t have any real lengthy animalistic sauce to rely on this year. I have a little bits and pieces. So for instance, I’ve got Diodorus Siculus, who lets us know that we’ve got Marcus Cornelius and Lucius Furius as our consuls, and also gives us the heads up that this is a tricky time for the Athenian war in Sicily. So just you know, to put broader Italy in its Mediterranean context, Diodorus Siculus gives us that little tidbit. He goes into heaps of detail about that war, but I stopped reading him.
Dr Rad 11:56
We don’t need to know about the Peloponnesian stuff.
Dr G 11:59
This is not a history of Greece from the founding of the Greek-ness.
Dr Rad 12:03
Dr G 12:05
That’ll be another podcast.
Dr Rad 12:06
Perish the thought.
Dr G 12:08
Await our spin off series.
Dr Rad 12:11
When we’re done talking about the history of Rome, because we’re going to be done so soon, obviously.
Dr G 12:15
That’s right. We’re preparing ahead for our next series. I’ve also ended up reading a little bit of a writer called Florus.
Dr Rad 12:24
Oh, a much later source than Diodorus, I believe.
Dr G 12:31
Indeed. Let me introduce you, to Publius Annius Florus. He is a man of African extraction, goes to Rome in the late first century CE and is flourishing and writing a lot in the early second century CE, so think Trajan think Hadrian, that kind of time period.
Dr Rad 12:58
Okay, so, so high empire stuff. Yeah.
Dr G 13:01
Yeah. And he seems to have been pretty good friends with Hadrian at certain points in his life. And one of the things that he is famously known for is his epitome of Livy.
Dr Rad 13:13
Which is handy because unfortunately, and I know it seems impossible, dear listeners, but it will happen one day, we do not have all of Livy either. Eventually, Livy also will peter out.
Dr G 13:25
I’m excited for when the tables turn, and maybe I have some sources. And maybe you’re like, I don’t have anything. I’m like, Ah, ha!
Dr Rad 13:34
It’ll take a long time.
Dr G 13:37
You’ve got years left in Livy. So Florus is famous for this sort of epitome of Livy. So we’re not getting necessarily anything new in terms of the history. And so if you have Livy, I’m probably not going to be adding much to what you can say.
Dr Rad 13:55
You never know. I mean, Look, this is the thing like Sure, sure. He’s doing the Wikipedia version of Livy
Dr G 14:04
Dr Rad 14:04
But does it mean that he’s maybe not adding his own spin to things you never know?
Dr G 14:11
It’s possible. Yeah. Likely? I don’t know.
Dr Rad 14:14
All right. Well, let me tell you what’s happening early on in this consulship here. So as we suspected, the first order of business is the murder of Postumius. Okay, they can’t just leave that to go unavenged. Even if, even if it’s a remote land, they thought that this was okay, which they do not. As we know, murder is taken very seriously. Again, in most societies, it’s a pretty big thing. And so you can’t just ignore it, particularly when it’s so public and violent. So they start an investigation into the death of Postumius. However, there is I think, genuine concern about how this investigation is going to be handled. Okay. So then the Senate aren’t like racing in all guns blazing. They’re not like forming together. They’re in posse. I mean, I was kind of thinking is this whether young patricians come back in finally speeding out of the horizon in their Ferraris to cause mayhem and havoc, to seek revenge? But no,
Dr G 15:20
I could see them doing it. But I can also understand or appreciate that the Senate might be a bit concerned for their own lives as well, they’ll have to tread quite carefully in some respects, because if the anger of the soldiers continues, and does not dissipate, during the natural course of things, that could be a problem for them.
Dr Rad 15:39
Yeah, so this is an interesting case. So we have talked a little bit about investigations into murder, because obviously, it does happen. Obviously, in every society, we have mentioned it, but this is the first time that we’ve apparently seen like a special commission into somebody’s murder. Okay. And there are going to be a few of these that pop up throughout Rome’s history where there is like, something that happens, it’s so extraordinary, that it requires this special kind of investigation, and we’re not really sure where they came from, like, is this actually the first or just the first recorded? No, no, yeah, we’re not really sure. But it’s basically that the commission is given by a legislative act by the people, okay, to the consul, or the chief magistrate. And they’re able to use their full powers of imperium, which means full powers of life and death during the investigation. Now, we obviously were just speaking about imperium. It is obviously where, you know, the true power of a magistrate resides, but obviously, they’re not going to get very far if they’re constantly making people genuinely afraid that they’re going to exercise powers of life and death. So usually, it’s life. Usually, they’re not walking around murdering people not murdering sorry, they’re not well,
Dr G 17:00
I mean, it’s not the hallmark of a great detective investigation is it, to kill all of the witnesses or all of the suspects before you’ve really had a chance to question them?
Dr Rad 17:09
Yes, exactly. Yeah. So it seems to be basically giving them total scope, you know, to do what they need to do in order to investigate what’s happened. Apparently, the next time that we’ll really see this exact kind of condition, or like the way that this one is kind of set up, it won’t be until much much later in the Republic. So in a more in a better documented time, we’re talking about apparently, there’s going to be a case coming up in 141 BCE. So put that in your diaries, listeners.
Dr G 17:40
That is a long way from where we are now put a cloud of suspicion over this being the first.
Dr Rad 17:47
Well, I mean, I think this is the thing, there are a lot of questions about what this exactly is exactly how it is set up. And there are a couple of ways that it can that’s that’s just one way, I think that you can set up these sorts of special conditions. And eventually, once you have these particular kinds of quaestors, the quaestiones perpetuae? I can’t do Latin, it just comes out as Italian.
Dr G 18:19
This is not the parricidium?
Dr Rad 18:21
Dr G 18:22
Dr Rad 18:23
Once you have these particular types of crisis, they would then set up the commissions on a need-by-need basis, not using imperium as the basis of their actions. So it’s basically I think that a law that sort of set them up had given them the power to enact these special conditions. And again, we’ll see examples of this cropping up in about 110 BCE and 90 BCE. But it’s fairly clear from the details of this event, that that’s not what we’re dealing with here. Yeah, yeah, we’re definitely dealing with the first type because there isn’t another example for another couple of 100 years. Obviously, there are huge red flags around this, whether we should actually be believing that this is something that actually happened is tricky. And certainly, what has been suggested by one of the academics I’ve been reading is that again, this is one of those examples of something from later in the republic that is being sort of retrojected back. And interestingly, might be because there were concerns being raised by the time you get to sort of mid and later Republic that the Senate were potentially kind of abusing these commissions – their ability to set up these commissions and use them for political purposes. So this is actually the same kind of commission that we see set up in 186 BC with a Bacchanalian Scandal when they investigate that and it will also be used in the Gracchan era.
Dr G 19:54
So alright. There is a big cloud of suspicion now.
Dr Rad 19:59
Yeah, It definitely is. There’s a big cloud of suspicion. But certainly, again, if even though we might not be able to say, okay, yes, this is exactly what happened to investigate the murder of Postumius. It does tell us something about obviously, again, what is concerning later on in terms of maybe abuses of power or the exercise of power, certainly in the middle to later Republic and the way that these sorts of special conditions might be become to be used, I suppose.
Dr G 20:27
Hmm. Yeah, that’s all very interesting.
Dr Rad 20:31
Anyway, but in this particular example, if it did happen, and I’m sure there was an investigation, as I say, they’re not going to defer.
Dr G 20:37
There would have had to have been some kind of an investigation, it’s just a matter of what it really looked like.
Dr Rad 20:41
Yes. So wisely, the special investigation, oh, my God, oh, my god, I just realized it’s an SVU special investigation unit. So in our Special Investigation Unit: Ancient Rome, they don’t get too vindictive they only select out, you know, like, sort of the minimum amount of people, like the ringleaders, I would presume, who were most involved in, I guess, leading the charge against Postumius, when he was murdered in a mob scenario. And even the ones that are chosen for punishment, it seems that most of them are allowed to commit suicide, rather than the State being the ones to enact that punishment, which, by Roman standards-
Dr G 21:30
That’s actually very generous by Roman standards.
Dr Rad 21:32
It really is, because this is the whole thing. Obviously, suicide can be a very troubling issue. It is a very troubling issue. But by Roman standards, they have a slightly different way of looking at it to the way that we do it is a way that you can restore some honour. And also potentially, I mean, we don’t really know what the deal is with property laws, obviously, in this time, but it is potentially a way of also protecting property and that sort of thing, depending on what kind of crimes you’re being charged with. So yeah, it is. Yeah, it is very generous for them to allow this to happen, even though it sounds awful, obviously.
Dr G 22:08
Yes, very intriguing. Yeah, I’m not really quite sure what to make of any of this. I don’t have any questions so far. Just curiosity, does Livy offer more detail in this?
Dr Rad 22:20
Oh, yes. Oh, yes. Yes. So obviously, you’d think, okay, moderate investigation, not an abuse of power, fairly generous penalties, even though obviously, it’s still death, but at the same time, limited in scope and method, I suppose. And yet, Dr. G. It just goes to show you give as you give as you give and still, the plebeians are unhappy with the situation and room still, they did to have questions about their lives still. They gave the patricians problems. How is this possible that did you just goes to show that the patricians are in the right at all times?
Dr G 23:04
Oh, yeah, they’ve been super generous. You know, they’ve been insulting the plebeians for centuries at this point.
Dr Rad 23:11
So whilst the consuls have been busy playing Agatha Christie with their Special Victims Unit, there will be things pointed out, you know what, it’s interesting that you’ve dealt with this murder so quickly, because I can’t help but notice that it’s been Oh, I don’t know, a century since we asked you for meaningful change in this place. And yet nothing? Nothing.
Dr G 23:38
Anybody, agrarian reform?
Dr Rad 23:40
Dr G 23:41
Dr Rad 23:42
He’s amazing that the patricians can act so quickly when it is in their interests. They have questions, oh, they have questions.
Dr G 23:51
That is a very fair criticism.
Dr Rad 23:55
Now Livy, he actually says this might have been the moment to appease the audience, calm the situation, by dividing up the territory that had been conquered at bullae. And just, you know, trying to put the matter to rest before anyone else gets murdered. But-
Dr G 24:15
There’s always a but isn’t there?
Dr Rad 24:17
The patricians don’t roll that way, as we know, they were not clever enough to make this move at this point in time, which means a little bit is still hungry for an agrarian law. Yeah, specifically, they’re obviously keen at the moment at this point in our narrative for an agrarian law. That would, and I quote, expel the patricians from their wrongful occupation of the public domain.
Dr G 24:46
Yeah, Look, this is the same claim they have been making for the last 50 odd years. They want the Ager Publicus “the common land” to be redistributed out because it’s currently being squatted on by patricians.
Dr Rad 25:03
Yeah. And as we’ve highlighted a number of times, they seems highly anachronistic and unlikely because we’re probably living in a time of warlords where everyone’s just kind of squatting on land because that’s what warlords do. There probably isn’t really public land. It’s probably just land that’s occupied by clans and their dependents and they hold it like that’s probably what’s going on here. So this is all very Grachhan-late Republic again, that’s trending hashtag trending. So instead the plebeians are left soaking feeling very much like they were being had done by the patricians were unfairly occupying public lands and holding them off at using force. The patricians would not even consider giving any of the most recently captured territory to the plebeians, I mean, ugh
Dr G 25:58
Dr Rad 26:00
It’s just like, it’s always been the rich get richer, and they’re left with nothing.
Dr G 26:07
Hmm, yeah. I have some thoughts about that. But I will keep them to myself.
Dr Rad 26:13
Well, it’s around this time, it’s around this time that we have some military action happening externally. So the Volscians start attacking the borderlands of the Hernicians.
Dr G 26:24
Oh, very interesting. Okay, before we get too far into that, okay, let me give you what Florus gives us because Florus doesn’t get into what might be happening on the military front.
Dr Rad 26:35
Dr G 26:36
So this might round out the plebeian-patrician agrarian issue. So Florus tells us that this period in Rome’s history is considered a second age of the Roman people.
Dr Rad 26:52
Oh, I told you, you he’s have his own little flourishes. Flourishing Florus.
Dr G 26:58
Yeah, it’s beautiful. This time period is thought to be the one where Rome is at its most vigorous. And, and in the heat of its strength. So something about the virility of the people is really, what Florus is sort of touching on here. And he sees this action against Postumius as being part of a broader set of actions that the plebeians are taking against the patricians. In this roundabout sort of 50-100 year period, everything in this really early republic that we’ve dealt with kind of gets a mention in this passage. Okay. So he says that the army mutinied in the camp and stone to the general Postumius. Right, when he denied them the spoils which he had promised.
Dr Rad 27:48
Check, check, check.
Dr G 27:50
That also another action that falls under this kind of mode of strengthen virility from the plebeians is under Appius Claudius, when they refuse to defeat the enemy when it was in their power to do so. And I feel like I remember vaguely when that was, but I can’t remember exactly when that was.
Dr Rad 28:14
Research, what makes the podcast great.
Dr G 28:18
Believe me, I did try to track it down by going back through our episodes, it eluded me and I was like, my happiest Claudius. I mean, he was he was terrible for a long time.
Dr Rad 28:27
Yeah, well, I mean, there’s a year that goes on forever if we’re talking about the Appius Claudius whose the second decemvir.
Dr G 28:34
Yeah exactly, which I assume this is where we are. And he talks about when under the leadership of Volero many refuse to serve and the consul’s fasces were broken. So that is a reference back to really early events in 472.
Dr Rad 28:51
I was gonna say I do remember that that Volero is a name from Yeah, like 10 years ago, in terms of in terms of our podcasting, not the Roman history.
Dr G 29:02
So Volero Publius, as tribune of the plebs riles up everybody, and then they break some fasces, which is pretty good. Yeah. He then talks about Coriolanus another big figure,
Dr Rad 29:16
But again, going back to what the 480s?
Dr G 29:18
The 490s even.
Dr Rad 29:20
Oh, my god, yeah.
Dr G 29:23
When he orders the troops to to their fields, things like this. And then he mentions a figure that is a little bit foreshadowing for us, because we haven’t gotten to this guy yet. But we’re going to keep your ears peeled, listeners – not literally because that would be gross – for Camillus.
Dr Rad 29:48
Oh, yes, yes. Yes. He’s going to be another big guy.
Dr G 29:52
Yeah, he’s coming up really soon. So we’re anticipating his eventual presence but obviously there’s an attack spent there between what happens in Camilla’s career and what is happening with the plebeian struggle. So Florus bundles, all of these kinds of moments together as letting us know that there’s the plebeian struggle has been ongoing and continuing and this murder of Postumius is one of these landmark events of civil disobedience, essentially, against the ruling class.
Dr Rad 30:28
Oh, Look, it’s a huge deal. I mean, Look, I shouldn’t actually, you know, I shouldn’t have said what I said earlier about the comment being the thing, obviously, I think it’s more his actions that have rolled them up to this state, you know, their broken promises about bougie, whatever they were, and then I think the general harshness of his demeanor. I think that’s, that’s definitely obviously the thing. But the comment, I think he just embodied his attitude, which is very typical, I think of a lot of patricians of this time, where even though they’re doing the hard yards and winning the land, it’s him and his mates that are allegedly benefiting from these sorts of conquests. Yeah, yeah. And the people, they’ve had enough and they’re not gonna take it anymore.
Dr G 31:14
I fought for this land to I want a slice.
Dr Rad 31:19
All right, cool. So is that Florus’ contribution to Postumius?
Dr G 31:24
That is what Florus has to tell us. I could tell you that I also went to Zonaras.
Dr Rad 31:30
Oh, wow. Okay. Getting late with your sources.
Dr G 31:35
Zonaras is a 12th century CE source.
Dr Rad 31:39
So actually closer to us than it is to Postumius – it’s not but almost.
Dr G 31:45
Almost Yeah. So Zonaras is living under the Byzantines empire and writing from the glory and glamour of of the Roman east.
Dr Rad 31:54
Wait, wait, wait. Sorry, listeners, listeners. Do you hear that? That’s Dr G. clutching at straws?
Dr G 32:01
Dammit, you know what,
Dr Rad 32:02
I love your research. I love your research. I’m just joking
Dr G 32:06
The thing about Zonaras is that nobody has gone about the epic work that it would take to translate all of the Zonaras from the Greek into the English, because he does an incredible job of condensing all of the histories into a single work. And people are like, I could translate that. But sometimes we’ve got the real source that he used. And so then they’re like, “Nah, forget Zonaras. He can sit there. He does exist. There’s books and books of Zonaras in Greek.
Dr Rad 32:38
I was gonna say, Yeah, I was gonna I remember looking at Zonaras at one point being like, holy crap, it’s not translated what the hell?.
Dr G 32:45
Some parts of it are definitely, but not the section I was hoping to read.
Dr Rad 32:49
No, not the section I was looking for I that I was like, how very dare you making me do my own translations? Outrageous.
Dr G 32:55
I checked it. It’s about three pages worth of ancient Greek. I’m sorry, I didn’t translate it. And that’s all I have. That is literally all the sources that I consulted or attempted to consult before I got sad.
Dr Rad 33:11
Okay, well, then, let’s wrap up the whole conflict of the oddest thing for the moment, put a pin in that. So it’s around this time that the Volscians start attacking the borderlands of the Hernicians. People we talk about a lot the consul, one of the consuls, Furius, and therefore the best consul, decided that he was gonna obviously take some Roman legions out to deal with them, because the Romans generally do come to the aid of the donations, you know, they got a bit of a thing going on there. However, when they got there, they could not find the Volscians causing them problem. I love it when these sorts of campaigns happen where they go out with an army and they they’re like, “where is everybody?”
Dr G 33:50
They get there, “Well, it took us a while to get here, but it looks like this is done and dusted. And everyone’s gone home.”
Dr Rad 33:56
Exactly. So they decided, well, we’ve got all dressed up and we’ve got nowhere to go. Let’s just capture Ferentinum, because there are a large number of Volscians residing there. So it’s as good as anywhere and those Volscians They are our problem right now.
Dr G 34:14
We’ll teach them a lesson.
Dr Rad 34:15
Yeah, the Volscians must have been anticipating that this was a possibility, I guess. Because when the Romans capture Ferentinum, and they find that there’s not a lot of booty there, because the Volscians had already moved anything of real value out of the town. They did. I guess they thought that if the Romans came into this area, that this wasn’t a place that they could hold. And so they were very organized strategy, they got everything out. And so the Romans are like, check please. Is the bus to run in because when I hanging around this, so I would sum this campaign up, as being the Romans came. They saw that Occasionally so wanted about and then they gave the town and its territory to the Hernicians because they were like, not worth it.
Dr G 35:08
There’s no booty, we’re a bit bored.
Dr Rad 35:11
Yeah now Ferentinum will later apparently become a municipium of note. But this is the first time that we actually haven’t mentioned in our vision material. Apparently, the site is modern Ferentino to the east of Rome, a bit further afield than we have talked about before, perhaps. And realistically, although the Romans may have given it to the Hernicians because they were kind of like, it doesn’t seem worth the hassle. It’s probably also because at this point in time, obviously Rome doesn’t want to overstretch themselves too much, you know, and, yeah, they’ve been having some internal problems, as we’ve well and truly documented. Now, this, this kind of had me thinking a little bit about this whole scenario here. We obviously in this past 100 years, we have talked a lot about various colonies being set up at this time, this is kind of how Rome expands, right? We see gradual little colonies, you know, being set up all over the place, sometimes they lose them again. But that’s kind of their their strategy. Ferentinum itself, it is obviously in this Hernician area in Hernician territory, and therefore, it was actually part of the Hernician Federation, not the Latin League. Now the Latin League is something we haven’t mentioned in a while this is a kind of loose confederation exists at this point in time. I think it’s basically that people have people who have a shared, I suppose, like linguistic and cultural and religious background, have obviously agreed to extend rights to each other across various territories that you know, that share these things. So, for example, you can move to another place, and it’s not going to be a massive hassle. Trade is easier between these places, marriage is easier between these places. This is something that was set up a really long time ago. Again, we keep going back to those 490 strategy. This is when the Latin League was formed. Yes.
Dr G 37:17
Yeah. And Rome is part of that league.
Dr Rad 37:20
Dr G 37:21
And is going to become increasingly separate from it over time.
Dr Rad 37:25
Yeah, exactly. They have they have this alliance with the various members of the Latin League, and it’s going to be something that lasts into the next century that we’re talking about. And it is probably what helps to safeguard this area of Latium against these very mysterious, shadowy people. We keep talking about the Aequians and the Volscians, who lie outside of this sort of territory. And we know, bugger all about quite frankly.
Dr G 37:49
Well, yeah, they lie outside of the territory. But we also think they’re different linguistic groups as well. So that’s, that’s part of that issue as well. It’s not just their location geographically, it’s also a sense that they’re culturally different as well.
Dr Rad 38:03
Yes, absolutely. Now, it is also worth mentioning that lately, uncharacteristic, because for a while, there was just nothing, it was a bit of a drought, in terms of Romans making progress in terms of expanding their empire, you may have noticed, we’ve been talking about some things been captured lately, you know, it’s been a bit of a feature, even though it’s caused massive internal issues sometimes. And therefore, some people have suggested that we’re actually entering into like a new policy era for ancient Rome, that they are indeed embarking upon a period of more aggressive expansion at this point in time, and this is not going to be the last time in the next few episodes, I think that we’re gonna be talking about some areas being captured by the Romans. So yeah, just something to keep an eye on that potentially. This is an era of evolution. And even though I’d say even though it’s not always you know, it’s just not always progress. Sometimes it’s, you know, two steps forward, one step back.
Dr G 39:05
But they’re trying out some different locations, seeing if they can hold them. And sometimes they can, sometimes they can’t, and it’s obviously also producing a lot of tension between imperial command like so the deployment of imperium, and how it’s being utilized, and the people who actually have to enact the violence of taking your place. So it seems like there is maybe a tension that’s not just about agrarian reform, but maybe a tension about, well, what does expansion look like? And what does it even mean, and why are we engaging in it?
Dr Rad 39:45
Yeah, and definitely, the we’re also going to be heading into an era where I think we’re going to see some slight changes to the way that the Romans manage their military forces, the way that they fund it, that kind of thing. So it’s in Interesting that we might be entering into a new military phase for him, even though obviously, because of the time period and a source material that we have, we can’t be 100% sure of the details. But if we’re looking at that broader picture of truth, because that’s all we can really aim for, I think at this point in time, certainly whatever’s happening, it does seem to be that room is more outward looking again, you know, after being very fixated on internal problems, or whatever was happening in that previous period, maybe we’re starting to see an end to that really horrible period where it seems like actually, in a broader sense, things were hard in, you know, in this time period, maybe things are starting to get a bit easier. It’s a bit hard to say, but certainly potentially a bit of a new phase that we’re entering here. And as I say, this is kind of we’re kind of just at the beginning of it really. We’re going to see definitely I think more coming out about this, definitely.
Dr G 41:01
Oooo, watch this military space.
Dr Rad 41:02
Indeed. And that brings me to the end of 413 BCE Dr. G
Dr G 41:07
Ooo, oh boy.
Dr Rad 41:40
It’s 412 BCE Dr. G! Who are our magistrates in this new year?
Dr G 41:46
Oh, it’s a very exciting year 412. We’ve got consuls. We have Quintus Fabius Ambustus Vibulanus And Gaius Furius Pacilus.
Dr Rad 42:05
Interesting, because these are obviously familiar gens. We’ve heard these family names before but the men themselves a bit mysterious perhaps.
Dr G 42:15
They are. Neither of these two crop up again in any consular lists. And that makes them feel slightly like they might be trying to make up the numbers for a calendar that might be out of whack.
Dr Rad 42:33
Well, nonetheless, that sounds right to me putting a Fabian and a Furii in place.
Dr G 42:38
So we’ve got some classic patricians in power. You also know the name of the tribune of the plebs.
Dr Rad 42:45
Yes, we do.
Dr G 42:46
Dr Rad 42:49
Oh, yeah, that’s a blast from the past, not the actual guy. But the name.
Dr G 42:54
Yes, yes. And so in lieu of my ancient source material, which is very thin on the ground for this year. What I do have to offer you is a back catalogue of who the Icilii are as a gens.
Dr Rad 43:11
Aww, aren’t you nice, because I actually looked into that too, because I remember it from the whole beginning anything.
Dr G 43:18
Yes, yes. There’s some famous stories in this family.
Dr Rad 43:21
Yeah. So. All right, well, I’ll set the scene a little bit. So previous year, even though obviously, there’s a lot of sulking going on. And even though we do have the success, obviously, with the capture of some of some territory kind of way, even though it’s handed to other people. It’s relatively peaceful year by ancient Roman standards, Livy reckons. So we’ve got a new consuls coming in, presumably, still a bit of, you know, nervousness in the air about, you know, players potentially getting elected to power with all this unhappiness going on. And they are right to be concerned because we have a young firebrand Lucius Icilius, tribune of the plebs, and he starts to cause issues immediately daring to bring up the question of old agrarian laws. How dare he! Now, as we’ve highlighted so many times, it’s not a big surprise that we’re seeing a man with this name bringing up these issues, because as we know, the Romans do think that but you know, that characteristics run in families. And this is I think, a good time for you did tell us about the Icilii and their lengthy history of plebeian reform.
Dr G 44:37
Yeah, these guys are like our most famous plebeian gens probably from the last century. So it’s kind of exciting that we’ve got this legacy to sort of look at, there’s probably a good reason that we have this. And we start with right back in the early days of 492 BCE. Spurius Icilius. He was a tribune of the plebs. And not just any tribune of the plebs. He was one of the envoys following the withdrawal – so the First Succession of the plebeians – to the Mons Sacer “the sacred mount”.
Dr Rad 45:14
That is elite. That is elite Yeah, solid, solid.
Dr G 45:19
Solid plebeian credentials.
Dr Rad 45:23
Going back to the origin of the fight, that’s their Stonewall, man.
Dr G 45:27
That’s where it all began. Yeah. He’s also thought to have introduced a law through about disruption of plebeian assemblies. So making it illegal to disrupt gatherings of plebeians for formal discussion and process.
Dr Rad 45:42
Dr G 45:43
So the patricians were usually just rocking up and causing trouble. And he’s like, “No, that is illegal.” And then we have our most famous Icilius.
Dr Rad 45:55
Dr G 45:57
The very same.
Dr Rad 45:58
I thought it might be..
Dr G 46:00
So he holds the tribune of the plebs position three times, once in 456, 455, and 449. So it’s kind of like a rivalry of the plebeians to the whole decemvirate that has sort of risen up and taken control. So he’s the one who is credited with carrying what we think – we’re not sure about the historicity of this law, necessarily – the law that’s known as the Lex (Icilia) de Aventino Publicando.
Dr Rad 46:33
Ah, yes, I remember this.
Dr G 46:34
The law that allocates the Aventine hill to the plebeians.
Dr Rad 46:38
Yes, yes. Aventine, Aventine.
Dr G 46:43
It’s the place to be! If you’re a plebeian. He’s also caught up in the whole situation with the decemvirs because he is engaged to Verginia. And this is the young woman who falls victim to the machinations and predatory behavior of Appius Claudius.
Dr Rad 47:06
Yes, I remember that very well.
Dr G 47:08
And this really riles Icilius up. And he becomes a spokesman for the second succession. So the trouble I think, for us as historians, is that every time we have an Icilius in the narrative history, so far, they’ve always been in charge of a succession of the plebs.
Dr Rad 47:32
Hmmm, I see where you’re going.
Dr G 47:35
And so as soon as you start to read into the start of 412 BCE, which is where we’re at, the reader is primed through the sort of annalistic history that sources like Livy and Dionysius have been providing to expect something big to happen coming from an Icilius…
Dr Rad 47:58
Something big is about to happen. Are you ready to hear how he goes with this agrarian reform, Dr. G? Are you ready?
Dr G 48:07
Dr Rad 48:07
Okay. Here we go. So he raises the issue. He causes lots of problems. And then a pestilence strikes, and nobody cares.
Dr G 48:18
Dr Rad 48:22
Yeah, so basically anticlimactic. Well, okay. I’m going to say this. That’s pretty much all we have for 412. Okay, that pestilence broke out and everybody lost interest in anything other than staying alive. Ah ah ah ah staying alive, staying alive. So people are obviously way too distracted to be worrying about politics. So Icilius is just dead in the water. But I will say this, you’re not going to see the end of this family. This is not the last time it is nevertheless time 412 may be ending in a bit of a sad, sick bundle. But the Icilii will return.
Dr G 49:05
So well. That’s good to know.
Dr Rad 49:06
Yeah. So that being said, Dr. G, that brings us to the end of 412.
Dr G 49:11
Oh, well, let me just give you some small contextualizing details before we move on. Nothing to do with Roman history, I might add. So Diodorus Siculus is giving us the names of the consuls, correctly, it would seem and he also-
Dr Rad 49:31
Wait are we doing 411?
Dr G 49:32
Dr Rad 49:33
Oh, okay. Sorry. Okay, sorry. Sorry, I was confused.
Dr G 49:36
No, we’re still in 412. Before we wrap up 412, he also mentioned that in this year, the Carthaginians are launching a war also against Sicily. So the previous year we had the Athenians – Sicily is caught in the middle of some things right now – the Carthaginians at this point in time are being led by a general called Hannibal.
Dr Rad 50:04
Not the famous one.
Dr G 50:06
Not THE Hannibal, but a Hannibal. Yeah. Because the Carthaginians often call their people Hannibal.
Dr Rad 50:14
Indeed, again, another popular name.
Dr G 50:17
It’s a very popular name for the Carthaginians. So Sicily is in a really sort of difficult situation in this period. So South of Italy, just off the mainland. It’s a broiling hotbed of military action. It’s happening outside of the Romans domain, they might know about it through trade and various other disruptions. They’re not involved in it. But it is an active military situation that is happening to the south. And that’s all I got.
Dr Rad 50:50
Okay, nice. Well, that actually is going to play into I think, a future narrative. So knowing a bit about the contextual stuff will be very useful for our future episodes, but I won’t say any more. I won’t say any more.
Dr G 51:04
I like to think so. Just give me a little bit of a teaser here and then
Dr Rad 51:10
Carthaginians on the prowl. Oh, all right. Well, Dr G., that’s 413 and 412 done, which means it’s time for the Partial Pick. So Dr G., what is the Partial Pick all about?
Dr G 51:29
The Partial Pick is where we rate Rome according to its own standards. Now this is unfortunate for Rome, because Rome is still a baby right now. And its own standards are pretty high for it. But there is essentially five categories that we’re going to measure Rome’s progress and success by and we’re gonna give them 10 Gold Eagles maximum in each of those categories. So it is possible if Rome is at its flourishing best to receive 50 Golden Eagles.
Dr Rad 51:59
Alright, what’s our first category?
Dr G 52:02
Dr Rad 52:03
Well, okay, we have something to work with. Here. We have got the capture of Ferentinum
Dr G 52:09
They did just give it away though.
Dr Rad 52:10
Well, yes. But it was theirs to give.
Dr G 52:14
I see. So, conquest without retention. I mean, it doesn’t sound like the Roman way.
Dr Rad 52:20
We;; I mean, nobody says that the Hernicians lost it back. It’s still kept. It’s just kept by like a friend. Like, can you hold my purse while I go to the bathroom?
Dr G 52:33
Aww so sweet. Yeah, Look, I mean, I’m, I’m not very convinced.
Dr Rad 52:39
Look they didn’t get a lot of booty or anything. So look, I think we should give them at least a three.
Dr G 52:44
Yeah, that’s fine.
Dr Rad 52:45
Dr G 52:46
Dr Rad 52:46
All right. Done.
Dr G 52:49
All right. Our second category is diplomacy.
Dr Rad 52:54
Dr G 52:55
Are they good at negotiating?
Dr Rad 52:56
Well, okay. Again, externally? No, because there’s warfare, although I suppose there are the relations between the Hernicians and the Romans. That’s
Dr G 53:06
so I suppose. Yeah, they did give the Hernicians so huge gift.
Dr Rad 53:10
Yeah, take a town.
Dr G 53:12
Dr Rad 53:13
Take this ghost town.
Dr G 53:15
It’s got nothing in it. It’s yours!
Dr Rad 53:16
Yeah, exactly. I mean, it’s they basically like snatched it up, turned it upside down, shake it out. Well, the contents and being like, yeah, there’s nothing in there throwing the carton away and be like here, take that.
Dr G 53:27
This is almost sounding like the infamous moment where I gave my brother a five cent piece for Christmas.
Dr Rad 53:35
But if we are going by internal diplomacy, I think there is some effort at internal diplomacy in the sense that the investigation into Postumius’ death was sensitively handled.
Dr G 53:49
Yeah, very interesting. I’m not sure that I really quite buy that for this period of time, it seems very unlike the patricians.
Dr Rad 53:57
Okay again, once again, in ancient Rome, there are so many red flags, we may as well be in communist China. But still.
Dr G 54:06
Yeah, I suppose if we read it at the face value, and we don’t have heaps of options, because we don’t have a lot of alternative evidence.
Dr Rad 54:13
I mean, that we may not believe the investigation. We may not believe that Special Victim Unit existed back in this time. Maybe it was more of a Crime Scene Investigation. Who knows? Maybe there’s more.
Dr G 54:24
CSI: Ancient Rome
Dr Rad 54:25
Maybe it was more Hawaii 5-0. We will never know, Dr. G. But I think definitely we could potentially say that the death of Postumius was investigated sensitively.
Dr G 54:38
Hmm. All right. Well, in that case, I’m willing to give them a two.
Dr Rad 54:43
Okay. Generous as always. All right, what’s our next category?
Dr G 54:49
Our next category is Expansion.
Dr Rad 54:53
Well, yes, not a great one. Again, I probably only give them maybe like a two
Dr G 55:01
Is it expansion? If they take it, and then they give it away to a friend?
Dr Rad 55:05
I think so because the Hernicians are there.
Dr G 55:09
Dr Rad 55:11
Come on. What’s two points? Two little golden eagles?
Dr G 55:18
Fine. The fourth category is Virtus.
Dr Rad 55:24
Not really. It’s not like it’s not the most impressive of times, I will say.
Dr G 55:29
We’re not seeing great displays of manliness. No.
Dr Rad 55:31
Not at this point in time, no.
Dr G 55:33
And then, is it a good time to be a citizen in Rome?
Dr Rad 55:38
Well, I don’t think it’s the worst time.
Dr G 55:41
It’s not the worst time. Although, did we just have a pestilence because that’s not that’s not great.
Dr Rad 55:47
That’s not great for anybody. Patrician or plebeian, we are all united in our dislike of disease. That’s true. So we’ve got disease happening. We’ve got the plebeians being unhappy about the lack of progress on the agrarian law front, feeling slighted that the patricians are more interested in acting out
Dr G 56:06
Dr Rad 56:07
Yeah. Everybody likes true crime and the patricians are no exception. The patricians are more interested in murder investigations than in seeking meaningful societal change.
Dr G 56:17
There’s a surprise.
Dr Rad 56:19
Yeah so look. It’s not it’s not great. But at the same time, we do have someone from the Icilii in the tribune position.
Dr G 56:28
There is a little bit of potential there, and I suppose if we’re taking the investigation, having the opportunity to nobly die, as opposed to being severely physically punished to death…
Dr Rad 56:44
And in this narrative, they would have all been plebeians. It’s yeah, that’s just how it set up. So
Dr G 56:50
It’s not I mean, it’s not great, but
Dr Rad 56:53
Is it like a two?
Dr G 56:54
Dr Rad 56:56
Well, Dr G., that means that the Romans have managed to scrape together between the years of 413 and 412, nine golden eagles.
Dr G 57:06
Oh, boy, that’s not great.
Dr Rad 57:09
Look, it hasn’t been great for a while. Nine out of 50 not fantastic, but I definitely think we’ve got some very interesting times lying just around the corner.
Dr G 57:29
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Transcribed by https://otter.ai