In the year 340 BCE, the city of Antium watched with interest as its long-time foe, Rome, committed itself in a war against the Latin League. The League’s network of members and allies included such regions as Pedum, Lanuvium, Aricia, Nomentum, Tusculum, Velitrae, Tibur, Praeneste, Fundi, Formiae, Cumae, Suessula, and segments of Campania, but not all of the cities were equally committed to waging war against the Romans. Nevertheless, the war was serious enough for both of Rome’s governing consuls at that time, Titus Manlius “Imperiosus” Torquatus and Publius Decius Mus, to be dispatched with the military to wage war against the Latin League. During their campaign in 340 BCE, Publius Decius Mus was killed in battle and the surviving consul became embroiled in controversy for executing his own son. Rome’s ongoing war, its bogged-down military, and its consulship problem (with Publius Decius Mus’ death and Titus Manlius Torquatus’ scandal), provided Antium with ample opportunities that they could exploit militarily. This was too tempting for Antium to resist, so while Rome was battling with the Latin League in 340 BCE, the city of Antium launched raids against the territory of Rome and its subjects.
According to Roman tradition, the military of Antium focused its attacks on three particular regions. These locations were listed by the ancient Roman historian, Livy (c. 59 BCE-17 CE), who claimed that “The Antiates raided the lands of Ostia, Ardea, and Solonium” (Livy, History of Rome, 8.12). Antium’s raids had to be quickly reduced in scope and scale, however, because the Romans were able to negotiate a momentary truce with the Latin League before the year 340 BCE was over. Curiously, Rome’s military seemingly had a complicated time redeploying its forces against Antium during that campaign season. Perhaps, Titus Manlius Torquatus’ political scandal hampered his efforts to lead Rome’s forces on another military operation. Whatever the case, the consul pleaded illness, and a dictator was reportedly put in place to respond to Antium’s raids. The dictator, however, allegedly put on a lackluster performance. The aforementioned historian, Livy, commented on the dictator’s odd campaign, saying, “[Rome] appointed as dictator Lucius Papirius Crassus, who happened to be praetor at the time; and he named Lucius Papirius Cursor master of Horse. The dictator achieved nothing remarkable against the Antiates, although he had a permanent camp in their land for several months” (History of Rome, 8.12).
Although the dictator did not win any spectacular battles, it should be noted that his threatening gesture did evidently put a stop to Antium’s raids in 340 BCE. Nevertheless, warfare between the two feuding cities would continue. When the Roman-Latin conflict renewed with a passion in 339 and 338 BCE, Antium became caught up in it again. In 338 BCE, the Latin League was dealt a definitive defeat, and Antium was conquered and occupied along with the Latins.
Written by C. Keith Hansley
Picture Attribution: (Roman Soldiers Defending a City Plagued by Famine, drawn by Louis Fabritius Dubourg (c. 1693–1775), [Public Domain] via Creative Commons and the MET).
- The History of Rome (Rome and Italy) by Livy, translated by Betty Radice. New York: Penguin Classics, 1982.