The Partial Recap – 410s BCE
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What a confusing decade the 410s have been. It’s definitely time for a Partial Recap! We run through what the ancient sources tell us about this decade.
The Partial Recap – The 410s BCE
Want to get all the details? Jump in at Episode 140: The Commonwealth of Slaves.
Sound Credits Our music was composed by Bettina Joy de Guzman.
Transcript Dr Rad – Welcome to the Partial Recap for the 410s BCE!
Dr G – I’m Dr G
Dr Rad: and I’m Dr Rad
Dr G: and this is our highlights edition of the 410s in Rome. We’ll take you through from 419 to 410 in an epitome of our normal episodes.
Dr Rad: Perfect for those mornings when you don’t want some lengthy rhetoric with your coffee – but please be warned – the Roman world is a violent one.
Dr G: Get ready for a recappuccino.
In 419 BCE, the military tribunes with consular power were Agrippa Menenius Lanatus, Publius Lucretius Hosti Tricipitunus, Spurius Nautius Rutilus and Gaius Servilius Axilla.
This was a year of high drama, mama!
Some of the slaves in Rome decided to stage a pretty audacious uprising – setting fires all over the city and then taking control of the Capitol whilst everyone else was distracted.
Naturally, Rome’s best bud – Jupiter – made sure their plot failed.
In other words, some of the slaves turned informer and were rewarded with their freedom and a healthy bonus
As for the rest of the slaves – they were simply showered with attention – of the sharp and pointy kind. It’s a sad tale that does not end well.
The Aequians and the Labici started rumbling in the distance this year – there was no major military action, but the Romans had their eyes peeled.
In 418 BCE, the military tribunes with consular power were Lucius Sergius Fidenas, Marcus Papirius Mugillanus, and Caius Servilius Axilla.
Ambassadors from Tusculum arrived in Rome in this year with very expected news – the Labicani were ready for war. They were so ready, they had already teamed up with the Aequians and started attacking areas in the countryside.
The Romans did not need to hear any more – it was war!
The Senate dispatched two of the military tribunes to campaign whilst one would remain in the city.
The military tribunes immediately started slappy-fighting over who got to command the armies
Quintus Servilius – the dictator who had captured the slippery city of Fidenae and father of one of the military tribunes – had to step in and send them all to their rooms whilst he sorted out the mess.
Servilius placed his son in charge of Rome and packed off the other military tribunes with a hefty smack around the ears and some stern marching orders – “You’ve bragged an awful lot about yourselves so – You’d better WERK!”
Almost as though the ROmans knew something was going to go wrong, only ten tribes were levied – and it was just as well because the military tribunes started swinging their ….swords around before they had even left the city.
They could not agree on anything – the struggle was real.
Things were so out of control that their lieutenants had to insist that the military tribunes held supreme command on alternate days
Now, none of Rome’s wars happened very far away, so word made its way back to the city.
Quintus Servilius told his son to get ready – disaster was on the horizon.
Sure enough, Sergius ended up falling for the Meryl Streep performance given by the Aequians in an engagement and many of his men were slaughtered.
The following day, the Roman camp was almost entirely surrounded and they had to abandon ship. OH THE SHAME!
The leaders managed to grab their standards on the way out and headed for their most adorable allies – the Tusculans.
With the rest of the Roman forces scattered as they fled – confusing reports reached Rome
The general impression was – WORLD APOCALYPSE.
Thanks to the wise leadership of Daddy and Sonny Servilius, the rest of the tribes were levied and readied.
Sonny Servilius’ scouts tracked down the surviving soldiers at Tusculum, and it was a real morale booster to see that they were, you know, alive.
The Romans felt a little more positive, but they knew they weren’t out of danger yet! Just to be safe, Daddy Servilius was made dictator.
Servilius Snr chose Jnr to serve as his master of the horse – or perhaps he chose Mr Servilius Armpit (AHALA)?
The Servilii trotted off into the fray and wouldn’t you know it? The Aequians were so overly confident after winning that Oscar in the previous battle, they started to get sloppy.
In the very first engagement, Servilius Snr caused major disruption amongst the Aequian forces.
Just to prove that he was the most serious Servilii in the camp, Servilius Snr killed a standard-bearer who hesitated when he ordered his troops to advance quickly. There’s no time for thinking!!! Just act, now, move, move, move.
The Romans were feeling his energy and went full berserker
The Aequian defence collapsed and this time they were the ones running back to their camp in total disarray.
The Romans seized their camp and snatched that bootay.
Perhaps feeling like he could relax a tad, Servilius Snr allowed the soldiers to share the spoils.
The Romans had won the battle – but what about the war?
The Aequians had retreated to Labici, to hide with their allies – and the Romans soon showed up with a cake and some ladders.
Labici was pillaged, allowing Servilius Snr to lead his forces back to ROme, where he laid down his powers after eight days of exhilarating action. What a thrill ride!
The Senate were pleased, but they also knew that they needed to be on guard. Those tribunes of the plebs would want to get their greedy paws on that new land that had been conquered.
A quick decree was passed and a colony of 1500 was set up in Labici.
417 BCE and 416 BCE
In 417 BCE, the military tribunes with consular power were Publius Lucretius Hosti Tricipitinus, Agrippa Menenius Lanatus, Caius Servilius Axilla or Structus, Spurius Rutilius Crassus OR Spurius Veturius Crassus Cicurinus.
In 416 BCE, the military tribunes with consular power were Aulus Sempronius Atratinus, Marcus Papirius Mugillanus, Quintus Fabius Vibulanus, and Spurius Nautius Rutilus.
The events of these years blend together a bit, so be prepared for a double act.
As predicted, some tribunes of the plebs started making the most unreasonable of demands about land.
Spurius Maecilius and Marcus Metilius wanted a law that would divide captured land up amongst Roman citizens.
Does this make any sense at this point in time? Probably not! But it’s classic conflict of the orders stuff – the plebs not getting their fair share, concerns over land allotment, greedy patricians… just lean into the narrative and try to ignore those gaping holes in the story.
The Military Tribunes with consular power started chatting with the senators and other elite dudes – clearly, this was time for an EVIL PLAN.
Appius Claudius, descendant of the infamous decemvir, came forth to uphold his family legacy of douchebaggery
He suggested that they should keep it simple stupid! Just divide and conquer – convince the other tribune of the plebs to use their veto against their colleagues in exchange for patrician favour.
The snaky senators successfully won the wallflower tribune of the plebs over and sure enough, the law was vetoed.
All Maecilius and Metilius could do was call them CLASS TRAITORS and throw a huge hissy fit in front of an assembly.
In 415 BCE, the military tribunes with consular power were Publius Cornelius Cossus, Caius Valerius Volusi Potitus Volusus, Numerius or Marcus Fabius Vibulanus, and Quintus Quinctius Cincinnatus.
Conflict was brewing with Veii AND the Aequians – but then both of them postponed the warfare for another day.
The people of Veii were scared away from a fight due to the flooding of the Tiber River, which ruined some of their farms.
The Aequians were still smarting from a previous defeat when they had been defending the Bolani – an Aequian tribe.
The Bolani seemed to have provoked battle by attacking the Labici and the new Roman colony, but hadn’t managed to secure a victory.
Lucius Decius, a tribune of the plebs, tried to push through an agrarian law that would send colonists to Bolae as well as Labici, but his fellow tribunes would not agree to a plebiscite without the Senate giving their okay.
Bolae would not be in Roman hands for long – so perhaps it was for the best!
In 414 BCE, the military tribunes with consular power were Cnaeus Cornelius Cossus, Lucius Valerius Potitus, Quintus Fabius Vibulanus and Publius Postumius Albinus Regillensis.
Postumius was placed in charge of a campaign against the Aequians, and he enjoyed a lot of success.
His troops seized Bolae and beat the Aequians without too much effort.
Unfortunately, Postumius continued the family tradition of stuffing up royally.
There was some confusion over exactly where it all went wrong, but it definitely had something to do with the war booty from the captured city.
Whether Postumius broke a promise about their share, or there was not enough in the city to please the army, the soldiers were Spurius Furius about the lack of goods.
Before the situation was resolved, Postumius was summoned back to Rome to deal with an uppity tribune of the plebs – the seductively named Marcus Sextius.
Sextius was pursuing Decius’ dream of colonists in Bolae. Give the land to those who bled for it!
Postumius could not help but make a nasty comment upon hearing about Sextius’ agrarian law – he essentially made a threat about those who fought under his command.
The Plebeian assembly and the Senate were seriously perturbed when they heard what had been said – their subligaculums were definitely in a twist!
Marcus Sextius made sure to bait Postumius – how dare he threaten his brave men? How DARE he even suggest that they be punished like mere slaves? And BTW – how are patrician twats still getting elected to the highest office when THIS is how they treat the people? #plebeianmilitarytribuneforoffice
However, the group that were most upset were the army back at Bolae.
The quaestor, Publius Sextius (or Sestius), picked up on the mutinous energy and decided that the situation called for a violent solution.
He used a lictor to arrest a brawling soldier – and surprise surprise – this only inflamed matters.
In the subsequent riot, the quaestor was either seriously injured or killed by a stone to the noggin.
Postumius had to return to Bolae to sort matters out.
He came with the trademark harshness of his gens, and decided to execute some of the ringleaders in a particularly painful way.
The cries of the condemned caught the attention of a crowd, and when Postumius and his forces tried to get the angry people under control, they turned on him – stoning him to death.
With one of the leading magistrates murdered in broad daylight, his colleagues quickly set up a senatorial inquiry into his death – but had to hit the brakes when the plebeian tribunes used their veto power.
Terrified that the plebeians were angry enough to elect one of their own as military tribune in 413 BCE, the senate tried to run consular elections.
Once more, the plebeian tribunes blocked their plans, and an interregnum ensued..
The interrex, Quintus Fabius Vibulanus, organised elections and so In 413 BCE, the consuls were Aulus Cornelius Cossus and Lucius Furius Medullinus.
A senatorial resolution was passed to investigate the death of Postumius.
Given how popular Postumius was, the investigators wisely only punished a few for their role in his murder – and most of them seem to have been allowed to commit suicide.
The plebs were not appeased – a lack of punishment cannot make up for a lack of agrarian reform, people!
Leaving the sulky atmosphere in Rome, the Volscians attacked Herncian territory and the consul Furius was dispatched to slap them back across the border.
The Volscians were nowhere to be found when Furius arrived, so instead he captured Ferentinum – just to annoy them.
There was a real lack of booty in the town – leading to a rather anticlimactic conquest that the Romans casually turned over to the Hernicians.
In 412 BCE, the consuls were Quintus Fabius Ambustus Vibulanus and Gaius Furius Pacilus.
The real star of the year was one of the tribunes of the plebs – Lucius Icilius. You might recall this family as they have a history of being plebeian heroes.
Icilius tried to revive the old agrarian laws – but he did not get far as a pestilence hit ROme.
The population of Rome was not decimated but they were certainly way too sick to be worrying about politics.
In 411 BCE, the consuls were Marcus Papirius Atratinus and Gaius Nautius Rutulus.
After the outbreak in 412, Rome was in danger of a famine.
Whilst some people were a little tight-fisted in this time of need (cough cough – Samnites) – others made sure that the Romans were well-supplied.
In 410 BCE, the consuls were Marcus Aemilius Mamercinus and Gaius Valerius Potitus Volusus.
The Aequians were gearing up for another bout with the Romans, and the Volscians were happy to sign on as their auxiliaries.
When they started attacking Latin & Herncian territory, the consul Valerius started conducting the levy.
In swept the tribune of the plebs – Marcus Menenius.
Seizing his moment, Menenius refused to let the levy proceed without an agrarian law FIRST.
Whilst the Romans squabbled, the citadel of Carventum was captured by the Aequians.
The patricians tried to use this loss to turn the people against Menenius
Playing on their divide and conquer tactic from earlier, the patricians had already managed to talk the rest of the tribunes into siding against Menenius – and his refusal to allow the levy after this loss provided them with an airtight excuse for their bizarre stance.
A Mexican stand-off ensued, with neither side willing to back down and a lot of hysterical posturing.
The rest of the tribunes decided to take a very dramatic step – publicly supporting Valerius’ right to use force and fines to get people to enlist in the army.
With this authority in hand, men who were refusing to enlist were dragged in front of the consul.
This example was enough to scare almost everyone else into signing up.
The Roman army was now able to march off to the citadel of Carventum,
It wasn’t the happiest union between commander and troops, but the ROmans got the job done.
The enemy was routed.
Valerius was not about to give the army the meager spoils after the trouble they caused, so the quaestors were put in charge of auctioning off the goods.
This endearing act meant that Valerius was showered with abuse during his ovation back in the city, whilst Menenius was showered with praise.
With all of these anti-patrician vibes in the air, the elite were looking around nervously and organizing consular elections for the next year.
Whilst our sources are clearly pushing the conflict between the orders, the Romans seem to be taking on a more aggressive policy of expansion in this decade – makes you wonder what lies ahead!
Dr Rad: And that was the 410s in Ancient Rome… or was it?
Dr G: Remember, this has just been the highlights from the ancient sources, so if you want to delve into the complexities of the different evidence from this period, check out our narrative episodes. Jump in at Episode 140: The Commonwealth of Slaves to join us for a deep dive into the 410s BCE.
Dr Rad: Thanks for turning in to this Partial Recap!