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Please note that Mommsen uses the AUC chronology (Ab Urbe Condita), i.e. from the founding of the City of Rome. You can use this reference table to have the B.C. dates


II. From the Abolition of the Monarchy in Rome to the Union of Italy

From: The History of Rome, by Theodor Mommsen
Translated with the sanction of the author by William Purdie Dickson

The History of Old Rome

CHAPTER VI - Struggle of the Italians against Rome


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Page 19

This licentious life and buffoon poetry of the Tarentine fashionables and literati had a fitting counterpart in the inconstant, arrogant, and short-sighted policy of the Tarentine demagogues, who regularly meddled in matters with which they had nothing to do, and kept aloof where their immediate interests called for action. After the Caudine catastrophe, when the Romans and Samnites stood opposed in Apulia, they had sent envoys thither to enjoin both parties to lay down their arms (434).

This diplomatic intervention in the decisive struggle of the Italians could not rationally have any other meaning than that of an announcement that Tarentum had at length resolved to abandon the neutrality which it had hitherto maintained. It had in fact sufficient reason to do so. It was no doubt a difficult and dangerous thing for Tarentum to be entangled in such a war; for the democratic development of the state had directed its energies entirely to the fleet, and while that fleet, resting upon the strong commercial marine of Tarentum, held the first rank among the maritime powers of Magna Graecia, the land force, on which they were in the present case dependent, consisted mainly of hired soldiers and was sadly disorganized.

Under these circumstances it was no light undertaking for the Tarentine republic to take part in the conflict between Rome and Samnium, even apart from the--at least troublesome--feud in which Roman policy had contrived to involve them with the Lucanians.

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