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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 VII - Struggle between Pyrrhus and Rome, and Union of Italy


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Page 51

Last Struggles in Italy-- Capture of Tarentum

In Italy the war came to an end with the battle of Beneventum; the last convulsive struggles of the national party died slowly away. So long indeed as the warrior prince, whose mighty arm had ventured to seize the reins of destiny in Italy, was still among the living, he held, even when absent, the stronghold of Tarentum against Rome. Although after the departure of the king the peace party recovered ascendency in the city, Milo, who commanded there on behalf of Pyrrhus, rejected their suggestions and allowed the citizens favourable to Rome, who had erected a separate fort for themselves in the territory of Tarentum, to conclude peace with Rome as they pleased, without on that account opening his gates.

But when after the death of Pyrrhus a Carthaginian fleet entered the harbour, and Milo saw that the citizens were on the point of delivering up the city to the Carthaginians, he preferred to hand over the citadel to the Roman consul Lucius Papirius (482), and by that means to secure a free departure for himself and his troops. For the Romans this was an immense piece of good fortune. After the experiences of Philip before Perinthus and Byzantium, of Demetrius before Rhodes, and of Pyrrhus before Lilybaeum, it may be doubted whether the strategy of that period was at all able to compel the surrender of a town well fortified, well defended, and freely accessible by sea; and how different a turn matters might have taken, had Tarentum become to the Phoenicians in Italy what Lilybaeum was to them in Sicily! What was done, however, could not be undone.

The Carthaginian admiral, when he saw the citadel in the hands of the Romans, declared that he had only appeared before Tarentum conformably to the treaty to lend assistance to his allies in the siege of the town, and set sail for Africa; and the Roman embassy, which was sent to Carthage to demand explanations and make complaints regarding the attempted occupation of Tarentum, brought back nothing but a solemn confirmation on oath of that allegation as to its ally's friendly design, with which accordingly the Romans had for the time to rest content. The Tarentines obtained from Rome, presumably on the intercession of their emigrants, the restoration of autonomy; but their arms and ships had to be given up and their walls had to be pulled down.

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