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From Hutton Webster's, Early European History (1917); edited for this on-line publication, by ELLOPOS
IV. THE RISE OF ROME TO 264 B.C.
» Contents of this ChapterPage 20
EXPANSION OF ROME OVER ITALY, 509(?)-264 B.C.
ROME SUPREME IN LATIUM, 338 B.C.
The first centuries of the republic were filled with constant warfare. The Romans needed all their skill, bravery, and patriotism to keep back the Etruscans on the north, and the wild tribes of the Apennines. About 390 B.C. the state was brought near to destruction by an invasion of the Gauls. These barbarians, whose huge bulk and enormous weapons struck terror to the hearts of their adversaries, poured through the Alpine passes and ravaged far and wide. At the river Allia, only a few miles from Rome, they annihilated a Roman army and then captured and burned the city itself. But the Gallic tide receded as swiftly as it had come, and Rome rose from her ashes mightier than ever. Half a century after the Gallic invasion she was able to subdue her former allies, the Latins, and to destroy their league. The Latin War, as it is called, ended in 338 B.C., the year of the fateful battle of Chaeronea in Greece. By this time Rome ruled in Latium and southern Etruria and had begun to extend her sway over Campania. There remained only one Italian people to contest with her the supremacy of the peninsula—the Samnites.
ROME SUPREME IN CENTRAL ITLAY, 290 B.C.
The Samnites were the most vigorous and warlike race of central Italy. While the Romans were winning their way in Latium, the Samnites were also entering on a career of conquest. They coveted the fertile Campanian plain with its luxurious cities, Cumae and Neapolis, which the Greeks had founded. The Romans had also fixed their eyes on the same region, and so a contest between the two peoples became inevitable. In numbers, courage, and military skill Romans and Samnites were well matched. Nearly half a century of hard fighting was required before Rome gained the upper hand. The close of the Samnite wars found Rome supreme in central Italy. Her authority was now recognized from the upper Apennines to the foot of the peninsula.
Cf. The Ancient Greece * The Ancient Rome
Eastern Roman Empire (Byzantium) * Western Medieval Europe * Renaissance in Italy