Key to Umbria

Latin colonies: Nepete and Sutrium (383 BC); Cosa (273 BC); Heba ? (ca. 150 BC)

Maritime citizen colonies (ca. 264 - 245 BC): Castrum Novum; Pyrgi; Alsium; Fregenae

Citizen colony: Saturnia (183 BC); Graviscae (181 BC)

Prefectures listed by Festus: Caere ; Saturnia

Other prefectures: Forum Clodii (CIL XI 3310a, Pliny the Elder); Statonia (Vitruvius)

Underline indicates known or likely tribal assignation:

Tribes formed in 387 BC: Turquoise = Tromentina (Veii); Blue = Stellatina;

Red = Sabatina; Yellow = Arnensis (Blera and Ocriculum)

Green = Voltinia (old tribe)

Statonia has recently been located near Bomarzo, as shown on the map

The location that was previously assigned to it (between Vulci and Saturnia) is indicated in italics

Conquest of Etruria

Fall of Veii (396 BC)

  1. The Roman conquest of Etruria began in earnest in 396 BC, with the fall of Veii after a long siege.  The city was plundered and, according to Livy:

  2. “That day was spent in the massacre of the enemy and the sack of the city with its enormous wealth.  The following day, [the consular tribunes, Marcus Furius Camillus] sold all freemen who had been spared, as slaves”, (‘History of Rome’, 5: 21: 17 - 5: 22: 1). 

Thereafter, Livy recorded that, after the city had been stripped of its wealth, the Romans:

  1. “... began to remove the offerings to their gods and the gods themselve ... [Juno, the erstwhile patron of Veii, was ritually] conveyed to the Aventine Hill, her eternal seat, where ... Camillus had vowed [and] afterwards dedicated a temple [dedicated to Juno Regina].  ”, (‘History of Rome’, 5: 22: 3-8). 

This formal ‘calling’ of Juno,  to Rome marked the end of its greatness.  (Veii  survived as an insignificant urban centre and was municipalised as the municipium Augustum Veiens in the Augustan period).  Saskia Roselaar (referenced below, at pp. 298-9, entry 1) observed that, apparently, the whole territory of  Veii was confiscated.

Conquest of Capena and Falerii] (394-4 BC)

Tim Cornell (referenced below, at p. 313) observed that:

  1. “...  the most consistent and loyal supporters of Veii [had been the people of Capena and Falerii].  These people, who lived in the region to the north of Veii ... , spoke a dialect of Latin [known as Faliscan] and were ethnically distinct from the Etruscans.  [Nevertheless, ..., they] belonged to the catchment area of Veii and [had] never failed to give her active support in the struggle against Rome.” 

This explains why, after taking Veii, the Romans unleashed an onslaught on the  territories of of these two cities: according to Livy:

  1. “[In  395 BC, they] broke the resistance of the Capenates: they sued for peace and it was granted them”, (History of Rome, 5: 24: 3).

  2. “[In 394 BC, the people of Falerii] found themselves ... asking for peace.  ... [This request was granted, but they] were ordered to supply the pay of the troops for that year ...”, (‘History of Rome’, 5: 27: 15) .

Viritane Settlement at Veii

Livy the described a programme of viritane settlement on the confiscated land:

  1. In 393 BC, the Senate decreed:

  2. “... that 7 iugera [ of Veientian territory should be allotted to each plebeian [in Rome who wanted it], and not only to the heads of families: account was taken of all the children in the house ...”, (‘History of Rome’, 5: 30: 8).

  3. In 389 BC, soon after the sack of Rome by the Gauls:

  4. “... such of the Veientians, Capenatians, and Faliscans as had [remained loyal to Rome] were admitted into full citizenship and received an allotment of land”, (‘History of Rome’, 6: 4: 4).

  5. In 387 BC:

  6. “Four tribes were added from the new citizens: the Stellatina; the Tromentina; the Sabatina; and the Arnensis, and they made up the number of 25 tribes.”, (‘History of Rome’, 6: 5: 8).

This was the first occasion on which new tribes had been created since 495 BC: Lily Ross Taylor (referenced below, at pp 47-8) observed that:

  1. “The annexation of Veii’s extended territory, adding perhaps 50% to the Roman [territory], presented a new problem, and it was met by the organisation of [these four new tribes].”

Colonies of Nepete and Sutrium (383 BC ?)

According to Livy, in 386 BC:

  1. “... envoys arrived [in Rome] from Nepete and Sutrium, begging for help against the Etruscans ... [This well-timed alert was fortunate for Rome, since] these places, fronting Etruria, served as gates and barriers on that side [of Roman territory]:  ... The Senate accordingly decided to ... undertake the war with Etruria”, (‘History of Rome’, 6: 9: 3-4).

The identities of the Etruscans who threatened Nepete and Sutrium are unknown.  William Harris (referenced below, at p. 43, suggested that Nepete and Sutrium themselves were within the Faliscan sphere of influence, which might explain why Livy differentiated them from ‘the Etruscans’.  However,  it is clear that, by 386 BC, they relied on the protection of Rome.

Livy recorded that:

  1. When the consular tribunes, Marcus Furius Camillus and Publius Valerius Potitus Poplicola, arrived at Sutrium, they found the Etruscans in possession of part of the town but quickly expelled them: Sutrium was restored “to our allies”, i.e. its inhabitants (‘History of Rome’, 6: 9: 12).

  2. The army continued to Nepet, but found that it had already been surrendered 

  3. “... through the treachery of some of the townsfolk.  ... the Etruscans were holding the walls and guarding the gates.  ... [The Romans scaled the walls] and ... the town was captured. ... the Nepesines [who laid] down their arms... were ordered to be spared.   The Etruscans, whether armed or not, were killed, and those Nepesines who had [effected the surrender to the Etruscans] were beheaded; the population who had no share in [the surrender] received their property back, and the town was left with a [Roman] garrison”, (‘History of Rome’, 6: 10: 1-6).

The historical accuracy of these passages is often doubted.  However, it is clear that these key strategic centres were soon established as colonies of the Latin League.  The chronology is uncertain:

  1. According to Livy, who does not mention Sutrium:

  2. “[In 383 BC, three] commissioners were appointed to settle a colony at Nepete”, (‘History of Rome’, 6: 21: 4).

  3. According to Velleius Paterculus:

  4. “Seven years after the capture of [Rome] by the Gauls, a colony was founded at Sutrium ... and another after an interval of [10] years at Nepet”, (‘History of Rome’, 1: 14: 2).

It is usually assumed that both colonies were established in 383 BC (see, for example, Saskia Roselaar, referenced below, 2010, pp.298-9, entry 1).   It is not clear (at least to me) whether this colonisation simply involved a change of status for the existing inhabitants or whether new colonists were enrolled: it is possible that there was a mixture of both.

Edward Salmon (referenced below, at p. 51) pointed out that Nepete and Sutrium were two of the seven colonies of the Latin League that retained their status under Roman hegemony after 338 BC.  Livy (‘Roman History’, 27: 9 - 27:10) included them both among the 18 (out of 30) extant Latin colonies that refused to meet their military obligations to Rome in 209 BC.

Etruscan Revolt (358-1 BC)

William Harris (referenced below, at pp. 47-8) summarised Livy’s account of this revolt:

  1. “Apart from the colonisation of Nepete and Sutrium [see above], ... there was no attempt to extend Roman power in Etruria between the Gallic invasion [of ca. 390 BC] and the 350s BC ..., [when] there was inconclusive conflict with Falerii, Caere and Tarquinii.  In the Roman version at least, the initial attack was made in 358 BC by Tarquinii: the Faliscans sided with them, as did the Caeritans in 353 BC [as mentioned above].”

He pointed out that the surviving descriptions of these events are probably unreliable and, in particular:

  1. “Not much trust is to be placed in [the statement by Livy (‘History of Rome’, 7: 17: 6) that, after the Tarquinians and Faliscans secured a spectacular victory over the consul Marcus Fabius Ambustus in 356 BC], the whole Etruscan nomen  [omne nomen Etruscum] took part in the fighting against Rome.”

However, the the results are clear:

  1. Caere was given a truce for 100 years when it repented of their actions in 353 BC; and

  2. Tarquinii and Falerii were each given a truce of 40 years in 351 BC.

In an odd postscript to this event, Livy noted that, during the First Samnite War, the military success of the consul Marcus Valerius Corvus against the Samnites near Suessula in 343 BC:

  1. “... made the people of Falerii anxious to convert their 40 years' truce into a foedus [bilateral treaty] with Rome”, (‘History of Rome’, 7: 38: 1).

Status of Caere in 353 BC

The history of the relationship between Caere and Rome in the 4th century is complicated and confusing.  It begins in ca. 390 BC, at the time of the sack of Rome by the Gauls, when the surviving sources agree that Caere gave particular assistance to the Romans.  However, these sources disagree about their reward:

  1. According to Livy, the Senate,decreed :

  2. “... that a covenant of hospitality should be entered into by the state with the people of Caere””, (‘History of Rome’, 5: 50: 3).

  3. The other surviving sources do not mention Livy’s ‘covenant of hospitality’, but instead record the granting of civitas sine suffragio.  Thus:

  4. According to Strabo (Livy’s contemporary), the Romans:

  5. “... do not seem to have remembered the favour of the Caeretani with sufficient gratitude: although they gave them the right of citizenship, they did not enrol them among the citizens”, (‘The Geography’, 5: 2: 3).

  6. According to Aulus Gellus, who was writing in the 2nd century AD:

  7. “... the people of Caere were the first municipes without the right of suffrage” (‘Attic Nights’, 16: 13: 7).

Despite the alleged ingratitude of the Romans in ca. 390 BC, their debt to Caere was reflected in the length of the truce of 353 BC.  Thus, they:

  1. “... chose to forget an injury [and, instead, remember  a previous] kindness.  So, peace was granted to the people of Caere, and it was resolved that a truce of 100 years be made and recorded on a table of bronze”, (‘History of Rome, 7: 20: 8).

I find it hard to see how the Romans could have negotiated a formal truce with a centre that was incorporated into the Roman state.  In other words, I think that Livy’s account - that Caere  had enjoyed only “a covenant of hospitality” with Rome since ca. 390 BC - is probably accurate.  However, if Caere really had been given some kind of Roman citizenship without voting rights after the sack of Rome, this must (in my view) have been overturned by the events of 353 BC.

Etruscan Revolt (312 - 279 BC)

The Romans and Etruscans seem to have refrained from hostilities for several decades from 351 BC.  However, the ‘Fasti Triumphales’ record a series of triumphs  over the Etruscans in the 17 years from 312 BC.  Hostilities intensified during the Third Samnite War (298-90 BC) when the Etrucans were allied with the Samnites:

  1. after the decisive Battle of Sentinum (294 BC), a triumph awarded over the Samnites, Etruscans and Gauls in 295 BC to Fabius Maximus Rullianus (his consular colleague having been killed in the battle); and

  2. two triumphs were celebrated on successive days in 293 BC, by:

  3. Lucius Postumius Megellus, over the Samnites and Etruscans; and

  4. Marcus Atilius Regulus, over the Volsones [probably the Volsinians] and Samnites. 

It was at this point that the Faliscans joined the revolt:Livy reported that, later in 293 BC:

  1. “... the Faliscians ... , who had for many years lived in friendship with Rome, had united their arms with those of the Etrurians.  ... [As a result,] war was declared against the Faliscians ...”, (‘Roman History’, 10: 45: 6-11).

  2. The consul Spurius Carvilius Maximus ravaged their territory, after which they requested and were granted peace in return for a significant fine (‘Roman History’, 10: 46: 10-12).

It seems that tensions eased after the end of the Third Samnite War in 290 BC. but that hostilities intensified in ca. 280 BC:

  1. Book 13 of the epitome of Livy, which largely deals with the Pyrrhic War (280-75 BC):

  2. “... also contains an account of the successful wars against the Lucanians, Bruttians, Samnites, and Etruscans”, (‘Periochae’, 13).

  3. The ‘Fasti Triumphales’ record triumphs awarded to:

  4. Quintus Marcius Philippus, over the Etruscans in 281 BC; and

  5. Titus Coruncanius, over the Vulsinienses and Vulcientes (i.e. over Volsinii and Vulci) in 280 BC. 

Cassius Dio recorded that:

  1. “The [people of Caere], when they learned that the Romans were disposed to make war on them, despatched envoys to Rome before any vote was taken and obtained peace upon surrendering half of their territory” (‘Roman History’, 10: fragment 33).

Scholars are divided on the likely date of these events at Caere.  For example:

  1. William Harris (referenced below, p. 83 and note 3) dated them to 274 or 273 BC, after the end of the Pyrrhic War; while

  2. Saskia Roselaar (referenced below, at p. 42) asserted that:

  3. “...the [Romans’] last war with Etruria ended in 281 BC.  It is usually assumed that, on this occasion, Caere, Vulci, Volsinii and Tarquinii lost part of their land.”  

In dealing with these land confiscations below, I assume that they took place:

  1. at Vulci (and, possibly, Volsinii) after the triumph of 279 BC; and

  2. at Caere and Tarquinii in ca. 280 BC.

Destruction of Volsinii (264 BC)

Etruscan Volsinii was almost certainly located on the site of modern Orvieto, which rises on a cylindrical tufa cliff that would have controlled a vast territory in the plain below.  It seems that the Romans agreed a foedus (treaty) with Volsinii after defeating them in 279 BC: thus, according to Cassius Dio (as summarised by John Zonaras):

  1. “In [265 AD], the Romans] made an expedition to Volsinii to secure the freedom of its citizens [i.e. the noble faction that had appealed for their help in suppressing a slave revolt]; for they were under treaty obligations to them”, (‘Roman History’, 10 - search on “Volsinii”).

Cassius Dio also described how the Romans besieged Volsinii , which was eventually forced to surrender in 264 BC.  The consul, Marcus Fulvius Flaccus, then:

  1. “... razed the city to the ground; the native-born citizens, however, and any servants who had been loyal to their masters, were settled by him on another site””, (‘Roman History’, 10 - search on “Volsinii”).

The “Fasti Triumphales” record that Flaccus as awarded a triumph in the following year for his victory over the “Vulsinienses”. 

  1. At this point, the history of Etruscan Orvieto effectively ended: there are no significant Roman remains on the site of Orvieto.  The surviving population was moved to the ‘new’ Volsinii, at modern Bolsena, some 20 km to the southwest, on the shores of what became know as the lacus Volsiniensis, which might originally have been part of the territory of the Etruscan city.  Livy had recorded a series of meetings of the ancient Etruscan Federation at the fanum Voltumnae in the period 434-389 BC but he never specified its location.  However, Propertius, in an elegy that took the form of a monologue delivered by a statue of Vertumnus in Rome, had this statue insisting:

  2. “[Although] I am a Tuscan born of Tuscans, [I] do not regret abandoning Volsinii’s hearths in battle” (‘Elegies’ 4.2). 

Scholars reasonably assume that the fanum Voltumnae had been located in the territory of Volsinii, and that a cult statue of Voltumnus/ Vertumnus that had adorned it had been ritually called to Rome after the sanctuary itself was destroyed in 264 BC.  Thus, the events at Volsinii in 264 BC marked not only the end of an ancient Etruscan city: they made manifest the end of anything resembling a confederation of independent Etruscan city states.

Fall of Falerii (241 BC)

Adapted from the Digital Atlas of the Roman Empire 

As noted above, Falerii had sought, and probably received, a foedus with Rome in 343 BC.  Thus, Livy noted that it “lived in friendship with Rome for many years” until 293 BC, when it briefly rebelled.  It seems from four fragmentary records that hostilities between Rome and Falerii resumed in 241 BC, at the end of the First Punic War:

  1. Cassius Dio:

  2. “... the Romans made war upon the Faliscans and [the consul] Manlius Torquatus ravaged their country.  ... he was victorious and took possession of ... half of their territory.  Later on, the original city, which was set upon a steep mountain, was torn down and another one was built, easy of access”, (‘Roman History’, 7: fragment 18).

  3. Eutropius:

  4. “[The consuls] Quintus Lutatius and Aulius Manlius ... made war upon the Falisci ... and [were victorious] within 6 days: 15,000 of the enemy were slain and peace was granted to the rest, but half their land was taken from them” , (‘Breviarium’’, 2: 28).. 

  5. Polybius:

  6. “[Immediately after] the confirmation of the peace [with Carthage, the Romans engaged in] war against the Faliscans.  They [captured] Falerii after only a few days' siege”, (‘Histories’, 1:65).

  7. Livy:

  8. “When the Faliscans revolted, they were subdued on the 6th day, and their surrender was accepted”, (‘Periochae’, 20).

The Romans clearly saw this as a significant victory: the “Fasti Triumphales” record that both consuls of 241 BC (Aulus Manlius Torquatus Atticus and Quintus Lutatius Cerco) were awarded triumphs “over the Falisci”.  Further evidence of this victory comes in the form of a bronze cuirass of unknown provenance that is now in the Getty Museum, Malibu, which carries an inscription (AE 1998, 0199) that reads:

Q(uinto) Lutatio C(ai) f(ilio) A(ulo) Manlio C(ai) f(ilio)/ consolibus Faleries capto(m?)

Jean-Louis Zimmerman (referenced below, at p. 40) dated the cuirass to the second half of the 4th century BC.  He suggested (at p. 41) that it had been an heirloom that had been worn by a Faliscan cavalryman who had been killed in the battle of 241 BC, and concluded (at p. 42) that:

  1. “The inscription might have been engraved for a Roman who was entitled to the remains of an opponent whom he had killed in single combat” (my translation).

Thus, there can be no doubt that both consuls successfully attacked Falerii in 241 BC and killed a number of its defenders.  However, the cause of this one-sided war are completely obscure.  It seems unlikely that the Faliscans would have chosen to revolt at precisely the time that the Romans  established their supremacy over the mighty Carthaginians.   A more likely scenario is thus that the Romans mounted a surprise attack on Falerii, which would account for their rapid success in taking the almost impregnable settlement.  Eutropius and Cassius Dio agreed that the Romans had then confiscated half the territory of Falerii.  However:

  1. Eutropius related that the survivors at Falerii were granted peace in 241 BC; while

  2. according to Cassius Dio:

  3. “Later on [i.e., at an unknown date after the battle], the original city, which was set upon a steep mountain, was torn down and another one was built, easy of access.”

It is often assumed that the situation at Falerii was analogous to that at Volsinii, where the inhabitants were forcibly removed to a less defensible site in 264 BC.  It is certainly true that the old city (located at modern Civita Castellana) was largely abandoned at about this time, although a number of its sanctuaries remained in use until ca. 100 BC (see , for example, the recent paper by Nicoletta Cignini, referenced below).  However, this model of forced removal is not supported by the archeological evidence from the so-called Falerri Novi, some 6 km to the west. 

Simon Keay and Martin Millett (referenced below, at p. 364) described its location:

  1. “... on the line of the Via Amerina ... The position of the town is such that both Falerii Veteres and Monte Soracte, sacred to Apollo, were visible to the east ... [It was] conceived as an artificially landscaped plateau that was enclosed within high walls ... in order to present a monumental facade to visitors approaching along Via Amerina to the south.”

They also note (at p. 365) the existence of a processional way from Falerii Novi to the:

  1. “... still-functioning sanctuary of Juno Curitis at the foot of the abandoned site of Falerii Veteres.”

Keay and Millet expressed the view (at p. 364) that:

  1. “Falerii Novi is best understood as a re-foundation expressed in terms of the architectural language of Roman colonies while consciously incorporating key points of reference to the earlier Faliscan settlement.”

Citizen Settlement after the Conquest of Etruria: Conclusions

William Harris (referenced below, at p. 98) observed that the documented confrontations between Rome and the Etruscans in 312 - 279 BC are:

  1. “ ... known to have involved most of the chief [Etruscan city states]:

  2. Arretium; [Caere, although Harris dated Livy’s record here to ca. 273 BC]; Clusium; Cortona; Perusia; Rusellae; Tarquinii; Volaterrae and Volsinii are all mentioned by Livy; and

  3. Vulci appears in the fasti triumphalis [in 297 BC - see above].”

To this list we should add the Faliscan centres of Falerii and Capena.  All of these centres were eventually defeated by Rome, often after engagements that ended with the signing of indutiae (truces) of considerable length.  However, we know of the existence of foedera (long-term bilateral treaties) only in two cases (both noted above):

  1. in 343 BC, Falerii requested and probably received a foedus; and

  2. the Romans intervened at Volsinii in 264 BC on behalf of the nobles there because they were under a treaty obligation to them.

William Harris argued (at p. 85) that, despite the lack of documentary evidence:

  1. “... a good case can be made for believing that Rome contracted foedera with [all of] the Etruscan states ...”

In other words, each of them would have retained its nominal autonomy after the conquest, albeit under the hegemony of Rome.  This would have obliged them to provide military assistance to Rome when requested.  Thus:

  1. Polybius recorded that, during the Gallic Wars (225 BC):

  2. “The allied forces in each Consular army numbered 30,000 foot and 2,000 horse.  The cavalry of the Sabines and Etruscans, who had come to the temporary assistance of Rome, were 4,000 strong, their infantry above 50,000”, (‘Histories’, 2:24: 4-5).

  3. Livy recorded that, as Scipio assembled his forces for his assault on Africa in 205 BC:

  4. “First, the states of Etruria engaged to assist the consuls to the utmost of their respective abilities. The people of Caere furnished corn, and provisions of every description, for the crews; the people of Populonia furnished iron; of Tarquinii, cloth for sails; those of Volaterrae, planks for ships, and corn; those of Arretium [sent a large amount of weaponry].  The people of Perusia, Clusium, and Rusellae furnished firs for building ships, and a great quantity of corn”, (‘History of Rome, 28: 45: 15-9).

There is no evidence of the confiscation of land from the recalcitrant cities of northern Etruria.  To the south, as noted above, it seems that

  1. the entire territory of Veii was confiscated in 396 BC; and

  2. Cassius Dio recorded that Rome confiscated half the territory of Caere in ca. 280 BC. 

There is some indication that other centres of southern Etruria also suffered land confiscations: thus, according to Saskia Roselaar (referenced below, 2010, at p. 42):

  1. “It is usually assumed that, [when Rome’s] last war with the Etruscans ended in 281 BC, the cities of Caere, Vulci, Volsinii and Tarquinii lost part of their land” (my reordering of phrases, retaining the original meaning).

The concentration of later colonies along the coastal strip from Vulci to Caere indicates that this territory formed a part (perhaps a large part) of the new ager publicus.  Furthermore, Cassius Dio recorded that Falerii lost half its land in 241 BC (see, for example, Saskia Roselaar, referenced below, 2010, at p. 320, entry 34). 

However, as we shall see, there is no surviving direct evidence for viritane citizen settlement on any of this confiscated land.

  1. Read more: 

N. Cignini, “Nicoletta Cignini, "Civita Castellana (VT): Indagini Archeologiche di Emergenza nel Suburbio di Falerii Veteres “, Journal of Fasti Online (2016)

S. Keay and M. Millet, “Republican and Early Imperial Towns in the Tiber Valley”, in

  1. A. Cooley (Ed.), “A Companion to Roman Italy”, (2016) Oxford, at 357–77

S. Roselaar, “Public Land in the Roman Republic: A Social and Economic History of Ager Publicus in Italy, 396 - 89 BC”, (2010) Oxford

  1. E. Bispham, “From Asculum to Actium: The Municipalisation of Italy from the Social War to Augustus”, (2008) Oxford

T. Cornell, “The Beginnings of Rome: Italy and Rome from the Bronze Age to the Punic Wars (ca. 1000-264 BC)”, (1995) London and New York

  1. J. L. Zimmermann, “La Fin de Falerii Veteres: Un Temoignage Archéologique”, J. Paul Getty Museum Journal, 14 (1986), 37-42

W. Harris, “Rome in Etruria and Umbria”, (1971) Oxford

E. Salmon, “Roman Colonisation under the Republic”, (1970) New York

  1. L. Ross Taylor, “The Voting Districts of the Roman Republic: The 35 Urban and Rural Tribes”, (1960) Rome

  2. Roman Republic: Prefectures (Main Page)     Prefectures: Volsci; Hernici; Samnites

  3. Prefectures: Etruscan      Prefectures: Sabina and Picenum    Prefectures: Ager Gallicus      Prefectures: Campania     Prefectures : Cisalpine Gaul and Liguria     Prefectures : Umbria

  4. Victory Temples and the Third Samnite War      Victory Temples in Rome (146 BC)

  5. End of the Republic     

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