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Translated by Rev. Canon Roberts
Book VII Chapter 29: The Beginning of the Wars with the Samnites.[343 BC]
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The history(1) will now be occupied with wars greater than any previously recorded; greater whether we consider the forces engaged in them or the length of time they lasted, or the extent of country over which they were waged. For it was in this year (343 B.C.) that hostilities commenced with the Samnites, a people strong in material resources and military power. Our war with the Samnites, with its varying fortunes, was followed by the war with Pyrrhus, and that again by the war with Carthage. What a chapter of great events! How often had we to pass through the very extremity of danger in order that our dominion might be exalted to its present greatness, a greatness which is with difficulty maintained! |
The cause of the war between the Romans and the Samnites, who had been our friends and allies, came, however, from without; it did not arise between the two peoples themselves. The Samnites, simply because they were the stronger, made an unprovoked attack upon the Sidicines; the weaker side were compelled to fly for succour to those who were more powerful and threw in their lot with the Campanians. The Campanians brought to the help of their allies the prestige of their name rather than actual strength; enervated by luxury they were worsted by a people inured to the use of arms, and after being defeated on Sidicine territory diverted the whole weight of the war against themselves. The Samnites, dropping operations against the Sidicines, attacked the Campanians as being the mainstay and stronghold of their neighbours; they saw, too, that whilst victory would be just as easily won here, it would bring more glory and spoils. They seized the Tifata hills which overlook Capua and left a strong force to hold them, then they descended in close order into the plain which lies between the Tifata hills and Capua. Here a second battle took place, in which the Campanians were defeated and driven within their walls. They had lost the flower of their army, and as there was no hope of any assistance near, they found themselves compelled to ask for help from Rome.
(1): Mommsen's views as to the historical value of this part of Livy may be studied in the long footnote beginning on p. 353, Vol. I., of his Roman History. To this we may add Dr. Arnold's remarks in his note 34 on p. 112, vol. II., "Every step in the Samnite and Latin wars has been so disguised by the Roman annalists, that a probable narrative of these events can only be given by a free correction of their falsifications."
Event: First war with Samnites