Already at the end of the tsarist era, Rome was a large and militarily powerful state, claiming hegemony among the Latin communities. The fall of the monarchy in Rome was accompanied by profound upheavals. On the one hand, the subordinate allies were happy to take advantage of the opportunity presented to them to gain freedom. On the other hand, the enemies who surrounded Latius from all sides revived. At the Battle of Lake Regillie in 499 or 496 BC. the Romans forced the deferred allies to submit again. Another prerequisite for reconciliation was the increasingly formidable danger posed by the Latins’ neighbors, the Volsk, who had gone over to the offensive.
The Volski were an Italic people related to the Sabines living in the northeastern part of Latium and speaking the language of the Umbro-Osco-Sabelian group. Their ancestors probably lived in the western foothills of the Apennines in the region of Lake Fucino. From here at the end of the 6th century BC. they gradually began to move down the valley of Lyris, until they came to the marshy plains of the southern part of Latius. In historical terms, this movement was part of a wider process of settling the peoples of the Sabelian group and the spread of the Osco-Umbrian languages in the entire central and southern part of the Apennine Peninsula. Often it took place in the form of the rite of the Sacred Spring (ver sacrum), when the inhabitants of the mountains, unable to feed the constantly growing population, in a certain year dedicated their youth to Mars and upon reaching the age of 21, they expelled her from the country.
The first of the Romans to fight the Volski was King Tarquinius the Proud. He took Svesa Pomezia, previously captured by the Volsk, and used the spoils of war to build the temple of Jupiter in Capitoline. The time and circumstances under which the southern part of Latium passed into the hands of the Volsk remain unknown. There is no doubt that this happened shortly after the expulsion of Tarquinius from Rome in 509 BC, when the forces of the Romans and the Latins were directed to fight the Etruscans of Porsenna, and then to a fierce struggle with each other. The treaty that the Romans in 504 BC concluded with Carthage, recognized for them the possession of the Pomptinsky region and the entire coastal zone between Ancius and Tarracina, that is, all the territories that were formerly part of the “kingdom of Tarquinius”, and in the early 490s BC. these lands were already under the firm control of the Volsk. The core of the territory they owned was the Lyris valley and the territories in the western direction, stretching up to the Lepine hills (Monte Lepini). In addition, the Volski owned the southern part of Latium, the center of which was the Ancius they had captured.
Desolation of Latium
At first, the Latins saw the Volska as their allies, on whom they could rely in the fight against Rome. The Volsk army intended to take part in the decisive battle at Lake Regilli, but was too late for its beginning. Otherwise, the outcome of the war could have been completely different.
After being defeated, the Latins laid down their arms, and the Volski, left alone, also had to seek an armistice with Rome. They themselves thought only of revenge and sent emissaries to the Latins to incite them to revolt. The Latins, who were increasingly wary of their yesterday’s allies, seized these emissaries and handed them over to the Romans. In 493 BC. they made a Cassian treaty (Fœdus Cassianum) with Rome, effectively restoring Roman hegemony in Old Latium (Latium Priscus). With Roman support, the Latins hoped to turn the spearhead of the agreement against the Wolskians, who were now seen as the main threat.
Indeed, the Romans, who treated the Volska with undisguised hostility, agreed to fight in defense of their allies. In 495–494 BC. they inflicted a number of defeats on the Volskians and took from them the previously captured cities of Pomezia, Velitra and Coriola. To protect against attacks, Latin colonies were withdrawn to the borderlands of Signia, Norbu and Velitra.
The most important catalyst for further events was the beginning of the patrician-plebeian conflict. In 494 BC. Roman plebeians threatened to move out of the city if their demands for civil equality were not met. The compromise reached was half-hearted, and both sides were preparing for new clashes. Under these conditions, the leader of the Volskians Attiy Tullius in 491 BC. provoked the rupture of the truce concluded earlier with Rome. In the same year, the noble Roman Gnaeus Marcius Coriolanus, the hero of the recent siege of Coriolus, who was exiled for hostility to the plebeians, fled to the Volskians. Wanting to take revenge on his fellow citizens, he persuaded Attius Tullius to give him an army, with which he betrayed the devastation of the plebeian field. The Romans, tormented by troubles, could not oppose anything to enemy raids.
In 488 BC. Rome was overlaid on three different sides. One of the enemy armies was led by Attius Tullius himself, the other was led by Coriolanus, and the third was led by the Equus. Coriolanus set up his camp just 5 miles from the city. According to legend, this time Rome was saved only thanks to the tearful prayers of the mother and wife of Coriolanus. After he agreed to lift the siege, the Wolski killed him. However, the Eks refused to recognize Attiy Tullius as their commander, and the campaign ended in failure.
The Equas, neighbors and allies of the Volskians, became another source of danger to Rome in the following years. Their habitat was the Apennine foothills in the northeastern part of Latium. The Ekv language, according to one hypothesis, belonged to the same Osko-Sabelian group as the Volsk language, and according to the other, it was close to the dialect of the original inhabitants of Latius. The expansion of the equines mainly ran westward along the Anion valley, and also to the southwest, extending to the region of the Albanian mountains. In 491–488 BC. The Eks captured the strategically important Algid pass at the northeastern end of the Albanian massif, which was the gateway open towards Latium. Tibur, Ped and Preneste were the victims of their attacks, and Tuscul was under constant threat.
To drive a wedge between the Eqs and the Volskians, in 486 BC. Consul Spurius Cassius Vecellinus persuaded the Guernics living in the Trera Valley (modern Sacco) to join the alliance with Rome on the same rights as the Latins. Thanks to this, the Romans ultimately managed to avoid the threat, although they were unable to oust their enemies from the territories they captured.
The wars of Rome with the “people of the hills” continued throughout the 5th century BC. According to Livy and Dionysius of Halicarnassus, between 494 and 455 BC. the Romans almost every year had to repel the raids of the Volsk, then the Ekv, and sometimes both peoples at once. Only in the second half of the century did reports of collisions become more rare. Despite the long-term nature, there was no turning point in the war. Libya was already surprised by this ability of the Roman opponents after each defeat the next year to reassemble their forces. This leads modern researchers to suspicion that the sources, deliberately or unwittingly, exaggerated the successes repeatedly declared by the Roman military leaders, as well as the scope of military operations and the number of forces involved. Many of these victories turned out to be only minor skirmishes, incapable of influencing the situation as a whole. Apparently, raids remained the predominant form of military operations, participation in which, along witharmy was taken by hunters for prey . There were few real battles at this time, and their results, as a rule, were insignificant.
The course of action on both sides can be seen in the account of Dionysius of Halicarnassus, who describes many similar episodes:
The most dangerous enemy remained the Volskians, who constantly invaded the lands of the Guernica, together with the Equim plundered the Tuskul region or threatened the Roman possessions from the south. Although in the Libyan description the outcome of hostilities is most often in favor of the Romans, he still fails to hide a number of defeats that the Roman commanders suffered from their opponents, especially in 478 and 471 BC. In his characteristic manner, Livy explains these failures by internal unrest as a result of the continuing struggle between the patricians and plebeians in Rome. The difficulties faced by the Roman generals are also evidenced by the rarity of triumphs in comparison with the statistics of later times.
Ancius became one of the main targets of the Roman armies. In 469 BC. e. the Romans captured and destroyed the port city of Kano, the trading harbor of the Anciates. In 468 BC. Consul Titus Quinctius Capitolinus Barbatus won a great victory over the enemy at the walls of Ancius, after which the city opened the gates to the victors. The following year, a colony of 1,000 Roman citizens, Latins and Guernica, was withdrawn to Ancius, who were to fulfill the role of a garrison in the city. In 459 BC. the colonists joined the Anciates and jointly separated from the metropolis.
The military action against the Equus centered mainly around Tuskul. The Romans persistently sought to knock their opponents out of Algis, and they no less persistently tried to keep him. One of the episodes of this confrontation was the story of Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus, who in 458 BC. was appointed dictator just at the moment when the plow was cultivating a small field belonging to him. In just 15 days, Cincinnatus gathered an army, defeated the Equus who besieged the camp of the consul Lucius Minucius on the Algis, celebrated a triumph, resigned and returned to work.
New clashes took place in 455, 450 and 449 BC. Decisive success June 18, 431 BC was won by the dictator Aulus Postumius Tubert, a descendant of the victor at Lake Regill. Algidus forever passed into the hands of the Romans, which became one of the key factors in their conquest of Latius. This battle was also the last major collision in the field recorded in the sources.
In 418 BC. The Ekus were driven out of Labic, limiting their presence in the lower Anion. The point was set in 393 BC. the capture of Tiebourg and neighboring Prenest.
Turning point in the war
During the second half of the 5th century BC. the military situation began to change. First of all, this manifested itself in a decrease in the number of raids. After 449 BC. the attacks of the Sabines stopped, before that from time to time disturbed the northeastern part of the Roman possessions between the banks of the Tiber and Anien. The news of the attacks of the Volsk also became more rare. For 32 years, between 442 and 411 BC, sources recorded only three such collisions – in 431, 423 and 413 BC. Campaigns against the Equans happened four times during the same period: in 431, 421, 418 and 414 BC.
The number of forces involved in these campaigns also increased. Gentile armies and prey-hunters were gradually replaced by the regular army, in which light infantry and cavalry played an increasingly important role . Apparently the Romans handled this new situation better than their opponents, as they were able to recruit larger armies and keep them in the field for a longer time. Wolski and their allies did not have such capabilities and gradually began to lose their previously captured positions.
An important center of the Roman offensive was Ardea, the capital of the Rutuls, located only 30 km south of Rome. In 444 BC. Ardea joined the Latin Union, and two years later a Latin colony was brought here. The Roman allies of Guernica acted very successfully, who in 413 BC. returned to themselves the previously lost Ferentin. In 408 BC. the Wolski were utterly defeated in the battle at Lake Fuqing. In 404 BC. were taken Velitra, the main northern stronghold of the Volsk and the starting point of their raids into Roman territory. In 401 BC. the Latin colony was re-introduced here.
The main target of the Romans in the next few years was the coastal part of Latium. In 408 BC. was defeated by Ancius, in 406 BC. the Romans took Anxur, which received the status of a colony and the former name of Tarracina. A colony in strategically important Circe was withdrawn in 393 BC. Thus, by the end of the century, the Volsci were almost completely driven out of the Old Latius, which came under Roman rule.