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Ancient texts

Liv. (4.17-31)

Second war against Veii

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437-426 BC

Not enough room
The inducement to the second war against Veii was the same as always: too many people in a too small area. The city of Veii was situated only 18 km from Rome, be it at the other side of the river Tiber. Closer by was Fidenae at a distance of only 8 km and like Rome at the left bank of the river.

Fidenae
It is amazing how two cities, separated by no more than two hours of march, had existed next to one another, for almost 300 years. Not peacefully though. Romulus himself had subdued Fidenae for the first time, this may be mythical, like the battle Numa Pompilius fought against Fidenae, but the first of the consuls P. Valerius Publicola had to fight a war in which Fidenae had also participated against Rome.

Murder
In fact Fidenae was more or less reduced to a Roman colony. They didn't like that and in 437 they decided to change camp and turned to Lars Tulumnius, king of Veii. When Rome sent envoy to find out why the Fidenaeians had changed camp, the envoys were murdered on Tulumnius' orders

In those days reason enough to start a war.

11 years of war
After the first bloody battle the senate appointed a dictator: Mam. Aemilius Mamercinus. Under his command the Romans won the next battle, but the war was far from over. This war would last for 11 years. Still, campaigns were fought during the summer time; the only time when it was interesting to plunder the fields of the enemy.

 

A tunnel
In the year 434 BC Q. Servilius was appointed dictator. When Roma was weakened by an epidemic, it was attacked again by Veii and Fidenae. The dictator led an all out attack on Fidenae and realizing he could not overrun the city nor was it very possible to besiege the town, he decided to dig a tunnel. He took the city by surprise.

 
Head of Mars Mars or Ares, god of war
MET New York

Disagreement
Mount Algidus lies about 20 km south of Rome. In the year 431 the Aequi and the Volsci assembled there their troops and built fortifications. Of course this caused panic in Rome but the two consuls couldn't agree on how to deal with this problem.
The senate ordered them to appoint a dictator ,but none of them was willing to do so. Only when the peoples tribunes threatened to have them thrown into prison, if they kept refusing to obey the senate, they appointed Postumius Tubertus as dictator. He would defeat the enemy at mt Algidus.

No obligation to help
Veii sought support from the other Etruscan cities. When seemingly the 12 Etruscan cities were up to march on Rome. The senate appointed Mam. Aemilius dictator once more. But the Etruscan league was only a loose connection between the cities and there was no obligation to help one another. They decided since Veii had started the war on it's own, the city should end the war on it's own too. When there came no attack from Etruria, Rome was relieved.

Term of censor shortened
Aemilius who, according to Livius, didn't like long term offices very much, shortened the duration of the office of censor from 5 years to 18 months and next he resigned. He didn't make friends with that action.

No coordination
In 426 bc 4 Military tribunes with consular power were elected. They decided to attack Veii again. Three of them marched towards Veii, but due to a complete lack of coordination, they were defeated. Rome in fear; the senate appointed Mam. Aemilius dictator. Evidently the Romans had not destroyed Fidenae nor led the people into slavery, because Fidenae took part in the battle that followed. Again Fidenae is conquered. This time the city was destroyed and lots of prisoners sold as slaves. Veii was granted a truce for 20 years.


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