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Ancient texts

Liv. (2.42)

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Murder of Genucius

First war against Veii


Plebeian regrets
The first war against Veii started in 483bc. Rome had it's hands full with the Volsci and Aequi and it's own subjects. The Plebeians finally had realized that the Cassius' proposals weren't that bad at all. So now they demanded the land to be divided amongst the Plebeians. Of course this met strong resistance of the Patricians, who had occupied this fields. According to Livius(2.43) it even happened that a legion in battle order refused to attack the enemy. This meant no triumph for the consul Kaeso Fabius, who wasn't really loved by the plebs. Dionysius, who gives overall many more details than Livius, doesn't mention this.

Fortress near the Cremona
For long the Veientines had balanced between war and peace with Rome. They raided Roman territory but didn't make serious attacks. In order to prevent this the Romans built a fortress near the Cremona. In stead of just preventing the Veientines to enter Roman territory, they started raiding Etruscan territory. Now Veii demanded Rome to withdraw the fortress. When Rome refused, Veii attacked and destroyed the fortress.

Spartan heroism
In later days this story got mixed up with another historic event. In 480 bc the Spartan king Leonidas wanted to block the Persian army from invading Greece. With 300 Spartan warriors he withstood the Persian king Xerxes for 7 days in the mountain pass of Thermopilae and gave Greece enough time to prepare for war

Spartan heroism becomes Roman legend
In a time with no TV or newspaper, it is to be expected these events became one beautiful Roman act of heroism:
Both Livius(2.51) and Dionysius(9.18) narrate how the clan af the Fabii offered to form a private army to build and man the fortress. The marched out of the walls with 306(!) men. In the end the Veientines lured them into a trap and all of them were killed. Both tell us about the last surviving boy, but Dionysius doubts if it is true. Right he is: Just before the end of the battle of Thermopilae Leonidas sent back a messenger to Sparta. Still a beautiful narration to convey the Roman virtues once more.

From then on the war went on and off. Every year in spring and summer the armies meet and beat. In 473bc the Veientines sued for peace.

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Minerva or Athena
(Glyptothek München)


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