logo for the-romans.eu
logo for the-romans.eu

Ancient texts

Liv. (4.35-58)

retreat to previous page to next page
3rd Veiian war

Soldiers pay

407 BC

The other side of the coin
When the senates decreed there would be a soldiers pay, the plebeians were very happy, but soon they were to discover the catch.

Rome had been in existence now for about 300 years. The republic had lasted for 100 years. The period after the second war with Veii showed that Rome was still in it's puberty. It waged war with all the cities around it. Some of the wars were initiated by Rome, but Rome was no more aggressive than the other cities, still very aggressive. Honour was to be obtained at the battlefield not in politics.

How to abuse the right of veto
Attempts of the plebeian tribunes to divide conquered land amongst the plebeians too, had failed. When one tribune would propose a law in that direction, patricians always would find at least one other tribune who would veto the proposal and all the land would go to the patricians. Up to this year the plebeians had still not succeeded in electing a plebeian for the office of military tribune with consular power, even though the office was open to plebeians.

"Great" success
In 409 BC the plebeians had had a small success, when for the first time plebeians were elected for the office of quaestor. A small succes because quaestor was the lowest office of them all, but the plebeians celebrated it as a great success.

To levy or not to levy
The same game was played in the year 407 BC. The consular tribunes tried to hold a levy and they were blocked by the peoples tribunes. There was a war at hand and the senate tried to have appointed a dictator. The consular tribunes tried to block this, because they wanted a victory for themselves. In the end C. Servilius Ahala one of the tribunes, was fed up with all the non arguments and a war at hand, and appointed P.Cornelius Cossos dictator, who in his turn chose C. Servilius Ahala.

Antium stormed
They held a levy without much trouble and marched to the enemy, beat them and stormed their city Antinum (according to Livius). The rich booty wa divided mainly between the soldiers.

A cigar out of your own box
At their homecoming awaited them a pleasant surprise. The senate had decreed there would be a soldiers pay in the future. But of course the senators weren't going to pay that out of their own pocket. The senate had also decreed a new tax; especially to raise the funds for the soldiers pay. Livius describes how the senators payed first and how wagon loads of bronze bars were transported, (because there wasn't coined money yet). Now the populace also accepted to pay this new tax.

    Victoria goddess of victory    

Victoria goddess of victory
Altes Museum Berlin


footer for Romans  page
advertentie Hekate