Rise of Rome

B.C. 753 to 390
Rome — versus — Sabines, Etruscans, Latins, and Oscii

Wars of the Kingdom of Rome, 753-510 B.C. Wars against the Tarquinii, 509-495 B.C. Wars against the Oscii, 495-455 B.C. Wars against Veii (the Etruscans), 495-392 B.C.

Even in its earliest years Rome had the reputation of a martial city, but the details of its earliest wars are not known with certainty. Rome did, however, have some persistent enemies. Four major civilizations inhabited Italy during the early Roman period: Italian, Greek, Etruscan and Gaul. Two of these, however,—Greeks in the south and Gallic Invasion of Italy,—did not have conflicts with Rome during its first few centuries, and the wars with these foes are dealt with elsewhere.

The most famous wars of early Rome, (from the founding of Rome in 753 BC, to the first Gallic invasion in 390 BC), were fought against their Etruscan and Italian neighbors. The Etruscans resided primarily in the region directly north of Rome, now called Tuscany. Rome had friendly relationships with some Etruscan cities and hostile relationships with others, most particularly Veii. Several of Rome's kings were of Etruscan descent, including Tarquin Superbus, whose banishment led to the foundation of the Roman Republic.

Rome's Italian neighbors were composed of four tribes, the Latins, Oscans, Umbrians, and Samnites. The Latins were Rome's nearest neighbors and Alba Longa contended with Rome to be the chief of the Latin cities. The Oscans were settled south of the Latins in Campania and were fierce rivals of Rome. Their chief tribes were the Volcians and Aequians. The Samnites were settled in the mountains south and east of Rome, and were the most serious long term rivals of Rome, but the century long Samnite Wars did not commence in earnest until fourth century BC when Rome was already well established. Most of the wars dealt with in this section were fought in the early "legendary" period of Rome and involved the Rome's Latin, Sabine, Etruscan, and Osciian enemies.

Book Links
Stories from Ancient Rome  by  Alfred J. Church
Stories From Livy  by  Alfred J. Church

Wars of the Kingdom of Rome : 753-510 B.C.

Sabine Women
The first famous war of the founding of the Roman kingdom is the Sabine War, fought after the Roman men kidnapped all the unmarried women of the Sabine tribe, and made them their wives by force. A year later, the Sabines attacked Rome, but by then the women had become attached to their husbands and ran between the battle lines begging for a reconciliation. The battle was stopped and the Sabines became Roman citizens. The second most famous battle during the kingdom era was the siege of Alba Longa, a Latin city that was the previous home of Romulus and Remus. With the destruction of Alba, Rome became the premier Latin city, and many of Alba's former citizens also settled in Rome.

DateBattle Summary
750 BC  
Battle of Sabines (Kingdom Wars ) drawn battle victory
According to legend, a year after the Romans kidnapped their wives from the neighboring Sabines, the tribes returned to take vengeance. The fighting however, was stopped by the young wives who ran in between the warring parties and begged that their fathers, brothers and husbands cease making war upon each other. The Sabine and Roman tribes were henceforth united.
650 BC  
Siege of Alba Longa (Oscii Wars ) Romans victory
After a long siege, Alba was finally taken by stratagem. With the fall of Alba, its father-city, Rome was the undisputed leading city of the Latins. The inhabitants of Alba were resettled in Rome on the caelian Hill.

Short Biography
Romulus Legendary founder of the city of Rome, with brother Remus.
Tullus Hostilius Third king, conquered Alba, made Rome the greatest city of the Latins.

Story Links
Book Links
Sabine War  in  Romulus  by  Jacob Abbott
How Rome Was Founded  in  Thirty More Famous Stories Retold  by  James Baldwin
Romulus and Numa  in  Stories From Livy  by  Alfred J. Church
Alba  in  Stories From Livy  by  Alfred J. Church
Beginnings of a State in  Stories from Ancient Rome  by  Alfred J. Church
Maidens Carried Off  in  The Story of the Romans  by  H. A. Guerber
Quarrel with Alba  in  The Story of the Romans  by  H. A. Guerber
Romulus  in  Our Young Folks' Plutarch  by  Rosalie Kaufman
Tarpeian Rock  in  The Story of Rome  by  Mary Macgregor
Horatius Slays His Sister  in  The Story of Rome  by  Mary Macgregor
Fate of the Town of Gabii  in  The Story of Rome  by  Mary Macgregor
Sabine Virgins  in  Historical Tales: Roman  by  Charles Morris
Horatii and the Curiatii  in  Historical Tales: Roman  by  Charles Morris

Wars against Tarquinii : 509-495 B.C.

Horatius at the Bridge
In 509 Rome expelled her king and declared herself a republic. There followed a series of wars and battles during which Tarquin, the exiled Roman king allied himself with several of Rome's neighbors and induced them to go to war against Rome in order to restore him to the throne. Tarquin himself was Etruscan, so he raised an Etruscan army and fought a great battle with Rome, in which both his son Arans, and Brutus the leader of the Romans were killed. When this effort failed, he encouraged Lars Porsenna, king of Clusium to march against Rome. In order prevent the king from marching his army into Rome, several soldiers led by Horatio, held of the entire Etruscan army while the citizens destroyed the wooden Sublican Bridge across the Tiber River. Several more battles were fought over the years, but Tarquin failed to regain his throne. Finally he allied himself with the Latin city of Tusculum and fought his final battle at Lake Regillus. The Romans enjoyed a great victory, destroyed the power of Tarquin and gained more Latin territory.

DateBattle Summary
509 BC  
Battle of Sublican Bridge (Tarquinii Wars ) Romans victory
Lars Porsenna, king of Clusium was marching toward Rome, planning to restore the exiled Tarquins to the Roman throne. As his army descended on Rome from the opposite side of the Tiber, roman soldiers worked furiously to destroy the wooden bridge. Horatius and two other soldiers single-handedly fended off Porsenna's army until the bridge could be destroyed.
497 BC  
Battle of Lake Regillus (First Roman Invasion of Britain ) Romans victory
Fought B.C. 497, the first authentic date in the history of Rome. The details handed down, however, belong to the domain of legend rather than to that of history. According to the chroniclers, this was the last attempt of the Tarquinian family to recover the throne of Rome. They were, however, totally routed by the Romans, under Aulus Postumius, and all the sons of Tarquinius, and his son-in-law, Mamilius, were slain in the battle. The legend avers that the Romans, when victory was trembling in the balance, found at their head two young men on white horses, whom they claimed to be Castor and Pollux.

Short Biography
Junius Brutus First Consul of Rome; executed sons for plotting against the republic.
Publicola Consul of Rome during the wars with Porsena.
Lars Porsena Etruscan king, and supporter of the Tarquins who raised an army to march against Rome.
Horatius Hero who held the Sublican Bridge against Porsena's entire army.
Mucius Scaevola Hero who burned his right hand to defy Porsena.
Tarquin Superbus Killed Servius and usurped throne, eventually overthrown but tried to regain throne by force.
Sextus Tarquin Eldest son of Tarquin Superbus. Fought at the Battle of Regillus.
Aruns Tarquin Son Tarquin Superbus. Killed in hand to hand combat with Junius Brutus.

Story Links
Book Links
Horatius at the Bridge  in  Fifty Famous Stories Retold  by  James Baldwin
Lars Porsenna  in  Stories From Livy  by  Alfred J. Church
Life and Death Struggle  in  Stories from Ancient Rome  by  Alfred J. Church
Life and Death Struggle  in  Stories from Ancient Rome  by  Alfred J. Church
Why the Romans Bore Pain  in  Tales of the Romans: The Children's Plutarch  by  F. J. Gould
Defense of the Bridge  in  The Story of the Romans  by  H. A. Guerber
Burnt Hand  in  The Story of the Romans  by  H. A. Guerber
Twin Gods  in  The Story of the Romans  by  H. A. Guerber
Horatius  in  Famous Men of Rome  by  John H. Haaren & A. B. Poland
Mucius the Left-Handed  in  Famous Men of Rome  by  John H. Haaren & A. B. Poland
Publicola  in  Our Young Folks' Plutarch  by  Rosalie Kaufman
Horatius Cocles, or the One-Eyed  in  The Story of Rome  by  Mary Macgregor
Gaius Mucius Burns His Right Hand  in  The Story of Rome  by  Mary Macgregor
Divine Twins  in  The Story of Rome  by  Mary Macgregor
How Brave Horatius Kept the Bridge  in  Historical Tales: Roman  by  Charles Morris
Battle of Lake Regillus  in  Historical Tales: Roman  by  Charles Morris
How Horatius Kept the Bridge  in  On the Shores of the Great Sea  by  M. B. Synge

Wars against the Oscii : 495-445 B.C.

The most notable enemies of Rome for much of the fifth century BC were their Oscii neighbors, the Aequii and Volscii. The first famous battle against the Volscii involved the Roman hero Coriolanus, who at first captured the Volscian city of Corioli, but then turned traitor and led the Volscian army against Rome. He was stopped however, by his mother and later killed by his Volscian allies. Another famous battle against the Aequii, was Mons Algridus, during which the Roman hero Cincinnatus left his farm to become dictator, and sixteen days later, after a stunning victory, returned to his plow. Finally Rome met the combined forces of the Aequii and Volscii in battle in 446 BC and won a decisive victory at Corbione.

DateBattle Summary
493 BC  
Siege of Corioli (Oscii Wars ) Romans victory
The Volscian city of Corioli was besieged and taken by the Roman hero Coriolanus. Afterward, he was denied the consulship and insulted. He left Rome, joined the Volscians and marched on Rome, only to be turned away by pleas from his mother.
458 BC  
Battle of Mons Algridus (Oscii Wars ) Romans victory
Fought after a Roman army was trapped and ambushed in mountain defile by the Aequii. Cincinnatus was elected dictator. He rose an army immediately, marched to and surrounded the Aequian camp during the night, and signaled to the trapped army that help had arrived. The Aequians were completely defeated. Cincinnatus surrendered the dictatorship and returned to his farm after sixteen days.
446 BC  
Battle of Corbione (Tarquinii Wars ) Romans victory
The Romans won a victory over the combined forces of the Volscians and Aequiians.

Short Biography
Coriolanus Hero, provoked to turn traitor. Convinced by his mother to spare Rome from destruction.
Attius Tullus Leader of the Volscians. Allied with Coriolanus after he deserted Rome.
Veturia Mother of Coriolanus who talked her son into retreating from his march upon Rome.
Cincinnatus Called to be dictator when Roman army was trapped. Saved them, and then returned to his farm.

Story Links
Book Links
Story of Cincinnatus  in  Fifty Famous Stories Retold  by  James Baldwin
Coriolanus  in  Stories From Livy  by  Alfred J. Church
Cincinnatus  in  Stories From Livy  by  Alfred J. Church
How a Woman Saved Rome  in  Tales of the Romans: The Children's Plutarch  by  F. J. Gould
Story of Coriolanus  in  The Story of the Romans  by  H. A. Guerber
Farmer Hero  in  The Story of the Romans  by  H. A. Guerber
Coriolanus  in  Famous Men of Rome  by  John H. Haaren & A. B. Poland
Cincinnatus  in  Famous Men of Rome  by  John H. Haaren & A. B. Poland
Caius Marcius Coriolanus  in  Our Young Folks' Plutarch  by  Rosalie Kaufman
Coriolanus and His Mother Veturia  in  The Story of Rome  by  Mary Macgregor
Roman Army in a Trap  in  The Story of Rome  by  Mary Macgregor
Camillus Sets the Camp of the Volscians on Fire  in  The Story of Rome  by  Mary Macgregor
Battle on the Banks of the Anio  in  The Story of Rome  by  Mary Macgregor
Revenge of Coriolanus  in  Historical Tales: Roman  by  Charles Morris
Cincinnatus and the Aequians  in  Historical Tales: Roman  by  Charles Morris
Coriolanus  in  On the Shores of the Great Sea  by  M. B. Synge
Cincinnatus, the Man from the Plough  in  Old World Hero Stories  by  Eva March Tappan

Wars against Veii (the Etruscans)  : 495-392 B.C.

Camillus at Falerii
The Etruscan city of Veii, located ten miles north of the Tiber, was Rome's most persistent enemy. Veiians were constantly raiding and plundering Roman territory, and there had been dozens of skirmishes, but no large scale pitched battles between the two cities. Finally the Fabiian family volunteered to patrol the border with Veii. They built a fortress on the Cremona river, but were ambushed and killed. The hostilities continued between the two cities until finally, after a seven year siege, the Romans, led by Camillus, tunneled under the city and took it by storm. Rome warred against a few other Etruscan cities, such as Falerii, but once Veii was conquered, there was no serious threats from the Etruscans. Once the Gauls appeared on the northern border of their territory, only a few years after the fall of Veii, the Etruscans were more than happy to ally themselves with Rome.

DateBattle Summary
477 BC  
Battle of Cremera (Etruscan Wars ) Veii victory
Fought between the city of Veii, and the Fabian clan, representing Rome. The Fabians built a fort on the Cremera river, between Rome and Veii to prevent raids into Roman territory. The Veientes laid a trap for the Fabii, and the entire clan was destroyed.
392 BC  
Siege of Veii (Etruscan Wars ) Romans victory
This city was besieged B.C. 400 by the Romans, the siege being carried on in a desultory fashion for seven years. At the end of this period the citizens of Capua and Valerii made an attack upon the Roman camp, and inflicted a signal defeat upon the besiegers. M. Furius Camillus was then appointed dictator, and a determined attempt was made to end the siege, with the result that Veii fell B.C. 393. Rome's greatest rival in Italy was thus destroyed.
391 BC  
Siege of Falerii (Kingdom Wars ) Romans victory
The siege of Falerii by the Romans is famous mainly because of the story of Camillus (the Roman General) who returned a traitorous schoolmaster from the besieged town instead of accepting his child hostages. Seeing this honorable act, the town surrendered peacefully.

Short Biography
Camillus Great military leader; conquered Veii, saved Rome from Gauls, organized legions.
Fabii Fabian brothers build a camp on the Cremona to defend Rome from Veii. They were ambushed and slain.

Story Links
Book Links
Fabii  in  Stories From Livy  by  Alfred J. Church
Veii  in  Stories From Livy  by  Alfred J. Church
Camillus  in  Stories From Livy  by  Alfred J. Church
School-Teacher Punished  in  The Story of the Romans  by  H. A. Guerber
Camillus  in  Our Young Folks' Plutarch  by  Rosalie Kaufman
Camillus Captures the City of Veii  in  The Story of Rome  by  Mary Macgregor
Schoolmaster Who Proved a Traitor  in  The Story of Rome  by  Mary Macgregor
Camillus at the Siege of Veii  in  Historical Tales: Roman  by  Charles Morris

Image Links

Promising the Bracelets
 in Romulus

The death of Tarpeia
 in Stories From Livy

The Horatii and the Curiattii
 in Stories From Livy

Horatius on the bridge
 in Stories From Livy

The mother of Coriolanus pleads with her son.
 in Stories From Livy

Put on thy robe and hear the words of the people.'
 in Stories From Livy

In a pause of the battle the Sabine women rushed between the hostile lines
 in Stories from Ancient Rome

Map of Rome and the Alban Lake
 in Stories from Ancient Rome

Horatius held his place till the structure had actually fallen
 in Stories from Ancient Rome

Horatius at the bridge
 in The Story of the Romans

Coriolanus before Rome
 in The Story of the Romans

The School-Teacher Punished
 in The Story of the Romans

The seizure of the Sabine women, Rinaldo
 in Famous Men of Rome

The Sabine women stopping the fight, David
 in Famous Men of Rome

The Sabine Women Interfere between their Husbands and Kinsmen
 in Greatest Nations - Rome

When she saw Horatius wearing on his shoulders the cloak of her betrothed, she broke into bitter sobs.
 in The Story of Rome

O my mother, thou hast saved Rome, but thou hast lost thy son.'
 in The Story of Rome

Horatius Keeping the Bridge
 in Historical Tales: Roman

Sabine Women Stopping the Fight (From a painting in the Louvre, Paris)
 in Old World Hero Stories

Coriolanus and the Matrons of Rome
 in Plutarch's Lives W. H. Weston