CH. III: The Roman Age
- Table of Contents
- Order the Book
- English Synopses of Chapters: Chapter I | Chapter II | Chapter III | Chapter IV
The Samnite Wars
The Roman colonies
The Punic wars
The Macedonian wars
The Italic question
Caius Graccus and Livius DrususThere were some more liberal politicians in Rome who supported the request of citizenship of the Italics, among them Scipio Emilianus, Fulvius Flaccus who proposed to grant Roman citizenship to all Italics in 125 BC, and Caius Graccus, who was however killed during a riot in 122 BC. In 91 BC tribune Livius Drusus presented the petition a third time, but he was killed as well and his followers expelled from Rome.
The social war
The Italic peoples also proceeded to establish a political organization for their confederation, and chose Corfinium, the peligni center, as their capital, changing its name into Italia. They elected a Senate of 500 members and two consuls: one was Marsian Quintus Poppedius Silo, the other Samnite Caius Papius Mutilus, and it was soon clear that the conflict for supremacy between the fierce independent Marsians and Samnites would in the long run favor the Roman victory. The new confederation also chose their own coin, the denarius, representing a female head and the word "ITALIA" or in the oscan language, "VITELIU". After some early Italic victories, the Romans sent against them a powerful army under great generals: Marius, Sulla and Pompey's father.
Roman concessions - In the spring of the year 90 BC the war flared in Abruzzo and Samnium and the Romans, fearing rebellions in Umbria and Tuscany, passed a law (lex Iulia de civitate) granting citizenship to all those peoples that remained faithful to the Romans, and enlarged the right to anyone in Italy who appeared before a Roman magistrate and declared his loyalty within 60 days (lex Plautia Papiria). Being actually an acknowledgement of what the Italics had asked for so long, the two laws weakened the rebellion. In the year 89 BC Pompeius Strabo And Porcius Cato were entrusted with leading the army against the Piceni and Marsi, while Sulla was to attack the Samnites. Meanwhile another civil war divided also the Roman dictators Marius, who was more generous with the Italics, and Sulla who adamantly refused any compromise with them. The Italic armies suffered heavy losses everywhere, and the last resistance concentrated in Lucania, under the leadership of their last general, Pontius Telesinus, who was finally defeated at Preneste in 83 BC.
Caesar in Corfinio
The Augustan era and the Empire
The draining of Lake Fucino The most famous endeavor was however the draining of the Fucino lake. The project was originally introduced by Julius Caesar, who was however murdered before he could start any of his proposed works. Nevius Sutorius Macro, native of Alba Fucens, had a great influence on Tiberius and Caligula, but he was not able to convince them to continue the works. Finally the project was undertaken by Emperor Claudius, in the year 41 AD, within a general plan of giant public works as the Ostia harbor, the aqueduct, the via Valeria. The greatest problem was where to drain the waters (the Fucino lake did not have any emissary river). The solution seemed to canalize the water through underground tunnels for 5 km into the Liri river. For 11 years 30,000 slaves worked on the excavations. The tunnels had vertical holes used to take away the excavated rock and terrain.
In the summer 52 AD the emissary was inaugurated, with a giant naval battle (naumachia) on the lake, and then the giant barriers were lifted. That time the lake was not completely emptied, and more works were necessary and a second inauguration, that was almost catastrophic due to the violence of the waters. The emissary did its job for some time, then under the following emperors, due to bad maintanance, the tunnels got filled with debris and finally closed. The prject was abandoned for 18 centuries.
The decline of the empire
Christianity in Abruzzo
Culture in Roman times
Gaius Sallustius Crispus (86 BC - AD 34)
Born at Amiternum, was the first great Roman historian, a political enemy of Marcus Cicero and supporter of Caesar, who sent him as his envoy in Africa, where Sallustius became enormously rich and on his return built in Rome the sumptuous Hortii Sallustiani. After Caesar's death he retired from public life and worked on his monographies: De coniuratione Catilinae and the Bellum Iugurthinum.
Gaius Asinius Pollio (75 or 76 BC - AD 5)
An orator, poet and historian, Pollio was born in Teate (Chieti); He was also a follower of Caesar, and founded the first library in Rome. His son, Asinius Gallus, married Agrippina, the divorced wife of emperor Tiberius, and this cost him the jealousy of the emperor, who finally sent hit to death.
Publius Ovidius Naso (43 BC - AD 17)
Born in Sulmona, spent his life in Rome and was the poet of elegant and refined life. Probably after a scandal was sent by Augustus in exile, on the coasts of the Black Sea, and there he died in loneliness. His greatest work was the poem Metamorphoses, then his love writings on the Ars Amandi, and two collections of elegies.
Vitorius Marcellus A prominent literary figure also from Teate, though no works by him are extant. He is mentioned as a friend and inspirator by Quintilianus and poet Statius. The secondary information around his figure leads to believe that Teate (Chieti) must have been a lively cultural center in the Augustan times.
Silius Italicus (AD 25–AD 101)
An orator and state functionary, Silius was made consul in A.D. 68 and proconsul in Asia Minor in A.D. 77. Retiring to his estate near Naples, he purchased the villas of Cicero and Vergil and made them into museums. His epic on the second Punic war, Punica, is the longest surviving Latin poem. Though his native palce is unknown, many believed him to be from Abruzzo, due to his enthusiasm for the Marsi and Marrucini peoples.
Lucius Valerius Pudens When he was fourteen years old, in the sixth games sacred to Capitoline Jupiter in 106 AD, he was crowned for his shining genius among the Latin poets by the vote of all the judges. His native Histonium (Vasto) decreed a bronze statue for him at state expense. He was later the curator of the state of the Aeserninii. The event is recorded in a stone inscription.
- The Punic War in Abruzzo
During the second punic war Abruzzo was devastated by Hannibal's armies. The events were recorded by historian Polibius and Titus Livius.
- Hannibal in Abruzzo - from Polibius, Historia, book III, pages 87-88, Paris 1970
- Hannibal plunders Abruzzo - from Livius, Historiae, book XXII, 9, Zanichelli Bologna 1954
- The passage of Claudius Nero - from Livius, Historiae, book XXVII, 45, Zanichelli Bologna 1956
- The Social War - many historians also described the social and civil wars
- The Revolt of the Italics - from Appianus, Le guerre civili, book I, 175-181, La Nuova Italia, Firenze 1958
- Causes of the civil war - from Paterculus, Storia Romana, book II, 15-16, Venezia 1839
- Caesar in Corfinium - from Caesar, De bello civili, book I, 15 foll., Zanichelli Bologna 1955
During the civil war between Caesar and Popmpey, Caesar sieged the town of Corfinium
- Ovid and Abruzzo - Memories of his native land often appear in the poet's works: landscapes, traditions, legends - three passages are reproduced in the Italian translation:
- The Peligna Land - from Amores, book II, 16, lines 1-10
- Glory of the Peligni people - from Amores, book III, 15, lines 1-14
- A folk tradition - from Fasti, book IV, lines 683-712
- The Draining of Lake Fucino - This exceptional enterprise was described by historians - two passages are reported in their Italian translation:
- Claudius' work - from Tacitus, Annales, XII, pages 56-57, Zanichelli Bologna 1968<
- The inauguration of the emissary - from Suetonius, Vitae duodecim Caesarum, Claudius, 21 and 32, Zanichelli Bologna 1956