UNIVERSAL HISTORY-THE ANCIENT WORLD.
gave the victory to Rome. She put into the field the two largest armies which the
Republic had thus far ever organized. The command was given to two of the best
generals of the age-the veteran Quintus Fabitus Maximus and Publius Decius at the
head of the consular armies, they advanced into Umbria, and met the Samnites at
Sentinum, near the pass where the Flaminian Way afterwards crossed the mountains.
Here was fought a hotly contested battle; nor did the Romans gain much ground
until Decius Mus, imitating the battle of his father in Mount Vesuvius, devoted
himself, together with the enemy, to the gods of the lower world. Victory then
declared for Rome. The Samnio-Umbrian alliance was dissolved.
After this battle the Samnites retreated into their own country, and there
defended themselves to the last. History has rarely exhibited an instance in
which the courage of despair was more highly illustrated than in the final
struggle of this brave people for the independence of their country. In one great
battle the consular army, under command of Fabius Maximus Gurges, son of the
great Fabius, suffered a disastrous defeat. Nor was the fortune of the war
restored until the aged Quintius Fabius Maximus again took the field in person.
As the legate of his son, the veteran became the inspiring genius of the army. In
a decisive battle the Samnites were completely routed. The brave old Gavius
Pontius-the same who had been for so many years the main pillar of the Samnian
cause-was captured and taken to Rome. There he was confined in a gloomy prison
under the Capitoline Hill, and, if the bloody tradition of the times is to be
believed, was presently beheaded by order of the Senate. The Samnites, after
their defeat, betook themselves to the hills, and there in broken bands upheld
the lost cause of their country, until they wrung from the Romans an honorable
treaty, by the terms of which all the foreign conquests of Samnium were given up,
while the people themselves were permitted to retain a measure of independence.
Rome made haste to secure her conquests. In Campania she established the two
strong fortresses of Minturnae and Sinuessa, both near the coast. In the district
where the territories of Samnium, Lucania, and Apulia lie contiguous, she planted
the colony of Venusia, for the command of Southern Italy. On the shore of the
Adriatic was built the fortress of Hatria, to maintain the predominance of Roman
authority in the eastern part of the peninsula. Finally the Sabines, who during
the progress of the Samnite war had frequently exhibited signs of hostility
toward the Romans, were obliged to make their submission and take the rank of
subjects. Nor did Rome in her career of success forget to punish the Gauls, who
had threatened her territories with invasion. The Senonian and Boian tribes of
this people were overtaken in B. C. 283, at the Vadimonian Lake, and were again
defeated by the consular army; and in order to make secure the future possession
of this region the fortress of Sena Gallica was established. It only remained to
continue the war in Etruria, and this was done with so much vigor that all
resistance ended. The town of Volsinii was taken, after a siege, and destroyed;
and, with the downfall of Falerii, the conquest was completed.
The next to feel the impact of the strong hand of Rome were the Lucanians, who,
notwithstanding their recent adherence to the Samnite cause, seemed to expect
immunity. After the subjugation of Samnium they laid siege to the great town of
Thurii, and that city in its distress appealed to the Romans for aid. This led to
a declaration of war against the Lucanians; but the latter effected an alliance
with the Bruttians and the disaffected Samnites, and presented a formidable
In B. C. 282, the consul Caius Fabricius marched an army against the Lucanian
allies, overthrew them in battle, raised the siege of Thurii, and compelled the
submission of all the Greek towns of Southern Italy except Tarentum. In each of
these a Roman garrison was established, and the consul returned to the city with
a long train of prisoners and spoils. The stronghold of Tarentum, still held by
the Italian Greeks, was now the only obstacle remaining between Rome and the
mastery of Italy.