2. Beginnings of Rome
3. Institutions of Early Rome
4. Etruscan Kings of Rome
5. Reorganization of Kingdom

6. Struggle against Kingship
7. Struggle for Economic Rights
8. Struggle for Equal Laws
9. Struggle for Political Equality
10. Conquest of Latium
11. Conquest of Central Italy
12. Conquest of Southern Italy
13. Supremacy of Rome in Italy
14. First Punic War
15. Second Punic War
16. Conquests in East
17. Reduction of Roman Conquests
18. Rome as a World Power
19. Times of Gracchi
20. Times of Marius and Sulla
21. Times of Pompey and Caesar
22. Times of Antony and Octavius

23. Reign of Augustus
24. Julian Emperors
25. Flavian Emperors
26. Five Good Emperors
27. Decline of Empire
28. Reorganization of Empire
29. Extinction of Western Empire
Outlines of Roman History
by William C. Morey, Ph.D., D.C.L.
New York, Cincinnati, Chicago: American Book Company (1901).



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Rupture between Rome and Tarentum, I.War with Pyrrhus (B.C. 280-275), II.Final Reduction of Italy, III.


   Greek Cities in Southern Italy.—All the peninsular portion of Italy was now under the practical dominion of Rome, except the Greek cities in the south. These cities were the centers of Greek art and culture. Situated upon the coast, they had engaged in commerce, and on account of their wealth they were subject to the depredations of their less civilized neighbors, the Lucanians and Bruttians. With no great capacity for organization, they were accustomed, when assailed, to appeal to some stronger power for help. They had sometimes looked to Greek princes, as in the case of Alexander of Epirus. But now, when Thurii was threatened by the Lucanians, this city threw itself upon the mercy of Rome. Rome promptly interfered, and placed garrisons not only in Thurii, but also in other cities along the coast, as Croton, Locri, and Rhegium (see map, p. 88).

   Rome and Tarentum.—The most important of the Greek cities of Italy was Tarentum. This city was now alarmed at the rapid advances made by Rome on the southern coast. Hemmed in on all sides by the Roman outposts, Tarentum found it necessary to decide whether she should open her gates to Rome, or maintain her independence with the aid of some Greek ally. She had already a commercial treaty with Rome, which prevented the ships of the latter power from passing the Lacinian promontory. But this treaty would not prevent the Roman armies from threatening the city by land.

   Cause of the Rupture.—While this question was yet undecided, a Roman war fleet, on its way to the coast of Umbria, anchored in the harbor of Tarentum. The people were angered by this breach of the treaty, and immediately attacked the fleet. Five of the Roman vessels were captured, and the crews were either put to death or sold into slavery. A Roman embassy which was sent to Tarentum to demand reparation was grossly insulted. The Romans thereupon declared war, and sent an army to subdue the insolent city.

   Tarentum calls upon Pyrrhus.—There was now but one course open to the people of Tarentum, and that was to appeal to Greece for protection. Pyrrhus was at this time king of Epirus. He was a brilliant and ambitious leader, and aspired to found an empire in the West. When Tarentum appealed to him for help, he was ready not only to aid this city, but to rescue all the Greek cities of Italy from Rome, and also all the cities of Sicily from the power of Carthage. The war which the Romans began against Tarentum was thus turned into a war against Pyrrhus, who was the ablest general of his time.


   Pyrrhus lands in Italy.—Pyrrhus landed in Italy, bringing with him a mercenary army raised in different parts of Greece, consisting of twenty-five thousand men and twenty elephants. Tarentum was placed under the strictest military discipline. Rome, on her part, made the greatest preparations to meet the invader. Her garrisons were strengthened. One army was sent into Etruria, to prevent an uprising in the north; and the main army, under the consul Valerius Laevinus, was sent to southern Italy.

   Battle of Heraclea (B. C. 280).—The first battle between the Italian and Greek soldiers occurred at Heraclea, not far from Tarentum. It was here that the Roman legion first came into contact with the Macedonian phalanx. The legion was drawn up in three separate lines, in open order; and the soldiers, after hurling the javelins, fought at close quarters with the sword. The phalanx, on the other hand, was a solid mass of soldiers in close order, with their shields touching, and twenty or thirty ranks deep. Its weapon was a long spear, so long that the points of the first five ranks all projected in front of the first rank. Pyrrhus selected his ground on the open plain. Seven times the Roman legions charged against his unbroken phalanxes. After the Roman attack was exhausted, Pyrrhus turned his elephants upon the Roman cavalry, which fled in confusion, followed by the rest of the Roman army. The Romans, though defeated in this battle, displayed wonderful courage and discipline, so that Pyrrhus exclaimed, “With such an army I could conquer the world!”

   Embassy of Cineas.—The great losses which Pyrrhus suffered convinced him that the Romans could not be conquered with the forces which he had under his command; and that he had better turn his attention to the Carthaginians in Sicily. He therefore resolved to use his victory as a means of obtaining an honorable peace with the Romans. His most trusted minister, Cineas, who is said to have conquered more nations with his tongue than Pyrrhus had with his sword, was sent to Rome with the proposal to make peace, on condition that the Romans should relinquish their conquests in southern Italy. So persuasive were the words of Cineas, that the Roman senate seemed ready to consider his offer. But the charm of his speech was broken by the stern eloquence of Appius Claudius, the blind old censor, who called upon the senate never to make peace with an enemy on Roman soil. Failing in his mission, Cineas returned to his master with the report that the Roman senate was “an assembly of kings.” To give force to the claims of Cineas, Pyrrhus had pushed his army into Campania, and even into Latium; but finding the cities loyal to Rome, he withdrew again to Tarentum.

   Battle of Asculum (B.C. 279).—In southern Italy, Pyrrhus received the support of the Greek cities, of the Bruttians, the Lucanians, and even the Samnites. In the next year he marched into Apulia, in the direction of the Roman stronghold Luceria. The hostile armies met at Asculum, a few miles south of Luceria. The battle of Asculum was a repetition of Heraclea. The Roman legions charged in vain against the Greek phalanxes; and were then routed by the elephants, which they could not withstand. But again, although the Romans were defeated, the great losses of Pyrrhus prevented him from following up his victory.

   Pyrrhus in Sicily (B.C. 278-276).—Pyrrhus resolved to turn his back upon Italy, where his victories had been so barren, and go to the rescue of the Greek cities in Sicily, which were subject to Carthage. Leaving his general, Milo, at Tarentum, he crossed over to Syracuse, and gained many victories over the Carthaginians. He drove them to their stronghold in Lilybaeum, at the western extremity of the island; but this city he failed to capture. He then called upon the people of Sicily to build a fleet, but they murmured at his severe command. Believing that such a people was unworthy of his aid, he returned to Tarentum. In the meantime the Romans had recovered nearly all their lost ground in southern Italy.

   Battle of Beneventum and Departure of Pyrrhus (B.C. 275).—Before abandoning Italy, Pyrrhus determined once more to try the fortunes of war. One of the consular armies, under Curius Dentatus, lay in a strong position near Beneventum in the hilly regions of Samnium. Pyrrhus resolved to attack this army before it could be reënforced. He stormed the Roman position, and was repulsed. The Roman consul then pursued him to the plains and gained a complete victory. Baffled and disappointed, Pyrrhus retreated to Tarentum; and leaving a garrison in that city under his lieutenant, Milo, he led the remnants of his army back to Greece.


   Fall of Tarentum (B.C. 272).—After the departure of Pyrrhus, Rome had no real rival left in Italy. The complete reduction of the peninsula speedily followed. Tarentum was besieged, and after a stubborn resistance of four years, Milo agreed to surrender, on condition of being allowed to withdraw his garrison to Epirus (B.C. 272). The city was allowed to retain its local government, but was obliged to pay an annual tribute to Rome.

   The Lucanians, Bruttians, and Samnites.—Some of the people in the south of Italy were still loath to accept the supremacy of Rome, and kept up a kind of guerrilla warfare for some time. But the Lucanians and Bruttians were soon obliged to submit, and all the cities on the coast finally came under the Roman power. A temporary revolt of the Samnites was also crushed. The Roman power in the south was secured by strong colonies, planted at Paestum in Lucania (B.C. 273) and at Beneventum in Samnium (B.C. 268).

   Picenum and Umbria.—With the south pacified, Rome soon brought into submission the Italian remnants on the eastern coast. The chief city of Picenum, Ancona (see map, p. 81), was taken by storm (B.C. 268), and the whole country was reduced. Farther to the north, the chief city of Umbria, Ariminum, was also taken (B.C. 266), and the territory yielded to Rome.

   Reduction of Etruria.—A spirit of defection still existed in some parts of Etruria. The most haughty of the Etruscan cities was Volsinii, which was selected as an example. Its walls were razed to the ground, and its works of art were transferred to Rome. After the fall of this city, all the other towns not already allied to Rome were willing to submit; and Rome ruled supreme from the Rubicon and Macra to the Sicilian strait.


Liddell, Ch, 26, “Pyrrhus in Italy” (
How and Leigh, Ch. 16, “War with Tarentum and Pyrrhus” (1).
Shuckburgh, Ch. 15, “Rome and Tarentum” (1).
Mommsen, Vol. I., Bk. II., Ch. 7, “Struggle between Pyrrhus and Rome” (2).


   THE ROMAN ARMY.—How and Leigh, pp. 135-141 (1); Leighton, Ch. 29 (1); Liddell, pp. 187-189 (1); Shuckburgh, pp. 214-218 (1); Beesly, Ch. 6 (6); Ramsay and Lanciani, Ch. 12 (8); Eschenburg, pp. 270-285 (8); Guhl and Koner, pp. 567-591 (16); Harper’s Dict. Antiqq., “Legio,” “Exercitus” (8).

1 The figure in parenthesis refers to the number of the topic in the
Appendix, where a fuller title of the book will be found.


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