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Capture of Falerii according to Livy

This post is also available in: Polish (polski)

Titus Livius

In Ab Urbe Condita, Titus Livius described the war that took place between Rome and Faliscans in 394 BC. In this war, the city of Falerii was conquered in a way, as was described by the victors, which none, whether god or man, can censure.

Activities in the Faliscans territory

The war with Faliscans was a continuation of the wars with the Etruscans. After capturing the city of Veii and establishing peace with the city of Capena, the Romans under the command of Marcus Furius Camillus went to the Faliscans country. Nearby villages were looted and burned, forcing residents to leave the fortified city. They camped 1000 steps from the city in a hard-to-reach place, but Camillus has moved to a better position at night. During the setting up of the new camp, the Romans repelled the attack of the Faliscans, who in panic fled directly to the Falerii, leaving their camp behind. All the loot from the camp was donated to the state, which caused bitterness among the soldiers. However, this did not shake soldiers morale and army begun to siege the city. They assumed that siege would be as long-lasting as the siege of Veii.

Marcus Camillus

Betrayal of the teacher

It was customary of Faliscans that one man was a teacher of a larger group of youth. During the siege, the teacher continued his gymnastics exercises and study in the city and outside the city walls. One day, he took his wards and took them straight to Roman camp. He announced that he had given victory to the Romans by putting into their hands children, whose fathers hold the highest authority in the city. In response, Markus Furius Camillus called him a villain, declared that it is not worthy of the Romans to win a war using deception, but only bravery and force of arms. He ordered the teacher to be stripped and his hands tied behind his back. He gave rods to the youth so that they could scourge the traitor to the city.

The citizens of Falerii has gathered on this sight, and they praised justice of the Roman commander. Ambassadors were dispatched to Camillus, and then to Rome to surrender the city of Falerii. Livy reports the speech that ambassadors have delivered in the Roman Senate:

Senators! Vanquished by you and your general through a victory which none, whether god or man, can censure, we surrender ourselves to you, for we think it better to live under your sway than under our own laws, and this is the greatest glory that a conqueror can attain. Through the issue of this war two salutary precedents have been set for mankind. You have preferred the honour of a soldier to a victory which was in your hands; we, challenged by your good faith, have voluntarily given you that victory. We are at your disposal; send men to receive our arms, to receive the hostages, to receive the city whose gates stand open to you. Never shall you have cause to complain of our loyalty, nor we of your rule.

Author: Jakub Bajkowski
  • Livius Titus, Ab Urbe Condita, Book V, 26-27

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