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The Civil War in Roman Republic

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The Social War was a civil war that waged for three years from 91 BCE to 88 BCE between the Roman Republic and the former Roman allies, the Italians. This war was known by other names, such as the Italic War and the Marsic War.

Cause of the Social War

The cause of the Social War was the allies’ want for Roman citizenship and the Romans’ refusal to grant it. The Italians of Central and South Italy had allied the Romans in battle for centuries under Roman autocratic rule, as the Italians bound itself to Rome with a perpetual treaty of military alliance, until the Italians began wanting Roman citizenship. They wanted Roman citizenship because having Roman citizenship would mean that the Italians would also have the benefits that came along with it, such as not being able to be crucified, no matter the crime you committed; having the right to vote, being entitled to a trial for a crime you committed, and having a say in the government of the Roman empire, which the allies helped form, defend. The Italians did not have citizenship because they were allies or socii, which was the bottom legal denomination of three.

The other two legal denominations were the Latini, which was the middle legal denomination, and the Roman citizens, which was the topmost legal denomination. The socii were semi-independent states in Italy, who allied themselves with Rome with a perpetual treaty of military alliance, who did not have Roman citizenship. Although the socii were not Roman citizens, they made up a good amount of all of the Roman armies. Several attempts to gain Roman citizenship for the Italians were made, and many were unsuccessful. In 122 BCE, Gaius Gracchus, the tribune at the time, created a bill that would make all Latins and allies into Roman citizen, but this decision angered the plebeian army of Rome, causing them to no longer support the Romans in battle.

The plebeian allies did not want to share the benefits of having Roman citizenship, such as having access to subsided grain, with the Latins and allies. In 95 BCE, the Romans made the Lex Licinia Mucia, which was made to prosecute anybody who lied about possessing Roman citizenship. This was a bad decision by the Romans, as many of the wealthy allies did lie about possessing Roman citizenship, which meant that, as they could not lie anymore, they got very angry. The allies being angered by the Lex Licinia Mucia was bad because they were already annoyed about not having Roman citizenship and having to lie about possessing it, but now since there was a law which prosecuted people who lied about having Roman citizenship, they were even more angry, meaning that conflict was more likely.

In 91 BCE, Marcus Livius Drusus, the tribune at the time who had close connections to the Allies and Quintus Poppaedius Silo, who was going to be one of the leaders of the allies in the Social War, wanted to resolve the tension between Rome and the allies by making a law that would allow all of the Italian allies to possess Roman citizenship. This law rose tension in Rome, and because Drusus’ previous reforms and laws were controversial, this new law made people very angry. To put pressure on the Romans, Silo devised a plan to lead 10,000 men on a march to Rome, and another plan devised by Silo was to assassinate the two consuls of Rome at the time. Drusus discovered the plans and warned consul Philippus. Drusus was then assassinated with the assailant unknown soon after the warning, and his previous laws and reforms were repealed. This marked the beginning of the Social War.

91 BCE of the Social War

After Drusus was assassinated and the Marsi, an ancient tribe of Italy who allied Rome before the war, received the news, Quintus Poppaedius Silo led the Marsi on a march on Rome. However, they were stopped by Gnaeus Domitius Ahenobarbus, the Pontifex Maximus, who persuaded them to return to Italy. After persuading the Marsi to return, Ahenobarbus headed back to Rome and warned the senate that they had to take action quickly or a war would break out. Peace was sustained until mid-autumn, when diplomacy and negotiations were unsuccessful, and conflict broke out.

Among many rebellious Italian tribes, the Marsi and the Samnites were the two main tribes, who were accompanied by other Italian tribes. The Marsi and the Samnites were the first groups to rebel. The Marsi rebelled first and were accompanied by the Vestini, which was a Sabine tribe; the Peligni, which was an Apennine mountain tribe; and the Marruncini. The Samnites rebelled second and were accompanied by the Hirpini, the Lucanians, the Apulia, and the Frentani. The consul Quintus Poppaedius Silo was chosen to lead the Marsic group, which was the northern group of the allies, while the consul Gaius Papius Mutilus was chosen to lead the Samnite group, which was the southern group. The allies attacked the Roman colonies of Alba Fucensis and Aesernia, and also invaded Asculum, which was the first city to fall to the allies.

The allies killed every Roman man they could find in Asculum and tortured and scalped the wives of the men if they refused to join them. Gnaeus Pompeius Strabo, a Roman who recruited three to four legions of troops for Rome was marching south through Picenum with his legions when he was attacked by Titus Vettius Scato, the rebel general of the Italians, and his large group of Picentes, Marsi, and Vestini. Strabo decided to surrender, as he and his men were very outnumbered. Lucius Julius Caesar and Publius Rutilius Lupus were elected as the consuls of the following year. Caesar and his second-in-command, Gaius Marius, would lead the northern front against the Marsi and its allies, while Lupus and his second-in-command, Lucius Cornelius Sulla, would lead the southern front against the Samnites and its allies. Sulla and Marius were known as the best military commanders of Rome.

90 BCE of the Social War

The allies had successfully invaded Venafrum, which was an ancient town around 32km south-west of the city Aesernia. The allies had also successfully defeated Gaius Perpenna, who was a lieutenant Publius Rutilius Lupus. Gaius Perpenna was defeated by the Italian general Presentius, and Perpenna lost 4000 men. The rest of his men who lived were given to Gaius Marius’ army. The Italians set fire to the camp of a lieutenant of Lucius Julius Caesar, causing the death of 800 of the lieutenant’s men. Sextus Julius Caesar, a relative of Lucius Julius Caesar, and his men attempted to prevent Italian reinforcements from assisting in attacking Aesernia but were unsuccessful, losing 2000 men.

After this, Aesernia was successfully taken over by the Italians. In the city of Campania, Gaius Papius Mutilus took over Nola by betraying their trust. The Romans who were kept as prisoners by Mutilus were starved to death. He then moved south, proceeding to capture 3 cities: Stabiae, Surrentum, and Salernum. After capturing the three cities, he continued to raid the area surrounding Nuceria. After he finished plundering, Mutilus headed north to beleaguer Acerrae, which was a town between Nola and Naples. Lucius Julius Caesar fought the allies and tried to lift the siege but had to retreat back to his camp after the allies attacked it. Caesar managed to fight off the allies, killing 6000 of them. This was the first big defeat of the Italians, and after the news of the defeat reached the senate of Rome, they allowed the population to wear togas again.

Togas were garments which draped over the shoulders and around the body. They were worn by men and women and were not worn before the victory over the Italians at the camp, as it showed that Rome was struggling at war. On the 11th of June, Lupus and Marius were ambushed by Titus Vettius Scato and the Marsi at the River Tolenus. Scato and Marsi proceeded to kill Lupus and 8000 of his men. Marius survived and was given command over a split portion of Lupus’ army, with the other portion going to Quintus Servilius Caepio. Caepio and some of his army, however, was killed by Quintus Poppaedius Silo, so the rest of his army who survived was given to Marius.

In Campania, Caesar had created a new army, but most of the soldiers were killed in an ambush in a rocky defile. New reinforcements were given to Caesar when he fled to Teanum. With his new reinforcements, Caesar headed south to Acerrae to attempt to lift the siege which was still going on. Caesar and Lupus camped nearby each other but none of them wanted to initiate battle. This is the last we know of the siege of Acerrae. After an unknown period of time, Marius and Sulla defeated the Marsi and Marruncini in a battle somewhere in Marsian territory, killing 6000 rebels and Herius Asinus, the general of the Marruncini. At Mount Falernus, Pompey Strabo, who was the father of Pompey the great, was heading to Asculum to besiege it but was stopped by three Italian commanders.

Strabo decided to head east to Firmum, but in Firnum, he was besieged until there was news that another army who were most likely Italian reinforcements was coming. Strabo commanded his second-in-command, Sulpicius, to attack the rear of Titus Lafrenius’ forces while Strabo attacked the front. Titus Lafrenius was the commander of the Marsi, while Quintus Poppaedius Silo had overall command of the Marsic group. Lafrenius was killed during a Roman sally, and Sulpicius managed to burn the Italian camp. These acts managed to lift the siege in Firmum, and the Italians who survived the battle headed to Asculum, where it was later beseiged. Vidacilius, one of the commanders at Firmum who was from Asculum, wanted to save the town he was from. He broke into the city leading 4000 men and requested a sally, but his request was denied. Vidacilius realised that Asculum could not be saved, so after killing his political enemies, he hosted a feast, where he committed suicide.

After returning to Rome from Acerrae, Lucius Julius Caesar created the Lex Julia de civitate Latinis et sociis danda, to prevent the Etruscans and Umbrians from joining in the rebellion. The Etruscans and Umbrians were becoming more angry, and Rome feared that they would revolt, so by creating the Lex Julia de civitate Latinis et sociis danda, all Italian and Latin communities who did not revolt would receive Roman citrizenship. The creation of this law was the turning point of this war, as many of the allies adhered to the Romans’ standards to receive Roman citizenship. This reduced the manpower of the allies while increasing the Romans’.

The Civil War in Roman Republic essay

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FAQ

Did ancient Rome have a civil war?
role of. In 49, the year the Civil War broke out between Pompey and Caesar , Antony was tribune of the plebs and vigorously supported Caesar. He fled from Rome to Caesar's headquarters after receiving threats of violence.
How did the Civil War end the Roman Republic?
By executing Antony's supporters , Octavian finally brought a century of civil war to a close. In 27 BC Octavian was named Augustus by the Senate and given unprecedented powers. Octavian, now Augustus, transformed the Republic into the Roman Empire, ruling it as the first Roman emperor.
How many civil wars did the Roman Republic have?
This is particularly true at Rome, where in a period of 150 years the Romans fought four epochal conflicts against themselves: Marius / Sulla, Caesar / Pompey, Octavian / Antony, Galba / Otho / Vitellius / Vespasian.
What caused the civil war in the Roman Republic?
The Great Roman Civil War Caesar's civil war (49–45 BC) was one of the last politico-military conflicts of the Roman Republic before its reorganization into the Roman Empire . It began as a series of political and military confrontations between Gaius Julius Caesar and Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus. Caesar's civil war (50-44 BC) was triggered by the rivalry between Julius Caesar and his conservative opposition in the Senate , and saw Caesar defeat all of his enemies in battles scattered around the Roman world, before famously being assassinated in Rome on the Ides of March, triggering yet another round of
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