Cambridge Ecce Romani Latin for the New Millennium Wheelock Disce Allen & Greenough None of the above

Social War (Italian War)

91-88 BCE

Roman Republic vs. Italian socii
Gaius Marius et al. v. Marsic Group (Marsi, Paeligni, Vestini, Marrucini Picentes, Frentani) and Samnite Group (Hirpini, Pompeii, Venusia, Iapygi, Lucania, Samnium)

When the Romans gained dominance over the Italian peninsula, there was a series of alliances between Rome and the surrounding cities and communities. The alliances were dictated by whether or not the city had settled peacefully with Rome or had been defeated in battle. Rome was able to demand tribute money, or taxation, from them as well as soldiers. They also controlled their foreign policy. Despite these restrictions, the city-states did not have the right to vote. Moreover, they also faced a financial inequality due to the land ownership policies of the Romans.

In 91 BCE, the tribune Marcus Livius Drusus attempted to pass reforms, which would extend Roman citizenship to the Italian allies. The Senate rejected these proposals and had him assassinated. This action pushed the Italian city-states to revolt. The Latins, an ethnic group settled just to the south of Rome, largely remained loyal to Rome, save for the city Venusia. The rest of the Italian peninsula, however, moved to create a new state, Italia. (picture of coin). The twelve allies gathered together some 120,000 men.

Rome scrambled to keep other Italian allies from rebelling, and they quickly raised a force to meet those who had rebelled in battle. In the north was Publius Rutilius Lupus, Gaius Marius, and Pompeius Strabo. In the south was Lucius Julius Caesar, Lucius Cornelius Sulla, and Titus Didius. In 90 BCE, the Romans faced a series of losses, including the deaths of Rutilius and Quintus Servilius Caepio. In 89 BCE, Lucius Porcius Cato (a consul) was killed. Strabo, however, defeated the Italian Army at Asculum after besieging the city. By 88 BCE, the war was largely over.

The Lex Plautia Papiria was later passed. This law allowed registered males of allied states to obtain citizenship, if he presented himself to a Roman praetor within 60 days of the passing of the law. It was not until 60 BCE that Gaius Julius Caesar during his consulship passed the Lex Julia. This law offered citizenship to all Latin and Italian communities, who had not revolted. However, this law applied to full communities and not to individuals.

This war and its aftermath made inevitable the political unification of Italy.


Monmouth College