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Masters of Rome
from Marius to Caesar
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Other Wars

Conflicts covered in this section:

Revolt of Fregellae

In 125 BC Marcus Fulvius Flaccus proposed extending the Roman citizenship to Latin and Italian allies. Conservative senators ensured that the bill was not passed. However, the town of Fregellae, a Latin colony, dissatisfied with the treatment of non-Romans, refused to accept this decision and revolted against Roman control.

No other cities joined the revolt and it was quickly and brutally suppressed. The town itself was destroyed.


During the second century BC the Romans fought a succession of wars in Spain. By 142 BC Rome had the upper hand and there were no Celtiberian or Lusitanian armies left in the field. However several cities were still holding out against the Romans, of which the foremost was Numantia.

Numantia's location between two deep gorges made it very difficult to attack, while the surrounding countryside was wild and forested, making it easy to ambush an attacking force. Two successive attempts to besiege the town ended in failure with the Roman attackers defeated and having to accept terms from the defenders. Each time the Romans broke their promises and resumed the attack on Numantia.

In 134 BC Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus Aemilianus, an adopted grandson of Scipio Africanus, the victor of the 2nd Punic War, began the final siege of Numantia. He had an army of 60,000 men, which he used to blockade Numantia, constructing a ring of seven fortified camps around the town.

The following year a starving Numantia finally capitulated. The inhabitants were sold into slavery and the town was destroyed.

The Slave Wars

104 BC

After a law was passed freeing Italian slaves, other slaves become restless. Titus Vettius declared himself King of Campania at the head of slave army. Lucius Licinius Lucullus was sent to suppress the rebellion and executed Vettius.

Meanwhile, Nerva, governor of Sicily, starts to manumit the Italian grain slaves on the island. Under pressure from landowners he halts the tribunals set up by him and his quaestor to identify the Italian slaves. The result is a revolt.

The first collection of slaves in revolt is crushed by militia at the Grove of the Palici. Soon another group of slaves collects at Heracleia Minoa. An auxiliary cohort sent to attack the slaves is lost. The leaders of the slaves make Salvius their king.

Another revolt near Lilybaeum is led by Athenion, a Greek. His army meets with Salvius and the joint armies establish a base at Triocala on the south coast of Sicily. The result is chaos in Sicily and threat of a grain shortage in Rome.

103 BC

Lucius Licinius Lucullus sent with an army to suppress the revolt. He defeats the slaves in open battle. The survivors retreat to their fortress of Triocala where Lucullus besieges them, building a fortified camp for his army to pass the winter.

102 BC

When news reaches Lucullus that his command is being taken over by Servilius Augur, Lucullus is furious. He demolishes his camp, raises the siege of Triocala and sails the army back to Italy where it is disbanded.

Naturally the slaves in Triocala take advantage by resuming their reign over Sicily. The new governor, Servilius Augur, cannot raise an army and is powerless to control the slaves.

Salvius dies and is replaced as king of the slaves by Athenion.

100 BC

Manius Aquillius, junior consul, arrives in Sicily with a new army and suppresses the slave rebellion.

Printable version ©Mark Emerson 2001. Acknowledgements to Steven H. Gibbs, Randy Winch and Tim Doyle. Back to top of page ^