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"It is through the ways of old and through the heroes of old that Rome stands fast." -Ennius
Rome had believed in early times that she was destined to rule the world even though there were many hostile peoples around her. She fought hard and survived. By the sixth century Rome had thrown out her last king and the Republic was founded around 510 BC.
From City-State to Nation-State
For the next two and a half centuries the small city-state of Rome expanded its boundaries gradually until it ruled the entire Italian peninsula. This protected them from many of their hostile neighbors.
The Latin League
The power of the Etruscans was diminishing yet they had an extremely large army of Italian tribes prepared for war along with two other powerful neighboring armies, the great mountain tribe armies of the Aequi, and the Volsci. Rome was in great danger because of them. Rome was also in danger because the Latin cities had formed a league to threaten the newly formed republic in Rome and she had to defend herself against this alliance for many years. (see The Latin League and Rome)
Rome, who had been mainly an army of farmers defending their land, decided to regroup and organize and they finally won a tremendous victory at Lake Regillus in 486 BC and they became the dominant partner in the league. They all became allies so that they could defend themselves against the armies of the Etruscans, the Aequi, and the Volsci.
Meanwhile the northern Sabellians were invading the lands of the Aequi, and the Volsci which drove them down into Italy to attack Rome. Two great Roman leaders defeated them one named Coriolanus defeated the Aequi and another named Cincinnatus defeated the Volsci.
After this Rome made more attacks on the Etruscans and doubled her territory which eventually brought them to a place as leader of the Latin League.