The Third Century BC

"Come, help us, O lares. Let neither blight nor ruin hasten upon the people. Be satiated , fierce Mars, leap the threshold, stay the scourge. Summon in turn the gods of the harvest. Come, help us, O Mars. Triumph, triumph, triumph, triumph, triumph!" -Ancient Hymn

By the turn of the third century Rome had a powerful army, a new navy, and a great military highway, with strong garrisons of soldiers at strategic borders. Rome was well organized in her efforts to maintain a unity within her territory. The statesmen would discourage internal strife by providing generous land grants to the army, as well as the spoils of war and democratic rights. They also forced their victims to join their armies. (see More Conquests of Central Italy)

The Battle of Sentium

The Samnites and all of her allies were severely defeated at the Battle of Sentium in 296 BC. Many of Rome's enemies were being weakened by continually fighting each other. Now with Rome's effective policies for preserving unity they were destined to succeed. Rome was prepared to conquer all of Italy. (see Roman Military Organization)

Rome Conquers All Italy

In the south of Italy there were mainly Greek cities. In 282 BC Thurii, A Greek city in the south had asked Rome for help from the Lucanians, allies of the Samnites. Rome came to their aid and soon many other cities had also called upon Rome for assistance. Soon the Greeks resented this and war was inevitable.

One Greek city, Tarentum, fired up a major quarrel with a Roman delegation, and so they called upon King Pyrrhus of Epirus (in Greece) to come to their aid since they were mainly a commercial city and not able to match armies with Rome. He came with full force and brought his fearful elephant cavalry along with 20,000 soldiers and barely won a brutal victory at Heraclea in 280 BC. Pyrrhus had won the victory but at the expense of a major part of his army. He said, "If we win one more victory against the Romans we shall be totally ruined." This is where the term "Pyyhric Victory" originated where the winner suffers more loss than that which he gained.

Rome was not discouraged. They called upon their powerful allies from Carthage, which was located at the top of North Africa on the Mediterranean Sea. Together they defeated Pyrrhus's army at the Battle of Beneventum and drove Pyrrhus out of Italy in 276 BC and four years later Tarentum surrendered along with the rest of southern Italy. By 264 BC Rome occupied Italy from the Toe River to the Po River and was considered a major power in the Mediterranean. (see The Conquests of Southern Italy)