The Sabellian Highlanders, which include the Samnites, had struggled for centuries to force their way into the favorable plains around the Mediterranean.

First Samnite War

All their attempts failed since the Latins and the Italian Etruscans had held them in check. So for the past hundred years, the direction of their expansion had been east and south-east, with no other choice than to stream to Campania, south of Italy. In time, as the highlanders had become accustomed to a more civilized life, they wished to use the grasslands of the Campanian plains for their animals. The effect of this was a growing conflict between the semi-civilized highlanders, particularly the Samnites, and their over-civilized precursors in Campania.

First Samnite WarThe Campanians, fearing the Samnites, then appealed to Rome and Rome came to their rescue. Roman envoys went to leaders among the hill people for discussions and were rudely treated and the result of this rather unsuccessful “peace-talk” was the First Samnite War.

The First Samnite War was brief, very brief. It was marked by easy Roman victories in the field. The war lasted two years, ending in 341 BC, with the Samnites more than willing to make peace. Despite its brevity, the First Samnite War resulted in Roman acquisition of the rich land of Campania and its resources became a major addition to Rome’s strength and manpower.