The OSCI (also called OPICI, OPSCI, OBSCI, OPICANS, Ancient Greek :
Ὀπικοί, Ὀσκοί), were an
Traditions of the Opici fall into the legendary period of Italian history, approximately the first half of the first millennium BC, down to the foundation of the Roman Republic . No agreement can be reached concerning their location and language. At the end of that time, the Oscan language appeared and was spoken by a number of sovereign tribal states. By far the most important in military prowess and wealth was the Samnites , who rivalled Rome for about 50 years in the 2nd half of the 4th century BC, sometimes being allies, and sometimes at war with the city, until they were finally subdued with considerable difficulty and were incorporated into the Roman state.
Between the Samnites and the Romans were the Oscans. Though often eager to go to war, they were never a power to be taken seriously militarily. They cost the Romans no more than a single battle to defeat on every trial of their prowess. Their final disposition more closely resembled the farces with which they regaled Roman audiences than a serious war. They kept their independence by playing off one state against another, especially the Romans and Samnites. That sovereignty fell victim at last in the Second Samnite War , when prior to invading Samnium, the Romans found it necessary to secure the border tribes. After the war, the Oscans assimilated quickly to Roman culture. Their memory survived in only place names and in literature.
* 1 Classical sources * 2 Oscans of the early republic
* 3 Conflict and subjugation
* 4 Vestiges of the Oscans at Rome * 5 References * 6 Bibliography * 7 See also
OSCANS OF THE EARLY REPUBLIC
A people called the
CONFLICT AND SUBJUGATION
In the last half of the 4th century BC, the remaining Oscan
populations (who were not
Samnites ) lived in three sovereign states:
the Sidicini, the
The beginning of the end of Oscan sovereignty was their attempted
exploitation of an opportunity to maraud against the Romans in the
period of instability following a major victory against the
FIRST SAMNITE WAR
Samnites in 343 BC "made an unprovoked attack upon the Sidicini",
who appealed to
Campania for military assistance and received it.
After losing two battles and being penned within
The Roman Senate declared war, the people ratified the declaration, two consular armies were sent into Samnium and Campania respectively. For two years the Romans knew only victories, until at last the Samnites sued for the restoration of their former alliance with one condition: they would be free to war on the Sidicini if they wished. The Romans had an agreement with Campania, but none with the Sidicini. The Senate bought peace by ratifying the treaty and paying off their army.
The Samnites used their army to attack the Sidicini again. In desperation, the latter offered themselved to Rome but were turned down on the grounds that they were too late. The Sidicini allied with a force being raised by the Latin league against the Samnites. They were joined by the Campanians. A multi-national army began to devastate Samnium. The Samnites now appealed to Rome under the terms of their treaty, asking if in fact Rome was sovereign over Campania. The Romans disavowed any agreement that would restrain the Campanians and Latins from making war on whomever else they pleased.
Encouraged by Roman refusal to assume leadership, the Latins made plans to turn their army against Rome once the Samnite threat had been neutralized. Word of the plans leaked to the Romans, who reacted by inviting ten Latin chiefs to Rome to receive orders under the terms of the treaty. As the price for submitting to Rome, the Latins demanded a new common government, with one consul and half the Senate to be elected from the Latins. When Titus Manlius Torquatus , one of the consuls for 340 BC, heard these conditions, he swore by Jupiter's statue that if the Senate accepted them he would kill every Latin in the Senate House with drawn sword. Emotional posturing began around the statue; a Latin envoy, Lucius Annaeus, slipped on the stairs while railing against Jupiter and hit his head, becoming unconscious. At that moment, a thunderstorm burst on the Senate House. Interpreting these events as a sign the Romans declared war on the Latins and their allies and allied themselves with the Samnites. The two years of conflict, 340–338, is known as the Latin War .
In a number of legendary battles, the Romans defeated the Latin League , taking away the sovereignty of its tribal states, who subsequently assimilated to Rome. The consul, Lucius Furius Camillus, asked the Senate: "Do you wish to adopt ruthless measures against a people that have surrendered and been defeated? ... Or do you wish to follow the example of your ancestors and make Rome greater by conferring her citizenship on those whom she has defeated?" The Senate chose to offer different terms to different Latin cities. Colonists were placed throughout Latium.
FALL OF CALES
PEACE WITH THE SIDICINI AND AURUNCI
After the fall of Cales, both consular armies were sent against the Sidicini , who fortified themselves in Teanum with a large army. Livy does not reveal the outcome of this campaign. The Romans were struck by a plague (the most typical plague in the region was malaria , carried by the marsh mosquitos); both consuls were relieved for suspicion of impiety, but the Roman army remained among the Sidicini. Livy changes the topic to relations with the Samnites in preparation for his account of the Second Samnite War, 326–304 BC. The Sidicini do not appear in that war or ever again in history, but Teanum goes on as Teanum Sidicinum and its territory as Sidicinus ager. If the Romans had fought a great battle and had obliterated the Sidicini there would be some mention of it or some evidence of a discontinuity at Teano. Instead, the city prospers. Smith accords with the general conclusion that between 335 and 326, most likely in 334, the Sidicini consented to lay down their arms and become part of the greater Roman municipality. Livy's omission remains unexplained.