Fabio, Chiusi e i Galli: un nuovo contributo sulla tradizione della battaglia di Sentino


  • Stefano Carlo Sala

Parole chiave:

Roman historiography, gens Fabia, Battle of Sentinum, Gallic Sack, Livy


In Livy’s narrative of the battle of Sentinum, the appearance of three deserters from Clusium, who disclosed the enemy’s plan to consul Q. Fabius Rullianus (Liv. 10, 27, 4), has rightfully been deemed fictitious as it conveniently justifies the absence of the Etruscans and Umbrians from the battlefield. Given the unhistorical nature of their encounter with Rullianus, the Clusian deserters have been ignored in the historical analysis of the Sentinum battle and consequently their role in Livy’s
narrative has been overlooked. Because of their number and origin, the 330 ABSTRACTS three deserters function as a clear counterpart to the three Fabii brothers, who were sent as ambassadors to mediate between the Gauls and Clusium in 391 BC and whose irresponsible behaviour provoked the Gallic invasion of Rome. The Clusian deserters thus link the battle of Sentinum narrative to the Gallic Sack tradition, and, at the same time, give cause to establish a comparison between the behaviour and strategies of Fabius Rullianus and those of his ancestors. As a result, the insertion of the three deserters from Clusium in Livy’s narrative of the
battle contributes to praising the good qualities of Rullianus by following some common tropes in the literary depiction of the gens Fabia. In addition, the three deserters’ actions also highlight the redeeming role of Rullianus’ victory, which not only thwarted the renewed Gallic threat to Rome, but also rehabilitated the good name of his gens, who was largely responsible for the Gallic Sack.