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Battle of Lake Regillus
Part of the Roman-Italic Wars
BattleOfLakeRegillus.jpg

Castor and Pollux fighting at the Battle of Lake Regillus, 1880 illustration by JR Weguelin to the Lays of Ancient Rome by Thomas Macaulay
Date c. 496 BC
Location near Frascati (Rome)
Result Roman victory
Belligerents
Roman Republic Latin League
Commanders
Aulus Postumius Albus,
Titus Aebutius Elva (master of the horse)
Octavius Mamilius,
Tarquinius Superbus
An engraving of Lake Regillus, where the battle took place.
Prataporci site, where the battle took place, view from Monte Porzio Catone

The Battle of Lake Regillus was a legendary early Roman victory, won over the Latin League led by the expelled Etruscan former king of Rome.[1] It is usually said to have occurred in 498 BC,[2] but other dates have been proposed, including 499 BC[3], 496 BC[1] and 493 BC.

The battle may be entirely legendary, due to the scarcity of records from this early date in Roman history. According to Livy the fight was waged against the Latins, with help from Tarquinius Superbus, the former Etruscan king of Rome. Lake Regillus, the relic of a volcanic crater, was dried in the IV century BC: it was located not far from Frascati and the ruins of Tusculum, in Prataporci site, east to Rome (15 miles from Servian wall).

Aulus Postumius Albus was dictator for the year and Titus Aebutius Elva was master of the horse. Octavius Mamilius, Tarquinius, and his son Sextus led the Latins; the presence of the Tarquinii caused the Romans to fight more passionately than in any previous battle. Tarquinius was injured at the beginning of the battle when he attacked Postumius; Aebutius meanwhile attacked Mamilius, but was injured in the arm, while Mamilius suffered a minor wound to the chest. Tarquinius' troops, made up of exiled Romans, began to push the Romans back, and Marcus Valerius Volusus (consul 505 BC) was killed by a spear when he tried to attack Sextus. Postumius then brought fresh troops from his own bodyguard into the battle. Mamilius was killed in the ensuing fight by Titus Herminius, who was subsequently killed by a javelin. Postumius ordered the equites to dismount and attack on foot, and soon the Latins were forced to retreat. The Latin camp was also captured. Postumius and Aebutius returned to Rome in triumph.[4]

A popular Roman legend had the Dioscuri (Castor and Pollux) helping in the victory, transfigured as two young horsemen, and Postumius ordered a temple built to them in the Roman Forum, in the place in which they were watering their horses.

In the 19th century it was celebrated in the Lays of Ancient Rome by Thomas Macaulay.

References

  1. ^ a b Grant, The History of Rome, p. 37
  2. ^ Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology, William Smith, Editor
  3. ^ Cornell, The Beginnings of Rome, p216
  4. ^ Livy, From the Founding of the City 2.19

Sources

Primary sources
Secondary sources

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