Siege of Sora, 315 and 315-314 BC

The siege of Sora (315 and 315-314 BC) saw the Romans recapture the city after a pro-Samnite revolt (Second Samnite War). The city of Sora, on the River Liris, had been captured from the Volscians by the Romans in 345 BC, and by 315 contained a Roman colony, and an at least partly pro-Samnite population. In that year, probably during the siege of Saticula, the pro-Samnite faction rose up, killed the Roman colonists, and joined the Samnites.

At this point the Roman army, probably under the command of the consuls, finally captured Saticula. The crisis at Sora convinced the Romans to appoint a dictator, Quintus Fabius, with Quintus Aulius as his master of horse. The dictator then led his army towards Sora, and prepared for a siege.

This first siege was short-lived. Roman scouts reported the approach of a large Samnite army. The Dictator marched his army away to deal with this new threat, but was defeated at Lautulae.

Despite this defeat the Romans were soon back at Sora, and resumed their siege. The defeated dictator was replaced by the consuls for 314, M. Poetilius and C. Sulpicius, and reinforcements joined the army.

According to Livy the city was betrayed to the Romans. A Soran deserter suggested that the consuls should move their camp a few miles away from the city. This would lower the defenders guard. He would then lead a small Roman force into the citadel, and the city would fall.

The plan worked. The Soran deserter led ten men into the citadel, and then roused the city. The Romans held a very strong position, and were able to fight off a Soran attack. Panic then spread throughout the city, and the citizens opened the gates and attempted to escape. A Roman cohort was able to get in through one of the gates, and began to slaughter the crowds. Only in the early dawn, when the consuls managed to enter the city, did the massacre end. 225 scapegoats were chosen from the population, taken to Roma and beheaded, and a garrison was left in the city.

The consuls went on to win a second victory later in the year, defeated a Samnite army in the field, probably at Tarracina.

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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (4 December 2009), Siege of Sora, 315 and 315-314 BC , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/siege_sora.html

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