Caudine Forks


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Caudine Forks

(kô`dīn), narrow passes in the Southern Apennines, S Italy, on the road from Capua to Benevento. There, in 321 B.C., the Samnites routed a Roman army.

Caudine Forks

 

a mountain pass in Samnium, near Caudia in central Italy; the site of a Samnite victory over the Romans during the Second Samnite War in 321 B.C. The Roman legions fell into the ambush laid by Gavius Pontius and surrendered. The disarmed Roman soldiers were forced to pass underneath a yoke made of two spears driven into the ground and joined at the top by a third. The Romans abandoned the Samnite cities they had already occupied and turned over 600 hostages. The expression “to pass beneath a Caudine yoke” has come to meana great degradation or humiliation.

Caudine Forks

mountain pass where Romans were humiliatingly defeated by the Samnites. [Rom. Hist.: Brewer Dictionary, 186]
See: Defeat
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Thus Tacitus makes Caesennius Paetus' men think back to the Caudine Forks disaster at Annals 15.13 when they are under attack by the Parthians.
She suggests that the danger posed by an audience so sensitive to double meanings is illustrated at Suetonius, Domitian 10.1 by the case of Hermogenes of Tarsus, executed by Domitian because of certain `figurae', `veiled allusions', in his history.(48) Tacitus' Caudine Forks allusions are not nearly so risque or subversive, even though it could be argued that the sympathetic response to the Vitellian soldiers which he thereby encourages must have gone against the grain of prevailing Flavian historiography.
The Caudine Forks soldiers pessimistically picture the impending humiliation, but it will certainly give them no comfort after the event to have survived.
At Dialogus 30.1 Messalla partly blames the recent decline in oratory on the substandard education being offered to young men: `nec in auctoribus cognoscendis nec in evolvenda antiquitate nec in notitiam vel return vel hominum, vel temporum satis operae insumitur', `there is not enough care devoted to becoming thoroughly acquainted with authors, to unfolding the past, and to knowledge of deeds, people, and occasions.' This sounds like the kind of man who would have known his Livy: perhaps the Caudine Forks echoes in the Vitellian surrender could have originated in Messalla's memoirs even though he was a Flavian general.