Alba Longa

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Alba Longa — in Italian sources occasionally written Albalonga — was an ancient city of Latium[1] in central Italy southeast of Rome[2] in the Alban Hills. Founder and head of the Latin League, it was destroyed by Rome around the middle of the 7th century BC. In legend, Romulus and Remus, founders of Rome, had come from the royal dynasty of Alba Longa. It is located 12 miles southeast of Rome.


Kings of Alba Longa

According to the accounts of Dionysius of Halicarnassus, the kings of Alba Longa gave a direct line of descent between Ascanius and Romulus.

Alban war with Rome

In the 7th century BC the Romans under king Tullus Hostilius went to war with Alba Longa which was at that time ruled by Gaius Cluilius.

The pretext for war was that some Roman and Alban peasants had plundered each other's lands, although according to Livy the real reason was Tullus Hostilius' warlike disposition. Ambassadors were dispatched by each side to demand restitution, and war was thereafter proclaimed, first by the Romans and soon after by the Albans also.[3]

Livy describes the war as being akin to a civil war, because the Romans were said to be descended from the Albans.[4]

Cluilius marched with his army into Roman territory, established camp, and constructed a giant trench surrounding Rome, which became known as the Cluilian trench. Cluilius however, died in the camp of unspecified causes and the Albans then appointed Mettius Fufetius dictator.[4]

Tullus emerged from Rome with his army, passed the Alban camp at night and marched into Alban territory. Mettius followed, camped nearby the Roman army, and then sent a representative to invite Tullus to confer before any engagement. Tullus accepted the invitation, however both sides were drawn up for battle whilst the leaders met between the two forces.[4]

At the conference, Mettius proposed that the dispute be resolved by some means other than mass bloodshed, citing the concern that the nearby Etruscans would fall upon the two Latin states if weakened by war and unable to defend themselves. It was agreed that a set of triplets from each side, three brothers Horatii and three Curiatii, would battle for the victory of the two states. Livy refers to conflict amongst his own sources as to which set of brothers represented which state, but prefers the view that the Horatii were the Romans, and the Curiatii Albans.[5]

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