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Rome's Third Samnite War, 298–290 BC (Hardback)

The Last Stand of the Linen Legion

Ancient History > Rome & the Roman Provinces Colour Books Military

By Mike Roberts
Imprint: Pen & Sword Military
Pages: 320
ISBN: 9781526744081
Published: 29th May 2020


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The Third Samnite War (298-290 BC) was a crucial episode in the early history of Rome. Upon its outcome rested mastery of central Italy, and the independent survival of both Rome and the Samnites. Determined to resist aggressive Roman expansion, the Samnites forged a powerful alliance with the Senones (a tribe of Italian Gauls), Etruscans and Umbrians. The result was eight years of hard campaigning, brutal sieges and bitter battles that stretched Rome to the limit. The desperate nature of the struggle is illustrated by the ritual self-sacrifice (devotio) by the Roman consul Publius Decimus Mus at the Battle of Sentinum (295 BC), which restored the resolve of the wavering Roman troops, and by the Samnite Linen Legion at the Battle of Aquilonia (393 BC), each man of which was bound by a sacred oath to conquer or die on the battlefield.

Mike Roberts, who has travelled the Italian landscape upon which these events played out, mines the sources (which are more reliable, he argues, than for Rome’s previous wars) to produce a compelling narrative of this momentous conflict.

Featured in

'HIMA' 11, 2022 - International Review of Ancient Military History

The City State of Rome expanded into a great Empire at the expense of its neighbours. The author provides an absorbing account of the formative years of Rome with an enjoyable and informative presentation. – Very Highly Recommended

Read the full review here


Anyone interested in the Early Roman Republic will enjoy Roberts’ narrative and interpretation of a pivotal time in Roman history.

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Beating Tsundoku

Review by Jason Hubbard

This was an excellent account of a period I knew very little about, it was a fascinating read that I found to be very enjoyable, and promoted me to think about building an early Roman army and re-playing out this campaign.

This is one of those books that is an ideal read for anyone studying ancient history, but it’s also a great resource for a wargamer considering this particular period in Ancient Roman history.

The author has meticulously analysed the events of this war weaving together the political and military details to build an informative and valuable account of the conflict.

Irregular magazine, issue 14 Volume 2/Winter 2020

'Black Country author's book on ancient Rome'

Black Country Bugle, 9th September 2020

Article: ‘Author tells story of epic conflict that shaped Italy’ as featured by

Shropshire Star and Express and Star, 7th September 2020

This book describes a period of early Roman history - long before the expansion of the empire into northern and western Europe - that I knew nothing about. Fascinating insights into the development of one of the most powerful empires the world has ever seen.

Books Monthly

The war isn’t well documented, and Roberts has done a good job of piecing together the limited sources to give a coherent account of events, while also acknowledging the limits to our knowledge and alternative versions of events.

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History of War

Dense, dense, dense but essential for history buffs who are fascinated with ancient Rome. Having Samnite heritage I couldn't resist it. I also couldn't possibly get it all read in one sitting. It's loaded with people and facts and it's not for late night reading just before bed. You have to pay attention and maybe even take notes.
All in all, a great load of information if you find the subject attractive. I did!

NetGalley, Cecilia Vettraino Brown

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I Enjoyed everything about this book there was nothing I didn't like about the book. I like the setting,the writing style,the plot,the plot twists and the characters in the book were amazing.I would gladly reread it again.

NetGalley, Nicole Bannister

An informative account of the prevailing conditions in that part of the evolution of Republican Rome.

Michael McCarthy. Battlefield Guide

Michael McCarthy

About Mike Roberts

Mike Roberts is a retired social worker but has a long-standing interest in the military history of the Classical world. He is the co-author (with his good friend Bob Bennett) of several well-received books: The Wars of Alexander’s Successors (volumes I and II); The Twilight of the Hellenistic World and The Spartan Supremacy. This is his fourth solo book, following Two Deaths at AmphipolisHannibal's Road and Rome's Third Samnite War. He lives in Dudley.

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