A dramatic account of a rebellion against the Roman republic—by a confederation of its Italian allies.
We know of Rome’s reputation for military success against foreign enemies. Yet at the start of the first century BC, Rome faced a hostile army less than a week’s march from the capital. It is probable that only a swift surrender prevented the city from being attacked and sacked. Before that point, three Roman consuls had died in battle, and two Roman armies had been soundly defeated—not in some faraway field, but in the heartland of Italy.
So who was this enemy that so comprehensively knocked Rome to its knees? What army could successfully challenge the legions which had been undefeated from Spain to the Euphrates? And why is that success almost unknown today?
These questions are answered in this book, a military and political history of the Social War. It tells the story of the revolt of Rome’s Italian allies (socii in Latin), who wanted citizenship—and whose warriors had all the advantages of the Roman army that they usually fought alongside. It came down to a clash of generals—with the Roman rivals Gaius Marius and Cornelius Sulla spending almost as much time in political intrigue as in combat with the enemy.
With its interplay of such personalities as the young Cicero, Cato, and Pompey—and filled with high-stakes politics, full-scale warfare, assassination, personal sacrifice, and desperate measures such as raising an army of freed slaves—Cataclysm 90 BC provides not just a rich historical account but a taut, fast-paced tale.