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First Sacking of Rome
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First Sacking of Rome


A brief overview of the First Sacking of Rome and the events that catapulted Brennus, a personal hero, into infamy.

A brief overview of the First Sacking of Rome and the events that catapulted Brennus, a personal hero, into infamy.

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  • 1. First Sacking of Rome
  • 2. A Celtic World
    • Peoples of the Celtic race stretched from Ireland to Austria to Portugal in 400 BCE
    • Rome was a fledgling nation that had recently come into possession of all of Italy
    • Carthage was strained under severe internal pressures and ceded much of Spain to the Celts
  • 3. Brennus of the Senones
    • The Senones were a Celtic tribe of little recognition in northern Italy
    • They were championed by a man called Brennus
  • 4. Encountering the Etruscans
    • The Etruscans were a group of people living in northwest Italy
    • The Senones crossed the Apennines looking for new areas to settle and traveled all the way to the Etruscan city of Clusium
    • Thus began a weighty dispute and conflict between the Etruscans and the Senones
  • 5. Etruscan-Senone Dispute
    • Conflict between the two quickly erupted over the ownership of the land, initiated by the Etruscans
    • The Senones offered negotiations, the Etruscans appealed to the Romans to act as mediators
    • The Romans sent the three Fabii brothers to work as ambassadors of the dispute regarding its protectorate of the former Etruscan empire
  • 6. Fabii Negotiations
    • Due to the Fabii brothers’ arrogance, negotiations between the two sides, displaying blatant favoritism to the Etruscans
    • The Fabii brothers broke the laws of ambactus , sacrosanct to the Celts, and took up arms with the Etruscans
    • Quintus Fabius had one of Brennus’ chieftains sent to negotiate assassinated
  • 7. Ambactus
    • Immediately Brennus sent Senonian envoys demanding an apology and the heads of the Fabii brothers, standard practice under Celtic laws
    • Rome further defied Celtic standards of diplomacy by condoning the actions of the Fabii and electing them to a military tribune with consular powers
    • When envoys were sent again the Romans shocked the Senones by having their eyes put out, forcing Brennus to vow revenge after what the Senones regarded as an exceptional amount of patience
  • 8. March for Vengeance
    • Brennus set his people on a 130 kilometer march from Clusium to Rome, and contrary to popular expectation harmed nobody on their way to the city
    • Brennus said his fight was with Rome and Rome alone, so his soldiers traded for their goods and mistreated no peasants
  • 9. Victory at Allia
    • The Romans assembled an army of their 10,000 finest men at Allia, 16 kilometers north of Rome, to fight the Senones, anticipating an easy victory
    • Brennus’ fierce leadership and fiery spirit routed the Roman army, and he proceeded to march on the now defenseless Rome
  • 10. “ Vae Victis!”
    • The Senones occupied and sacked Rome, demanding 1,000 pounds of gold
    • The Romans accused the Senones of cheating with Celtic scales, to which Brennus threw his sword on the scales and cried, “Vae Victis!” which translates as, “Woe to the vanquished”
  • 11. Departure of Brennus
    • After the Romans had paid the ransom and the Fabii brothers were executed personally by Brennus the Senones left for their new lands north of Clusium
    • Brennus told his chieftains who wanted to stay in Rome and start a Senone Empire he had only come to punish the Romans for their transgression, not for personal ambition