Battle of Sentinum

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Battle of Sentinum
date 295 BC Chr.
place Sentinum , near Sassoferrato , Italy
output Victory of the Romans
Parties to the conflict

Roman Republic

Samnites , Senones


Publius Decius Mus †, Quintus Fabius Maximus Rullianus

Gellius Egnatius

Troop strength
approx. 40,000 approx. 50,000

8,000 dead

25,000 dead, 13,000 prisoners

The Battle of Sentinum was the decisive battle in the Third Samnite War . It took place in 295 BC. Chr. In Sentinum , near the present town of Sassoferrato (southwest of Ancona) instead. In it the Romans defeated the opposing coalition of Samnites and the Gallic Senones .


In his work Ab urbe condita book X, the Roman historian Livy gives a detailed account of the events in 295 BC. In addition, the Greek Polybius reported - albeit to a much lesser extent - in the 2nd century BC. And the Byzantine Zonaras in the 12th century AD from the battle.


The Roman troops were under the command of the consuls Publius Decius Mus and Quintus Fabius Maximus Rullianus and comprised two complete consular armies with a total of about 38,000 men: four Roman legions with the associated Roman cavalry detachments and a thousand-man cavalry detachment from Campania, four allies -Legions, which mainly consisted of Latins , as well as a strong cavalry association of allies. After Livy, the Romans also brought two armies under the leadership of the propaetors Gnaeus Fulvius Maximus Centumalus and Lucius Postumius Megellus in position in the north of Rome in order to be able to repel any invading Etruscans or Gauls. Furthermore, Livy reports that the Roman consuls faced an alliance of Umbrians , Etruscans, Gallic mercenaries and Samnites. As a diversionary maneuver, the propaetors are commissioned to devastate the area around the Etruscan city of Clusium . As a result, the Etruscans withdraw their forces from Sentinum to secure their own territory. In the following, the Etruscans and the Umbrians are no longer mentioned by Livy.


The two armies met at Sentinum, but waited two days before engaging in battle. Then the Romans attacked their opponents. Fabius faced the Samnites, Decius the Gauls. The Gauls succeeded in breaching the Roman ranks with their chariots. According to tradition, the fortunes of war turned because Decius Mus, like his father of the same name, turned in 340 BC. Has sacrificed ( devotio ) to the gods . In the meantime, Fabius succeeded in defeating the Samnites and killing their general Gellius Egnatius, only to then attack the Gauls from the side until they too were defeated.


With this the last Samnite war was essentially decided, even if the Samnites still existed until 290 BC. Put up delaying resistance.


The fact that the battle took place is undisputed in research due to the many testimonies and sources. Nevertheless, the alliance of Umbrians, Etruscans, Gallic mercenaries and Samnites - as Livy narrates it - is considered unhistorical. It is unlikely that the Etruscans would move all of their troops into Umbrian territory, leaving their own land unprotected.


  • Grossmann, Lukas: Rome's Samnite Wars. Historical and historiographical studies on the years 327 to 290 BC Chr. Düsseldorf 2009, pp. 134–155.