ROMA ANTICA

Forche Caudine

La totale inadeguatezza della legione romana porterà ad un’umiliante sconfitta e alla creazione di una legione flessibile e mobile anche in terreni difficili.

Tre lunghe guerre, durante il periodo 341 – 290 a.C., videro contrapporsi i romani ai sanniti popolazione italica originaria dell’Appennino campano.

Il territorio abitato dai sanniti, disseminato da fortificazioni e opere difensive, permetteva un’ottima difesa della regione. Questo grazie anche ad una fitta rete di collegamenti e mulattiere, che consentivano ai sanniti rapidi spostamenti, controllo delle mosse del nemico, l’abbandono rapido dei capisaldi attaccati e la loro rioccupazione nel momento più propizio.

Con un esercito di ventimila uomini, al comando dei consoli Spurio Postumio Albino e Tito Veturio Calvino, i romani durante la seconda guerra sannita, decisero di attaccare il nemico alle spalle puntando su Benevento in pieno territorio nemico.

Per raggiungere l’obiettivo era, però necessario valicare il passo delle Forche Caudine.

La formazione legionaria, addestrata per il combattimento in campo aperto, si ritrovò su un territorio irregolare dove i soldati potevano soltanto marciare strettamente incolonnati.

Quale migliore occasione per tendere un’imboscata?

Non ci sono narrazioni particolareggiate della battaglia, ma si presume che sia stato uno scontro duro con molti caduti nelle file romane.

Quello che rende memorabile lo scontro, oltre a dimostrare l’inadeguatezza degli eserciti quando mantengono lo stesso assetto anche su campi di battaglia diversi, fu il trattamento riservato ai prigionieri romani.

I sanniti non li uccisero, in modo da evitare rappresaglie, e non li restituirono per non sembrare deboli di fronte alla potenza nemica.

Li umiliarono.

Uno per volta li fecero passare chini sotto gioghi costituiti da tre lance legate tra loro. Le armi furono sequestrate e seicento prigionieri trattenuti in ostaggio. Nel trattato di pace, Roma inoltre fu costretta ad abbandonare Fregelle e Lucera, due località già occupate.

La lezione ricevuta alla Forche Caudine servirà ai Romani per apportare importanti modifiche alla struttura della legione. La rigida formazione “a quadrato” fu suddivisa in tante unità minori diventando così più flessibile e mobile anche su terreni non pianeggianti.

Una riforma innovativa, che permise di riscoprire le virtù combattive del singolo soldato, come probabilmente accadeva nelle origini dell’esercito romano.

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