In 321 BC, during the Second Samnite War, the Romans were trapped in a narrow defile after receiving false news of a Samnite attack near the city of Lucera, from which they could not escape. The commander of the Samnite armies, Gaius Pontius, asked his father Herennius what he should do with the Romans. Herennius gave 2 conflicting replies, asking to either let the Romans go, or slaughter them all. He later explained that in the case of the former, friendship with the Romans would be gained, while in the latter, Rome would be severely weakened. Gaius Pontius chose a middle road, choosing to let the Romans pass under a yoke, humiliated. The war would resume shortly after, and Pontius was eventually executed. What if he had listened to his father and slaughtered the entire Roman army, or starved them out? Could the Samnites win the Second Samnite War? Does this have a chance at stunting or preventing Rome's rise? How does this affect the Italian peninsula, and beyond?
 
Rome’s supremacy over Latium would be put in question even more than it was IOTL, Capua and the colonies in Campania might defect, and the Samnites would probably send armies towards Rome. But, Rome would send other armies on the field, and under capable commanders like Lucius Papirius Cursor and Quintus Fabius Rullianus the Romans would probably prevail over their enemies and reaffirm their hegemony just as they did after the battle of Allia. Roman maniples were simply more effective than Samnite armies.
 
Rome’s supremacy over Latium would be put in question even more than it was IOTL, Capua and the colonies in Campania might defect, and the Samnites would probably send armies towards Rome. But, Rome would send other armies on the field, and under capable commanders like Lucius Papirius Cursor and Quintus Fabius Rullianus the Romans would probably prevail over their enemies and reaffirm their hegemony just as they did after the battle of Allia. Roman maniples were simply more effective than Samnite armies.
I thought that the Romans themselves adopted it from the Samnites? You can make a lot of arguments about Roman military superiority, but Italian armies more generally still used a more loose structure than other armies such as the Greek hoplites or Macedonian phalangites, the Romans aren't unique in that regard.
 
I thought that the Romans themselves adopted it from the Samnites? You can make a lot of arguments about Roman military superiority, but Italian armies more generally still used a more loose structure than other armies such as the Greek hoplites or Macedonian phalangites, the Romans aren't unique in that regard.

Not from the Samnites, but because of the Samnites. The Romans needed more mobility to wage war in the middle of the Appenines, so they adopted a more fluid battle mode to confront enemies dwelling there. Starting from 340, Livy constantly describes the Romans using maniples to prevail over opposing armies and winning most of the times since their adversaries would have no reserves. Now Livy is not the most precise source about battles, and he never actually says how the Samnites used to fight, preferring to tell us the equipment they used to fight with, but neither Diodorus, nor Appian or those few lines we have about them from Dionysius tell us the Samnites, or other Italic people, used maniples. What they do tell us, is that they used phalanxes, at least until the fifth century. Maybe you’re right, they used maniples, and the Romans took the idea and made it better, but no source tells us, so, at least as far as we know, the Romans were the once who came up with the maniples, or at least they were the only one to use them effectively.
 
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