The First, Second, and Third Samnite Wars, between the early Roman Republic and the tribes of Samnium, extended over half a century (343 BC - 290 BC), involving almost all the states of Italy, and ended in Roman domination of the Samnites. The Samnites, who held the Apennine Mountains to the southeast of Latium, were one of early Rome's most formidable rivals. Defeating them was a key stage in the process by which Rome went on to conquer the rest of Italy and spread further out, eventually conquering the whole of the Mediterranean Sea and beyond and creating the Roman Empire.
- Note: This article applies to most of Harry Turtledove's timelines where the point of departure came after 290 BC.
Following the surrender of the Atlantean Army to the rebels during the Atlantean Servile Insurrection, Consul Jeremiah Stafford said his situation reminded him of the Caudine Forks. This was a battle of the Samnite Wars, where the victorious Samnites made the defeated Romans pass under a slave's yoke before letting them go. Leland Newton appreciated the reference but took a slightly less grim view of their predicament.
Samnite Wars in In High PlacesEdit
In one alternate eventually discovered by Crosstime Traffic, the Samnite Wars ended with the decisive defeat of the Roman Republic, leaving it in no position to ever again engage in conquest. Nor did anybody else create a Mediterranean empire. Though at the time of the Samnite Wars, a sophisticated urban culture was already long-established in the Middle East and Greece, it never spread further west or north. By the 21st Century, gunpowder was not yet invented, and warriors used bows and arrows. There was neither Christianity nor Islam. What corresponded to Spain was divided between Punic and Basque peoples.
A group of renegade Crosstimers used this alternate's Spain as their base for a multi-timeline slave trade. This trade included the native people as well as people captured from other alternates. This group managed to function in secret for some time before they inadvertently captured Annette Klein, an employee of Crosstime Traffic, who'd been traveling in the Spain of an alternate where the Great Black Deaths decimated 80% of the population of Europe. Annette kept her identity secret until she could escape to the home timeline, and blow the whistle on the ring. It took some time for Crosstime Traffic to pinpoint the correct alternate but it was eventually found, and the ring broken up and arrested.
Aside from Spain and the basic break-point, the history of the rest of that alternate was not well-known. Annette Klein wondered if Jews, who already existed at the time of the Samnite Wars, were still around in that alternate's 21st century, and what kind of people they were.
During the search based on Annette's initial information, it had been discovered that this was. in fact, one of a whole sheaf of timelines which shared the turning point of a Roman defeat in the Samnite Wars, but sub-divided at crucial points in their later history. These were not explored by Crosstime Traffic except for a superficial survey establishing that none of them achieved a high-tech culture by the 21st Century. Therefore, when searching for the renegades, the Crosstime operatives were able to find them by searching for radio broadcasts.