son of HERE'NNIUS, the general of the Samnites in B. C. 321, defeated the Roman army under the two consuls T. Veturius Calvinus and Sp. Postumius Albinus in one of the mountain passes in the neighbourhood of Caudium.
The survivors, who were completely at the mercy of the Samnites, were dismissed unhurt by Pontius. They had to surrender their arms, and to pass under the yoke; and as the price of their deliverance, the consuls and the other commanders swore, in the name of the republic, to a humiliating peace. The Roman state however refused to ratify the treaty, and sent back the consuls and the other commanders to Pontius, who, however, refused to accept them.
The name of Pontius does not occur again for nearly thirty years, but as Livy rarely mentions the names of the Samnite generals, it is not improbable that Pontius may have commanded them on many other occasions.
At all. events we find him again at the head of the Samnite forces in B. C. 292, in which year he defeated the Roman army under the command of the consul Q. Fabius Gurges.
This disaster, when nothing but victory was expected, so greatly exasperated the people that Fabius would have been deprived of his imperium, had not his father, the celebrated Fabius Maximus, offered to serve as his legate during the remainder of the war.
It was in the same year that the decisive battle was fought, which brought the war to a conclusion. The Samnites were entirely defeated, and Pontius was taken prisoner.
In the triumph of the consul, Pontius was led in chains, and afterwards beheaded, an act which Niebuhr characterises as "the greatest stain in the Roman annals," and for which the plea of custom can be offered as the only palliation. (Liv. 9.1
, &c., Epit.
xi.; Appian, Samn.
iv. &c.; Cic. de Senect.
12, de Off.
2.21; Niebuhr, Hist. of Rome,
vol. iii. pp. 215, &c., 397, &c.)