Caudine Forks (Furculae Caudinae, rarely Furcaz Caudinae or Caudinae Fauces), two narrow passes through the mountains of ancient Samniuin, affording access from opposite sides to an enclosed plain that lay between them. Most authorities consider them to have been identical with the valley now called the Val d'Arpaja, by which passed the road from Capua to Beneventum; but this does not at all accord with the description of Livy, and in recent works the most weighty objections have been made to the received theory of their position, several writers contending that the valley of the little river Isclero, a short distance away, is the locality described by the Roman historians. The Caudine Forks are famous for the great disaster which here overtook the Roman army under Veturius and Postumius in 321 B. C, during the Samnite war. The consuls, misled by a false report that the Samnites were besieging Luceria, an important town of northern Apulia, hurriedly broke up their camp near Calatia, and prepared to hasten across Samnium to the rescue. The nearest way led through the Caudine passes. Supposing the whole Samnite army to be in Apulia, the Romans without precaution entered the first pass, and marched through it without opposition to the plain.
When they crossed this, however, and endeavored to pass out through the second defile on the opposite side, they found the passage blocked up with stones, trees, earth, and all manner of obstructions. Turning back, they found the gorge by which they had entered filled in the same manner. The Samnites now appeared on the surrounding heights, and the Romans understood the trap into which they had been led. With but little attempt at resistance, they surrendered. The Samnites compelled them all to submit to the disgrace of passing under the yoke (a spear resting across two others fixed upright in the ground), and took the opportunity of this victory to force the generals to consent to terms of peace, which, although moderate and by no means humiliating, the Roman senate declared void, deciding that Veturius and Postumius had exceeded their authority in consenting to them.