Submission of the Marcians accepted. The college of Augurs augmented from four to nine. The law of appeal to the people carried by Valerius the consul. Two more tribes added. War declared against the Samnites. Several successful actions. In an engagement against the combined forces of the Etruscans, Umbrians, Samnites, and Gauls, Publius Decius, after the example of his father, devotes himself for the army. Dies, and, by his death, procures the victory to the Romans. Defeat of the Samnites by Papirius Cursor. The census held. The lustrum closed. The number of the citizens two hundred and sixty-two thousand, three hundred and twenty-two.
I. UNDER the succeeding consuls, Lucius Genucius, and Servius Cornelius, the state enjoyed almost uninterrupted rest from foreign wars.Y.R.450. 302. Colonies were led out to Sora and Alba. For the latter, situated in the country of the Æquans, six thousand colonists were enrolled. Sora had formerly belonged to the Volscian territory, but had fallen into the possession of the Samnites: thither were sent four thousand settlers. This year the freedom of the state was granted to the Arpinians and Trebulans. The Frusinonians were fined a third part of their lands, because it was discovered, that they had endeavoured to stir up the Hernicians to rebellion; and the heads of that conspiracy, after a trial before the consuls, held in pursuance of a decree of the senate, were beaten with rods and beheaded. However, that the Romans might not pass the year entirely exempt from war, a little expedition was made into Umbria; intelligence being received from thence, that numbers of men, in arms, had, from a certain cave, made excursions into the adjacent country. Into this cave the troops penetrated with their standards, and, the place being dark, they received many wounds, chiefly from stones thrown. At length the other mouth of the cave being found, for it was pervious, both the openings were filled up with wood, which being set on fire, there perished by means of the smoke and heat, no less than two thousand men; many of whom, at the last, in attempting to make their way out, rushed into the very flames.Y.R.451. 301. The two Marci, Livius Denter, and Æmilius, succeeding to the consulship, war broke out again with the Æquans; who, being highly displeased at the colony established within their territory, as if it were a fortress to keep them in awe, made an attempt, with their whole force, to seize it, but were repulsed by the colonists themselves. They caused, however, such an alarm at Rome, that, to quell this insurrection, Caius Junius Bubulcus was nominated dictator: for it was scarcely credible that the Æquans, after being reduced to such a degree of weakness, should by themselves alone have ventured to engage in a war. The dictator, taking the field, with Marcus Titinius, master of the horse, in the first engagement, reduced the Æquans to submission; and, returning into the city in triumph, on the eighth day, dedicated, in the character of dictator, the temple of Health, which he had vowed when consul, and contracted for when censor.
II. During this year a fleet of Grecians, under the command of Cleonymus, a Lacedæmonian, arrived on the coast of Italy, and took Thuriæ, a city in the territory of the Sallentines. Against this enemy, the consul Æmilius was sent, who, in one battle, completely defeated them, and without farther opposition drove them on board their ships. Thuriæ was then restored to its old inhabitants, and peace re-established in the country of the Sallentines. In some annals, I find, that Junius Bubulcus was sent dictator into that country, and that Cleonymus, without hazarding an engagement with the Romans, retired out of Italy. He then sailed round the promontory of Brundusium, and, steering down the middle of the Adriatic gulf, because he dreaded, on the left hand, the coasts of Italy destitute of harbours, and, on the right, the Illyrians, Liburnians, and Istrians, nations of savages, and noted in general for piracy, he passed on to the coasts of the Venetians. Here, having landed a small party to explore the country, and, being informed that a narrow beach stretched along the shore, beyond which were marahes, overflowed by the tides; that dry land was seen at no great distance, level in the nearest part, and rising behind into hills, beyond which was the mouth of a very deep river, into which they had seen ships brought round and moored in safety, (this was the river Meduacus,) he ordered his fleet to sail into it and go up against the stream. As the channel would not admit the heavy ships, the troops, removing into the lighter vessels, arrived at a part of the country, occupied by three maritime cantons of the Patavians, settled on that coast. Here they made a descent, leaving a small guard with the ships, made themselves masters of these cantons, set fire to the houses, drove off a considerable booty of men and cattle, and, allured by the sweets of plunder, proceeded still farther from the shore. When news of this was brought to Patavium, where the contiguity of the Gauls kept the inhabitants constantly in arms, they divided their young men into two bands, one of which was led towards the quarter where the marauders were said to be busy; the other by a different route, to avoid meeting any of the pirates, towards the station of the ships, fifteen miles distant from the town. There attacked the small craft, and, killing the guards, compelled the affrighted mariners to remove their ships to the other bank of the river. By land also, the attack on the dispersed plunderers was equally successful; and the Grecians, flying back towards their ships, were opposed in their way by the Venetians. Thus enclosed, on both sides, they were out to pieces; and some, who were made prisoners, gave information, that the fleet with their king Cleonymus, was but three miles distant. Sending the captives into the nearest canton, to be kept under a guard, some soldiers got on board the flat-bottomed vessels, so constructed for the purpose of passing the shoals with case; others threw themselves into those which had been lately taken from the enemy, and proceeding down the river, surrounded their unwieldy ships, which dreaded the unknown sands and flats, more than they did the Romans, and which showed a greater eagerness to escape into the deep, than to make resistance. The soldiers pursued them as far as the mouth of the river; and having taken and burned a part of the fleet, which, in the hurry and confusion, had been stranded, returned victorious. Cleonymus, having met success in no part of the Adriatic sea, departed with scarce a fifth part of his navy remaining. Many, now alive, have seen the beaks of his ships, and the spoils of the Lacedæmonians, hanging in the old temple of Juno. In commemoration of this event, there is exhibited at Patavium, every year, on its anniversary day, a naval combat on the river in the middle of the town.
III. A treaty was this year concluded at Rome with the Vestinians who solicited friendship. Various causes of apprehension afterwards sprung up. News arrived, that Etruria was in rebellion; the insurrection having arisen from the dissensions of the Arretians; for the Cilnian family having grown exorbitantly powerful, a party, out of envy of their wealth, had attempted to expel them by force of arms. Accounts were also received that the Maraians held forcible possession of the lands to which the colony of Carseoli, consisting of four thousand men, had been sent. By reason, therefore, of these commotions, Marcus Valerius Maximus was nominated dictator, and chose for his master of the horse Marcus Æmilius Paullus. This I am inclined to believe, rather than that Quintus Fabius, at such an age as he then was, and after enjoying many honours, was placed in a station subordinate to Valerius: but I think it not unlikely that the mistake arose from the surname Maximus. The dictator, taking the field at the head of an army, in one battle utterly defeated the Marsians, drove them into their fortified towns, and afterwards, in the course of a few days, took Milionia, Plestina, and Fresilia; and then, fining this people in a part of their lands, granted them a renewal of the treaty. The force of the war was then directed against the Etrurians; and, the dictator having gone to Rome, for the purpose of renewing the auspices, the master of the horse, going out to forage, was taken at disadvantage, by means of an ambuscade, and obliged to fly shamefully into his camp, after losing several standards, and many of his men. Now, that such a discomfiture happened to Fabius is exceedingly improbable; not only because, if in any particular, certainly above all, in the qualifications of a commander, he fully merited his surname; but, besides, impressed with the recollection of Papirius’s severity, he never could have been tempted to fight, without the dictator’s order.
IV. The news of this disaster excited at Rome an alarm greater than the importance of the affair should seem to justify; for, as if the army had been destroyed, the courts were ordered to be shut, guards mounted at the gates, and watches act in every street: and armour and weapons were heaped on the walls. All the younger citizens were compelled to enlist, and the dictator was ordered to join the army. There he found every thing in a more tranquil state than he expected, and regularity established, through the care of the master of the horse; the camp removed to a place of greater safety; the cohorts, which had lost their standards, left without tents on the outside of the ramparts; and the troops ardently impatient for battle, that their disgrace might be the sooner obliterated. He therefore immediately decamped, and advanced into the territory of Rusella. Thither the enemy also followed; and, although, since their late success, they entertained the most sanguine hopes from an open trial of strength, yet they endeavoured to gain also an advantage by a stratagem which they had before practised with success. There were, at a small distance from the Roman camp, the half-ruined houses of a town which had been burnt in the devastation of the country. Among these they concealed a body of troops, and then drove on some cattle, within view of a Roman post, commanded by a lieutenant-general, Cneius Fulvius. This temptation not inducing any one to stir from his station, one of the herdsmen, advancing close to the works, called out, that others were driving out those cattle at their leisure from the ruins of the town, why did they remain idle, when they might safely drive them through the middle of the Roman camp? This being interpreted to the lieutenant-general, by some natives of Cære, and great impatience prevailing through every company of the soldiers, who, nevertheless, dared not to move without orders, he commanded some who were skilled in the language to observe attentively, whether the dialect of the herdsmen resembled that of rustics or of citizens: these reported, that their accent in speaking, their manner and appearance, were all of a more polished cast than suited such description of persons. “Go then,” said he, “tell them that they may uncover the ambush which they vainly conceal; that the Romans understand all their devices, and can now be no more taken by stratagem than they can be conquered by arms.” When these words were heard, and carried to those who lay in ambush, they immediately arose from their lurking-place, and marched, out in order into the plain which was open to view on every side. The lieutenant-general, thinking their force too powerful for his small band to cope with, sent, in haste, to Valerius for support, and, in the mean time, by himself, sustained the enemy’s onset.
V. On receiving his message, the dictator ordered the standards to move, and the troops to follow in arms. But every thing was executed more quickly, almost, than ordered. The men in an instant snatched up their standards, and were with difficulty restrained from running impetuously on, being stimulated both by indignation at their late defeat, and by the shouts striking their ears with increasing vehemence, as the contest grew hotter. They therefore urged each other, and pressed the standard-bearers to quicken their pace. The dictator, the more eagerly he saw them push forward, took the more pains to repress their haste, and ordered them to march at a slower rate. On the other side, the Etrurians, putting themselves in motion, on the first beginning of the fray, had come up with their whole force; and several expresses came to the dictator, one after another, that all the legions of the Etrurians had joined in the fight, and that his men could not any longer withstand them: at the same time, he himself saw, from the higher ground, the perilous situation of the party. Confident, however, that the lieutenant-general was able, even yet, to support the dispute, and considering that he himself was at hand to rescue him from defeat, he wished to let the enemy be fatigued, as much as might be, in order that when in that state, he might fall on them with his fresh troops. Slowly as these marched, the distance was now just sufficient for the cavalry to begin their career for a charge. The battalions of the legions marched in front, lest the enemy might suspect any secret or sudden movement, but intervals had been left in the ranks of the infantry, affording room for the horses to gallop through. At the same instant the line raised the shout, and the cavalry, charging at full speed, poured on the enemy; and spread at once a general panic. After this, as succour had arrived almost too late to the party surrounded, so now they were allowed entire rest, the fresh troops taking on themselves the whole business of the fight. Nor was that either long or dubious. The enemy were routed, and fled to their camp, which the Romans advancing to attack, they crowded all together in the remotest part of it. Their flight being obstructed by the narrowness of the gates, the greater number climbed up on the mounds and ramparts, to try if they could either defend themselves with the aid of the advantageous ground, or get over, by any means, and escape. One part of the rampart happening to be badly compacted, sunk under the weight of the multitude, who stood on it, and fell into the trench. On which, crying out that the gods had opened that pass to give them safety, they made their way out, most of them leaving their arms behind. By this battle the power of the Etrurians was, a second time, effectually crushed, so that, engaging to furnish a year’s pay, and corn for two months, with the dictator’s permission, they sent ambassadors to Rome to treat of peace. This was refused, but a truce for two years was granted to them. The dictator returned into the city in triumph. I have seen it asserted, that tranquillity was restored in Etruria by the dictator, without any memorable battle, only by composing the dissensions of the Arretians, and effecting a reconciliation between the Cilnian family and the commons. Marcus Valerius was elected consul, before the expiration of his dictatorship, many have believed, without his soliciting the office, and even while he was absent; and that the election was held by an interrex. In one point all agree, that he held the consulship with Quintus Appuleius Pansa.
VI. During this consulate of Marcus Valerius and Quintus Appuleius, affairs abroad wore a very peaceable aspect.Y.R.452. 300. Their losses sustained in war, together with the truce, kept the Etrurians quiet. The Samnites, depressed by the misfortunes of many years, had not yet become dissatisfied with their new alliance. At Rome also, the carrying away of such multitudes to colonies, rendered the commons tranquil, and lightened their burthens. But, that all things might not stagnate in a dead calm, a contention was excited between the principal persons in the commonwealth, patricians on one hand, and plebeians on the other, by the two Ogulnii, Quintus and Cneius, plebeian tribunes, who, seeking every where occasions of criminating the patricians in the hearing of the people, and having found other attempts fruitless, engaged in a scheme calculated to inflame, not the lowest class of the commons, but their chief men, the plebeians of consular and triumphal rank, to the completion of whose honours nothing was now wanting but the offices of the priesthood, which were not yet laid open to them. They therefore published a proposal for a law, that, whereas there were then four augurs and four pontiffs, and it had been determined that the number of priests should be augmented, the four additional pontiffs and five augurs should all be chosen out of the commons. How the college of augurs could be reduced to the number of four, except by the death of two, I do not understand: for it is a rule among the augurs, that their number should be composed of threes, so that the three ancient tribes, the Ramnes, Titienses, and Luceres, should have each its own augur; or, in case there should be occasion for more, that each should increase its number of augurs, in equal proportion with the rest, in like manner as when, by the addition of five to four, they made up the number nine, so that there were three to each tribe. However, as it was proposed that they should be chosen out of the commons, the patricians were as highly offended at the proceeding, as when they saw the consulship made common; yet they pretended that the business concerned not them so much as it did the gods, who would “take care that their own worship should not be contaminated; that, for their parts, they only wished that no misfortune might ensue to the commonwealth.” But the true reason of their not making a vigorous opposition was, that they were now accustomed to suffer defeat in such kind of diputes; and they saw their adversaries, not as formerly, grasping at objects which they could scarcely hope to reach, the higher honours; but already in possession of all those advantages, on the uncertain prospect of which, they had maintained the contest, manifold consulships, censorships, and triumphs.
VII. There was, however, a struggle between the supporters and the opponents of the law, maintained principally by Appius Claudius and Publius Decius Mus. After these had urged nearly the same topics, respecting the privileges of patricians and plebeians, which had been formerly employed for and against the Licinian law, when the proposition was brought forward, of opening the consulship to plebeians, Decius is said to have drawn a lively description of his own father, such as many then present in the assembly had seen him, girt in the Gabine dress, standing on a spear, in the attitude in which he had devoted himself for the people and the legions, and to have added, that “the consul Publius Decius was then deemed by the immortal gods an offering equally pure and pious, as if his colleague, Titus Manlius, had been devoted. And might not the same Publius Decius have been, with propriety, chosen to perform the public worship of the Roman people? Was there any reason to apprehend that the gods would give less attention to his prayers than to those of Appius Claudius? Did the latter perform his private acts of adoration with a purer mind, or worship the gods more religiously than he? Who had any reason to complain of the vows offered in behalf of the commonwealth, by so many plebeian consuls and dictators, either on the commencement of their campaigns, or in the heat of battle? Were the number of commanders reckoned, during those years, since business began to be transacted under the conduct and auspices of plebeians, the same number of triumphs might be found. The commons had now no reason to be dissatisfied with the behaviour of such of their body as had attained nobility. On the contrary, they were fully convinced, that, in case of a sudden war breaking out, the senate and people of Rome would not repose greater confidence in patrician than in plebeian commanders. Which, being the case,” said he, “what god or man can deem it an impropriety, if those whom ye have honoured with curule chairs, with the purple bordered gown, with the palmvest, and embroidered robe, with the triumphal crown and laurel; whose houses ye have rendered conspicuous above others, by affixing to them the spoils of conquered enemies, should add to these the badges of augurs or pontiffs? If a person, who has rode through the city in a gilt chariot; and, decorated with the ensigns of Jupiter, supremely good and great, has mounted the Capitol, should be seen with a chalice and wand; what impropriety, I say, that he should, with his head veiled, slay a victim, or take an augury in the citadel? When, in the inscription on a person’s statue, the consulship, censorship, and triumph, shall be read with patience, will the eyes of the readers be unable to endure the addition of the office of augur or pontiff? In truth (with deference to the gods I say it) I trust that we are, through the kindness of the Roman people, qualified in such a manner, that we should, by the dignity of our characters, reflect back, on the priesthood, as much lustre as we should receive; and may demand, rather on behalf of the gods, than for our own sakes, that those, whom we worship in our private, we may also worship in a public capacity.
VIII. “But why do I argue thus, as if the cause of the patricians, respecting the priesthood, stood on untouched ground? and as if we were not already in possession of one sacerdotal office, of the highest class? We see plebeian Decemvirs, for performing sacrifices, interpreters of the Sibylline prophecies, and of the fates of the nation; we also see them presidents of Apollo’s festival, and of other religious performances. Neither was any injustice done to the patricians, when, to the two commissioners for performing sacrifices, an additional number was joined, in favour of the plebeians; nor is there now, when a tribune, a man of courage and activity, wishes to add five places of augurs, and four of pontiffs, to which plebeians may be nominated; not, Appius, with intent to expel you from your places; but, that men of plebeian rank may assist you, in the management of divine affairs, with the same zeal with which they assist you in matters of human concernment. Blush not, Appius, at having a man, your colleague, in the priesthood, whom you might have a colleague in the censorship or consulship, whose master of the horse you yourself may be, when he is dictator, as well as dictator when he is master of the horse. A Sabine adventurer, the first origin of your nobility, either Attus Clausus, or Appius Claudius, which you will, was admitted, by the ancient patricians of those days, into their number: do not then, on your part, disdain to admit us into the number of priests. We bring with us numerous honours; all those honours, indeed, which have rendered your party so proud. Lucius Sextius was the first consul, chosen out of the plebeians; Caius Licinius Stolo, the first master of the horse; Caius Marcius Rutilus, the first dictator, and likewise censor; Quintus Publilius Philo, the first prætor. On every one of these occasions was heard a repetition of the same arguments; that the right of auspices was vested in you; that ye alone had the rights of ancestry; that ye alone were legally entitled to the supreme command, and the auspices both in peace and war. The supreme command has hitherto been, and will continue to be, equally prosperous in plebeian hands, as in patrician. Have ye never heard it said, that the first created patricians, were not men sent down from heaven, but such as could cite their fathers, that is, nothing more than free born. I can now cite my father, a consul; and my son will be able to cite a grandfather. Citizens, their opposition means nothing else, than that we should never obtain any thing, without a previous refusal. The patricians wish only for a dispute; nor do they care what issue their disputes may have. For my part, be it advantageous, happy, and prosperous to you and to the commonwealth, I am of opinion that this law should receive your sanction.”
IX. The people ordered that the tribes should be instantly called; and there was every appearance that the law would be accepted. It was deferred, however, for that day, by a protest, from which on the day following the tribunes were deterred; and it passed with the approbation of a vast majority. The pontiffs created were Publius Decius Mus, the advocate for the law; Publius Sempronius Sophus, Caius Marcius Rutilus, and Marcus Livius Denter. The five augurs, who were also plebeians, were Caius Genucius, Publius Ælius Pætus, Marcus Minucius Fessus, Caius Marcius, and Titus Publilius. Thus the number of the pontiffs was made eight; that of the augurs nine. In the same year Marcus Valerius, consul, procured a law to be passed concerning appeals; more carefully enforcing the observance of it, by additional sanctions. This was the third time, since the expulsion of the kings, of this law being introduced, and always by the same family. The reason for renewing it so open, was, I believe, no other, than that the influence of a few was apt to prove too powerful for the liberty of the commons. However, the Porcian law seems intended, solely, for the security of the persons of the citizens; a severe penalty being thereby enacted against beating with stripes, or putting to death, a Roman citizen. The Valerian law, after forbidding a person, who had appealed, to be beaten with rods and beheaded, added, in case of any one acting contrary thereto, that it shall yet be only deemed a wicked act. This, I suppose, was judged of sufficient strength to enforce obedience to the law in those days; so powerful was then men’s sense of shame: at present one would scarcely make use of such a threat seriously, even on any ordinary occasion. The Æquans rebelling, the same consul conducted the war against them; in which no memorable event occurred; for, except ferocity, they retained nothing of their ancient condition. The other consul Appuleius, invested the town of Nequinum in Umbria. The ground, the same whereon Narnia now stands, was so steep, (on one side even perpendicular,) as to render the town impregnable either by asault, or works.Y.R.453. 299. That business, therefore, came unfinished, into the hands of the succeeding consuls, Marcus Fulvius Pætinus, and Titus Manlius Torquatus. We are told by Licinius Macer and Tubero, that all the centuries named Quintus Fabius, though not a candidate, consul for that year; but that he himself recommended to them, to postpone the conferring the consulship on him until a year wherein there might be more employment for their arms; adding, that, during the present year, he might be more useful in the management of a city magistracy; and thus, neither dissembling what he aimed at, nor yet making direct application for it, he was appointed curule ædile with Lucius Papirius Cursor. This I cannot aver as certain; because Piso, a more ancient writer of annals, asserts, that the curule ædiles of that year were Caius Domitius Calvinus, son of Cneius, and Spurius Carvilius Maximus, son of Caius. I am of opinion, that this latter surname caused a mistake, concerning the ædiles; and that thence followed a story, conformable to this mistake, patched up, out of the two elections, of the ædiles, and of the consuls. The general survey was performed, this year, by Publius Sempronius Sophus, and Publius Sulpicius Saverrio, censors; and two tribes were added, the Aniensian and Terentine. Such were the occurrences at Rome.
X. Meanwhile, after much time had been lost in the tedious siege of Nequinum, two of the townsmen, whose houses were contiguous to the wall, having formed a subterraneous passage, came by that private way to the Roman advanced guards; and being conducted thence to the consul, offered to give admittance to a body of armed men within the works and walls. The proposal was thought to be such as ought neither to be rejected, nor yet assented to without caution. With one of these men, the other being detained as a hostage, two spies were sent through the mine, and certain information being received from them of the practicability of the design, three hundred men in arms guided by the deserter entered the city, and seized by night the nearest gate, which being broke open, the Roman consul and his army took possession of the city without any opposition. In this manner came Nequinum under the dominion of the Roman people. A colony was sent thither as a barrier against the Umbrians, and called Narnia from the river Nar. The troops returned to Rome with abundance of spoil. This year the Etrurians made preparations for war, in violation of the truce. But a vast army of the Gauls, making an irruption into their territories, while their attention was directed to another quarter, suspended for a time the execution of their design. They then, relying on the abundance of money which they possessed, laid themselves out to make friends of the Gauls, instead of enemies; in order that, with their armies combined, they might attack the Romans. The barbarians made no objection to the alliance, and a negociation was opened for settling the price; which being adjusted and paid, the Etrurians, having every thing else in readiness for commencing their operations, desired them to accompany them in their march. But this they refused, alleging, that “they had stipulated a price for their assistance against the Romans: that the payment already made, they had received in consideration of their not wasting the Etrurian territory, or using their arms against the inhabitants. That notwithstanding, if it was the wish of the Etrurians, they were still willing to engage in the war, but on no other condition than that of being allowed a share of their lands, and obtaining at length some permanent settlement.” Many assemblies of the states of Etruria were held on this subject, without being able to come to any conclusion; not so much by reason of their aversion from the dismemberment of their territory, as of the dread, which every one felt of the consequences, if they should fix in so close vicinity to themselves people of such a savage race. The Gauls were therefore dismissed, and carried home an immense sum of money, acquired without toil or danger. The report of a Gallic tumult, in addition to an Etrurian war, had caused serious apprehensions at Rome; and, with the less hesitation on that account, an alliance was concluded with the state of the Picentians.
XI. The province of Etruria fell by lot to the consul Titus Manlius; who, when he had but just entered the enemy’s country, as he was exercising the cavalry, in wheeling about at full speed, was thrown from his horse, and almost killed on the spot; three days after he died. The Etrurians, embracing this omen, as it were, of the future progress of the war, and observing that the gods had commenced hostilities on their behalf, assumed new courage. At Rome the news caused great affliction, on account both of the loss of such a man and of the unseasonableness of the juncture; insomuch that the senate would have proceeded to order a dictator to be created, but that an assembly, held for the purpose of substituting a new consul, was conducted agreeably to the wishes of people of the first consequence. All the votes and centuries concurred unanimously in appointing Marcus Valerius consul, the same whom the senate would have ordered to be made dictator. They then commanded him to proceed immediately into Etruria, to the legions. His coming gave such a check to the Etrurians, that not one of them dared thenceforward to appear on the outside of their trenches; their own fears operating as a blockade. Nor could the new consul, by wasting their lands, and burning their houses, draw them out to an engagement; for not only country-houses, but numbers of their towns, were seen smoking, and in ashes, on every side. While this war proceeded more slowly than had been expected, an account was received of the breaking out of another; which was, not without reason, regarded as terrible, in consequence of the heavy losses formerly sustained by both parties. This account, given by their new allies, the Picentians, was, that the Samnites were taking measures for a renewal of hostilities, and that they themselves had been solicited to join therein. The Picentians received the thanks of the state; and a large share of the attention of the senate was turned, from Etruria, towards Samnium. The public suffered also much distress from the dearness of provisions, and would have felt the extremity of want, according to the relation of those who make Fabius Maximus curule ædile that year, had not the vigilant activity of that man, such as he had on many occasions displayed in the field, been exerted now with equal zeal at home, in the management of the market, and in procuring and forming magazines of corn. An interregnum took place this year, the reason of which is not mentioned.Y.R.454. 298. Appius Claudius, and, after him, Publius Sulpicius, were interreges. The latter held an election of consuls, and chose Lucius Cornelius Scipio and Cneius Fulvius. In the beginning of this year, ambassadors came from the Lucanians to the new consuls, with complaints that “the Samnites, finding that they could not, by any offers, tempt them to take part in the war, had marched an army in a hostile manner into their country, which they were now laying waste; intending by these violent measures, to force them into a compliance. They declared, that the nation of the Lucanians thought their former errors too many, and were so firmly fixed in their resolution, that they would rather undergo every kind of suffering and hardship than ever again violate the reverence due to the Roman name: besought the senate to take the people of Lucania into their protection, and defend them from the injustice and outrage of the Samnites; and that, on their part, though the undertaking a war with the Samnites imposed on them a necessity of being faithful to the Romans, they were, nevertheless, willing to give hostages.”
XII. The deliberation of the senate was short. They all, to a man, concurred in opinion, that a compact should be entered into with the Lucanians, and satisfaction demanded from the Samnites: accordingly, a favourable answer was returned to the Lucanians, and the alliance concluded. Heralds were then sent, to require of the Samnites, that they should depart from the country of the allies, and withdraw their troops from the Lucanian territory. These were met by persons despatched for the purpose by the Samnites, who gave them warning, that “if they appeared at any assembly in Samnium, they must not expect to depart in safety.” As soon as this was heard at Rome, the senate voted, and the people ordered, that war should be declared against the Samnites. The consuls, then, dividing the provinces between them, Etruria fell to Scipio, the Samnites to Fulvius; and they set out by different routes, each against the enemy allotted to him. Scipio, while he expected a tedious campaign, like that of the preceding year, was met near Volaterra by the Etrurians, in order of battle. The fight lasted through the greater part of the day, while very many fell on both sides, and night came on before it could be discovered to which side victory inclined. But the following dawn showed the conqueror and the vanquished; for the Etrurians had decamped in the dead of the night. The Romans, marching out with intent to renew the engagement, and seeing their superiority acknowledged by the departure of the enemy, advanced to their camp; and, finding even this fortified post deserted, took possession of it, together with a vast quantity of spoil. The consul then, leading back his forces into the Faliscian territory, and leaving his baggage with a small guard at Falerii, set out with his troops, lightly accoutered, to ravage the enemy’s country: and not only was the ground laid waste, but their forts also and smaller towns were destroyed by fire. He did not, however, lay siege to the cities, into which the Etrurians had been hurried by their fears. The other consul, Fulvius, fought the Samnites at Bovianum, where he gained great honour, and a complete victory. Then attacking the town, and soon after Aufidena, he took both by assault. This year a colony was carried out to Carseoli, in the territory of the Æquicolæ. The consul Fulvius triumphed on his defeat of the Samnites.
XIII. Shortly before the election of consuls, a report prevailed, that the Etrurians and Samnites were raising vast armies; that the leaders of the Etrurians were, in all their assemblies, openly censured for not having procured the aid of the Gauls on any terms; and the magistrates of the Samnites arraigned, for having opposed to the Romans an army destined to act against the Lucanians. That, in consequence, the people were rising up in arms, with all their own strength and that of their allies combined; and that this affair seemed not likely to be terminated without a contest of much greater difficulty than the former. Although the candidates for the consulship were men of illustrious characters, yet this alarming intelligence turned the thoughts of all on Quintus Fabius Maximus, who sought not the employment at first, and afterwards, when he discovered their wishes, even declined it. “Why,” said he, “should they impose such a difficult task on him, who was now in the decline of life, and had passed through a full course of labours, and of the rewards of labour? Neither the vigour of his body, nor of his mind, remained the same; and he dreaded fortune herself, lest some god should think her too bountiful to him, and more constant than the course of human affairs allowed. He had himself succeeded, in gradual succession, to the dignities of his predecessors; and he beheld, with great satisfaction, others rising up to succeed to his. There was no scarcity at Rome, either of honours suited to men of the highest merit, or of men of eminent merit suited to the highest honours.” This disinterested conduct, instead of repressing, increased, while in fact it justified, their zeal. But thinking that this ought to be checked by respect for the laws, he ordered that clause to be read aloud, by which it is forbidden that the same person shall be re-elected consul within ten years. Such a clamour now arose, that the law was scarcely heard; and the tribunes of the commons declared, that this “decree should be no impediment; for they would propose an order to the people, that he should be exempted from the obligation of the laws.” Still he persisted in his opposition, asking, “To what purpose were laws enacted, if they were eluded by the very persons who procured them? The laws now,” he said, “instead of being rulers, were over-ruled.” The people, nevertheless, proceeded to vote; and, as soon as each century was called in, it immediately named Fabius consul. Then, at length, overcome by the universal wish of the state, he said, “Romans, may the gods approve your present, and all your future proceedings. But since, with respect to me, ye intend to act according to your own wills, let my interest find room with you, with respect to my colleague. I earnestly request, that ye will place in the consulship with me, Publius Decius; a man with whom I have already experienced the utmost harmony in our joint administration of that office; a man worthy of you, worthy of his father.” The recommendation was deemed well founded, and all the remaining centuries voted Quintus Fabius and Publius Decius consuls. This year, great numbers were prosecuted by the ædiles, for having in possession larger quantities of land than the state allowed; and hardly any were acquitted: by which means, a very great restraint was laid on exorbitant covetousness.
XIV. Whilst the new consuls, Quintus Fabius Maximus,Y.R.455. 297. a fourth, and Publius Decius Mus, a third time, were settling between themselves as to which should command against the Samnites, and which against the Etrurians; and what number of forces would be sufficient for this, and for that province; and which would be the fitter commander in each war; ambassadors arrived from Sutrium, Nepete, and Falerii, with intelligence, that the states of Etruria were holding assemblies on the subject of suing for peace. In consequence of this information, the whole force of their arms was directed against Samnium. The consuls took different routes, in order to secure the more ready supply of provisions, and to leave the enemy in the greater uncertainty on what quarter the war would fall. Fabius led his legions towards Samnium through the territory of Sora, and Decius his through that of Sidicinum. As soon as they arrived at the frontiers, both advanced briskly, spreading devastation wherever they came; but still took care to explore the country, to a distance beyond where the troops were employed in plundering. The enemy had posted themselves in readiness for battle, in a retired valley near Tifernum; intending, as soon as the Romans should enter it, to fall upon them with advantage of the ground; but they escaped the snare. Fabius, sending away his baggage to a place of safety, and setting a small guard over it, gave notice to his soldiers that a battle was at hand, and advanced to the place where he had been told the enemy lay in ambush. The Samnites, disappointed in the hope of making an unexpected attack, determined on a regular engagement. They therefore marched out into the plain; and, with a greater share of spirit than of hopes, committed themselves to the disposal of fortune. However, whether in consequence of their having drawn together, from every state, the whole of the force which it possessed, or that the consideration of their all being at stake, heightened their courage, they maintained, even in open fight, a formidable struggle. Fabius, when he saw that the enemy in no place gave way, ordered his son Maximus, and Marcus Valerius, military tribunes, with whom he had hastened to the front, to seek the cavalry, and to exhort them, that “if they remembered any instance wherein the public had received advantage from the service of the horsemen, they would, on that day, exert themselves to preserve inviolate the renown of that body; telling them that the enemy stood immoveable against the efforts of the infantry, and the only hope remaining was in the charge of horse.” He addressed particularly both these youths, and with the same cordiality, loading them with praises and promises. At the same time, considering that, in case that effort should also fail, it would be necessary to accomplish, by stratagem, what his strength could not effect; he ordered Scipio, one of his lieutenants-general, to draw off the spearmen of the first legion out of the line; to lead them round as secretly as possible to the nearest mountains; and, in such direction as he could ascend without being seen, to gain the heights, and show himself suddenly on the rear of the enemy, while their attention should be employed on the front. The cavalry, led on by the tribunes, rushing forward unexpectedly before the van, caused scarcely more confusion among the enemy than among their friends. The line of the Samnites stood firm against the furious onset of the squadrons; it neither could be driven from its ground, nor broken in any part. The cavalry, finding their attempts fruitless, withdrew from the fight, and retired behind the line of infantry. On this the enemy assumed new spirits, with increasing confidence in their own prowess: so that the Roman troops in the van would not have been able to support the contest, had not the second line, by the consul’s order, come up into the place of the first. These fresh troops checked the progress of the Samnites, who had now began to gain ground; and, at this seasonable juncture, their comrades appearing suddenly on the mountains, and raising a shout, occasioned in the Samnites a fear of greater danger than really threatened them: Fabius called out aloud that his colleague Decius was approaching; on which all the soldiers, elated with joy, repeated eagerly, that the other consul was come, the legions were arrived! This artifice, while it produced a happy effect on the Romans, filled the Samnites with such dismay, that they thought of nothing but flight: for they dreaded above all things, lest, fatigued as they were, they should be overpowered by another army, fresh and unhurt. As they dispersed themselves on every side, there was less effusion of blood than might have been expected, considering the completeness of the victory. There were three thousand four hundred slain; about three hundred and thirty made prisoners, and twenty-three military standards taken.
XV. The Apulians would have joined their forces to the Samnites before this battle, had not the consul, Publius Decius, encamped in their neighbourhood at Maleventum; and, finding means to bring them to an engagement, put them to the rout. Here, likewise, there was more of flight than of bloodshed. Two thousand of the Apulians were slain; but Decius, despising such an enemy, led his legions into Samnium. There, the two consular armies, overrunning every part of the country during the space of five months, laid it entirely waste. There were in Samnium forty-five places where Decius, and eighty-six where the other consul, encamped. Nor did they leave traces only of having been there, as ramparts and trenches, but other dreadful mementos of it — general desolation and regions depopulated. Fabius also took the city of Cimetra, where he made prisoners two thousand four hundred soldiers; and there were slain in the assault about four hundred and thirty. Going thence to Rome to preside at the elections, he used all expedition in despatching that business. All the first-called centuries voted Quintus Fabius consul. Appius Claudius was a candidate, a man of consular rank, daring and ambitious; and, as he wished not more ardently for the attainment of that honour for himself, than he did that the patricians might recover the possession of both places in the consulship, he laboured, with all his own power, supported by that of the whole body of the nobility, to prevail on them to appoint him consul along with Quintus Fabius. To this Fabius objected, giving, at first, the same reasons which he had advanced the year before. The nobles then all gathered round his seat, and besought him to raise up the consulship out of the plebeian mire, and to restore both to the office itself, and to the patrician rank, their original dignity. Fabius then, procuring silence, allayed their warmth by a qualifying speech, declaring, that, “he would have so managed, as to have received the names of two patricians, if he had seen an intention of appointing any other than himself to the consulship. As things now stood, he would not set so bad a precedent as to admit his own name among the candidates; such a proceeding being contrary to the laws.”Y.R.456. 296. Whereupon Appius Claudius, and Lucius Volumnius, a plebeian, who had likewise been colleagues in that office before, were elected consuls. The nobility reproached Fabius for declining to act in conjunction with Appius Claudius, because he evidently excelled him in eloquence and political abilities.
XVI. When the election was finished, the former consuls were continued in command for six months, and ordered to prosecute the war in Samnium. Accordingly, during this next year, in the consulate of Lucius Volumnius and Appius Claudius, Publius Decius, who had been left consul in Samnium by his colleague, continued in the character of proconsul, to spread devastation, in like manner as in the preceding year, through all parts of that country; until, at last, he drove the army of the Samnites, which never dared to face him in the field, entirely out of the country. Thus expelled from home, they bent their route to Etruria; and, supposing that the business, which they had often in vain endeavoured to accomplish by embassies, might now be negotiated with more effect, when they were backed by such a powerful armed force, and could intermix terror with their entreaties, they demanded a meeting of the chiefs of Etruria: which being assembled, they set forth the great number of years, during which they had waged war with the Romans, in the cause of liberty; “they had,” they said, “endeavoured, with their own strength, to sustain the weight of so great a war: they had also made trial of the support of the adjoining nations, which proved of little avail. Unable longer to maintain the conflict, they had sued to the Roman people for peace; and had again taken up arms, because they felt peace, attended with servitude, more grievous than war with liberty. They had one only hope remaining, which was the support which they expected from the Etrurians. They knew that nation to be the most powerful in Italy, in respect of arms, men, and money; to have the Gauls their closest neighbours, born in the midst of war and arms, of furious courage, both from their natural temper, and particularly against the people of Rome, whom they boasted, without infringing the truth, of having made their prisoners and of having ransomed for gold. If the Etrurians possessed the same spirit, which formerly animated Porsena and their ancestors, there was nothing to prevent their expelling the Romans from all the lands on this side of the Tiber, and compelling them to fight for their own existence, and not for the intolerable dominion which they assumed over Italy. The Samnite army had come to them, in readiness for action, furnished with arms and subsistence, and were willing to follow that instant, even should they lead to the attack of the city of Rome itself.”
XVII. While they were engaged in these representations, and intriguing at Etruria, the operations of the Romans in their own territories distressed them severely. For Publius Decius, when informed by his scouts of the departure of the Samnite army, called a council, and there said, “Why do we ramble through the country, carrying the war from one village to another? Why not attack the cities and fortified places? No army now guards Samnium. They have fled: they are gone into voluntary exile.” The proposal being universally approved, he marched to attack Murgantia, a city of considerable strength; and so great was the ardour of the soldiers, resulting from their affection to their commander, and from their hopes of richer treasure than could be found in pillaging the country-places, that, in one day, they took it by assault. Here, two thousand one hundred of the Samnites, making resistance, were surrounded and taken prisoners; and abundance of other spoil fell into the hands of the victors. Decius not choosing that the troops should be incumbered in their march with such heavy baggage, ordered them to be called together, and said to them, “Do ye intend to rest satisfied with this single victory, and this booty? or do ye choose to cherish hopes proportioned to your bravery? All the cities of the Samnites, and the property left in them, are your own; since, after so often defeating their legions, ye have finally driven them out of the country. Sell those effects in your hands; and allure traders, by a prospect of profit, to follow you on your march. I will from time to time, supply you with goods for sale. Let us go hence to the city of Romulea, where no great labour, but greater gain, awaits you.” They accordingly sold off the spoil; and, warmly adopting the general’s plan, proceeded to Romulea. This town likewise was taken without works or engines, and plundered: for, as soon as the battalions approached it, nothing could hinder the soldiers from mounting the walls; but, hastily applying ladders, they forced their way over the fortifications. Two thousand three hundred men were slain, six thousand taken prisoners, and abundance of spoil fell into the hands of the soldiers. This they were obliged to sell in like manner as the former; and, though no rest was allowed them, they proceeded, nevertheless, with the utmost alacrity, to Ferentinum. But here they met a greater share both of difficulty and danger: the garrison made a vigorous defence, and the place was strongly fortified both by nature and art. However, the soldiers, now inured to plunder, overcame every obstacle. Three thousand of the enemy were killed round the walls, and the spoil was given to the troops. In some annals, the principal share of the honour of taking these cities is attributed to Maximus. They say that Murgantia was taken by Decius; Romulea and Ferentinum by Fabius. Some ascribe this honour to the new consuls: others not to both, but to one of these, Lucius Volumnius whose province, they say, Samnium was.
XVIII. While things went on thus in Samnium, and whoever it was that had the command and auspices, another powerful combination, composed of many states, was formed in Etruria against the Romans; the chief promoter of which was, Gellius Egnatius, a Samnite. Almost all the Etrurians had united in this hostile design. The neighbouring states of Umbria were drawn in, as it were, by contagion; and auxiliaries were procured from the Gauls for hire: all their several numbers assembled at the camp of the Samnites. When intelligence of this sudden commotion was received at Rome, the consul, Lucius Volumnius, had already set out for Samnium, with the second and third legions, and fifteen thousand of the allies; it was therefore resolved, that Appius Claudius should, without loss of time, go into Etruria. He took with him two Roman legions, the first and fourth, and twelve thousand allies, and encamped at a small distance from the enemy. However, his early arrival, though productive of one good effect, the restraining, by dread of the Roman name, several states of Etruria who were inclined to war, yet was not followed by any very judicious or successful enterprise. Several battles were fought, at times and places unfavourable, and increasing confidence rendered the enemy daily more formidable; so that matters came nearly to such a state, as that neither could the soldiers rely much on their leader, nor the leader on his soldiers. It appears in three several histories, that a letter was sent by the consul to call his colleague from Samnium. But I will not affirm what requires stronger proof, that point having been disputed between these two consuls, a second time associated in the same office; Appius denying that he sent any such, and Volumnius affirming that he was called thither by a letter from him. Volumnius had, by this time, taken three forts in Samnium, in which three thousand of the enemy had been slain, and about half that number made prisoners; and, a sedition having been raised among the Lucanians by the plebeians, and the more indigent of the people, he had, to the great satisfaction of the nobles, quelled it by sending thither Quintus Fabius, proconsul, with his own veteran army. He left to Decius the ravaging of the country; and proceeded with his troops into Etruria to his colleague; where, on his arrival, the army in general received him with joy. Appius, if he did not write the letter, being conscious of this, had, in my opinion, just ground of displeasure: but if he had actually sent for assistance, his disowning it, as he did, arose from an illiberal and ungrateful mind. For, on going out to receive him, when they had scarcely exchanged salutations, he said, “Is all well, Lucius Volumnius? How stand affairs in Samnium? What motive induced you to remove out of your province?” Volumnius answered, that “affairs in Samnium were in a prosperous state; and that he had come thither in compliance with the request in his letter. But, if that were a forged letter, and that there was no occasion for him in Etruria, he would instantly face about, and depart.” “You may depart,” replied the other; “no one detains you: for it is a perfect inconsistency, that when, perhaps, you are scarcely equal to the management of the war allotted to yourself, you should vaunt of coming hither to succour others.” To this Volumnius rejoined, “May Hercules direct all for the best; for his part, he was better pleased that he had taken useless trouble, than that any conjuncture should have arisen which had made one consular army insufficient for Etruria.”
XIX. As the consuls were parting, the lieutenants-general and tribunes of Appius’s army gathered round them. Some entreated their own general that he would not reject the voluntary offer of his colleague’s assistance, which he ought to have solicited: the greater number used their endeavours to stop Volumnius, beseeching him “not, through a peevish dispute with his colleague, to abandon the interest of the commonwealth; and represented to him, that in case any misfortune should happen, the blame would fall on the person who forsook the other, not on the one forsaken; that the state of affairs was such, that the credit and discredit of every success and failure in Etruria, would be attributed to Lucius Volumnius: for no one would enquire, what were the words of Appius, but what the situation of the army. Appius indeed had dismissed him, but the commonwealth, and the army, required his stay. Let him only make trial of the inclinations of the soldiers.” By such admonitions and entreaties, they, in a manner, dragged the consuls to an assembly. There, longer discourses were made to the same purport, as had passed before in the presence of a few. As Volumnius had the advantage of the argument, so did he show himself not deficient in oratory, in despite of the extraordinary eloquence of his colleague. On which Appius observed with a sneer, that “they ought to acknowledge themselves indebted to him, in having a consul, who, among his other qualifications, possessed eloquence also, instead of being dumb and speechless, as he was in their former consulate; when, particularly during the first months, he was not able so much as to open his lips; but now, in his harangues, even aspired after popularity.” Volumnius replied, “how much more earnestly do I wish, that you had learned from me to act with spirit; than I from you to speak with elegance! I now make you a final proposal, which will demonstrate, not which is the better orator, for that is not what the public wants, but which is the better commander. The provinces are Etruria and Samnium: make your choice; I, with my own army, will undertake to manage the business of either.” The soldiers then, with loud clamours, requested that they would, in conjunction, carry on the war in Etruria; when Volumnius, perceiving that it was the general wish, said, “Since I have been mistaken in apprehending my colleague’s meaning, I will take care that there shall be no room for mistake with respect to the purport of your wishes. Signify by a shout, whether you choose that I should stay or depart.” On this, a shout was raised, so loud, that it brought the enemy out of their camp: they snatched up their arms, and marched forward in order of battle. Volumnius likewise ordered the signal to be sounded, and his troops to take the field. It is said that Appius hesitated, perceiving that, whether he fought or remained inactive, his colleague would enjoy the honour of the victory; and that, afterwards, dreading lest his own legions should follow Volumnius with the rest, he gave the signal, at the earnest desire of his men. On neither side were the forces drawn up to advantage: for, on the one, Gellius Egnatius, the Samnite general, had gone out to forage with a few cohorts, and his men entered on the fight, as the violence of their passions prompted, rather than under any directions, or orders. On the other, the Roman armies, neither marched out together, nor had time sufficient to form: Volumnius began to engage, before Appius came up, consequently their front in the battle was uneven; and by some accidental interchange of their usual opponents, the Etrurians fought against Volumnius; and the Samnites, after delaying some time on account of the absence of their general, against Appius. We are told that Appius, during the heat of the fight, raising his hands towards heaven, so as to be seen in the foremost ranks, prayed thus, “Bellona, if thou grantest us the victory this day, I vow to thee a temple.” And that after this vow, as if inspirited by the goddess, he displayed a degree of courage equal to that of his colleague, and of the troops. The generals performed every duty, and each of their armies exerted, with emulation, its utmost vigour, lest the other should be first victorious. They therefore quickly broke and defeated the enemy, who were ill able to withstand a force so much superior to any with which they had been accustomed to contend; then pressing them as they gave ground, and pursuing them closely as they fled, they drove them into their camp. There Gellius and his Samnite cohorts, interposing, the fight was renewed for a time with some warmth. But these being likewise soon dispersed, the conquerors advanced to storm the camp; and Volumnius, in person, leading his troops against one of the gates, while Appius, frequently invoking Bellona the victorious, inflamed the courage of his men, neither rampart nor trenches could prevent their breaking in. The camp was taken and plundered, and the spoil, of which great abundance was found, was given up to the soldiers. Of the enemy seven thousand three hundred were slain; and two thousand one hundred and twenty taken.
XX. While both the consuls, with the whole force of the Romans, pointed their exertions principally against their enemies in Etruria, a new army was set on foot in Samnium; and, with design to ravage the frontiers of the Roman empire, passed over through the country of the Vescians, into the Campanian and Falernian territories, where they committed great depredations. Volumnius, as he was hastening back to Samnium, by forced marches, because the term for which Fabius and Decius had been continued in command was nearly expired, heard of this army of Samnites, and of the mischief which they had done in Campania; determining, therefore, to afford protection to the allies, he altered his route towards that quarter. When he arrived in the district of Cales, he found marks of their recent ravages; and the people of that town informed him that the enemy carried with them such a quantity of spoil, that they could scarcely observe any order in their march: and that the commanders then directed publicly, that the troops should go immediately to Samnium, deposit the booty there, and return to the business of the expedition, as an engagement must not be hazarded while they were so heavily laden. Notwithstanding that this account carried every appearance of truth, he yet thought it necessary to obtain more certain information; accordingly he despatched some horsemen, to seize on some of the straggling marauders; from these he learned, on enquiry, that the enemy lay at the river Vulturnus; that they intended to remove thence at the third watch; and that their route was towards Samnium. On receiving this intelligence, which could be depended upon, he put his troops in motion, and sat down at such a distance from the enemy, as was sufficient to prevent their discovering his approach, and, at the same time, left it in his power to surprise them, as they should be coming out of their camp. A long time before day, he drew nigh to their post, and sent persons, who understood the Oscan language, to discover how they were employed: these, mixing with the enemy, which they could easily do during the confusion in the night, found that the standards had gone out thinly attended; that the booty, and those appointed to guard it, were then setting out, a contemptible train; each busied about his own affairs, without any concert with the rest, or much regard to orders. This the consul judged the fittest time for the attack; and, day-light now approaching, he gave orders to sound the charge, and fell on the enemy as they were marching out. The Samnites being embarrassed with the spoil, and very few armed, were at a loss how to act. Some quickened their pace, and drove the prey before them; others halted, deliberating whether it would be safer to advance, or to return again to the camp; and, while they hesitated, they were overtaken and cut off. The Romans had by this time passed over the rampart, and filled the camp with slaughter and confusion: the Samnite army had their disorder increased by a sudden insurrection of their prisoners; some of whom, getting loose, set the rest at liberty, while others snatched the arms which were tied up among the baggage, and, being intermixed with the troops, raised a tumult more terrible than the battle itself. They then performed a memorable exploit: for, making an attack on Statius Minacius, the general, as he was passing between the ranks and encouraging his men, they dispersed the horsemen who attended him, gathered round himself, and dragged him, sitting on his horse, a prisoner to the Roman consul. This brought back the foremost battalions of the Samnites, and the battle, which seemed to have been already decided, was renewed: but they could not support it long. Six thousand of them were slain, and two thousand five hundred taken, among whom were four military tribunes, together with thirty standards, and, what gave the conquerors greater joy than all, seven thousand four hundred prisoners were recovered. The spoil which had been taken from the allies was immense, and the owners were summoned, by a proclamation, to claim and receive their property. On the day appointed, all the effects, the owners of which did not appear, were given to the soldiers, who were obliged to sell them, in order that they might have nothing to think of but their duty.
XXI. The depredations, committed on the lands of Campania had occasioned a violent alarm at Rome; and it happened, that about the same time, intelligence was brought from Etruria, that, after the departure of Volumnius’s army, all that country had risen up in arms, together with Gellius Egnatius, the leader of the Samnites; that the Umbrians were invited to join in the insurrection, and the Gauls tempted with high offers. Terrified at this news, the senate ordered the courts of justice to be shut, and a levy to be made of men of every description. Accordingly not only free-born men, and the younger sort were obliged to enlist, but cohorts were formed of the elder citizens, and the sons of freed men were incorporated in the centuries. Plans were formed for the defence of the city, and the chief command committed to the prætor, Publius Sempronius. However, the senate was exonerated of one half of their anxiety, by a letter from the consul, Lucius Volumnius, informing them that the army, which had ravaged Campania, had been defeated and dispersed: whereupon, they decreed a public thanksgiving for this success, in the name of the victors. The courts were opened, after having been shut eighteen days, and the thanksgiving was performed with much joy. They then turned their thoughts to devising measures for the future security of the country, depopulated by the Samnites; and, with this view, resolved that two colonies should be settled on the frontiers of the Vescian and Falernian territories; one at the mouth of the river Liris, which has received the name of Minturnæ; the other in the Vescian forest, which borders on the Falernian territory; where, it is said, stood Sinope, a city of Grecians, called thenceforth by the Roman colonists Sinuessa. The plebeian tribunes were charged to procure an order of the commons, enjoining Publius Sempronius, the prætor, to create triumvirs for conducting the colonies to those places. But it was not easy to find people to give in their names; because, a settlement in those places was considered, nearly, as a perpetual advanced guard in a hostile country, not as a provision of land. From these employments, the attention of the senate was drawn away, by the Etrurian war growing daily more formidable; and by frequent letters from Appius, warning them not to neglect the disturbances in that quarter. Four nations, he told them, were uniting their arms; the Etrurians, the Samnites, the Umbrians, and the Gauls; and they had already formed two separate camps, one spot being insufficient to contain so great a multitude. In consequence, the time of the elections drawing nigh, the consul, Lucius Volumnius, was recalled to Rome, to hold them. Having summoned an assembly of the people, before the centuries were called to give their votes, he spoke at length on the great importance of the Etrurian war, and said, that “even at the time when he himself acted there, in conjunction with his colleague, the war was too weighty to be managed by one general, or one army; and that it was now reported that the enemy had, since that time, gained an accession of the Umbrians, and a numerous body of Gauls.” He desired them to “bear in mind, that they were, on that day, to choose consuls, who were to command in a war against four nations. For his own part, were he not confident that the Roman people would concur, in appointing to the consulship, the man who was allowed, beyond dispute, to be the first commander at present in the world, he would have immediately nominated a dictator.”
XXII. No doubt was entertained but that the universal choice would light on Quintus Fabius; and, accordingly, the prerogative, and all the first called centuries, named him consul with Lucius Volumnius. Fabius spoke to the same purpose as he had done two years before; but, afterwards, yielding to the general wish, he applied himself to procure Decius to be appointed his confederate: “that,” he said, “would be a prop to his declining age. In the censorship, and two consulships, in which they had been associated, he had experienced, that there could be no firmer support, in promoting the interest of the commonwealth, than harmony with a colleague. At his advanced stage of life, his mind could hardly conform itself to a new associate in command; and he could more easily act in concert with a temper to which he had been familiarized.” Volumnius subscribed to these sentiments, bestowing due praises on Publius Decius, and enumerating “the advantages resulting from concord between consuls, and the evils arising from their disagreement in the conduct of military affairs;” at the same time remarking, “how near the extremity of danger matters had been brought, by the late dispute between Appius and himself.” He warmly recommended to Decius and Fabius to “live together with one mind and one spirit.” Observed that “they were men qualified by nature for military command: great in action, but unpractised in the strife of words, their talents were such as eminently became consuls. As to the artful and the ingenious, lawyers and orators, such as Appius Claudius, they ought to be kept at home to preside in the city and the forum; and to be appointed prætors for the administration of justice.” In these proceedings that day was spent, and, on the following, the elections both of consuls and prætor were held, and were guided by the recommendations suggested by the consul. Quintus Fabius and Publius Decius were chosen consuls; Appius Claudius, prætor; all of them absent; and, by a decree of the senate, followed by an order of the commons, Lucius Volumnius was continued in the command for another year.
XXIII. During that year many prodigies happened. To avert the evils which they might portend, the senate decreed a supplication for two days: the wine and frankincense for the sacrifices were furnished at the expense of the public; and numerous crowds of men and women attended the performance. This supplication was rendered remarkable by a quarrel, which broke out among the matrons in the chapel of patrician chastity, which stands in the cattle market, near the round temple of Hercules. Virginia, daughter of Aulus, a patrician, but married to Volumnius the consul, a plebeian, was on that account excluded by the matrons from sharing in the sacred rites: a short altercation ensued, which was afterwards, through the intemperance of passion incident to the sex, kindled into a flame of contention. Virginia boasted, with truth, that she had a right to enter the temple of patrician chastity, as being of patrician birth and chaste in her character, and, besides, the wife of one to whom she was betrothed a virgin, and had no reason to be ashamed either of her husband, or of his exploits or honours: to her high-spirited words she added importance by an extraordinary act. In the long street, where she resided, she inclosed, with a partition, a part of the house, of a size sufficient for a small chapel, and there erected an altar. Then, calling together the plebeian matrons, and complaining of the injurious behaviour of the patricians, she said, “this altar I dedicate to plebeian chastity, and exhort you, that the same degree of emulation, which prevails among the men of this state, on the point of valour, may be maintained by the women on the point of chastity; and that you contribute your best care, that this altar may have the credit of being attended with a greater degree of sanctity, and by chaster women than the other.” Solemn rites were performed at this altar under the same regulations, nearly, with those at the more ancient one; no person being allowed the privilege of taking part in the sacrifices, except a woman of approved chastity, and who was the wife of one husband. This institution, being afterwards debased by the admission of vicious characters, and not only by matrons, but women of every description, sunk at last into oblivion. During this year the Ogulnii, Cneius and Quintus, being curule ædiles, carried on prosecutions against several usurers; and these being condemned to pay fines out of the produce and for the use of the public, the ædiles made brazen thresholds in the Capitol; utensils of plate for three tables, which were deposited in the chapel of Jupiter; a statue of Jupiter in a chariot, drawn by four horses, placed on the roof; and images of the founders of the city, in their infant state under the teats of the wolf, at the Ruminal fig-tree. They also paved with square stones, the road from the Capuan gate to the temple of Mars. The plebeian ædiles likewise, Lucius Ælius Pætus, and Caius Fulvius Corvus, out of money levied as fines on farmers of the public pastures, whom they had convicted of mal-practices exhibited games, and consecrated golden bowls in the temple of Ceres.
XXIV. Then came into the consulship Quintus Fabius, a fifth time, and Publius Decius, a fourth.Y.R.457. 295. They had been colleagues in the censorship, and twice in the consulship, and were celebrated, not more for their glorious achievements, splendid as these were, than for the unanimity which had ever subsisted between them. The interruption, which this afterwards suffered, was, in my opinion, owing to a jarring between the opposite parties, rather than between themselves; the patricians endeavouring that Fabius should have Etruria for his province, without casting lots, and the plebeians insisting that Decius should bring the matter to the decision of lots. There was certainly a contention in the senate, and the interest of Fabius, being superior there, the business was brought before the people. Here, between military men who laid greater stress on deeds than on words, the debate was short. Fabius said, “that it was unreasonable, that, after he had planted a tree, another should gather the fruit of it. He had opened the Ciminian forest, and made a way for the Roman arms, through passes until then impracticable. Why had they disturbed his repose, at that time of his life, if they intended to give the management of the war to another?” Then, in the way of a gentle reproof, he observed, that “instead of an associate in command, he had chosen an adversary; and that Decius thought it too much that their unanimity should last through three consulates.” Declaring, in fine, that “he desired nothing farther, than that, if they thought him qualified for the command in the province, they should send him thither. He had submitted to the judgment of the senate, and would now be governed by the authority of the people.” Publius Decius complained of injustice in the senate; and asserted, that “the patricians had laboured, as long as possible, to exclude the plebeians from all access to the higher honours; and, since merit, by its own intrinsic power, had prevailed so far, as that it should not, in any rank of men, be precluded from the attainment of them, they sought every expedient to render ineffectual, not only the suffrages of the people, but even the decisions of fortune; converting all things to the aggrandizement of a few. Former consuls had disposed of the provinces by lots; now, the senate bestowed a province on Fabius at their pleasure. If this was meant as a mark of honour, the merits of Fabius were so great towards the commonwealth, and towards himself in particular, that he would gladly contribute to the advancement of his reputation in every instance where its splendour could be increased without reflecting dishonour on himself. But who did not see, that, when a war of difficulty and danger, and out of the ordinary course, was committed to only that one consul, the other would be considered as useless and insignificant? Fabius gloried in his exploits performed in Etruria: Publius Decius wished for a like subject of glory, and, perhaps, would utterly extinguish that fire, which the other left smothered, in such a manner, that it often broke out anew, in sudden conflagrations. In fine, honours and rewards he would concede to his colleague, out of respect to his age and dignified character: but when danger, when a vigorous struggle with an enemy was before them, he never did, nor ever would, willingly, give place. With respect to the present dispute, this much he would gain, at all events, that a business, appertaining to the jurisdiction of the people, should be determined by an order of that people, and not complimented away by the senate. He prayed Jupiter, supremely good and great, and all the immortal gods, not to grant him an equal chance with his colleague, unless they intended to grant him equal ability and success, in the management of the war. It was certainly in its nature reasonable, in the example salutary, and concerned the reputation of the Roman people, that the consuls should be men of such abilities, that either of them was fully equal to the command in a war with Etruria.” Fabius, after just requesting of the people, that, before the tribes were called in to give their votes, they would hear the letters of the prætor Appius Claudius, written from Etruria, withdrew from the Comitium, and the people, not less unanimously than the senate, decreed to him the province of Etruria, without having recourse to lots.
XXV. Immediately almost all the younger citizens flocked together to the consul, and cheerfully gave in their names, earnestly desirous of serving under such a commander. Seeing so great a multitude collected round him, he said, “My intention is to enlist only four thousand foot, and six hundred horse: such of you as give in your names to-day and to-morrow, I will carry with me. I am more solicitous to bring home all my soldiers rich, than to employ a great multitude.” Accordingly, with a competent number of men, who possessed greater hopes and confidence, because a numerous army had not been required, he marched to the town of Aharna, from which the enemy were not far distant, and proceeded to the camp of the prætor Appius. When he came within a few miles of it, he was met by some soldiers, sent to cut wood, attended by a guard. Observing the lictors preceding him, and learning that he was Fabius the consul, they were filled with joy; and expressed warm thanks to the gods, and to the Roman people, for having sent them such a commander. Then, as they gathered round, to pay their respects, Fabius enquired whither they were going, and on their answering that they were going to provide wood, “what do you tell me,” said he, “have you not a rampart raised about your camp?” “They had,” they replied, “a double rampart, and a trench; and, notwithstanding, were in great apprehension.” “Well then,” said he, “you have abundance of wood, go back and level the rampart.” They accordingly returned to the camp, and there levelling the rampart, threw the soldiers who had remained in it, and Appius himself, into the greatest fright, until with eager joy each called out to the rest, that, “they acted by order of the consul, Quintus Fabius.” Next day, they decamped, and the prætor Appius was dismissed to Rome. From that time, the Romans had no fixed post; the consul affirming, that it was prejudicial to an army to lie in one spot; and that by frequent marches, and changing places, it was rendered more healthy, and more capable of brisk exertions: and this he practised as long as the season permitted, the winter being not yet ended. Then, in the beginning of spring, leaving the second legion near Clusium, which they formerly called the Camertian, and giving the command of the camp to Lucius Scipio, as pro-prætor, he returned to Rome, in order to adjust measures for carrying on the war; either led thereto by his own judgment, on finding it attended with greater difficulty than he had believed, from report; or, being summoned by a decree of senate; for both accounts are given. Some choose to have it believed, that he was forced to return by the practices of the prætor, Appius Claudius; who, both in the senate, and before the people, exaggerated, as he was wont in all his letters, the danger of the Etrurian war; contending, that “one general, or one army, would not be sufficient to oppose four nations. That whether these directed the whole of their combined force against him alone, or acted separately in different parts, there was reason to fear, that he would be unable to provide, effectually, against every emergency. That he had left there but two Roman legions; and that the foot and horse, who came with Fabius, did not amount to five thousand. It was therefore his opinion, that the consul Publius Decius, should, without delay, join his colleague in Etruria; and that the province of Samnium should be given to Lucius Volumnius. But, if the consul preferred going to his own province, that then Volumnius should march a full consular army into Etruria, to join the other commander.” The advice of the prætor was approved by a great part of the members; but Publius Decius recommended that every thing should be kept undetermined, and open for Quintus Fabius; until he should either come to Rome, if he could do so without prejudice to the public, or send some of his lieutenants, from whom the senate might learn the real state of the war in Etruria; and what number of troops, and how many generals, would be requisite for carrying it on.
XXVI. Fabius, on his return to Rome, qualified his discourses, both in the senate and before the people, in such a manner as to appear neither to exaggerate, or lessen, any particular relating to the war; and to show, that, in agreeing to another general being joined with him, he rather indulged the apprehensions of others, than guarded against any danger to himself, or the public. “But if they chose,” he said, “to give him an assistant, and associate in command, how could he overlook Publius Decius the consul; with whom he was perfectly acquainted, as a colleague, on so many occasions? There was no man living whom he would rather wish to be joined in commission with him: with Publius Decius he should have forces sufficient, and never too many enemies. If, however, his colleague preferred any other employment, let them then give him Lucius Volumnius as an assistant.” The disposal of every particular was left entirely to Fabius by the people and the senate, and even by his colleague; while Decius, having declared that he was ready to go either to Etruria, or Samnium, such general congratulation and satisfaction took place, that all men anticipated victory, and felt as if a triumph, not a war, had been decreed to the consuls. I find in some writers, that Fabius and Decius, immediately on their entering into office, set out together for Etruria; and no mention is made of the casting of lots, or of the disputes which I have related. Others, not satisfied with relating those disputes, have added charges of misconduct, laid by Appius before the people against Fabius, when absent; and a stubborn opposition, maintained by the prætor against the consul, when present; and also another contention between the colleagues, Decius insisting that each consul should attend to the care of his own separate province. Certainty however begins to appear, from the time when both consuls set out for the campaign. Now, before these arrived in Etruria, the Senonian Gauls came in a vast body to Clusium, to attack the Roman legion encamped there. Scipio, who commanded in that post, wishing to remedy the deficiency of his numbers, by an advantage in the ground, led his men up a hill, which stood between the camp and the city: but having, in his haste, neglected to examine the place, when he came near the summit, he found it already possessed by the enemy, who had ascended on the other side. The legion was, consequently, attacked on the rear, and surrounded by several battalions, who pressed it on all sides. Some writers say, that the whole were cut off, so that not one survived to give an account of the disaster; and that no information of the misfortune reached the consuls, who were, at the time, not far from Clusium, until the Gallic horsemen came within sight, carrying the heads of the slain, some hanging before their horses’ breasts, others on the points of their spears, and expressing their triumph in songs, according to their custom. Others affirm, that the defeat was by Umbrians, not Gauls, and that the loss sustained was not so great. That a party of foragers, under Lucius Manlius Torquatus, lieutenant-general, being surrounded, Scipio, the proprætor, brought up relief from the camp, and, renewing the battle, defeated the Umbrians lately victorious, and retook the prisoners and spoil. But it is more probable, that this blow was suffered from a Gallic, than an Umbrian enemy; because during that year, as was often the case at other times, the danger principally apprehended by the public, was that of a Gallic tumult; for which reason, notwithstanding that both the consuls had marched against the enemy, with four legions, and a large body of Roman cavalry, joined by a thousand chosen horsemen of Campania, supplied on the occasion, and a body of the allies and Latine confederates, superior in number to the Romans, two other armies were posted near the city, on the side facing Etruria; one, in the Faliscian, the other in the Vatican territory, Cneius Fulvius, and Lucius Postumius Megellus, both proprætors, being ordered to keep the troops stationed in those places.
XXVII. The consuls, having crossed the Appennines, came up with the combined forces in the territory of Sentinum, and pitched their camp, distant from them about four miles. Several councils were then held by the enemy, and their plan of operations was thus settled; that they should not encamp together, nor go out together to battle: the Gauls were united to the Samnites, the Umbrians to the Etrurians. The day of battle was fixed. The part of maintaining the fight was committed to the Samnites and Gauls; and the Etrurians and Umbrians were ordered to attack the Roman camp during the heat of the engagement. This plan was frustrated by three Clusian deserters, who came over by night to Fabius, and after disclosing the above designs, were sent back with presents, in order that they might discover, and bring intelligence of, any new scheme which should be formed. The consuls then wrote to Flavius and Postumius to move their armies, the one from the Faliscian, the other from the Vatican country, towards Clusium; and to ruin the enemy’s territory by every means in their power. The news of these depredations drew the Etrurians from Sentinum to protect their own region. The consuls, in their absence, practised every means to bring on an engagement. For two days, they endeavoured, by several attacks, to provoke the enemy to fight; in which time, however, nothing worth mention was performed. A few fell on each side, but still the minds of the Romans were so irritated as to wish for a general engagement, yet nothing decisive was hazarded. On the third day, both parties marched out their whole force to the field: here, while the armies stood in order of battle, a hind, chased by a wolf from the mountains, ran through the plain between the two lines: there the animals turned their courses to different sides; the hind towards the Gauls, the wolf towards the Romans: way was made between the ranks for the wolf, the Gauls slew the hind with their javelins; on which one of the Roman soldiers in the van said, “To that side, where you see an animal, sacred to Diana, lying prostrate, flight and slaughter are directed; on this side the victorious wolf of Mars, safe and untouched, reminds us of our founder, and of our descent from that deity.” The Gauls were posted on the right wing, the Samnites on the left: against the latter, Fabius drew up, as his right wing, the first and third legions; against the Gauls, Decius formed the left wing of the fifth and sixth. The second and fourth were employed in the war in Samnium, under the pro-consul Lucius Volumnius. The first encounter was supported with strength so equal on both sides, that had the Etrurians and Umbrians been present at the action, either in the field or at the camp, in whichever place they might have employed their force, the Romans must have been defeated.
XXVIII. However, although the victory was still undecided, fortune not having declared in favour of either party, yet the course of the fight was by no means similar on both right and left wings. The Romans, under Fabius, rather repelled than offered assault; and the contest was protracted until very late in the day: for their general knew very well, that both Samnites and Gauls were furious in the first onset; so that, to prevent their progress, was as much as could well be effected. It was known, too, that in a longer dispute, the spirits of the Samnites gradually flagged, and even the bodies of the Gauls, remarkably ill able to bear labour and heat, became quite relaxed; and although, in their first efforts, they were more than men, yet in their last they were less than women. He, therefore, reserved the strength of his men for the aforesaid reasons, until the time when the enemy were the more likely to be worsted. Decius, more impetuous, as being in the prime of life, and full flow of spirits, exerted his whole force to the utmost in the first encounter; and thinking the infantry not sufficiently powerful, brought up the cavalry to their aid. Putting himself at the head of a troop of young horsemen, of distinguished bravery, he besought those youths, the flower of the army, to follow him, and charge the enemy; telling them, “they would reap a double share of glory, if the victory should commence on the left wing, and through their means.” Twice they compelled the Gallic cavalry to gave way. At the second charge they advanced nearer, and were briskly engaged in the midst of the enemy’s squadrons, when, by a method of fighting, to which they were utter strangers, they were thrown into dismay. A number of the enemy, mounted on chariots and cars, made towards them with such a prodigious clatter from the trampling of the cattle and rolling of wheels, as affrighted the horses of the Romans, unaccustomed to such tumultuous operations. By this means the victorious cavalry were dispersed, through a panic, and men and horses, in their headlong flight, were tumbled promiscuously on the ground. The same cause produced disorder even in the battalions of the legions: through the impetuosity of the horses, and of the carriages which they dragged through the ranks, many of the soldiers in the van were trodden or bruised to death; while the Gallic line, as soon as they saw their enemy in confusion, pursued the advantage, nor allowed them time to take breath. Decius, calling aloud, “whither were they flying, or what hope could they have in running away?” strove to stop them as they turned their backs, but finding that he could not, by any efforts, prevail on them to keep their posts, so thoroughly were they dismayed, he called on the name of his father Publius Decius, and said, “Why do I any longer defer the fate entailed on my family? It is the appointment of destiny to our race, that we should serve as expiatory victims to avert the public danger. I will now offer the legions of the enemy, together with myself, a bloody sacrifice to Earth, and the infernal gods.” Having thus said, he commanded Marcus Livius, a pontiff, whom, at his coming out to the field, he had charged not to stir from him, to dictate the form of words in which he was to devote himself, and the legions of the enemy, for the army of the Roman people, the Quirites. He was accordingly devoted with the same imprecations, and in the same habit, in which his father Publius Decius had ordered himself to be devoted at the Veseris in the Latine war. After this, he added, that “he carried along with him dismay and flight, slaughter and blood, and the wrath of the gods celestial and infernal; that, with the contagious influence of the furies, the ministers of death, whose victim he was, he would infect the standards, the weapons, and the armour of the enemy; and on the same spot, should be accomplished his perdition, and that of the Gauls and Samnites.” After uttering these execrations on himself and the foe, he spurred forward his horse, where he saw the line of the Gauls thickest, and, rushing upon the enemy’s weapons, met his death.
XXIX. Thenceforward the battle seemed to be fought with a degree of force which could scarcely be deemed human. The Romans, on the loss of their general, a circumstance which, on other occasions, is wont to inspire terror, stopped their flight, and re-assumed spirit to begin the combat afresh. The Gauls, and especially those who encircled the consul’s body, as if deprived of reason, cast their javelins at random without execution; some became so stupid as not to think of either fighting or flying: while, on the other side, Livius the pontiff, to whom Decius had transferred his lictors, with orders to act as pro-prætor, cried out aloud, that “the Romans were victorious, being exempted from misfortune by the death of their consul. That the Gauls and Samnites were now the victims of mother Earth, and the infernal gods. That Decius was summoning and dragging to himself, the army devoted along with him: and that, among the enemy, all was full of dismay, and the vengeance of the fulries.” While the soldiers were busy in restoring the fight, they were joined by Lucius Cornelius Scipio and Caius Marcius, with some reserved troops from the rear, who had been sent by Quintus Fabius, the consul, to the support of his colleague. These, on being made acquainted with the fate of Decius, were powerfully excited to brave every danger in the cause of the public; but, as the Gauls stood in close order, with their shields formed into a fence before them, little prospect of success appeared from a close fight. The javelins, which lay scattered between the two lines were, therefore, by order of the lieutenants-general, gathered up from the ground, and thrown against the enemy’s shields, and as most of them pierced the fence, the long-pointed ones even into their bodies, their compact band was overthrown in such a manner, that a great many, who were unhurt, yet fell as if thunderstruck. Such were the changes of fortune on the left wing of the Romans: on the right, Fabius had at first protracted the time, as we mentioned above, in slow operations: then, as soon as he perceived that neither the shout, nor the efforts of the enemy, nor the weapons which they threw, retained their former force, ordered the commanders of the cavalry to lead round their squadrons to the wing of the Samnites, and, on receiving the signal, to charge them in flank, with all possible violence, he commanding, at the same time, his infantry to advance leisurely, and drive the enemy from their ground. When he saw that they were unable to maintain their posts, and manifestly spent with fatigue, drawing together all his reserves, whom he had kept fresh for that occasion, he made a brisk push with the legions, giving the cavalry the signal to charge. The Samnites could not support the shock, but fled precipitately to their camp, passing by the line of the Gauls, and leaving their allies to fight by themselves. These stood in close order under cover of their shields: Fabius, therefore, having heard of the death of his colleague, ordered the squadron of Campanian cavalry, in number about five hundred, to fall back from the ranks, ride round, and attack the rear of the Gallic line, sending the chief strength of the third legion after these, with directions that wherever they should see the enemy’s troops disordered by the charge, to follow the blow, and cut them to pieces, before they recovered from their consternation. After vowing a temple, and the spoils which might fall into his hands, to Jupiter the victorious, he proceeded to the camp of the Samnites, whither all their forces were hurrying in confusion. The gates not affording entrance to such very great numbers, those who were necessarily excluded, attempted resistance just at the foot of the rampart, and here fell Gellius Egnatius the Samnite general. These, however, were soon driven within the rampart; the camp was taken after a slight dispute; and at the same time the Gauls were attacked on the rear, and overpowered. There were slain of the enemy on that day twenty-five thousand; eight thousand were taken prisoners. Nor was the victory gained without loss of blood; for, of the army of Publius Decius, the killed amounted to seven thousand; of the army of Fabius, to one thousand two hundred. Fabius, after sending persons to search for the body of his colleague, had the spoils of the enemy collected into a heap, and burned them as an offering to Jupiter the victorious. The consul’s body could not be found that day, being hid under a heap of slaughtered Gauls: on the following, it was discovered and brought to the camp, amidst abundance of tears shed by the soldiers. Fabius, discarding all concern about any other business, solemnized the obsequies of his colleague in the most honourable manner, passing on him the high encomiums which he had justly merited.
XXX. During the same period, Cneius Fulvius, pro-prætor, made a progress in Etruria equal to his wishes; having, besides the immense losses occasioned to the enemy by the devastation of their lands, fought a battle with extraordinary success, in which there were above three thousand of the Perusians and Clusians slain, and twenty military standards taken. The Samnites in their flight, passing through the Pelignian territory, were attacked on all sides by the Pelignians; and, out of five thousand, one thousand were killed. The glory of the day in the affair at Sentinum was great, when represented with a strict adherence to truth: but some have carried their exaggerations of it beyond the bounds of credibility, asserting in their writings, that there were in the army of the enemy forty thousand three hundred and thirty foot, six thousand horse, and one thousand chariots, that is, including the Etrurians and Umbrians, who they affirm were present in the engagement: and, to magnify, likewise, the number of Roman forces, they add to the consuls another general, Lucius Volumnius, pro-consul and his army to their legions. In the greater number of annals, that victory is ascribed entirely to the two consuls; and it is mentioned that Volumnius was employed at the time in Samnium; that he compelled the army of the Samnites to retreat to mount Tifernus, and, not retarded by the difficulty of the ground, routed and dispersed them. Quintus Fabius, leaving Decius’s army in Etruria, and leading off his own legions to the city, triumphed over the Gauls, Etrurians, and Samnites; the soldiers attending his triumph. These, in their coarse military verses, celebrated not more highly the conduct of Quintus Fabius, than the illustrious death of Publius Decius; recalling to memory his self-immolated father, of whom the son might be considered as a glorious counterpart, in respect of the issue which resulted both to himself and to the public. Out of the spoil, donations were made to the soldiers of eighty-two asses* to each, with cloaks and vests; rewards for service, which in that age were far from contemptible.
XXXI. Notwithstanding these successes, peace was not yet established, either among the Samnites or Etrurians: for the latter, at the instigation of the Perusians, resumed their arms, as soon as the consul had withdrawn his troops; and the Samnites made predatory incursions on the territories of Vescia and Formiæ; and also on the other side, on those of Æsernia, and the parts adjacent to the river Vulturnus. Against these was sent the prætor Appius Claudius, with the army formerly commanded by Decius. In Etruria, Fabius, on the revival of hostilities, slew four thousand five hundred of the Perusians, and took prisoners one thousand seven hundred and forty, who were ransomed at the rate of three hundred and ten asses* each. All the rest of the spoil was bestowed on the soldiers. The legions of the Samnites, though pursued, some by the prætor Appius Claudius, the others by Lucius Volumnius, pro-consul, formed a junction in the country of the Stellatians. Here sat down, on one side, the whole body of the Samnites; and, on the other, Appius and Volumnius, with their forces united in one camp. A battle ensued, fought with the most rancorous animosity, one party being spurred on by rage against men who had so often renewed their attacks on them, and the other, now fighting in support of their last remaining hope. The consequence was, that there were slain, of the Samnites, sixteen thousand three hundred, and two thousand and seven hundred made prisoners: of the Roman army fell two thousand and seven hundred. This year, so successful in the operations of war, was filled with distress at home, arising from a pestilence; and with anxiety, occasioned by prodigies: for accounts were received that, in many places, showers of earth had fallen; and that very many persons, in the army of Appius Claudius, had been struck by lightning; in consequence of which, the books were consulted. At this time, Quintus Fabius Gurges, the consul’s son, having prosecuted some matrons before the people on a charge of adultery, built, with the money accruing from the fines which they were condemned to pay, the temple of Venus, which stands near the Circus. Still we have the wars of the Samnites on our hands, notwithstanding that the relation of them has already extended, in one continued course, through four volumes of our history, and through a period of forty-six years, from the consulate of Marcus Valerius and Aulus Cornelius, who first carried the Roman arms into Samnium. And, not to recite the long train of disasters sustained by both nations, and the toils which they underwent, which, however, were not sufficient to subdue their stubborn fortitude; even in the course of the last year, the Samnites, with their own forces separately, and also in conjunction with those of other nations, had been defeated by four several armies, and four generals of the Romans, in the territory of Sentinum, in that of the Pelignians, at Tifernum, and in the plains of the Stellatians; had lost the general of the highest character in their nation; and, now, saw their allies in the war, the Etrurians, the Umbrians, and the Gauls, in the same situation with themselves; but, although destitute of support, either in their own or in foreign resources, yet did they not desist from the prosecution of hostilities. So indefatigably, though unsuccessfully, did they struggle in defence of liberty; and, rather than not aspire after victory, chose to subject themselves to repeated defeats. Who does not find his patience tired, either in writing, or reading, of wars of such continuance; and which yet exhausted not the resolution of the parties concerned?
Y.R.458. 294.XXXII. Quintus Fabius and Publius Decius were succeeded in the consulship by Lucius Postumius Megellus and Marcus Atilius Regulus. The province of Samnium was decreed to both in conjunction; because intelligence had been received that the enemy had embodied three armies; one for the recovery of Etruria; another to repeat their ravages in Campania; and the third, intended for the defence of their frontiers. Sickness detained Postumius at Rome, but Atilius set out immediately, with design to surprise the enemy in Samnium, before they should have advanced beyond their own borders; for such had been the directions of the senate. The Romans met the enemy, as if by mutual appointment, at a spot, where, while they could be hindered, not only from ravaging, but even from entering the Samnite territory, they could likewise hinder the Samnites from continuing their progress into the countries which were quiet, and the lands of the allies of the Roman people. While they lay opposite to each other, the Samnites attempted an enterprize, which the Romans, so often their conquerors, would scarcely have ventured to undertake; such is the rashness inspired by extreme despair: this was an assault on the Roman camp. And although this attempt, so daring, succeeded not in its full extent, yet it was not without considerable effect. There was a fog, which continued through a great part of the day, so thick as to exclude the light of the sun, and to prevent not only the view of any thing beyond the rampart, but scarcely the sight of each other, when they should meet. Depending on this, as a covering to the design, when the sun was but just risen, and the light, which he did afford, was obscured by the fog, the Samnites came up to an advanced guard of the Romans, at one of the gates, who were standing carelessly on their post. In the sudden surprise, these had neither courage nor strength to make resistance: an assault was then made, through the Decuman gate, in the rear of the camp: the quæstor’s quarters, in consequence, fell into the hands of the enemy, and the quæstor, Lucius Opimius Pansa, was there slain, on which a general alarm was given.
XXXIII. The consul, being roused by the tumult, ordered two cohorts of the allies, a Lucanian and Suessanian, which happened to be nearest, to defend the head-quarters, and led the companies of the legions down the principal street. These ran into the ranks, scarcely taking time to furnish themselves with arms; and, as they distinguished the enemy by their shout, rather than by sight, could form no judgment how great their number might be: thus, ignorant of the circumstances of their situation, they at first drew back, and suffered them to penetrate into the heart of the camp. The consul, asking them aloud, whether they intended to let themselves be beaten out beyond the rampart, and then to return again to storm their own camp; they raised the shout, and uniting their efforts, stood their ground; then made advances, pushed closely on the enemy, and having forced them to give way, drove them back, without suffering their first terror to abate. They soon beat them out beyond the gate and the rampart, but not daring to pursue them, because the darkness of the weather made them apprehend an ambush, and content with having cleared the camp, they retired within the rampart, having killed about three hundred of the enemy. Of the Romans, including the first advanced guard and the watchmen, and those who were surprised at the quæstor’s quarters, two hundred and thirty perished. This not unsuccessful piece of boldness raised the spirits of the Samnites so high, that they not only prevented the Romans from marching forward into their country, but even from procuring forage from their lands; and the foragers were obliged to go back into the quiet country of Sora. News of these events being conveyed to Rome, with circumstances of alarm magnified beyond the truth, Lucius Postumius, the consul, though scarcely recovered from his illness, was obliged to set out for the army. However, before his departure, having issued a proclamation that his troops should assemble at Sora, he dedicated the temple of Victory, for the building of which he had provided, when curule ædile, out of the money arising from fines; and, joining the army, he advanced from Sora towards Samnium, to the camp of his colleague. The Samnites, despairing of being able to make head against the two armies, retreated from thence, on which the consuls, separating, proceeded by different routes to lay waste the enemy’s lands, and besiege their towns.
XXXIV. Postumius attempted to make himself master of Milionia by storm; but not succeeding with regular works, he carried his approaches to the walls, and thus gained an entrance into the place. The fight was continued in all parts of the city from the fourth hour until near the eighth, and for a great part of the time without any decisive advantage: the Romans, at last, gained possession of it. Three thousand two hundred of the Samnites were killed, four thousand two hundred taken, besides the other booty. From thence, the legions were conducted to Ferentinum, out of which the inhabitants had, during the night, retired in silence through the opposite gate, with all their effects which could be either carried or driven. The consul, on his arrival, approached the walls with the same order and circumspection, as if he were to meet an opposition here, equal to what he had experienced at Milionia. The troops, perceiving a dead silence in the city, and neither arms nor men on the towers and ramparts, were eager to mount the deserted fortifications, but he restrained them, lest they might fall into a snare. He ordered two divisions of the confederate Latine horse to ride round the walls, and explore every particular. These horsemen observed one gate, and at a little distance, another on the same side, standing wide open, and on the roads leading from these, every mark of the enemy having fled by night. They then rode up leisurely to the gates, from whence, with perfect safety, they took a clear view through straight streets quite across the city. Returning to the consul, they told him that the city was abandoned by the enemy, as was plain from the solitude, the tracks on their retreat, and the things which, in the confusion of the night, they had left scattered up and down. On hearing this, the consul led round the army to that side of the city which had been examined, and making the troops halt, at a little distance from the gate, gave orders that five horsemen should ride into the city; and, when they should have advanced a good way into it, then, if they saw all things safe, three should remain there, and the other two return to him with intelligence. These returned and said, that they had proceeded to a part of the town from which they had a view on every side, and that nothing but silence and solitude reigned through the whole extent of it. The consul immediately led some light-armed cohorts into the city; ordering the rest to fortify a camp in the mean time. The soldiers, who entered the town, breaking open the doors, found only a few persons, disabled by age or sickness; and such effects remaining as could not, without difficulty, be removed. These were seized as plunder: and it was discovered from the prisoners, that several cities in that quarter had, in pursuance of a concerted plan, resolved on flight; that their towns-people had gone off at the first watch, and they believed that the same solitude would be found in the other places. The accounts of the prisoners proved well-founded, and the consul took possession of the forsaken towns.
XXXV. The other consul, Marcus Atilius, met much greater difficulties in the war wherein he was engaged. As he was marching his legions towards Luceria, to which he was informed that the Samnites had laid siege, the enemy met him on the border of the Lucerian territory. Rage supplied them, on this occasion, with strength to equal his: the battle was stubbornly contested, and the victory doubtful: the issue, however, proved more calamitous on the side of the Romans, both because they were unaccustomed to defeat, and that, on leaving the field, they felt more sensibly, than during the heat of the action, the number of their wounds, and the loss of men which they had sustained. In consequence of this, such dismay spread through the camp, as, had it seized them during the engagement, must have occasioned their overthrow. Even as the matter stood, they spent the night in great anxiety; expecting, every instant, that the camp would be assaulted by the Samnites; or that, at the first light, they should be obliged to stand a battle with an apparently powerful foe. On the side of the enemy, however, although there was less loss, yet there was not greater courage. As soon as day appeared, they wished to retire without any more fighting; but there was only one road, and that leading close by the post of their enemy; so that, on their march, it seemed as if they were advancing directly to attack the camp. The consul, therefore, ordered his men to take arms, and to follow him to the field, giving directions to the lieutenants-general, tribunes, and the præfects of the allies, in what manner he would have each of them act. They all assured him, that “they would do every thing in their power, but that the soldiers were quite dejected; that, from their own wounds, and the groans of the dying, they had passed the whole night without sleep; that if the enemy had approached the camp before day, so great were the fears of the troops, that they would certainly have deserted their standards. Even at present they were restrained from flight, merely by shame; and, in other respects, were little better than vanquished men.” This account made the consul judge it necessary to go himself among the soldiers, and speak to them; and, as he came up to each, he rebuked them for their backwardness in taking arms, asking, “why they loitered, and declined the fight? If they did not choose to go out of the camp, the enemy would come into it; and they must fight in defence of their tents, if they would not in defence of the rampart. Men who have arms in their hands, and contend with their foe, have always a chance for victory; but the man who waits naked and unarmed for his enemy, must suffer either death or slavery.” To these reprimands and rebukes they answered, that “they were exhausted by the fatigue of the battle of yesterday; and had no strength, nor even blood remaining; and besides, the enemy appeared more numerous than they were the day before.” The hostile army, in the mean time, drew near: so that, seeing every thing more distinctly as the distance grew less, they asserted that the Samnites carried with them palisades for a rampart, and evidently intended to draw lines of circumvallation round the camp. On this the consul exclaimed, with great earnestness, against submitting to such an ignominious insult, and from so dastardly a foe. “Shall we even be blockaded,” said he, “in our camp, and die, like cowards, by famine, rather than like men, if death must be our lot by the sword? May the gods be propitious! and let every one act in the manner which he thinks becomes him. The consul Marcus Atilius, should no other accompany him, will go out, even alone, to face the enemy; and will fall in the middle of the Samnite battalions, rather than see the Roman camp enclosed by their trenches.” The lieutenants-general, tribunes, every troop of the cavalry, and the principal centurions, expressed their approbation of what the consul said: and the soldiers, at length, overcome by shame, took up their arms, but in a spiritless manner: and, in the same spiritless manner, marched out of the camp. In a long train, and that not every where connected, melancholy, and seemingly subdued, they proceeded towards the enemy, whose hopes and courage were not more steady than theirs. As soon therefore as these beheld the Roman standards, a murmur spread from front to rear of the Samnites, that, as they had feared, “the Romans were coming out to oppose their march; that there was no road open, through which they could even fly thence: in that spot they must fall, or else cut down the enemy’s ranks, and make their way over their bodies.”
XXXVI. They then threw the baggage in a heap, in the centre, and, with their arms, prepared for battle, formed their line, each falling into his own post. There was now but a small interval between the two armies, and both stood, waiting, until the shout and onset should be begun by their adversary. Neither party had any inclination to fight, and they would have separated, and taken different roads, without coming to action, but that each had a dread of being harassed in retreat by the other. Notwithstanding this reluctance, an engagement unavoidably began, but without any vigour, and with a shout, which discovered neither resolution nor steadiness; nor did any move a foot from his post. The Roman consul, then, in order to infuse life into the action, ordered a few troops of cavalry to advance out of the line, and charge: most of whom being thrown from their horses, and the rest put into disorder, several parties ran forward, both from the Samnite line, to cut off those who had fallen, and from the Roman, to protect their friends: this roused some little spirit in the combatants; but the Samnites had come forward, with more briskness, and also in greater numbers, and the disordered cavalry, with their affrighted horses, trod down their own party who came to their relief. These were, consequently, the first who fled; and their example was followed by the whole Roman line. And now the Samnites had no employment for their arms but against the rear of a flying enemy, when the consul, galloping on before his men, to the gate of the camp, posted there a body of cavalry, with orders to treat as an enemy, any person who should make towards the rampart, whether Roman or Samnite; and, placing himself in the way of his men, as they pressed in disorder towards the camp, denounced threats to the same purport: “whither are you going, soldiers?” said he, “here also you will find both men and arms; nor, while your consul lives, shall you pass the rampart, unless you bring victory along with you. Choose, therefore, which you will prefer, fighting against your own countrymen, or the enemy.” While the consul was thus speaking, the cavalry gathered round, with the points of their spears presented, and ordered the infantry to return to the fight. Not only his own brave spirit, but fortune likewise aided the consul, for the Samnites did not push their advantage; so that he had time to wheel round his battalions, and to change his front from the camp, towards the enemy. The men then began to encourage each other to return to the battle, while the centurions snatched the ensigns from the standard-bearers, and bore them forward, pointing out to the soldiers the enemy, coming on in a hurry, few in number, and with their ranks disordered. At the same time the consul, with his hands lifted up towards heaven, and raising his voice so as to be heard at a distance, vowed a temple to Jupiter Stator, if the Roman army should rally from flight, and renewing the battle, defeat the Samnites. All divisions of the army now united their efforts to restore the fight; officers, soldiers, in short, the whole force, both of cavalry and infantry, even the gods seemed to have looked with favour on the Roman cause; so speedily was a thorough change effected in the fortune of the day, the enemy being repulsed from the camp, and, in a short time, driven back to the spot where the battle had commenced. Here they stopped, being obstructed by the heap of baggage, lying in their way, where they had thrown it together; and then to prevent the plundering of their effects, formed round them a circle of troops. On this, the infantry assailed them vigorously in front, while the cavalry, wheeling, fell on their rear: and, being thus inclosed between the two, they were all either slain or taken prisoners. The number of the prisoners was seven thousand three hundred, who were all sent under the yoke; the killed amounted to four thousand eight hundred. The victory was not obtained without loss of blood, on the side of the Romans: when the consul took an account of the loss sustained in the two days, the number returned, of soldiers lost, was seven thousand three hundred. During these transactions in Apulia, the Samnites attempted to seize on Interamna, a Roman colony situated on the Latine road, but, being disappointed in their design on the town, employed their troops in ravaging the country; whence, as they were driving off spoil, consisting of men and cattle, together with the colonists, who fell into their hands, they met the consul returning victorious from Luceria, and not only lost their booty, but marching in disorder, in a long train, and heavily encumbered, were themselves cut to pieces. The consul, by proclamation summoned the owners to Interamna, to claim, and receive again their property, and leaving his army there, went to Rome to hold the elections. On his applying for a triumph, that honour was refused him, because he had lost so many thousands of his soldiers; and also, because he had sent the prisoners under the yoke, without imposing any conditions.
XXXVII. The other consul, Postumius, finding no employment for his arms in Samnium, led over his forces into Etruria, where he first laid waste the lands of the Volsinians: and, afterwards, on their marching out to protect their country, gained a decisive victory over them, at a small distance from their own walls. Two thousand two hundred of the Etrurians were slain; the rest owed their safety to the city being so near. The army was then led into the territory of Rusella, and there, not only were the lands wasted, but the town itself taken. More than two thousand men were made prisoners, and somewhat less than that number killed on the walls. But a peace, effected that year in Etruria, was still more important and honourable than the war had been. Three very powerful cities of Etruria, (Volsinii, Perusia, and Arretium,) made overtures of peace; and having stipulated with the consul to furnish clothing and corn for his army, on condition of being permitted to send deputies to Rome, they obtained a truce for forty years, and a fine was imposed on each state of five hundred thousand asses,* to be immediately paid. Postumius having demanded a triumph from the senate, in consideration of these services, rather in compliance with the general practice, than in hope of succeeding; and finding a strong opposition made to his request; by one party, out of enmity to himself; by another, out of friendship to his colleague, whose disappointment they wished to console by a similar refusal: some objecting that he had been too dilatory in setting out from the city, others, that he had removed from Samnium into Etruria without orders from the senate; he addressed them thus: “Conscript Fathers, I shall not carry my deference to your high dignity to such a length, as to forget that I am consul. The same authority of my office, by which I carried on those wars, shall now, when the wars have been brought to a happy conclusion, Samnium and Etruria being subdued, and victory and peace procured, give me the recompense of a triumph.” With these words he left the senate. On this arose a contention between the plebeian tribunes; some of them declaring that they would protest against his assuming a triumph, in a method unprecedented; others, that they would support his pretensions in opposition to their colleagues. The affair came at length to be discussed before the people, and the consul being summoned to attend, he first represented, that Marcus Horatius and Lucius Valerius, when consuls, and lately Caius Marcius Rutilus, father of the present censor, had triumphed, not by direction of the senate, but by that of the people; and then added, that “he would, in like manner, have laid his request before the public, had he not known that some plebeian tribunes, the abject slaves of the nobles, would have obstructed their passing an order on it. But he did, and ever should, consider the universal approbation, and will of the people, as equivalent to any order whatsoever.” Accordingly, on the day following, being supported by three plebeian tribunes, in opposition to the protest of the other seven, and the declared judgment of the senate, he triumphed; and the people paid every honour to the day. In the historical accounts which have been transmitted to us, of this year, there is some confusion; Claudius asserts, that Postumius, after having taken several cities in Samnium, was defeated and put to flight in Apulia; and that, being wounded himself, he was obliged to take refuge with a few attendants in Luceria. That the war in Etruria was conducted by Allius, and that it was he who triumphed. Fabius writes, that the two consuls acted in conjunction, both in Samnium and at Luceria; that an army was led over into Etruria, but by which of the consuls he has not mentioned; that at Luceria, great numbers were slain on both sides: and that in that battle, the temple of Jupiter Stator was vowed, the same vow having been formerly made by Romulus, but the fane only, that is, the area appropriated for the temple, had been yet consecrated. However, in this year, the state having been twice bound by the same vow, the senate, to avoid the guilt of neglect in the case of a religious obligation, ordered the fane to be erected.
XXXVIII. In the next year we find a consul, of a character eminently illustrious, distinguished by the united splendour of his own and his father’s glory, Lucius Papirius Cursor.Y.R.459. 293. We find likewise a war of the utmost importance, and a victory of such consequence, as no man, excepting Lucius Papirius, the consul’s father, had ever before obtained over the Samnites. It happened too that these had, with the same care and pains as on the former occasion, decorated their soldiers with the richest suits of splendid armour; and they had, likewise, called in to their aid the power of the gods, having, as it were, initiated the soldiers, by administering the military oath, with the solemn ceremonies practised in ancient times, and levied troops in every part of Samnium, under an ordinance entirely new, that “if any of the younger inhabitants should not attend the meeting, according to the general’s proclamation, or shall depart without permission, his head should be devoted to Jupiter.” Orders being then issued, for all to assemble at Aquilonia, the whole strength of Samnium came together, amounting to forty thousand men. There a piece of ground, in the middle of the camp, was enclosed with hurdles and boards, and covered overhead with linen cloth, the sides being all of an equal length, about two hundred feet. In this place sacrifices were performed, according to directions read out of an old linen book, the function of priest being discharged by a very old man, called Ovius Paccius, who affirmed that he took these ceremonials from the ancient ritual of the Samnites, being the same which their ancestors used, when they had formed the secret design of wresting Capua from the Etrurians. When the sacrifices were finished, the general ordered a beadle to summon every one of those who were most highly distinguished by their birth, or conduct: these were introduced singly. Besides the other exhibitions of the solemnity, calculated to impress the mind with religious awe, there were, in the middle of the covered enclosure, altars erected, about which lay the victims slain, and the centurions stood around with their swords drawn. The soldier was led up to the altars, rather like a victim, than a performer in the ceremony, and was bound by an oath not to divulge what he should see and hear in that place. He was then compelled to swear, in a dreadful kind of form, containing execrations on his own person, on his family and race, if he did not go to battle, whithersoever the commanders should lead; and, if either he himself fled from the field; or, in case he should see any other flying, did not immediately kill him. At first some, refusing to take the oath, were put to death round the altars, and lying among the carcases of the victims, served afterwards as a warning to others not to refuse it. When those of the first rank in the Samnite nation had been bound under these solemnities, the general nominated ten, whom he desired to choose each a man, and so to proceed until they should have filled up the number of sixteen thousand. This body, from the covering of the enclosure wherein the nobility had been thus devoted, was called the linen legion. They were furnished with splendid armour, and plumed helmets, to distinguish them above the rest. They had another body of forces, amounting to somewhat more than twenty thousand, not inferior to the linen legion, either in personal appearance, or renown in war, or their equipment for service. This number, composing the main strength of the nation, sat down at Aquilonia.
XXXIX. On the other side, the consuls set out from the city. First, Spurius Carvilius, to whom had been decreed the veteran legions, which Marcus Atilius, the consul of the preceding year, had left in the territory of Interamna, marched at their head into Samnium; and, while the enemy were busied in their superstitious rites, and holding their secret meeting, he took by storm the town of Amiternum. Here were slain about two thousand eight hundred men, and four thousand two hundred and seventy were made prisoners. Papirius, with a new army, which he raised in pursuance of a decree of the senate, made himself master of the city of Duronia. He took fewer prisoners than his colleague; but slew much greater numbers. Rich booty was acquired in both places. The consuls then, overrunning Samnium, and wasting the province of Atinum with particular severity, arrived, Carvilius at Cominium, and Papirius at Aquilonia, where the main force of the Samnites was posted. Here, for some time, there was neither a cessation of action, nor any vigorous effort. The day was generally spent in provoking the enemy when quiet, and retiring when they offered resistance; in menacing, rather than making an attack. By which practice of beginning, and then desisting, even those trifling skirmishes were continually left without a decision. The other Roman camp was twenty miles distant, and Papirius constantly consulted his absent colleague, on every thing which he undertook, while Carvilius, on his part, directed a greater share of his attention to Aquilonia, where the state of affairs was more critical and important, than to Cominium, which he himself was besieging. When Papirius had fully adjusted every measure, preparatory to an engagement, he despatched a message to his colleague, that “he intended, if the auspices permitted, to fight the enemy on the day following; and that it would be necessary that he (Carvilius) should at the same time make an assault on Cominium, with his utmost force, that the Samnites there might have no leisure to send any succour to Aquilonia.” The messenger had the day for the performance of his journey, and he returned in the night, with an answer to the consul, that his colleague approved of the plan. Papirius, on sending off the messenger, had instantly called an assembly, where he descanted, at large, on the nature of the war in general, and on the mode at present adopted by the enemy, in the equipment of their troops, which certainly served for empty parade, but could have no kind of efficacy towards ensuring success: for “plumes,” he said, “made no wounds; that a Roman javelin would make its way through shields, however painted and gilt; and that the dazzling whiteness of their tunics would soon be besmeared with blood, when the sword began its work. His father had formerly cut off, to a man, a gold and silver army of the Samnites; and such accoutrements had made a more respectable figure, as spoils, in the hands of the conquering foe, than as arms in those of the wearers. Perhaps it was allotted, by destiny, to his name and family, that they should be opposed in command against the most powerful efforts of the Samnites; and should bring home spoils, of such beauty, as to serve for ornaments to the public places. The immortal gods were certainly on his side, on account of the leagues so often solicited, and so often broken. Besides, if a judgment might be formed of the sentiments of the deities, they never were more hostile to any army, than to that, which, in its abominable sacrifice, was polluted with human blood, mingled with that of cattle; which was in all events devoted to the wrath of the gods, dreading, on the one hand, the deities, who were witnesses to the treaties concluded with the Romans; on the other, the imprecations comprised in the oath which they took, in contradiction to those treaties, which they had before sworn to observe: an oath, which, taken through compulsion, they no doubt abhorred; while they as certainly feared, at once the gods, their countrymen, and their enemies.”
XL. The rage of the soldiers was inflamed to a high degree before; but, when the consul had recounted to them all these circumstances, which he had learned from deserters, they then, filled with confidence in both divine and human aid, with one universal shout, demanded the battle; were vexed at the action being deferred; impatient under the intended delay of a day and a night. Papirius, at the third watch, having received his colleague’s letter, arose in silence, and sent the keeper of the chickens to take the auspices. There was no one description of men in the camp, who felt not earnest wishes for the fight: the highest, and the lowest, were equally eager; the general watching the ardour of the soldiers, and the soldiers that of the general. This universal zeal spread even to those employed in taking the auspices; for the chickens having refused to feed, the auspex ventured to misrepresent the omen, and reported to the consul, that they had fed voraciously* . The consul, highly pleased, and giving notice that the auspices were excellent, and that they were to act under the direction of the gods, displayed the signal for battle. Just as he was going out to the field, he happened to receive intelligence from a deserter, that twenty cohorts of Samnites, consisting of about four hundred each, had marched towards Cominium. Lest his colleague should be ignorant of this, he instantly despatched a messenger to him, and then ordered the troops to advance with speed, having already assigned to each division of the army its proper post, and appointed general officers to command them. The command of the right wing he gave to Lucius Volumnius, that of the left to Lucius Scipio, that of the cavalry, to the other lieutenant-generals, Caius Cædicius and Caius Trebonius. He ordered Spurius Nautius to take off the panniers from the mules, and to lead them round quickly, together with his auxiliary cohorts, to a rising ground in view; and there to shew himself during the heat of the engagement, and to raise as much dust as possible. While the general was employed in making these dispositions, a dispute arose among the keepers of the chickens, about the auspices of the day, which was overheard by some Roman horsemen, who, deeming it a matter too important to be slighted, informed Spurius Papirius, the consul’s nephew, that there was a doubt about the auspices. The youth, born in an age when that sort of learning, which inculcates contempt of the gods, was yet unknown, examined into the affair, that he might not carry an uncertain report to the consul; and then acquainted him with it. His answer was, “I very much applaud your conduct and zeal. However, the person who officiates, in taking the auspices, if he makes a false report, draws on his own head the evil portened: but to the Roman people and their army, the favourable omen reported to me is an excellent auspice.” He then commanded the centurions to place the keepers of the chickens in the front of the line. The Samnites likewise brought forward their standards, followed by their main body, armed and decorated in such a manner as to afford a magnificent show. Before the shout was raised, or the battle begun, the auspex, wounded by a random cast of a javelin, fell before the standards; which being told to the consul, he said, “the gods are present in the battle; the guilty has met his punishment.” While the consul uttered these words, a crow, in front of him, cawed with a clear voice; at which augury, the consul being rejoiced, and affirming, that never had the gods displayed more evident demonstrations of their interposition in human affairs, ordered the charge to be sounded and the shout to be raised.
XLI. A furious conflict now ensued, but with very unequal spirit in the combatants. The Romans, actuated by anger, hope, and ardour for conquest, rushed to battle, like men thirsting for their enemy’s blood; while the Samnites, for the most part reluctantly, as if compelled by necessity and religious dread, rather stood on their defence, than made an attack. Nor would they, familiarized as they were to defeats, through a course of so many years, have withstood the first shout and shock of the Romans, had not another fear, operating still more powerfully in their breasts, restrained them from flying. For they had before their eyes the whole scene exhibited at the secret sacrifice, the armed priests, the promiscuous carnage of men and cattle, the altars besmeared with blood of victims, and of their murdered countrymen, the dreadful curses, and the direful form of imprecation, in which they had called down perdition on their family and race. Thus shackled, they stood in their posts, more afraid of their countrymen, than of the enemy. The Romans, pushing the attack with vigour on both the wings, and in the centre, made great havoc among them, deprived, as they were, of the use of their faculties, through their fears of the gods and of men, and making but a faint opposition. The slaughter had now almost reached to their standards, when, on one side, appeared a cloud of dust, as if raised by the marching of a numerous army: this was caused by Spurius Nautius, (some say Octavius Metius,) commander of the auxiliary cohorts: for these took pains to raise a great quantity of dust, the servants of the camp mounted on the mules, dragging boughs of trees, full of leaves, along the ground. Through this obscuration, arms and standards were seen in front, with cavalry closing the rear. This effectually deceived, not only the Samnites, but the Romans themselves: and the consul confirmed the mistake, by calling out among the foremost battalions, so that his voice reached also the enemy, that “Cominium was taken; and that his victorious colleague was approaching;” bidding his men “now make haste to complete the defeat of the enemy, before the other army should come in for a share of the glory.” This he said as he sat on horseback, and then ordered the tribunes and centurions to open passages for the horse. He had given previous directions to Trebonius, and Cædicius, that, when they should see him waving the point of his spear aloft, they should cause the cavalry to charge the enemy with all possible violence. Every particular, as previously concerted, was executed with the utmost exactness. The passages were opened between the ranks, the cavalry darted through, and, with the points of their spears presented, rushed into the midst of the enemy’s battalions, breaking down the ranks wherever they charged. Volumnius and Scipio seconded the blow, and taking advantage of the enemy’s disorder, made a terrible slaughter. Thus attacked, the linen, regardless of all restraints from either gods or men, quitted their posts in confusion; the sworn, and the unsworn all fled alike, no longer dreading aught but the Romans. The remains of their infantry were driven into the camp at Aquilonia. The nobility and cavalry directed their flight to Bovianum. The horse were pursued by the Roman horse, the infantry by their infantry, while the wings proceeded by different roads; the right, to the camp of the Samnites; the left, to the city. Volumnius succeeded first in gaining possession of the camp. At the city, Scipio met a stouter resistance; not because the conquered troops there had gained courage, but because walls are a better defence against armed men, than a rampart. From these, they repelled the enemy with stones. Scipio considering, that unless the business were effected, during their first panic, and before they could recover their spirits, the attack of so strong a town would be very tedious, asked his soldiers “if they could endure, without shame, that the other wing should already have taken the camp, and that they, after all their success, should be repulsed from the gates of the city?” Then, all of them loudly declaring their determination to the contrary, he himself advanced, the foremost, to the gate, with his shield raised over his head: the rest, following under the like cover of their shields conjoined, burst into the city, and dispersing the Samnites, who were near the gate, took possession of the walls, but were deterred from pushing forward, by the smallness of their number.
XLII. Of these transactions, the consul was for some time ignorant; and was busily employed in calling home his troops, for the sun was now hastening to set, and the approach of night rendered every place suspicious and dangerous, even to victorious troops. Having rode forward, a considerable way, he saw on the right, the camp taken, and heard on the left, a shouting in the city, with a confused noise of fighting, and cries of terror. This happened while the fight was going on at the gate. When, on riding up nearer, he saw his own men on the walls, and so much progress already made in the business, pleased at having gained, through the precipitate conduct of a few, an opportunity of striking an important blow, he ordered the troops, whom he had sent back to the camp, to be called out, and to march to the attack of the city: these, having made good their entrance, on the nearest side, proceeded no farther, because night approached. Before morning, however, the town was abandoned by the enemy. There were slain of the Samnites on that day, at Aquilonia, thirty thousand three hundred and forty; taken three thousand eight hundred and seventy, with ninety-seven military standards. One circumstance, respecting Papirius, is particularly mentioned by historians: that, hardly ever was any general seen in the field with a more cheerful countenance; whether this was owing to his natural temper, or to his confidence of success. From the same firmness of mind it proceeded, that he did not suffer himself to be diverted from the war by the dispute about the auspices; and that, in the heat of the battle, when it was customary to vow temples to the immortal gods, he vowed to Jupiter the victorious, that if he should defeat the legions of the enemy, he would, before he tasted of any generous liquor, make a libation to him of a cup of wine and honey. This kind of vow proved acceptacle to the gods, and they conducted the auspices to a fortunate issue.
XLIII. Like success attended the operations of the other consul at Cominium: leading up his forces to the walls, at the first dawn, he invested the city on every side, and posted strong guards opposite to the gates to prevent any sally being made. Just as he was giving the signal, the alarming message from his colleague, touching the march of the twenty Samnite cohorts, not only caused him to delay the assault, but obliged him to call off a part of his troops, when they were formed and ready to begin the attack. He ordered Decius Brutus Scæva, a lieutenant-general, with the first legion, twenty auxiliary cohorts, and the cavalry, to go and oppose the said detachment; and in whatever place he should meet the foe, there to stop and detain them, and even to engage in battle, should opportunity offer for it; at all events not to suffer those troops to approach Cominium. He then commanded the scaling ladders to be brought up to the walls, on every side of the city; and, under a fence of closed shields, advanced to the gates. Thus, at the same moment, the gates were broke open, and the assault made on every part of the rampart. Though the Samnites, before they saw the assailants on the works, had possessed courage enough to oppose their approaches to the city, yet now, when the action was no longer carried on at a distance, nor with missile weapons, but in close fight; and when those, who had with difficulty gained the walls, the most formidable obstruction in their way, fought with ease on equal ground, against an enemy inferior in strength, they all forsook the towers and strong holds, and were driven to the Forum. There, for a short time they tried, as a last effort, to retrieve the fortune of the fight; but soon, throwing down their arms, surrendered to the consul, to the number of fifteen thousand four hundred; four thousand three hundred and eighty being slain. Such was the course of events at Cominium, such at Aquilonia. In the middle space between the two cities, where a third battle had been expected, the enemy were not found: for, when they were within seven miles of Cominium, they were recalled by their countrymen, and had no part in either battle. At night-fall, when they were now within sight of their camp, and also of Aquilonia, shouts from both places reaching them with equal violence induced them to halt; then, on the side of the camp, which had been set on fire by the Romans, the wide-spreading flames discovered with more certainty the disaster which had happened, and prevented their proceeding any farther. In that same spot, stretched on the ground at random, under their arms, they passed the whole night in great inquietude, at one time wishing for, at another dreading the light. At the first dawn, while they were still undetermined to what quarter they should direct their march, they were obliged (unprotected as they were, either by a rampart or advanced guard,) to betake themselves hastily to flight, being descried by the cavalry, who had gone in pursuit of the Samnites that left the town in the night. These had likewise been perceived from the walls of Aquilonia, and the legionary cohorts now joined in the pursuit. The foot were unable to overtake them, but the cavalry cut off about two hundred and eighty of their rear guard. The rest, with less loss than might have been expected in such a disorderly rout, effected their escape to Bovianum, leaving behind, in their consternation, a great quantity of arms, and eighteen military standards.
XLIV. The joy of one Roman army was enhanced by the success of the other. Each consul, with the approbation of his colleague, gave to his soldiers the plunder of the town which he had taken; and, when the houses were cleared, set them on fire. Thus, on the same day, Aquilonia and Cominium were both reduced to ashes. The consuls then united their camps, where mutual congratulations took place between them, and between their soldiers. Here, in the view of the two armies, Carvilius bestowed on his men commendations and presents according to the desert of each; and Papirius likewise, whose troops had been engaged in a variety of actions, in the field, in the assault of the camp, and in that of the city, presented Spurius Nautius, Spurius Papirius, his nephew, four centurions, and a company of the spearmen, with bracelets and crowns of gold — to Nautius, on account of his behaviour at the head of his detachment, when he had terrified the enemy with the appearance as of a numerous army; to young Papirius, on account of his zealous exertions with the cavalry, both in the battle and in harassing the Samnites in their flight by night, when they withdrew privately from Aquilonia; and to the centurions and company of soldiers, because they were the first who gained possession of the gate and wall of that town. All the horsemen he presented with gorgets and bracelets of silver, on account of their distinguished conduct on many occasions. A council was then held to consider of the propriety either of removing both armies, or one at least, out of Samnium; in which it was concluded, that the lower the strength of the Samnites was reduced, the greater perseverance and vigour ought to be used in prosecuting the war, until they should be effectually crushed, that Samnium might be given up to the succeeding consuls in a state of perfect subjection. As there was now no army of the enemy which could be supposed capable of disputing the field, they had only one mode of operations to pursue, the besieging of the cities; by the destruction of which, they might be enabled to enrich their soldiers with the spoil; and, at the same time, utterly to destroy the enemy, reduced to the necessity of fighting, their all being at stake. The consuls, therefore, after despatching letters to the senate and people of Rome, containing accounts of the services which they had performed, led away their legions to different quarters; Papirius going to attack Sepinum, Carvilius to Volana.
XLV. The letters of the consuls were heard with extraordinary exultation, both in the senate-house and in the assembly of the people; and, in a public thanksgiving of four days continuance, individuals concurred with hearty zeal in celebrating the public rejoicings. These successes were not only important in themselves, but peculiarly seasonable; for it happened, that, at the same time, intelligence was brought of the Etrurians being again in arms. The reflection naturally occurred, how it would have been possible, in case any misfortune had happened in Samnium, to have withstood the power of Etruria; which, being encouraged by the conspiracy of the Samnites, and seeing both the consuls, and the whole force of the Romans, employed against them, had made use of that juncture, in which the Romans had so much business on their hands, for reviving hostilities. Ambassadors from the allies being introduced to the senate by the prætor Marcus Atilius, complained that their countries were wasted with fire and sword by the neighbouring Etrurians, because they had refused to revolt from the Romans; and they besought the Conscript Fathers to protect them from the violence and injustice of their common enemy. The ambassadors were answered, that “the senate would take care that the allies should not repent their fidelity. That the Etrurians should shortly be in the same situation with the Samnites.” Notwithstanding which, the business respecting Etruria would have been prosecuted with less vigour, had not information been received, that the Faliscians likewise, who had for many years lived in friendship with Rome, had united their arms with those of the Etrurians. The consideration of the near vicinity of that nation quickened the attention of the senate; insomuch that they passed a decree that heralds should be sent to demand satisfaction: which being refused, war was declared against the Faliscians by direction of the senate, and order of the people; and the consuls were desired to determine, by lots, which of them should lead an army from Samnium into Etruria. Carvilius had, in the mean time, taken from the Samnites Volana, Palumbinum, and Herculaneum: Volana after a siege of a few days, Palumbinum the same day on which he approached the walls. At Herculaneum, it is true, the consul had two regular engagements without any decisive advantage on either side, and with greater loss than was suffered by the enemy: but afterwards, encamping on the spot, he shut them up within their works, besieged and took the town. In these three towns were taken or slain ten thousand men, of whom the prisoners composed somewhat the greater part. On the consuls casting lots for the provinces, Etruria fell to Carvilius, to the great satisfaction of the soldiers, who now found the cold too severe in Samnium. Papirius was opposed at Sepinum with a more powerful force: he was obliged to fight often in pitched battles; often, on a march; and often, under the walls of the city, against the irruptions of the enemy; and could neither besiege, nor engage them on equal terms: for the Samnites had not only the advantage of walls, but likewise of numbers of men and arms to protect their walls. At length, after a great deal of fighting, he forced them to submit to a regular siege. This he carried on with vigour, and made himself master of the city by means of his works, and by storm. The rage of the soldiers on this occasion caused the greatest slaughter in the taking of the town; seven thousand four hundred fell by the sword; the number of the prisoners did not amount to three thousand. The spoil, of which the quantity was very great, the whole substance of the Samnites being collected in a few cities, was given up to the soldiers.
XLVI. The snow had now entirely covered the face of the country, and rendered the shelter of houses absolutely necessary: the consul therefore led home his troops from Samnium. While he was on his way to Rome, a triumph was decreed him with universal consent: and accordingly he triumphed while in office, and with extraordinary splendour, considering the circumstances of those times. The cavalry and infantry marched in the procession, adorned with the honourable presents which they had received. Great numbers of crowns were seen, which had been bestowed as marks of honour, for having saved the lives of citizens, or for having first mounted walls or ramparts. People’s curiosity was highly gratified in viewing the spoils of the Samnites, and comparing them, in respect of magnificence and beauty, with those taken by his father, which were well known, from being frequently exhibited as ornaments of the public places. Several prisoners of distinction, renowned for their own exploits, and those of their ancestors, were led in the cavalcade. There were carried in the train two millions and thirty-three thousand asses in weight*, said to be produced by the sale of the prisoners; and of silver, taken in the cities, one thousand three hundred and thirty pounds. All the silver and brass were lodged in the treasury, no share of this part of the spoil being given to the soldiers. The ill humour which this excited in the commons, was farther exasperated by their being obliged to contribute, by a tax, to the payment of the army; whereas, said they, if the vain parade of conveying the produce of the spoil to the treasury had been disregarded, donations might have been made to the soldiers, and the pay of the army also supplied out of that fund. The temple of Quirinus, vowed by his father when dictator, (for that he himself had vowed it in the heat of battle, I do not find in any ancient writer, nor indeed could he in so short a time have finished the building of it,) the son in the office of consul dedicated, and adorned with military spoils. And of these, so great was the abundance, that not only that temple and the Forum were decorated with them, but quantities were also distributed among the allies and colonies in the neighbourhood, to serve as ornaments to their temples and public places. Immediately after his triumph, he led his army into winter-quarters in the territory of Vescia; that country being exposed to the inroads of the Samnites. Meanwhile, in Etruria, the consul Carvilius first laid siege to Troilium, when four hundred and seventy of the richest inhabitants, offering a large sum of money for permission to leave the place, he suffered them to depart: the town, with the remaining multitude, he took by storm. He afterwards reduced, by force, five forts strongly situated, wherein were slain two thousand four hundred of the enemy, and not quite two thousand made prisoners. To the Faliscians, who sued for peace, he granted a truce for a year, on condition of their furnishing a hundred thousand asses in weight*, and a year’s pay for his army. This business completed, he returned home to a triumph, which, though it was less illustrious than that of his colleague, in respect of his share in the defeat of the Samnites, was yet raised to an equality with it; the whole honour of the campaign in Etruria belonging solely to him. He carried into the treasury three hundred and ninety thousand asses in weight.† Out of the remainder of the money accruing to the public from the spoils, he contracted for the building of a temple to Fors Fortuna, near to that dedicated to the same goddess by King Servius Tullius; and gave to the soldiers, out of the spoil, one hundred and two asses‡ each, and double that sum to the centurions and horsemen: this donative was received the more gratefully, on account of the parsimony of his colleague.
XLVII. The favour of the consul saved from a trial, before the people, Postumius; who, on a prosecution being commenced against him by Marcus Scantius, plebeian tribune, evaded, as was said, the jurisdiction of the people, by procuring the commission of lieutenant-general, so that he could only be threatened with it. The year having now elapsed, new plebeian tribunes had come into office; and even these, in consequence of some irregularity in their appointments, had, within five days after, others substituted in their room. The lustrum was closed this year by the censors Publius Cornelius Arvina and Caius Marcius Rutilus. The number of citizens rated was two hundred and sixty-two thousand three hundred and twenty-two. These were the twenty-sixth pair of censors since the first institution of that office; and this the nineteenth lustrum. In this year, persons who had been presented with crowns, in consideration of meritorious behaviour in war, first began to wear them at the exhibition of the Roman games. At the same time was first introduced from Greece, the practice of bestowing palms on the victors in the games. In the same year the curule ædiles, who exhibited those games, completed the paving of the road from the temple of Mars to Bovillæ, out of fines levied on the farmers of the public pastures. Lucius Papirius presided at the consular election, and returned consuls Quintus Fabius Gurges, son of Maximus, and Decius Junius Brutus Scæva. Papirius himself was made prætor. The many prosperous events of this year were scarcely sufficient to afford consolation for one calamity, a pestilence, which afflicted both the city and country, and caused a prodigious mortality. To discover what end, or what remedy, was appointed by the gods for that calamity, the books were consulted, and there it was found that Æsculapius must be brought to Rome from Epidaurus. However, as the consuls had full employment in the wars, no farther steps were taken in that business during this year, except the performing a supplication to Æsculapius, of one day’s continuance.
* 5s. 3¼d.
* 1,614l. 11s. 8d.
* When the auspices were to be taken from the chickens, the keeper threw some of their food upon the ground, in their sight, and opened the door of their coop. If they did not come out; if they came out slowly; if they refused to feed, or eat in a careless manner, the omen was considered as bad. On the contrary, if they rushed out hastily, and eat greedily, so that some of the food fell from their mouths on the ground, this was considered as an omen of the best import; it was called tripudium solistimum, originally, terripavium, from terra, and pavire, to strike.
* 4,940l. 13s. 6d.
* 322l. 18s. 4d.
† 1,259l. 7s. 6d.
‡ 6s. 7d.
Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 11:57