Brutus binds the people, by an oath, never to restore the kingly government; obliges Tarquinius Collatinus, on account of his relationship to the Tarquinii, to resign the consulship, and retire from the city, puts to death his own sons, together with some other young men of rank, for a conspiracy in favour of the Tarquinii; falls in battle against the Veientians and Tarquinians, together with his antagonist Aruns, son of Superbus. War with Porsena. Exploits of Horatius Cocles, Mutius Scævola, and Clœlia. The Claudian tribe formed, and the number of the tribes increased to twenty-one. The Latines, attempting to restore Tarquinius, are defeated by Aulus Postumius, dictator. The commons, on account of the great numbers confined for debt, secede to the sacred mount; are appeased, and brought back, by the prudence of Menenius Agrippa. Five tribunes of the commons created. Banishment and subsequent conduct of Caius Marcius Coriolanus. First proposal of an Agrarian law. Spurius Cassius, aspiring to regal power, put to death. Oppia, a vestal virgin, convicted of incest, buried alive. The Fabian family undertake the Veientian war, and are all cut off, except one boy. Wars with the Volscians, Æquans, and Veientians. Dissensions between the Patricians and Plebeians.
Y. R. 245. 507.I.Henceforward I am to treat of the affairs, civil and military, of a free people, for such the Romans were now become; of annual magistrates and the authority of the laws exalted above that of men. What greatly enhanced the public joy on having attained to this state of freedom, was, the haughty insolence of the late king: for the former kings governed in such a manner, that all of them, in succession, might deservedly be reckoned as founders of the several parts at least, of the city, which they added to it, to accommodate the great numbers of inhabitants, whom they themselves introduced. Nor can it be doubted, that the same Brutus, who justly merited so great glory, for having expelled that haughty king, would have hurt the public interest most materially, had he, through an over hasty zeal for liberty, wrested the government from any one of the former princes. For what must have been the consequence, if that rabble of shepherds and vagabonds, fugitives from their own countries, having, under the sanction of an inviolable asylum, obtained liberty, or at least impunity; and uncontrolled by dread of kingly power, had once been set in commotion by tribunitian storms, and had, in a city, where they were strangers, engaged in contests with the Patricians, before the pledges of wives and children, and an affection for the soil itself, which in length of time is acquired from habit, had united their minds in social concord? The state, as yet but a tender shoot, had, in that case, been torn to pieces by discord; whereas the tranquil moderation of the then government cherished it, and, by due nourishment, brought it forward to such a condition, that its powers being ripened, it was capable of producing the glorious fruit of liberty. The origin of liberty is to be dated from that period, rather on account of the consular government being limited to one year, than of any diminution made of the power which had been possessed by the kings. The first consuls enjoyed all their privileges, and all their ensigns of authority; in this respect, only, care was taken, not to double the objects of terror by giving the fasces to both the consuls. Brutus, with the consent of his colleague, was first honoured with the fasces, and the zeal which he had shown as the champion of liberty in rescuing it from oppression, was not greater than that which he afterwards displayed in the character of its guardian. First of all, while the people were in raptures at their new acquisition of freedom, lest they might afterwards be perverted by the importunities or presents of the princes, he bound them by an oath, that they would never suffer any man to assume the authority of king at Rome. Next, in order that the fullness of their body might give the greater weight to the senate, he filled up the number of the senators, which had been diminished by the king’s murders, to the amount of three hundred, electing into that body the principal men of equestrian rank; and hence the practice is said to have taken its rise of summoning to the senate those who are fathers, and those who are conscripti; for they called those who were elected into this new senate conscripti. This had a wonderful effect towards producing concord in the state, and in attaching the affection of the commons to the patricians.
II. People then turned their attention to matters of religion; and because some public religious rites had been usually performed by the kings in person, in order that there should be no want of one on any occasion, they appointed a king of the sacrifices. This office they made subject to the jurisdiction of the pontiff, fearing lest honour, being joined to the title, might in some shape be injurious to liberty, which was then the first object of their concern: I know not whether they did not carry to excess their great anxiety to raise bulwarks to it, on all sides, even in points of the most trivial consequence; for the name of one of the consuls, though there was no other cause of dislike, became a subject of jealousy to the people. It was alleged, that “the Tarquinii had been too long accustomed to the possession of sovereign power: Priscus first began; next indeed reigned Servius Tullius, yet though that interruption occurred, Tarquinius Superbus never lost sight of the crown, so as to consider it the right of another; but, by violent and flagitious means, reclaimed it, as the inheritance of his family. Now, that Superbus had been expelled, the government was in the hands of Collatinus; the Tarquinii knew not how to live in a private station; the very name itself was displeasing, and dangerous to liberty.” These discourses were at first, gradually circulated through every part of the city, for the purpose of trying the disposition of the people. After the suspicions of the commons had, by these suggestions, been sufficiently excited, Brutus called them together: when they were assembled, after first reciting the oath which the people had taken, that “they would never suffer a king at Rome, or any thing else that might be dangerous to liberty;” he told them, that “they must support this resolution with their utmost power; and that no circumstance, of any tendency that way, ought to be overlooked: that from his regard to the person alluded to, he mentioned the matter unwillingly; nor would he have mentioned it at all, did not his affection for the commonwealth outweigh all other considerations. The Roman people did not think that they had recovered entire freedom: the regal family, the regal name remained, not only in the city, but in the government: this was a circumstance, not merely unpropitious, but dangerous to liberty. Do you, Lucius Tarquinius, of your own accord, remove from us this apprehension: we remember, we acknowledge that you expelled the princes: complete your kindness: carry hence their name. Your countrymen, on my recommendation, will not only give you up your property, but if you have occasion for more, will make liberal additions to it. Depart in friendship. Deliver the state from this, it may be groundless, apprehension; but the opinion is deeply rooted in their minds, that, only with the race of the Tarquinii, will kingly power depart hence.” Astonishment at this extraordinary and unexpected affair at first deprived the consul of all power of utterance; and when he afterwards began to speak, the principal men of the state gathered round him, and with earnest importunity urged the same request. Others affected him less; but when Spurius Lucretius, his superior in age, and dignity of character, and his father-in-law besides, began to try every method of persuasion, using by turns, arguments and entreaties, that he would suffer himself to be overcome by the general sense of his countrymen, the consul, fearing lest hereafter, when he should have returned to a private station, the same measures might be used against him, with the addition perhaps of confiscation of his property, and other marks of ignominy, resigned the office of consul, and removing all his effects to Lavinium, withdrew from the territories of the state. Brutus in pursuance of a decree of the senate, proposed to the people, that all who were of the Tarquinian family should be banished; and in an assembly of the Centuries, he elected for his colleague, Publius Valerius, who had been his assistant in expelling the royal family.
III. No person now doubted but war would be immediately commenced by the Tarquinii: that event, however, did not take place so soon as was expected. But, what they entertained no apprehension of, liberty was very near being lost, by secret machinations and treachery. There were, among the Romans, several young men of no inconsiderable families, who, during the reign of the king, had indulged their pleasures too freely; and being of the same age, and constant companions of the younger Tarquinii, had been accustomed to live in a princely style: the privileges of all ranks being now reduced to one level, these grew uneasy at the restraint hereby laid on their irregularities, and complained heavily among themselves, that the liberty of others had imposed slavery on them. “A king was a human being; from him might a request be obtained, whether right or wrong; with him there was room for favour, and for acts of kindness; he could be angry, and he could forgive; he knew a distinction between a friend and an enemy. But the law was a deaf inexorable being, calculated rather for the safety and advantage of the poor, than of the rich; and admitted of no relaxation or indulgence, if its bounds were transgressed. Men being liable to so many mistakes, to have no other security but innocence is a hazardous situation.” While their minds were in this discontented state, ambassadors arrived from the Tarquinii, who, without any mention of their restoration, demanded only their effects: the senate, having granted them an audience, continued their deliberations on the subject for several days, being apprehensive that a refusal to give them up, would afford a plausible reason for a war, and the giving them up, a fund in aid of it. Meanwhile the ambassadors were busily employed in schemes of another nature: whilst they openly demanded the effects, they were secretly forming a plan for recovering the throne, and addressing themselves to the young nobles, seemingly on the business which they were supposed to have in charge, they made trial of their dispositions. To those who lent an ear to their suggestions, they delivered letters from the Tarquinii, and concerted measures with them for receiving those princes privately into the city by night.
IV. The business was first intrusted to the brothers of the name of Vitellii, and those of the name of Aquillii; a sister of the Vitellii had been married to the consul Brutus, and there were two sons born of that marriage, now grown up, Titus and Tiberius: these were led in, by their uncles, to take part in the design; and several others of the young nobility were drawn into the conspiracy, whose names, at this distance of time, are unknown. In the meanwhile, the opinion of those, who advised the giving up of the property, having prevailed in the senate, this afforded the ambassadors a pretext for remaining in the city, because they had been allowed time by the consuls to procure carriages for the conveyance of the effects of the princes; all which time they spent in consultations with the conspirators, and had, by pressing instances, prevailed upon them to send letters for the Tarquinii; for “without these, how could they be so fully assured, as an affair of that high importance required, that the report of the ambassadors was not groundless?” These letters, given as a pledge of their sincerity, proved the means of detecting the plot: for the day before that on which they were to return to the Tarquinii, the ambassadors happening to sup with the Vitellii, and the conspirators having here in private had much conversation, as was natural, on the subject of their new enterprise, their discourse was overheard by one of the slaves who had, before this, discovered that such a design was in agitation, but waited for this opportunity, until the letters should be given to the ambassadors; because these, being seized, would furnish full proof of the transaction. As soon as he found that they were delivered, he made a discovery of the affair to the consuls. The consuls, setting out from home directly, and apprehending the ambassadors and conspirators in the fact, effectually crushed the affair without any tumult; taking particular care, with regard to the letters, that they should not escape them. They instantly threw the traitors into chains, but hesitated for some time with regard to proceeding against the ambassadors; and though, by their behaviour, they had deserved to be treated as enemies, yet regard to the law of nations prevailed.
V. With respect to the effects of the princes, which they had before ordered to be restored, the business was now laid before the senate for re-consideration; and they, actuated entirely by resentment, decreed, that they should not be restored, but converted to the use of the state. They were, therefore, given up to the commons as plunder, with the intent, that these, after such an act of violence against the princes, as the seizing of their effects, might for ever lose all hope of reconciliation with them. The land of the Tarquinii, which lay between the city and the Tiber, being consecrated to the god of war, has, from that time, been called the Field of Mars. It happened, that there was then on that ground a crop of corn, ripe for the sickle, and because it would be an impiety to make use of this produce of the field, a great number of men were sent in at once, who, having cut it down, carried it in baskets, and threw it, grain and straw together, into the Tiber, whose waters were low at that time, as is generally the case in the middle of summer. The heaps of corn then being frequently stopped for a while in the shallows, and having contracted a covering of mud, sunk, and, remained fixed, and by these means, with the afflux of other materials which the stream is apt to carry down, an island* was gradually formed. I suppose that mounds were afterwards added, and assistance given by art, to raise the surface to its present height, and give it sufficient firmness to support temples and porticoes. After the people had made plunder of the effects of the princes, the traitors were condemned and executed. And the execution was the more remarkable on this account, that his office of consul imposed on a father the severe duty of inflicting punishment on his own sons; and that he, who ought not to have been present as a spectator, was yet the very person whom fortune pitched on to exact the penalty of their offence. The youths, all of the first distinction, stood tied to stakes, but the sons of the consul entirely engaged the eyes of the spectators, as if the others were persons unknown; and people felt compassion, not only for their punishment, but even for the crime by which they had brought it on themselves: to think that “they could, during that year particularly, have been induced to entertain a design of betraying their country, just delivered from tyranny, their father its deliverer, the consulship, which had commenced in the Junian family, the patricians, commons, in a word, whatever Rome held in highest veneration, into the hands of one who was formerly a tyrannical king, now an enraged exile.” The consuls mounted their throne, and the lictors were sent to inflict the punishment: after stripping the criminals naked, they beat them with rods, and beheaded them; whilst, through the whole process of the affair, the looks and countenance of Brutus afforded an extraordinary spectacle, the feelings of the father often struggling with the character of the magistrate enforcing the execution of the laws. Justice done to the offenders, in order to exhibit a striking example for the prevention of crimes, in their treatment of the several parties, they gave, as a reward to the discoverer of the treason, a sum of money out of the treasury, his freedom, and the rights of a citizen. This man is said to be the first who was made free by the Vindicta.* Some think that the term “Vindicta” was taken from him, his name having been Vindicius: after him, it obtained, as a rule, that whoever was made free in that manner, should be considered and admitted a citizen.
VI. Tarquinius, on being informed of these transactions, became inflamed, not only with grief for the disappointment of such promising hopes, but with hatred and resentment; and finding every pass shut against secret plots, determined to have recourse to open war; and to that end, he went round to all the cities of Etruria, in the character of a suppliant, addressing himself particularly to the people of Veii and Tarquinii, intreating them, “not to suffer him, who was sprung from themselves, and of the same blood; who was lately possessed of so great a kingdom, now exiled and in want, to perish before their eyes, together with the young men his sons. Others had been invited from foreign countries to Rome, to fill the throne; but he, when in possession of the government, and while he was employing his arms in extending the limits of the Roman empire, was expelled by a villainous conspiracy of men who were most closely connected with him; who, because no one of their number was qualified to hold the reins of government, had forcibly shared the several parts of it among them, and had given up his property to be plundered by the populace, to the intent that all might be equally guilty. He only wished to be restored to his own country and crown, and to be avenged on his ungrateful subjects. He besought them to support and assist him, and at the same time, to take revenge for the injuries which they themselves had sustained of old, for their legions so often slaughtered, and their lands taken from them.” These arguments had the desired effect on the Veientians, every one of whom earnestly, and with menaces, declared that they ought now at least, with a Roman at their head, to efface the memory of their disgraces, and recover, by arms, what they had lost. The people of Tarquinii were moved by his name, and his relation to themselves: they thought it redounded to their honour, that their countrymen should reign at Rome. Thus two armies of two states followed Tarquinius to demand his restoration, and prosecute war against the Romans. When they advanced into the Roman territories, the consuls marched out to meet the enemy. Valerius led the infantry, in order of battle; Brutus, with the cavalry, marched at some distance before them, in order to procure intelligence. In like manner, the vanguard of the enemy was composed of cavalry, under the command of Aruns Tarquinius, the king’s son; the king himself followed with the legions. Aruns, perceiving at a distance, by the lictors, that a consul was there, and afterwards, on a nearer approach, plainly distinguishing Brutus by his face, became inflamed with rage, and cried out, “That is the man who has driven us as exiles from our country; see how he marches in state, decorated with our ensigns: ye gods, avengers of kings, assist me!” He then spurred on his horse, and drove furiously against the consul. Brutus perceived that the attack was meant for him; and as it was at that time reckoned not improper for generals themselves to engage in fight, he eagerly offered himself to the combat; and they advanced against each other with such furious animosity, neither thinking of guarding his own person, but solely intent on wounding his enemy, that, in the violence of the conflict, each of them received his antagonist’s spear in his body, through his buckler, and being entangled together by the two spears, they both fell lifeless from their horses. At the same time, the rest of the cavalry began to engage, and were shortly after joined by the infantry: a battle then ensued, in which victory seemed alternately to incline to either party, the advantages being nearly equal: for the right wings of both armies got the better, and the left were worsted. At length the Veientians, accustomed to be vanquished by the Roman troops, were routed and dispersed: the Tarquinians, a new enemy, not only kept their ground, but even, on their side, made the Romans give way.
VII. Though such was the issue of the battle, yet so great terror took possession of Tarquinius and the Etrurians, that, giving up the enterprise as impracticable, both armies, the Veientian and the Tarquinian, retired by night to their respective countries. To the accounts of this battle, writers have added miracles; that, during the silence of the following night, a loud voice was uttered from the Arsian wood, which was believed to be the voice of Sylvanus, in these words: “The number of the Etrurians who fell in the engagement was the greater by one. The Romans have the victory.” The Romans certainly departed from the field as conquerors, the Etrurians as vanquished: for when day appeared, and not one of the enemy was to be seen, the consul, Publius Valerius, collected the spoils, and returned in triumph to Rome. He celebrated the funeral of his colleague with the utmost degree of magnificence which those times could afford; but a much higher mark of honour to the deceased, was the grief expressed by the public, singularly remarkable in this particular, that the matrons mourned for him as for a parent, during a whole year, in gratitude for his vigorous exertions in avenging the cause of violated chastity. In a little time, the consul who survived, so changeable are the minds of the populace, from having enjoyed a high degree of popularity, became an object not only of jealousy, but of suspicion, attended with a charge of an atrocious nature: it was given out that he aspired at the sovereignty, because he had not substituted a colleague in the room of Brutus; and besides, was building a house on the summit of Mount Velia, which, in such a lofty and strong situation, would be an impregnable fortress. The consul’s mind was deeply affected with concern and indignation, at finding that such reports were circulated and believed; he therefore summoned the people to an assembly, and, ordering the fasces to be lowered,* mounted the rostrum. It was a sight highly pleasing to the multitude, to find the ensigns of sovereignty lowered to them, and an acknowledgment thus openly given, that the majesty and power of the people were superior to those of the consul. Attention being ordered, the consul extolled the good fortune of his colleague, who, “after having accomplished the deliverance of his country, and being raised to the highest post of honour, met with death while fighting in defence of the republic, when his glory had arrived at full maturity, without having excited jealousy: whereas he himself, surviving his glory, was become an object of calumny; and from the character of deliverer of his country, had sunk to a level with the Aquillii and Vitellii. Will no degree of merit then,” said he, “ever gain your confidence, so far as to be secure from the attacks of suspicion? Could I have the least apprehension that I, the bitterest enemy to kings, should undergo the charge of aiming at kingly power? Supposing that I dwelt in the very citadel, and in the Capitol, could I believe that I was an object of terror to my countrymen? Does my reputation among you depend on so mere a trifle? Is my title to your confidence so slightly founded, that it is more to be considered where I am, than what I am? Citizens, the house of Publius Valerius shall be no obstruction to your freedom; the Velian mount shall be secure to you: I will not only bring down my house to the plain, but will fix it under the hill, that your dwellings may overlook that of your suspected countryman. Let those build on the Velian mount to whom ye can better intrust your liberty than to Publius Valerius.” Immediately all the materials were brought down from the Velian mount, and the house was built at the foot of the hill, where the temple of victory now stands.
VIII. Some laws were then proposed by the consul, which not only cleared him from all suspicion of a design to possess himself of regal power, but whose tendency was so contrary thereto, that they even rendered him popular, and from thence he acquired the surname of Publicola. Such particularly, was that concerning an appeal to the people against the decrees of the magistrates, and that which devoted both the person and goods of any who should form a design of assuming regal power. These laws were highly acceptable to the populace, and having effected the ratification of them, while alone in office, in order that the credit of them might be entirely his own, he then held an assembly for the election of a new colleague. The consul elected was Spurius Lucretius, who, being far advanced in years, and too feeble to support the duties of his office, died in a few days after. Marcus Horatius Pulvillus was substituted in the room of Lucretius. In some old writers I find no mention of Lucretius as consul; they place Horatius as immediate successor to Brutus: I suppose he was not taken notice of, because his consulate was not signalized by any important transaction. The temple of Jupiter in the Capitol had not yet been dedicated; the consuls Valerius and Horatius cast lots which should perform the dedication, and it fell to Horatius. Publicola set out to conduct the war against the Veientians. The friends of Valerius showed more displeasure, than the occasion merited, at the dedication of a temple so celebrated being given to Horatius. Having endeavoured, by every means, to prevent its taking place, and all their attempts having failed of success, when the consul had already laid his hand on the door-post, and was employed in offering prayers to the gods, they hastily addressed him with the shocking intelligence, that his son was dead, and insisted that his family being thus defiled, he could not dedicate the temple. Whether he doubted the truth of the intelligence, or whether it was owing to great firmness of mind, we are not informed with certainty, nor is it easy to conjecture; but he was no farther diverted from the business he was engaged in, by that information, than just to give orders that the body should be buried; and, still holding the post, he finished his prayer, and dedicated the temple. Such were the transactions at home and abroad, which occurred during the first year after the expulsion of the royal family. The next consuls appointed were, Publius Valerius, a second time, and Titus Lucretius.Y. R. 246. 506.
IX. Meanwhile, the Tarquinii had carried their complaints to Lars Porsena, king of Clusium; and there, mixing admonitions with intreaties, they at one time besought him that he would not suffer those, who derived their origin from Etruria, and were of the same blood and name, to spend their lives in poverty and exile; then warned him “not to let this new practice of dethroning kings proceed without chastisement; adding, that liberty had in itself sufficient sweets to allure others to follow the example, unless kings would show the same degree of vigour, in support of kingly power, which the people exerted to wrest it from them: the highest ranks would be reduced to a level with the lowest: there would be no dignity, no pre-eminence among the several members of society: there would soon be an end of regal authority, which among gods and men had heretofore been held in the highest degree of estimation.” Porsena, considering it as highly conducive to the honour of Etruria, that there should be a king at Rome, and also that that king should be of Etrurian race, led an army to Rome, determined to support his pretensions by force of arms. Never on any former occasion were the senate struck with such terror, so powerful was the state of Clusium at that time, and so great the name of Porsena: nor were they in dread of their enemies only, but also of their own countrymen; lest the Roman populace, overcome by their fears, might admit the kings into the city, and for the sake of peace, submit to slavery. The senate, therefore, at this season practised many conciliatory measures toward the commons: their first care was applied to the markets, and people were sent, some to the Volscians, others to Cumæ, to purchase corn; the privilege also of selling salt, because the price had been raised to an extravagant height, was taken out of the hands of private persons, and placed entirely under the management of government; the commons were also exempted from port duties and taxes, that the public expenses might fall upon the rich, who were equal to the burthen, the poor paying tax sufficient if they educated their children. This indulgent care preserved such harmony in the state, even during the people’s severe sufferings afterwards, from siege and famine, that the name of king was abhorred by all; nor did any single person, in after times, ever acquire such a high degree of popularity by artful intrigues, as the whole senate then obtained by their wise administration.
X. As the enemy drew nigh, every one removed hastily from the country into the city, on every side of which strong guards were posted. Some parts seemed well secured by the walls, others by the Tiber running close to them. The Sublician bridge was very near affording the enemy an entrance, had it not been for one man, Horatius Cocles: no other bulwark had the fortune of Rome on that day. He happened to be posted on guard at the bridge, and when he saw the Janiculum taken by a sudden assault, and the enemy pouring down from thence in full speed, his countrymen in disorder and confusion no longer attempting opposition, but quitting their ranks, he caught hold of every one that he could, and, appealing to gods and men, assured them that “it was in vain that they fled, after deserting the post which could protect them; that if they passed the bridge, and left it behind them, they would soon see greater numbers of the enemy in the Palatium and the Capitol than in the Janiculum; wherefore he advised and warned them to break down the bridge, by their swords, fire, or any other effectual means, while he should sustain the attack of the enemy, as long as it was possible for one person to withstand them.” He then advanced to the first entrance of the bridge, and being easily distinguished from those who showed their backs in retreating from the fight, by his facing to the front, with his arms prepared for action, he astonished the enemy by such wonderful intrepidity. Shame however prevailed on two to remain with him, Spurius Lartius and Titus Herminius, both of them men of distinguished families and characters: with their assistance he, for a time, supported the first storm, and the most furious part of the fight. Even these he sent back, when the bridge was nearly destroyed, and those who were employed in breaking it down called upon them to retire; then darting fierce menacing looks at each of the leaders of the Etrurians, he sometimes challenged them singly, sometimes upbraided them altogether, as slaves of haughty kings, who, incapable of relishing liberty themselves, had come to wrest it from others. For a considerable time they hesitated, looking about for some other to begin the combat: shame at length put their troops in motion, and, setting up a shout, they poured their javelins from all sides against their single opponent: all which, having stuck in the shield with which he guarded himself, and he still persisting with the same undaunted resolution, and with haughty strides, to keep possession of his post, they had now resolved, by making a violent push, to force him from it, when the crash of the falling bridge, and at the same time a shout raised by the Romans, for joy at having completed their purpose, filled them with sudden dismay, and stopped them from proceeding in the attempt. Then Cocles said, “Holy father, Tiberinus, I beseech thee to receive these arms, and this thy soldier, into thy propitious stream.” With these words, armed as he was, he leaped down into the Tiber, and through showers of darts which fell around him, swam safe across to his friends, having exhibited a degree of intrepidity which, in after times, was more generally celebrated than believed. The state showed a grateful sense of such high desert; a statue was erected to him in the Comitium, with a grant of land as large as he could plough completely in one day. The zeal of private persons too was conspicuous, amidst the honours conferred on him by the public; for, great as the scarcity then was, every one contributed something to him, in proportion to the stock of their family, abridging themselves of their own proper support.
XI. Porsena, disappointed of success in this first effort, changed his plan from an assault to a blockade; and, leaving a force sufficient to secure the Janiculum, encamped his main body in the plain along the bank of the Tiber, at the same time collecting ships from all quarters, at once to guard the passage, that no corn should be conveyed to Rome, and to enable his troops to cross over the river in different places, as occasion offered, to lay waste the country. In a short time he extended his depredations so successfully, through every part of the Roman territories, that people were obliged to convey their effects into the city, as also their cattle, which no one would venture to drive without the gates. The Etrurians were permitted to act in this uncontrolled manner, not so much through fear, as design; for Valerius the consul, intent on gaining an opportunity of making an unexpected attack on a large number of them, at a time when they were unprepared, overlooked trifling advantages, reserving his force for a severe revenge on a more important occasion. With this view, in order to allure the plunderers, he gave orders to his men to drive out some cattle through the Esquiline gate, which was at the opposite side from the enemy; judging that these would soon get information of it, because, during the blockade and the scarcity of provisions, many of the slaves turned traitors and deserted. Accordingly they were informed of it by a deserter, and passed over the river in much greater numbers than usual, in hopes of getting possession of the entire booty. Publius Valerius then ordered Titus Herminius, with a small body of men, to lie concealed near the two-mile stone on the Gabian road; Spurius Lartius, with a body of light armed troops, to stand at the Colline gate until the enemy should pass by, and then to take post in their rear, so as to cut off their retreat to the river: the other consul, Titus Lucretius, with some companies of foot, marched out of the Nævian gate; Valerius himself led down his chosen cohorts from the Cœlian mount, and these were the first who were observed by the enemy. Herminius, as as soon as he found that the alarm was taken, rushed out from his ambush, to take his share in the fray, and while the Etrurians were busied in forming an opposition to Valerius, fell upon their rear; the shout was returned, both from the right and from the left; from the Colline gate on one hand, and the Nævian on the other. The plunderers being thus surrounded, destitute of strength to make head against their adversaries, and shut out from all possibility of a retreat, were cut to pieces. After this the Etrurians confined their ravages to narrower limits.
XII. The siege continued notwithstanding, and provisions becoming exceedingly scarce and dear, Porsena entertained hopes, that, by remaining quiet in his present position, he should become master of the city; when Caius Mucius, a noble youth, filled with indignation on reflecting that the Roman people, while they were in bondage under their kings, were never in any war besieged by any enemy, and that the same people, now in a state of freedom, were held besieged by those very Etrurians whose armies they had often routed, resolved, therefore, by some great and daring effort, to remove such reproach. At first he designed to make his way into the enemy’s camp, without communicating his intention; but afterwards, dreading lest, if he should go without the order of the consuls, and the knowledge of any, he might be apprehended by the Roman guards, and brought back as a deserter, an imputation for which the present circumstances of the city would afford plausible grounds, he applied to the senate, and told them, “Fathers, I intend to cross the Tiber, and to enter, if I can, the enemy’s camp, not to seek for plunder, or to revenge their depredations in kind; the blow which I meditate, with the aid of the gods, is of more importance.” The senate gave their approbation, and he set out with a sword concealed under his garment. When he came into the camp, he took his place close to the king’s tribunal, where a very great crowd was assembled. It happened that, at this time, the soldiers were receiving their pay, and a secretary, sitting beside the king, and dressed nearly in the same manner, acted a principal part in the business, and to him the soldiers generally addressed themselves. Mucius, not daring to inquire which was Porsena, lest his not knowing the king should discover what he was, fortune blindly directing the stroke where it was not intended, slew the secretary instead of the king. Then endeavouring to make his escape through a passage, which with his bloody weapon he cleared for himself among the dismayed crowd, a concourse of the soldiers being attracted by the noise, he was seized by the king’s life-guards, and dragged back. Standing there single, among a crowd of enemies, before the king’s tribunal, even in this situation, in the midst of fortune’s severest threats, showing himself more capable of inspiring terror than of feeling it, he spoke to this effect: “I am a Roman citizen; my name is Caius Mucius. As an enemy, I intended to have slain an enemy, nor is my resolution less firmly prepared to suffer death than to inflict it. It is the part of a Roman both to act and to suffer with fortitude: nor am I the only one who has harboured such designs against you. There is a long list, after me, of candidates for the same glorious distinction. Prepare, therefore, if you choose, for a contest of this sort, wherein you must every hour engage at the hazard of your life, and have the enemy and the sword continually in the porch of your pavilion; this is the kind of war in which we, Roman youths, engage against you; fear not an army in the field, nor in battle; the affair will rest between your single person, and each of us, separately.” The king, inflamed with rage, and, at the same time, terrified at the danger, ordered fires to be kindled round him, threatening him with severe punishment unless he instantly explained what those plots were, with which he threatened him in those ambiguous expressions: “Behold,” said Mucius, “and perceive what little account is made of the body, by those who have in view the attainment of great glory;” and thrusting his right hand into a chafing-dish of coals which had been kindled for the purpose of a sacrifice, held it there to burn, as if he were void of all sense of feeling: on which the king, thunderstruck in a manner by such astonishing behaviour, leaped from his seat, ordered the youth to be removed from the altars, and said to him, “Retire in safety, for the treatment which you intended for me, was mild in comparison of that which you have practised on yourself. I should wish increase and success to your bravery, if that bravery were exerted on the side of my own country. However, I dismiss you untouched and unhurt; and discharge you from the penalties, which, by the laws of war, I might inflict.” Mucius then, as if to make a return for this act of favour, told him, “Since I find you disposed to honour bravery, that you may obtain from me by kindness what you could not by threats, know that three hundred of us, the principal youths in Rome, have bound ourselves to each other by an oath, to attack you in this manner; my lot happened to be first; the others will be with you, each in his turn, according as the lot shall set him foremost, until fortune shall afford an opportunity of succeeding against you.”
XIII. Mucius, who afterwards got the surname of Scævola, or the left handed, from the loss of his right hand, being thus dismissed, was followed to Rome by ambassadors from Porsena. The king had been so deeply affected by the danger to which he had been exposed, in the first attempt, from which nothing had protected him but the mistake of the assailant; and by the consideration that he was to undergo the same hazard, as many times as the number of the other conspirators amounted to, that he thought proper, of his own accord, to offer terms of accommodation to the Romans. During the negotiation, mention was made, to no purpose, of the restoration of the Tarquinian family to the throne; and this proposal he made, rather because he had not been able to refuse it to the Tarquinii, than from entertaining the slightest expectation of its being accepted by the Romans. He carried the point, respecting the giving up of the lands taken from the Veientians, and compelled the Romans to submit to give hostages, if they wished to see his forces withdrawn from the Janiculum. Peace being concluded on these terms, Porsena withdrew his troops from the Janiculum, and retired out of the Roman territories. To Caius Mucius, as a reward of his valour, the senate gave a tract of ground on the other side of the Tiber, which was afterwards called the Mucian meadows; and, such honour being paid to courage, excited even the other sex to merit public distinctions. A young lady called Clœlia, one of the hostages, (the camp of the Etrurians happening to be pitched at a small distance from the banks of the Tiber,) evaded the vigilance of the guards, and, at the head of a band of her companions, swam across the Tiber, through a shower of darts discharged at them by the enemy, and restored them all, in safety, to their freinds at Rome. When the king was informed of this, being at first highly incensed, he sent envoys to Rome, to insist on the restoration of the hostage Clœlia; as to the rest, he showed little concern. But his anger, in a little time, being converted into admiration, he spoke of her exploit as superior to those of Cocles and Mucius; and declared that as, in case the hostage should not be given up, he would consider the treaty as broken off; so, if she should be surrendered, he would send her back to her friends in safety. Both parties behaved with honour; the Romans, on their side, returned the pledge of peace, agreeably to the treaty, and with the Etrurian king merit found, not security only, but honours. After bestowing high compliments on the lady, he told her that he made her a present of half of the hostages, with full liberty to choose such as she liked. When they were all drawn out before her, she is said to have chosen the very young boys, which was not only consonant to maiden delicacy, but, in the universal opinion of the hostages themselves, highly reasonable, that those who were of such an age as was most liable to injury, should in preference, be delivered out of the hands of enemies. Peace being thus re-established, the Romans rewarded this instance of intrepidity, so uncommon in the female sex, with a mark of honour as uncommon, an equestrian statue. This was erected at the head of the sacred street.
XIV. Very inconsistent with this peaceful manner, in which the Etrurian king retired from the city, is the practice handed down from early times, and continued, among other customary usages, even in our own days, of proclaiming at public sales, that they are selling the goods of king Porsena: which custom must necessarily either have taken its rise originally, during the war, or it must be derived from a milder source than seems to belong to the expression, which intimates that the goods for sale were taken from an enemy. Of the several accounts which have been given, this seems to be the nearest to truth: that Porsena, on retiring from the Janiculum, made a present to the Romans of his camp, which was plentifully stored with provisions collected from the neighbouring fertile lands of Etruria, the city at that time labouring under a scarcity, in consequence of the long siege; and lest the populace, if permitted, might seize on them, as the spoil of an enemy, they were set up to sale, and called the goods of Porsena; the appellation denoting rather gratitude for the gift, than an auction of the king’s property, which, besides, never came into the power of the Romans. After he had put an end to the war with Rome, Porsena, that he might not appear to have led his troops into those countries to no purpose, sent his son Aruns, with half of his forces, to lay siege to Aricia: the unexpectedness of the attack struck the Aricians at first with dismay; but afterwards having collected aid, both from the Latine states and from Cumæ, they assumed such confidence, as to venture an engagement in the field. At the beginning of the battle, the Etrurians rushed on so furiously, that at the very first onset they put the Aricians to the rout: the cohorts from Cumæ, opposing art to force, moved a little to one side; and when the enemy, in the impetuosity of their career, had passed them, faced about, and attacked their rear. By these means the Etrurians, after having almost gained the victory, were surrounded and cut to pieces: a very small part of them, their general being lost, and no place of safety nearer, made the best of their way to Rome, without arms, and in their circumstances and appearance merely like suppliants; there they were kindly received, and provided with lodgings: when their wounds were cured, some of them returned home, and gave an account of the hospitality and kindness which they had experienced. A great number remained at Rome, induced by the regard which they had contracted for their hosts and for the city: they had ground allotted to them for building houses, which was afterwards called the Tuscan street.
Y. R. 247. 505.XV. The next elected consuls were Publius Lucretius, and Publius Valerius Publicola a third time. During this year, ambassadors came from Porsena, for the last time, about restoring Tarquinius to the throne. The answer given to them was, that the senate would send ambassadors to the king; and accordingly, without delay, a deputation, consisting of the persons of the highest dignity among the senators, was sent with orders to acquaint him, that “it was not because their answer might not have been given in these few words, that the kings would not be admitted, that they had chosen to send a select number of their body to him, rather than to give the answer to his ambassadors at Rome, but in order that an end might be put for ever to all mention of that business; and that the intercourse of mutual kindness, at present subsisting between them, might not be disturbed by the uneasiness which must arise to both parties, if he were to request what would be destructive of the liberty of the Roman people; and the Romans, unless they chose to comply at the expense of their own ruin, must give a refusal to a person, to whom they would wish to refuse nothing: that the Roman people were not under regal government, but in a state of freedom, and were fully determined to open their gates to declared enemies, rather than to kings: that this was the fixed resolution of every one of them; that the liberty of the city, and the city itself, should have the same period of existence; and, therefore, to intreat him that, if he wished the safety of Rome, he would allow it to continue in its present state.” The king, convinced of the impropriety of interfering any farther, replied, “Since this is your fixed and unalterable resolution, I will neither teaze you by a repetition of fruitless applications on the same subject, nor will I disappoint the Tarquinii, by giving hopes of assistance, which they must not expect from me. Let them, whether they look for war or for quiet, seek some other residence in their exile, that there may subsist no cause of jealousy, to disturb, henceforward, the good understanding, which I wish to maintain between you and me.” To these expressions he added acts still more friendly; the hostages, which remained in his possession, he restored, and gave back the Veientian land, of which the Romans had been deprived by the treaty at the Janiculum. Tarquinius, finding all hopes of his restoration cut off, retired for refuge to Tusculum, to his father-in-law, Mamilius Octavius. Thus peace and confidence were firmly established between the Romans and Porsena.
Y. R. 249. 503.XVI. The next consuls were Marcus Valerius and Publius Postumius. During this year, war was carried on, with success, against the Sabines, and the consuls had the honour of a triumph. The Sabines, afterwards, preparing for a renewal of hostilities in a more formidable manner; to oppose them, and, at the same time, to guard against any sudden danger which might arise from the side of Tusculum, where, though war was not openly declared, there was reason to apprehend that it was intended, Publius Valerius, a fourth time, and Titus Lucretius, a second time, were chosen consuls.Y. R. 250. 502. A tumult which arose among the Sabines, between the advocates for peace and those for war, was the means of transferring a considerable part of their strength to the side of the Romans. For Atta Clausus, called afterwards at Rome Appius Claudius, being zealous in favour of peaceful measures, but overpowered by the turbulent promoters of war, and unable to make head against their faction, withdrew from Regillum to Rome, accompanied by a numerous body of adherents.* These were admitted to the rights of citizens, and had land assigned them beyond the Anio. They have been called the old Claudian tribe, to distinguish them from the new members, who, coming from the same part of the country, were afterwards added to that tribe. Appius was elected into the senate, and soon acquired a reputation among the most eminent. The consuls, in prosecution of the war, marched their army into the Sabine territories, and, after reducing the power of the enemy, by wasting their lands, and afterwards in battle, to such a degree, that there was no room to apprehend a renewal of hostilities in that quarter for a long time to come, returned in triumph to Rome. In the ensuing year,Y. R. 251. 501. when Agrippa Menenius and Publius Postumius were consuls, died Publius Valerius, a man universally allowed to have excelled all others, in superior talents both for war and peace, full of glory, but in such slender circumstances, that he left not sufficient to defray the charges of his funeral. He was buried at the expense of the public, and the matrons went into mourning for him, as they had done for Brutus. During the same year, two of the Latine colonies, Pometia and Cora revolted to the Auruncians, and war was undertaken against that people; a very numerous army, with which they boldly attempted to oppose the consuls, who were entering their borders, was entirely routed, and the Auruncians compelled to make their last stand at Pometia: nor was the carnage less after the battle was over, than during its continuance; there were greater numbers slain than taken, and those who were made prisoners, were in general put to death; nay, in the violence of their rage, which ought to be confined to foes in arms, the enemy spared not even the hostages, three hundred of whom had been formerly put into their hands. During this year also there was a triumph at Rome.
Y. R. 252. 500.XVII. The succeeding consuls, Opiter Virginius and Spurius Cassius, attacked Pometia, at first by storm, afterwards by regular approaches.* The Auruncians, actuated rather by implacable hatred, than by any hope of success, and without waiting for a favourable opportunity, resolved to assail them; and, sallying out, armed with fire and sword, they filled every place with slaughter and conflagration; and, besides burning the machines, and killing and wounding great numbers of their enemies, were very near killing one of the consuls, (which of them, writers do not inform us,) who was grievously wounded, and thrown from his horse. The troops, thus foiled in their enterprize, returned to Rome, leaving the consul, whose recovery was doubtful, together with a great number of wounded. After a short interval, just sufficient for the curing of their wounds, and recruiting the army; the Romans renewed their operations against Pometia, with redoubled fury and augmented strength; and when they had a-new completed their military works, the soldiers being just on the point of scaling the walls, the garrison capitulated. However, although the city had surrendered, the chiefs of the Auruncians were from all parts dragged to execution, with the same degree of cruelty, as if it had been taken by assault: the other members of the colony were sold by auction: the town was demolished, and the land set up to sale. The consuls obtained a triumph, rather in consideration of their having gratified the people’s resentment by severe revenge, than of the magnitude of the war which they had brought to a conclusion.
Y. R. 253. 499.XVIII. The following year the consuls were Postumus Cominius and Titus Lartius; when some Sabine youths having, through wantonness, used violence to certain courtezans at Rome, during the celebration of the public games, and a mob assembling, a scuffle ensued, which might almost be called a battle; and, from this trifling cause, matters seemed to have taken a tendency towards a renewal of hostilities. Besides the apprehension of a war with the Sabines, there was another affair which created much uneasiness: undoubted intelligence was received, that thirty states had already formed a conspiracy, at the instigation of Octavius Mamilius. While Rome remained in this perplexity, looking forward with anxious apprehension to the issue of such a perilous conjuncture, mention was made, for the first time, of creating a dictator.* But in what year, or who the consuls were, who could not be confided in, because they were of the Tarquinian faction, for that also is related, or who was the first person created dictator, we have no certain information. In the most ancient writers, however, I find it asserted, that the first dictator was Titus Lartius, and that Spurius Cassius was appointed master of the horse. They chose men of consular dignity, as ordered by the law enacted concerning the creating of a dictator. For this reason, I am the more induced to believe, that Lartius, who was of consular dignity, and not Manius Valerius, son of Marcus, and grandson of Volesus, who had not yet been consul, was placed over the consuls, as their director and master, as, even if it had been thought proper, that the dictator should be chosen out of that family, they would the rather have elected the father, Marcus Valerius, a man of approved merit, and of consular dignity. On this first establishment of a dictator at Rome, the populace, seeing the axes carried before him, were struck with such terror, as made them more submissive to rule; for they could not now, as under consuls who were equal in authority hope for protection, from one of them, against the other; but prompt obedience was required of them, and in no case was there any appeal. Even the Sabines were alarmed at the appointment of a dictator by the Romans, the more so, because they supposed that he had been named to act against them; they therefore sent ambassadors to treat of an accommodation; who, requesting of the dictator and senate, that they would pardon the misconduct of thoughtless young men, were answered, that pardon might be granted to young men, but not to the old, who made it their constant practice to kindle one war after another. However, a negociation was entered into for an adjustment of affairs, and it would have been concluded, if the Sabines had been willing to reimburse the costs expended on the war, for that was the condition required. War was proclaimed, but still a suspension of hostilities continued during the remainder of the year.
Y. R. 254. 498.XIX. The consuls of the next year were Servius Sulpicius, and Manius Tullius. Nothing worth mention occurred. Then succeeded Titus Æbutius and Caius Vetusius. In their consulate, Fidenæ was besieged, Crustumeria-taken, Præneste revolted from the Latines to the Romans, and a Latine war, the seeds of which had, for several years past, been growing to maturity, could not now be choaked. Aulus Postumius dictator, and Titus Æbutius master of the horse,Y. R. 255. 497. marching out a numerous army of cavalry and infantry, met the forces of the enemy at the lake Regillus, in the territory of Tusculum; and, as it was known that the Tarquinii were in the army of the Latines, the rage of the Romans could not be restrained, but they insisted on engaging instantly; for this reason, too, the battle was unusually obstinate and bloody; for the generals not only performed the duty of directing every thing, but, exposing their own persons, mixed with the combatants, and shared the fight; and scarcely one of the principal officers of either army left the field without being wounded, except the Roman dictator. As Postumius was encouraging and marshalling his men in the first line, Tarquinius Superbus, though now enfeebled by age, spurred on his horse furiously against him; but receiving a blow, was quickly surrounded by his own men, and carried off to a place of safety. On the other wing, Æbutius, the master of the horse, made an attack on Octavius Mamilius; nor was his approach unobserved by the Tusculan general, who advanced in full career to meet him, and each aiming his spear at his antagonist, they encountered with such violence, that the arm of Æbutius was pierced through, and Mamilius received a wound in his breast; the latter was received by the Latines in their second line; while Æbutius, disabled by the wound in his arm from wielding a weapon, retired from the fight. The Latine general, not in the least dispirited by his wound, continued his vigorous exertions; and perceiving his men begin to give ground, sent for a cohort of Roman exiles, commanded by Lucius the son of Tarquinius; these, fighting under the impulse of keen resentment, on account of their having been deprived of their property, and of their country, kept the battle for some time in suspense.
XX. The Romans were now on one side giving way, when Marcus Valerius, brother of Publicola, observing young Tarquinius, with ostentatious fierceness, exhibiting his prowess in the front of the exiles, and inflamed with a desire of supporting the glory of his house, and that those who enjoyed the honour of having expelled the royal family, might also be signalized by their destruction, set spurs to his horse, and, with his javelin presented, made towards Tarquinius; Tarquinius avoided this violent adversary, by retiring into the body of his men, and Valerius rashly pushing forward into the line of the exiles, was attacked, and run through, by some person on one side of him, and as the horse’s speed was in no degree checked by the wound of the rider, the expiring Roman sunk to the earth, his arms falling over his body. Postumius the dictator, seeing a man of such rank slain, the exiles advancing to the charge with fierce impetuosity, his own men disheartened and giving way, issued orders to his cohort, a chosen band which he kept about his person as a guard, that they should treat as an enemy, every man of their own army whom they should see retreating. Meeting danger thus on both sides, the Romans, who were flying, faced about against the enemy, and renewed the fight; the dictator’s cohort then, for the first time, engaged in battle; and, with fresh strength and spirits, falling on the exiles who were exhausted with fatigue, made great slaughter of them. On this occasion another combat between two general officers took place; the Latine general, on seeing the cohort of exiles almost surrounded by the Roman dictator, ordered several companies from the reserve to follow him instantly to the front; Titus Herminius, a lieutenant-general, observing these as they marched up, and, among them, knowing Mamilius, who was distinguished by his dress and arms, encountered him with a strength so much superior to what had been shown a little before, by the master of the horse, that with one blow he slew Mamilius, driving the spear through his side. Thus was he victorious; but having received a wound from a javelin, while he was stripping the armour from his adversary’s body, he was carried off to the camp, and expired during the first dressing of it. The dictator then flew to the cavalry, entreating them, as the infantry were now fatigued, to dismount and support the engagement: they obeyed his orders, leaped from their horses, flew forward to the van, and covering themselves with their targets, took post as the front line: this instantly revived the courage of the infantry, who saw the young men of the first distinction foregoing every advantage in their manner of fighting, and taking an equal share of the danger. By these means, the Latines were at length overpowered, their troops were beaten from their ground, and began to retreat: the horses were then brought up to the cavalry, in order that they might pursue the enemy, and the line of infantry followed. At this juncture, the dictator, omitting no means of engaging the aid both of gods and men, is said to have vowed a temple to Castor; and to have proclaimed rewards to the first, and to the second of the soldiers who should enter the enemy’s camp; and so great was the ardour of the Romans, that they never remitted the impetuosity of the charge, by which they had broken the enemy’s line, until they made themselves masters of the camp. Such was the engagement at the lake Regillus. The dictator and master of the horse, on their return to the city, were honoured with a triumph.
Y. R. 256. 496.XXI. During the three ensuing years, there was neither war, nor yet a security of lasting peace. The consuls were, Quintus Clœlius and Titus Lartius: then Aulus Sempronius and Marcus Minutius,Y. R. 257. 495. in whose consulate the temple of Saturn was dedicated, and the festival called Saturnalia instituted. After them, Aulus Postumius and Titus Virginius were made consuls.Y. R. 258. 494. I find it asserted by some writers, that the battle at the lake Regillus was not fought until this year, and that Aulus Postumius, because the fidelity of his colleague was doubtful, abdicated the consulship, and was then made dictator. Such perplexing mistakes, with regard to dates, occur from the magistrates being ranged in different order, by different writers, that it is impossible, at this distance of time, when not only the facts, but the authors who relate them, are involved in the obscurity of antiquity, to trace out a regular series of the consuls as they succeeded each other, or of the transactions as they occurred in each particular year.Y. R. 259. 493. Appius Claudius and Publius Servilius were next appointed to the consulship. This year was rendered remarkable by the news of Tarquinius’s death; he died at Cumæ, whither, on the reduction of the power of the Latines, he had retired for refuge, to the tyrant Aristodemus. By this news, both the patricians and the commons were highly elated; but the former suffered their exultation on the occasion to carry them to unwarrantable lengths; and the latter, who, until that time, had been treated with the utmost deference, began to feel themselves exposed to insults from the nobility. During the same year, the colony of Signia, which Tarquinius had founded in his reign, was re-established, by filling up its number of colonists. The tribes of Rome were increased to the number of twenty-one. The temple of Mercury was dedicated on the ides of May.
XXII. During these proceedings against the Latines, it could hardly be said that there was either war or peace with the nation of the Volscians: for, on the one hand, these had got troops in readiness, which they would have sent to the assistance of the Latines, if the Roman dictator had not been so quick in his measures; and, on the other, the Roman had used this expedition, in order that he might not be obliged to contend against the united forces of the Latines and Volscians. In resentment of this behaviour, the consuls led the legions into the Volscian territory: the Volscians, who had no apprehensions of punishment, for a design which had not been put in execution, were confounded at this unexpected proceeding, insomuch that, laying aside all thoughts of opposition, they gave three hundred hostages, the children of the principal persons at Cora and Pometia; in consequence whereof, the legions were withdrawn from thence, without having come to an engagement. However, in a short time after, the Volscians being delivered from their fears, resumed their former disposition, renewed secretly their preparations for war, and prevailed on the Hernicians to join them; they also sent ambassadors through every part of Latium, to stir up that people to arms. But the Latines were so deeply affected by their recent disaster, at the lake Regillus, and so highly incensed at any persons attempting to persuade them to engage in a war, that they even offered violence to the ambassadors: seizing the Volscians, they conducted them to Rome, and there delivered them to the consuls, with information, that the Volscians and Hernicians were preparing to make war on the Romans. The affair being laid before the senate, the conduct of the Latines was so acceptable to the senators, that they restored to them six thousand of the prisoners, and made an order, besides, that the new magistrates should proceed in the business relative to an alliance, a point which had been almost absolutely refused them. The Latines then highly applauded themselves for the part which they had acted, and the friends of peaceful measures were held in high estimation: they sent to the capitol a golden crown, as a present to Jupiter, and, together with the ambassadors, and the present, came a great multitude of attendants, consisting of the prisoners who had been sent back to their friends. These proceeded to the several houses of the persons, with whom each of them had been in servitude, returned thanks for their generous behaviour and treatment of them, during the time of their calamity, and formed mutual connexions of hospitality. Never, at any former time, was the Latine nation more closely united to the Roman government; by ties both of a public and private nature.
XXIII. But, besides being immediately threatened with a Volscian war, the state itself was torn in pieces by intestine animosities, between the particians and commons, on account principally of persons confined for debt:* these complained loudly, that after fighting abroad for freedom and empire, they were made prisoners and oppressed by their countrymen at home, and that the liberty of the commons was more secure in war than in peace, amongst their foes than amongst their own countrymen. This spirit of discontent, of itself increasing daily, was kindled into a flame, by the extraordinary sufferings of one man. A person far advanced in years, whose appearance denoted severe distress, threw himself into the Forum; his garb was squalid, and the figure of his person still more shocking, pale and emaciated to the last degree; besides, a long beard and hair had given his countenance a savage appearance: wretched as was the plight in which he appeared, he was known notwithstanding; several declared, that he had been centurion in the army, and, filled with compassion for him, mentioned publicly many other distinctions, which he had obtained in the service; he himself exhibited scars on his breast, as testimonies of his honourable behaviour in several actions. To those who inquired the cause of that wretched condition, both of his person and apparel, (a crowd meantime having assembled round him, which resembled, in some degree, an assembly of the people,) he answered, that “while he served in the army during the Sabine war, having not only lost the produce of his farm by the depredations of the enemy, but his house being burnt, all his goods plundered, his cattle driven off, and a tax being imposed at a time so distressing to him, he was obliged to run in debt; that this debt, aggravated by usury, had consumed, first, his farm, which he had inherited from his father and frandfather; then, the remainder of his substance; and lastly, like a pestilence, had reached his person: that he had been dragged by a creditor not into servitude, but into a house of correction, or rather a place of execution.” He then showed his back disfigured with the marks of fresh stripes: on this sight, after such a relation, a great uproar arose; and the tumult was no longer confined to the Forum, but spread through every part of the city: those who were then in confinement, and those who had been released from it, forced their way into the public street; and implored the protection of their fellow-citizens: there was no spot which did not afford a voluntary associate to add to the insurrection; from all quarters they ran in bodies, through every street, with great clamour, into the Forum. The situation of the senators who happened to be there at that time, and who fell in the way of this mob, became highly perilous, for they would certainly have proceeded to violence, had not the consuls, Publius Servilius and Appius Claudius, hastily interposed their authority. To them the multitude turned their applications; showed their chains, and other marks of wretchedness; said, this was what they had deserved; and reminding them of their former services in war, and in various engagements, insisted, with menaces rather than supplications, that they should assemble the senate; they then placed themselves round the senate-house, that they might act as witnesses, and directors of the councils of government. A very small number of the senators, whom chance threw in the way, and these against their will, attended the consuls: fear kept the rest at a distance; so that nothing could be done by reason of the thinness of the meeting. The populace then conceived an opinion, that there was a design to elude their demands by delay; that the absence of certain of the senators was occasioned, not by chance, nor by fear, but by their wishes to obstruct the business; that the consuls themselves showed a backwardness, and that their miseries were manifestly made a matter of mockery. The affair had now nearly arrived at such a state, that even the majesty of the consuls, it was feared, might be insufficient to restrain the rage of the people. At length the senators, beginning to doubt, whether they should incur the greater danger, by absenting themselves, or by attending, came to the senate; and when, after all this delay, a proper number had assembled, not only the senators, but even the consuls themselves, differed widely in opinion. Appius, a man of a violent temper, thought that the riot ought to be quelled by the weight of the consular authority, and that when one or two were taken into custody, the rest would be quiet: Servilius, more inclined to gentle remedies, maintained that, as the people’s spirits were already wound up to such a pitch of ill-humour, it would be both the safer and the easier method, to bend, than to break them. To add to these perplexities, they were threatened with still greater peril from another quarter.
XXIV. Some Latine horsemen arrived, in the utmost haste, with the alarming intelligence, that the Volscians, in hostile array, were coming to attack the city; which news, so entirely opposite were the views of the parties into which the state was split, affected the patricians and the commons in a very different manner. The commons exulted with joy; said the gods were coming to take vengeance for the tyranny of the patricians, and encouraged each other in the resolution not to enrol themselves; saying, “it was better that all should perish together, than that they should be the only victims; let the patricians serve as soldiers; let the patricians take arms, that those who reap the advantages of war, may also undergo its severities and hazards.” On the other hand, the senate, dejected and confounded on finding themselves thus encompassed by dangers, from their countrymen on one side, and from the enemy on the other, besought the consul Servilius, whose temper was adapted to conciliate the regard of the people, that he would find means to extricate the commonwealth from the dreadful apprehensions with which it was beset. Whereupon the consul, dismissing the senate, went forth to the assembly of the people; there he assured them, that the senators were solicitous that care should be taken of the interest of the commons; but that their “fears for the safety of the commonwealth, in general, had interrupted their deliberations, concerning that part of the state, which, though it must be allowed to be the largest, was still but a part; nor could they, while the enemy was just at the gates, allow any business to take place of the necessary provisions for the war, nor, even it they were allowed a little respite, would it be either for the honour of the commons, to have refused to take arms in defence of their country, unless on condition of first receiving hire for it; nor could it fail of injuring the reputation of the senators themselves, if they should appear to have now applied their attention to the good of their countrymen, through fear, rather than afterwards through inclination.” He gave proof of his sincerity in this discourse, by an edict, whereby he ordained, that “no person should hold any Roman citizen in bonds or confinement, so as to prevent his giving in his name to the consuls; that no person should take possession, or make sale, of the goods of a soldier, while upon service; nor detain in custody either his children or grandchildren.” On the publication of this edict, such debtors under arrest, as were present, instantly gave in their names, and crowds of others, in every part of the city, rushing out of their confinement, when the creditors had no longer a right to detain them, ran together to the Forum, to take the military oath: these composed a large body of troops, and none, during the Volscian war, displayed a greater share of bravery and activity. The consul led out his army against the enemy, and pitched his camp at a small distance from theirs.
XXV. The following night, the Volscians, expecting great advantages from the dissensions of the Romans, approached their camp, in hopes that, in the surrounding darkness, some might desert or betray their posts. They were, however, perceived by the sentinels; the troops were called up, and, the signal being given, they ran to arms; and by these means frustrated the attempt of the Volscians: the remainder of the night was dedicated to repose by both parties. Next day, at the first dawn, the Volscians, having filled up the trenches, assaulted the rampart, and were proceeding to demolish the fortifications on every side, when the consul, having delayed for some time in order to try the temper of his men, though called on from all sides, and particularly by the debters, to give the signal, at length, on finding their ardour so great, issued the order for sally-ing, and sent forth his troops, eager for the fight. At the first onset, the enemy were immediately routed, and their rear harassed in their retreat, as far as the infantry were able to pursue, while the cavalry, not suffering them to recover from their consternation, drove them to their camp. In a little time, the camp itself was surrounded by the legions, and the Volscians not having courage enough left to make a stand there, it was taken, and plundered. Next day, the legions were led in Suessa Pometia, whither the enemy had retreated, and shortly after the town was taken, and given up to the troops to be plundered by these means, the needy soldiers were in some measure relieved. The counsul, having acquired great glory, led back his victorious army to Rome. As he was preparing for his departure, ambassadors came to him from the Volscians of Ecetrea, who, after the taking of Pometia, felt apprehensions for their own safety: these had peace granted them by decree of the senate, but were deprived of their lands.
XXVI. Immediately after, the Sabines also caused an alarm at Rome, but it was, in fact, a tumult rather than a war. An account was brought by night, to the city, there a Sabine army were plundering the country, and had advanced so far as the river Anio, and that they were ravaging and burning all the farms in that neighbourhood. Aulus Postumius, who had been dicator in the Latine war, was instantly despatched thither with all the cavalry, and the consul Servilius followed, with a chosen body of foot. The greater part of the stragglers were cut off by the cavalry; nor was the man body of the Sabines capable of resisting the infantry on their approach, fatigued both by their march and by collecting booty, a great number of them in the country houses, overcharged with meat and wine, had scarcely strength sufficient to enable them to fly. Thus was this Sabine war finished within the same night in which the first account of it had been received. The next day while sanguine hopes were entertained that peace with all their neighbours was now securely established, ambassadors cam to the senate from the Auruncians, denouncing war, unless the troops were withdrawn from the territories of the Volscians: the army of the Auruncians had set out from home, at the same time with the ambassadors: and intelligence arriving, that it had been seen not far from Aricia, it excited such an alarm among the Romans, that neither could the senate be consulted in a regular manner, no could they, while busy themselves in taking up arms, give a peaceable answer to those who were advancing against them. The troops marched to Aricia, and not far from thence meeting with the enemy, came to a general engagement, which, without further contest, put an end to the war.
XXVII. When the Auruncians were defeated, the Romans, having vanquished so many different powers, within the space of a few days, expected the fulfillment of the promises made them by the consuls, and strengthened by the engagements of the senate. But Appius, instigated both by his own natural haughtiness, and a desire to undermine the credit of his colleague, issued his decrees on suits between debtor and creditor, with all possible severity; in consequence of which, both those who had formerly been in confinement, were delivered up to their creditors, and others also were taken into custody. When this happened to be the cast of nay of the auditors; he appealed to the other consul; a crowd gathered about Servillus, reminded him of his promises, upbraided him with their services in war, and the scars which they had received; insisted that he should lay the affair before the senate; and that, as consul, he should support his countrymen, and as general, his soldiers. The consul was affected by these remonstrances, but circumstances obliged him to decline interfering; not only his colleague, but the whole faction of the nobles, having gone so violently into opposite measures. By thus acting a middle part, he neither avoided the hatred of the commons, no procured the esteem of the patricians; the latter, considering him as destitute of the firmness becoming his office, and as too fond of popular applause, while the former looked upon him as a deceiver; and it shortly appeared that he was become no less odious than Appius. A contest happened between the consuls, as to which of them should dedicate the temple of Mercury. The senate refused to decide the matter, and referred it to the people, passing a vote that to whichever of them the dedication should be granted, the same should preside over the markets, should institute a college of merchants, and join the pontiff in the performance of the ceremonies usual on such occasions. The people gave the honour of the dedication to Marcus Detorius, a centurion of the first rank, showing plainly, that they acted thus, not merely out of respect to the person on whom they conferred an office of higher dignity than became his station, but with design to affront the consuls. This threw the patricians, and one of the consuls, particularly, into a rage but the commons had now assumed a greater degree of courage, and began to prosecute then measures in a very different method from that in which they had set out. Having given up all hope of protection from the consuls and the senate, whenever they saw a debtor led to the court, they flew together from all quarters so that neither could the sentence of the consul be heard amidst their noise and clamours, nor when it was pronounced did any one obey it. All was managed by force; and the whole dread and danger, with respect to their freedom, was transferred from the debtors to the creditors, who, standing single, were abused by the multitude, under the very eye of the consul. To add to the perplexity of the senate the alarm was spread of an attack being intended by the Sabines and orders being issued for levying troops, not a man gave in his name. Meanwhile Appius in a rage inveighed bitterly against the criminal lenity of his colleague, saying that by his popular silence, he was betraying the commonwealth, and that besides refusing to enforce the laws with respect to creditors, he neglected also to execute the decree of the senate, for levying troops. He declared that “the interest of the state was not yet entirely deserted, nor the consular office yet stripped of its authority; that he himself would stand forth singly, and vindicate his own dignity, and that of the senate.” Though surrounded by the multitude which assembled daily, and were of a temper too violent to be controlled, he ordered one of the principal ringleaders of the mob to be apprehended, When the lictors laid hold of him he appealed, but the consul would not at first allow the appeal, there being no doubt what the sentence of the people would be. His obstinacy, however, was at length overcome, more by the advice and influence of the nobility than by the clamours of the people; so firmly did he withstand the indignation of the multitude. From this time, the evil daily gained ground, showing itself not only in open expressions of discontent, but, what was much more pernicious, in secret meetings and private cabals. At length these consuls, so odious to the people, went out of office, Appius in high favour with the patricians. Servilius with neither party.
XXVIII. Next entered on the consulship, Aulus Virginius and Titus Vetusius. The people now, not being able to judge what sort of consuls they were to have, took care to form nightly meetings, some on the Esquiline, others on the Aventine mount, in order that their proceedings might not be confused by their being obliged to adopt measures hastily in the Forum, and to act, on every occasion, at random, and without a plan. The consuls, considering this as a very dangerous proceeding, which it really was, proposed it to the consideration of the senate, but were not allowed, after proposing it, to take the votes regularly, a great tumult arising on the mention of it among the senators, who exclaimed, and expressed the highest indignation at the consuls attempting to throw on that body the odium of an affair which ought to have been quelled by the consular authority. They told them, that “if there really had been magistrates in the commonwealth, there would have been no council at Rome, but the public one. At present the government was divided and dispersed into a thousand senate houses, and assemblies, some meetings being held on the Esquiline mount, others on the Aventine. That they had no doubt, but one man, such as Appius Claudius, would have dispersed those meetings in a moment’s time.” The consuls, on receiving this rebuke, asked the senate, what then they would have them do? for they were resolved, they said, to act with all the activity and vigour which the senate might recommend. A decree then passed, that they should enforce the levies with the utmost strictness; for that the commons were grown insolent through want of employment. Dismissing the senate the consuls mounted the tribunal, and cited the younger citizens by their name. No answer being made, the multitude which stood round, like a general assembly, declared, that “the commons could be no longer deceived; and that not a single soldier should be raised, until the public engagements were fulfilled. That every man must have his liberty restored, before arms were put into his hands, that the people might be convinced they were to fight for their country and fellow-citizens, not for their masters.” The consuls saw clearly enough what the senate expected from them; but of those who spoke with the greatest vehemence within the walls of the senate-house, not one was present to stand the brunt of the contests, and every thing threatened a desperate one with the commons. It was resolved, therefore, before they should proceed to extremities, to consult the senate again; the consequence of which was, that all the younger senators rushed up hastily to the seats of the consuls, desiring them to abdicate the consulship, and lay down a command which they wanted spirit to support.
XXIX. Having made sufficient trial of the dispositions of both sides, the consuls at length spoke out: “Conscript fathers, lest ye should hereafter say that ye were not forewarned, know that a dangerous sedition is ready to break out. We demand that those who are the most forward to censure us for inactivity, may assist us by their presence, while we hold the levy. We will proceed in the business in such a manner as shall be approved by the most strenuous advocates for vigorous measures, since such is your pleasure.” They then went back to the tribunal, and ordered, purposely, one of those, who were within view, to be cited: finding that he stood mute, and that a number of people had formed in a circle round him, to prevent any force being used, the consuls sent a lictor to him, who being driven back, those of the senators who attended the consuls, exclaiming against the insolence of such behaviour, flew down from the tribunal to assist the lictor. The populace then, quitting the lictor, to whom they had offered no other opposition than that of hindering him from making the seizure, directed their force against the senators; but the consuls interposing quickly, put an end to the scuffle, in which as neither stones nor weapons had been used, there was more clamour and rage than mischief. The senate called tumultuously together, proceeded in a manner still more tumultuous; those who had been beaten, demanding an inquiry into the affair; and the most violent of them endeavouring to carry their point by clamour and noise, rather than by vote. At length, when their rage had somewhat subsided, the consuls, reproaching them with being equally disorderly in the senate-house as in the Forum, began to collect the votes. There were three different opinions; Publius Virginius thought that “the case did not extend to the whole body of the commons, and that those only were to be considered, who, relying on the promises of the consul Publius Servilius, had served in the Volscian, Auruncian, and Sabine wars:” Titus Largius was of opinion, that “the present juncture required something more than the making a return for services performed; that the whole body of the commons were overwhelmed with debt, nor could the progress of the evil be stopped, unless the advantages of the whole were attended to. On the contrary, if distinctions were made, this would add fuel to the dissensions, instead of extinguishing them.” Appius Claudius, whose temper naturally harsh, was roused to a degree of ferocity by his hatred to the commons on the one hand, and the applause of the patricians on the other, affirmed that “all these dirturbances were excited, not by the people’s sufferings, but their licentiousness; and that the commons were actuated by a spirit of wantonness, rather than by resentment of injuries: this was the consequence of giving them a right to appeal; for all that a consul could do, was to threaten, he could not command, when people are allowed to appeal to those who have been accomplices in their transgressions. Come, said he, let us create a dictator, from whom there is no appeal: this madness, which has set the whole state in a flame, will quickly sink into silence. Let me then see, who will strike a lictor, when he knows that the very person whose dignity he insults, has the sole and entire disposal of his person and of his life.”
XXX. To many, the expedient recommended by Appius appeared too rough and violent, and justly so; on the other hand, the propositions of Virginius and Largius were considered as tending to establish a bad precedent; particularly that of Largius, which was utterly subversive of all credit. The advice of Virginius was deemed to be the farthest from excess on either side, and a just medium between the other two. But, through the spirit of faction, and men’s regard to their private interests, (things which ever did and ever will impede the public councils,) Appius prevailed, and was himself very near being created dictator; which proceeding, beyond any other, would have highly disgusted the commons, at a very critical juncture, when the Volscians, the Æquans, and the Sabines, happened to be all in arms at the same time. But the consuls and the elder part of the senate took care that a command, in itself uncontrolable, should be intrusted to a person of a mild disposition; and accordingly they chose for dictator Manius Valerius, son of Volesus. Although the commons saw that the dictator was created in opposition to them, yet, as by his brother’s law, they enjoyed the privilege of appeal, they dreaded nothing harsh or overbearing from that family. Their hopes were farther encouraged by an edict which the dictator published, of the same tenor in general with the edict of the consul Servilius; but as they thought that they had now securer grounds of confidence, both in the man himself, and in the power with which he was invested, they desisted from the contest, and gave in their names. Ten legions were completed, a force greater than had ever been raised before; of these, three were assigned to each of the consuls, the other four were commanded by the dictator. War could now be no longer deferred: the Æquans had invaded the territories of the Latines; and these by their ambassadors petitioned the senate, that they would either send troops to protect them, or permit them to take arms themselves, to defend their frontiers. It was judged the safer method to defend the Latines without their own assistance, than to allow them to handle arms again: the consul Vetusius was therefore sent thither, who put an end to the depredations. The Æquans retired from the plains, and provided for their safety on the tops of the mountains, relying more on the situation than on their arms. The other consul who marched against the Volscians, not choosing that his time should be wasted in like manner, used every means, particularly by ravaging the country, in order to provoke the enemy to approach nearer, and to hazard an engagement. They were drawn up in order of battle in a plain between the two camps, each party before their own rampart. The Volscians had considerably the advantage in point of numbers; they therefore advanced to the fight, in a careless manner, as if despising the enemy. The Roman consul did not suffer his troops to move, nor to return the shout, but ordered them to stand with their javelins fixed in the ground, and as soon as the enemy should come within reach, then to exert at once their utmost efforts, and decide the affair with their swords. The Volscians, fatigued with running and shouting, rushed upon the Romans, whom they believed to be benumbed with fear; but when they found a vigorous resistance, and the swords glittering before their eyes, struck with consternation, just as if they had fallen into an ambuscade, they turned their backs: nor had they strength left to enable them to make their escape, having exhausted it by advancing to the battle in full speed. The Romans, on the other hand, having stood quiet during the first part of the engagement, had their vigour fresh, and easily overtaking the wearied fugitives, took their camp by assault, and pursuing them, as they fled from thence to Velitræ, the victors and the vanquished composing, as it were, but one body, rushed into the city together. People of every kind were put to the sword, without distinction, and there was more blood spilt than even in the fight: a small number only, who threw down their arms, obtained quarter.
XXXI. While these things passed in the country of the Volscians, the Sabines, who were by far the most formidable enemy, were routed, put to flight, and beaten out of their camp by the dictator. He had at first, by a charge of his cavalry, thrown the centre of the enemy’s line into disorder; which, while they extended their wings too far, had not been sufficiently strengthened by a proper depth of files. Before they could recover from this confusion, the infantry fell upon them, and continued their attack, without intermission, until they made themselves masters of their camp, and put a conclusion to the war. Since the battle at the lake Regillus, there had not been obtained in those times, a more glorious victory than this: the dictator entered the city in triumph, and besides the accustomed honours, there was a place in the circus assigned to him and his posterity, for a seat, and a curule chair fixed in it. From the vanquished Volscians the lands of the district of Velitræ were taken, for which inhabitants were sent from the city, and a colony established there. Soon after this, a battle was fought with the Æquans, against the inclination indeed of the consul, who considered the disadvantage of the ground which the troops had to traverse; but the soldiers, accusing him of protracting the business, in order that the dictator might go out of office before they should return to the city, and so his promises fall to the ground without effect, as had those of the former consul, they at length prevailed on him to march up his army, at all hazards, against the steep of the mountain. Rash as this undertaking was, yet, through the cowardice of the enemy, it was crowned with success; for, before a weapon could be thrown, struck with amazement at the boldness of the Romans, they abandoned their camp, which they had fixed in a very strong position, and ran down precipitately into the vallies, on the opposite side: there the Romans gained a bloodless victory, and abundance of booty. Though their arms were thus attended with success, in three different quarters, neither patricians nor commons were free from anxiety respecting the issue of their domestic affairs. With such powerful influence, and with such art also, had the lenders of money concerted their measures, that they were able to disappoint not only the commons, but even the dictator himself: for Valerius, on the return of the consul Vetusius, took care that the first business which came before the senate should be that of the people, who had returned home victorious; and proposed the question, what did they think proper to be done with respect to the persons confined for debt? and when they refused to take the matter into consideration, he said, “My endeavours to restore concord are, I see, displeasing to you: believe me when I solemnly declare, that the time will shortly come when you will wish, that the commons of Rome had just such patrons as I am: as to myself, I will neither be the means of farther disappointments to the hopes of my countrymen, nor will I hold the office of dictator without effect. Intestine discord and foreign wars made it necessary for the commonwealth to have such a magistrate: peace has been procured abroad, at home it is not suffered to take place: it is my determination then, in time of sedition, to appear in the character of a private citizen, rather than that of dictator.” Then withdrawing from the senate-house, he abdicted the dictatorship. The case appeared to the commons, as if he had resigned his office out of resentment of the treatment shown to them, and therefore, as if he had fulfilled his engagements, it not having been his fault that they were not fulfilled, they attended him, as he retired to his house, with approbation and applause.
XXXII. The senate were then seized with apprehensions, that if the citizens should be discharged from the army, their secret cabals and conspiracies would be renewed; wherefore, supposing that, though the levy was made by the dictator, yet as the soldiers had sworn obedience to the consuls, they were still bound by that oath, they ordered the legions, under the pretext of hostilities being renewed by the Æquans, to be led out of the city: which step served only to hasten the breaking out of the sedition. It is said that the plebeians, at first, entertained thoughts of putting the consuls to death, in order that they might be thereby discharged from the oath; but being afterwards informed that no religious obligation could be dissolved by an act of wickedness, they, by the advice of a person called Sicinus, retired without waiting for orders from the consuls, to the sacred mount, beyond the river Anio, about three miles from the city. This account is more generally credited than that given by Piso, who says, the secession was made to the Aventine. In this place, without any commander, having fortified their camp with a rampart and trench, they remained quiet for several days, taking nothing from any one but necessary subsistence, neither receiving nor giving offence. Great was the consternation in the city; all was fearful suspense and mutual apprehension: the plebeians, who were left behind by their brethren, dreaded the violence of the patricians; the patricians dreaded the plebeians who remained in the city, not knowing whether they ought to wish for their stay, or for their departure: but “how long could it be supposed that the multitude which had seceded would remain inactive? And what would be the consequence, if, in the mean time, a foreign war should break out? No glimpse of hope could they see left, except in concord between the citizens, which must be re-established in the state on any terms, whether fair or unfair.” They determined, therefore, to send as ambassador to the plebeians, Menenius Agrippa, a man of eloquence, and acceptable to the commons, because he had been originally one of their body. He, being admitted into the camp, is said to have related to them the following fable, delivered in antiquated language, and an uncouth style:—“At a time when the members of the human body did not, as at present, all unite in one plan, but each member had its own scheme, and its own language; the other parts were provoked at seeing that the fruits of all their care, of all their toil and service, were applied to the use of the belly; and that the belly meanwhile remained at its ease, and did nothing but enjoy the pleasure provided for it: on this they conspired together, that the hand should not bring food to the mouth, nor the mouth receive it if offered, nor the teeth chew it. While they wished, by these angry measures, to subdue the belly through hunger, the members themselves, and the whole body, were, together with it, reduced to the last stage of decay: from thence it appeared that the office of the belly itself was not confined to a slothful indolence; that it not only received nourishment, but supplied it to the others, conveying to every part of the body, that blood, on which depend our life and vigour, by distributing it equally through the veins, after having brought it to perfection by digestion of the food.” Applying this to the present case, and showing what similitude there was between the dissension of the members, and the resentment of the commons against the patricians, he made a considerable impression on the people’s minds.
XXXIII. A negociation was then opened for a reconciliation; and an accommodation was effected, on the terms, that the plebeians should have magistrates of their own, invested with inviolable privileges, who might have power to afford them protection against the consuls; and that it should not be lawful for any of the patricians to hold that office. Accordingly, there were two tribunes of the commons created, Caius Licinius and Lucius Albinius; and these created three colleagues to themselves, among whom was Sicinius, the adviser of the secession: but who the other two were, is not agreed: some say that there were only two tribunes created on the sacred mount, and that the devoting law* was passed there.Y. R. 261. 491. During the secession of the commons, Spurius Cassius and Postumus Cominius entered on the consulship. In their consulate the treaty with the Latines was concluded; for the purpose of ratifying this, one of the consuls remained at Rome, and the other, being sent with an army against the Volscians, defeated and put to flight those of Antium; and having driven them into the town of Longula, pursued the blow, and made himself master of the town. He afterwards took Polusca, another town belonging to the same people; then with all his force attacked Corioli. There was then in the camp, among others of the young nobility, Caius Marcius, a youth of quick judgment and lively courage, who was afterwards surnamed Coriolanus. The Roman army, while engaged in the siege of Corioli, applying their whole attention to the garrison, which they kept shut up in the town, without any fear of an attack from without, were assaulted on a sudden by the Volscian legions, who had marched thither from Antium, and at the same time the enemy sallied out from the town: Marcius happened to be then on guard, and being supported by a chosen body of men, he not only repelled the attack of the sallying party, but rushed furiously in at the open gate; and putting all to the sword in that part of the city, laid hold of the first fire which he found, and threw it on the houses adjoining the wall; on which the shouts of the townsmen mingling with the cries of the women and children, occasioned by the first fright, served both to add courage to the Romans, and to dispirit the Volscians, as they perceived that the town was taken which they had come to relieve. By this means the Volscians of Antium were defeated, and the town of Corioli taken; and so entirely did the glory of Marcius eclipse the fame of the consul, that, were it not that the treaty with the Latines, being engraved on a brazen pillar, remained to testify that it was ratified by Spurius Cassius alone, the other consul being absent, it would not have been remembered that Postumus Cominius was appointed to conduct the war. This year died Menenius Agrippa, through the whole course of his life equally beloved by the patricians and the plebeians; and after the secession, still more endeared to the latter. This man, who, in the character of mediator and umpire, had re-established concord among his countrymen, the ambassador of the senate to the plebeians, the person who brought back the Roman commons to the city, was not possessed of property sufficient for the expense of a funeral. He was buried at the charge of the commons, by a contribution of a sextans* from each person.
Y. R. 262. 490.XXXIV. The consuls who succeeded, were Titus Greganius and Publius Minucius. During this year, when the state was undisturbed by foreign wars, and the dissentions at home had been healed, a more grievous calamity of another nature fell upon it: at first a scarcity of provisions, occasioned by the lands lying untilled during the secession of the commons; and afterwards, a famine, not less severe than what is felt in a besieged city. This without doubt would have increased to such a degree that the slaves, and also many of the commons, must have perished, had not the consuls taken measures to remedy it, by sending to all quarters to buy up corn; not only into Etruria on the coast to the right of Ostia, and by permission of the Volscians, along the coast on the left as far as Cumæ, but even to Sicily; for the hatred entertained against them by their neighbours compelled them thus to look for aid to distant countries. After a quantity of corn had been purchased at Cumæ, the ships were detained by the tyrant Aristodemus, as the property of the Tarquinii, whose heir he was. Among the Volscians, and in the Pomptine district, it could not even be purchased, the persons employed in that business being in danger of their lives from the violence of the inhabitants. From Etruria, some corn was conveyed by the Tiber, by which the people were supported. At this unseasonable time, while thus distressed by the scarcity, they were in danger of being farther harassed by war, had not a most destructive pestilence attacked the Volscians, when they were just ready to commence hostilities. By this dreadful calamity the enemy were so dispirited, that, even after it had abated, they could not entirely rid their minds of the terror which it had occasioned. Besides, the Romans not only augmented the numbers in their settlement at Velitræ, but sent a new colony into the mountains of Norba, to serve as a barrier in the Pomptine territory.Y. R. 263. 489. In the succeeding consulate of Marcus Minucius and Aulus Sempronius, a great quantity of corn was brought from Sicily, and it was debated in the senate, at what price it should be given to the commons. Many were of opinion, that now was the time to humble the commons, and to recover those rights which, by the secession and violence had been extorted from the patricians; Marcius Coriolanus particularly, an avowed enemy of the power of the tribunes, said, “If they wish to have provisions at the usual price, let them restore to the patricians their former rights: why am I obliged, after being sent under the yoke, after being ransomed, as it were, from robbers, to behold plebeian magistrates, to behold Sicinius invested with power and authority? Shall I submit to such indignities longer than necessity compels me? Shall I, who could not endure Tarquinius on the throne, endure Sicinius? Let him now secede, let him call away the commons: the road is open to the sacred mount, and to other hills: let them carry off the corn from our lands, as they did two years ago: let them make the best of the present state of the market, which they have occasioned by their own madness. I affirm with confidence, that when they are brought to reason by their present sufferings, they will themselves become tillers of the lands, rather than take arms and secede, to prevent their being tilled.” Whether such a measure were expedient, is not now easy to say; but, in my opinion, it was very practicable for the patricians, by insisting on terms for lowering the price of provisions, to have freed themselves from the tribunitian power, and every other restraint imposed on them against their will.
XXXV. The method proposed appeared to the senate to be too harsh, and incensed the commons to such a degree, that they were very near having recourse to arms. They complained, that, “as if they were enemies, attempts were made to destroy them by famine: that they were defrauded of food and sustenance; that the foreign corn, the only support which, unexpectedly, fortune had given them, was to be snatched out of their mouths, unless the tribunes were surrendered up in bonds to Caius Marcius; unless he were gratified by the personal sufferings of the Roman commons: a new kind of executioner had come forward, who gave them no alternative but death or slavery.” They would have proceeded to violence against him as he came out of the senate-house, had not the tribunes very opportunely summoned him to a trial. This suppressed their rage, when every one saw himself a judge, and empowered to decide on the life and death of his foe. At first, Marcius heard the threats of the tribunes with scorn: “The authority given to their office,” he said, “extended only to the affording protection, not to the inflicting of punishment. That they were tribunes of the commons, not of the patricians.” But the whole body of the commons had taken up the cause with such implacable animosity, that the patricians were under the necessity of devoting one victim to punishment for the general safety. They struggled however, notwithstanding the weight of the public hatred which they had to contend with, and not only each particular member, but the whole collective body exerted their utmost efforts; and first they tried, whether, by posting their clients in divers places convenient for the purpose, they could not deter the several plebeians from attending the meetings and cabals, and thereby put a stop to farther proceedings. Afterwards, they all came forth in a body, addressing the commons with intreaties and supplications; one would have thought that every patrician was going to stand his trial. They besought them, if they did not think proper to acquit Marcius as innocent, yet considering him as guilty, to grant as a favour, on their request, the pardon of one citizen, one senator. However, as he himself did not appear on the day appointed, they persisted in their resentment. He was condemned in his absence, and went into exile to the Volscians, uttering menaces against his country, and breathing already the resentment of an enemy. The Volscians received him kindly, and daily increased their attention and respect, in proportion as they had opportunities of observing the violence of his anger towards his countrymen, against whom he would often utter complaints, and even threats. He lodged in the house of Attius Tullus, who was then the man of by far greatest consequence among the Volscians, and an inveterate enemy to the Romans: so that the one, being stimulated by an old animosity, the other, by fresh resentment, they began to concert schemes for bringing about a war with Rome. They judged, however, that it would be a difficult matter to prevail on their people to take arms, which they had so often tried without success; that by the many wars which they had sustained at different times, and lately by the loss of their young men in the pestilence, their spirits were broken; and that it was necessary to make use of art, in order that their hatred, which had now lost its keenness through length of time, might be thereby whetted anew.
XXXVI. It happened that preparations were then making at Rome for a repetition of the great games. The reason of repeating them was this: on the morning of the day when the games were to have been celebrated, before the shows began, a master of a family, after lashing his slave loaded with a neck-yoke, had driven him across the middle of the circus; the games were afterwards exhibited, as if this affair had no relation to religion. Some short time after, Titus Atinius, a plebeian, had a dream; he imagined Jupiter to have said to him, that “the dancer, who performed previously to the games, had been displeasing to him, and unless those games were repeated, and that in a magnificent manner, the city would be in danger; and ordered him to go and tell this to the consuls.” Although the man’s mind was under the influence of a considerable degree of superstition, yet the awe which he felt at the high dignity of the magistrates, and his own apprehensions lest he should be treated by them, and the public, as an object of ridicule, overcame his religious fears: this delay cost him dear; for within a few days he lost his son; and, lest the cause of that sudden disaster should be doubtful, while he was overwhelmed with grief, the same phantom appeared to him in his sleep, and seemed to ask him, “whether he had gotten a sufficient reward for his contempt of the deity?” telling him that “a still greater awaited him, unless he went immediately and delivered the message to the consuls.” This made a deeper impression on his mind, and yet he hesitated and delayed, until at length he was attacked by a grievous disorder, a stroke of the palsy. He then submitted to the admonitions of the divine displeasure: and, wearied out by his past sufferings, and the apprehension of others which threatened him, he called a council of his intimate friends; and, after acquainting them with the several things which he had seen and heard, and with Jupiter’s having appeared to him so often in his sleep, and likewise the anger and threats of the deity, so speedily fulfilled in the calamities which had befallen him, he was, in pursuance of the clear and unanimous opinion of all present, carried in a litter into the Forum, to the consuls: from thence he was conveyed, by their order, into the senate-house; where, when he had related the same accounts, to the utter astonishment of all, behold another miracle; it is recorded that he, who had been carried thither incapable of using any of his limbs, had no sooner discharged his duty, than he was able to walk home without assistance.
XXXVII. The senate decreed that the games should be exhibited in the most splendid manner. To these games, in consequence of a plan laid by Attius Tullus, a vast number of the Volscians repaired. Before the commencement of the exhibition, Tullus, according to a scheme concerted at home with Marcius, came to the consuls, told them that he wished to confer with them, in private, on some matters which concerned the commonwealth, and every other person having retired, he addressed them thus: “It is painful to me in the extreme, to say any thing of my countrymen that is not to their honour: I do not come, however, to charge them with having committed any wrong act, but to guard against such being committed. That the dispositions of our people are fickle, to a degree infinitely beyond what might be wished, numerous disasters have given sensible proofs; for, to your forbearance it is owing, and not to our own deserts, that we have not been utterly destroyed. There are great numbers of the Volscians now in Rome; there are games to be celebrated, the public will be intent on the exhibition, I well remember the outrage which was committed in this city, by the Sabine youths, on a similar occasion. I shudder with apprehension, lest some inconsiderate and rash deed may ensue; thus much I thought it my duty, both for our own sake, and for yours, to mention beforehand to you, who are consuls; for my own part, I intend instantly to return home, lest, if I should be present, my character might be stained with the imputation of some improper word or action.” After this discourse he departed. The consuls proposed the matter to the consideration of the senate; a matter, indeed, unsupported by proof, but yet coming from a person whose authority was of great weight. The authority then, rather than any reason appearing in the case, as it often happens, determined them to use precautions, even though they might be unnecessary; and a decree being passed, that the Volscians should retire from the city, criers were despatched to every quarter, to order them all to remove before night. At first, they were struck with great terror, as they ran up and down to their lodgings, to take away their effects: indignation afterwards filled their minds, when they were beginning their journey; they considered themselves stigmatized as persons infamous and polluted; driven away from the converse of men and gods; from public games, on the day of a festival.
XXXVIII. As they formed in their journey almost one continued train, Tullus, who had proceeded to the fountain of Ferintina, accosted the chief persons among them as each arrived; and, by asking questions, and expressing indignation, while they greedily listened to expressions which favoured their resentment, led them on, and by their means, the rest of the multitude, to a plain that lay near the road, and there began to harangue them, as if at a general assembly: “Although,” said he, “ye should forget all the injurious treatment which ye formerly received from the Roman people, the calamities of the Volscian race, and every other matter of the kind, with what degree of patience do ye bear this insult thrown on you, when they commenced their games by exhibiting us to public ignominy? Did ye not perceive, that they performed a triumph over you this day? That, as ye were retiring, ye served as a spectacle to all their citizens, to foreigners, to so many of the neighbouring nations? That your wives and your children were led captives before the eyes of the public? What do ye suppose were the sentiments of those who heard the words of the crier, of those who beheld you departing, or of those who met this disgraceful cavalcade? What else but that we must be some polluted wretches, whose presence at the shows would contaminate the games, and render an expiation necessary; and that therefore we were driven away from the mansions of a people of such purity of character, from their meeting and converse? And besides, does it not strike you, that we should not now be alive, if we had not hastened our departure? if indeed it ought to be called a departure, and not a flight. And do ye not consider as enemies the inhabitants of that city, wherein, had ye delayed for one day, ye must, every one of you, have perished? It was a declaration of war against you; for which, those who made it will suffer severely, if ye have the spirit of men.” Their anger, which was hot before, was by this discourse, kindled to a flame, in which temper they separated to their several homes; and each taking pains to rouse those of his own state to vengeance, they soon effected a general revolt of the whole Volscian nation.
XXXIX. The commanders appointed for this war, by the unanimous choice of all the states, were Attius Tullus and Caius Marcius the Roman exile; on the latter of whom they reposed by far the greater part of their hopes; nor did he disappoint their expectations, but gave a convincing proof that the commonwealth was more indebted for power to its generals, than to its troops. Marching to Circeii, he first expelled the Roman colonists, and delivered the city, after restoring it to freedom, into the hands of the Volscians: turning thence across the country towards the Latine road, he deprived the Romans of their late acquisitions, Satricum Longula, Polusca, and Corioli. He then retook Lavinium, and afterwards made a conquest of Corbio, Vitellia, Trebia, Lavici, and Pedum, one after another. From Pedum, lastly he led his forces towards Rome, and pitching his camp at the Cluilian trenches, five miles from the city, sent parties to ravage the lands; at the same time appointing persons among the plunderers to take care that the possessions of the patricians should be left unmolested; either because his anger was levelled principally against the plebeians, or with the design of causing thereby a greater dissension between these different orders; and this would, no doubt, have been the consequence, so powerfully did the tribunes, by their invectives against the patricians, excite the resentment of the commons, which was sufficiently too violent before, but that, however full their minds were of mutual distrust and rancour, their dread of a foreign enemy, the strongest tie of concord, obliged them to unite: in one point only did they disagree; the senate and consuls placing their hopes entirely in arms, the commons preferring all other measures to war. By this time Spurius Nautius and Sextus Furius were consuls.Y. R. 266. 486. While they were employed in reviewing the legions, and posting troops on the walls, and in other places, where it was thought proper to fix guards and watches, a vast multitude of people assembling, and insisting on peace, terrified them, at first, by their seditious clamours, and, at length, compelled them to assemble the senate, and there propose the sending of ambassadors to Caius Marcius. The senate, finding that they could not depend on the support of the commons, took the matter into consideration, and sent deputies to Marcius to treat of an accommodation: to these he replied in harsh terms, that “if the lands were restored to the Volscians, a treaty might then be opened for an accommodation; but if they were resolved to enjoy, at their ease, what they had plundered from their neighbours in war, he would not forget either the injustice of his countrymen, or the kindness of his hosts, but would take such steps as should show the world, that his courage was irritated by exile, not depressed.” The same persons being sent a second time, were refused admittance into the camp. It is related, that the priests, afterwards, in their sacred vestments, went as suppliants to the camp of the enemy, but had no more influence on him than the ambassadors.
XL. The matrons then assembled in a body about Veturia, the mother of Coriolanus, and Volumnia his wife; whether this was a scheme of government, or the result of the women’s own fears, I cannot discover. It is certain that they carried their point, and that Veturia, who was far advanced in years, and Volumnia, leading two little sons whom she had by Marcius, went to the camp of the enemy; so that women, by tears and prayers, preserved the city which the men were not able to preserve by arms. When they arrived at the camp, and Coriolanus was informed that a great procession of women was approaching, he, who had not been moved, either by the majesty of the state, represented in its ambassadors, or by the awful address made by the ministers of religion both to his sight and his understanding, at first resolved to show himself still more inflexible against female tears: but soon after, one of his acquaintance knowing Veturia, who was distinguished above the rest by an extraordinary degree of sadness; as she stood between her daughter-in-law and grand-children, said to him, “unless my eyes deceive me, your mother with your wife and children are coming.” Coriolanus, in a transport of amazement, and almost distracted, sprang from his seat to embrace his mother as she advanced, who, instead of intreaties, addressed him with angry reproofs: “Let me know,” said she, “before I receive your embrace, whether I am come to an enemy or to a son; whether I am in your camp a prisoner, or a mother. Was it for this, that age has been lengthened out, that I might behold you an exile, and afterwards an enemy; could you lay waste this land, which gave you birth and education; whatever degree of anger, whatever thirst of vengeance, might have occupied your mind on your march, did you not, on entering its borders, feel your passion subside? When you came within sight of Rome, did it not recur to you — Within those walls are my house and guardian gods, my mother, my wife, my children? Had I never been a mother, then Rome would not have been now besieged: had I not a son, I might have died free, and left my country free; but, for my part, there is no suffering to which I can be exposed, that will not reflect more dishonour on you, than misery on me; and be my lot as wretched as it may, I am not to endure it long; let these claim your regard, who, if you persist, can have no other prospect, but either untimely death or lasting slavery.” His wife and children then embraced him; and the whole crowd of women, uttering bitter lamentations, and deploring their own and their country’s fate, at length got the better of his obstinacy: so that, after embracing and dismissing his family, he removed his camp to a greater distance from the city. In a short time he drew off the troops entirely from the Roman territories, which is said to have incensed the Volscians so highly against him, that he perished under the effects of their resentment; by what kind of death writers do not agree. In the account given by Fabius, the most ancient writer by far, I find that he lived even to old age; he mentions positively, that, when Marcius became far advanced in years, he used frequently to utter this remark, that “the evils of exile bore much the heavier on the aged.” The men of Rome were not sparing in bestowing on the women the honours which they had earned; so distant were the manners of that age from the practice of detracting from the merits of others: they even erected and dedicated a temple to Female Fortune, as a lasting monument of their meritorious conduct. The Volscians afterwards, in conjunction with the Æquans, made another inroad into the Roman territories; but the Æquans soon became dissatisfied at being commanded by Attius Tullus; and in consequence of the dispute, whether the Volscians or the Æquans should give a general to the combined army, a separation ensued, and soon after a furious battle. There the good fortune of the Roman people wasted the two armies of its enemies, in a contest no less bloody than obstinate. The consuls of the next year were Titus Sicinius and Caius Aquillius.Y. R. 267. 483. The Volsoians were allotted, as a province, to Sicinius; the Hernicians, for they also were in arms, to Aquillius. The Hernicians were subdued in that year. The operations against the Volscians ended without any advantage being gained on either side.
Y. R. 268. 484.XLI. The next consuls elected were Spurius Cassius and Proculus Virginius. A league was made with the Hernicians. Two-thirds of their lands were taken from them, one half of which the consul Cassius intended to distribute among the Latines, the other half among the commons. To this donation he proposed to add a considerable tract of land, which belonged, he said, to the public, though possessed by private persons. Many of the patricians, who were themselves in possession of this land, were hereby alarmed for their property, and besides, that body in general was seized with anxiety for the safety of the people; observing that the consul, by these donatives, was forming an influence at once dangerous to liberty and to right. This was the first proposal of the agrarian law, which, from that time to the present age, has never been agitated without the most violent commotions in the state. The other consul opposed the donations; and in this, he was supported by the patricians; nor did all the commons oppose him: at first, they began to despise a gift, which was not confined to themselves, but extended to the allies, in common with the citizens: then they were accustomed to hear the consul Virginius in the assemblies frequently, as it were prophesying, that “the donatives of his colleagues were full of infectious poison; that those lands would bring slavery on such as should receive them; that he was paving the way to arbitrary power; for why should the allies and the Latine nation be thus included? What was the intent of restoring a third part of the lands, taken in war, to the Hernicians, who so lately were enemies, only that these nations might set Cassius at their head as a leader, instead of Coriolanus.” Whoever argued and protested against the agrarian law, as thus proposed, was sure of popularity: and, from that time, both the consuls vied with each other in humouring the commons. Virginius declared, that he would allow the lands to be assigned, provided they were not made over to any other than citizens of Rome. Cassius, finding that, by his pursuit of popularity among the allies, which he had betrayed in the proposed distribution of the lands, he had lowered himself in the estimation of his countrymen, and, hoping to recover their esteem by another donative, proposed an order that the money received for the Sicilian corn should be refunded to the people. But this the commons rejected with as much disdain, as if he were avowedly bartering for arbitrary power: so strongly were they influenced by their inveterate suspicions of his ambition, that they spurned at all his presents, as if they were in a state of affluence; and no sooner did he go out of office, than he was condemned and executed, as we are informed by undoubted authority. Some say that it was his father who inflicted this punishment on him; that having, at home, held an inquiry into his conduct, he scourged him, and put him to death, and consecrated the allowance settled on his son,* to Ceres; that out of this a statue was erected, with this inscription, “Given from the Cassian family.” I find in some writers, and it is the more credible account, that he was prosecuted for treason by the quæstors Cæso Fabius and Lucius Valerius; that he was found guilty on a trial before the people, and his house razed by a public decree: it stood on the spot which is now the area before the temple of Tellus. However, whether the trial was private or public, he was condemned in the consulate of Servius Cornelius and Quintus Fabius.Y. R. 269. 483.
XLII. The anger which the people had conceived against Cassius, was not of long continuance. The alluring prospects, held out by the agrarian law, were sufficient, of themselves, now the proposer of it was removed out of the way, to make a lively impression on their minds; and their eagerness, in pursuit of them, was inflamed, by an act of unreasonable parsimony in the patricians, who, when the Volscians and Æquans were vanquished in that year, deprived the troops of the booty: the whole of what was taken from the enemy, the consul Fabius sold, and lodged the produce of it in the treasury. The name of Fabius was odious to the commons, on account of this conduct; yet the patricians had influence enough to procure the election of Cæso Fabius to the consulship, with Lucius Æmilius.Y. R. 270. 482. This farther exasperated the people, who, by raising a sedition at home, encouraged foreign enemies to attack them: but war, put a stop to intestine dissensions. The patricians and plebeians united, and under the conduct of Æmilius, with little loss to themselves, overthrew in battle the Volscians and Æquans, who had revived hostilities. On this occasion the enemy lost greater numbers during their retreat, than in the battle; for, after they were broken, they were pursued by the cavalry to a vast distance. In the same year, on the ides of July, the temple of Castor was dedicated: it had been vowed, during the Latine war, by Postumius the dictator, and his son, being appointed duumvir for the purpose, performed the dedication. This year also the people were tempted to new exertions, by the charms of the agrarian law. The tribunes wished to enhance the importance of their office, by promoting that popular decree. The patricians, convinced that the multitude were, of themselves, too much inclined to desperate measures, looked with horror on such largesses, as incitements to acts of temerity; and they found in the consuls, leaders as active as they could wish, in opposing those proceedings. Their party consequently prevailed; and that, not only for the present, but they were unable to appoint as consuls for the approaching year Marcus Fabius, brother to Cæso, and Lucius Verus,Y. R. 271. 481. who was still more odious to the plebeians, on account of his having been the prosecutor of Spurius Cassius. In that consulship, there was another contest with the tribunes; the law in question was considered as a vain project, and the proposers of it disregarded as claiming merit from holding out to the people’s view, advantages which were not attainable. The name of Fabius was now held in the highest estimation after three successive consulates, all of which had been uniformly distinguished by opposition to the tribunitian power; and, for that reason, this dignity was continued in the same family, for a considerable time, from a general persuasion that it could not be placed in better hands. Soon after this, war was undertaken against the Veientians. The Volscians also renewed hostilities. For security against foreign enemies, the strength of the Romans was more than sufficient; but they perverted it to a bad purpose, namely, to the support of quarrels among themselves. To add to the general disquiet, several prodigies appeared; the sky, almost daily, exhibiting threatening portents, both in the city and in the country. The soothsayers, employed as well by the state, as by private persons, after consulting both entrails, and birds, declared that no other cause of the displeasure of the deity existed, than that the worship of the gods was not duly performed. All their apprehensions however ended in this; Oppia, a vestal, was convicted of a breach of chastity, and suffered punishment.
Y. R. 272. 480.XLIII. Quintus Fabius, a second time, and Caius Julius, then succeeded to the consulship. During this year, the domestic dissensions abated not of their acrimony, and the war abroad wore a more dangerous aspect. The Æquans took up arms. The Veientians even carried their depredations into the territories of the Romans. And as these wars appeared every day more alarming, Cæso Fabius and Spurius Furius were made consuls.Y. R. 273. 479. The Æquans laid siege to Ortona, a Latine city. The Veientians, now satiated with booty, threatened to besiege Rome itself: yet all these dangers which surrounded them, instead of restraining the ill-humour of the commons, only served to augment it. They resumed the practice of refusing to enlist as soldiers, not indeed of their own accord, but by the advice of Spurius Licinius, a plebeian tribune, who, thinking that this was the time to force the Agrarian law on the patricians, when it would be impossible for them to make opposition, had undertaken to obstruct the preparations for war. However, all the odium excited by this exertion of the tribunitian power rested solely on the author; nor did the consuls unite their efforts against him with more eager zeal, than did his own colleagues, by whose assistance the levy was completed. Armies were raised for the two wars at the same time; the command of one was given to Fabius, to be led against the Æquans; of the other to Furius, against the Veientians. In the expedition against the latter, nothing memorable was performed. Fabius met with a great deal more trouble from his countrymen, than from the enemy: that single man, by his conduct, as consul, supported the commonwealth, which the troops, out of aversion to him as far as lay in their power, treacherously betrayed to ruin: for, after numberless other instances of military skill, which he had displayed, both in his preparatory measures, and in his operations in the field, and when he had made such a disposition of his forces, that, by a charge of his cavalry alone, he put the enemy to rout, the infantry refused to pursue their broken troops; nor could any motive, not to mention the exhortations of the general, whom they hated, nor even the immediate consequence of infamy to themselves, and disgrace to the public, nor the danger to which they would be exposed, should the enemy resume their courage, prevail on them to quicken their pace, or even to stand in order of battle, so as to resist an attack. Without orders, they faced about; and, with countenances as dejected as though they had been vanquished, retired to their camp, execrating, at one time, the general, at another, the exertions of the cavalry. The consul, however, sought not any remedy against so pestilent an example, showing by one instance among many, that men of the most transcendant abilities are more apt to be deficient in regard to the discipline of their own troops, than in conquering an enemy. Fabius returned to Rome, having reaped little fresh glory from the war, but having irritated and exasperated, to a high degree, the hatred of the soldiers against him. The patricians, notwithstanding, had influence enough to continue the consulship in the Fabian family: they elected Marcus Fabius to that office, and Cneius Manlius was appointed his colleague.Y. R. 274. 478.
XLIV. This year also produced a tribune hardy enough to make another attempt at carrying the agrarian law. This was Titus Pontificius, who pursued the same method, as if it had succeeded, with Spurius Licinius, and for some time obstructed the levy: the patricians being hereby again perplexed, Appius Claudius asserted, that “the plan adopted last year had effectually subdued the tribunitian power, for the present, by the very act, and, to all future times, by the example, which it had established; since it was discovered, how that power might be deprived of efficacy, through the very means supplied by its own strength; for there would, at all times, be one among them, desirous of procuring to himself a superiority over his colleague, and, at the same time, the favour of the better part of the community, by promoting the good of the public. They would even find more than one tribune, if more were necessary, ready to support the consuls, though one would be sufficient against all the rest: only let the consuls, and principal senators, exert themselves, to secure in the interest of the commonwealth and of the senate, if not all the tribunes, yet as many at least as they could.” Convinced of the propriety of Appius’s advice, the patricians in general addressed the tribunes with civility and kindness; and those of consular dignity employed whatever personal influence they had over each of them; and thus, partly by conciliating their regard, and partly by the weight of their influence, they prevailed on them to let their powers be directed to the advantage of the state: while the consuls, being supported by four tribunes, against one opposer of the public interest, completed the levy. They then marched their army against the Veientians, to whom auxiliaries had flocked from all parts of Etruria, induced to take arms, not so much from affection to the Veientians, as in the hope that the Roman state might be brought to ruin by intestine discord. Accordingly, in the assemblies of each of the states of Etruria, the leading men argued warmly, that “the power of the Romans would be everlasting, unless civil dissension armed them with rage against each other. This was the only infection, the only poison that operated, so as to set limits to the duration of great empires. This evil, whose progress had been long retarded, partly by the wise management of the patricians, and partly by the patient conduct of the commons, had now proceeded to extremity: out of the one, were formed two distinct states, each of which had its own magistrates, and its own laws. At first, though they used to give a loose to their rancorous animosities, when troops were to be levied, yet these very men, as long as war continued, paid obedience to their officers; and while military discipline remained in force, whatever might be the state of affairs in the city, ruin might be deferred. But now, the Roman soldier carried with him to the field, the custom of refusing submission to superiors: during the last war, in the very heat of battle, the troops conspired to make a voluntary surrender of victory to the vanquished Æquans; deserted their standards, forsook their general, and, in despite of orders, retreated to their camp. Without doubt, if proper exertions were made, Rome might be subdued by means of its own forces: nothing more was necessary, than to make a declaration, and a show of war. The fates and the gods would of themselves accomplish the rest.” Such prospects as these had allured the Etrurians to arm, notwithstanding the little success they had experienced in their wars.
XLV. The Roman consuls had no other dread than of the power, and the arms, of their countrymen. When they reflected on the very dangerous tendency of their misbehaviour in the last war, they were deterred from bringing themselves into a situation where they would have two armies to fear at the same time: to avoid therefore being exposed to this double danger, they kept the troops confined within the camp, in hopes that delay, and time itself might perhaps soften their resentment, and bring them back to a right way of thinking. This encouraged their enemies the Veientians and Etrurians, to act with greater precipitation: at first, they endeavoured to provoke the foe to fight, by riding up to the camp, and offering challenges; and, at length, finding that this had no effect, by reviling both the consuls and the army; telling them, that “the pretence of dissensions among themselves, was an artifice contrived to cover their cowardice; that the consuls were more diffident of the courage of their troops than of their disposition to obey orders: that was a strange kind of sedition, which showed itself in silence, and inaction, among men who had arms in their hands:” throwing out, besides, many reproaches, some true, and some false, on their upstart origin. Such invectives, though uttered with great vociferation, close to the very rampart and the gates, gave the consuls no manner of uneasiness: but the minds of the uninformed multitude were strongly agitated, at one time by indignation, at another by shame, which diverted them from reflecting on domestic quarrels: they could not bear the thoughts of suffering the enemy to insult them unrevenged, neither could they wish success either to the consuls, or the patricians. Thus there was a struggle in their breasts, between their animosity against foreigners, and that which inflamed them against their countrymen: the former at length prevailed, in consequence of the haughty and insolent scoffs of the enemy: they assembled in crowds at the Prætorium,* demanding the fight, and requiring the signal to be given. The consuls held a consultation together, as if deliberating on the demand, and conferred for a considerable time: they wished to fight; but it was necessary to restrain and conceal that wish, in order, by opposition and delay, to add to the alacrity which had now sprung up in the minds of the troops: they returned for answer, that “the measure was premature: it was not yet a proper time for meeting the enemy. That they must keep within the camp.” They then issued orders, that “all should refrain from fighting; declaring, that if any should engage without orders, they would be punished.” After the troops were thus dismissed, their ardour for battle increased, in proportion to the aversion, which they supposed, in the consuls: besides, the enemy approached with much greater boldness, as soon as it became known that it was determined not to come to an engagement. They thought they might continue their insults with perfect safety; that the soldiers would not be intrusted with arms, that the business would end in a desperate mutiny; and that the final period of the Roman empire was arrived. Buoyed up with these hopes, their parties pressed forward to the very gates, heaped reproaches on the troops, and hardly refrained from assaulting the camp. But now, the Romans could no longer endure such insults; from every quarter of the camp, they ran hastily to the consuls, and did not, as before, propose their demand regularly, through the principal centurions, but joined in one general clamour. The affair was now ripe; yet still the consuls showed a backwardness: but at length beginning, from the increasing uproar, to dread a mutiny, Fabius, with the consent of his colleague, having caused silence by sound of trumpet, said, “Cneius Manlius, that those men are able to conquer, I know; but they themselves have given me reason to doubt, whether it is their wish: for which reason I am determined not to give the signal, unless they swear that they will return from the battle with victory. Soldiers have once deceived a Roman consul in the field, but they will never deceive the gods.” There was a centurion, called Marcus Flavoleius, who was among the foremost in demanding battle; he cried out, “Marcus Fabius, I will return victorious from the field;” and, at the same time, imprecated on himself the anger of Father Jupiter, of Mars Gradivus, and the other gods, if he did not perform his promise: after him the whole army severally took the same oath. As soon as they had sworn, the signal was given; instantly they marched out to battle, full of rage and of confidence. They bade the Etrurians now throw out their reproaches, now let the enemy, who was so bold in words, come in the way of their arms. There was not a man, on that day, either plebeian or patrician, who did not display an uncommon degree of valour: the Fabian name, and Fabian race, shone forth with peculiar lustre: they were determined to recover, in that battle, the affection of the commons, which, during the many quarrels of the parties at home, had been withdrawn from them. The line was formed, nor did their Veientian enemy or the Etrurian legions decline the combat.
XLVI. These expected, and indeed firmly believed, that the Romans would show no more willingness to fight with them, than they had with the Æquans: nay, considering the high ferment of their passions, and that, in the present case, the issue of a battle was the more uncertain, they did not despair of obtaining some important advantage. In this they were entirely disappointed, for in no former war did the Romans enter the field, inflamed with keener animosity; so highly were they exasperated by the taunts of the enemy on one side, and the delay of the consuls on the other. The Etrurians had scarcely time to form their ranks, before they found themselves engaged in close fight, hand to hand with swords, the most desperate method of deciding a battle, the javelins having in the first hurry been thrown at random, rather than aimed at the enemy. Among the foremost, the Fabian family particularly attracted the notice of their countrymen, and encouraged them by their example: as one of these, Quintus Fabius, who had been consul two years before, advanced before the rest against a thick body of the Veientians, a Tuscan, who assumed resolution from a confidence in his strength and skill in arms, came up to him unobserved, while he was busily engaged with a number of foes, and thrust him through the breast with his sword; on the weapon’s being drawn out of the wound, Fabius fell to the ground. Both armies felt the fall of this one man, and the Romans were in consequence of it beginning to give ground, when Marcus Fabius the consul leaped over the body where it lay, and opposing his buckler to the enemy, called out, “Soldiers, is this what ye bound yourselves to perform? Was it that ye would return to the camp in flight? Are ye so much more afraid of the most dastardly enemy, than of Jupiter and Mars, by whom ye swore? But for my part, though bound by no oath, I will either return victorious, or die here, fighting beside thee, Quintus Fabius.” On this, Cæso Fabius, consul of the former year, said, “Brother, do you expect by words to prevail on them to fight? The gods by whom they have sworn will prevail on them. Let us, as becomes our noble birth, as is worthy of the Fabian name, animate the men by deeds of valour, rather than by exhortations.” The two Fabii then rushed forward to the front with their presented spears, and drew the whole line along with them.
XLVII. By these means, the battle was renewed on that side; nor, in the other wing, was Cneius Manlius, the consul, less strenuous in his efforts against the enemy. Here, too, a like course of events took place: for as the soldiers followed Quintus Fabius with alacrity, so did they here follow the consul Manlius, while he pressed, and almost routed the enemy: and when he was compelled by a severe wound to retire from the field, supposing him slain, they began to shrink. They would indeed have given way entirely, had not the other consul, riding up to the place at full speed with some troops of horse, revived their drooping courage; calling out, that his colleague was alive, and that he was come to their support, having defeated the enemy in the other wing: Manlius also showed himself, in order to encourage them to return to the fight. The sight of the two consuls rekindled the courage of the soldiers, and by this time, too, the enemy’s line was considerably weakened; for, confiding in the superiority of their numbers, they had drawn off a part, and sent them to attack the camp: these met but little resistance in the assault, but wasted time afterwards, being more intent on plunder than on fighting. The Roman Triarii,* however, who had not been able to prevent their breaking in at first, and who had despatched to the consuls an account of their situation, returned in a compact body to the Prætorium, and without waiting for aid, of themselves renewed the combat. At the same time, the consul Manlius having rode back to the camp, posted troops at all the gates, and blocked up every passage by which the enemy could retreat. The desperate situation in which the Etrurians then saw themselves, inspired them not only with boldness, but with fury; so that, after they had made several fruitless efforts, attempting every place where they saw any prospect of gaining a passage, one band of their young men made an attack on Manlius himself, whom they distinguished by his armour. His attendants covered him from the first discharge of their weapons; but could not long withstand their force: the consul, receiving a mortal wound, fell, and his defenders were entirely dispersed. This added new confidence to the Etrurians, and so dispirited the Romans, that they fled in dismay, through all parts of the camp; and would probably have been utterly ruined, had not the lieutenant-generals, hastily removing the consul’s body, opened a passage for the enemy by one of the gates. Through this they rushed out; and, as they were retreating in the utmost disorder, fell in with Fabius, who was flushed with success. In this second encounter many were cut off, and the rest fled different ways. The victory was complete, but the joy, which it occasioned, was greatly damped by the death of two such illustrious persons as Fabius and Manlius: for which reason the consul, when the senate were proceeding to vote him a triumph, told them, that “if the army could triumph without their general, he would readily consent to it, on account of their extraordinary good behaviour in that war: but as to himself, while his own family was overwhelmed with grief, for the death of his brother Quintus Fabius, and the commonwealth bewailed the loss of a parent, as it were, in that of one of its consuls, he would not accept of the laurel, blasted both by public and private mourning.” A triumph refused on such grounds, redounded more to his honour, than if he had actually enjoyed it: so true it is, that fame prudently declined, often breaks forth with increased lustre. He then celebrated the two funerals of his colleague and his brother, one after the other, and took upon himself the office of pronouncing the panegyric of both; in which he attributed to them the merit of his own performances, in such a manner, as showed him to be entitled to the greatest share of any. Not losing sight of the design which he had conceived at the beginning of his consulate, of recovering the affection of the commons, he distributed the wounded soldiers among the patricians, to be taken care of, until they were cured. The greater number were given to the Fabii, and by no others were they treated with more attention. Henceforward the Fabii grew high in the favour of the people, and that without any practices prejudicial to the state.
Y. R. 275. 477.XLVIII. With the same view, Cæso Fabius, whose election to the consulship, with Titus Virginius, was owing as much to the support of the commons, as to that of the patricians, would enter on no business, either of wars or levies, or any other matter, until the hopes of concord, which had already made some progress, should be ripened into a perfect union between the plebeians and patricians. In the beginning of the year therefore he proposed, that “before any tribune should stand forth to press the agrarian law, the senate should seize the opportunity, and take to themselves the merit of conferring that favour: that they should distribute among the commons, in as equal proportion as possible, the lands taken from their enemies: for it was but just that they should be enjoyed by those whose blood and labour acquired them.” The senate rejected the proposal with disdain; some of them even complained, that the talents of Cæso, formerly so brilliant, were, through a surfeit of glory, become heavy and languid. No disputes ensued between the factions in the city. The Latines were harassed by incursions of the Æquans; Cæso being sent thither, with an army, retaliated on the Æquans, by ravaging their territories. They retired into the towns, and kept themselves within the walls; consequently, there was no battle of any importance. But, from the arms of the Veientians, a severer blow was received, through the rashness of the other consul: and the army would have been utterly destroyed, had not Cæso Fabius arrived seasonably to its support. From that time there was properly neither peace nor war with the Veientians, whose proceedings were more like those of a banditti, than of regular troops. On the approach of the Roman legions, they retreated into the town, and when they understood that those were withdrawn, they made incursions into the country; shifting alternately from war to quiet, and from quiet to war. For this reason, nothing could be brought to a conclusion. There was also apprehension of other wars, two of which were just ready to break out, that is, with the Æquans and Volscians, who only remained inactive, until the smart of their late disaster should wear off. And besides, it was evident that the Sabines, ever hostile, and all Etruria, would soon be in motion. But the Veientians kept the Romans in continual uneasiness, rather indeed by frequent insults, than by any enterprise which threatened danger, yet this was such a business as would neither allow them to neglect it at any time, nor to turn their attention to other matters. While affairs were in this state, the Fabian family addressed the senate; the consul, in the name of the whole, speaking in this manner:—“Conscript fathers, ye know that the Veientian war requires rather an established, than a strong force, on the frontiers: let your care be directed to other wars: commit to the Fabii that against the Veientians. We pledge ourselves, that the majesty of the Roman name shall be safe on that side: that war, as the particular province of our family, we propose to wage at our own private expense. The state shall not be troubled either for men or money to support it.” The warmest thanks were given to them, and the consul coming out of the senate, returned to his house, accompanied by the Fabii in a body, who had stood in the porch of the senate house, waiting the senate’s determination. They received orders to attend next day in arms, at the consul’s gate, and then retired to their respective homes.
XLIX. The report of this conduct spread immediately over the whole city, and all extolled the Fabii with the most exalted encomiums; that “a single family had undertaken to sustain the burthen of the state; that the Veientian war was become a private concern, a private quarrel. If there were two other families of equal strength in the city, one of them might claim the Volscians for their share, the other the Æquans; thus all the neighbouring states might be subdued, and the majority of Roman people, in the mean time, enjoy perfect tranquillity.” Next day the Fabii took arms, and assembled in the place appointed. The consul, coming forth in his military robe,* saw his whole family in the court-yard, drawn up in order of march, and being received into the centre, commanded them to set forward. Never did an army, either smaller in number, or more highly distinguished in fame, and the general admiration of all men, march through the city. Three hundred and six soldiers, all of them patricians, not one of whom would be judged unfit for supreme command by the senate at any time whatever, proceeded on their way, threatening destruction to the state of the Veientians, by the prowess of one family. A crowd attended them, composed, partly, of their own connections, relations, and particular acquaintances, who held no moderation either in their hopes or anxieties; and partly, of such as were attracted by zeal for the public interest, all enraptured with esteem and admiration. They bade “the heroes to proceed; to proceed with happy fortune, and to obtain success proportioned to the merit of their undertaking: desiring them to expect afterwards, consulships, triumphs, every reward, every honour, which was in the power of the public to bestow.” As they passed by the Capitol, the citadel, and other sacred places, whatever deities occurred to the people’s sight or thoughts, to them they offered up their prayers, that they would “crown that band with success and prosperity, and soon restore them in safety to their country and their parents.” But their prayers were made in vain. Passing through the right hand postern of the Carmental gate, they arrived at the river Cremera, which they judged to be a proper situation for securing a post by fortifications. Lucius Æmilius and Caius Servilius were soon after elected consuls.Y. R. 276. 476. As long as the operations of the war were confined to predatory expeditions, the Fabii were not only sufficiently able to defend their post, but by their excursions, along the common boundaries, they both effectually secured their own frontiers, and spread terror and devastation in those of the enemy, through the whole tract, as far as the Etrurian territories join the Roman. Their mutual depredations were soon after discontinued, though but for a short time, for the Veientians having collected a reinforcement from Etruria, laid siege to the post at the Cremera; and the Roman legions led thither by the consul Lucius Æmilius, fought a close engagement with the Etrurians in the field, in which, however, the Veientians had scarcely time to form their troops; for in the midst of the hurry, while they were taking their posts under their several banners, and placing bodies of reserve, a brigade of Roman cavalry charged them suddenly on the flank, in such manner as to put it out of their power either to make a regular onset, or even to stand their ground. Being thus compelled to retreat to the Red Rocks, where they had their camp, they humbly sued for peace: yet after it had been granted, they renounced it, before the Roman guard was withdrawn from the Cremera; such was their natural inconstancy, and such their bad faith.
L. The contest, then, again lay between the Fabii and the Veientian state, unsupported by any additional forces on either side. There passed between them not only incursions into each other’s territories, and sudden attacks on the parties employed in those incursions, but several pitched battles in the open field; in which a single family of the Roman people often obtained victory over a state, at that time the most powerful in Etruria. This, at first, stung the Veientians with grief and indignation; afterwards they formed a design, suggested by the present circumstances, of ensnaring their enemy, elated with success; and they even observed, with pleasure, the confidence of the Fabii daily increasing, from a series of successful attempts. In pursuance of this design, cattle were frequently driven in the way of the plundering parties, as if they had come there by chance; the fields were deserted, by the flight of the peasants, and the bodies of troops, sent to repel the invaders, retreated with pretended, oftener than real, fear. The Fabii had now contracted such a contempt of the enemy, that they thought their own arms invincible, and not to be withstood in any place or on any occasion. This presumption carried them so far, that on seeing, from Cremera, some cattle at a distance — a long tract of country lying between, in which, however, but few of the enemy’s troops appeared — they ran down to seize them, and pressed forward with such careless haste, as to pass by the Veientians, who lay in ambush on each side of the very road through which they marched. They then dispersed themselves on all sides to collect the cattle, which ran up and down, as was natural on being frightened; when, suddenly, the soldiers rose from their concealments, and appeared not only in front, but on every side of them. The shout first struck them with terror, and in a little time, they were assailed by weapons on all sides. As the Etrurians closed in upon them, they were obliged, hemmed in as they were, by one continued line of troops, to contract the circle which they had formed, into a narrower compass; which circumstance showed plainly, both the smallness of their number, and the great superiority of the Etrurians, whose ranks were multiplied as the space grew narrower. They then changed their method of fighting, and instead of making head on all sides, bent their whole force towards one point; where, forming in the shape of a wedge, and exerting every effort of their bodies and arms, they at length forced a passage. Their course led to a hill of moderate acclivity; there, first, they halted; and then the advantage of the ground affording them a little time to breathe, and to recover from the consternation into which they had been thrown, they afterwards even repulsed an attack of the enemy; and this little band would probably, with the aid of the ground, have come off victorious, had not a body of Veientians sent round the ridge of the hill, made their way to the summit: by which means the enemy became again superior; the Fabii were all cut off to a man, and their fort taken. It is agreed on all hands, that the three hundred and six perished; and that only one single person, then quite a youth, was left, as a stock for the propagation of the Fabian race; and who was, afterwards, on many emergences, both in peace and war, to prove the firmest support of the state.
Y. R. 277. 475.LI. At the time when this disaster happened, Caius Horatius and Titus Menenius were in the consulship. Menenius was immediately sent against the Etrurians, elated with their victory. He also was worsted in battle, and the enemy took possession of the Janiculum; nor would the city, which, besides the war, was distressed also by scarcity, have escaped a siege, the Etrurians having passed the Tiber, had not the consul Horatius been recalled from the country of the Volscians. So near, indeed, did the enemy approach to the walls, that the first engagement was at the temple of Hope, in which little was gained on either side; and the second at the Coline gate, in which the Romans obtained some small advantage; and this, though far from decisive, yet by restoring to the soldiers their former courage, qualified them the better to contend with the enemy in future. Aulus Virginius and Spurius Servilius were next elected consuls. After the loss sustained in the last battle, the Veientians avoided coming again to an engagement.Y. R. 278. 474. They employed themselves in committing depredations, by sending out parties from the Janiculum, which served them as a fortress; and these parties scoured every part of the Roman territories, so that neither the cattle nor the husbandmen, could any where remain in safety. At last they were entrapped by the same stratagem by which they had circumvented the Fabii: pursuing some cattle, which had been purposely thrown in their way as a temptation, they fell into an ambuscade. In proportion as their numbers were greater, so was the slaughter. The violent rage which this overthrow excited, gave cause to one of greater magnitude: for, having crossed the Tiber by night, they made an assault on the camp of the consul Servilius; and being repulsed with great loss, with difficulty effected a retreat to the Janiculum. The consul immediately passed the Tiber, and fortified a camp at the foot of the Janiculum. Next day, as soon as light appeared, partly led by the confidence inspired by his success in the fight of the day before, but chiefly because the scarcity of corn made it expedient to adopt even dangerous measures, provided they were expeditious, he rashly marched up his troops against the steep of the Janiculum, to the camp of the enemy: there he met with a repulse, more shameful than that which he had given them the preceding day; and both he and his army owed their preservation from destruction to the timely intervention of his colleague. The Etrurians, now inclosed between the two armies, to one or other of which their rear was by turns exposed, were entirely cut off. Thus, through a fortunate act of temerity, the Veientians were effectually overpowered, and the war brought to a conclusion.
LII. Together with peace, plenty returned to the city, corn being brought from Campania; and every one, as soon as he was freed from the dread of impending famine, producing the stores which he had concealed. In this state of abundance and ease, the people began again to grow licentious, and not finding abroad any cause of complaint, sought for it, as usual, at home. By infusing into their minds the usual poison, the agrarian law, the tribunes threw the people into a ferment, at the same time rousing their resentment against the patricians, who opposed it; and, not only against that body in general, but against particular members of it. Quintus Considius and Titus Genucius, the present proposers of the agrarian law, lodged an accusation against Titus Menenius: the charge brought against him was, the loss of the fort of Cremera, when he, the consul, was encamped in a fixed post at no great distance. Him they crushed, although the patricians struggled in his cause with no less zeal than they had shown for Coriolanus, and though his father Agrippa’s title to the favour of the public was not yet forgotten. The tribunes, however, went no farther than to impose a fine, though they had carried on the prosecution as for a capital offence. On his being found guilty, they fixed the mulct at two thousand asses.* This proved fatal to him; for we are told that he could not bear the ignominy and anguish of mind which it occasioned, and that this threw him into a disorder which put an end to his life. Another was soon after brought to trial, Spurius Servilius, against whom, as soon as he went out of the consulship,Y. R. 279. 473. in the beginning of the year in which Caius Nautius and Publius Valerius were consuls, a prosecution was commenced by two tribunes, Lucius Cædicius and Titus Statius. He did not, like Menenius, meet the attacks of these tribunes with supplications from himself and the patricians, but with the utmost confidence, inspired by innocence, and by the justice of his claim to the favour of the public. He was charged with misconduct in the battle with the Etrurians at the Janiculum; but being a man of an intrepid spirit, as he had done formerly in the case of public peril, so now in one that threatened himself, he dispelled the danger by facing it with boldness. In a speech full of undaunted fortitude, he retorted on both tribunes and commons, and upbraided them with the condemnation and death of Titus Menenius, the son of that man, to whose good offices the people stood indebted for the restoration of their privileges, for those very laws and magistrates, which enabled them now to let loose their passions in this unreasonable manner. His colleague Virginius too, being produced as a witness, greatly assisted his cause, by attributing to him a share of his own merit; but what did him the most essential service was, the sentence passed on Menenius; so great a change had taken place in the minds of the people.
LIII. No sooner had these domestic disputes subsided, than a new war broke out with the Veientians, with whom the Sabines had united their forces. After auxiliaries had been brought from the Latines and Hernicians, the consul Valerius, being sent with an army to Veii, instantly attacked the Sabine camp, which they had pitched under the walls of their allies. This occasioned such consternation among the Sabines, that while they ran different ways in small parties, to repel the enemy’s assault, the gate, first attacked, was taken; and afterwards, within the rampart, there was rather a carnage than a battle. From the tents the alarm spread into the city, and the Veientians ran to arms in as great a panic as if Veii itself were taken: some went to support the Sabines, others fell upon the Romans, whose whole force and attention were employed on the camp. For a little time the latter were put to a stand and disordered; but soon forming two fronts, they faced the enemy on both sides; and, at the same time, the cavalry being ordered by the consul to charge, routed and dispersed the Etrurians. Thus were overcome in the same hour, two armies of the two greatest and most powerful of the neighbouring states. During these transactions at Veii, the Volscians and Æquans had encamped in the Latine territories, and laid waste the country. The Latines, however, being joined by the Hernicians, without the aid either of Roman general or troops, beat them out of their camp, and there, besides recovering their own effects, got possession of immense booty. The consul Caius Nautius was, however, sent against the Volscians from Rome, where, I suppose, it was considered as improper, that the allies should get a custom of carrying on wars, with their own forces and under their own direction, without a Roman general and troops. Every kind of severity and indignity was practised against the Volscians, yet they could not be brought to an engagement in the field.
Y. R. 280. 472.LIV. The next consuls were Lucius Furius and Aulus Manlius. The Veientians fell to the lot of Manlius as his province; but the war with that people did not continue. At their request a truce for forty years was granted them, and they were obliged to furnish corn, and to pay the soldiers. No sooner was peace restored abroad, than discord began at home. The commons were set in a flame at the instigation of the tribunes, on their constant subject, the agrarian law, which the consuls, not deterred by the condemnation of Menenius, or the danger incurred by Servilius, opposed with all their might. On this account, as soon as they went out of office, Titus Genucius, the tribune, laid hold of them. They were succeeded in the consulship by Lucius Æmilius and Opiter Virginius.Y. R. 281. 471. In some annals, instead of Virginius, I find Vopiscus Julius set down for consul. During this year, whoever were the consuls, Furius and Manlius being summoned to a trial before the people, went about in the garb of suppliants, addressing not only the commons, but the younger patricians. The latter they advised and cautioned to “keep at a distance from public employments, and the administration of affairs, and to look on the consular fasces, the prætexta, and curule chair, as nothing better than the decorations of a funeral, for those splendid badges, like the fillets of victims, were placed on men who were doomed to death. But, if there were such charms in the consulship, let them, once for all, be convinced, that the office was crushed, and held in captivity by the tribunitian power; that a consul must act in every thing according to command, and, like a bailiff, be obedient even to the tribune’s nod. If he should exert himself, if he should show any respect to the patricians, if he should suppose that there was any powerful part in the state but the commons alone, let him place before his eyes the banishment of Caius Marcius, with the penalty and death of Menenius.” By such discourses the patricians were fired with indignation, and from that time they no longer held their consultations publicly, but in private, and suffered but now to be privy to them: and here, however they might differ in other points, in this they were unanimous, that the accused should be rescued from danger by any means possible, whether right or wrong; and the most violent method proposed, was the most acceptable. Nor were they at a loss for an actor to perpetrate any, the most atrocious deed: on the day of trial, therefore, the people, standing in the Forum, in eager expectation of the tribune’s appearing, first began to wonder that he did not come down; then beginning from his delay, to suspect something amiss, they supposed that he had been terrified from attending by the nobles, while some complained that the cause of the public was deserted and betrayed by him. At length, an account was brought of the tribune’s being found dead in his house. As soon as this report had spread through the assembly, every one separated different ways, just as an army disperses on the fall of its leader. The tribunes, particularly, were seized with the greatest terror, warned by the death of their colleague, how very little security the devoting laws afforded them. The patricians, on the other side, exulted with too little moderation: and so far were they from feeling any compunction at the deed, that even those who were clear of the crime, wished to be considered as the perpetrators of it; and they declared openly, that the tribunitian power must be subdued by severity.
LV. Soon after this victory had been obtained, by means which furnished a precedent of the worst tendency, a proclamation was issued for a levy of soldiers: and the tribunes being awed into submission, the consuls accomplished the business without any interruption. The commons, on this, were highly enraged, more on account of the acquiescence of the tribunes, than of the execution of the orders of the consuls; they declared that “there was an end of their liberty; that they were reduced again to their old condition, for the tribunitian power had expired with, and was buried in the grave of Genucius. Other means must be devised and practised, to put a stop to the tyranny of the patricians. There remained now only one method to be pursued; which was, that the commons, since they were destitute of every other protection, should undertake their own defence. The retinue of the consuls consisted of twenty-four lictors, and even these were plebeians; no force could be more contemptible, or less capable of resistance, if people had but the spirit to despise them; but every one magnified those matters, and made them objects of terror to himself.” While they thus spurred on each other with such discourses as these, it happened that a lictor was sent by the consul to a plebeian of the name of Volero Publilius, who had insisted, that, having been a centurion, he could not be compelled to enlist as a common soldier. Volero appealed to the tribunes; but none of them supporting him, the consuls ordered the man to be stripped, and the rods to be got ready: “I appeal to the people,” said Volero; “the tribunes choose rather that a Roman citizen should be beaten with rods before their eyes, than that themselves should be murdered in their beds by your faction.” The more vehemently he exclaimed, the more violently did the lictor proceed in tearing off his clothes, and stripping him. Then Volero, who was a man of great bodily strength, and aided also by those who took part with him, drove away the lictor, and retired into the thickest part of the crowd, where he heard the loudest expressions of indignation at the treatment which he received; at the same time crying aloud, “I appeal, and implore the protection of the commons. Support me, citizens; support me, fellow-soldiers. You have nothing to expect from the tribunes, who themselves stand in need of your support.” The people, inflamed with passion, prepared themselves as for a battle: and there was every appearance of the contest proceeding to such extremity, as that no regard whatever would be paid either to public or private rights. The consuls, having undertaken to face this violent storm, quickly experienced that dignity, unsupported by strength, is not exempt from danger. Their lictors were abused, the fasces broken, and themselves forced to take refuge in the senate-house, uncertain how far Volero would push his victory. In some time after, the tumult subsiding, they assembled the senators, and complained to them of the ill-treatment which they had suffered, of the violence of the commons, and the audacious behaviour of Volero. Though many harsh methods of proceeding were proposed, the opinion of the elder members prevailed; who recommended to the senate, not to let their conduct be as strongly marked by passionate resentment, as that of the commons was by inconsiderate violence.
LVI. The commons, interesting themselves warmly in favour of Volero,Y. R. 282. 470. chose him at the next election tribune for the year: the consuls being Lucius Pinarius and Publius Furius. And now, contrary to the expectation of all men, who supposed that he would give a loose to the reins of the tribunitian power, in harassing the consuls of the preceding year; postponing his own resentment, and affecting only the public interest, without uttering even a word to offend the consuls, he proposed a law that plebeian magistrates should be elected in assemblies where the votes were given by tribes. This, though covered under an appearance which, at first view, showed not any evil tendency, was considered as a matter of no trivial consequence; as it would entirely deprive the patricians of the power of electing such tribunes as they liked, by means of the votes of their dependents. To prevent this proposition, which was highly pleasing to the commons, from passing into a law, the patricians strained every nerve; and though neither the influence of the consuls nor that of themselves could prevail on any one of the college of tribunes to protest against it, that being the only power that could effectually stifle it; yet, as it was in itself an affair of great weight, and required long and laborious exertions, the obstacles thrown in its way were sufficient to delay it until the following year. The commons re-elected Volero to the tribuneship; and the patricians, judging that this business would not end without the severest struggle, procured the consulship for Appius Claudius,Y. R. 283. 469. son of Appius, who both hated, and was hated by the commons, in consequence of the contentions between them and his father. Titus Quintius was given him for colleague. The law was the first matter agitated in the beginning of the year; and though Volero was the author of it, yet Lætorius his colleague, from having more recently joined in the business, became in consequence the more eager for its adoption: his renown in war inspired him with confidence, for there was no one of that age possessed of more personal prowess. Volero contented himself with arguing in favour of the law, and avoided all abuse against the consuls; but Lætorious began with severe invectives against Appius and his family, charging them with having always shown a disposition in the highest degree overbearing and cruel: asserting that the patricians had elected him not for a consul, but an executioner, to torment and torture the plebeians. Being however a rough soldier, unskilled in the art of speaking, he was at a loss for expressions suited to the boldness of his thoughts; and finding himself unable to proceed in his discourse, he said, “Citizens, since I cannot speak with the same readiness with which I can perform what I have spoken, I request your attendance tomorrow. Either I will lose my life, here in your presence, or I will carry the law.” Next day the tribunes took possession of the temple; and the consuls and nobles placed themselves among the crowd, in order to oppose the law. Lætorius ordered all persons to retire, except those who were to vote; but the younger nobility kept their seats, and paid no regard to the officer; on which Lætorius ordered some of them to be taken into custody. The consul Appius insisted, that “a tribune had no power over any but the plebeians; for he was not a magistrate of the people at large, but of the commons; that even he himself could not, conformably to ancient usage, of his own authority, compel people to withdraw, the words in use being, If ye think proper, Romans, retire.” It was easy for him to disconcert Lætorius in arguing, even thus contemptuously, about his authority; the tribune therefore, inflamed with anger, sent one of his officers to the consul, while the consul sent a lictor to the tribune, calling out that he was but a private person without command and without magistracy; nor would the tribune have escaped ill-treatment, had not the whole assembly joined, with great warmth, in taking his part against the consul; and at the same time, the alarm having spread among the populace, brought a great concourse from all parts of the city to the Forum. Appius, notwithstanding, inflexibly withstood the violence of the storm; and the dispute must have terminated in blood, had not Quintius the other consul, giving it in charge to the consulars to take away his colleague from the Forum by force, if they could not do it otherwise, now soothing the enraged plebeians with intreaties, then begging the tribunes to dismiss the assembly, so as to “give time for their anger to cool,” telling them, that “delay would not diminish aught of their power, but would afford them the advantage of uniting prudence with that power; that the patricians would still be under the direction of the people, and the consul under that of the patricians.”
LVII. With great difficulty the commons were pacified by Quintius; and with much greater, was the other consul quieted by the patricians; and the assembly of the people being at length dismissed, the consuls convened the senate. There, fear and anger prevailing by turns, produced for some time a variety of opinions; but having gained time for reflection, in proportion as passion gave place to reason, they became more and more averse from inflammatory measures; in so much, that they returned thanks to Quintius, for having by his exertions put a stop to the quarrel. Appius they requested to “be satisfied with such a degree of deference to the consular authority, as was compatible with concord between the several parts of the state; for, whilst the tribune and consuls violently drew all power, each to their own side, there was none left in the other members of the community. The object of the dispute was not the safety of the commonwealth, but who should have the disposal of it, mangled and torn as it was.” On the other hand, Appius appealed to gods and men that “the state was betrayed and deserted through cowardice; that the consul was not wanting in support of the senate, but the senate in support of the consul; and that they were submitting to more grievous laws than those which were imposed at the sacred mount.” Yielding, however, to the unanimous judgment of the senate, he desisted, and the law was carried through without farther opposition.
LVIII. Then, for the first time, were the tribunes elected in an assembly of the people, voting by tribes. Piso relates also, that there were three added to their number, having before been but two. He even names the tribunes, Caius Sicinius, Lucius Numitorius, Marcus Duilius, Spurius Icilius, Lucius Mecilius. During the dissensions at Rome, war commenced with the Æquans and Volscians, who had committed depredations on the Roman lands, with design that if the commons should again think proper to secede they might find a refuge with them. When the differences in the city were afterwards composed, they removed their camp to a greater distance: Appius Claudius was sent against the Volscians, the Æquans fell to Quintius as his province. The same severity, which Appius had shown at home, he practised at the head of the army abroad, and even with less reserve, as he was out of the reach of any control from the tribunes. He detested the commons to a degree of rancour, even beyond what he inherited from his father; and considered himself as vanquished by them; for that when he had been set up as the only person, who, in the character of consul, was qualified to oppose the tribunitian power, that law had been carried which the former consuls had been able to prevent, though they made not such strenuous exertions as himself against it, nor did the patricians expect so much from them. His anger and indignation hereby excited, he sought to wreak on the army every kind of rigour which the command had put in his power: but no degree of violence was able to subdue the temper of the troops, such an unconquerable spirit of opposition had they imbibed. In every part of their business they showed indolence and carelessness, negligence and stubbornness; neither shame nor fear had any effect on them. If he wished that the army should proceed with more expedition, they marched the slower; if he came to encourage them to hasten their work, every one relaxed the diligence which he had used before; when he was present, they cast down their eyes; as he passed by, they muttered curses against him; so that while he seemed invulnerable to popular dislike, his mind was occasionally affected with disagreeable emotions. After trying every kind of harsh treatment without effect, he renounced all intercourse with the soldiers, declaring that the army was corrupted by the centurions, whom, in a gibing manner, he sometimes called plebeian tribunes, and Voleroes.
LIX. Not one of these circumstances was unknown to the Volscians, who, for that reason, pressed forward their operations the more vigorously, in hopes that the Roman army would be animated with the same spirit of opposition against Appius, which they had formerly displayed against Fabius, when consul; and in fact, in Appius’s case, it showed itself with a much greater degree of inveteracy than in that of Fabius; for they were not only unwilling to conquer, like Fabius’s troops, but even chose to be conquered. When led out to the field, they fled shamefully to their camp, nor made a halt, until they saw the Volscians advancing to the rampart, and committing great slaughter on the rear of the army. The necessity of repelling the victorious enemy from the rampart, then prevailed on them to fight, which, however, they did in such a manner, as made it evident, that they acted only because Roman soldiers would not suffer their camp to be taken: in other respects, they rejoiced at their own losses and disgrace. All this had so little effect towards softening the stubborn fierceness of Appius, that he resolved to exhibit farther examples of severity; but when he had summoned an assembly for the purpose, the lieutenant-generals and tribunes gathered hastily about him, and cautioned him “not to hazard a trial of the extent of an authority whose whole efficacy depended on the will of those who were to obey it: informed him, that the soldiers in general declared that they would not attend the assembly; and that in every quarter, they were heard loudly demanding that the camp should be removed out of the Volscian territories. They reminded him that the conquering army had approached almost to the gates and to the rampart, and that if he persisted, there was not only reason to apprehend, but every certain indication of a most grievous calamity ensuing.” At length yielding to persuasion, as nothing but a delay of punishment could be the consequence, he prorogued the assembly; gave orders that the troops should be in readiness to march next day; and, at the first dawn, gave, by sound of trumpet, the signal for setting out. When the army had scarcely got clear of the camp, and while they were just forming in order of march, the Volscians, as if they had been summoned by the same signal, made an attack on their rear; and, the alarm spreading from thence to the van, caused such consternation, as threw both the battalions and ranks into confusion, so that neither could orders be heard, nor a line formed. No one now thought of any thing but flight, and with such precipitation did they make their way through the ranks, that the enemy ceased to pursue sooner than the Romans to fly. In vain did the consul follow his men, calling on them to halt. But when he had at length collected them together, he encamped in a peaceful part of the country; and there, having summoned an assembly, after uttering severe and just reproaches against the army as betrayers of military discipline, and deserters from their posts, asking each where were their standards? where were their arms? he beat with rods, and beheaded, the soldiers who had thrown away their swords, the standard-bearers who had lost their ensigns, and also such of the centurions, and of the privates as had quitted their ranks. Of the rest of the multitude every tenth man was drawn by lot and punished.
LX. In a very different manner were matters conducted in the country of the Æquans. There seemed a mutual contest carried on between the consul and his troops, who should exceed the other in civility and good offices. Quintius was naturally of a milder disposition, and besides, the ill consequences attending the harshness of his colleague made him feel the greater satisfaction in indulging his own temper. The Æquans, not daring to meet, in the field, a general and army so cordially united, suffered them to carry their depredations through every part of the country; and in no former war was a greater abundance of booty brought off from thence, all which was distributed among the soldiers. Their behaviour was also rewarded with praises, in which the minds of soldiers find as much delight as in gain. The troops returned home in better temper towards their general, and, on the general’s account, towards the patricians also; declaring, that the senate had given to them a parent, to the other army a master. This year, during which they experienced a variety of fortune in their military operations, and furious dissensions both at home and abroad, was particularly distinguished by the assemblies of the people voting by tribes; a matter which derived its seeming importance rather from the honour of the victory obtained by one party over the other, than from any real advantage accruing from it. For the share of power, which was either gained by the commons, or taken from the patricians, was trifling, in proportion to the great degree of dignity of which the assemblies themselves were deprived by the exclusion of the patricians.
Y. R. 284. 468.LXI. The following year, the consulate of Lucius Valerius and Tiberius Æmilius was disturbed by more violent commotions, both in consequence of the struggles between the different orders of the state concerning the agrarian law, and also of the trial of Appius Claudius; who, having taken a most active part, in opposition to the law, and supported the cause of those who were in possession of the public lands, as if he were a third consul, and thought it his duty, had a criminal prosecution instituted against him by Marcus Duilius and Caius Sicinius. Never hitherto had a person, so odious to the commons, been brought to trial before the people, overwhelmed as he was with their hatred, on his father’s account, besides the load which his own conduct had drawn on him; and hardly ever did the patricians exert such strenuous efforts in favour of any other, seeing this champion of the senate, the assertor of its dignity, their bulwark against all the outrageous attempts both of tribunes and commons, exposed to the rage of the populace, only for having in the contest exceeded, in some degree, as they conceived, the bounds of moderation. Appius Claudius himself was the only one among the patricians, who looked with scorn on the tribunes and commons, even affecting a disregard as to his own trial. Neither the threats of the commons, nor the intreaties of the senate, could ever prevail on him either to change its garb,* or use a suppliant address, or even to soften and relax, in any degree, the usual harshness of his language, when he was to plead his cause before the people. He still preserved the same expression of countenance, the same stubborn fierceness in his looks, and the same vehemence in his discourse; so that a great many of the commons felt to less dread of Appius, while he stood a culprit at their bar, than they had done when he was consul. He pleaded in his defence, and that with all the haughtiness which he could have shown, had he been the accuser, just as he used to behave on every other occasion; and, by his intrepidity, so astonished the tribunes and commons, that, of their own choice, they adjourned the trial to another day, and afterwards suffered the business to cool. The day of adjournment was not very distant, yet, before it arrived, he was seized with a disorder and died. The tribunes endeavoured to prevent his being honoured with a funeral panegyric, but the commons would not allow that the last day of so great a man should be defrauded of the usual glories. They listened to the encomiums pronounced on him after his death with as favourable an attention as they had shown to the charges brought against him when alive, and, in vast numbers, attended his funeral.
LXII. During this year, the consul Valerius marched with an army against the Æquans; and, finding it impracticable to entice them to an engagement, made an assault on their camp. A violent storm of thunder and hail obliged him to desist, and people’s surprise was increased, when, as soon as the signal for retreat had been given, the weather became perfectly calm and clear; so that they were deterred by a religious scruple from again attacking a camp which had been defended by an evident interposition of some divinity, and vented all their rage in devastations on the enemy’s lauds. The other consul Æmilius conducted the war in the country of the Sabines, and there also, the enemy keeping within their walls, the lands were laid waste; at length, by the burning, not only of the country-houses, but of the villages, which in that populous country were very numerous, the Sabines were provoked to give battle to the troops employed in the depredations; and, being obliged to retreat without having gained any advantage, removed their camp, next day, to a place of greater safety. This appeared to the consul a sufficient reason to consider the enemy as vanquished, and to cease any farther operations; he accordingly withdrew his men, without having made any progress in the war.
Y. R. 235. 467.LXIII. While these wars still raged abroad, and party divisions at home, Titus Numicius Priscus and Aulus Virginius were elected consuls. There was reason to believe that the commons would not endure any farther delay with respect to the agrarian law, and every degree of violence was ready to be committed, when it was discovered, by the smoke from the burning of the country-houses, and by the inhabitants flying to the city, that the Volscians were at hand; this incident repressed the sedition, when just ripe, and on the point of breaking forth. The consuls were instantly ordered by the senate to lead out the youth from the city against the enemy; and this made the rest of the commons less turbulent. On the other side, the assailants, without performing any thing farther than alarming the Romans by the destruction of some few buildings, retired with great precipitation. Numicius marched to Antium against the Volscians; Virginius against the Æquans. Here, the army falling into an ambuscade, and being in the utmost danger of a total overthrow, was rescued by the bravery of the soldiers from the imminent peril to which the carelessness of the consul had exposed them. The operations against the Volscians were better conducted; in the first engagement, the enemy were routed, and compelled to fly into Antium, which, considering those times, was a city of great strength; the consul therefore not choosing to venture to attack it, took from the Antians another town called Ceno, which was not near so strong. Whilst the Æquans and Volscians gave employment to the Roman armies, the Sabines carried depredation to the very gates of the city; however, they themselves, in a few days after, suffered, from the two Roman armies, greater losses than any which they had occasioned; both the consuls, provoked at their proceedings, having marched into their territories.
LXIV. Towards the close of the year, there was some interval of peace, but disturbed, as was always the case, by struggles between the patricians and plebeians. The latter were so incensed, that they refused to attend the assembly held for the election of consuls, so that by the votes of the patricians and their dependants, Titus Quintius and Quintus Servilius were appointed to the consulship. These experienced a year similar to the preceding; the beginning of it filled with civil broils,Y. R. 286. 466. which were afterwards repressed by the breaking out of foreign wars. The Sabines, marching across the plains of Crustuminum with great rapidity, carried fire and sword through all the country on the banks of the Anio; and though, when they had advanced almost to the Colline gate, and the walls of the city, they met with a repulse, yet they carried off a vast booty both of men and cattle. The consul Servilius marched in pursuit, with design to bring them to an engagement: but, not being able to overtake their main body in the champaign country, he spread devastation to such an extent, as to leave nothing unmolested, and returned with a quantity of spoil, exceeding, by many degrees, what the enemy had carried off. In the campaign against the Volscians also, the arms of the state were remarkably successful, through the conduct both of the general and of the soldiers: first, they fought a pitched battle, on equal ground, with great loss of blood on both sides. The Romans, however, whose small number made them feel the loss more sensibly, would have quitted the field, had not the consul, by a happy feint, re-animated the troops, calling out, that the enemy were flying on the other wing: they then returned to the charge, and the opinion that victory was on their side, was the means of their obtaining it in reality. But Titus fearing lest, if he pressed the fugitives too far, he might have the battle to fight over again, gave the signal for retreat. After this, an interval of some few days passed, during which both parties reposed, as if they had tacitly agreed to a suspension of arms; and, in the mean time, vast multitudes from every state of the Volscians and Æquans flocked to their camp, not doubting but that the Romans, when informed of their numbers, would make their retreat by night. About the third watch, therefore, they came to attack the camp. Quintius, after appeasing the tumult which the sudden alarm had excited, and ordering the soldiers to stay quiet in their tents, led out a cohort of Hernicians to form an advanced guard, mounted the trumpeters, with others of their band, on horses, and ordered them to sound their instruments before the rampart, so as to keep the enemy in suspense until day-light. During the remainder of the night, every thing was quiet in the camp, so that the Romans were not even prevented from sleeping. The Volscians, on the other hand, expecting every instant an attack, were kept in a state of earnest attention by the appearance of the armed infantry, whom they believed to be Romans, and whom they also conceived to be more numerous than they really were, from the bustle and neighing of the horses, and which, being under the management of riders with whom they were acquainted, and having their ears continually teazed with the sound of the instruments, made in their trampling a considerable noise.
LXV. When day appeared, the Romans, marching into the field in full vigour, after being thoroughly refreshed with sleep, at the first onset overpowered the Volscians, fatigued with standing and want of rest. However, the enemy might be said to retire, rather than to be routed; for some hills, which lay behind them, afforded a safe retreat to all the troops that were stationed to the rear of the first line, whose ranks were still unbroken. On coming to this place, where the height of the ground was against him, the consul ordered his men to halt: but it was with great difficulty that they could be restrained; they called out, and insisted on being allowed to pursue the advantage which they had gained: while the horsemen, collected round the general, were still more ungovernable, loudly declaring that they would advance before the front line. While Titus hesitated, between the confidence which he knew he might place in the valour of his men, and the difficulty of the ground, all cried out, with one voice, that they would proceed; and they instantly put their words in execution; sticking their spears in the ground, that they might be lighter to climb the steeps, they ran forward in full speed. The Volscians having at the first onset discharged their missive weapons, began to pour down on them, as they approached. The incessant blows from the stones of the higher ground, and which lay among their feet, so galled and disordered the Romans, that their left wing was by this means almost overborne; when the consul, just as they were beginning to give way, reproaching them with their rashness, and at the same time with want of spirit, made their fears give place to shame. At first, they stood their ground with determined firmness; then, as they recovered strength to renew the attack, in spite of the disadvantage of situation, they ventured to advance, and raising the shout anew, moved forward in a body. Rushing on again in full career, they forced their way, and when they had reached almost to the summit of the hill, the enemy turned their backs, and the pursuers and pursued, exerting their utmost speed, both rushed into the camp together, almost in one body. In this consternation of the Volscians, their camp was taken. Such of them as could make their escape, took the road to Antium; thither also the Roman army marched; and, after a siege of a few days, the town surrendered, not because the force of the besiegers was stronger now than in the former attack, but because the spirits of the besieged were broken by the late unsuccessful battle, and the loss of their camp.
* Between the Janiculum and the city. It was afterwards called the Holy Island, from the number of temples built upon it.
* The vindicta was a rod, or wand, with which the consul, in early times, afterwards the city-prætor, struck the slave presented to him for enfranchisement, the owner having previously given him a slight blow, and let him go out of his hands. The prætor then gave the rod to a lictor, who likewise struck the person manumitted. He was then registered as a freeman, and assumed the cap, the symbol of liberty, with much ceremony, in the temple of Feronia.
* At the same time, he took the axes out of the fasces, and they were never, afterwards, carried in the fasces of the consuls within the city.
* Not less than five thousand families accompanied him.
* Orig, Vi, deinde vineis, alusque operibus. The great difficulty of translation consists in the impossibility of finding corresponding terms. The modern art of war differs, so entirely, from the ancient, owing to the various improvements that have been introduced into that destructive science, during a period of more than two thousand years, and principally to the invention of gunpowder, that the ancient modes of attack and defence, as well as the various military machines, are not only now disused, but even no equivalent terms can, in any of the modern languages, be found for them. Thus, in the above passage, wherein the translator has taken the liberty, rather of describing the operation, than translating the original, the word vinea occurs; this, as Vegetius informs us, was a machine constructed of timbers, strongly framed together, mounted on wheels and covered with hurdles, over which was put a quantity of earth; the assailants, thus protected against the missile weapons of the enemy, moved forward the machine; and, under cover of it, endeavoured to beat down, or undermine, the walls. The translator here begs leave, once for all, to observe, that he will often take the liberty he has done in this place, of dropping terms, which cannot be translated; and which, if left untranslated in the text, could convey no idea whatever to the English reader: endeavouring however, he hopes not unsuccessfully, by a short description, or slight circumlocution, to make his author’s meaning sufficiently intelligible.
* The dictator was an officer endued with absolute authority over all orders and bodies of men whatever; and from whom there was, in the early times of the republic, no appeal. He could not hold the office longer than six months, nor go out of Italy, nor could he march on horseback without leave previously obtained from the people. It became the practice, that one of the consuls, in the night, within the territory of the republic, named the dictator; and it was required that the nomination should be confirmed by auspices.
* If a debtor did not discharge his debt, within thirty days after it was demanded, he was summoned before the prætor, who gave him up into the hands of the creditor. He was kept in chains by him for sixty days; and then, on three successive market days, was brought to the prætor’s tribunal, where a crier proclaimed the debt, and sometimes, wealthy persons redeemed the poor, by discharging their debts; but, if that did not happen, the creditor, after the third market day, had a right to sell him, or keep him a slave in his own house. This slavery was afterwards changed into imprisonment.
* Which declared, that any person who should violate the person or privileges of a plebeian tribune, should be devoted to Ceres, with his property; and any one might put him to death with impunity. These tribunes, at their first institution, could not properly be called magistrates, having no particular tribunal, nor any jurisdiction over their fellow citizens. Dressed like private men, and attended only by one officer, or beadle, called Viator, they sat on a bench without the senate, into which they were not admitted, except when the consuls required their attendance, to give their opinion on some affair which concerned the interest of the plebeians. Their sole function was to protect the plebeians, by interposing in case of any grievance or imposition attempted by their superiors; and their power extended no farther than one mile round the city. Yet they afterwards found means, under various pretences, and by almost imperceptible degrees, to draw to themselves, and to the commons, the larger share of the power of government; introducing a great degree of democracy into the polity of the state, which, since the expulsion of the kings, had been a kind of aristocracy. They were not allowed to be absent from the city one whole day, except during the Latine festivals, and were obliged to keep their doors open, night and day, to admit complainants. At the same time were elected two other plebeian officers, called assistants to the tribunes; but being afterwards charged with the care of the public buildings, and the cognizance of a like nature, which had before belonged to the consuls, they got the title Ædiles; (ab ædibus curandis,) from inspecting the public edifices.
* About one half-penny each.
* By the Roman law, a father had full and absolute power, even to life and death, over his children, who were in a state of absolute slavery; even what property they might acquire, belonged not to them, but to their father.
* The general’s quarters.
* The Triarii were veteran soldiers, of approved valour: they formed the third line, hence their name.
* Before a consul set out on any expedition, he offered sacrifices and prayers in the Capitol; and then, laying aside his consular gown, marched out of the city, dressed in a military robe of state, called Paludamentum.
* Five pounds sterling.
* It was usual for persons under accusation to put on a mourning dress, and to let their hair and beard grow.
Last updated Monday, December 22, 2014 at 10:52