Titus Veturius and Spurius Postumius, with their army, surrounded by the Samnites at the Caudine forks; enter into a treaty, give six hundred hostages, and are sent under the yoke. The treaty declared invalid; the two generals and the other sureties sent back to the Samnites, but are not accepted. Not long after, Papirius Cursor obliterates this disgrace, by vanquishing the Samnites, sending them under the yoke, and recovering the hostages. Two tribes added. Appius Claudius, censor, constructs the Claudian aqueduct, and the Appian road; admits the sons of freedom into the senate. Successes against the Apulians, Etruscans, Umbrians, Marsians, Pelignians, Æquans, and Samnites. Mention made of Alexander the Great, who flourished at this time; a comparative estimate of his strength, and that of the Roman people, tending to show, that, if he had carried his arms into Italy, he would not have been as successful there as he had been in the Eastern countries.
Y.R.433. 319.I. THE year following was distinguished by the convention of Caudium, so memorable on account of the misfortune of the Romans. The consuls of the year were Titus Veturius Calvinus, and Spurius Postumius. The Samnites were that year commanded by Caius Pontius, son to Herennius, born of a father most highly renowned for wisdom, and himself a consummate warrior and commander. When the ambassadors, who had been sent to offer restitution, returned, without concluding a peace, he said, in an assembly, “that ye may not think that no purpose has been effected by this embassy, be assured, that whatever degree of anger the deities of heaven had conceived against us, on account of the infraction of the treaty, has been hereby expiated. I am very confident, that whatever deities they were, whose will it was, that you should be reduced to the necessity of making restitution, it was not agreeable to them, that our atonement for the breach of treaty should be so haughtily spurned by the Romans. For what more could possibly be done towards appeasing the gods, and softening the anger of men, than we have done? The effects of the enemy, taken among the spoils, which appeared to be our own by the right of war, we restored: the authors of the war, as we could not deliver them up alive, we delivered to them dead: their goods we carried to Rome, lest, by retaining them, any degree of guilt should remain among us. What more, Roman, do I owe to thee? what to the treaty? what to the gods, the guarantees of the treaty? What umpire shall I call in to judge of your resentment, and of my punishment? I decline none; neither nation nor private person. But, if the weak is not to find protection against a stronger in human laws, I will appeal to the gods, the avengers of intolerable arrogance, and will beseech them to turn their wrath against those who are not satisfied by the restoration of their own, nor by additional heaps of other men’s property; whose inhuman rage is not satiated by the death of the guilty, by the surrender of their lifeless bodies, and by their goods accompanying the surrender of the owner; who cannot be appeased otherwise than by giving them our blood to drink, and our entrails to be torn. Samnites, war is just, when it becomes necessary, and arms are clear of impiety, when men have no hope left but in arms. Wherefore, as the issue of every human undertaking depends chiefly on men’s acting either with or without the favour of the gods, be assured that the former wars ye waged in opposition to the gods more than to men; in this, which we are now to undertake, ye will act under the immediate guidance of the gods themselves.”
II. After uttering these predictions, not more favourable than true, he led out the troops, and placed his camp about Caudium, as much out of view as possible. From thence he sent to Calatia, where he heard that the Roman consuls were encamped, ten soldiers, in the habit of shepherds, and ordered them to keep some cattle feeding in several different places, at a small distance from the Roman posts; and that, when they fell in with any of their foragers, they should all agree in the same story, that the legions of the Samnites were then in Apulia, besieging Luceria with their whole force, and very near becoming masters of it. Such a rumour had been industriously spread before, and had already reached the Romans; but these prisoners caused them to give it greater credit, especially as they all concurred in the same report. The Romans did not hesitate to resolve on carrying succour to the Lucerians, because they were good and faithful allies; and, for this farther reason, lest all Apulia, through apprehension of the impending danger, might go over to the enemy. The only point which came under deliberation was, by what road they should go. There were two roads leading to Luceria, one along the coast of the upper sea, wide and open; but, as it was the safer, so it was proportionably longer; the other, which was shorter, through the Caudine forks. The nature of the place is this: there are two deep glens, narrow and covered with wood, connected together by mountains ranging on both sides, from one to the other; between these lies a plain of considerable extent, abounding in grass and water, and through the middle of which the passage runs: but before this is arrived at, the first defile must be passed, while the only way back is through the road by which it was entered; or if in case of resolving to proceed forward, it must be by the other glen, which is still more narrow and difficult. Into this plain the Romans marched down their troops, by one of those passes, through the cleft of a rock; and, when they advanced to the other defile, found it blocked up by trees thrown across, with a mound of huge stones. The stratagem of the enemy now became apparent; and at the same time a body of troops was seen on the eminence over the glen. Hastening back, then, to the road by which they had entered, they found that also shut up by such another fence, and men in arms. Then, without orders, they halted; amazement took possession of their minds, and a strange kind of numbness of their limbs: they then remained a long time motionless and silent, with their eyes fixed on each other, as if each thought the other more capable of judging and advising than himself. After some time, the consul’s pavilions were erected, and they got ready the implements for throwing up works, although they were sensible that it must appear ridiculous to attempt raising a fortification in their present desperate condition, and when almost every hope was lost. Yet, not to add a fault to their misfortunes, they all, without being advised or ordered by any one, set earnestly to work, and enclosed a camp with a rampart, close to the water, while themselves, besides enduring the haughty taunts of their enemies, seemed with melancholy to acknowledge the apparent fruitlessness of their labour. The lieutenants-general and tribunes, without being summoned to consultation, (for there was no room for either consultation or remedy,) assembled round the dejected consul; while the soldiers, crowding to the general’s quarters, demanded from their leaders that succour, which it was hardly in the power of the immortal gods themselves to afford them.
III. Night came on while they were employed in lamenting their situation, all urging, with warmth, whatever their several tempers prompted. Some crying out, “Let us go over those fences which obstruct the roads;” others, “over the steeps; through the woods; any way, where arms can be carried. Let us be but permitted to come to the enemy, whom we have been used to conquer now near thirty years. All places will be level and plain to a Roman, fighting against the perfidious Samnite.” Another would say, “Whither or by what way can we go? do we expect to remove the mountains from their foundations? while these cliffs hang over us, how can we proceed? whether armed or unarmed, brave or dastardly, we are all, without distinction, captured and vanquished. The enemy will not even show us a weapon, by which we might die with honour. He will finish the war, without moving from his seat.” In such discourse, thinking of neither food nor rest, they passed the whole night. Nor could the Samnites, though in circumstances so accordant to their wishes, instantly determine how to act: it was therefore universally agreed, that Herennius Pontius, father of the general, should be consulted by letter. He was now grown feeble through age, and had withdrawn himself, not only from all military, but also from all civil occupations; yet, notwithstanding the decline of his bodily strength, his mind retained its full vigour. When he was informed that the Roman armies were shut up at the Caudine forks, between the two glens, and was asked for advice by his son’s messenger, he gave his opinion, that they should all be immediately dismissed from thence unhurt. On this counsel being rejected, and the same messenger returning to advise with him a second time, he recommended that they should all, to a man, be put to death. On receiving these answers, so opposite to each other, like the ambiguous responses of an oracle, his son, although, as well as others, persuaded that the powers of his father’s mind, together with those of his body, had been impaired by age, was yet prevailed on, by the general desire of all, to send for him and consult him in person. The old man, we are told, complied without reluctance, and was carried in a wagon to the camp, where, when he came to speak, he made no alterations in the opinions which he had given, only added the reasons on which he founded them. That “by his first plan, which he esteemed the best, he meant, by an act of extraordinary kindness, to establish perpetual peace and friendship with a most powerful nation: by the other, to put off the return of war to the distance of many ages, during which the Roman state, after the loss of those two armies, could not easily recover its strength. A third plan there was not.” His son, and the other chiefs, then asking him if “a plan of a middle kind might not be adopted; of dismissing them unhurt; and, at the same time, by the right of war, imposing terms on them as vanquished?” “That, indeed,” said he, “is a plan of such a nature, as neither procures friends nor removes enemies. Only consider who they are, whom ye would irritate by ignominious treatment. The Romans are a race who know not how to sit down quiet under defeat; any scar, which the present necessity shall imprint in their breasts, will rankle there for ever, and will not suffer them to rest, until they have wreaked manifold vengeance on your heads.” Neither of these plans was approved, and Herennius was carried home.
IV. In the other camp, the Romans, having tried many fruitless efforts to force a passage, and being now destitute of every means of subsistence, were reduced by necessity to send ambassadors, who were first to ask peace on equal terms; which, if they did not obtain, they were to challenge the enemy to battle. To this Pontius answered, that “the war was at an end; and since, even in their present vanquished and captive state, they were not willing to make acknowledgment of their situation, he would send them under the yoke unarmed, and only partly clothed; that the other conditions of peace should be such as were just and proper between the conquerors and the conquered. Their troops must depart, and their colonies be withdrawn out of the territories of the Samnites; and, for the future, the Romans and Samnites, under a treaty of equality, shall live according to their own respective laws. On these terms he was ready to negociate with the consuls: and if any of these should not be accepted, he forbade the ambassadors to come to him again.” When the result of this embassy was made known, such general lamentation suddenly arose, and such melancholy took possession of every mind, that, had they been told that all were to die on the spot, they could not have felt deeper affliction. Silence continued a long time; the consuls not being able to utter a word either in favour of a treaty so disgraceful, or against a treaty so necessary; at length, Lucius Lentulus, who was the first among the lieutenant-generals, both in respect of bravery, and of the public honours which he had attained, addressed them thus: “Consuls, I have often beard my father say, that he was the only person in the Capitol, who did not advise the senate to ransom the state from the Gauls with gold; and this he would not concur in, because they had not been enclosed with a trench and rampart by the enemy, (who were remarkably slothful with respect to works, and raising fortifications,) and because they might sally forth, if not without great danger, yet without certain destruction. Now if, in like manner as they had it in their power to run down from the Capitol in arms against their foe, as men besieged have often sallied out on the besiegers, it were possible for us to come to blows, either on equal or unequal ground, the advice which I should give would not be devoid of the same spirit which animated my father. I acknowledge, indeed, that death, in defence of our country, is highly glorious; and I am ready, either to devote myself for the Roman people and the legions, or to plunge into the midst of the enemy. But in this spot I behold my country; in this spot, the whole of the Roman legions: and, unless these choose to rush on death for their own gratification, what is there which can be preserved by their death? the houses of the city, some may say, and the walls of it, and the crowd who dwell in it. But, in fact, in case of the destruction of this army, all these are given up to ruin, instead of being saved from it. For who will protect them? an unwarlike and unarmed multitude, shall I suppose? yes, just as they defended them against the attack of the Gauls. Will they call to their succour an army from Veii, with Camillus at its head? here, on the spot, I repeat, are all our hopes and strength; by preserving which, we preserve our country; by delivering them up to death, we abandon and betray it. But a surrender is shameful and ignominious. True: but such ought to be our affection for our country, that we should save it by our own disgrace, if necessity required, as freely as by our death. Let us therefore undergo that indignity, how great soever, and submit to that necessity to which even the gods themselves are seen to yield. Go, consuls, ransom the state for arms, which your ancestors ransomed with gold.”
V. The consuls accordingly went to Pontius to confer with him; and when he talked, in the strain of a conqueror, of a treaty, they declared that such could not be concluded without an order of the people, nor without the ministry of the heralds, and the other customary rites. So that the Caudine peace was not ratified by settled treaty, as is commonly believed, and even asserted by Claudius in his history, but by convention, wherein the parties became sureties. For what occasion would there be either for sureties or hostages in the former case, where the ratification is performed by the imprecation, “that whichever nation shall give occasion to the said terms being violated, may Jupiter strike that nation in like manner as the swine is struck by the heralds.” The consuls, lieutenant-generals, quæstors, and military tribunes, became sureties; and the names of all these are extant in the convention; where, had the business been transacted by treaty, none would have appeared but those of the two heralds. On account of the necessary delay, before a peace could be concluded, it was also insisted on, that six hundred horsemen should be given as hostages, who were to suffer death if the compact were not fulfilled; a time was then fixed for delivering up the hostages, and sending away the troops disarmed. The return of the consuls renewed the general grief in the camp, insomuch that the men hardly refrained from offering violence to them, “by whose rashness, they said, they had been brought into such a situation; and through whose cowardice they were likely to depart with greater disgrace than they came. They had employed no guide, who knew the country, nor scouts to explore it; but went on blindly, like beasts into a pitfall.” They cast looks of distraction on each other, viewed earnestly the arms which they must presently surrender; while their persons would be subject to the will of the enemy: figured to themselves the hostile yoke, the scoffs of the conquerors, their haughty looks, and, finally, thus disarmed, their march through the midst of an armed foe. In a word, they saw with horror the miserable journey of their dishonoured band, through the cities of the allies; and their return into their own country, to their parents, whither themselves, and their ancestors, had so often come in triumph. Observing, that “they alone had been conquered without a fight, without a weapon thrown, without a wound; that they had not been permitted to draw their swords against the enemy. In vain had arms, in vain had strength, in vain had courage, been given them.” While they were giving vent to such grievous reflections, the fatal hour of their disgrace arrived, which was to render every circumstance still more shocking, in fact, than they had preconceived it, in their imaginations. First, they were ordered to go out, beyond the rampart, unarmed, and with single garments; then the hostages were surrendered, and carried into custody. The lictors were next commanded to depart from the consuls, and the robes of the latter were stripped off. This excited such a degree of commiseration, in the breasts of those very men, who a little before were pouring execrations upon them, that every one, forgetting his own condition, turned away his eyes from that disgraceful insult on so high a dignity, as from a spectacle too horrid to behold.
VI. First, the consuls, nearly half naked, were sent under the yoke; then each officer, according to his rank, was exposed to disgrace, and the same of the legions successively. The enemy stood on each side under arms, reviling and mocking them; swords were pointed at most of them, several were wounded and some even slain, when their looks, rendered too fierce by the indignity to which they were subjected, gave offence to the conquerors. Thus were they led under the yoke; and, what was still more intolerable, under the eyes of the enemy. When they had got clear of the defile, they seemed as if they had been drawn up from the infernal regions, and then for the first time beheld the light; yet, when they viewed the ignominious appearance, to which the army was reduced, the light itself was more painful to them, than any kind of death could have been; so that, although they might have arrived at Capua before night, yet, doubting the fidelity of the allies, and embarrassed by shame, they halted at a small distance from that city. They stood in need of every kind of refreshment, yet threw themselves carelessly on the ground, on each side of the road: which being told at Capua, compassion for the situation of their allies, took place of the arrogance natural to the Campanians. They immediately sent to the consuls their ensigns of office, the fasces and lictors; to the soldiers, arms, horses, clothes, and provisions in abundance: and, on their approach, the whole senate and people went out to meet them, and performed every proper office of hospitality, both public and private. But the looks and address of the allies, joined with all their kindness, could not draw a word from them; nor even prevail on them to raise their eyes: so deeply were they affected by shame and grief, that they shunned the conversation of these their friends. Next day, when some young nobles, who had been sent from Capua, to escort them on their road to the frontiers of Campania, returned, they were called into the senate-house, and, in answer to the enquiries of the elder members, said, that “to them they seemed deeply sunk in melancholy and dejection; that the whole body moved on in silence, almost as if they were dumb; the former genius of the Romans was struck mute, and that their spirit had been taken from them, together with their arms. Not one gave answer to those who saluted them; as if, through fear, they were unable to utter a word; and that their necks still carried the yoke under which they had been sent. That the Samnites had obtained a victory, not only glorious, but lasting; for they had subdued, not Rome, merely, as the Gauls had formerly done; but, what was a much more warlike achievement, the Roman courage.” These discourses were attentively listened to, and lamentations made in this assembly of faithful allies, as if the Roman name were almost extinct. We are told that Ofilius Calavius, son of Ovius, a man highly distinguished, both by his birth and conduct, and at this time farther respectable on account of his age, declared that he entertained a very different opinion in the case. “This obstinate silence,” said he, “— those eyes fixed on the earth — those ears deaf to all comfort — with the shame of beholding the light — are indications of a mind calling forth, from its inmost recesses, the utmost exertions of resentment. Either he was ignorant of the temper of the Romans, or that silence would shortly excite, among the Samnites, lamentable cries and groans; for that the remembrance of the Caudine peace would be much more sorrowful to the Samnites than to the Romans. Each side would have their own native spirit, wherever they should happen to engage, but the Samnites would not, every where, have the glens of Caudium.”
VII. People at Rome were, by this time, informed of the disaster which had befallen them. At first, they heard that the troops were shut up; afterwards, the news of the ignominious peace arrived; and this caused greater affliction than had been felt for their danger. On the report of their being surrounded, a levy of men was begun; but when it was understood that the army had surrendered in so disgraceful a manner, the preparations were laid aside; and immediately, without any public directions, a general mourning took place, with all the various demonstrations of grief. The shops were shut; and all business ceased in the Forum, by common consent, without any order for that purpose being issued. Ornamented dresses* were laid aside: and the public were in greater tribulation, if possible, than the vanquished themselves; they were not only enraged against the commanders, the advisers and sureties of the peace, but were filled with detestation, even of the unoffending soldiers, and asserted, that they ought not to be admitted into the city. But these transports of passion were allayed by the arrival of the troops, in a state so deplorable, as was sufficient to convert even anger into compassion; for they came into the city, not like men, returning into their country with unexpected safety; but in the habit, and with the looks of captives, late in the evening; and they hid themselves so closely in their houses, that, for the next, and several following days, not one of them could bear to come in sight of the Forum, or of the public. The consuls, shut up in private, transacted no official business, except that they were compelled, by a decree of the senate, to nominate a dictator to preside at the elections. They nominated Quintus Fabius Ambustus, and as master of the horse Publius Ælius Pætus. But some irregularity being discovered in their appointment, there were substituted in their room, Marcus Æmilius Papus dictator, and Lucius Valerius Flaccus master of the horse. But neither did these hold the elections: and the people being dissatisfied with all the magistrates of that year, an interregnum ensued. The office of interrex was held by Quintus Fabius Maximus; afterwards by Marcus Valerius Corvus,Y.R.434. 318. who elected consuls Quintus Publilius Philo, and Lucius Papirius Cursor a second time; a choice universally approved, for there were no commanders at that time of higher reputation.
VIII. They entered into office immediately on being elected, for so it had been determined by the Fathers. When the customary decrees of the senate were passed, they proposed the consideration of the Caudine peace; and Publilius, whose duty it was to open the business, said, “Spurius Postumius, speak:” he arose with just the same countenance with which he had passed under the yoke, and delivered himself to this effect: “Consuls, doubtless I am to be called up first with marked ignominy, not with honour; and am ordered to speak, not as being a senator, but as a person who has to answer for an unsuccessful war, and disgraceful peace. However, the question propounded by you is not concerning our guilt, or our punishment; waving, therefore, a defence, which would not be very difficult, before men who are not unacquainted with the casualties to which mankind are subject, I shall briefly state my opinion on the matter in question; which opinion will testify, whether I was actuated by tenderness to myself, or to your legions, when I engaged as surety to the convention, be it of what kind it may, whether dishonourable or necessary: by which, however, the Roman people are not bound, inasmuch as it was concluded without their order; nor is any thing liable to be forfeited to the Samnites, in consequence of it, except our persons. Let us then be delivered up to them by the heralds, naked, and in chains. Let us free the people of the religious obligation, if we have bound them under any such; so that there may be no restriction, divine or human, to prevent your entering on the war anew, without violating the maxims of religion and justice. I am also of opinion, that the consuls, in the mean time, enlist, arm, and lead out an army; but that they should not enter the enemy’s territories, before every particular, respecting the surrender of us, be regularly executed. And, O Immortal Gods! I pray and beseech you, that, although it has not been your will, that Spurius Postumius, and Titus Veturius, in the office of consuls, should wage war with success against the Samnites, ye may yet deem it sufficient to have seen us sent under the yoke; to have seen us bound under an infamous convention; to have seen us shackled, and delivered into the hands of our foes, taking on our own heads the whole weight of the enemy’s resentment. And grant, that the consuls and legions of Rome may meet the same fortune in war, against the Samnites, which has attended them in every war before we became consuls.” On his concluding this speech, men’s minds were so impressed with admiration and compassion, that they could scarce believe him to be the same Spurius Postumius, who had been the author of so shameful a peace; lamenting, at the same time, that such a man was likely to undergo, among the enemy, a punishment even beyond that of others, through the desire of annulling the peace. All the members, showing tenderness towards him, expressed their approbation of his sentiments, when Lucius Livius and Quintus Mælius, being tribunes of the commons, attempted, for a time, to stop the proceeding by a protest; insisting, that “the people could not be acquitted of the religious obligation, from the consuls being given up, unless all things were restored to the same state in which they had been at Caudium; nor had they themselves deserved any punishment, for having, by becoming sureties to the peace, preserved the army of the Roman people; nor, finally, could they, being sacred and inviolable, be surrendered to the enemy, or treated with violence.”
IX. To this Postumius replied, “In the mean time surrender us as unsanctified persons, which ye may do, without offence to religion; those sacred and inviolable personages, the tribunes, ye will deliver up as soon as they go out of office: but, if ye listen to me, they will be first scourged with rods, here in the Comitium, by way of interest for their punishment, on account of the delay of payment. For, as to their denying that the people are acquitted of the religious obligation, by our being given up, who is there, so ignorant of the laws of the heralds, as not to know, that those men speak in that manner, to prevent themselves from being surrendered, rather than because the case is really so? still I do not deny, Conscript Fathers, that compacts, on sureties given, are as sacred as treaties, in the eyes of all who regard faith between men, with the same reverence which is paid to duties respecting the gods: but I insist, that without the order of the people, nothing can be ratified, that is to bind the people. Suppose that, out of the same arrogance, with which the Samnites forced from us the convention in question, they had compelled us to repeat the established form of words for the surrendering of cities; would ye, tribunes, say, that the Roman people was surrendered? and, that this city, these temples, and consecrated grounds, these lands and waters, were become the property of the Samnites? I say no more of the surrender; because, our having become sureties, is the point insisted on. Now, suppose we had become sureties that the Roman people should quit this city; that they should set it on fire; that they should have no magistrates, no senate, no laws; that they should, in future, be ruled by kings: the gods forbid, you say. But the enormity of the articles lessens not the obligation of a compact. If the people can be bound, in any one instance, it can, in all. Nor is there any importance in another circumstance, which weighs, perhaps, with some: whether a consul, a dictator, or a prætor, be the surety. And this, indeed, was the judgment, even of the Samnites themselves, who were not satisfied with the security of the consuls, but compelled the lieutenant-generals, quæstors, and military tribunes to join them. Let it not then be demanded of me, why I entered into such a compact, when no such power was lodged in a consul, and when I could not, either to them, insure a peace, of which I could not command the ratification; or in behalf of you, who had given me no powers. Conscript Fathers, none of the transactions at Caudium were directed by human wisdom. The immortal gods deprived of understanding, both your generals, and those of the enemy. On the one side, we acted not with sufficient caution; on the other, they threw away a victory, which through our folly they had obtained, while they hardly confided in the places, by means of which they had conquered; but were in haste, on any terms, to take arms out of the hands of men who were born to arms. Had their reason been sound, would it have been difficult, during the time which they spent in sending for old men from home to give them advice, to send ambassadors to Rome, and to negociate a peace and treaty with the senate, and with the people? it would have been a journey of only three days to expeditious travellers. In the interim, matters might have rested under a truce, that is, until their ambassadors should have brought from Rome, either certain victory, or peace. That would have been really a compact, on the faith of sureties, for we should have become sureties by order of the people. But, neither would ye have passed such an order, nor should we have pledged our faith; nor was it the will of fate, that the affair should have any other issue, than, that they should be vainly mocked with a dream, as it were, of greater prosperity than their minds were capable of comprehending, and that the same fortune, which had entangled our army, should effectuate its deliverance; that an ineffectual victory should be succeeded by a more ineffectual peace; and that a convention, on the faith of surety, should be introduced, which bound no other person beside the surety. For what part had ye, Conscript Fathers; what part had the people, in this affair? who can call upon you? who can say, that he has been deceived by you? can the enemy? can a citizen? to the enemy ye engaged nothing. Ye ordered no citizen to engage on your behalf. Ye are therefore no way concerned either with us, to whom ye gave no commission; nor with the Samnites, with whom ye transacted no business. We are sureties to the Samnites; debtors, whose abilities are sufficiently extensive over that which is our own, over that which we can offer — our bodies and our minds. On these, let them exercise their cruelty; against these, let them whet their resentment and their swords. As to what relates to the tribunes, you will consider whether the delivering them up can be immediately effected, or if it must be deferred to another day. Meanwhile let us, Titus Veturius, and the rest concerned, offer our worthless persons, as atonements for the non-performance of our engagements, and, by our sufferings, liberate the Roman armies.”
X. These arguments, and, still more, the person by whom they were delivered, powerfully affected the senators; as they did likewise every one, not excepting even the tribunes of the commons, who declared, that they would be directed by the senate. They then instantly resigned their office, and were delivered, together with the rest, to the heralds, to be conducted to Caudium. On passing this decree of the senate, it seemed as if some new light had shone upon the state: Postumius was in every mouth: they extolled him to heaven; and pronounced him to have equalled in glory even the consul Publius Decius, who devoted himself. “Through his counsel, and exertions,” they said “the republic had raised up its head, after being sunk in an ignominious peace. He now offered himself to the enemy’s rage, and to torments; and was suffering, in atonement for the Roman people.” All turned their thoughts towards arms and war, and the general cry was, “when shall we be permitted, with arms in our hands, to meet the Samnites.” While the state glowed with resentment and rancour, the levies were composed almost entirely of volunteers. Legions, composed of the former soldiers, were quickly formed, and an army marched to Caudium. The heralds, who went before, on coming to the gate, ordered the sureties of the peace to be stripped of their clothes, and their hands to be tied behind their backs. As the apparitor, out of respect to his dignity, was binding Postumius in a loose manner, “nay,” said he, “draw the cord tight, that the surrender may be regularly performed.” Then, when they came into the assembly of the Samnites, and to the tribunal of Pontius, Aulus Cornelius Arvina, a herald, pronounced these words; “Forasmuch as these men, here present, without order from the Roman people, the Quirites, entered into surety, that a treaty should be made, whereby they have rendered themselves criminal; now, in order that the Roman people may be freed from the crime of impiety, I here surrender these men into your hands.” On the herald saying thus, Postumius gave him a stroke on the thigh with his knee, as forcibly as he could, and said with a loud voice, that “he was now a citizen of Samnium, the other a Roman ambassador; that the herald had been, by him, violently ill-treated, contrary to the law of nations; and that the people he represented would therefore have the more justice on their side, in the war which they were about to wage.”
XI. Pontius then said, “Neither will I accept such a surrender, nor will the Samnites deem it valid. Spurius Postumius, if you believe that there are gods, why do ye not undo all that has been done, or fulfil your agreement? The Samnite nation is entitled, either to all the men whom it had in its power, or, instead of them, to a peace. But why do I make a demand on you, who, with as much regard to faith as you are able to show, return yourself a prisoner into the hands of the conqueror? I make the demand on the Roman people. If they are dissatisfied with the convention made at the Caddine forks, let them replace the legions within the defile where they were pent up. Let there be no deception on either side. Let all that has been done pass us nothing. Let them receive again the arms which they surrendered by the convention; let them return into their camp. Whatever they were in possession of, the day before the conference, let them possess again. Then let war and resolute counsels be adopted. Then let the convention, and peace, be rejected. Let us carry on the war in the same circumstances, and situations, in which we were, before peace was mentioned. Let neither the Roman people blame the convention of the consuls, nor us the faith of the Roman people. Will ye never want an excuse for violating the compacts which ye make on being defeated? Ye gave hostages to Porsena: ye clandestinely got them back. Ye ransomed your state from the Gauls, for gold: while they were receiving the gold, they were put to the sword. Ye concluded a peace with us, on condition of our restoring your captured legions: that peace ye now annul; in fine, ye always spread over your fraudulent conduct some show of right. Do the Roman people disapprove of their legions being saved by an ignominious peace? Let them take back their peace, and return the captured legions to the conqueror. This would be conduct consistent with faith, with treaties, and with the laws of the heralds. But that you should, in consequence of the convention, obtain what you desired, the safety of so many of your countrymen, while I obtain not, what I stipulated for, on sending you back those men, a peace; is this the law which you, Aulus Cornelius, which ye, heralds, prescribe to nations? But for my part, I neither accept those men whom ye pretend to surrender, nor consider them as surrendered; nor do I hinder them from returning into their own country, which stands bound under an actual convention, carrying with them the wrath of all the gods, whose authority is thus despised. Wage war, since Spurius Postumius has just now struck with his knee the herald, in character of ambassador. The gods are to believe that Postumius is a citizen of Samnium, not of Rome; and that a Roman ambassador has been violated by a Samnite; and that therefore ye have just grounds for a war against us. That men of years, and of consular dignity, should not be ashamed to exhibit such mockery of religion in the face of day! And should have recourse to such shallow artifices to palliate their breach of faith, as not even children would allow themselves! Go, lictor, take off the bonds from those Romans. Let no one hinder them to depart, when they think proper.” Accordingly they returned unhurt from Caudium, to the Roman camp, having acquitted, certainly, their own faith, and, perhaps, that of the public.
XII. The Samnites finding that, instead of a peace which flattered their pride, the war was revived, and with the utmost inveteracy, not only felt, in their minds, a foreboding of all the consequences which ensued, but saw them, in a manner, before their eyes. They now, too late, and in vain, applauded the plans of old Pontius, by blundering between which, they had exchanged a certainty of victory, for an uncertain peace; and were now to fight against men, whom they might have either put out of the way, for ever, as enemies; or engaged, for ever, as friends. And such was the change which had taken place in men’s minds, since the Caudine peace, even before any trial of strength had shown an advantage on either side, that Postumius, by surrendering himself, had acquired greater renown among the Romans, than Pontius among the Samnites, by his bloodless victory. The Romans considered their being at liberty to make war, as certain victory; while the Samnites supposed the Romans victorious, the moment they resumed their arms. Meanwhile, the Satricans revolted to the Samnites, who attacked the colony of Fregellæ, by a sudden surprise in the night, accompanied, as it appears, by the Satricans. From that time until day, their mutual fears kept both parties quiet: the daylight was the signal for battle, which the Fregellans contrived to maintain, for a considerable time, without loss of ground; for they fought for their religion and liberty; and the multitude, who were unfit to bear arms, assisted them, from the tops of the houses. At length, a stratagem gave the advantage to the assailants; a crier was heard proclaiming, that “whoever laid down his arms might retire in safety.” This relaxed their eagerness in the fight, and they began almost every where to avail themselves of it. A part, more determined, however, retaining their arms, rushed out by the opposite gate, and found greater safety in their boldness, than the others from the credulity inspired by their fears: for the Samnites surrounded the latter with fires, and burned them all to death, while they made vain appeals to the faith of gods and men. The consuls having settled the provinces between them, Papirius proceeded into Apulia to Luceria, where the Roman horsemen, given as hostages to Caudium, were kept in custody: Publilius remained in Samnium, to oppose the Caudine legions. This proceeding perplexed the minds of the Samnites: they could not safely determine either to go to Luceria, lest the enemy should press on their rear; or to remain where they were, lest, in the mean time, Luceria should be lost. They concluded, therefore, that it would be most advisable to trust to the decision of fortune, and to try the issue of a battle with Publilius: accordingly, they drew out their forces into the field.
XIII. When Publilius was about to engage, he thought it proper to address his soldiers; and, accordingly, he ordered an assembly to be summoned. But, though they ran together to the general’s quarters with the greatest alacrity, yet, so loud were their clamours, demanding the fight, that none of the general’s exhortations were heard: each man’s own reflections on the late disgrace were sufficient to determine them. They advanced, therefore, to battle, urging the standard-bearers to hasten; and lest, in beginning the conflict, there should be any delay, by reason that javelins were less easily wielded than swords, they threw away the former, as if a signal to that purpose had been given, and, drawing the latter, rushed in full speed upon the foe. The general had little opportunity of showing his skill in forming ranks or reserves; the ungoverned troops performed all, with a degree of fury little inferior to madness. The enemy, therefore, were completely routed, not even daring to retreat to their camp, but dispersing, made the best of their way towards Apulia: afterwards, however, they collected their forces into one body, and came to Luceria. The same exasperation which had carried the Romans through the midst of the enemy’s line, carried them forward also into their camp, where greater carnage was made, and more blood spilt, than even in the field, while the greater part of the spoil was destroyed in their rage. The other army, with the consul Papirius, had now arrived at Arpi, on the sea-coast, having passed without molestation through all the countries in their way; which was owing to the ill treatment received by those people from the Samnites, and their hatred towards them, rather than to any favour received from the Roman people. For such of the Samnites as dwelt on the mountains, used to ravage the lowlands, and the places on the coast; and, being savage themselves, despised the husbandmen, who were of a gentler kind. Now, the people of this tract, had they been favourably affected towards the Samnites, could either have prevented the Roman army from coming to Arpi; or, as they lay between Rome and Arpi, could, by intercepting the convoys of provisions, have caused such scarcity of every necessary, as would have been fatal. Even as it was, when they went from thence to Luceria, both the besiegers and the besieged were distressed equally by want. Every kind of supplies was brought to the Romans from Arpi; but in a very scanty proportion, the horsemen carrying corn from thence to the camp, in little bags, for the foot, who were employed in the out-posts, watches, and works, and these sometimes falling in with parties of the enemy, when they were obliged to throw the corn from off their horses, in order to fight. With respect to the Samnites, before the arrival of the other consul and his victorious army, provisions and reinforcements had been brought in to them from the mountains; but the coming of Publilius strengthened the Romans in every part; for, committing the siege to the care of his colleague, and keeping himself disengaged, he threw every difficulty in the way of the enemy’s convoys. There being, therefore, little hope for the besieged, or that they would be able much longer to endure want, the Samnites, encamped at Luceria, were obliged to collect their forces from every side, and come to an engagement with Papirius.
XIV. At this juncture, while both parties were preparing for an action, ambassadors from the Tarentines interposed, requiring both Samnites and Romans to desist from war; with menaces, that, “if either refused to agree to a cessation of hostilities, they would join their arms with the other party, against them.” Papirius, on hearing the purport of their embassy, as if their words had made some impression on him, answered, that he would consult his colleague: he then sent for him, employing the intermediate time in the necessary preparations; and, when he had conferred with him on a matter, on which they were at no loss how to determine, he made the signal for battle. While the consuls were employed in performing the religious rites, and the other usual business preparatory to an engagement, the Tarentine ambassadors put themselves in their way, expecting an answer: to whom Papirius said, Tarentines, the priest reports that the auspices are favourable, and that our sacrifices have been attended with excellent omens: under the direction of the gods, we are proceeding, as you see, to action.” He then ordered the standards to move, and led out the troops; thus rebuking the exorbitant arrogance of that nation, which, at a time when, through intestine discord and sedition, it was unequal to the management of its own affairs, yet presumed to prescribe the bounds of peace and war to others. On the other side, the Samnites, who had neglected every preparation for fighting, either because they were really desirous of peace, or found it their interest to pretend to be so, in order to conciliate the favour of the Tarentines, when they saw, on a sudden, the Romans drawn up for battle, cried out, that “they would continue to be directed by the Tarentines, and would neither march out, nor carry their arms beyond the rampart. That they would rather endure any consequence which might ensue, than show contempt to the recommendation of the Tarentines.” The consuls said, that “they embraced the omen, and prayed that the enemy might continue in the resolution of not even defending their rampart.” Then, dividing the forces between them, they advanced to the works; and, making an assault on every side at once, while some filled up the trenches, others tore down the rampart, and tumbled it into the trench. All were stimulated, not only by their native courage, but by the resentment, which, since their disgrace, had been festering in their breasts. They made their way into the camp; where, every one repeating, that here was not Caudium, nor the forks, nor the impassable glens, where cunning haughtily triumphed over error; but Roman valour, which no rampart nor trench could ward off; — they slew, without distinction, those who resisted and those who fled, the armed and unarmed, freemen and slaves, young and old, men and cattle. Nor would any one have escaped, had not the consuls given the signal for retreat; and, partly by commands, partly by threats, forced the soldiers out of the camp, where they were greedily indulging themselves in slaughter. As they were highly incensed at being thus interrupted, a speech was immediately addressed to them, assuring the soldiers, that “the consuls neither did, nor would, fall short of any one of the soldiers in hatred toward the enemy; on the contrary, as they led the way in battle, so would they have done the same in executing unbounded vengeance, had not their inclinations been restrained by the consideration of the six hundred horsemen, who were confined, as hostages, in Luceria, for it was feared that the Samnites, through despair, might be hurried on blindly to take cruel revenge on them, before they perished themselves.” The soldiers highly applauded the consul’s conduct, rejoiced that their resentment had been checked, and acknowledged, that every thing ought to be endured, rather than that so many Roman youths of the first distinction should be brought into danger.
XV. The assembly being then dismissed, a consultation was held, whether they should press forward the siege of Luceria, with all their forces; or, whether one of the commanders, and his army, should make trial of the dispositions of the rest of the Apulians, which were still doubtful. The consul Publilius set out to make a circuit through Apulia, and in the one expedition either reduced by force, or received into alliance, on conditions, a considerable number of the states. Papirius likewise, who had remained to prosecute the siege of Luceria, soon found the event agreeable to his hopes: for all the roads being blocked up, through which provisions used to be conveyed from Samnium, the Samnites, in garrison, were reduced so low by famine, that they sent ambassadors to the Roman consul, proposing that he should raise the siege, on receiving the horsemen who were the cause of the war. To whom Papirius returned this answer, that “they ought to have consulted Pontius, son of Herrennius, by whose advice they had sent the Romans under the yoke, what treatment he thought fitting for the conquered to undergo. But since, instead of offering fair terms themselves, they chose rather that they should be imposed on them by their enemies, he desired them to carry back orders to the troops in Luceria, that they should leave within the walls their arms, baggage, beasts of burthen, and all persons unfit for war. The soldiers he would send under the yoke with single garments, retaliating the disgrace formerly inflicted, not setting the example.” All this they submitted to. Seven thousand soldiers were sent under the yoke, and an immense booty was seized in the town, where the Romans retook all the standards and arms which they had lost at Caudium; and, what greatly increased their joy, recovered the horsemen whom the Samnites had sent to Luceria to be kept as pledges of the peace. Hardly ever did the Romans gain a victory more remarkable for the sudden reverse produced in the state of their affairs: especially if it be true, as I find in some annals, that Pontius, son of Herrennius, the Samnite general, was sent under the yoke along with the rest, to atone for the disgrace of the consuls. I think it indeed less strange to find uncertainty, with respect to the treatment of the Samnite general, than that there should be a doubt whether it was Lucius Cornelius, in quality of dictator, (Lucius Papirius Cursor being master of the horse, who acted at Caudium, and afterwards at Luceria, as the single avenger of the disgrace of the Romans, enjoying the best deserved triumph, perhaps next to that of Furius Camillus, which had ever yet been obtained;) or whether that honour belongs to the consuls, and particularly to Papirius.Y.R.435. 317. This uncertainty is followed by another, whether, at the next election, Papirius Cursor was chosen consul, a third time, with Quintus Aulus Cerretanus a second time, being re-elected in requital of his services at Luceria; or whether it was Lucius Papirius Mugillanus, the surname being mistaken.
XVI. From henceforth, the accounts are clear, that the other wars were conducted to a conclusion by the consuls. Aulius, by one successful battle, entirely conquered the Ferentans. The city, to which their army had retreated after its defeat, surrendered on terms, and was ordered to give hostages. Similar fortune attended the other consul, in his operations against the Satricans; who, though Roman citizens, had, after the misfortune at Caudium, revolted to the Samnites, and received a garrison into their city. The Satricans, however, when the Roman army approached their walls, sent deputies to sue for peace, with humble entreaties, to whom the consul answered, harshly, that “they must not come again to him, unless they either put to death, or delivered up, the Samnite garrison:” which words struck greater terror into the colonists, than the arms with which they were threatened. The deputies, on this, several times asking the consul, how he thought that they, who were few and weak, could attempt to use force against a garrison so strong and well armed, he desired them to “seek counsel from those, by whose advice they had received that garrison into the city.” They then departed, and returned to their countrymen, having obtained from the consul, with much difficulty, permission to consult their senate, and bring back their answer to him. Two factions divided the senate: the leaders of one had been the authors of the defection from the Roman people, the other consisted of the citizens who retained their loyalty; both, however, showed an earnest desire, that every means should be used towards effecting an accommodation with the consul for the restoration of peace. As the Samnite garrison, being in no respect prepared for holding out a siege, intended to retire the next night out of the town, one party thought it sufficient to discover to the consul, at what hour, through what gate, and by what road, his enemy was to march out. The other, who had opposed the going over to the Samnites, went farther, and opened one of the gates for the consul in the night, secretly admitting him into the town. In consequence of this two-fold treachery, the Samnite garrison was surprized and overpowered by an ambush, placed in the woody places, near the road; and, at the same time, a shout was raised in the city, which was now filled with the besiegers. Thus, in the short space of one hour, the Samnites were put to the sword, the Satricans made prisoners, and all things reduced under the power of the consul; who, taking proper measures to discover who were the instigators of the revolt, scourged with rods, and beheaded, such as he found to be guilty; and then, disarming the Satricans, he placed a strong garrison in the place. On this, Papirius Cursor proceeded to Rome to celebrate his triumph, according to the relation of those authors, who say, that he was the general who retook Luceria, and sent the Samnites under the yoke. Undoubtedly, as a warrior, he was deserving of every praise, excelling not only in vigour of mind, but likewise in strength of body. He possessed extraordinary swiftness of foot, surpassing every one of his age in running, from whence came the surname into his family; and he is said, either from the robustnesss of his frame, or from much practice, to have been able to digest a very large quantity of food and wine. Never did either the foot soldier, or horseman, feel military service more laborious, under any general, because he was of a constitution not to be overcome by fatigue. The cavalry, on some occasion, venturing to request that, in consideration of their good behaviour, he would excuse them some part of their business, he told them, “ye should not say, that no indulgence has been granted you, I excuse you from rubbing your horses backs when ye dismount.” He supported also the authority of command, in all its vigour, both among the allies and his countrymen. The prætor of Præneste, through fear, had been tardy in bringing forward his men from the reserve to the front: the general walking before his tent, ordered him to be called, and then bade the lictor to make ready his axe, on which the Prænestine, standing frighted almost to death, he said, “here, lictor, cut away this stump, it is troublesome to people as they walk;” and, after thus alarming him with the dread of the severest punishment, fined and dismissed him. It is beyond doubt, that during that age, than which none was ever more productive of virtuous characters, there was no man in whom the Roman affairs found a more effectual support: nay, people even marked him out, in their minds, as a match for Alexander the Great, in case that, having completed the conquest of Asia, he should have turned his arms on Europe.
XVII. Nothing has ever been farther from my intention, since the commencement of this history, than to digress, more than necessity required, from the course of narration; and, by embellishing my work with variety, to seek pleasing resting-places, as it were, for my readers, and relaxation for my own mind: nevertheless, the mention of so great a king and commander, as it has often set my thoughts at work, in silent disquisitions, now calls forth a few reflections to public view; and disposes me to enquire, what would have been the consequence, respecting the affairs of the Romans, if they had happened to have been engaged in a war with Alexander. The circumstances of greatest moment seem to be, the number and bravery of the soldiers, the abilities of the commanders, and fortune, which exerts a powerful sway over all human concerns, and especially over those of war. Now these particulars, considered both separately and collectively, must clearly convince an observer, that not only other kings and nations, but that even Alexander himself, would have found the Roman empire invincible. And first, to begin with comparing the commanders. I do not, indeed, deny, that Alexander was a captain of consummate merit; but still his fame owes part of its lustre to his having been single in command, and to his dying young, while his affairs were advancing in improvement, and while he had not yet experienced a reverse of fortune. For, to pass by other illustrious kings and leaders, who afford exemplary instances of the decline of human greatness, what was it, but length of life, which subjected Cyrus (whom the Greeks, in their panegyrics, exalt so far beyond all others) to the caprice of fortune? and the same was, lately, the case of Pompey the Great. I shall enumerate the Roman chiefs: not every one of every age, but those only with whom, either as consuls or dictators, Alexander might have been engaged. Marcus Valerius Corvus, Caius Marcius Rutilus, Caius Sulpicius, Titus Manlius Torquatus, Quintus Publilius Philo, Lucius Papirius Cursor, Quintus Fabius Maximus, the two Decii, Lucius Volumnius, Manius Curius. Then follow a number of very extraordinary men, had it so happened, that he had first engaged in war with Carthage, and had come into Italy at a more advanced period of life. Every one of these possessed powers of mind and a capacity equal with Alexander; add to this, that a regular system of military discipline had been transmitted from one to another, from the first rise of the city of Rome; a system now reduced into the form of an art, completely digested in a train of fixed and settled principles, deduced from the practice of the Kings; and afterwards, of the expellers of those Kings, the Junii and Valerii; with all the improvements made in it by the Fabii, the Quintii, the Cornelii, and particularly Furius Camillus, who was an old man in the earlier years of those with whom Alexander must have fought. Manlius Torquatus might, perhaps, have yielded to Alexander, had he met him in the field: and so might Valerius Corvus; men who were distinguished soldiers, before they became commanders. The same, too, might have been the case with the Decii, who, after devoting their persons, rushed upon the enemy, or of Papirius Cursor, though possessed of such powers, both of body and mind. The councils of one youth, it is possible, might have baffled the wisdom of a whole senate, composed of such members, that he alone, who said it was an assembly of kings, conceived a just idea of it. But then there was little probability that he should, with more judgment than any one of those whom I have named, choose ground for an encampment, provide supplies, guard against stratagems, distinguish the season for fighting, form his line of battle, or strengthen it properly with reserves. He would have owned, that he was not dealing with Darius, who drew after him a train of women and eunuchs; saw nothing about him but gold and purple; was encumbered with the burthensome trappings of his state, and should be called his prey, rather than his antagonist; whom therefore he vanquished without loss of blood, and had no other merit, on the occasion, than that of showing a proper spirit in despising empty show. Italy would have appeared, to him, a country of a quite different nature from Asia, which he traversed in the guise of a reveller, at the head of a crew of drunkards, if he had seen the forests of Apulia, and the mountains of Lucania, with the vestiges of the disasters of his house, and where his uncle Alexander, king of Epirus, had been lately cut off.
XVIII. I am here speaking of Alexander, not yet intoxicated by prosperity, the seductions of which no man was less capable of withstanding. But, if a judgment is to be formed of him, from the tenour of his conduct, in the new state of his fortune, and from the new disposition, as I may say, which he put on after his successes, he would have entered Italy more like Darius, than Alexander; and would have brought thither an army who had forgotten Macedonia, and were degenerating into the manners of the Persians. It is painful, in speaking of so great a king, to recite his ostentatious pride in the frequent changes of his dress; his requiring that people should address him with adulation, prostrating themselves on the ground; a practice insupportable to the Macedonians, had they even been conquered, much more so when they were victorious; the shocking cruelty of his punishments; his murdering his friends in the midst of feasting and wine; with the folly of his fiction respecting his birth. What must have been the consequence, if his love of wine had daily increased? if his fierce and uncontroulable anger? and, as I mention not any one circumstance of which there is a doubt among writers, do we consider these as no disparagements to the qualifications of a commander? but then, as is frequently repeated by the silliest of the Greeks, who are fond of exalting the reputation, even of the Parthians, at the expence of the Roman name, it was to be apprehended that the Roman people would not have had resolution to face the splendour of Alexander’s name, who, however, in my opinion, was not known to them even by common fame; and while, in Athens, a state reduced to weakness by the Macedonian arms, which at the very time saw the ruins of Thebes smoking in its neighbourhood, men had spirit enough to declaim with freedom against him, as is manifest from the copies of their speeches, which have been preserved; is it to be supposed that out of such a number of Roman chiefs, no one would have freely uttered his sentiments. How large soever the scale may be, on which our idea of this man’s greatness is formed, still it is the greatness of an individual, constituted by the successes of a little more than ten years; and those who give it pre-eminence on account, that the Roman people have been defeated, though not in any entire war, yet in several battles, whereas Alexander was never once unsuccessful in fight, do not consider, that they are comparing the actions of one man, and that a young man, with the course of action of a nation, which has been waging wars, now eight hundred years. Can we wonder then, if fortune has varied more in such a long space, than in the short term of thirteen years? but why not compare the success of one man, with that of another? how many Roman commanders might I name, who never were beaten? in the annals of the magistrates, and the records, we may run over whole pages of consuls, and dictators, with whose bravery, and successes also, the Roman people never once had reason to be dissatisfied. And, what renders them more deserving of admiration than Alexander, or any king, is, that some of these acted in the office of dictator, which lasted only ten, or it might be twenty days; none in a charge of longer duration than the consulship of a year; their levies obstructed by plebeian tribunes; often late in taking the field; recalled, before the time, to attend elections; amidst the very busiest efforts of the campaign, overtaken by the close of their official year: sometimes by the rashness, sometimes the perverseness of a colleague, involved in difficulties or losses; and finally succeeding to the unfortunate administration of a predecessor, with an army of raw or ill-disciplined men. But, on the other hand, kings, being not only free from every kind of impediment, but masters of circumstances and seasons, controul all things in subserviency to their designs, themselves uncontrouled by any. So that Alexander, unconquered, would have encountered unconquered commanders; and would have had stakes of equal consequence pledged on the issue. Nay, the hazard had been greater on his side; because the Macedonians would have had but one Alexander, who was not only liable, but fond of exposing himself, to casualties; the Romans would have had many equal to Alexander, both in renown, and in the greatness of their exploits; the life, or death, of any of whom would have affected only his own concerns, without any material consequence to the public.
XIX. It remains to compare the forces together, with respect to their numbers, the different kinds of troops, and their resources for procuring auxiliaries. Now, in the general surveys of that age, there were rated two hundred and fifty thousand men: so that, on every revolt of the Latine confederates, ten legions were enlisted, almost entirely in the city. It often happened during those years, that four or five armies were employed at a time, in Etruria, in Umbria, the Gauls also being at war, in Samnium, in Lucania. Then as to all Latium, with the Sabines, and Volscians, the Æquans, and all Campania; half of Umbria, Etruria, and the Picentians, the Maraians, Pelignians, Vestinians, and Apulians; to whom, we may add, the whole coast of the lower sea, possessed by the Greeks from Thurii, to Neapolis and Cumæ; and the Samnites from thence as far as Antium and Ostia: all these he would have found either powerful allies to the Romans, or deprived of power by their arms. He would have crossed the sea with his veteran Macedonians, amounting to no more than thirty thousand infantry, and four thousand horse, these mostly Thessalians. This was the whole of his strength. Had he brought with him Persians and Indians, and those other nations, it would be dragging after him an incumbrance, rather than a support. Add to this, that the Romans being at home, would have had recruits at hand: Alexander waging war in a foreign country, would have found his army worn out with long service, as happened afterwards to Hannibal. As to arms, theirs were a buckler and long spears: those of the Romans, a shield, which covered the body more effectually, and a javelin, a much more forcible weapon than the spear, either in throwing or striking. The soldiers, on both sides, were used to steady combat, and to preserve their ranks. But the Macedonian phalanx was unapt for motion, and composed of similar parts throughout: the Roman line less compact, consisting of several various parts, was easily divided, as occasion required, and as easily conjoined. Then, what soldier is comparable to the Roman, in the throwing up of works? who better calculated to endure fatigue? Alexander, if overcome in one battle, could make no other effort. The Roman, whom Caudium, whom Cannæ, did not crush, what fight could crush? In truth, even should events have been favourable to him at first, he would have often wished for the Persians, the Indians, and the effeminate tribes of Asia, as opponents; and would have acknowledged, that his wars had been waged with women, as we are told was said by Alexander, king of Epirus, after receiving his mortal wound, in relation to the battles fought in Asia by this very youth, and when compared with those in which himself had been engaged. Indeed, when I reflect, that, in the first Punic war, a contest was maintained by the Romans with the Carthaginians, at sea, for twenty-four years, I can scarcely suppose that the life of Alexander would have been long enough for the finishing of one war with either of those nations. And perhaps, as the Punic state was united to the Roman, by ancient treaties, and as similar apprehensions might arm against a common foe those two nations, the most potent of the time, he might have been overwhelmed in a Punic, and a Roman war, at once. The Romans have had experience of the boasted prowess of the Macedonians in arms, not indeed when they were led by Alexander, or when their power was at the height, but in the wars against Antiochus, Philip, and Perseus; and so far were they from sustaining any losses, that they incurred not even danger. Let not the truth give offence to any, nor our civil wars be brought into mention; never were we worsted by an enemy’s cavalry, never by their infantry, never in open fight, never on equal ground, much less when the ground was favourable. Our soldiers, heavy laden with arms, may reasonably fear a body of cavalry, or arrows; defiles of difficult passage, and places impassable to convoys. But they have defeated, and will defeat a thousand armies, more formidable than those of Alexander, and the Macedonians, provided that the same love of peace, and zeal to promote domestic harmony, which at present subsist among us, shall continue to prevail.
XX. Marcus Foslius Flaccinator and Lucius Plautius Venno were the next raised to the consulship.Y.R.436. 316. In this year ambassadors came from most of the states of the Samnites to procure a renewal of the treaty; and, having moved the compassion of the senate, by the humility with which they prostrated themselves before them, were referred to the people, with whom they found not their prayers so efficacious. Their petition, therefore, with regard to the treaty, was rejected; but, after a supplication of several days, they obtained a truce for two years. The Teaneans likewise, and Canusians of Apulia, worn out by the devastations of their country, surrendered themselves to the consul, Lucius Plautius, and gave hostages. This year præfects first began to be created for Capua, and a code of laws was given to that nation, by Lucius Furius the prætor; both in compliance with their own request, as a remedy for the disorder of their affairs, occasioned by intestine dissensions. At Rome, two additional tribes were constituted, the Ufentine and Falerine.Y.R.437. 315. On the affairs of Apulia falling into decline, the Teatians of that country came to the new consuls, Caius Junius Bubulcus, and Quintus Æmilius Barbula, suing for an alliance; and engaging, that peace should be observed towards the Romans through every part of Apulia. By pledging themselves boldly for this, they obtained the grant of an alliance, not however on terms of equality, but of their submitting to the dominion of the Roman people. Apulia being entirely reduced, (for Junius had also gained possession of Forentum, a town of great strength,) the consuls advanced into Lucania; there Nerulum was surprised and stormed by the consul Æmilius. When fame had spread abroad among the allies, how firmly the affairs of Capua were settled by the introduction of the Roman institutions, the Antians, imitating the example, presented a complaint of their being without laws, and without magistrates; on which the patrons of the colony itself were appointed by the senate to form a body of laws for it. Thus not only the arms, but the laws, of Rome, widely extended their sway.
XXI. The consuls, Caius Junius Bubulcus, and Quintus Æmilius Barbula, at the conclusion of the year, delivered over the legions, not to the consuls elected by themselves, who were Spurius Nautius, and Marcus Popillius, but to a dictator, Lucius Æmilius.Y.R.438. 314. He, with Lucius Fulvius, master of the horse, laying siege to Saticula, gave occasion to the Samnites of reviving hostilities, and this produced a two-fold alarm to the Roman army. On one side, the Samnites having collected a numerous force with intent to relieve their allies from the siege, pitched their camp at a small distance from that of the Romans: on the other side, the Santiculans, opening suddenly their gates, ran up with violent tumult to their posts. Afterwards, each party, relying on support from the other, more than on its own strength, formed a regular attack, and pressed on the Romans. The dictator, on his part, though obliged to oppose two enemies at once, yet had his line secure on both sides; for he chose a position in which he could not easily be surrounded, and also formed two different fronts. However, he directed his first efforts against those who had sallied from the town, and, without meeting much resistance, drove them back within the walls. He then turned his whole force against the Samnites: there he found greater difficulty. But the victory, though long delayed, was neither doubtful nor alloyed by losses. The Samnites, being forced to fly into their camp, extinguished their fires at night, and marched away in silence; and renouncing all hopes of relieving Saticula, sat themselves down before Plistia, which was in alliance with the Romans, that they might, if possible, retort equal vexation on their enemy.
XXII. The year coming to a conclusion, the war was thenceforward conducted by a dictator, Quintus Fabius.Y.R.439. 313. The new consuls, Lucius Papirius Cursor and Quintus Publilius Philo, both a fourth time, as the former had done, remained at Rome. Fabius came with a reinforcement to Saticula, to receive the command of the army from Æmilius. The Samnites had not continued before Plistia; but, having sent for a new supply of men from home, and, relying on their numbers, had encamped in the same spot as before; and, by provoking the Romans to battle, endeavoured to divert them from the siege. The dictator, so much the more intently, pushed forward his operations against the fortifications of the enemy; considering the taking of the city as the only object of the war, and showing an indifference with respect to the Samnites, except that he placed guards in proper places, to prevent any attempt on his camp. This encouraged the Samnites, so that they rode up to the rampart, and allowed him no quiet. These now coming up close to the gates of the camp, Quintus Aulius Cerretanus, master of the horse, without consulting the dictator, sallied out furiously at the head of all the troops of cavalry, and drove them back. In this desultory kind of fight, fortune exerted her power in such a manner, as to occasion an extraordinary loss on both sides, and the remarkable deaths of the commanders themselves. First, the general of the Samnites, filled with indignation at being repulsed, and compelled to fly from a place to which he had advanced with such confidence, prevailed on his horsemen, by entreaties and exhortations, to renew the battle. As he was easily distinguished among the horsemen, while he urged on the fight, the Roman master of the horse galloped up against him in such a furious career, that, with one stroke of his spear, he tumbled him lifeless from his horse. The multitude, however, were not, as is generally the case, dismayed by the fall of their leader, but rather roused to fury. All who were within reach, darted their weapons at Aulius, who incautiously pushed forward among the enemy’s troops; but the chief share of the honour of revenging the death of the Samnite general was reserved for his brother, who, urged by rage and grief, dragged down the victorious master of the horse from his seat, and slew him. As he fell in the midst of their troops, the Samnites were also near keeping possession of his body: but the Romans instantly dismounting, the Samnites were obliged to do the same; and thus were lines formed suddenly, and a battle began on foot, round the bodies of the generals, in which the Romans had manifestly the advantage; and, recovering the body of Aulius, carried it back in triumph to the camp, with hearts filled with a mixture of joy and grief. The Samnites having lost their commander, and made a trial of their strength in this contest between the cavalry, left Saticula, which they despaired of relieving, and returned to the siege of Plistia: within a few days after which, the Romans got possession of Saticula by capitulation, and the Samnites of Plistia by force.
XXIII. The seat of the war was then changed. The legions were led away from Samnium and Apulia to Sora. This city had revolted to the Samnites, and put to death the Roman colonists. The Roman army having arrived here first, by forced marches, with the purpose of revenging the murder of their countrymen, and recovering possession of the colony, and the scouts who were scattered about the roads bringing intelligence, one after another, that the Samnites were followed at no great distance, they marched to meet the enemy, and at Lautulæ fought them with doubtful success. Neither loss nor flight on either side, but the night, separated the combatants, uncertain whether they were victorious or defeated. I find in some historians, that the Romans were worsted in this battle, and that here Quintus Aulius, the master of the horse, fell. Caius Fabius, substituted master of the horse in the room of Quintus Aulius, came hither with a new army from Rome; and having, by messengers whom he sent forward, consulted the dictator, where he should halt, at what time, and on what side, he should fall upon the enemy, and, being sufficiently apprized of his designs in every particular, he rested in a place where he was safe from observation. The dictator, after having kept his men within the rampart for several days after the engagement, like one besieged, rather than a besieger, suddenly displayed the signal for battle; and, judging it the more efficacious method of inflaming the courage of brave men, to let none have any room for hope but in himself, he kept secret from the troops the arrival of the master of the horse, and the new army; and, as if there were no safety but in forcing their way thence, he said, “Soldiers, caught as we are in a confined situation, we have no passage through which we can extricate ourselves, unless we open one by a victory. Our post is sufficiently secured by works; but, at the same time, untenable through scarcity of necessaries: for all the country round, from which provisions could be supplied, has revolted; and, besides, even were the inhabitants disposed to aid us, the nature of the ground is unfavourable. I will not, therefore, mislead you, by leaving a camp here, into which ye may retreat, as on a former day, without completing the victory. Works ought to be secured by arms, not arms by works. Let those keep a camp, and repair to it, whose interest it is to protract the war; but let us cut off from ourselves every other prospect but that of conquering. Advance the standards against the enemy; as soon as the troops shall have marched beyond the rampart, let those who have it in orders, burn the camp. Your losses, soldiers, shall be compensated with the spoil of all the nations round who have revolted.” The soldiers advanced against the enemy with spirits inflamed by the dictator’s discourse, which seemed to indicate an extreme necessity; and, at the same time, the very sight of the camp burning behind them, though the nearest part only was set on fire, (for so the dictator had ordered,) was no small incitement: rushing on, therefore, like madmen, they disordered the enemy’s battalions at the very first onset; and the master of the horse, when he saw at a distance the fire of the camp, which was the signal agreed on, made a seasonable attack on their rear. The Samnites, thus assailed on every side, fled different ways. A vast number, who had gathered into a body through fear, yet from confusion, incapable of acting, were surrounded and cut to pieces. The enemy’s camp was taken and plundered; and the soldiers, being laden with the spoil, the dictator led them back to the Roman camp, highly rejoiced at the success, but still more at finding, contrary to their expectation, every thing there safe, except a small part only, which was injured or destroyed by the fire.
XXIV. They then marched back to Sora; and the new consuls, Marcus Pœtelius and Caius Sulpicius,Y.R.440. 312. receiving the army from the dictator Fabius, discharged a great part of the veteran soldiers, having brought with them new cohorts to supply their place. Now while, on account of the difficulties presented by the situation of the city, no mode of attack could be devised, which promised any certainty of success, and the taking of it must either be done at the expense of a great deal of time, or at a desperate risk; a townsman deserting, came out of the town privately by night, and when he had got as far as the Roman watches, desired to be conducted instantly to the consuls: which being complied with, he made them an offer of delivering the place into their hands. From his answers to their questions, respecting the means by which he intended to accomplish his design, it appeared to be not ill formed; and he persuaded them to remove the Roman camp, which was almost close to the walls, to the distance of six miles, alleging, that this would render the guards by day, and the watches by night, the less vigilant. He then desired that some cohorts should post themselves the following night in the woody places under the town, and took with himself ten chosen soldiers, through steep and almost impassable ways, into the citadel, where a quantity of missive weapons had been collected, larger then bore proportion to the number of men. There were stones besides, some lying at random, as in all craggy places, and others heaped up by the townsmen, to add to the security of the place. Having posted the Romans here, and shown them a steep and narrow path leading up from the town to the citadel —“From this ascent,” said he, “even three armed men would keep off any multitude whatever. Now ye are ten in number; and, what is more, Romans, and the bravest among the Romans. The night is in your favour, which, by concealing the real state of things, magnifies every object to people, when once alarmed. I will immediately fill every place with terror: be ye alert, in defending the citadel.” He then ran down in haste, crying aloud, “To arms, citizens, we are undone, the citadel is taken by the enemy; run, defend it.” This he repeated, as he passed the doors of the principal men, the same to all whom he met, and also to those who ran out, in a fright, into the streets. The alarm, communicated first by one, was soon spread by numbers through all the city. The magistrates, dismayed on hearing from scouts that the citadel was full of arms and armed men, whose number they multiplied, laid aside all hopes of recovering it. Flight began on every side, and the townsmen, half asleep, and for the most part unarmed, broke open the gates, through one of which the body of Roman troops, roused by the noise, burst in, and slew the terrified inhabitants who attempted to skirmish in the streets. Sora was now taken, when, at the first light, the consuls arrived, and accepted the surrender of those, whom fortune had left remaining, after the flight and slaughter of the night. Of these, they conveyed in chains to Rome two hundred and twenty-five, whom all men agreed in pointing out as the authors, both of the revolt, and also of the horrid massacre of the colonists. The rest were left in safety at Sora, where they placed a garrison. All those who were brought to Rome were beaten with rods in the Forum, and beheaded, to the great joy of the commons, whose interest it most highly concerned, that the multitudes, sent to various places in colonies, should be in safety.
XXV. The consuls leaving Sora, turned their operations against the lands and cities of the Ausonians; for all places had been set in commotion by the coming of the Samnites, when the battle was fought at Lautulæ: conspiracies likewise had been formed in several parts of Campania; nor was Capua itself clear of the charge: nay, the business spread even to Rome, and occasioned inquiries to be instituted respecting some of the principal men there. However, the Ausonian nation fell into the Roman power, in the same manner as Sora, by their cities being betrayed: these were Ausona, Minturnæ, and Vescia. Certain young men of the principal families, twelve in number, having conspired to betray their respective cities, came to the consuls, and informed them, that their countrymen, who had, for a long time before, earnestly wished for the coming of the Samnites, on hearing of the battle at Lautulæ, had looked on the Romans as defeated, and had assisted the Samnites with supplies of men and arms; but that, since the Samnites had been beaten out of the country, they were wavering between peace and war, not shutting their gates against the Romans, lest they should thereby invite an attack; yet determined to shut them if any troops should approach, and that, while their minds were in that fluctuating state, they might easily be overpowered by surprise. By these men’s advice the camp was moved nearer; and soldiers were sent, at the same time, to each of the three towns; some armed, who were to lie concealed in places near the walls; others, in the garb of peace, with swords hidden under their clothes, who, on the opening of the gates at the approach of day, were to enter into the cities. These latter began with killing the guards, and, at the same time, made the signal to the men in arms, to hasten up from the ambuscades. Thus the gates were seized, and the three towns taken in the same hour and by the same device. But, as the generals were not present when the attacks were made, there were no bounds to the carnage which ensued; and the nation of the Ausonians, when there was scarcely any clear proof of the charge of its having revolted, was utterly destroyed, as if it had supported a contest through a deadly war.
XXVI. During this year, Luceria fell into the hands of the Samnites, the Roman garrison being betrayed to them. The actors in this treachery did not long go unpunished: the Roman army was not far off, by whom the city, which lay in a plain, was taken at the first onset. The Lucerians and Samnites were to a man put to the sword; and to such a length was resentment carried, that at Rome, on the senate being consulted about sending a colony to Luceria, many voted for the demolition of it. Their hatred was of the bitterest kind, against a people whom they had been obliged twice to subdue by arms; the great distance, also, made them averse from sending their citizens as colonists among nations so ill-affected towards them. However the resolution was carried, that such should be sent; and accordingly two thousand five hundred were transported thither. This year, disaffection to the Romans becoming general, conspiracies were formed among the leading men at Capua, as well as at other places; which being reported to the senate, they deemed it an affair by no means to be neglected. They decreed that inquiries should be made, and resolved that a dictator should be appointed to enforce these inquiries. Caius Mænius was accordingly nominated, and he appointed Marcus Foslius master of the horse. People’s dread of that office was very great, insomuch that the Calavii, Ovius, and Novius, who were the heads of the conspiracy, either through fear of the dictator’s power, or the consciousness of guilt, previous to the charge against them being laid in form before him, chose, as appeared beyond doubt, to avoid trial by a voluntary death. As the subject of the inquiry in Campania was thus removed, the proceedings were then directed towards Rome: by construing the order of the senate to have meant, that enquiry should be made, not specially who at Capua, but generally, who at any place had formed cabals or conspiracies; for that cabals, for the attaining of honours, were contrary to the edicts of the state. The enquiry was extended to a greater latitude, with respect both to the matter, and to the kind of persons concerned. The dictator scrupled not to avow, that his power of research was unlimited: in consequence, some of the nobility were called to account; and though they applied to the tribunes for protection, no one interposed in their behalf, or to prevent the charges from being received. On this the nobles, not those only against whom the charge was levelled, but the whole body, jointly insisted that such an imputation lay not against themselves, or their order, to whom the way to honours lay open if not obstructed by fraud, but against the new men: so that even the dictator and master of the horse, with respect to that question, would appear more properly as culprits than inquisitors; and this they should know as soon as they went out of office. This so deeply affected Mænius, who was more solicitous about his character than his office, that he advanced into the assembly and spoke to this effect: “Romans, of my past life ye are all witnesses; and this honourable office, which ye conferred on me, is, in itself, a testimony of my innocence. For the dictator, proper to be chosen for holding these enquiries, was not, as on many other occasions, where the exigencies of the state so required, the man who was most renowned in war; but him whose course of life was most remote from such cabals. But certain of the nobility (for what reason it is more proper that ye should judge, than that I, as a magistrate, should, without proof, insinuate,) have laboured to stifle entirely the enquiries; and then, finding their strength unequal to it, rather than stand a trial, have fled for refuge to the strong hold of their adversaries, an appeal, and the support of the tribunes; and, on being there also repulsed, (so fully were they persuaded, that every other measure was safer than the attempt to clear themselves,) have made an attack upon us; and, though in private characters, have not been restrained by a sense of decency from instituting a criminal process against a dictator. Now, that gods and men may perceive that they, to avoid a scrutiny as to their own conduct, attempt even impossibilities; and that I willingly meet the charge, and face the accusations of my enemies, I divest myself of the dictatorship. And, consuls, I beseech you, that, if this business is put into your hands by the senate, ye will make me and Marcus Foslius the first objects of your examinations; it shall be manifested, that we owe our safety from such imputations to our own innocence, not to the dignity of office.” He then abdicated the dictatorship, as did Marcus Foslius, immediately after, his office of master of the horse; and being the first brought to trial before the consuls, for to them the senate had committed the business, they were most honourably acquitted of all the charges brought by the nobles. Even Publilius Philo, who had so often been invested with the highest honours, and had performed so many eminent services, both at home and abroad, being disagreeable to the nobility, was brought to trial, and acquitted. Nor did the inquiry continue respectable on account of the illustrious names of the accused, longer than while it was new, which is usually the case: it then began to descend to persons of inferior rank; and at length was suppressed, by means of those factions and cabals, against which it had been instituted.
XXVII. The accounts received of these matters, but more especially the hope of a revolt in Campania, for which a conspiracy had been formed, recalled the Samnites from their intended march towards Apulia, back to Caudium; where, being near, they might, if any commotion should open them an opportunity, snatch Capua out of the bands of the Romans. To the same place the consuls repaired with a powerful army. They both held back for some time, on the different sides of the defiles, the road being dangerous to either party. Then the Samnites, making a short circuit through an open tract, marched down their troops into level ground in the Campanian plains, and there the hostile camps first came within view of each other. Both armies then made trial of their strength in slight skirmishes, more frequently between the horse than the foot; and the Romans were no way displeased either at the issue of these, or at the protraction of the war. The Samnite generals, on the contrary, were uneasy that their battalions should be weakened daily by small losses, and the general vigour abated by inaction. They therefore marched into the field, disposing their cavalry on both wings, with orders to give more heedful attention to the camp behind, than to the battle; for that the line of infantry would be able to provide for their own safety. The consuls took post, Sulpicius in the right wing, Pœtelius in the left. The right wing was stretched out wider than usual; the Samnites also on that side being formed in thin ranks, either with design of turning the flank of the enemy, or to avoid being themselves surrounded. On the left, besides that they were formed in more compact order, an addition was made to their strength, by a sudden act of the consul Pœtelius: for the subsidiary cohorts, which were usually reserved for the exigencies of a tedious fight, he brought up immediately to the front, and, in the first onset, pushed the enemy with the whole of his force. The Samnite line of infantry giving way, their cavalry advanced to support them; and, as they were charging in an oblique direction between the two lines, the Roman horse coming up at full speed, disordered their battalions and ranks of infantry, and cavalry, so as to oblige the whole line on that side to give ground. The left wing had not only the presence of Pœtelius to animate them, but that of Sulpicius likewise; who, on the shout being first raised in that quarter, rode thither from his own division, which had not yet engaged. When he saw victory no longer doubtful there, he returned to his own post with twelve hundred men, but found affairs on that side in a very different posture; the Romans driven from their ground, and the victorious enemy pressing on their disordered battalions. However, the arrival of the consul effected a speedy change in every particular; for, on the sight of their leader, the spirit of the soldiers was revived, and the bravery of the men, who came with him, rendered them a more powerful reinforcement than even their number; while the news of success in the other wing, of which they soon had visible proof, restored the vigour of the fight. From this time, the Romans became victorious through the whole extent of the line, and the Samnites, giving up the contest, were slain or taken prisoners, except such as made their escape to Maleventum, the town which is now called Beneventum. Thirty thousand of the Samnites were slain or taken, according to the accounts of historians.
XXVIII. The consuls, after this important victory, led forward the legions to lay siege to Bovianum; and there they continued, during part of the winter, until Caius Pœtelius being nominated dictator,Y.R.441. 311. with Marcus Foslius master of the horse, received the command of the army from the new consuls, Lucius Papirius Cursor a fifth, and Caius Junius Bubulcus a second time. On hearing that the citadel of Fregellæ was taken by the Samnites, he left Bovianum, and proceeded to that city, of which he recovered possession without any contest, the Samnites abandoning it in the night: he then placed a strong garrison there, and returned into Campania, directing his operations principally to the recovery of Nola. Within the walls of this place, the whole multitude of the Samnites, and the inhabitants of the country about Nola, shut themselves up, on the approach of the dictator. Having taken a view of the situation of the city, in order to open the approach to the fortifications, he set fire to all the buildings which stood round the walls, which were very numerous; and, in a short time after, Nola was taken, either by dictator Pœtelius, or the consul Caius Junius, but by which of them is uncertain. Those who attribute to the consul the honour of taking Nola, add, that he also took Atina and Calatia, and that Pœtelius was created dictator in consequence of a pestilence breaking out, merely for the purpose of driving the nail. The colonies of Suessa and Pontiæ were established in this year. Suessa had been the property of the Auruncians: the Volscians had occupied Pontiæ, an island lying within sight of their shore. A decree of the senate was also passed for conducting colonies to Interamna and Casinum. But the commissioners were appointed, and the colonists,Y.R.442. 310. to the number of four thousand, sent by the succeeding consuls, Marcus Valerius and Publius Decius.
XXIX. The Samnites were now nearly disabled from continuing the war; but, before the Roman senate was freed from all concern on that side, a report arose of the Etrurians intending to commence hostilities; and there was not, in those times, any nation, excepting the Gauls, whose arms were more dreaded, by reason both of the vicinity of their country, and of the multitude of their men. While, therefore, one of the consuls prosecuted the remains of the war in Samnium, Publius Decius, who, being attacked by a severe illness, remained at Rome, by direction of the senate, nominated Caius Junius Bubulcus dictator. He, as the magnitude of the affair demanded, compelled all the younger citizens to enlist, and, with the utmost diligence, prepared all requisite matters. Yet he was not so elated by the power he had collected, as to think of commencing offensive operations, but prudently determined to remain quiet, unless the Etrurians should become aggressors. The plans of the Etrurians were exactly similar, with respect to preparing for, and abstaining from, war: neither party went beyond their own frontiers. The censorship of Appius Claudius and Caius Plautius, for this year, was remarkable; but the name of Appius has been handed down with more celebrity to posterity on account of his having made the road, called after him, the Appian, and for having conveyed water into the city. These works he performed alone; for his colleague, overwhelmed with shame by reason of the infamous and unworthy choice made of senators, had abdicated his office. Appius, possessing that inflexibility of temper, which, from the earliest times, had been the characteristic of his family, held on the censorship by himself. By direction of the same Appius, the Potitian family, in which the office of priests attendant on the great altar of Hercules, was hereditary, instructed some of the public servants in the rites of that solemnity, with intention to delegate the same to them. The consequence, as related, is wonderful to be told, and sufficient to make people scrupulous of disturbing the established modes of religious solemnities: for, though there were, at that time, twelve branches of the Potitian family, all grown-up persons, and not fewer than thirty, yet they were every one, together with their offspring, cut off within the year; so that the name of the Potitii became extinct, while the censor Appius also was pursued by the wrath of the gods; and, some years after, deprived of sight.
XXX. The consuls of the succeeding year were Caius Junius Bubulcus, a third time, and Quintus Æmilius Barbula a second.Y.R.443. 309. In the commencement of their office, they complained before the people, that, by the improper choice which had been made of members of the senate, that body had been disgraced, several having been passed over who were preferable to the persons chosen in; and they declared, that they would pay no regard to such election, made, without distinction of right or wrong, merely to gratify interest or humour: they then immediately called over the list of she senate, in the same order which had taken place before the censorship of Appius Claudius and Caius Plautius. Two public employments, both relating to military affairs, came this year into the disposal of the people; one being an order, that sixteen of the tribunes, for four legions, should be appointed by the people; whereas, hitherto, they had been generally bestowed by the dictators and consuls, and very few of the places were left to be filled by vote. This order was proposed by Lucius Atilius and Caius Marcius, plebeian tribunes. Another was, that the people likewise should constitute two naval commissioners, for the equipping and refitting of the fleet. The person who introduced this order of the people was Marcus Decius, plebeian tribune. Another transaction of this year I should pass over as trifling, were it not for the relation which it bears to religion. The flute-players, taking offence because they had been prohibited, by the last censors, from holding their repasts in the temple of Jupiter, which had been customary from very early times, went off in a body to Tibur; so that there was not one left in the city to play at the sacrifices. This affair gave uneasiness to the senate, on account of its consequences to religion; and they sent envoys to Tibur with instructions, to endeavour that these men might be sent back to Rome. The Tiburtines readily promised compliance, and, first calling them into the senate-house, warmly recommended to them to return thither; and then, finding that they could not be prevailed on, practised an artifice not ill adapted to the dispositions of that description of people: on a festival day, they invited them separately to their several houses, apparently with the intention of heightening the pleasure of their feasts with music, and there plied them with wine, of which such people are always fond, until they laid them asleep. In this state of insensibility they threw them into wagons, and carried them away to Rome: nor did they know any thing of the matter, until, the wagons having been left in the Forum, the light surprised them, still heavily sick from the debauch. The people then crowded about them, and, on their consenting at length to stay, privilege was granted them to ramble about the city in full dress, with music, during three days in every year. And that license, which we see practised at present, and the right of being fed in the temple, was restored to those who played at the sacrifices. These incidents occurred while the public attention was deeply engaged by two most important wars.
XXXI. The consuls adjusting the provinces between them, the Samnites fell by lot to Junius, the new war of Etruria to Æmilius. In the country of the former, the Samnites, finding themselves unable to take Cluvia, a Roman garrison, by force, had formed a blockade, and reduced it, by famine, to capitulate: and, after torturing with stripes, in a shocking manner, the townsmen who surrendered, had put them to death. Enraged at this cruelty, Junius determined to postpone every thing else to the attacking of Cluvia; and, on the first day that he assaulted the walls, took it by storm, and slew all who were grown to man’s estate. The victorious troops were led from thence to Bovianum; this was the capital of the Pentrian Samnites, by far the most opulent of their cities, and the most powerful both in men and arms. The soldiers, stimulated by the hope of plunder, soon made themselves masters of the town; where, their resentment being less violent, there was less severity exercised on the enemy; but a quantity of spoil was carried off, greater almost than had ever been collected out of all Samnium, and the whole was liberally bestowed on the assailers. The Samnites now perceiving that the Romans possessed such a superiority in arms, that no force in the field, no camp, no cities, could withstand them, bent their whole attention to find out an opportunity of acting by stratagem. They conceived that the enemy, proceeding with incautious eagerness in pursuit of plunder, might, on such occasion, be caught in a snare and overpowered. Some peasants who deserted, and some prisoners who were taken, (part of them being purposely thrown in the way, while others were met by accident,) concurred in their report to the consul, which at the same time was true, that a vast quantity of cattle had been driven together into a certain defile of difficult access, and by which he was induced to lead thither the legions lightly accoutered, in order to seize the prey. Here, a very numerous army of the enemy had posted themselves, secretly, at all the passes; and, as soon as they saw that the Romans had got into the defile, they rose up suddenly, with great clamour and tumult, and attacked them unawares. At first, an event so unexpected, caused some confusion, while they were taking their arms, and throwing the baggage into the centre; but, as fast as each had freed himself from his burden, and fitted himself with arms, they assembled about the standards, from every side; and all, from the long course of their service, knowing their particular ranks, they formed the line without any directions. The consul riding up to the place where the fight was most warm, leaped from his horse, and called “Jupiter, Mars, and the other gods to witness, that he had come into that place, not in pursuit of any glory to himself, but of booty for his soldiers; nor could any other fault be charged on him, than too great a solicitude to enrich them at the expense of the enemy. From the impending disgrace nothing could extricate him but the valour of the troops: let them only join unanimously in a vigorous attack against a foe, whom they had already vanquished in the field, beaten out of their camps, and stripped of their towns, and who were now trying their last resource, in an attempt to over-reach them, by the contrivance of an ambuscade, placing their reliance on the ground they occupied, not on their arms. But what ground, what station, was now unsurmountable to Roman valour?” The citadel of Fregellæ, and that of Sora, were called to their remembrance, with many other places where difficulties from situation had been surmounted. Animated by these exhortations, the soldiers, regardless of all obstacles, advanced against the enemy, posted above them; and here they underwent a good deal of fatige in climbing the steep. But as soon as the first battalions got footing in the plain, on the summit, and the troops perceived that they now stood on equal ground, the dismay was instantly turned on the plotters; who, dispersing and casting away their arms, attempted, by flight, to recover the same lurking places, in which they had lately concealed themselves. But the difficulties of the ground, which had been their inducement to make choice of it, now entangled them in the snares of their own contrivance: very few found means to escape; twenty thousand men were slain, and the victorious Romans hastened in several parties to secure the booty of cattle, which the enemy had so unwisely thrown in their way.
XXXII. While such was the situation of affairs in Samnium, all the states of Etruria, except the Arretians, had taken arms, and vigorously commenced hostilities, by laying siege to Sutrium; which city, being in alliance with the Romans, served as a barrier against Etruria. Thither the other consul, Æmilius, came with an army to deliver the allies from the siege. The Romans, on their arrival, were plentifully supplied, by the Sutrians, with provisions carried into their camp, which was pitched before the city. The Etrurians spent the first day in deliberating, whether they should expedite, or protract the war. On the day following, their leaders, having determined on the speedier plan, in preference to the safer, as soon as the sun rose, displayed the signal for battle, and the troops marched out to the field: which being reported to the consul, he instantly commanded notice to be given, that they should take refreshment, and then appear under arms. The order was obeyed: and the consul, seeing them armed and in readiness, ordered the standards to he carried forth beyond the rampart, and drew up his men at a small distance from the enemy. Both parties stood a long time with fixed attention, each waiting for the shout and fight to begin on the opposite side; and the sun had passed the meridian before a weapon was thrown by either. At length, rather than leave the place without something being done, the shout was given by the Etrurians, the trumpets sounded, and the battalions advanced. Nor were the Romans less alert: both rushed to the fight with violent animosity, the Etrurians superior in numbers, the Romans in valour. The battle continued a long time doubtful, and great numbers fell on both sides, particularly the men of greatest courage; nor did victory declare itself, until the second line of the Romans came up fresh to the front, in the place of the first, who were much fatigued. The Etrurian line not being supported by any fresh reserves, all before and round the standards were slain, and in no battle whatever would have been seen a nobler stand, or a greater effusion of human blood, had not the night sheltered the Etrurians, who were resolutely determined to resist to death; so that the victors, not the vanquished, were the first who desisted from fighting. After sun-set the signal for retreat was given, and both parties retired in the night to their camps. During the remainder of the year, nothing memorable was effected at Sutrium: for, of the enemy’s army, the whole first line had been cut off, the reserves only being left, who were scarce sufficient to guard the camp; and, among the Romans, a greater number died of their wounds, than had fallen in the field.
Y.R.444. 308.XXXIII. Quintus Fabius, consul for the ensuing year, succeeded to the command of the army at Sutrium: the colleague given to him was Caius Marcius Rutilus. On the one side, Fabius brought with him a reinforcement from Rome, and, on the other, a new army had been sent for, and came from home, to the Etrurians. Many years had now passed without any disputes between the patrician magistrates and plebeian tribunes, when a contest took its rise from that family, which seemed raised by fate as antagonists to the tribunes and commons of those times; Appius Claudius, being censor, when the eighteen months had expired, which was the time limited by the Æmilian law for the duration of the censorship, although his colleague Caius Plautius had already resigned his office, could not be prevailed on, by any means, to give up his. There was a tribune of the commons, Publius Sempronius, who undertook to enforce the termination of the censorship, within the lawful time, by means of a legal process, which was not more popular than just, nor more pleasing to the people generally, than to every man of character in the city. After frequently appealing to the Æmilian law, and bestowing commendations on Mamercus Æmilius, who, in his dictatorship, had been the author of it, for having contracted, within the space of a year and six months, the censorship, which formerly had lasted five years, and was a power which, in consequence of its long continuance, often became tyrannical, he proceeded thus; “Tell me, Appius Claudius, in what manner you would have acted, had you been censor at the time when Caius Furius and Marcus Geganius were in that office?” Appius insisted, that “the tribune’s question was irrelevant to his case. For, although the Æmilian law might bind those censors, during whose magistracy it was passed — because the people made that law after they had become censors; and whatever order is the last passed by the people, that is held to be law, and valid:— yet neither he, nor any of those, who had been created censors subsequent to the passing of that law, could be bound by it.”
XXXIV. While Appius urged such frivolous arguments as these, which carried no conviction whatever, the other said, “Behold, Romans, the offspring of that Appius, who, being created decemvir for one year, created himself for a second; and who, during a third, without being created even by himself or by any other, held on the fasces and the government; nor ceased to continue in office, until the government itself, ill acquired, ill administered, and ill retained, overwhelmed him in ruin. This is the same family, citizens, by whose violence and injustice ye were compelled to banish yourselves from your native city, and seize on the sacred mount; the same, against which ye provided for yourselves the protection of tribunes; the same, which occasioned you to form two armies, and to take post on the Aventine; the same, which violently opposed the laws against usury, and always the agrarian laws; the same, which broke through the right of intermarriage between the patricians and the commons; the same, which shut up the road to curule offices against the latter: this is a name, more hostile to your liberty by far, than that of the Tarquinii. I pray you, Appius Claudius, this being now the hundredth year since the dictatorship of Mamercus Æmilius, during which period so many men of the highest characters and abilities have filled that office; did none of these ever read the twelve tables? None of them know, that, whatever was the last order of the people, that was law? Nay, certainly, they all knew it; and they therefore obeyed the Æmilian law, rather than the old one, under which the censors had been at first created; because it was the last order; and, because, when two laws are contradictory, the new always repeals the old. Do you mean to say, Appius, that the people are not bound by the Æmilian law? Or, that the people are bound, and you alone exempted? The Æmilian law bound those violent censors, Caius Furius and Marcus Geganius, who showed what mischief that office might do in the state; when, out of resentment for the limitation of their power, they disfranchised Mamercus Æmilius, the first man of the age, either in war or peace. It bound all the censors thenceforward, during the space of a hundred years. It binds Caius Plautius, your colleague, created under the same auspices, with the same privileges. Did not the people create him with the fullest privileges with which any censor ever was created? Or is yours an excepted case, in which this singularity peculiarly takes place? Shall the person, whom you create king of the sacrifices, laying hold of the style of sovereignty, say, that he was created with the fullest privileges with which any king was ever created at Rome? Who, then, do you think, would be content with a dictatorship of six months? Who, with the office of interrex for five days? Whom would you, with confidence, create dictator, for the purpose of driving the nail, or of exhibiting games? How foolish, how stupid, do ye think those must appear in this man’s eyes, who, after performing most important services, abdicated the dictatorship within the twentieth day; or who, being irregularly created, resigned their office? Why should I bring instances from antiquity? Lately, within these last ten years, Caius Mænius, dictator, having enforced inquiries with more strictness than consisted with the safety of some powerful men, a charge was thrown out by his enemies, that he himself was infected with the very crime against which his inquiries were directed:— now Mænius, I say, in order that he might, in a private capacity, meet the imputation, abdicated the dictatorship. I expect not such moderation in you; you will not degenerate from your family, of all others the most imperious and assuming; nor resign your office a day, nor even an hour, before you are forced to it. Be it so: but then let no one exceed the time limited. It is enough to add a day, or a month, to the censorship. But Appius says, I will hold the censorship, and hold it alone, three years and six months longer than is allowed by the Æmilian law. Surely, this is like absolute power. Or will you fill up the vacancy with another colleague, a proceeding not allowable, even in the case of the death of a censor? You are not satisfied with having, as if you were a religious censor, hindered the most ancient solemnity, and the only one instituted by the very deity, to whom it is performed, from being attended by priests of the highest rank, but degraded it to the ministration of servants. You are not satisfied that a family, more ancient than the origin of this city, and sanctified by an intercourse of hospitality with the immortal gods, has, by means of you and your censorship, been utterly extirpated, with all its branches, within the space of a year, but would involve the whole commonwealth in guilt so horrid, that I dread even to mention it. This city was taken in that lustrum in which Caius Julius and Lucius Papirius were censors. On the death of Julius, Papirius, rather than resign his office, substituted Marcus Cornelius Maluginensis as his colleague. Yet, how much more moderate was his ambition, Appius, than yours? Lucius Papirius neither held the censorship alone, nor beyond the time prescribed by law. But still, no one has since been found who would follow his example: all censors having, in case of the death of a colleague, abdicated the office. As for you, neither the expiration of the time of your censorship, nor the resignation of your colleague, nor law, nor shame, restrains you. Your fortitude is arrogance; your boldness, a contempt of gods and men. Appius Claudius, in consideration of the dignity of that office, which you have borne, and of the respect due to it, I should be sorry, not only to offer you personal violence, but even to address you in language too severe. With respect to what I have hitherto said, your pride and obstinacy forced me to speak. And now, unless you pay obedience to the Æmilian law, I shall order you to be led to prison. Nor, since a rule has been established by our ancestors, that, in the election of censors, unless two shall obtain the legal number of suffrages, neither shall be returned, but the election deferred — will I suffer you, who could not singly be created censor, to hold the censorship without a colleague.” Having spoken to this effect, he ordered the censor to be seized, and borne to prison. But, although six of the tribunes approved of the proceeding of their colleague, three gave their support to Appius, on his appealing to them, and he held the censorship alone, to the great disgust of all ranks of men.
XXXV. While such was the state of affairs at Rome, the Etrurians had laid siege to Sutrium, and the consul Fabius, as he was marching along the foot of the mountains, with design to succour the allies, and attempt the enemy’s works, if he should see it practicable, was met by their army prepared for battle. The wide extended plain below, showing the greatness of their force, the consul, in order to remedy his deficiency in point of number, by advantage of the ground, changed the direction of his route, a little towards the hills, where the way was rugged and covered with stones, and then formed his troops, facing the enemy. The Etrurians, thinking of nothing but the multitude of their men, on which alone they depended, advanced with such haste and eagerness, that, in order to come the sooner to a close engagement, they threw away their javelins, drew their swords, and rushed on. On the other side, the Romans poured down on them, sometimes javelins, and sometimes stones, which the place abundantly supplied; so that the blows on their shields and helmets, confusing even those whom they did not wound, kept them from closing with their foe; and they had no missive weapons, with which to act at a distance. While they stood still, exposed to blows against which they had no sufficient defence, some even giving way, and the line growing unsteady and wavering, the Roman spearmen, and the first rank, renewing the shout, poured down on them with drawn swords. This attack the Etrurians could not withstand, but, facing about, fled precipitately towards their camp; when the Roman cavalry getting before them, by galloping obliquely across the plain, threw themselves in the way of their flight, on which they quitted the road, and bent their course to the mountains. From thence, in a body, almost without arms, and debilitated with wounds, they made their way into the Ciminian forest. The Romans, having slain many thousands of the Etrurians, and taken thirty-eight military standards, took also possession of their camp, together with a vast quantity of spoil. They then began to consider of pursuing the enemy.
XXXVI. The Ciminian forest was in those days deemed as impassable and frightful as the German forests have been in latter times; not even any trader having ever attempted to pass it. Hardly any, besides the general himself, showed boldness enough to enter it; so fresh was the remembrance of the disaster at Caudium in every one’s mind. On this, Marcus Fabius, the consul’s brother, (some say Cæso, others Caius Claudius, born of the same mother with the consul,) undertook to explore the country, and to bring them in a short time an account of every particular. Being educated at Cære, where he had friends, he was perfectly acquainted with the Etrurian language. I have seen it affirmed, that, in those times, the Roman youth were commonly instructed in the Etrurian learning, as they are now in the Greek: but it is more probable, that there was something very extraordinary in the person who acted so daringly a counterfeit part, and mixed among the enemy. It is said, that his only attendant was a slave, who had been bred up with him, and who was therefore not ignorant of the same language. They received no further instructions at their departure, than a summary description of the country through which they were to pass; to this was added the names of the principal men, in the several states, to prevent their being at a loss in conversation, and from being discovered by making some mistake. They set out in the dress of shepherds, armed with rustic weapons, bills, and two short javelins each. But though their speaking the language of the country, with the fashion of their dress and arms, be supposed to have concealed them, it was more effectually done by the incredible circumstance of a stranger’s passing the Ciminian forest. They are said to have penetrated as far as the Camertian district of the Umbrians: there the Romans ventured to own who they were, and, being introduced to the senate, treated with them, in the name of the consul, about an alliance and friendship; and, after being entertained with courteous hospitality, were desired to acquaint the Romans, that, if they came into those countries, there should be provisions in readiness for the troops sufficient for thirty days, and that they should find the youth of the Camertian Umbrians prepared in arms, to obey their commands. When this information was brought to the consul, he sent forward the beggage at the first watch, ordering the legions to march in the rear of it. He himself staid behind with the cavalry, and next day, as soon as light appeared, rode up in a threatening manner to the posts of the enemy, which had been stationed on the outside of the forest; and, when he had detained them there for a sufficient length of time, he retired to his camp, and marching out by the opposite gate, overtook the main body of the army before night. At the first light, on the following day, he had gained the summit of Mount Ciminius, from whence, having a view of the opulent plains of Etruria, he let loose his soldiers upon them. When a vast body had been driven off, some tumultuary cohorts of Etrurian peasants, hastily collected by the principal inhabitants of the district, met the Romans; but in such disorderly array, that these rescuars of the prey were near becoming wholly a prey themselves. These being slain or put to flight, and the country laid waste to a great extent, the Romans returned to their camp victorious, and enriched with plenty of every kind. It happened, that, in the mean time, five deputies, with two plebeian tribunes, had come hither, to charge Fabius in the name of the senate, not to attempt to pass the Ciminian forest. These, rejoicing that they had arrived too late to prevent the expedition, returned to Rome with the news of its success.
XXXVII. The consul, by this expedition, instead of bringing the war nearer to a conclusion, only spread it to a wider extent: for all the tract, adjacent to the foot of Mount Ciminius, had felt his devastations; and, out of the indignation conceived thereat, had roused to arms, not only the states of Etruria, but the neighbouring parts of Umbria. They came therefore to Sutrium, with such a numerous army as they had never before brought into the field; and not only ventured to encamp, on the outside of the wood, but, earnestly desirous of coming to an engagement as soon as possible, marched down to the plains to offer battle. The troops being marshalled, stood, at first, for some time, on their own ground, having left a space sufficient for the Romans to draw up, opposite to them; but perceiving that these declined fighting, they advanced to the rampart; where, observing that even the advanced guards had retired within the works, they at once began to insist clamorously on their general’s ordering provisions for that day to be brought down to them; for “they were resolved to remain there under arms; and, either in the night, or, at all events, at the dawn of day, to attack the enemy’s camp.” The Roman troops, though not less eager for action, were restrained by the commands of the general. About the tenth hour, the consul ordered his men a repast; and gave directions that they should be ready in arms, at whatever time of the day or night he should give the signal. He then addressed a few words to them; spoke in high terms of the wars of the Samnites, and contemptuously of the Etrurians, who “were not,” he said, “to be compared with other nations, either in respect of abilities as soldiers, or in point of numbers. Besides, he had an engine at work, as they should find in due time: at present it was of importance to keep it secret.” This he intimated, in order to raise the courage of his men, damped by the superiority of the enemy’s force; and, from their not having fortified the post where they lay, the insinuation of a stratagem formed against them seemed the more credible. After refreshing themselves, they went to rest, and being roused without noise, about the fourth watch, took arms. The servants following the army, had axes put into their hands, to tear down the rampart and fill up the trench. The line was formed within the works, and some chosen cohorts posted close to the gates. Then, a little before day, which in summer nights is the time of the profoundest sleep, the signal being given, the rampart was levelled, and the troops, rushing forth, fell upon the enemy, who were every where stretched at their length. Some were put to death before they could stir; others half asleep, in their beds; the greatest part while they ran in confusion to arms; few, in short, had time to defend themselves; and these, who followed no particular leader, nor orders, were quickly routed and pursued by the Roman horse. They fled different ways; to the camp and to the woods. The latter afforded the safer refuge; for the former, being situated in a plain, was taken the same day. The gold and silver was ordered to be brought to the consul; the rest of the spoil was given to the soldiers. On that day, sixty thousand of the enemy were slain or taken. Some affirm, that this famous battle was fought on the farther side of the Ciminian forest, at Perusia; and that the public had been under great dread, lest the army might be inclosed in such a dangerous pass, and overpowered by a general combination of the Etrurians and Umbrians. But on whatever spot it was fought, it is certain that the Roman power prevailed; and, in consequence thereof, ambassadors came from Perusia, Cortona, and Arretium, which were then among the principal states of Etruria, to solicit a peace and alliance with the Romans; and they obtained a truce for thirty years.
XXXVIII. During these transactions in Etruria, the other consul, Caius Marcius Rutilus, took Allifæ by storm from the Samnites; and many of their forts, and smaller towns, were either destroyed by his arms, or surrendered intire. About the same time also, the Roman fleet, having sailed to Campania, under Publius Cornelius, to whom the senate had given the command on the sea-coast, put into Pompeii. Immediately on landing, the marine soldiers set out to ravage the country about Nuceria: and after they had quickly laid waste the parts which lay nearest, and whence they could have returned to the ships with safety, they were allured by the temptation of plunder, as it often happens, to advance too far, and thereby roused the enemy against them. While they rambled about the country, they met no opposition, though they might have been cut off to a man; but as they were returning, in a careless manner, the peasants overtook them, not far from the ships, stripped them of the booty, and even slew a great part of them. Those who escaped were driven in confusion to the ships. As the news of Fabius having marched through the Ciminian forest had occasioned violent apprehensions at Rome, so it had excited joy in proportion among the enemy in Samnium: they talked of the Roman army being pent up, and surrounded; and of the Caudine forks, as a model of what they were to undergo. “Those people,” they said, “ever greedy after further acquisitions, were now brought into inextricable difficulties, hemmed in, not more effectually by the arms of their enemy, than by the disadvantage of the ground.” Their joy was even mingled with a degree of envy, because fortune, as they thought, had transferred the glory of finishing the Roman war, from the Samnites to the Etrurians: they hastened therefore, with their whole collected force, to crush the consul Caius Marcius; resolving, if he did not give them an opportunity of fighting, to proceed, through the territories of the Marsians and Sabines, into Etruria. The consul met them, and a battle was fought with great fury on both sides, but without a decisive issue. Although both parties suffered severely, yet the discredit of losing the day fell on the Romans, because several of equestrian rank, some military tribunes, with one lieutenant-general, had fallen; and, what was more remarkable than all, the consul himself was wounded. This event, exaggerated by report, as is usual, greatly alarmed the senate, so that they resolved on having a dictator nominated. No one entertained a doubt that the nomination would light on Papirius Cursor, who was then universally deemed to possess the greatest abilities as a commander: but they could not be certain, either that a message might be conveyed with safety into Samnium, where all was in a state of hostility, or that the consul Marcius was alive. The other consul, Fabius, was at enmity with Papirius on his own account; and, lest this resentment might prove an obstacle to the public good, the senate voted that deputies of consular rank should be sent to him, who, uniting their own influence to that of government, might prevail on him to drop, for the sake of his country, all remembrance of private animosities. When the deputies came to Fabius, and delivered to him the decree of senate, adding such arguments as were suitable to their instructions, the consul, casting his eyes towards the ground, retired in silence, leaving them in uncertainty what part he intended to act. Then, in the silent time of the night, according to the established custom, he nominated Lucius Papirius dictator. When the deputies returned him thanks, for so very meritoriously subduing his passion, he still persevered in obstinate silence, and dismissed them without any answer, or mention of what he had done: a proof that he felt an extraordinary degree of resentment, which it cost him a violent struggle to suppress. Papirius appointed Caius Junius Bubulcus master of the horse; and, as he was proceeding, in an assembly of the Curiæ*, to get an order passed, respecting the command of the army, an unlucky omen obliged him to adjourn it; for the Curia, which was to vote first, happened to be the Faucian, remarkably distinguished by two disasters, the taking of the city, and the Caudine peace; the same Curia having voted first in those years in which the said events are found. Licinius Macer supposes this Curia ominous, also on account of a third misfortune, that which was experienced at the Cremera.
XXXIX. Next day the dictator, taking the auspices anew, obtained the order, and, marching out at the head of the legions, lately raised, on the alarm occasioned by the army passing the Ciminian forest, came to Longula; where, having received the troops of the consul Marcius, he led on his forces to battle; nor did the enemy seem to decline the combat. However, they stood under arms, until night came on; neither side choosing to begin the fray. After this, they continued a considerable time encamped near each other, without coming to action; neither diffident of their own strength, nor despising the adversary. Meanwhile the army in Etruria was fully employed: for a decisive battle was fought with the Umbrians, in which the enemy was routed, but lost not many men, for they did not maintain the fight with the vigour with which they began it. Besides this, the Etrurians having made a levy of troops, enforced by the sanctions of the devoting law, each man choosing another, came to an engagement at the Cape of Vadimon, with more numerous forces, and, at the same time, with greater spirit than they had ever shown before. The battle was fought with such animosity, that no javelins were thrown by either party: swords alone were made use of; and the fury of the combatants was still higher inflamed by the long continued contest; so that it appeared to the Romans as if they were disputing, not with Etrurians, whom they had so often conquered, but with a new race. Not the least intention of giving ground appeared in any part: the first lines fell: and, lest the standards should be exposed, without defence, the second lines were formed in their place. At length, even the last reserves were called into action; and such was the extremity of the difficulty and danger, that the Roman cavalry dismounted, and pressed forward, through heaps of arms and bodies, to the front ranks of the infantry. A new army, as it were, thus starting up, disordered the battalions of the Etrurians; and the rest, weak as their condition was, seconding this attack, broke at last through the enemy’s ranks. Their obstinacy then began to give way; some companies quitted their posts, and, as soon as they once turned their backs, betook themselves to open flight. That day first broke the strength of the Etrurians, now grown exuberant through a long course of prosperity; all the flower of their men were cut off, and the Romans, without halting, seized and sacked their camp.
XL. Equal danger, and an issue equally glorious, soon after attended the war with the Samnites; who, besides their many preparations for the field, made no little glitter with new decorations of their armour. Their troops were in two divisions, one of which had their shields embossed with gold, the other with silver. The shape of the shield was this; broad at the middle to cover the breast and shoulders, and flat at top, sloping off gradually so as to become pointed below, that it might be wielded with ease; a loose coat of mail also helped to defend the breast, and the left leg was covered with a greave; their helmets were adorned with plumes, to add to the appearance of their stature. The golden-armed soldiers wore tunicks of various colours; the silver-armed, of white linen. To the latter, the right wing was assigned; the former took post on the left. The Romans had been apprised of these splendid accoutrements, and had been taught by their commanders, that “a soldier ought to be rough; not decorated with gold and silver, but placing his confidence in his sword. That matters of this kind were in reality spoil rather than armour; glittering before action, but soon losing their brilliancy when besmeared with blood. That the brightest ornament of a soldier was valour; that all those trinkets would follow victory, and that those rich enemies would be valuable prizes to the poorer conquerors.” Cursor, having animated his men with these observations, led them on to battle. He took post himself on the right wing, giving the command of the left to the master of the horse. At the first onset, the conflict between the two armies became desperate, while the dictator and the master of the horse were eagerly contending on which wing victory should first show itself. It happened that Junius first, with the left wing, made the right of the enemy give way; this consisted of men devoted after the custom of the Samnites, and on that account distinguished by white garments and armour of equal whiteness. Junius, saying “he would sacrifice these to Pluto,” pressed forward, disordered their ranks, and made an evident impression: which being perceived by the dictator, he exclaimed, “Shall the battle begin on the left wing, and shall the right, the dictator’s own troops, only second the arms of others, and not claim the greatest share of the victory?” This spurred on the soldiers: nor did the cavalry yield to the infantry in bravery, nor the ardour of lieutenant-generals to that of the commanders. Marcius Valerius from the right wing, and Publius Decius from the left, both men of consular rank, rode off to the cavalry, posted on the extremities of the line, and, exhorting them to join in putting in for a share of the honour, charged the enemy on the flanks. The Roman legions, on observing the confusion of the Samnites, by being thus assailed on both sides, renewed the shout, and rushing forcibly on them, they began to fly. And now the plains were quickly filled with heaps of bodies and splendid armour. At first, their camp received the dismayed Samnites; but they did not long retain even the possession of that: before night it was taken, plundered, and burnt. The dictator triumphed, in pursuance of a decree of the senate; and the most splendid spectacle by far, of any in his procession, was the captured arms: so magnificent were they deemed, that the shields, adorned with gold, were distributed among the owners of the silver shops to serve as embellishments to the Forum. Hence, it is said, arose the custom of the Forum being decorated by the Ædiles, when the grand processions are made, on occasion of the great games. The Romans, indeed, converted these extraordinary arms to the honour of the gods: but the Campanians, out of pride, and in hatred of the foe, gave them as ornaments to their gladiators, who used to be exhibited as a show at their feasts, and whom they distinguished by the name of Samnites. During this year, the consul Fabius fought with the remnants of the Etrurians at Perusia, which city also had violated the truce, and gained an easy and decisive victory. After this, he marched up to the walls of the town, and would have taken it, had not deputies come out and capitulated. Having placed a garrison at Perusia, and sent on before him to the Roman senate, the embassies of Etruria, who solicited friendship, the consul rode into the city in triumph, for successes more important than those of the dictator. Besides, a great share of the honour of reducing the Samnites was attributed to the lieutenant-generals, Publius Decius and Marcus Valerius; whom, at the next election, the people, with universal consent, declared the one consul, the other prætor.
XLI. Fabius, in consideration of his extraordinary merit in the conquest of Etruria, was re-elected into the consulship.Y.R.445. 307. Decius was appointed his colleague. Valerius was created prætor a fourth time. The consuls divided the provinces between them. Etruria fell to Decius, Samnium to Fabius. The latter, having marched to Nuceria, rejected the application of the people of Alfaterna, who then sued for peace, because they had not accepted it when offered, and by force of arms compelled them to surrender. A battle was fought with the Samnites, who were overcome without much difficulty: nor would the memory of that engagement have been preserved, except that in it the Marsians first appeared in arms against the Romans. The defection of the Marsians was followed by that of the Pelignians, who met the same fate. The other consul, Decius, was likewise very successful in his operations: through the terror with which he inspired the Tarquinians, he compelled them to supply his army with corn, and to sue for a truce of forty years. He took several forts from the Volsinians by assault, some of which he demolished, that they might not serve as receptacles to the enemy, and, by extending his operations through every quarter, diffused such a dread of his arms, that the whole Etrurian nation sued to him for an alliance: this they did not obtain; but a truce for a year was granted them. The pay of the Roman army for that year was furnished by the enemy; and two tunicks for each soldier were exacted from them: this was the purchase of the truce. The tranquillity now established in Etruria was interrupted by a sudden insurrection of the Umbrians, a nation which had suffered no injury from the war, except what inconvenience the country had felt in the passing of the army. These, by calling into the field all their own young men, and forcing a great part of the Etrurians to resume their arms, made up such a numerous force, that, speaking of themselves with ostentatious vanity, and of the Romans with contempt, they boasted that they would leave Decius behind in Etruria, and march away to besiege Rome; which design of theirs being reported to the consul Decius, he removed by long marches from Etruria towards their city, and sat down in the district of Pupinia, in readiness to act according to the intelligence which he might receive of the enemy’s motions. Nor was the insurrection of the Umbrians slighted at Rome: their very threats excited fears among the people, who had experienced, in the calamities suffered from the Gauls, the insecurity of the city wherein they resided. Deputies were therefore dispatched to the consul Fabius, with directions, that, if he had any respite from the war of the Samnites, he should, with all haste, lead his army into Umbria. The consul obeyed the order, and, by forced marches, proceeded to Mevania, where the forces of the Umbrians then lay. The unexpected arrival of the consul, whom they had believed to be sufficiently employed in Samnium, far distant from their country, so thoroughly affrighted the Umbrians, that several advised retiring to their fortified towns; others, the laying aside their arms. However, one district, called by themselves Materina, prevailed on the rest, not only to retain their arms, but to come to an immediate engagement. They fell upon Fabius while he was fortifying his camp. When the consul saw them rushing impetuously towards his rampart, he called off his men from the work, and drew them up in the best manner which the nature of the place and the time allowed; encouraged them by displaying, in honourable and just terms, the glory which they had acquired, as well in Etruria as in Samnium, and bade them finish this insignificant appendage to the Etrurian war, and take vengeance for the impious expressions in which these people had threatened to attack the city of Rome. Such was the alacrity of the soldiers on hearing this, that, raising the about spontaneously, they interrupted the general’s discourse, and, without waiting for orders, advanced, with the sound of all the trumpets and cornets, in full speed against the enemy. They made their attack, not as on men, or, at least, men in arms, but, what must appear wonderful in the relation, began by snatching the standards out of the hands which held them; and then, the standard-bearers themselves were dragged to the consul, and the armed soldiers hauled from the one line to the other; little resistance was any where made, and the business was performed, not so much with swords, as with their shields, with the bosses of which, and thrusts of their elbows, they bore down the foe. The prisoners were more numerous than the slain, and through the whole line the Umbrians called on each other, with one voice, to lay down their arms. Thus a surrender was made in the midst of action, by the first promoters of the war; and, on the next and following days, the other states of this people also surrendered. The Ocriculans were admitted to a treaty of friendship on giving security.
XLII. Fabius, after reaping laurels in a war allotted to another, led back his army into his own province. And as, in the preceding year, the people had, in consideration of his services so successfully performed, re-elected him to the consulship, so now the senate, from the same motive, notwithstanding a warm opposition made by Appius, prolonged his command for the year following, in which AppiusY.R.446. 306. Claudius and Lucius Volumnius were consuls. In some annals I find, that Appius, still holding the office of censor, declared himself a candidate for the consulship, and that his election was stopped by a protest of Lucius Furius, plebeian tribune, until he resigned the censorship. After his election to the consulship, the new war with the Sallentines, who had taken arms, being decreed to his colleague, he remained at Rome, with design to increase his interest by popular intrigues, since the means of procuring honour in war were placed in the hands of others. Volumnius had no reason to be dissatisfied with his province: he fought many battles with good success, and took several cities by assault. He was liberal in his donations of the spoil; and this munificence, engaging in itself, he enhanced by his courteous demeanour, by which conduct he inspired his soldiers with ardour to meet both toil and danger. Quintus Fabius, proconsul, fought a pitched battle with the armies of the Samnites, near the city of Allifæ. The victory was complete. The enemy were driven from the field, and pursued to their camp; nor would they have kept possession of that, had not the day been almost spent. It was invested, however, before night, and guarded until day, lest any should slip away. Next morning, while it was scarcely clear day, they proposed to capitulate, and it was agreed, that such as were natives of Samnium sheuld be dismissed with single garments. All these were sent under the yoke. No precaution was taken in favour of the allies of the Samnites: they were sold by auction, to the number of seven thousand. Those who declared themselves subjects of the Hernicians, were kept by themselves under a guard. All these Fabius sent to Rome to the senate; and, after being examined, whether it was in consequence of a public order, or as volunteers, that they had carried arms on the side of the Samnites against the Romans, they were distributed among the states of the Latines, to be held in custody; and it was ordered, that the new consuls, Publius Cornelius Arvina,Y.R.447. 305. and Quintus Marcius Tremulus, who by this time had been elected, should lay that affair entire before the senate: this gave such offence to the Hernicians, that, at a meeting of all the states, assembled by the Anagnians, in the circus called the Maritime, the whole nation of the Hernicians, excepting the Alatrians, Ferentines, and Verulans, declared war against the Roman people.
XLIII. In Samnium also, in consequence of the departure of Fabius, new commotions arose. Calatia and Sora, and the Roman garrisons stationed there, were taken, and the prisoners treated with extreme cruelty: Publius Cornelius was therefore sent thither with an army. The command against the new enemy (for by this time an order had passed for declaring war against the Anagnians, and the rest of the Hernicians) was decreed to Marcius. These, in the beginning, secured all the passes between the camps of the consuls, in such a manner, that no messenger; however expert, could make his way from one to the other; and each consul spent several days in absolute uncertainty and in anxious suspense concerning the state of the other. Apprehensions for their safety spread even to Rome; so that all the younger citizens were compelled to enlist, and two regular armies were raised, to answer sudden emergencies. The conduct of the Hernicians, during the progress of the war afterwards, showed nothing suitable to the present alarm, or to the ancient renown of that nation. Without ever making any effort worth mentioning, being beaten out of three different camps within a few days, they stipulated for a truce of thirty days, during which they might send to Rome, to the senate, on the terms of furnishing two months’ pay, and corn, and a tunic to every soldier. The senate referred them back to Marcius, whom they empowered to determine on the affair, and he accepted their submission. Meanwhile, in Samnium, the other consul, though superior in strength, was very much embarrassed by the nature of his situation: the enemy had blocked up all the roads, and seized on the passable defites, so as to stop all supplies of provisions; nor could the consul, though he daily drew our his troops, and offered battle, allure them to an engagement. It was evident, that neither could the Samnite support an immediate contest, nor the Roman a delay of action. The approach of Marcius, who, after he had subdued the Hernicians, hastened to the succour of his colleague, put it out of the enemy’s power any longer to avoid fighting: for they, who had not deemed themselves a match in the field, even for one of the armies, could surely not suppose that, if they should allow the two consular armies to unite, they could have any hope remaining: they made an attack, therefore, on Marcius, as he was approaching in the irregular order of march. The baggage was hastily thrown together in the centre, and the line formed as well as the time permitted. The shout, which reached the post of Cornelius, with the dust observed at a distance, excited a bustle and hurry in his camp. Ordering his men, instantly, to arms, and leading them out to the field with the utmost haste, he charged the flank of the enemy’s line, which had enough to do in the other dispute, at the same time exclaiming, that “it would be the height of infamy, if they suffered Marcius’s army to monopolize the honour of both victories, and did not assert their claim to the glory of their own war.” He bore down all before him, and pushed forward, through the midst of the enemy’s line, to their camp, which, being left without a guard, he took and set on fire; and the flames of it being seen by the soldiers of Marcius, and likewise by the enemy on their looking about, a general flight immediately took place among the Samnites. But they could not effect an escape in any direction; in every quarter they met death. After a slaughter of thirty thousand men, the consuls had now given the signal for retreat; and were collecting, into one body, their several forces, who were employed in mutual congratulations, when some new cohorts of the enemy, which had been levied for a reinforcement, being seen at a distance, occasioned a renewal of the carnage. On these the conquerors rushed, without any order of the consuls, or signal received, crying out, that they would give these Samnites an introduction to service, which they would not like. The consuls indulged the ardour of the legions, well knowing that raw troops mixed with veterans dispirited by defeat, would be incapable even of attempting a contest. Nor were they wrong in their judgment: all the forces of the Samnites, old and new, fled to the nearest mountains. These the Roman army also ascended, so that no situation afforded safety to the vanquished: they were beaten off, even from the summits which they had seized. And now, they all, with one voice, supplicated for a suspension of arms. On which, being ordered to furnish corn for three months, pay for a year, and a tunic to each of the soldiers, they sent deputies to the senate to sue for peace. Cornelius was left in Samnium. Marcius returned into the city, in triumph over the Hernicians; and a decree was passed for erecting to him, in the Forum, an equestrian statue, which was placed before the temple of Castor. To three states of the Hernicians (the Alatrians, Verulans, and Ferentines,) their own laws were restored, because they preferred these, to the being made citizens of Rome; and they were permitted to intermarry with each other, a privilege which they alone of the Hernicians, for a long time after, enjoyed. To the Anagnians and the others who had made war on the Romans, was granted the freedom of the state, without the right of voting; public assemblies, and intermarriages, were not allowed them, and their magistrates were prohibited from acting, except in the ministration of public worship. During this year, Caius Junius Bubulcus, censor, contracted for the building of a temple to Health, which he had vowed during his consulate in the war with the Samnites. By the same person, and his colleague, Marcus Valerius Maximus, roads were made through the fields at the public expense. During the same year the treaty with the Carthaginians was renewed a third time, and ample presents made to their ambassadors who came on that business.
XLIV. This year had a dictator in office, Publius Cornelius Scipio, with Publius Decius Mus, master of the horse. By these the election of consuls was held, being the purpose for which they had been created, because neither of the consuls could be absent from the armies.Y.R.448. 304. The consuls elected were Lucius Postumius and Titus Minucius; whom Piso places next after Quintus Fabius and Publius Decius, omitting the two years in which I have set down Claudius with Volumnius, and Cornelius with Marcius, as consuls. Whether this happened through a lapse of memory in digesting his annals, or whether he purposely passed over those two consulates as deeming the accounts of them false, cannot be ascertained. During this year the Samnites made incursions into the district of Stellæ in the Campanian territory. Both the consuls were therefore sent into Samnium, and proceeded to different regions, Postumius to Tifernum, Minucius to Bovianum. The first engagement happened at Tifernum, where Postumius commanded. Some say, that the Samnites were completely defeated, and twenty thousand of them made prisoners. Others, that the armies separated without victory on either side; and that Postumius, counterfeiting fear, withdrew his forces privately by night, and marched away to the mountains; whither the enemy also followed, and took possession of a strong hold two miles distant. The consul, having created a belief that he had come thither for the sake of a safe post, and a fruitful spot, (and such it really was,) secured his camp with strong works. Furnishing it with magazines of every thing useful, he left a strong guard to defend it; and, at the third watch, led away the legions, lightly accoutred, by the shortest road which he could take, to join his colleague, who lay opposite to his foe. There, by advice of Postumius, Minucius came to an engagement; and when the fight had continued doubtful through a great part of the day, Postumius, with his fresh legions, made an unexpected attack on the enemy’s line, spent by this time with fatigue: thus, weariness and wounds having rendered them incapable even of flying, they were cut off to a man, and twenty-one standards taken. The Romans then proceeded to Postumius’s station, where the two victorious armies falling upon the enemy, already dismayed by the news of what had passed, routed and dispersed them: twenty-six military standards were taken here, and the Samnite general, Statius Gellius, with a great number of other prisoners, and both the camps, fell into the hands of the conquerors. Next day Bovianum was besieged, and soon after taken. Both the consuls were honoured with a triumph, and with high applause of their excellent conduct. Some writers say, that the consul Minucius was brought back to the camp grievously wounded, and that he died there; that Marcus Fulvius was substituted consul in his place, and that it was he, who, being sent to command Minucius’s army, took Bovianum. During the same year, Sora, Arpinum, and Censennia were recovered from the Samnites. The statue of Hercules the Great was erected in the Capitol, and dedicated.
Y.R.449. 303.XLV. In the succeeding consulate of Publius Sulpicius Saverrio and Publius Sempronius Sophus, the Samnites, desirous either of a termination or a cessation of hostilities, sent ambassadors to Rome to treat of peace; to whose submissive solicitations this answer was returned, that “had not the Samnites frequently solicited peace, at times when they were actually preparing for war, their present application might, perhaps, in the course of negociating, have produced the desired effect. But now, since words had hitherto proved vain, people’s conduct might be guided by facts: that Publius Sempronius the consul would shortly be in Samnium with an army: that he could not be deceived in judging whether their dispositions inclined to peace or war. He would bring the senate certain information respecting every particular, and their ambassadors might follow the consul on his return from Samnium.” The Roman army accordingly marched through all parts of Samnium, found every thing in a state of peace, and was liberally supplied with provisions; on which, a renewal of the old treaty was, this year, granted to the Samnites. The Roman arms were then turned against the Æquans, their old enemies, but who had, for many years past, remained quiet, under a fallacious appearance of friendship. The reason of making war on them was, that while the Hernicians were in a state of prosperity, these had, in conjunction with them, frequently sent aid to the Samnites; and after the Hernicians were subdued, almost the whole nation, without dissembling that they acted by public authority, had revolted to the enemy; and when, after the conclusion of the treaty with the Samnites at Rome, ambassadors were sent to demand satisfaction, they said, that “this was only a trial made of them, on the expectation that they would through fear suffer themselves to be made Roman citizens. But how much that condition was to be wished for, they had been taught by the Hernicians; who, when they had the option, preferred their own laws to the freedom of the Roman state. To people who wished for liberty to choose what they judged preferable, the necessity of becoming Roman citizens would have the nature of a punishment.” In resentment of these declarations, uttered publicly in their assemblies, the Roman people ordered war to be made on the Æquans; and, in prosecution of this new undertaking, both the consuls marched from the city, and sat down at the distance of four miles from the camp of the enemy. The troops of the Æquans, like tumultuary recruits, in consequence of their having passed such a number of years without waging war on their own account, were all in disorder and confusion, without established officers and without command. Some advised to give battle, others to defend the camp; the greater part were influenced by concern for the devastation of their lands, likely to take place, and the consequent destruction of their cities, left with weak garrisons. Among a variety of propositions, they however heard one which tended to transfer every man’s attention from the public interests to the care of his private concerns. It recommended that, at the first watch, they should depart from the camp by different roads, and carry all their effects into the cities, where they might be secured by the strength of the fortifications; this they all approved and warmly celebrated. When the enemy were now dispersed through the country, the Romans, at the first dawn, marched out to the field, and drew up in order of battle, but no one coming to oppose them, they advanced in a brisk pace to the camp. Perceiving neither guards before the gates, nor soldiers on the ramparts, nor the usual bustle of a camp — surprised at the extraordinary silence, they halted in apprehension of some stratagem. At length, passing over the rampart, and finding the whole deserted, they proceeded to search out the tracks of the enemy. But these, as they scattered themselves to every quarter, occasioned perplexity at first. Afterwards discovering their design by means of scouts, they attacked their cities, one after another, and, within the space of fifty days, took, entirely by force, forty-one towns, most of which were razed and burnt, and the race of the Æquans almost extirpated. A triumph was granted over the Æquans. The Marrucinians, Marsians, Pelignians, and Ferentans, warned by the example of their disasters, sent deputies to Rome to solicit peace and friendship; and these states, on their submissive applications, were admitted into alliance.
XLVI. In the same year, Caius Flavius, son of Cneius, grandson of a freed man, a notary, in low circumstances originally, but artful and eloquent, was appointed curule ædile. I find in some annals, that, being in attendance on the ædiles, and seeing that he was voted ædile by the prerogative tribe, but that his name would not be received, because he acted as a notary, he threw down his tablet, and took an oath, that he would not, for the future, follow that business. But Licinius Macer contends, that he had dropped the employment of notary a considerable time before, having already been a tribune, and twice a triumvir, once for regulating the nightly watch, and another time for conducting a colony. However, of this there is no dispute, that to the contempt thrown by the nobles on the meanness of his condition, he opposed much firmness. He made public the rules of proceeding in judicial causes, hitherto shut up in the closets of the pontiffs; and hung up to public view, round the Forum, the calendar on white tablets, that all might know when business could be transacted in the courts. To the great displeasure of the nobles, he performed the dedication of the temple of Concord, in the area of Vulcan’s temple; and the chief pontiff, Cornelius Barbatus, was compelled by the united instances of the people, to dictate to him the form of words, although he affirmed, that, consistently with the practice of antiquity, no other than a consul, or commander-in-chief, could dedicate a temple. This occasioned a law to be proposed to the people, by direction of the senate, that no person should dedicate a temple, or an altar, without an order from the senate, or from a majority of the plebeian tribunes. The incident which I am about to mention would be trivial in itself, were it not an instance of the freedom assumed by plebeians in opposition to the pride of the nobles: Flavius coming to make a visit to his colleague, who was sick, some young nobles who were sitting there agreed among themselves not to pay him the compliment of rising at his entrance; on which he ordered his curule chair to be brought thither, and from his honourable seat of office enjoyed the sight of his enemies tortured with envy. However, Flavius owed his appointment to the ædileship to a faction composed of the lowest class of people, which had gathered strength during the censorship of Appius Claudius: for he was the first who degraded the senate, by electing into it the immediate descendants of freed men; and when he found that no one allowed that election as valid, and that his conduct, in the senate-house, had not procured him the influence in the city which it had been his principal object to attain, he distributed men of the meanest order among all the several tribes, and thus corrupted the assemblies both of the Forum and of the field of Mars. With respect to the election of Flavius, it excited great indignation in the breasts of most of the nobles, who laid aside their gold rings and bracelets in conseqence of it. From that time the state was split into two parties. The uncorrupted part of the people, who favoured and supported the good, held one side; the faction of the rabble, the other. Quintus Fabius and Publius Decius were then made censors; and Fabius, both for the sake of concord, and at the same time to prevent the elections remaining in the hands of the lowest of the people, purged the rest of the tribes of all the rabble of the Forum, and threw it into four, which he ordered to be called city tribes. And this procedure, we are told, gave such universal satisfaction, that, by this regulation in the orders of the state, he obtained the surname of Maximus, which he had not been honoured with by his many victories. The annual review of the knights, on the ides of July, is also said to have been projected and instituted by him.
* In the original, lati clavi. The latus clavus was a tunic, or vest, ornamented with a broad stripe of purple, on the fore part, worn by the senators: the knight wore a similar one, only ornamented with a narrower stripe. Gold rings were also used as badges of distinction, the common people wore iron ones.
* The comitia curiata, or assemblies of the curiæ, alone had the power of conferring military command; no magistrate therefore could assume the command without the previous order of their assembly. In time, this came to be a mere matter of form; yet the practice always continued to be observed.
Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 11:57