Book 2: The Early Years of the Republic
[2.1]It is of a Rome henceforth free that I am to write the history - her civil administration and the conduct of her wars, her annually elected magistrates, the authority of her laws supreme over all her citizens. The tyranny of the last king made this liberty all the more welcome, for such had been the rule of the former kings that they might not undeservedly be counted as founders of parts, at all events, of the city; for the additions they made were required as abodes for the increased population which they themselves had augmented. There is no question that the Brutus who won such glory through the expulsion of Superbus would have inflicted the gravest injury on the State had he wrested the sovereignty from any of the former kings, through desire of a liberty for which the people were not ripe. What would have been the result if that horde of shepherds and immigrants, fugitives from their own cities, who had secured liberty, or at all events impunity, in the shelter of an inviolable sanctuary, - if, I say, they had been freed from the restraining power of kings and, agitated by tribunician storms, had begun to foment quarrels with the patricians in a City where they were aliens before sufficient time had elapsed for either family ties or a growing love for the very soil to effect a union of hearts? The infant State would have been torn to pieces by internal dissension. As it was, however, the moderate and tranquilising authority of the kings had so fostered it that it was at last able to bring forth the fair fruits of liberty in the maturity of its strength. But the origin of liberty may be referred to this time rather because the consular authority was limited to one year than because there was any weakening of the authority which the kings had possessed. The first consuls retained all the old jurisdiction and insignia of office, one only, however, had the "fasces," to prevent the fear which might have been inspired by the sight of both with those dread symbols. Through the concession of his colleague, Brutus had them first, and he was not less zealous in guarding the public liberty than he had been in achieving it. His first act was to secure the people, who were now jealous of their newly-recovered liberty, from being influenced by any entreaties or bribes from the king. He therefore made them take an oath that they would not suffer any man to reign in Rome. The senate had been thinned by the murderous cruelty of Tarquin, and Brutus' next care was to strengthen its influence by selecting some of the leading men of equestrian rank to fill the vacancies; by this means he brought it up to the old number of three hundred. The new members were known as "conscripti," the old ones retained their designation of "patres." This measure had a wonderful effect in promoting harmony in the State and bringing the patricians and plebeians together.
[2.2]He next gave his attention to the affairs of religion. Certain public functions had hitherto been executed by the kings in person; with the view of supplying their place a "king for sacrifices" was created, and lest he should become king in anything more than name, and so threaten that liberty which was their first care, his office was made subordinate to the Pontifex Maximus. I think that they went to unreasonable lengths in devising safeguards for their liberty, in all, even the smallest points. The second consul - L. Tarquinius Collatinus - bore an unpopular name - this was his sole offence - and men said that the Tarquins had been too long in power. They began with Priscus; then Servius Tullius reigned, and Superbus Tarquinius, who even after this interruption had not lost sight of the throne which another filled, regained it by crime and violence as the hereditary possession of his house. And now that he was expelled, their power was being wielded by Collatinus; the Tarquins did not know how to live in a private station, the very name was a danger to liberty. What were at first whispered hints became the common talk of the City, and as the people were becoming suspicious and alarmed, Brutus summoned an assembly. He first of all rehearsed the people's oath, that they would suffer no man to reign or to live in Rome by whom the public liberty might be imperilled. This was to be guarded with the utmost care, no means of doing so were to be neglected. Personal regard made him reluctant to speak, nor would he have spoken had not his affection for the commonwealth compelled him. The Roman people did consider that their freedom was not yet fully won; the royal race, the royal name, was still there, not only amongst the citizens but in the government; in that fact lay an injury, an obstacle to full liberty. Turning to his brother consul: "These apprehensions it is for you, L. Tarquinius, to banish of your own free will. We have not forgotten, I assure you, that you expelled the king's family, complete your good work, remove their very name. Your fellow-citizens will, on my authority, not only hand over your property, but if you need anything, they will add to it with lavish generosity. Go, as our friend, relieve the commonwealth from a, perhaps groundless, fear: men are persuaded that only with the family will the tyranny of the Tarquins depart." At first the consul was struck dumb with astonishment at this extraordinary request; then, when he was beginning to speak, the foremost men in the commonwealth gathered round him and repeatedly urged the same plea, but with little success. It was not till Spurius Lucretius, his superior in age and rank, and also his father-in-law, began to use every method of entreaty and persuasion that he yielded to the universal wish. The consul, fearing lest after his year of office had expired and he returned to private life, the same demand should be made upon him, accompanied with loss of property and the ignominy of banishment, formally laid down the consulship, and after transferring all his effects to Lanuvium, withdrew from the State. A decree of the senate empowered Brutus to propose to the people a measure exiling all the members of the house of Tarquin. He conducted the election of a new consul, and the centuries elected as his colleague Publius Valerius, who had acted with him in the expulsion of the royal family.
[2.3]Though no one doubted that war with the Tarquins was imminent, it did not come as soon as was universally expected. What was not expected, however, was that through intrigue and treachery the new-won liberty was almost lost. There were some young men of high birth in Rome who during the late reign had done pretty much what they pleased, and being boon companions of the young Tarquins were accustomed to live in royal fashion. Now that all were equal before the law, they missed their former licence and complained that the liberty which others enjoyed had become slavery for them; as long as there was a king, there was a person from whom they could get what they wanted, whether lawful or not, there was room for personal influence and kindness, he could show severity or indulgence, could discriminate between his friends and his enemies. But the law was a thing, deaf and inexorable, more favourable to the weak than to the powerful, showing no indulgence or forgiveness to those who transgressed; human nature being what it was, it was a dangerous plan to trust solely to one's innocence. When they had worked themselves into a state of disaffection, envoys from the royal family arrived, bringing a demand for the restoration of their property without any allusion to their possible return. An audience was granted them by the senate, and the matter was discussed for some days; fears were expressed that the non-surrender would be taken as a pretext for war, while if surrendered it might provide the means of war. The envoys, meantime, were engaged on another task: whilst ostensibly seeking only the surrender of the property they were secretly hatching schemes for regaining the crown. Whilst canvassing the young nobility in favour of their apparent object, they sounded them as to their other proposals, and meeting with a favourable reception, they brought letters addressed to them by the Tarquins and discussed plans for admitting them secretly at night into the City.
[2.4]The project was at first entrusted to the brothers Vitellii and Aquilii. The sister of the Vitellii was married to the consul Brutus, and there were grown-up children from this marriage - Titus and Tiberius. Their uncles took them into the conspiracy, there were others besides, whose names have been lost. In the meantime the opinion that the property ought to be restored was adopted by the majority of the senate, and this enabled the envoys to prolong their stay, as the consuls required time to provide vehicles for conveying the goods. They employed their time in consultations with the conspirators and they insisted on getting a letter which they were to give to the Tarquins, for without such a guarantee, they argued, how could they be sure that their envoys had not brought back empty promises in a matter of such vast importance? A letter was accordingly given as a pledge of good faith, and this it was that led to the discovery of the plot. The day previous to the departure of the envoys they happened to be dining at the house of the Vitellii. After all who were not in the secret had left, the conspirators discussed many details respecting their projected treason, which were overheard by one of the slaves who had previously suspected that something was afoot, but was waiting for the moment when the letter should be given, as its seizure would be a complete proof of the plot. When he found that it had been given, he disclosed the affair to the consuls. They at once proceeded to arrest the envoys and the conspirators, and crushed the whole plot without exciting any alarm. Their first care was to secure the letter before it was destroyed. The traitors were forthwith thrown into prison; there was some hesitation in dealing with the envoys, and although they had evidently been guilty of a hostile act, the rights of international law were accorded them.
[2.5]The question of the restoration of the property was referred anew to the senate, who yielding to their feelings of resentment prohibited its restoration, and forbade its being brought into the treasury; it was given as plunder to the plebs, that their share in this spoliation might destroy for ever any prospect of peaceable relations with the Tarquins. The land of the Tarquins, which lay between the City and the Tiber, was henceforth sacred to Mars and known as the Campus Martius. There happened, it is said, to be a crop of corn there which was ripe for the harvest, and as it would have been sacrilege to consume what was growing on the Campus, a large body of men were sent to cut it. They carried it, straw and all, in baskets to the Tiber and threw it into the river. It was the height of the summer and the stream was low, consequently the corn stuck in the shallows, and heaps of it were covered with mud; gradually as the debris which the river brought down collected there, an island was formed. I believe that it was subsequently raised and strengthened so that the surface might be high enough above the water and firm enough to carry temples and colonnades. After the royal property had been disposed of, the traitors were sentenced and executed. Their punishment created a great sensation owing to the fact that the consular office imposed upon a father the duty of inflicting punishment on his own children; he who ought not to have witnessed it was destined to be the one to see it duly carried out. Youths belonging to the noblest families were standing tied to the post, but all eyes were turned to the consul's children, the others were unnoticed. Men did not grieve more for their punishment than for the crime which had incurred it - that they should have conceived the idea, in that year above all, of betraying to one, who had been a ruthless tyrant and was now an exile and an enemy, a newly liberated country, their father who had liberated it, the consulship which had originated in the Junian house, the senate, the plebs, all that Rome possessed of human or divine. The consuls took their seats, the lictors were told off to inflict the penalty; they scourged their bared backs with rods and then beheaded them. During the whole time, the father's countenance betrayed his feelings, but the father's stern resolution was still more apparent as he superintended the public execution. After the guilty had paid the penalty, a notable example of a different nature was provided to act as a deterrent of crime, the informer was assigned a sum of money from the treasury and he was given his liberty and the rights of citizenship. He is said to have been the first to be made free by the "vindicta." Some suppose this designation to have been derived from him, his name being Vindicius. After him it was the rule that those who were made free in this way were considered to be admitted to the citizenship.
[2.6]A detailed report of these matters reached Tarquin. He was not only furious at the failure of plans from which he had hoped so much, but he was filled with rage at finding the way blocked against secret intrigues; and consequently determined upon open war. He visited the cities of Etruria and appealed for help; in particular, he implored the people of Veii and Tarquinii not to allow one to perish before their eyes who was of the same blood with them, and from being a powerful monarch was now, with his children, homeless and destitute. Others, he said, had been invited from abroad to reign in Rome; he, the king, whilst extending the rule of Rome by a successful war, had been driven out by the infamous conspiracy of his nearest kinsmen. They had no single person amongst them deemed worthy to reign, so they had distributed the kingly authority amongst themselves, and had given his property as plunder to the people, that all might be involved in the crime. He wanted to recover his country and his throne and punish his ungrateful subjects. The Veientines must help him and furnish him with resources, they must set about avenging their own wrongs also, their legions so often cut to pieces, their territory torn from them. This appeal decided the Veientines, they one and all loudly demanded that their former humiliations should be wiped out and their losses made good, now that they had a Roman to lead them. The people of Tarquinii were won over by the name and nationality of the exile; they were proud of having a countryman as king in Rome. So two armies from these cities followed Tarquin to recover his crown and chastise the Romans. When they had entered the Roman territory the consuls advanced against them; Valerius with the infantry in phalanx formation, Brutus reconnoitring in advance with the cavalry. Similarly the enemy's cavalry was in front of his main body, Arruns Tarquin, the king's son, in command; the king himself followed with the legionaries. Whilst still at a distance Arruns distinguished the consul by his escort of lictors; as they drew nearer he clearly recognised Brutus by his features, and in a transport of rage exclaimed, "That is the man who drove us from our country; see him proudly advancing, adorned with our insignia! Ye gods, avengers of kings, aid me!" With these words, he dug spurs into his horse and rode straight at the consul. Brutus saw that he was making for him. It was a point of honour in those days for the leaders to engage in single combat, so he eagerly accepted the challenge, and they charged with such fury, neither of them thinking of protecting himself, if only he could wound his foe, that each drove his spear at the same moment through the other's shield, and they fell dying from their horses, with the spears sticking in them. The rest of the cavalry at once engaged, and not long after the infantry came up. The battle raged with varying fortune, the two armies being fairly matched; the right wing of each was victorious, the left defeated. The Veientes, accustomed to defeat at the hands of the Romans, were scattered in flight, but the Tarquinians, a new foe, not only held their ground, but forced the Romans to give way.
[2.7]After the battle had gone in this way, so great a panic seized Tarquin and the Etruscans that the two armies of Veii and Tarquinii, on the approach of night, despairing of success, left the field and departed for their homes. The story of the battle was enriched by marvels. In the silence of the next night a great voice is said to have come from the forest of Arsia, believed to be the voice of Silvanus, which spoke thus: "The fallen of the Tusci are one more than those of their foe; the Roman is conqueror." At all events the Romans left the field as victors; the Etruscans regarded themselves as vanquished, for when daylight appeared not a single enemy was in sight. P. Valerius, the consul, collected the spoils and returned in triumph to Rome. He celebrated his colleague's obsequies with all the pomp possible in those days, but far greater honour was done to the dead by the universal mourning, which was rendered specially noteworthy by the fact that the matrons were a whole year in mourning for him, because he had been such a determined avenger of violated chastity. After this the surviving consul, who had been in such favour with the multitude, found himself - such is its fickleness - not only unpopular but an object of suspicion, and that of a very grave character. It was rumoured that he was aiming at monarchy, for he had held no election to fill Brutus' place, and he was building a house on the top of the Velia, an impregnable fortress was being constructed on that high and strong position. The consul felt hurt at finding these rumours so widely believed, and summoned the people to an assembly. As he entered the "fasces" were lowered, to the great delight of the multitude, who understood that it was to them that they were lowered as an open avowal that the dignity and might of the people were greater than those of the consul. Then, after securing silence, he began to eulogise the good fortune of his colleague who had met his death, as a liberator of his country, possessing the highest honour it could bestow, fighting for the commonwealth, whilst his glory was as yet undimmed by jealousy and distrust. Whereas he himself had outlived his glory and fallen on days of suspicion and opprobrium; from being a liberator of his country he had sunk to the level of the Aquilii and Vitellii. "Will you," he cried, "never deem any man's merit so assured that it cannot be tainted by suspicion? Am I, the most determined foe to kings to dread the suspicion of desiring to be one myself? Even if I were dwelling in the Citadel on the Capitol, am I to believe it possible that I should be feared by my fellow-citizens? Does my reputation amongst you hang on so slight a thread? Does your confidence rest upon such a weak foundation that it is of greater moment where I am than who I am? The house of Publius Valerius shall be no check upon your freedom, your Velia shall be safe. I will not only move my house to level ground, but I will move it to the bottom of the hill that you may dwell above the citizen whom you suspect. Let those dwell on the Velia who are regarded as truer friends of liberty than Publius Valerius." All the materials were forthwith carried below the Velia and his house was built at the very bottom of the hill where now stands the temple of Vica Pota.
[2.8]Laws were passed which not only cleared the consul from suspicion but produced such a reaction that he won the people's affections, hence his soubriquet of Publicola. The most popular of these laws were those which granted a right of appeal from the magistrate to the people and devoted to the gods the person and property of any one who entertained projects of becoming king. Valerius secured the passing of these laws while still sole consul, that the people might feel grateful solely to him; afterwards he held the elections for the appointment of a colleague. The consul elected was Sp. Lucretius. But he had not, owing to his great age, strength enough to discharge the duties of his office, and within a few days he died. M. Horatius Pulvillus was elected in his place. In some ancient authors I find no mention of Lucretius, Horatius being named immediately after Brutus; as he did nothing of any note during his office, I suppose, his memory has perished. The temple of Jupiter on the Capitol had not yet been dedicated, and the consuls drew lots to decide which should dedicate it. The lot fell to Horatius. Publicola set out for the Veientine war. His friends showed unseemly annoyance at the dedication of so illustrious a fane being assigned to Horatius, and tried every means of preventing it. When all else failed, they tried to alarm the consul, whilst he was actually holding the door-post during the dedicatory prayer, by a wicked message that his son was dead, and he could not dedicate a temple while death was in his house. As to whether he disbelieved the message, or whether his conduct simply showed extraordinary self-control, there is no definite tradition, and it is not easy to decide from the records. He only allowed the message to interrupt him so far that he gave orders for the body to be burnt; then, with his hand still on the door-post, he finished the prayer and dedicated the temple. These were the principal incidents at home and in the field during the first year after the expulsion of the royal family. The consuls elected for the next year were P. Valerius, for the second time, and T. Lucretius.
[2.9]The Tarquins had now taken refuge with Porsena, the king of Clusium, whom they sought to influence by entreaty mixed with warnings. At one time they entreated him not to allow men of Etruscan race, of the same blood as himself, to wander as penniless exiles; at another they would warn him not to let the new fashion of expelling kings go unpunished. Liberty, they urged, possessed fascination enough in itself; unless kings defend their authority with as much energy as their subjects show in quest of liberty, all things come to a dead level, there will be no one thing pre-eminent or superior to all else in the State; there will soon be an end of kingly power, which is the most beautiful thing, whether amongst gods or amongst mortal men. Porsena considered that the presence of an Etruscan upon the Roman throne would be an honour to his nation; accordingly he advanced with an army against Rome. Never before had the senate been in such a state of alarm, so great at that time was the power of Clusium and the reputation of Porsena. They feared not only the enemy but even their own fellow-citizens, lest the plebs, overcome by their fears, should admit the Tarquins into the City, and accept peace even though it meant slavery. Many concessions were made at that time to the plebs by the senate. Their first care was to lay in a stock of corn, and commissioners were despatched to Vulsi and Cumae to collect supplies. The sale of salt, hitherto in the hands of private individuals who had raised the price to a high figure, was now wholly transferred to the State. The plebs were exempted from the payment of harbour-dues and the war-tax, so that they might fall on the rich, who could bear the burden; the poor were held to pay sufficient to the State if they brought up their children. This generous action of the senate maintained the harmony of the commonwealth through the subsequent stress of siege and famine so completely that the name of king was not more abhorrent to the highest than it was to the lowest, nor did any demagogue ever succeed in becoming so popular in after times as the senate was then by its beneficent legislation.
[2.10]On the appearance of the enemy the country people fled into the City as best they could. The weak places in the defences were occupied by military posts; elsewhere the walls and the Tiber were deemed sufficient protection. The enemy would have forced their way over the Sublician bridge had it not been for one man, Horatius Cocles. The good fortune of Rome provided him as her bulwark on that memorable day. He happened to be on guard at the bridge when he saw the Janiculum taken by a sudden assault and the enemy rushing down from it to the river, whilst his own men, a panic-struck mob, were deserting their posts and throwing away their arms. He reproached them one after another for their cowardice, tried to stop them, appealed to them in heaven's name to stand, declared that it was in vain for them to seek safety in flight whilst leaving the bridge open behind them, there would very soon be more of the enemy on the Palatine and the Capitol than there were on the Janiculum. So he shouted to them to break down the bridge by sword or fire, or by whatever means they could, he would meet the enemies' attack so far as one man could keep them at bay. He advanced to the head of the bridge. Amongst the fugitives, whose backs alone were visible to the enemy, he was conspicuous as he fronted them armed for fight at close quarters. The enemy were astounded at his preternatural courage. Two men were kept by a sense of shame from deserting him - Sp. Lartius and T. Herminius - both of them men of high birth and renowned courage. With them he sustained the first tempestuous shock and wild confused onset, for a brief interval. Then, whilst only a small portion of the bridge remained and those who were cutting it down called upon them to retire, he insisted upon these, too, retreating. Looking round with eyes dark with menace upon the Etruscan chiefs, he challenged them to single combat, and reproached them all with being the slaves of tyrant kings, and whilst unmindful of their own liberty coming to attack that of others. For some time they hesitated, each looking round upon the others to begin. At length shame roused them to action, and raising a shout they hurled their javelins from all sides on their solitary foe. He caught them on his outstretched shield, and with unshaken resolution kept his place on the bridge with firmly planted foot. They were just attempting to dislodge him by a charge when the crash of the broken bridge and the shout which the Romans raised at seeing the work completed stayed the attack by filling them with sudden panic. Then Cocles said, "Tiberinus, holy father, I pray thee to receive into thy propitious stream these arms and this thy warrior." So, fully armed, he leaped into the Tiber, and though many missiles fell over him he swam across in safety to his friends: an act of daring more famous than credible with posterity. The State showed its gratitude for such courage; his statue was set up in the Comitium, and as much land given to him as he could drive the plough round in one day. Besides this public honour, the citizens individually showed their feeling; for, in spite of the great scarcity, each, in proportion to his means, sacrificed what he could from his own store as a gift to Cocles.
[2.11]Repulsed in his first attempt, Porsena changed his plans from assault to blockade. After placing a detachment to hold the Janiculum he fixed his camp on the plain between that hill and the Tiber, and sent everywhere for boats, partly to intercept any attempt to get corn into Rome and partly to carry his troops across to different spots for plunder, as opportunity might serve. In a short time he made the whole of the district round Rome so insecure that not only were all the crops removed from the fields but even the cattle were all driven into the City, nor did any one venture to take them outside the gates. The impunity with which the Etruscans committed their depredations was due to strategy on the part of the Romans more than to fear. For the consul Valerius, determined to get an opportunity of attacking them when they were scattered in large numbers over the fields, allowed small forages to pass unnoticed, whilst he was reserving himself for vengeance on a larger scale. So to draw on the pillagers, he gave orders to a considerable body of his men to drive cattle out of the Esquiline gate, which was the furthest from the enemy, in the expectation that they would gain intelligence of it through the slaves who were deserting, owing to the scarcity produced by the blockade. The information was duly conveyed, and in consequence they crossed the river in larger numbers than usual in the hope of securing the whole lot. P. Valerius ordered T. Herminius with a small body of troops to take up a concealed position at a distance of two miles on the Gabian road, whilst Sp. Lartius with some light-armed infantry was to post himself at the Colline gate until the enemy had passed him and then to intercept their retreat to the river. The other consul, T. Lucretius, with a few maniples made a sortie from the Naevian gate; Valerius himself led some picked cohorts from the Caelian hill, and these were the first to attract the enemy's notice. When Herminius became aware that fighting was begun, he rose from ambush and took the enemy who were engaged with Valerius in rear. Answering cheers arose right and left, from the Colline and the Naevian gates and the pillagers, hemmed in, unequal to the fight, and with every way of escape blocked, were cut to pieces. That put an end to these irregular and scattered excursions on the part of the Etruscans.
[2.12]The blockade, however, continued, and with it a growing scarcity of corn at famine prices. Porsena still cherished hopes of capturing the City by keeping up the investment. There was a young noble, C. Mucius, who regarded it as a disgrace that whilst Rome in the days of servitude under her kings had never been blockaded in any war or by any foe, she should now, in the day of her freedom, be besieged by those very Etruscans whose armies she had often routed. Thinking that this disgrace ought to be avenged by some great deed of daring, he determined in the first instance to penetrate into the enemy's camp on his own responsibility. On second thoughts, however, he became apprehensive that if he went without orders from the consuls, or unknown to any one, and happened to be arrested by the Roman outposts, he might be brought back as a deserter, a charge which the condition of the City at the time would make only too probable. So he went to the senate. "I wish," he said, "Fathers, to swim the Tiber, and, if I can, enter the enemy's camp, not as a pillager nor to inflict retaliation for their pillagings. I am purposing, with heaven's help, a greater deed." The senate gave their approval. Concealing a sword in his robe, he started. When he reached the camp he took his stand in the densest part of the crowd near the royal tribunal. It happened to be the soldiers' pay-day, and a secretary, sitting by the king and dressed almost exactly like him, was busily engaged, as the soldiers kept coming to him incessantly. Afraid to ask which of the two was the king, lest his ignorance should betray him, Mucius struck as fortune directed the blow and killed the secretary instead of the king. He tried to force his way back with his blood-stained dagger through the dismayed crowd, but the shouting caused a rush to be made to the spot; he was seized and dragged back by the king's bodyguard to the royal tribunal. Here, alone and helpless, and in the utmost peril, he was still able to inspire more fear than he felt. "I am a citizen of Rome," he said, "men call me C. Mucius. As an enemy I wished to kill an enemy, and I have as much courage to meet death as I had to inflict it. It is the Roman nature to act bravely and to suffer bravely. I am not alone in having made this resolve against you, behind me there is a long list of those who aspire to the same distinction. If then it is your pleasure, make up your mind for a struggle in which you will every hour have to fight for your life and find an armed foe on the threshold of your royal tent. This is the war which we the youth of Rome, declare against you. You have no serried ranks, no pitched battle to fear, the matter will be settled between you alone and each one of us singly." The king, furious with anger, and at the same time terrified at the unknown danger, threatened that if he did not promptly explain the nature of the plot which he was darkly hinting at he should be roasted alive. "Look," Mucius cried, "and learn how lightly those regard their bodies who have some great glory in view." Then he plunged his right hand into a fire burning on the altar. Whilst he kept it roasting there as if he were devoid of all sensation, the king, astounded at his preternatural conduct, sprang from his seat and ordered the youth to be removed from the altar. "Go," he said, "you have been a worse enemy to yourself than to me. I would invoke blessings on your courage if it were displayed on behalf of my country; as it is, I send you away exempt from all rights of war, unhurt, and safe." Then Mucius, reciprocating, as it were, this generous treatment, said, "Since you honour courage, know that what you could not gain by threats you have obtained by kindness. Three hundred of us, the foremost amongst the Roman youth, have sworn to attack you in this way. The lot fell to me first, the rest, in the order of their lot, will come each in his turn, till fortune shall give us a favourable chance against you."
[2.13]Mucius was accordingly dismissed; afterwards he received the soubriquet of Scaevola, from the loss of his right hand. Envoys from Porsena followed him to Rome. The king's narrow escape from the first of many attempts; which was owing solely to the mistake of his assailant, and the prospect of having to meet as many attacks as there were conspirators, so unnerved him that he made proposals of peace to Rome. One for the restoration of the Tarquins was put forward, more because he could not well refuse their request than because he had any hope of its being granted. The demand for the restitution of their territory to the Veientines, and that for the surrender of hostages as a condition of the withdrawal of the detachment from the Janiculum, were felt by the Romans to be inevitable, and on their being accepted and peace concluded, Porsena moved his troops from the Janiculum and evacuated the Roman territory. As a recognition of his courage the senate gave C. Mucius a piece of land across the river, which was afterwards known as the Mucian Meadows. The honour thus paid to courage incited even women to do glorious things for the State. The Etruscan camp was situated not far from the river, and the maiden Cloelia, one of the hostages, escaped, unobserved, through the guards and at the head of her sister hostages swam across the river amidst a shower of javelins and restored them all safe to their relatives. When the news of this incident reached him, the king was at first exceedingly angry and sent to demand the surrender of Cloelia; the others he did not care about. Afterwards his feelings changed to admiration; he said that the exploit surpassed those of Cocles and Mucius, and announced that whilst on the one hand he should consider the treaty broken if she were not surrendered, he would on the other hand, if she were surrendered, send her back to her people unhurt. Both sides behaved honourably; the Romans surrendered her as a pledge of loyalty to the terms of the treaty; the Etruscan king showed that with him courage was not only safe but honoured, and after eulogising the girl's conduct, told her that he would make her a present of half the remaining hostages, she was to choose whom she would. It is said that after all had been brought before her, she chose the boys of tender age; a choice in keeping with maidenly modesty, and one approved by the hostages themselves, since they felt that the age which was most liable to ill-treatment should have the preference in being rescued from hostile hands. After peace was thus re-established, the Romans rewarded the unprecedented courage shown by a woman by an unprecedented honour, namely an equestrian statue. On the highest part of the Sacred Way a statue was erected representing the maiden sitting on horseback.
[2.14]Quite inconsistent with this peaceful withdrawal from the City on the part of the Etruscan king is the custom which, with other formalities, has been handed down from antiquity to our own age of "selling the goods of King Porsena." This custom must either have been introduced during the war and kept up after peace was made, or else it must have a less bellicose origin than would be implied by the description of the goods sold as "taken from the enemy." The most probable tradition is that Porsena, knowing the City to be without food owing to the long investment, made the Romans a present of his richly-stored camp, in which provisions had been collected from the neighbouring fertile fields of Etruria. Then, to prevent the people seizing them indiscriminately as spoils of war, they were regularly sold, under the description of "the goods of Porsena," a description indicating rather the gratitude of the people than an auction of the king's personal property, which had never been at the disposal of the Romans. To prevent his expedition from appearing entirely fruitless, Porsena, after bringing the war with Rome to a close, sent his son Aruns with a part of his force to attack Aricia. At first the Aricians were dismayed by the unexpected movement, but the succours which in response to their request were sent from the Latin towns and from Cumae so far encouraged them that they ventured to offer battle. At the commencement of the action the Etruscans attacked with such vigour that they routed the Aricians at the first charge. The Cuman cohorts made a strategical flank movement, and when the enemy had pressed forward in disordered pursuit, they wheeled round and attacked them in the rear. Thus the Etruscans, now all but victorious, were hemmed in and cut to pieces. A very small remnant, after losing their general, made for Rome, as there was no nearer place of safety. Without arms, and in the guise of suppliants, they were kindly received and distributed amongst different houses. After recovering from their wounds, some left for their homes, to tell of the kind hospitality they had received; many remained behind out of affection for their hosts and the City. A district was assigned to them to dwell in, which subsequently bore the designation of "the Tuscan quarter."
[2.15]The new consuls were Sp. Lartius and T. Herminius. This year Porsena made the last attempt to effect the restoration of the Tarquins. The ambassadors whom he had despatched to Rome with this object were informed that the senate were going to send an embassy to the king, and the most honourable of the senators were forthwith despatched. They stated that the reason why a select number of senators had been sent to him in preference to a reply being given to his ambassadors at Rome was not that they had been unable to give the brief answer that kings would never be allowed in Rome, but simply that all mention of the matter might be for ever dropped, that after the interchange of so many kindly acts there might be no cause of irritation, for he, Porsena, was asking for what would be against the liberty of Rome. The Romans, if they did not wish to hasten their own ruin, would have to refuse the request of one to whom they wished to refuse nothing. Rome was not a monarchy, but a free City, and they had made up their minds to open their gates even to an enemy sooner than to a king. It was the universal wish that whatever put an end to liberty in the City should put an end to the City itself. They begged him, if he wished Rome to be safe, to allow it to be free. Touched with a feeling of sympathy and respect, the king replied, "Since this is your fixed and unalterable determination, I will not harass you by fruitless proposals, nor will I deceive the Tarquins by holding out hopes of an assistance which I am powerless to render. Whether they insist on war or are prepared to live quietly, in either case they must seek another place of exile than this, to prevent any interruption of the peace between you and me." He followed up his words by still stronger practical proofs of friendship, for he returned the remainder of the hostages and restored the Veientine territory which had been taken away under the treaty. As all hope of restoration was cut off, Tarquin went to his son-in-law Mamilius Octavius at Tusculum. So the peace between Rome and Porsena remained unbroken.
[2.16]The new consuls were M. Valerius and P. Postumius. This year a successful action was fought with the Sabines; the consuls celebrated a triumph. Then the Sabines made preparations for war on a larger scale. To oppose them and also at the same time to guard against danger in the direction of Tusculum, from which place war, though not openly declared, was still apprehended, the consuls elected were P. Valerius for the fourth time and T. Lucretius for the second. A conflict which broke out amongst the Sabines between the peace party and the war party brought an accession of strength to the Romans. Attius Clausus, who was afterwards known in Rome as Appius Claudius, was an advocate for peace, but, unable to maintain his ground against the opposing faction, who were stirring up war, he fled to Rome with a large body of clients. They were admitted to the citizenship and received a grant of land lying beyond the Anio. They were called the Old Claudian tribe, and their numbers were added to by fresh tribesmen from that district. After his election into the senate it was not long before Appius gained a prominent position in that body. The consuls marched into the Sabine territory, and by their devastation of the country and the defeats which they inflicted so weakened the enemy that no renewal of the war was to be feared for a long time. The Romans returned home in triumph. The following year, in the consulship of Agrippa Menenius and P. Postumius, P. Valerius died. He was universally admitted to be first in the conduct of war and the arts of peace, but though he enjoyed such an immense reputation, his private fortune was so scanty that it could not defray the expenses of his funeral. They were met by the State. The matrons mourned for him as a second Brutus. In the same year two Latin colonies, Pometia and Cora, revolted to the Auruncans. War commenced, and after the defeat of an immense army which had sought to oppose the advance of the consuls into their territory, the whole war was centered round Pometia. There was no respite from bloodshed after the battle any more than during the fighting, many more were killed than were taken prisoners; the prisoners were everywhere butchered; even the hostages, three hundred of whom they had in their hands, fell a victim to the enemy's bloodthirsty rage. This year also there was a triumph in Rome.
[2.17]The consuls who succeeded, Opiter Verginius and Sp. Cassius, tried at first to take Pometia by storm, then they had recourse to regular siege-works. Actuated more by a spirit of mortal hatred than by any hope or chance of success, the Auruncans made a sortie. The greater number were armed with blazing torches, and they carried flames and death everywhere. The "vineae" were burnt, great numbers of the besiegers were killed and wounded, they nearly killed one of the consuls - the authorities do not give his name - after he had fallen from his horse severely wounded. After this disaster the Romans returned home, with a large number of wounded, amongst them the consul, whose condition was critical. After an interval, long enough for the recovery of the wounded and the filling up of the ranks, operations were resumed at Pometia in stronger force and in a more angry temper. The vineae were repaired and the other vast works were made good, and when everything was ready for the soldiers to mount the walls, the place surrendered. The Auruncans, however, were treated with no less rigour after they had surrendered the city than if it had been taken by assault; the principal men were beheaded, the rest of the townsfolk sold as slaves. The town was razed, the land put up for sale. The consuls celebrated a triumph more because of the terrible vengeance they had inflicted than on account of the importance of the war now terminated.
[2.18]The following year had as consuls Postumius Cominius and T. Lartius. During this year an incident occurred which, though small in itself, threatened to lead to the renewal of a war more formidable than the Latin war which was dreaded. During the games at Rome some courtesans were carried off by Sabine youths in sheer wantonness. A crowd gathered, and a quarrel arose which became almost a pitched battle. The alarm was increased by the authentic report that at the instigation of Octavius Mamilius the thirty Latin towns had formed a league. The apprehensions felt by the State at such a serious crisis led to suggestions being made for the first time for the appointment of a dictator. It is not, however, clearly ascertained in what year this office was created, or who the consuls were who had forfeited the confidence of the people owing to their being adherents of the Tarquins - for this, too, is part of the tradition - or who was the first dictator. In the most ancient authorities I find that it was T. Lartius, and that Sp. Cassius was his master of the horse. Only men of consular rank were eligible under the law governing the appointment. This makes me more inclined to believe that Lartius, who was of consular rank, was set over the consuls to restrain and direct them rather than Manlius Valerius, the son of Marcus and grandson of Volesus. Besides, if they wanted the dictator to be chosen from that family especially, they would have much sooner chosen the father, M. Valerius, a man of proved worth and also of consular rank. When, for the first time, a Dictator was created in Rome, a great fear fell on the people, after they saw the axes borne before him, and consequently they were more careful to obey his orders. For there was not, as in the case of the consuls, each of whom possessed the same authority, any chance of securing the aid of one against the other, nor was there any right of appeal, nor in short was there any safety anywhere except in punctilious obedience. The Sabines were even more alarmed at the appointment of a Dictator than the Romans, because they were convinced that it was in their account that he had been created. Accordingly envoys were sent with proposals for peace. They begged the Dictator and the senate to pardon what was a youthful escapade, but were told in reply that young men could be pardoned, but not old men, who were continually stirring up fresh wars. However, the negotiations continued and peace would have been secured if the Sabines could have made up their minds to comply with the demand to make good the expenses of the war. War was proclaimed; an informal truce kept the year undisturbed.
[2.19]The next consuls were Ser. Sulpicius and Manlius Tullius. Nothing worth recording took place. The consuls of the following year were T. Aebutius and C. Vetusius. During their consulship Fidenae was besieged; Crustumeria captured; Praeneste revolted from the Latins to Rome. The Latin war which had been threatening for some years now at last broke out. A. Postumius, the Dictator, and T. Aebutius, Master of the Horse, advanced with a large force of infantry and cavalry to the Lake Regillus in the district of Tusculum and came upon the main army of the enemy. On hearing that the Tarquins were in the army of the Latins, the passions of the Romans were so roused that they determined to engage at once. The battle that followed was more obstinately and desperately fought than any previous ones had been. For the commanders not only took their part in directing the action, they fought personally against each other, and hardly one of the leaders in either army, with the exception of the Roman Dictator, left the field unwounded. Tarquinius Superbus, though now enfeebled by age, spurred his horse against Postumius, who in the front of the line was addressing and forming his men. He was struck in the side and carried off by a body of his followers into a place of safety. Similarly on the other wing Aebutius, Master of the Horse, directed his attack against Octavius Mamilius; the Tusculan leader saw him coming and rode at him full speed. So terrific was the shock that Aebutius' arm was pierced, Mamilius was speared in the breast, and led off by the Latins into their second line. Aebutius, unable to hold a weapon with his wounded arm, retired from the fighting. The Latin leader, in no way deterred by his wound, infused fresh energy into the combat, for, seeing that his own men were wavering, he called up the cohort of Roman exiles, who were led by Lucius Tarquinius. The loss of country and fortune made them fight all the more desperately; for a short time they restored the battle, and the Romans who were opposed to them began to give ground.
[2.20]M. Valerius, the brother of Publicola, catching sight of the fiery young Tarquin conspicuous in the front line, dug spurs into his horse and made for him with levelled lance, eager to enhance the pride of his house, that the family who boasted of having expelled the Tarquins might have the glory of killing them. Tarquin evaded his foe by retiring behind his men. Valerius, riding headlong into the ranks of the exiles, was run through by a spear from behind. This did not check the horse's speed, and the Roman sank dying to the ground, his arms falling upon him. When the Dictator Postumius saw that one of his principal officers had fallen, and that the exiles were rushing on furiously in a compact mass whilst his men were shaken and giving ground, he ordered his own cohort - a picked force who formed his bodyguard - to treat any of their own side whom they saw in flight as enemy. Threatened in front and rear the Romans turned and faced the foe, and closed their ranks. The Dictator's cohort, fresh in mind and body, now came into action and attacked the exhausted exiles with great slaughter. Another single combat between the leaders took place; the Latin commander saw the cohort of exiles almost hemmed in by the Roman Dictator, and hurried to the front with some maniples of the reserves. T. Herminius saw them coming, and recognised Mamilius by his dress and arms. He attacked the enemies' commander much more fiercely than the Master of the Horse had previously done, so much so, in fact, that he killed him by a single spear-thrust through his side. Whilst despoiling the body he himself was struck by a javelin, and after being carried back to the camp, expired whilst his wound was being dressed. Then the Dictator hurried up to the cavalry and appealed to them to relieve the infantry, who were worn out with the struggle, by dismounting and fighting on foot. They obeyed, leaped from their horses, and protecting themselves with their targes, fought in front of the standards. The infantry recovered their courage at once when they saw the flower of the nobility fighting on equal terms and sharing the same dangers with themselves. At last the Latins were forced back, wavered, and finally broke their ranks. The cavalry had their horses brought up that they might commence the pursuit, the infantry followed. It is said that the Dictator, omitting nothing that could secure divine or human aid, vowed, during the battle, a temple to Castor and promised rewards to those who should be the first and second to enter the enemies' camp. Such was the ardour which the Romans displayed that in the same charge which routed the enemy they carried their camp. Thus was the battle fought at Lake Regillus. The Dictator and the Master of the Horse returned in triumph to the City.
[2.21]For the next three years there was neither settled peace nor open war. The consuls were Q. Cloelius and T. Larcius. They were succeeded by A. Sempronius and M. Minucius. During their consulship a temple was dedicated to Saturn and the festival of the Saturnalia instituted. The next consuls were A. Postumius and T. Verginius. I find in some authors this year given as the date of the battle at Lake Regillus, and that A. Postumius laid down his consulship because the fidelity of his colleague was suspected, on which a Dictator was appointed. So many errors as to dates occur, owing to the order in which the consuls succeeded being variously given, that the remoteness in time of both the events and the authorities make it impossible to determine either which consuls succeeded which, or in what year any particular event occurred. Ap. Claudius and P. Servilius were the next consuls. This year is memorable for the news of Tarquin's death. His death took place at Cuma, whither he had retired, to seek the protection of the tyrant Aristodemus after the power of the Latins was broken. The news was received with delight by both senate and plebs. But the elation of the patricians was carried to excess. Up to that time they had treated the commons with the utmost deference, now their leaders began to practice injustice upon them. The same year a fresh batch of colonists was sent to complete the number at Signia, a colony founded by King Tarquin. The number of tribes at Rome was increased to twenty-one. The temple of Mercury was dedicated on May 15.
[2.22]The relations with the Volscians during the Latin war were neither friendly nor openly hostile. The Volscians had collected a force which they were intending to send to the aid of the Latins had not the Dictator forestalled them by the rapidity of his movements, a rapidity due to his anxiety to avoid a battle with the combined armies. To punish them the consuls led the legions into the Volscian country. This unexpected movement paralysed the Volscians, who were not expecting retribution for what had been only an intention. Unable to offer resistance, they gave as hostages three hundred children belonging to their nobility, drawn from Cora and Pometia. The legions, accordingly, were marched back without fighting. Relieved from the immediate danger, the Volscians soon fell back on their old policy, and after forming an armed alliance with the Hernicans, made secret preparations for war. They also despatched envoys through the length and breadth of Latium to induce that nation to join them. But after their defeat at Lake Regillus the Latins were so incensed against every one who advocated a resumption of hostilities that they did not even spare the Volscian envoys, who were arrested and conducted to Rome. There they were handed over to the consuls and evidence was produced showing that the Volscians and Hernicans were preparing for war with Rome. When the matter was brought before the senate, they were so gratified by the action of the Latins that they sent back six thousand prisoners who had been sold into slavery, and also referred to the new magistrates the question of a treaty which they had hitherto persistently refused to consider. The Latins congratulated themselves upon the course they had adopted, and the advocates of peace were in high honour. They sent a golden crown as a gift to the Capitoline Jupiter. The deputation who brought the gift were accompanied by a large number of the released prisoners, who visited the houses where they had worked as slaves to thank their former masters for the kindness and consideration shown them in their misfortunes, and to form ties of hospitality with them. At no previous period had the Latin nation been on more friendly terms both politically and personally with the Roman government.
[2.23]But a war with the Volscians was imminent, and the State was torn with internal dissensions; the patricians and the plebeians were bitterly hostile to one another, owing mainly to the desperate condition of the debtors. They loudly complained that whilst fighting in the field for liberty and empire they were oppressed and enslaved by their fellow-citizens at home; their freedom was more secure in war than in peace, safer amongst the enemy than amongst their own people. The discontent, which was becoming of itself continually more embittered, was still further inflamed by the signal misfortunes of one individual. An old man, bearing visible proofs of all the evils he had suffered, suddenly appeared in the Forum. His clothing was covered with filth, his personal appearance was made still more loathsome by a corpse-like pallor and emaciation, his unkempt beard and hair made him look like a savage. In spite of this disfigurement he was recognised by the pitying bystanders; they said that he had been a centurion, and mentioned other military distinctions he possessed. He bared his breast and showed the scars which witnessed to many fights in which he had borne an honourable part. The crowd had now almost grown to the dimensions of an Assembly of the people. He was asked, "Whence came that garb, whence that disfigurement?" He stated that whilst serving in the Sabine war he had not only lost the produce of his land through the depredations of the enemy, but his farm had been burnt, all his property plundered, his cattle driven away, the war-tax demanded when he was least able to pay it, and he had got into debt. This debt had been vastly increased through usury and had stripped him first of his father's and grandfather's farm, then of his other property, and at last like a pestilence had reached his person. He had been carried off by his creditor, not into slavery only, but into an underground workshop, a living death. Then he showed his back scored with recent marks of the lash.
On seeing and hearing all this a great outcry arose; the excitement was not confined to the Forum, it spread everywhere throughout the City. Men who were in bondage for debt and those who had been released rushed from all sides into the public streets and invoked "the protection of the Quirites." Every one was eager to join the malcontents, numerous bodies ran shouting through all the streets to the Forum. Those of the senators who happened to be in the Forum and fell in with the mob were in great danger of their lives. Open violence would have been resorted to, had not the consuls, P. Servilius and Ap. Claudius, promptly intervened to quell the outbreak. The crowd surged round them, showed their chains and other marks of degradation. These, they said, were their rewards for having served their country; they tauntingly reminded the consuls of the various campaigns in which they had fought, and peremptorily demanded rather than petitioned that the senate should be called together. Then they closed round the Senate-house, determined to be themselves the arbiters and directors of public policy. A very small number of senators, who happened to be available, were got together by the consuls, the rest were afraid to go even to the Forum, much more to the Senate-house. No business could be transacted owing to the requisite number not being present. The people began to think that they were being played with and put off, that the absent senators were not kept away by accident or by fear, but in order to prevent any redress of their grievances, and that the consuls themselves were shuffling and laughing at their misery. Matters were reaching the point at which not even the majesty of the consuls could keep the enraged people in check, when the absentees, uncertain whether they ran the greater risk by staying away or coming, at last entered the Senate-house. The House was now full, and a division of opinion showed itself not only amongst the senators but even between the two consuls. Appius, a man of passionate temperament, was of opinion that the matter ought to be settled by a display of authority on the part of the consuls; if one or two were brought up for trial, the rest would calm down. Servilius, more inclined to gentle measures, thought that when men's passions are aroused it was safer and easier to bend them than to break them.
[2.24]In the middle of these disturbances, fresh alarm was created by some Latin horsemen who galloped in with the disquieting tidings that a Volscian army was on the march to attack the City. This intelligence affected the patricians and the plebeians very differently; to such an extent had civic discord rent the State in twain. The plebeians were exultant, they said that the gods were preparing to avenge the tyranny of the patricians; they encouraged each other to evade enrolment, for it was better for all to die together than to perish one by one. "Let the patricians take up arms, let the patricians serve as common soldiers, that those who get the spoils of war may share its perils." The senate, on the other hand, filled with gloomy apprehensions by the twofold danger from their own fellow-citizens and from their enemy, implored the consul Servilius, who was more sympathetic towards the people, to extricate the State from the perils that beset it on all sides. He dismissed the senate and went into the Assembly of the plebs. There he pointed out how anxious the senate were to consult the interests of the plebs, but their deliberations respecting what was certainly the largest part, though still only a part, of the State had been cut short by fears for the safety of the State as a whole. The enemy were almost at their gates, nothing could be allowed to take precedence of the war, but even if the attack were postponed, it would not be honourable on the part of the plebeians to refuse to take up arms for their country till they had been paid for doing so, nor would it be compatible with the self-respect of the senate to be actuated by fear rather than by good-will in devising measures for the relief of their distressed fellow-citizens. He convinced the Assembly of his sincerity by issuing an edict that none should keep a Roman citizen in chains or duress whereby he would be prevented from enrolling for military service, none should distrain or sell the goods of a soldier as long as he was in camp, or detain his children or grandchildren. On the promulgation of this edict those debtors who were present at once gave in their names for enrolment, and crowds of persons running in all quarters of the City from the houses where they were confined, as their creditors had no longer the right to detain them, gathered together in the Forum to take the military oath. These formed a considerable force, and none were more conspicuous for courage and activity in the Volscian war. The consul led his troops against the enemy and encamped a short distance from them.
[2.25]The very next night the Volscians, trusting to the dissensions amongst the Romans, made an attempt on the camp, on the chance of desertions taking place, or the camp being betrayed, in the darkness. The outposts perceived them, the army was aroused, and on the alarm being sounded they rushed to arms, so the Volscian attempt was foiled; for the rest of the night both sides kept quiet. The following day, at dawn, the Volscians filled up the trenches and attacked the rampart. This was already being torn down on all sides while the consul, in spite of the shouts of the whole army - of the debtors most of all - demanding the signal for action, delayed for a few minutes, in order to test the temper of his men. When he was quite satisfied as to their ardour and determination, he gave the signal to charge and launched his soldiery, eager to engage, upon the foe. They were routed at the very first onset, the fugitives were cut down as far as the infantry could pursue them, then the cavalry drove them in confusion to their camp. They evacuated it in their panic, the legions soon came up, surrounded it, captured and plundered it. The following day the legions marched to Suessa Pometia, whither the enemy had fled, and in a few days it was captured and given up to the soldiers to pillage. This to some extent relieved the poverty of the soldiers. The consul, covered with glory, led his victorious army back to Rome. Whilst on the march he was visited by envoys from the Volscians of Ecetra, who were concerned for their own safety after the capture of Pometia. By a decree of the senate, peace was granted to them, some territory was taken from them.
[2.26]Immediately afterwards a fresh alarm was created at Rome by the Sabines, but it was more a sudden raid than a regular war. News was brought during the night that a Sabine army had advanced as far as the Anio on a predatory expedition, and that the farms in that neighbourhood were being harried and burnt. A. Postumius, who had been the Dictator in the Latin war, was at once sent there with the whole of the cavalry force; the consul Servilius followed with a picked body of infantry. Most of the enemy were surrounded by the cavalry while scattered in the fields; the Sabine legion offered no resistance to the advance of the infantry. Tired out with their march and the nocturnal plundering - a large proportion of them were in the farms full of food and wine - they had hardly sufficient strength to flee. The Sabine war was announced and concluded in one night, and strong hopes were entertained that peace had now been secured everywhere. The next day, however, envoys from the Auruncans came with a demand for the evacuation of the Volscian territory, otherwise they were to proclaim war. The army of the Auruncans had begun their advance when the envoys left home, and the report of its having been seen not far from Aricia created so much excitement and confusion amongst the Romans that it was impossible either for the senate to take the matter into formal consideration, or for a favourable reply to be given to those who were commencing hostilities, since they were themselves taking up arms to repel them. They marched to Aricia; not far from there they engaged the Auruncans and in one battle finished the war.
[2.27]After the defeat of the Auruncans, the Romans, who had, within a few days, fought so many successful wars, were expecting the fulfilment of the promises which the consul had made on the authority of the senate. Appius, partly from his innate love of tyranny and partly to undermine the confidence felt in his colleague, gave the harshest sentences he could when debtors were brought before him. One after another those who had before pledged their persons as security were now handed over to their creditors, and others were compelled to give such security. A soldier to whom this happened appealed to the colleague of Appius. A crowd gathered round Servilius, they reminded him of his promises, upbraided him with their services in war and the scars they had received, and demanded that he should either get an ordinance passed by the senate, or, as consul, protect his people; as commander, his soldiers. The consul sympathised with them, but under the circumstances he was compelled to temporise; the opposite policy was so recklessly insisted on not only by his colleague but by the entire party of the nobility. By taking a middle course he did not escape the odium of the plebs nor did he win the favour of the patricians. These regarded him as a weak popularity-hunting consul, the plebeians considered him false, and it soon became apparent that he was as much detested as Appius.
A dispute had arisen between the consuls as to which of them should dedicate the temple of Mercury. The senate referred the question to the people, and issued orders that the one to whom the dedication was assigned by the people should preside over the corn-market and form a guild of merchants and discharge functions in the presence of the Pontifex Maximus. The people assigned the dedication of the temple to M. Laetorius, the first centurion of the legion, a choice obviously made not so much to honour the man, by conferring upon him an office so far above his station, as to bring discredit on the consuls. One of them, at all events, was excessively angry, as were the senate, but the courage of the plebs had risen, and they went to work in a very different method from that which they had adopted at first. For as any prospect of help from the consuls or the senate was hopeless, they took matters into their own hands, and whenever they saw a debtor brought before the court, they rushed there from all sides, and by their shouts and uproar prevented the consul's sentence from being heard, and when it was pronounced no one obeyed it. They resorted to violence, and all the fear and danger to personal liberty was transferred from the debtors to the creditors, who were roughly handled before the eyes of the consul. In addition to all this there were growing apprehensions of a Sabine war. A levy was decreed, but no one gave in his name. Appius was furious; he accused his colleague of courting the favour of the people, denounced him as a traitor to the commonwealth because he refused to give sentence where debtors were brought before him, and moreover he refused to raise troops after the senate had ordered a levy. Still, he declared, the ship of State was not entirely deserted nor the consular authority thrown to the winds; he, single-handed, would vindicate his own dignity and that of the senate. Whilst the usual daily crowd were standing round him, growing ever bolder in licence, he ordered one conspicuous leader of the agitation to be arrested. As he was being dragged away by the lictors, he appealed. There was no doubt as to what judgment the people would give, and he would not have allowed the appeal had not his obstinacy been with great difficulty overcome more by the prudence and authority of the senate than by the clamour of the people, so determined was he to brave the popular odium. From that time the mischief became more serious every day, not only through open clamour but, what was far more dangerous, through secession and secret meetings. At length the consuls, detested as they were by the plebs, went out of office - Servilius equally hated by both orders, Appius in wonderful favour with the patricians.
[2.28]Then A. Verginius and T. Vetusius took office. As the plebeians were doubtful as to what sort of consuls they would have, and were anxious to avoid any precipitate and ill-considered action which might result from hastily adopted resolutions in the Forum, they began to hold meetings at night, some on the Esquiline and others on the Aventine. The consuls considered this state of things to be fraught with danger, as it really was, and made a formal report to the senate. But any orderly discussion of their report was out of the question, owing to the excitement and clamour with which the senators received it, and the indignation they felt at the consuls throwing upon them the odium of measures which they ought to have carried on their own authority as consuls. "Surely," it was said, "if there were really magistrates in the State, there would have been no meetings in Rome beyond the public Assembly; now the State was broken up into a thousand senates and assemblies, since some councils were being held on the Esquiline and others on the Aventine. Why, one man like Appius Claudius, who was worth more than a consul, would have dispersed these gatherings in a moment." When the consuls, after being thus censured, asked what they wished them to do, as they were prepared to act with all the energy and determination that the senate desired, a decree was passed that the levy should be raised as speedily as possible, for the plebs was waxing wanton through idleness. After dismissing the senate, the consuls ascended the tribunal and called out the names of those liable to active service. Not a single man answered to his name. The people, standing round as though in formal assembly, declared that the plebs could no longer be imposed upon, the consuls should not get a single soldier until the promise made in the name of the State was fulfilled. Before arms were put into their hands, every man's liberty must be restored to him, that they might fight for their country and their fellow-citizens and not for tyrannical masters. The consuls were quite aware of the instructions they had received from the senate, but they were also aware that none of those who had spoken so bravely within the walls of the Senate-house were now present to share the odium which they were incurring. A desperate conflict with the plebs seemed inevitable. Before proceeding to extremities they decided to consult the senate again. Thereupon all the younger senators rushed from their seats, and crowding round the chairs of the consuls, ordered them to resign their office and lay down an authority which they had not the courage to maintain.
[2.29]Having had quite enough of trying to coerce the plebs on the one hand and persuading the senate to adopt a milder course on the other, the consuls at last said: "Senators, that you may not say you have not been forewarned, we tell you that a very serious disturbance is at hand. We demand that those who are the loudest in charging us with cowardice shall support us whilst we conduct the levy. We will act as the most resolute may wish, since such is your pleasure." They returned to the tribunal and purposely ordered one of those who were in view to be called up by name. As he stood silent, and a number of men had closed round him to prevent his being seized, the consuls sent a lictor to him. The lictor was pushed away, and those senators who were with the consuls exclaimed that it was an outrageous insult and rushed down from the tribunal to assist the lictor. The hostility of the crowd was diverted from the lictor, who had simply been prevented from making the arrest, to the senators. The interposition of the consuls finally allayed the conflict. There had, however, been no stones thrown or weapons used, it had resulted in more noise and angry words than personal injury. The senate was summoned and assembled in disorder; its proceedings were still more disorderly. Those who had been roughly handled demanded an inquiry, and all the more violent members supported the demand by shouting and uproar quite as much as by their votes. When at last the excitement had subsided, the consuls censured them for showing as little calm judgment in the senate as there was in the Forum. Then the debate proceeded in order. Three different policies were advocated. P. Valerius did not think the general question ought to be raised; he thought they ought only to consider the case of those who, in reliance on the promise of the consul P. Servilius, had served in the Volscian, Auruncan, and Sabine wars. Titus Larcius considered that the time had passed for rewarding only men who had served, the whole plebs was overwhelmed with debt, the evil could not be arrested unless there was a measure for universal relief. Any attempt to differentiate between the various classes would only kindle fresh discord instead of allaying it. Appius Claudius, harsh by nature, and now maddened by the hatred of the plebs on the one hand and the praises of the senate on the other, asserted that these riotous gatherings were not the result of misery but of licence, the plebeians were actuated by wantonness more than by anger. This was the mischief which had sprung from the right of appeal, for the consuls could only threaten without the power to execute their threats as long as a criminal was allowed to appeal to his fellow-criminals. "Come," said he, "let us create a Dictator from whom there is no appeal, then this madness which is setting everything on fire will soon die down. Let me see any one strike a lictor then, when he knows that his back and even his life are in the sole power of the man whose authority he attacks."
[2.30]To many the sentiments which Appius uttered seemed cruel and monstrous, as they really were. On the other hand, the proposals of Verginius and Larcius would set a dangerous precedent, that of Larcius at all events, as it would destroy all credit. The advice given by Verginius was regarded as the most moderate, being a middle course between the other two. But through the strength of his party, and the consideration of personal interests which always have injured and always will injure public policy, Appius won the day. He was very nearly being himself appointed Dictator, an appointment which would more than anything have alienated the plebs, and that too at a most critical time when the Volscians, the Aequi, and the Sabines were all in arms together. The consuls and the older patricians, however, took care that a magistracy clothed with such tremendous powers should be entrusted to a man of moderate temper. They created M. Valerius, the son of Volesus, Dictator. Though the plebeians recognised that it was against them that a Dictator had been created, still, as they held their right of appeal under a law which his brother had passed, they did not fear any harsh or tyrannical treatment from that family. Their hopes were confirmed by an edict issued by the Dictator, very similar to the one made by Servilius. That edict had been ineffective, but they thought that more confidence could be placed in the person and power of the Dictator, so, dropping all opposition, they gave in their names for enrolment. Ten legions, were formed, a larger army than had ever before been assembled. Three of them were assigned to each of the consuls, the Dictator took command of four.
The war could no longer be delayed. The Aequi had invaded the Latin territory. Envoys sent by the Latins asked the senate either to send help or allow them to arm for the purpose of defending their frontier. It was thought safer to defend the unarmed Latins than to allow them to re-arm themselves. The consul Vetusius was despatched, and that was the end of the raids. The Aequi withdrew from the plains, and trusting more to the nature of the country than to their arms, sought safety on the mountain ridges. The other consul advanced against the Volscians, and to avoid loss of time, he devastated their fields with the object of forcing them to move their camp nearer to his and so bringing on an engagement. The two armies stood facing each other, in front of their respective lines, on the level space between the camps. The Volscians had considerably the advantage in numbers, and accordingly showed their contempt for their foe by coming on in disorder. The Roman consul kept his army motionless, forbade their raising an answering shout, and ordered them to stand with their spears fixed in the ground, and when the enemy came to close quarters, to spring forward and make all possible use of their swords. The Volscians, wearied with their running and shouting, threw themselves upon the Romans as upon men benumbed with fear, but when they felt the strength of the counter-attack and saw the swords flashing before them, they retreated in confusion just as if they had been caught in an ambush, and owing to the speed at which they had come into action, they had not even strength to flee. The Romans, on the other hand, who at the beginning of the battle had remained quietly standing, were fresh and vigorous, and easily overtook the exhausted Volscians, rushed their camp, drove them out, and pursued them as far as Velitrae, victors and vanquished bursting pell-mell into the city. A greater slaughter of all ranks took place there than in the actual battle; a few who threw down their arms and surrendered received quarter.
[2.31]Whilst these events were occurring amongst the Volscians, the Dictator, after entering the Sabine territory, where the most serious part of the war lay, defeated and routed the enemy and chased them out of their camp. A cavalry charge had broken the enemy's centre which, owing to the excessive lengthening of the wings, was weakened by an insufficient depth of files, and while thus disordered the infantry charged them. In the same charge the camp was captured and the war brought to a close. Since the battle at Lake Regillus no more brilliant action had been fought in those years. The Dictator rode in triumph into the City. In addition to the customary distinctions, a place was assigned in the Circus Maximus to him and to his posterity, from which to view the Games, and the sella curulis was placed there. After the subjugation of the Volscians, the territory of Velitrae was annexed and a body of Roman citizens was sent out to colonise it. Some time later, an engagement took place with the Aequi. The consul was reluctant to fight as he would have to attack on unfavourable ground, but his soldiers forced him into action. They accused him of protracting the war in order that the Dictator's term of office might expire before they returned home, in which case his promises would fall to the ground, as those of the consul had previously done. They compelled him to march his army up the mountain at all hazards; but owing to the cowardice of the enemy this unwise step resulted in success. They were so astounded at the daring of the Romans that before they came within range of their weapons they abandoned their camp, which was in a very strong position, and dashed down into the valley in the rear. So the victors gained a bloodless victory and ample spoil.
Whilst these three wars were thus brought to a successful issue, the course which domestic affairs were taking continued to be a source of anxiety to both the patricians and the plebeians. The money-lenders possessed such influence and had taken such skilful precautions that they rendered the commons and even the Dictator himself powerless. After the consul Vetusius had returned, Valerius introduced, as the very first business of the senate, the treatment of the men who had been marching to victory, and moved a resolution as to what decision they ought to come to with regard to the debtors. His motion was negatived, on which he said, "I am not acceptable as an advocate of concord. Depend upon it, you will very soon wish that the Roman plebs had champions like me. As far as I am concerned, I will no longer encourage my fellow-citizens in vain hopes nor will I be Dictator in vain. Internal dissensions and foreign wars have made this office necessary to the commonwealth; peace has now been secured abroad, at home it is made impossible. I would rather be involved in the revolution as a private citizen than as Dictator." So saying, he left the House and resigned his dictatorship. The reason was quite clear to the plebs; he had resigned office because he was indignant at the way they were treated. The non-fulfilment of his pledge was not due to him, they considered that he had practically kept his word, and on his way home they followed him with approving cheers.
[2.32]The senate now began to feel apprehensive lest on the disbandment of the army there should be a recurrence of the secret conclaves and conspiracies. Although the Dictator had actually conducted the enrolment, the soldiers had sworn obedience to the consuls. Regarding them as still bound by their oath, the senate ordered the legions to be marched out of the City on the pretext that war had been recommenced by the Aequi. This step brought the revolution to a head. It is said that the first idea was to put the consuls to death that the men might be discharged from their oath; then, on learning that no religious obligation could be dissolved by a crime, they decided, at the instigation of a certain Sicinius, to ignore the consuls and withdraw to the Sacred Mount, which lay on the other side of the Anio, three miles from the City. This is a more generally accepted tradition than the one adopted by Piso that the secession was made to the Aventine. There, without any commander in a regularly entrenched camp, taking nothing with them but the necessaries of life, they quietly maintained themselves for some days, neither receiving nor giving any provocation. A great panic seized the City, mutual distrust led to a state of universal suspense. Those plebeians who had been left by their comrades in the City feared violence from the patricians; the patricians feared the plebeians who still remained in the City, and could not make up their minds whether they would rather have them go or stay. "How long," it was asked, "would the multitude who had seceded remain quiet? What would happen if a foreign war broke out in the meantime?" They felt that all their hopes rested on concord amongst the citizens, and that this must be restored at any cost.
The senate decided, therefore, to send as their spokesman Menenius Agrippa, an eloquent man, and acceptable to the plebs as being himself of plebeian origin. He was admitted into the camp, and it is reported that he simply told them the following fable in primitive and uncouth fashion. "In the days when all the parts of the human body were not as now agreeing together, but each member took its own course and spoke its own speech, the other members, indignant at seeing that everything acquired by their care and labour and ministry went to the belly, whilst it, undisturbed in the middle of them all, did nothing but enjoy the pleasures provided for it, entered into a conspiracy; the hands were not to bring food to the mouth, the mouth was not to accept it when offered, the teeth were not to masticate it. Whilst, in their resentment, they were anxious to coerce the belly by starving it, the members themselves wasted away, and the whole body was reduced to the last stage of exhaustion. Then it became evident that the belly rendered no idle service, and the nourishment it received was no greater than that which it bestowed by returning to all parts of the body this blood by which we live and are strong, equally distributed into the veins, after being matured by the digestion of the food." By using this comparison, and showing how the internal disaffection amongst the parts of the body resembled the animosity of the plebeians against the patricians, he succeeded in winning over his audience.
[2.33]Negotiations were then entered upon for a reconciliation. An agreement was arrived at, the terms being that the plebs should have its own magistrates, whose persons were to be inviolable, and who should have the right of affording protection against the consuls. And further, no patrician should be allowed to hold that office. Two "tribunes of the plebs" were elected, C. Licinius and L. Albinus. These chose three colleagues. It is generally agreed that Sicinius, the instigator of the secession, was amongst them, but who the other two were is not settled. Some say that only two tribunes were created on the Sacred Hill and that it was there that the lex sacrata was passed. During the secession of the plebs Sp. Cassius and Postumius Cominius entered on their consulship. In their year of office a treaty was concluded with the Latin towns, and one of the consuls remained in Rome for the purpose. The other was sent to the Volscian war. He routed a force of Volscians from Antium, and pursued them to Longula, which he gained possession of. Then he advanced to Polusca, also belonging to the Volscians, which he captured, after which he attacked Corioli in great force.
Amongst the most distinguished of the young soldiers in the camp at that time was Cnaeus Marcius, a young man prompt in counsel and action, who afterwards received the epithet of Coriolanus. During the progress of the siege, while the Roman army was devoting its whole attention to the townspeople whom it had shut up within their walls, and not in the least apprehending any danger from hostile movements without, it was suddenly attacked by Volscian legions who had marched from Antium. At the same moment a sortie was made from the town. Marcius happened to be on guard, and with a picked body of men not only repelled the sortie but made a bold dash through the open gate, and after cutting down many in the part of the city nearest to him, seized some fire and hurled it on the buildings which abutted on the walls. The shouts of the townsmen mingled with the shrieks of the terrified women and children encouraged the Romans and dismayed the Volscians, who thought that the city which they had come to assist was already captured. So the troops from Antium were routed and Corioli taken. The renown which Marcius won so completely eclipsed that of the consul, that, had not the treaty with the Latins - which owing to his colleague's absence had been concluded by Sp. Cassius alone - been inscribed on a brazen column, and so permanently recorded, all memory of Postumius Cominius having carried on a war with the Volscians would have perished. In the same year Agrippa Menenius died, a man who all through his life was equally beloved by the patricians and the plebeians, and made himself still more endeared to the plebeians after their secession. Yet he, the negotiator and arbitrator of the reconciliation, who acted as the ambassador of the patricians to the plebs, and brought them back to the City, did not possess money enough to defray the cost of his funeral. He was interred by the plebeians, each man contributing a sextans towards the expense.
[2.34]The new consuls were T. Geganius and P. Minucius. In this year, whilst all abroad was undisturbed by war and the civic dissensions at home were healed, the commonwealth was attacked by another much more serious evil: first, dearness of food, owing to the fields remaining uncultivated during the secession, and following on this a famine such as visits a besieged city. It would have led to the perishing of the slaves in any case, and probably the plebeians would have died, had not the consuls provided for the emergency by sending men in various directions to buy corn. They penetrated not only along the coast to the right of Ostia into Etruria, but also along the sea to the left past the Volscian country as far as Cumae. Their search extended even as far as Sicily; to such an extent did the hostility of their neighbours compel them to seek distant help. When corn had been bought at Cumae, the ships were detained by the tyrant Aristodemus, in lieu of the property of Tarquin, to whom he was heir. Amongst the Volscians and in the Pomptine district it was even impossible to purchase corn, the corn merchants were in danger of being attacked by the population. Some corn came from Etruria up the Tiber; this served for the support of the plebeians. They would have been harassed by a war, doubly unwelcome when provisions were so scarce, if the Volscians, who were already on the march, had not been attacked by a frightful pestilence. This disaster cowed the enemy so effectually that even when it had abated its violence they remained to some extent in a state of terror; the Romans increased the number of colonists at Velitrae and sent a new colony to Norba, up in the mountains, to serve as a stronghold in the Pomptine district.
During the consulship of M. Minucius and A. Sempronius, a large quantity of corn was brought from Sicily, and the question was discussed in the senate at what price it should be given to the plebs. Many were of opinion that the moment had come for putting pressure on the plebeians, and recovering the rights which had been wrested from the senate through the secession and the violence which accompanied it. Foremost among these was Marcius Coriolanus, a determined foe to the tribunitian power. "If," he argued, "they want their corn at the old price, let them restore to the senate its old powers. Why, then, do I, after being sent under the yoke, ransomed as it were from brigands, see plebeian magistrates, why do I see a Sicinius in power? Am I to endure these indignities a moment longer than I can help? Am I, who could not put up with a Tarquin as king, to put up with a Sicinius? Let him secede now! let him call out his plebeians, the way lies open to the Sacred Hill and to other hills. Let them carry off the corn from our fields as they did two years ago; let them enjoy the scarcity which in their madness they have produced! I will venture to say that after they have been tamed by these sufferings, they will rather work as labourers themselves in the fields than prevent their being cultivated by an armed secession." It is not so easy to say whether they ought to have done this as it is to express one's belief that it could have been done, and the senators might have made it a condition of lowering the price of the corn that they should abrogate the tribunitian power and all the legal restrictions imposed upon them against their will.
[2.35]The senate considered these sentiments too bitter, the plebeians in their exasperation almost flew to arms. Famine, they said, was being used as a weapon against them, as though they were enemies; they were being cheated out of food and sustenance; the foreign corn, which fortune had unexpectedly given them as their sole means of support, was to be snatched from their mouths unless their tribunes were given up in chains to Cn. Marcius, unless he could work his will on the backs of the Roman plebeians. In him a new executioner had sprung up, who ordered them either to die or live as slaves. He would have been attacked on leaving the Senate-house had not the tribunes most opportunely fixed a day for his impeachment. This allayed the excitement, every man saw himself a judge with the power of life and death over his enemy. At first Marcius treated the threats of the tribunes with contempt; they had the right of protecting not of punishing, they were the tribunes of the plebs not of the patricians. But the anger of the plebeians was so thoroughly roused that the patricians could only save themselves by the punishment of one of their order. They resisted, however, in spite of the odium: they incurred, and exercised all the powers they possessed both collectively and individually. At first they attempted to thwart proceedings by posting pickets of their clients to deter individuals from frequenting meetings and conclaves. Then they proceeded in a body - you might suppose that every patrician was impeached - and implored the plebeians, if they refused to acquit a man who was innocent, at least to give up to them, as guilty, one citizen, one senator. As he did not put in an appearance on the day of trial, their resentment remained unabated, and he was condemned in his absence. He went into exile amongst the Volscians, uttering threats against his country, and even then entertaining hostile designs against it. The Volscians welcomed his arrival, and he became more popular as his resentment against his countrymen became more bitter, and his complaints and threats were more frequently heard. He enjoyed the hospitality of Attius Tullius, who was by far the most important man at that time amongst the Volscians and a life-long enemy of the Romans. Impelled each by similar motives, the one by old-standing hatred, the other by newly-provoked resentment, they formed joint plans for war with Rome. They were under the impression that the people could not easily be induced, after so many defeats, to take up arms again, and that after their losses in their numerous wars and recently through the pestilence, their spirits were broken. The hostility had now had time to die down; it was necessary, therefore, to adopt some artifice by which fresh irritation might be produced.
[2.36]It so happened that preparations were being made for a repetition of the "Great Games." The reason for their repetition was that early in the morning, prior to the commencement of the Games, a householder after flogging his slave had driven him through the middle of the Circus Maximus. Then the Games commenced, as though the incident had no religious significance. Not long afterwards, Titus Latinius, a member of the plebs, had a dream. Jupiter appeared to him and said that the dancer who commenced the Games was displeasing to him, adding that unless those Games were repeated with due magnificence, disaster would overtake the City, and he was to go and report this to the consuls. Though he was by no means free from religious scruples, still his fears gave way before his awe of the magistrates, lest he should become an object of public ridicule. This hesitation cost him dear, for within a few days he lost his son. That he might have no doubt as to the cause of this sudden calamity, the same form again appeared to the distressed father in his sleep, and demanded of him whether he had been sufficiently repaid for his neglect of the divine will, for a more terrible recompense was impending if he did not speedily go and inform the consuls. Though the matter was becoming more urgent, he still delayed, and while thus procrastinating he was attacked by a serious illness in the form of sudden paralysis. Now the divine wrath thoroughly alarmed him, and wearied out by his past misfortune and the one from which he was suffering he called his relations together and explained what he had seen and heard, the repeated appearance of Jupiter in his sleep, the threatening wrath of heaven brought home to him by his calamities. On the strong advice of all present he was carried in a litter to the consuls in the Forum, and from there by the consuls' order into the Senate-house. After repeating the same story to the senators, to the intense surprise of all, another marvel occurred. The tradition runs that he who had been carried into the Senate-house paralysed in every limb, returned home, after performing his duty, on his own feet.
[2.37]The senate decreed that the Games should be celebrated on the most splendid scale. At the suggestion of Attius Tullius, a large number of Volscians came to them. In accordance with a previous arrangement with Marcius, Tullius came to the consuls, before the proceedings commenced, and said that there were certain matters touching the State which he wished to discuss privately with them. When all the bystanders had been removed, he began: "It is with great reluctance that I say anything to the disparagement of my people. I do not come, however, to charge them with having actually committed any offence, but to take precautions against their committing one. The character of our citizens is more fickle than I should wish; we have experienced this in many defeats, for we owe our present security not to our own deserts but to your forbearance. Here at this moment are a great multitude of Volscians, the Games are going on, the whole City will be intent on the spectacle. I remember what an outrage was committed by the young Sabines on a similar occasion, I shudder lest any ill-advised and reckless incident should occur. For our sakes, and yours, consuls, I thought it right to give you this warning. As far as I am concerned, it is my intention to start at once for home, lest, if I stay, I should be involved in some mischief either of speech or act." With these words he departed. These vague hints, uttered apparently on good authority, were laid by the consuls before the senate. As generally happens, the authority rather than the facts of the case induced them to take even excessive precautions. A decree was passed that the Volscians should leave the City, criers were sent round ordering them all to depart before nightfall. Their first feeling was one of panic as they ran off to their respective lodgings to take away their effects, but when they had started a feeling of indignation arose at their being driven away from the Games, from a festival which was in a manner a meeting of gods and men, as though they were under the curse of heaven and unfit for human society.
[2.38]As they were going along in an almost continuous stream, Tullius, who had gone on in advance, waited for them at the Ferentine Fountain. Accosting their chief men as they came up in tones of complaint and indignation, he led them, eagerly listening to words which accorded with their own angry feelings, and through them the multitude, down to the plain which stretched below the road. There he began a speech: "Even though you should forget the wrongs that Rome has inflicted and the defeats which the Volscian nation has suffered, though you should forget everything else, with what temper, I should like to know, do you brook this insult of yesterday, when they commenced their Games by treating us with ignominy? Have you not felt that they have won a triumph over you to-day, that as you departed you were a spectacle to the townsfolk, to the strangers, to all those neighbouring populations; that your wives, your children, were paraded as a gazing-stock before men's eyes? What do you suppose were the thoughts of those who heard the voice of the criers, those who watched us depart, those who met this ignominious cavalcade? What could they have thought but that there was some awful guilt cleaving to us, so that if we had been present at the Games we should have profaned them and made an expiation necessary, and that this was the reason why we were driven away from the abodes of these good and religious people and from all intercourse and association with them? Does it not occur to you that we owe our lives to the haste with which we departed, if we may call it a departure and not a flight? And do you count this City as anything else than the City of your enemies, where, had you lingered a single day, you would all have been put to death? War has been declared against you - to the great misery of those who have declared it, if you are really men." So they dispersed to their homes, with their feelings of resentment embittered by this harangue. They so worked upon the feelings of their fellow-countrymen, each in his own city, that the whole Volscian nation revolted.
[2.39]By the unanimous vote of the states, the conduct of the war was entrusted to Attius Tullius and Cn. Marcius, the Roman exile, on whom their hopes chiefly rested. He fully justified their expectations, so that it became quite evident that the strength of Rome lay in her generals rather than in her army. He first marched against Cerceii, expelled the Roman colony and handed it over to the Volscians as a free city. Then he took Satricum, Longula, Polusca, and Corioli, towns which the Romans had recently acquired. Marching across country into the Latin road, he recovered Lavinium, and then, in succession, Corbio, Vetellia, Trebium Labici, and Pedum. Finally, he advanced from Pedum against the City. He entrenched his camp at the Cluilian Dykes, about five miles distant, and from there he ravaged the Roman territory. The raiding parties were accompanied by men whose business it was to see that the lands of the patricians were not touched; a measure due either to his rage being especially directed against the plebeians, or to his hope that dissensions might arise between them and the patricians. These certainly would have arisen - to such a pitch were the tribunes exciting the plebs by their attacks on the chief men of the State - had not the fear of the enemy outside - the strongest bond of union - brought men together in spite of their mutual suspicions and aversion. On one point they disagreed; the senate and the consuls placed their hopes solely in arms, the plebeians preferred anything to war. Sp. Nautius and Sex. Furius were now consuls. Whilst they were reviewing the legions and manning the walls and stationing troops m various places, an enormous crowd gathered together. At first they alarmed the consuls by seditious shouts, and at last they compelled them to convene the senate and submit a motion for sending ambassadors to Cn. Marcius. As the courage of the plebeians was evidently giving way, the senate accepted the motion, and a deputation was sent to Marcius with proposals for peace. They brought back the stern reply: If the territory were restored to the Volscians, the question of peace could be discussed; but if they wished to enjoy the spoils of war at their ease, he had not forgotten the wrongs inflicted by his countrymen nor the kindness shown by those who were now his hosts, and would strive to make it clear that his spirit had been roused, not broken, by his exile. The same envoys were sent on a second mission, but were not admitted into the camp. According to the tradition, the priests also in their robes went as suppliants to the enemies' camp, but they had no more influence with him than the previous deputation.
[2.40]Then the matrons went in a body to Veturia, the mother of Coriolanus, and Volumnia his wife. Whether this was in consequence of a decree of the senate, or simply the prompting of womanly fear, I am unable to ascertain, but at all events they succeeded in inducing the aged Veturia to go with Volumnia and her two little sons to the enemies' camp. As men were powerless to protect the City by their arms, the women sought to do so by their tears and prayers. On their arrival at the camp a message was sent to Coriolanus that a large body of women were present. He had remained unmoved by the majesty of the State in the persons of its ambassadors, and by the appeal made to his eyes and mind in the persons of its priests; he was still more obdurate to the tears of the women. Then one of his friends, who had recognised Veturia, standing between her daughter-in-law and her grandsons, and conspicuous amongst them all in the greatness of her grief, said to him, "Unless my eyes deceive me, your mother and wife and children are here." Coriolanus, almost like one demented, sprung from his seat to embrace his mother. She, changing her tone from entreaty to anger, said, "Before I admit your embrace suffer me to know whether it is to an enemy or a son that I have come, whether it is as your prisoner or as your mother that I am in your camp. Has a long life and an unhappy old age brought me to this, that I have to see you an exile and from that an enemy? Had you the heart to ravage this land, which has borne and nourished you? However hostile and menacing the spirit in which you came, did not your anger subside as you entered its borders? Did you not say to yourself when your eye rested on Rome, 'Within those walls are my home, my household gods, my mother, my wife, my children?' Must it then be that, had I remained childless, no attack would have been made on Rome; had I never had a son, I should have ended my days a free woman in a free country? But there is nothing which I can suffer now that will not bring more disgrace to you than wretchedness to me; whatever unhappiness awaits me it will not be for long. Look to these, whom, if you persist in your present course, an untimely death awaits, or a long life of bondage." When she ceased, his wife and children embraced him, and all the women wept and bewailed their own and their country's fate. At last his resolution gave way. He embraced his family and dismissed them, and moved his camp away from the City. After withdrawing his legions from the Roman territory, he is said to have fallen a victim to the resentment which his action aroused, but as to the time and circumstances of his death the traditions vary. I find in Fabius, who is by far the oldest authority, that he lived to be an old man; he relates a saying of his, which he often uttered in his later years, that it is not till a man is old that he feels the full misery of exile. The Roman husbands did not grudge their wives the glory they had won, so completely were their lives free from the spirit of detraction and envy. A temple was built and dedicated to Fortuna Muliebris, to serve as a memorial of their deed. Subsequently the combined forces of the Volscians and Aequi re-entered the Roman territory. The Aequi, however, refused any longer to accept the generalship of Attius Tullius, a quarrel arose as to which nation should furnish the commander of the combined army, and this resulted in a bloody battle. Here the good fortune of Rome destroyed the two armies of her enemies in a conflict no less ruinous than obstinate. The new consuls were T. Sicinius and C. Aquilius. To Sicinius was assigned the campaign against the Volscians, to Aquilius that against the Hernici, for they also were in arms. In that year the Hernici were subjugated, the campaign against the Volscians ended indecisively.
[2.41]For the next year Sp. Cassius and Proculus Verginius were elected consuls. A treaty was concluded with the Hernici, two-thirds of their territory was taken from them. Of this Cassius intended to give half to the Latins and half to the Roman plebs. He contemplated adding to this a quantity of land which, he alleged, though State land, was occupied by private individuals. This alarmed many of the patricians, the actual occupiers, as endangering, the security of their property. On public grounds, too, they felt anxious, as they considered that by this largess the consul was building up a power dangerous to liberty. Then for the first time an Agrarian Law was proposed, and never, from that day to the times within our own memory, has one been mooted without the most tremendous commotions. The other consul resisted the proposed grant. In this he was supported by the senate, whilst the plebs was far from unanimous in its favour. They were beginning to look askance at a boon so cheap as to be shared between citizens and allies, and they often heard the consul Verginius in his public speeches predicting that his colleague's gift was fraught with mischief, the land in question would bring slavery on those who took it, the way was being prepared for a throne. Why were the allies, he asked, and the Latin league included? What necessity was there for a third part of the territory of the Hernici, so lately our foes, being restored to them, unless it was that these nations might have Cassius as their leader in place of Coriolanus?' The opponent of the Agrarian Law began to be popular. Then both consuls tried who could go furthest in humouring the plebs. Verginius said that he would consent to the assignment of the lands provided they were assigned to none but: Roman citizens. Cassius had courted popularity amongst the allies by including them in the distribution and had thereby sunk in the estimation of his fellow-citizens. To recover their favour he gave orders for the money which had been received for the corn from Sicily to be refunded to the people. This offer the plebeians treated with scorn as nothing else than the price of a throne. Owing to their innate suspicion that he was aiming at monarchy, his gifts were rejected as completely as if they had abundance of everything. It is generally asserted that immediately upon his vacating office he was condemned and put to death. Some assert that his own father was the author of his punishment, that he tried him privately at home, and after scourging him put him to death and devoted his private property to Ceres. From the proceeds a statue of her was made with an inscription, "Given from the Cassian family." I find in some authors a much more probable account, viz., that he was arraigned by the quaestors Caeso Fabius and L. Valerius before the people and convicted of treason, and his house ordered to be demolished. It stood on the open space in front of the temple of Tellus. In any case, whether the trial was a public or a private one, his condemnation took place in the consulship of Servius Cornelius and Q. Fabius.
[2.42]The popular anger against Cassius did not last long. The attractiveness of the Agrarian Law, though its author was removed, was in itself sufficient to make the plebeians desire it, and their eagerness for it was intensified by the unscrupulousness of the senate, who cheated the soldiers out of their share of the spoil which they had won that year from the Volscians and Aequi. Everything taken from the enemy was sold by the consul Fabius and the amount realised paid into the treasury. In spite of the hatred which this produced in the plebs against the whole Fabian house, the patricians succeeded in getting Caeso Fabius elected with L. Aemilius as consuls for the next year. This still further embittered the plebeians, and domestic disturbances brought on a foreign war. For the time civic quarrels were suspended, patricians and plebeians were of one mind in resisting the Aequi and Volscians, and a victorious action was fought under Aemilius. The enemy lost more in the retreat than in the battle, so hotly did the cavalry pursue their routed foe. In the same year the temple of Castor was dedicated on the 15th of July. It had been vowed by the Dictator Postumius in the Latin war; his son was appointed "duumvir" for its dedication. In this year, too, the minds of the plebeians were much exercised by the attractions which the Agrarian Law held out for them, and the tribunes made their office more popular by constantly dwelling on this popular measure. The patricians, believing that there was enough and more than enough madness in the multitude as it was, viewed with horror these bribes and incentives to recklessness. The consuls led the way in offering a most determined resistance, and the senate won the day. Nor was the victory only a momentary one, for they elected as consuls for the following year M. Fabius, the brother of Caeso, and L. Valerius, who was an object of special hatred on the part of the plebs through his prosecution of Sp. Cassius. The contest with the tribunes went on through the year; the Law remained a dead letter, and the tribunes, with their fruitless promises, turned out to be idle boasters. The Fabian house gained an immense reputation through the three successive consulships of its members, all of whom had been uniformly successful in their resistance to the tribunes. The office remained like a safe investment, for some time in the family. War now began with Veii, and the Volscians rose again. The people possessed more than sufficient strength for their foreign wars, but they wasted it in domestic strife. The universal anxiety was aggravated by supernatural portents, menacing almost daily City and country alike. The soothsayers, who were consulted by the State and by private persons, declared that the divine wrath was due to nothing else but the profanation of sacred functions. These alarms resulted in the punishment of Oppia, a Vestal virgin who was convicted of unchastity.
[2.43]The next consuls were Q. Fabius and C. Julius. During this year the civic dissensions were as lively as ever, and the war assumed a more serious form. The Aequi took up arms, and the Veientines made depredations on Roman territory. Amidst the growing anxiety about these wars Caeso Fabius and Sp. Furius were made consuls. The Aequi were attacking Ortona, a Latin city; the Veientines, laden with plunder, were now threatening to attack Rome itself. This alarming condition of affairs ought to have restrained, whereas it actually increased, the hostility of the plebs, and they resumed the old method of refusing military service. This was not spontaneous on their part; Sp. Licinius, one of their tribunes, thinking that it was a good time for forcing the Agrarian Law upon the senate through sheer necessity, had taken upon him the obstruction of the levy. All the odium, however, aroused by this misuse of the tribunitian power recoiled upon the author, his own colleagues were as much opposed to him as the consuls; through their assistance the consuls completed the enrolment. An army was raised for two wars at the same time, one against the Veientines under Fabius, the other against the Aequi under Furius. In this latter campaign nothing happened worth recording. Fabius, however, had considerably more trouble with his own men than with the enemy. He, the consul, single-handed, sustained the commonwealth, while his army through their hatred of the consul were doing their best to betray it. For, besides all the other instances of his skill as a commander, which he had so abundantly furnished in his preparation for the war and his conduct of it, he had so disposed his troops that he routed the enemy by sending only his cavalry against them. The infantry refused to take up the pursuit; not only were they deaf to the appeals of their hated general, but even the public disgrace and infamy which they were bringing upon themselves at the moment, and the danger which would come if the enemy were to rally were powerless to make them quicken their pace, or, failing that, even to keep their formation. Against orders they retired, and with gloomy looks - you would suppose that they had been defeated - they returned to camp, cursing now their commander, now the work which the cavalry had done. Against this example of demoralisation the general was unable to devise any remedy; to such an extent may men of commanding ability be more deficient in the art of managing their own people than in that of conquering the enemy. The consul returned to Rome, but he had not enhanced his military reputation so much as he had aggravated and embittered the hatred of his soldiers towards him. The senate, however, succeeded in keeping the consulship in the family of the Fabii; they made M. Fabius consul, Gnaeus Manlius was elected as his colleague.
[2.44]This year also found a tribune advocating the Agrarian Law. It was Tiberius Pontificius. He adopted the same course as Sp. Licinius and for a short time stopped the enrolment. The senate were again perturbed, but Appius Claudius told them that the power of the tribunes had been overcome in the previous year, it was actually so at the present moment, and the precedent thus set would govern the future, since it had been discovered that its very strength was breaking it down. For there would never be wanting a tribune who would be glad to triumph over his colleague and secure the favour of the better party for the good of the State. If more were needed, more were ready to come to the assistance of the consuls, even one was sufficient, against the rest. The consuls and leaders of the senate had only to take the trouble to secure, if not all, at least some of the tribunes on the side of the commonwealth and the senate. The senators followed this advice, and whilst, as a body, they treated the tribunes with courtesy and kindness, the men of consular rank, in each private suit which they instituted, succeeded, partly by personal influence, partly by the authority their rank gave them. in getting the tribunes to exert their power for the welfare of the State. Four of the tribunes were opposed to the one who was a hindrance to the public good; by their aid the consuls raised the levy.
Then they set out for the campaign against Veii. Succours had reached this city from all parts of Etruria, not so much out of regard for the Veientines as because hopes were entertained of the possible dissolution of the Roman State through intestine discord. In the public assemblies throughout the cities of Etruria the chiefs were loudly proclaiming that the Roman power would be eternal unless its citizens fell into the madness of mutual strife. This, they said, had proved to be the one poison, the one bane in powerful states which made great empires mortal. That mischief had been for a long time checked, partly by the wise policy of the senate, partly by the forbearance of the plebs, but now things had reached extremities. The one State had been severed into two, each with its own magistrates and its own laws. At first the enrolments were the cause of the quarrel, but when actually on service the men obeyed their generals. As long as military discipline was maintained the evil could be arrested, whatever the state of affairs in the City, but now the fashion of disobedience to the magistrates was following the Roman soldier even into the camp. During the last war, in the battle itself, at the crisis of the engagement, the victory was by the common action of the whole army transferred to the vanquished Aequi, the standards were abandoned, the commander left alone on the field, the troops returned against orders into camp. In fact, if matters were pressed, Rome could be vanquished through her own soldiers, nothing else was needful than a declaration of war, a show of military activity, the Fates and the gods would do the rest.
[2.45]Anticipations like these had given the Etruscans fresh energy after their many vicissitudes of defeat and victory. The Roman consuls, too, dreaded nothing but their own strength and their own arms. The recollection of the fatal precedent set in the last war deterred them from any action whereby they would have to fear a simultaneous attack from two armies. They confined themselves to their camp, and in face of the double danger avoided an engagement, hoping that time and circumstances might perhaps calm the angry passions and bring about a more healthy state of mind. The Veientines and Etruscans were all the more energetic in forcing an engagement; they rode up to the camp and challenged the Romans to fight. At last, as they produced no effect by the taunts and insults levelled at the army and consuls alike, they declared that the consuls were using the pretext of internal dissensions to veil the cowardice of their men, they distrusted their courage more than they doubted their loyalty. Silence and inactivity amongst men in arms was a novel kind of sedition. They also made reflections, true as well as false, on the upstart quality of their nationality and descent. They shouted all this out close up to the ramparts and gates of the camp. The consuls took it with composure, but the simple soldiery were filled with indignation and shame, and their thoughts were diverted from their domestic troubles. They were unwilling that the enemy should go on with impunity, they were equally unwilling that the patricians and the consuls should win the day, hatred against the enemy and hatred against their fellow-countrymen struggled in their minds for the mastery. At length the former prevailed, so contemptuous and insolent did the mockery of the enemy become. They gathered in crowds round the generals' quarters, they insisted upon fighting, they demanded the signal for action. The consuls put their heads together as though deliberating, and remained for some time in conference. They were anxious to fight, but their anxiety had to be repressed and concealed in order that the eagerness of the soldiers, once roused, might be intensified by opposition and delay. They replied that matters were not ripe, the time for battle had not come, they must remain within their camp. They then issued an order that there must be no fighting, any one fighting against orders would be treated as an enemy. The soldiers, dismissed with this reply, became the more eager for battle the less they thought the consuls wished for it. The enemy became much more exasperating when it was known that the consuls had determined not to fight, they imagined that they could now insult with impunity, that the soldiers were not entrusted with arms, matters would reach the stage of mutiny, and the dominion of Rome had come to an end. In this confidence they ran up to the gates, flung opprobrious epithets and hardly stopped short of storming the camp. Naturally the Romans could brook these insults no longer, they ran from all parts of the camp to the consuls, they did not now prefer their demand quietly through the first centurions as before, they shouted them in all directions. Matters were ripe, still the consuls hung back. At last Cn. Manlius, fearing lest the increasing disturbance might lead to open mutiny, gave way, and Fabius, after ordering the trumpets to command silence, addressed his colleague thus: "I know, Cn. Manlius, that these men can conquer; it is their own fault that I did not know whether they wished to do so. It has, therefore, been resolved and determined not to give the signal for battle unless they swear that they will come out of this battle victorious. A Roman consul was once deceived by his soldiers, they cannot deceive the gods." Amongst the centurions of the first rank who had demanded to be led to battle was M. Flavoleius. "M. Fabius," he said, "I will come back from the battle victorious." He invoked the wrath of Father Jupiter and Mars Gradivus and other deities if he broke his oath. The whole army took the oath, man by man, after him. When they had sworn, the signal was given, they seized their weapons, and went into action, furious with rage and confident of victory. They told the Etruscans to continue their insults, and begged the enemy so ready with the tongue to stand up to them now they were armed. All, patricians and plebeians alike, showed conspicuous courage on that day, the Fabian house especially covered itself with glory. They determined in that battle to win back the affection of the plebs, which had been alienated through many political contests.
[2.46]The battle-line was formed; neither the Veientines nor the legions of Etruria declined the contest. They were almost certain that the Romans would no more fight with them than they fought with the Aequi, and they did not despair of something still more serious happening, considering the state of irritation they were in and the double opportunity which now presented itself. Things took a very different course, for in no previous war had the Romans gone into action with more grim determination, so exasperated were they by the insults of the enemy and the procrastination of the consuls. The Etruscans had scarcely time to form their ranks when, after the javelins had in the first confusion been flung at random rather than thrown regularly, the combatants came to a hand-to-hand encounter with swords, the most desperate kind of fighting. Amongst the foremost were the Fabii, who set a splendid example for their countrymen to behold. Quintus Fabius - the one who had been consul two years previously - charged, regardless of danger, the massed Veientines, and whilst he was engaged with vast numbers of the enemy, a Tuscan of vast strength and splendidly armed plunged his sword into his breast, and as he drew it out Fabius fell forward on the wound. Both armies felt the fall of this one man, and the Romans were beginning to give ground, when M. Fabius, the consul, sprang over the body as it lay, and holding up his buckler, shouted, "Is this what you swore, soldiers, that you would go back to camp as fugitives? Are you more afraid of this cowardly foe than of Jupiter and Mars, by whom you swore? I, who did not swear, will either go back victorious, or will fall fighting by you, Quintus Fabius." Then Caeso Fabius, the consul of the previous year, said to the consul, "Is it by words like these, my brother, that you think you will make them fight? The gods, by whom they swore, will do that; our duty as chiefs, if we are to be worthy of the Fabian name, is to kindle our soldiers' courage by fighting rather than haranguing." So the two Fabii dashed forward with levelled spears, and carried the whole line with them.
[2.47]Whilst the battle was restored in one direction, the consul Cn. Manlius was showing no less energy on the other wing, where the fortunes of the day took a similar turn. For, like Q. Fabius on the other wing, the consul Manlius was here driving the enemy before him and his soldiers were following up with great vigour, when he was seriously wounded and retired from the front. Thinking that he was killed, they fell back, and would have abandoned their ground had not the other consul ridden up at full gallop with some troops of cavalry, and, crying out that his colleague was alive and that he had himself routed the other wing of the enemy, succeeded in checking the retreat. Manlius also showed himself amongst them, to rally his men. The well-known voices of the two consuls gave the soldiers fresh courage. At the same time the enemies' line was now weakened, for, trusting to their superiority in numbers, they had detached their reserves and sent them to storm the camp. These met with but slight resistance, and whilst they were wasting time by thinking more about plundering than about fighting, the Roman triarii, who had been unable to withstand the first assault, despatched messengers to the consul to tell him the position of affairs, and then, retiring in close order to the headquarters tent, renewed the fighting without waiting for orders. The consul Manlius had ridden back to the camp and posted troops at all the gates to block the enemies' escape. The desperate situation roused the Tuscans to madness rather than courage; they rushed in every direction where there seemed any hope of escape, and for some time their efforts were fruitless.
At last a compact body of young soldiers made an attack on the consul himself, conspicuous from his arms. The first weapons were intercepted by those who stood round him, but the violence of the onset could not long be withstood. The consul fell mortally wounded and all around him were scattered. The Tuscans were encouraged, the Romans fled in panic through the length of the camp, and matters would have come to extremities had not the members of the consul's staff hurriedly taken up his body and opened a way for the enemy through one gate. They burst through it, and in a confused mass fell in with the other consul who had won the battle; here they were again cut to pieces and scattered in all directions. A glorious victory was won, though saddened by the death of two illustrious men. The senate decreed a triumph, but the consul replied that if the army could celebrate a triumph without its commander, he would gladly allow them to do so in return for their splendid service in the war. But as his family were in mourning for his brother, Quintus Fabius, and the State had suffered partial bereavement through the loss of one of its consuls, he could not accept laurels for himself which were blighted by public and private grief. The triumph he declined was more brilliant than any actually celebrated, so much does glory laid by for the moment return sometimes with added splendour. Afterwards he conducted the obsequies of his colleague and his brother, and pronounced the funeral oration over each. The greatest share of the praise which he conceded to them rested upon himself. He had not lost sight of the object which he set before him at the beginning of his consulship, the conciliation of the plebs. To further this, he distributed amongst the patricians the care of the wounded. The Fabii took charge of a large number, and nowhere was greater care showed them. From this time they began to be popular; their popularity was won by no methods which were inconsistent with the welfare of the State.
[2.48]Consequently the election of Caeso Fabius as consul, together with Titus Verginius, was welcomed by the plebs as much as by the patricians. Now that there was a favourable prospect of concord, he subordinated all military projects to the task of bringing the patricians and the plebs into union at the earliest possible moment. At the beginning of his year of office he proposed that before any tribune came forward to advocate the Agrarian Law, the senate should anticipate him by themselves undertaking what was their own work and distributing the territory taken in war to the plebeians as fairly as possible. It was only right that those should have it by whose sweat and blood it had been won. The patricians treated the proposal with scorn, some even complained that the once energetic mind of Caeso was becoming wanton and enfeebled through the excess of glory which he had won. There were no party struggles in the City. The Latins were being harassed by the inroads of the Aequi. Caeso was despatched thither with an army, and crossed over into the territory of the Aequi to ravage it. The Aequi withdrew into their towns and remained behind their walls. No battle of any importance took place. But the rashness of the other consul incurred a defeat at the hands of the Veientines, and it was only the arrival of Caeso Fabius with reinforcements that saved the army from destruction. From that time there was neither peace nor war with the Veientines, whose methods closely resembled those of brigands. They retired before the Roman legions into their city; then when they found that they were withdrawn they made inroads on the fields, evading war by keeping quiet, and then making quiet impossible by war. So the business could neither be dropped nor completed. Wars were threatening in other quarters also; some seemed imminent as in the case of the Aequi and Volscians, who were only keeping quiet till the effect of their recent defeat should pass away, whilst it was evident that the Sabines, perpetual enemies of Rome, and the whole of Etruria would soon be in motion. But the Veientines, a persistent rather than a formidable foe, created more irritation than alarm because it was never safe to neglect them or to turn the attention elsewhere. Under these circumstances the Fabii came to the senate, and the consul, on behalf of his house, spoke as follows: "As you are aware, senators, the Veientine war does not require a large force so much as one constantly in the field. Let the other wars be your care, leave the Fabii to deal with the Veientines. We will guarantee that the majesty of Rome shall be safe in that quarter. We propose to carry on that war as a private war of our own at our own cost. Let the State be spared money and men there. "A very hearty vote of thanks was passed; the consul left the House and returned home accompanied by the Fabii, who had been standing in the vestibule awaiting the senate's decision. After receiving instructions to meet on the morrow, fully armed, before the consul's house, they separated for their homes.
[2.49]News of what had happened spread through the whole City, the Fabii were praised up to the skies; people said, "One family had taken up the burden of the State, the Veientine war had become a private concern, a private quarrel. If there were two houses of the same strength in the City, and the one claimed the Volscians for themselves, the other the Aequi, then all the neighbouring states could be subjugated while Rome itself remained in profound tranquillity." The next day the Fabii took their arms and assembled at the appointed place. The consul, wearing his "paludamentum," went out into the vestibule and saw the whole of his house drawn up in order of march. Taking his place in the centre, he gave the word of advance. Never has an army marched through the City smaller in numbers or with a more brilliant reputation or more universally admired. Three hundred and six soldiers, all patricians, all members of one house, not a single man of whom the senate even in its palmiest days would deem unfitted for high command, went forth, threatening ruin to the Veientines through the strength of a single family. They were followed by a crowd; made up partly of their own relatives and friends, whose minds were not occupied with ordinary hope and anxiety, but filled with the loftiest anticipations; partly of those who shared the public anxiety, and could not find words to express their affection and admiration. "Go on," they cried, "you gallant band, go on, and may you be fortunate; bring back results equal to this beginning, then look to us for consulships and triumphs and every possible reward." As they passed the Citadel and the Capitol and other temples, their friends prayed to each deity, whose statue or whose shrine they saw, that they would send that band with all favourable omens to success, and in a short time restore them safe to their country and their kindred. In vain were those prayers sent up! They proceeded on their ill-starred way by the right postern of the Carmental gate, and reached the banks of the Cremera. This seemed to them a suitable position for a fortified post. L. Aemilius and C. Servilius were the next consuls. As long as it was only a question of forays and raids, the Fabii were quite strong enough not only to protect their own fortified post, but, by patrolling both sides of the border-line between the Roman and Tuscan territories, to make the whole district safe for themselves and dangerous for the enemy. There was a brief interruption to these raids, when the Veientines, after summoning an army from Etruria, assaulted the fortified post at the Cremera. The Roman legions were brought up by the consul L. Aemilius and fought a regular engagement with the Etruscan troops. The Veientines, however, had not time to complete their formation, and during the confusion, whilst the men were getting into line and the reserves were being stationed, a squadron of Roman cavalry suddenly made a flank attack, and gave them no chance of commencing a battle or even of standing their ground. They were driven back to their camp at the Saxa Rubra, and sued for peace. They obtained it, but their natural inconstancy made them regret it before the Roman garrison was recalled from the Cremera.
[2.50]The conflicts between the Fabii and the State of Veii were resumed without any more extensive military preparations than before. There were not only forays into each other's territories and surprise attacks upon the forayers, but sometimes they fought regular engagements, and this single Roman house often won the victory over what was at that time the most powerful city in Etruria. This was a bitter mortification to the Veientines, and they were led by circumstances to adopt the plan of trapping their daring enemy in an ambuscade; they were even glad that the numerous successes of the Fabii had increased their confidence. Accordingly they drove herds of cattle, as if by accident, in the way of the foraying parties, the fields were abandoned by the peasants, and the bodies of troops sent to repel the raiders fled in a panic more often assumed than genuine. By this time the Fabii had conceived such a contempt for their foe as to be convinced that under no circumstances of either time or place could their invincible arms be resisted. This presumption carried them so far that at the sight of some distant cattle on the other side of the wide plain stretching from the camp they ran down to secure them, although but few of the enemy were visible. Suspecting no danger and keeping no order they passed the ambuscade which was set on each side of the road, and whilst they were scattered in trying to catch the cattle, which in their fright were rushing wildly about, the enemy suddenly rose from their concealment and attacked them on all sides. At first they were startled by the shouts round them, then javelins fell on them from every direction. As the Etruscans closed round them, they were hemmed by a continuous ring of men, and the more the enemy pressed upon them, the less the space in which they were forced to form their ever-narrowing square. This brought out strongly the contrast between their scanty numbers and the host of Etruscans, whose ranks were multiplied through being narrowed. After a time they abandoned their plan of presenting a front on all sides; facing in one direction they formed themselves into a wedge and by the utmost exertion of sword and muscle forced a passage through. The road led up to gentle eminence, and here they halted. When the higher ground gave them room to breathe freely and to recover from the feeling of despair, they repelled those who mounted to the attack, and through the advantage of position the little band were beginning to win the day, when some Veientines who had been sent round the hill emerged on the summit. So the enemy again had the advantage. The Fabii were all cut down to a man, and their fort taken. It is generally agreed that three hundred and six men perished, and that one only, an immature youth, was left as a stock for the Fabian house to be Rome's greatest helper in her hour of danger both at home and in the field.
[2.51]When this disaster occurred, C. Horatius and T. Menenius were consuls. Menenius was at once sent against the Tuscans, flushed with their recent victory. Another unsuccessful action was fought, and the enemy took possession of the Janiculum. The City, which was suffering from scarcity as well as from the war, would have been invested - for the Etruscans had crossed the Tiber - had not the consul Horatius been recalled from the Volsci. The fighting approached so near the walls that the first battle, an indecisive one, took place near the temple of Spes, and the second at the Colline gate. In the latter, although the Romans gained only a slight advantage, the soldiers recovered something of their old courage and were better prepared for future campaigns. The next consuls were A. Verginius and Sp. Servilius. After their defeat in the last battle, the Veientines declined an engagement. There were forays. From the Janiculum as from a citadel they made raids in all directions on the Roman territory; nowhere were the cattle or the country-folk safe. They were ultimately caught by the same stratagem by which they had caught the Fabii. Some cattle were purposely driven in different directions as a decoy; they followed them and fell into an ambuscade; and as their numbers were greater, the slaughter was greater. Their rage at this defeat was the cause and commencement of a more serious one. They crossed the Tiber by night and marched up to an attack on Servilius' camp, but were routed with great loss, and with great difficulty reached the Janiculum. The consul himself forthwith crossed the Tiber and entrenched himself at the foot of the Janiculum. The confidence inspired by his victory of the previous day, but still more the scarcity of corn, made him decide upon an immediate but precipitate move. He led his army at daybreak up the side of the Janiculum to the enemies' camp; but he met with a more disastrous repulse than the one he had inflicted the day before. It was only by the intervention of his colleague that he and his army were saved. The Etruscans, caught between the two armies, and retreating from each alternately, were annihilated. So the Veientine war was brought to a sudden close by an act of happy rashness.
[2.52]Together with peace, food came more freely into the City. Corn was brought from Campania, and as the fear of future scarcity had disappeared, each individual brought out what he had hoarded. The result of ease and plenty was fresh restlessness, and as the old evils no longer existed abroad, men began to look for them at home. The tribunes began to poison the minds of the plebeians with the Agrarian Law and inflamed them against the senators who resisted it, not only against the whole body, but individual members. Q. Considius and T. Genucius, who were advocating the Law, appointed a day for the trial of T. Menenius. Popular feeling was roused against him by the loss of the fort at the Cremera, since, as consul, he had his standing camp not far from it. This crushed him, though the senators exerted themselves for him no less than they had done for Coriolanus, and the popularity of his father Agrippa had not died away. The tribunes contented themselves with a fine, though they had arraigned him on a capital charge; the amount was fixed at 2000 "ases." This proved to be a death-sentence, for they say that he was unable to endure the disgrace and grief, and was carried off by a fatal malady. Sp. Servilius was the next to be impeached. His prosecution, conducted by the tribunes L. Caedicius and T. Statius, took place immediately after his year had expired, at the commencement of the consulship of C. Nautius and P. Valerius. When the day of trial came, he did not, like Menenius, meet the attacks of the tribunes by appeals for mercy, whether his own or those of the senators, he relied absolutely on his innocence and personal influence. The charge against him was his conduct in the battle with the Tuscans on the Janiculum; but the same courage which he then displayed, when the State was in danger, he now displayed when his own life was in danger. Meeting charge by counter-charge, he boldly laid upon the tribunes and the whole of the plebs the guilt of the condemnation and death of T. Menenius; the son, he reminded them, of the man through whose efforts the plebeians had been restored to their position in the State, and were enjoying those very magistracies and laws which now allowed them to be cruel and vindictive. By his boldness he dispelled the danger, and his colleague Verginius, who came forward as a witness, assisted him by crediting him with some of his own services to the State. The thing that helped him more, however, was the sentence passed on Menenius, so completely had the popular sentiment changed.
[2.53]The domestic conflicts came to an end; war began again with the Veientines, with whom the Sabines had formed an armed league. The Latin and Hernican auxiliaries were summoned, and the consul P. Valerius was sent with an army to Veii. He at once attacked the Sabine camp, which was situated in front of the walls of their allies, and created such confusion that while small bodies of the defenders were making sorties in various directions to repel the attack, the gate against which the assault had been first made was forced, and once inside the rampart it became a massacre rather than a battle. The noise in the camp penetrated even to the city, and the Veientines flew to arms, in a state of as great alarm as if Veii itself was taken. Some went to the help of the Sabines, others attacked the Romans, who were wholly occupied with their assault on the camp. For a few moments they were checked and thrown into confusion; then, forming front in both directions, they offered a steady resistance while the cavalry whom the consul had ordered to charge routed the Tuscans and put them to flight. In the same hour, two armies, the two most powerful of the neighbouring states, were overcome. Whilst this was going on at Veii, the Volscians and Aequi had encamped in the Latin territory and were ravaging their borders. The Latins, in conjunction with the Hernici, drove them out of their camp without either a Roman general or Roman troops. They recovered their own property and obtained immense booty in addition. Nevertheless, the consul C. Nautius was sent from Rome against the Volscians. They did not approve, I think, of the custom of allies carrying on war in their own strength and on their own methods, without any Roman general or army. There was no kind of injury or insult that was not practiced against the Volscians; they could not, however, be driven to fight a regular battle.
[2.54]L. Furius and C. Manlius were the next consuls. The Veientines fell to Manlius as his province. There was no war, however; a forty years' truce was granted on their request; they were ordered to furnish corn and pay for the troops. Peace abroad was at once followed by discord at home. The tribunes employed the Agrarian Law to goad the plebs into a state of dangerous excitement. The consuls, nowise intimidated by the condemnation of Menenius or the danger in which Servilius had stood, resisted them with the utmost violence. On their vacating office the tribune Genucius impeached them. They were succeeded by L. Aemilius and Opiter Verginius. I find in some annals Vopiscus Julius instead of Verginius. Whoever the consuls were, it was in this year that Furius and Manlius, who were to be tried before the people, went about in mourning garb amongst the younger members of the senate quite as much as amongst the plebs. They urged them to keep clear of the high offices of State and the administration of affairs, and to regard the consular "fasces," the "praetexta," and the curule chair as nothing but the pomp of death, for when invested with these insignia they were like victims adorned for sacrifice. If the consulship possessed such attractions for them, they must clearly understand that this office had been captured and crushed by the tribunician power; the consul had to do everything at the beck and call of the tribune just as if he were his apparitor. If he took an active line, if he showed any regard for the patricians, if he thought that anything besides the plebs formed part of the commonwealth, he should keep before his eyes the banishment of Cn. Marcius, the condemnation and death of Menenius. Fired by these appeals the senators held meetings not in the Senate-house but in private, only a few being invited. As the one point on which they were agreed was that the two who were impeached were to be rescued, by lawful or unlawful means, the most desperate plan was the most acceptable, and men were found who advocated the most daring crime. Accordingly, on the day of the trial, whilst the plebs were standing in the Forum on the tiptoe of expectation, they were surprised that the tribune did not come down to them. Further delay made them suspicious; they believed that he had been intimidated by the leaders of the senate, and they complained that the cause of the people had been abandoned and betrayed. At last some who had been waiting in the vestibule of the tribune's house sent word that he had been found dead in his house. As this news spread throughout the assembly, they at once dispersed in all directions, like a routed army that has lost its general. The tribunes especially were alarmed, for they were warned by their colleague's death how absolutely ineffective the Sacred Laws were for their protection. The patricians, on the other hand, showed extravagant delight; so far was any one of them from regretting the crime, that even those who had taken no part in it were anxious to appear as though they had, and it was openly asserted that the tribunitian power must be chastised into submission.
[2.55]Whilst the impression produced by this frightful instance of triumphant crime was still fresh, orders were issued for a levy, and as the tribunes were thoroughly intimidated, the consuls carried it out without any interruption from them. But now the plebeians were more angry at the silence of the tribunes than at the exercise of authority on the part of the consuls. They said that it was all over with their liberty, they had gone back to the old state of things, the tribunitian power was dead and buried with Genucius. Some other method must be thought out and adopted by which they could resist the patricians, and the only possible course was for the commons to defend themselves, as they had no other help. Four-and-twenty lictors attended on the consuls, and these very men were drawn from the plebs. Nothing was more contemptible and feeble than they were, if there were any that would treat them with contempt, but every one imagined them to be great and awful things. After they had excited one another by these speeches, Volero Publilius, a plebeian, said that he ought not to be made a common soldier after serving as a centurion. The consuls sent a lictor to him. Volero appealed to the tribunes. None came to his assistance, so the consuls ordered him to be stripped and the rods got ready. "I appeal to the people," he said, "since the tribunes would rather see a Roman citizen scourged before their eyes than be murdered in their beds by you." The more excitedly he called out, the more violently did the lictor tear off his toga, to strip him. Then Volero, himself a man of unusual strength, and helped by those to whom he called, drove the lictor off, and amidst the indignant remonstrances of his supporters, retreated into the thickest part of the crowd, crying out, "I appeal to the plebs for protection. Help, fellow-citizens! help, fellow-soldiers! You have nothing to expect from the tribunes; they themselves need your aid." The men, greatly excited, got ready as if for battle, and a most critical struggle was evidently impending, where no one would show the slightest respect for either public or private rights. The consuls tried to check the fury of the storm, but they soon found that there is little safety for authority without strength. The lictors were mobbed, the fasces broken, and the consuls driven from the Forum into the Senate-house, uncertain how far Volero would push his victory. As the tumult was subsiding they ordered the senate to be convened, and when it was assembled they complained of the outrage done to them, the violence of the plebeians, the audacious insolence of Volero. After many violent speeches had been made, the opinion of the older senators prevailed; they disapproved of the intemperance of the plebs being met by angry resentment on the part of the patricians.
[2.56]Volero was now in high favour with the plebs, and they made him a tribune at the next election. Lucius Pinarius and P. Furius were the consuls for that year. Everybody supposed that Volero would use all the power of his tribuneship to harass the consuls of the preceding year. On the contrary, he subordinated his private grievances to the interests of the State, and without uttering a single word which could reflect on the consuls, he proposed to the people a measure providing that the magistrates of the plebs should be elected by the Assembly of the Tribes. At first sight this measure appeared to be of a very harmless description, but it would deprive the patricians of all power of electing through their clients' votes those whom they wanted as tribunes. It was most welcome to the plebeians, but the patricians resisted it to the utmost. They were unable to secure the one effectual means of resistance, namely, inducing one of the tribunes, through the influence of the consuls or the leading patricians, to interpose his veto. The weight and importance of the question led to protracted controversy throughout the year. The plebs re-elected Volero. The patricians, feeling that the question was rapidly approaching a crisis, appointed Appius Claudius, the son of Appius, who, ever since his father's contests with them, had been hated by them and cordially hated them in return. From the very commencement of the year the Law took precedence of all other matters. Volero had been the first to bring it forward, but his colleague, Laetorius, though a later, was a still more energetic supporter of it. He had won an immense reputation in war, for no man was a better fighter, and this made him a stronger opponent. Volero in his speeches confined himself strictly to discussing the Law and abstained from all abuse of the consuls. But Laetorius began by accusing Appius and his family of tyranny and cruelty towards the plebs; he said it was not a consul who had been elected, but an executioner, to harass and torture the plebeians. The untrained tongue of the soldier was unable to express the freedom of his sentiments; as words failed him, he said, "I cannot speak so easily as I can prove the truth of what I have said; come here tomorrow, I will either perish before your eyes or carry the Law."
Next day the tribunes took their places on the "templum," the consuls and the nobility stood about in the Assembly to prevent the passage of the Law. Laetorius gave orders for all, except actual voters, to withdraw. The young patricians kept their places and paid no attention to the tribune's officer, whereupon Laetorius ordered some of them to be arrested. Appius insisted that the tribunes had no jurisdiction over any but plebeians, they were not magistrates of the whole people, but only of the plebs; even he himself could not, according to the usage of their ancestors, remove any man by virtue of his authority, for the formula ran, "If it seems good to you, Quirites, depart! "By making contemptuous remarks about his jurisdiction, he was easily able to disconcert Laetorius. The tribune, in a burning rage, sent his officer to the consul, the consul sent a lictor to the tribune, exclaiming that he was a private citizen without any magisterial authority. The tribune would have been treated with indignity had not the whole Assembly risen angrily to defend the tribune against the consul, whilst people rushed from all parts of the City in excited crowds to the Forum. Appius braved the storm with inflexible determination, and the conflict would have ended in bloodshed had not the other consul, Quinctius, entrusted the consulars with the duty of removing, by force if necessary, his colleague from the Forum. He entreated the furious plebeians to be calm, and implored the tribunes to dismiss the Assembly; they should give their passions time to cool, delay would not deprive them of their power, but would add prudence to their strength; the senate would submit to the authority of the people, and the consuls to that of the senate.
[2.57]With difficulty Quinctius succeeded in quieting the plebeians; the senators had much greater difficulty in pacifying Appius. At length the Assembly was dismissed and the consuls held a meeting of the senate. Very divergent opinions were expressed according as the emotions of fear or anger predominated, but the longer the interval during which they were called away from impulsive action to calm deliberation, the more averse did they become to a prolongation of the conflict; so much so, indeed, that they passed a vote of thanks to Quinctius for having through his exertions allayed the disturbance. Appius was called upon to consent to the consular authority being so far limited as to be compatible with a harmonious commonwealth. It was urged that whilst the tribunes and the consuls each tried to bring everything under their respective authority, there was no basis for common action; the State was torn in two, and the one thing aimed at was, who should be its rulers, not how could its security be preserved. Appius, on the other hand, called gods and men to witness that the State was being betrayed and abandoned through fear; it was not the consul who was failing the senate, the senate was failing the consul; worse conditions were being submitted to than those which had been accepted on the Sacred Hill. However, he was overborne by the unanimous feeling of the senate and became quiet. The Law was passed in silence. Then for the first time the tribunes were elected by the Assembly of the Tribes. According to Piso three were added, as though there had only been two before. He gives their names as Cn. Siccius, L. Numitorius, M. Duellius, Sp. Icilius, and L. Mecilius.
[2.58]During the disturbances in Rome, the war with the Volscians and Aequi broke out afresh. They had laid waste the fields, in order that if there were a secession of the plebs they might find refuge with them. When quiet had been restored they moved their camp further away. Appius Claudius was sent against the Volscians, the Aequi were left for Quinctius to deal with. Appius displayed the same savage temper in the field that he had shown at home, only it was more unrestrained because he was not now fettered by the tribunes. He hated the commons with a more intense hatred than his father had felt, for they had got the better of him and had carried their Law though he had been elected consul as being the one man who could thwart the tribunitian power - a Law, too, which former consuls, from whom the senate expected less than from him, had obstructed with less trouble. Anger and indignation at all this goaded his imperious nature into harassing his army by ruthless discipline. No violent measures, however, could subdue them, such was the spirit of opposition with which they were filled. They did everything in a perfunctory, leisurely, careless, defiant way; no feeling of shame or fear restrained them. If he wished the column to move more quickly they deliberately marched more slowly, if he came up to urge them on in their work they all relaxed the energy they had been previously exerting of their own accord; in his presence they cast their eyes down to the ground, when he passed by they silently cursed him, so that the courage which had not quailed before the hatred of the plebs was sometimes shaken. After vainly employing harsh measures of every kind, he abstained from any further intercourse with his soldiers, said that the army had been corrupted by the centurions, and sometimes called them, in jeering tones, tribunes of the plebs, and Voleros.
[2.59]None of this escaped the notice of the Veientines, and they pressed on more vigorously in the hope that the Roman army would show the same spirit of disaffection towards Appius which it had shown towards Fabius. But it was much more violent towards Appius than it had been towards Fabius, for the soldiers not only refused to conquer, like the army of Fabius, but they wished to be conquered. When led into action they broke into a disgraceful flight and made for their camp, and offered no resistance till they saw the Volscians actually attacking their entrenchments and doing frightful execution in their rear. Then they were compelled to fight, in order that the victorious enemy might be dislodged from their rampart; it was, however, quite evident that the Roman soldiers only fought to prevent the capture of the camp; otherwise they rejoiced in their ignominious defeat. Appius' determination was in no way weakened by this, but when he was meditating more severe measures and ordering an assembly of his troops, the officers of his staff and the military tribunes gathered round him and warned him on no account to try how far he could stretch his authority, for its force wholly depended upon the free consent of those who obeyed it. They said that the soldiers as a body refused to come to the assembly, and demands were heard on all sides for the camp to be removed from the Volscian territory; only a short time before the victorious enemy had all but forced his way into the camp. There were not only suspicions of a serious mutiny, the evidence was before their eyes.
Appius yielded at last to their remonstrances. He knew that they would gain nothing but a delay of punishment, and consented to forego the assembly. Orders were issued for an advance on the morrow, and the trumpet gave the signal for starting at dawn. When the army had got clear of the camp and was forming in marching order, the Volscians, aroused, apparently, by the same signal, fell upon the rear. The confusion thus created extended to the leading ranks, and set up such a panic in the whole army that it was impossible for either orders to be heard or a fighting line to be formed. No one thought of anything but flight. They made their way over heaps of bodies and arms in such wild haste that the enemy gave up the pursuit before the Romans abandoned their flight. At last, after the consul had vainly endeavoured to follow up and rally his men, the scattered troops were gradually got together again, and he fixed his camp on territory undisturbed by war. He called up the men for an assembly, and after inveighing, with perfect justice, against an army which had been false to military discipline and had deserted its standards, he asked them individually where the standards were, where their arms were. The soldiers who had thrown away their arms, the standard-bearers who had lost their standards, and in addition to these the centurions and duplicarii who had deserted their ranks, he ordered to be scourged and beheaded. Of the rank and file every tenth man was drawn by lot for punishment.
[2.60]Just the opposite state of things prevailed in the army campaigning amongst the Aequi, where the consul and his soldiers vied with each other in acts of kindness and comradeship. Quinctius was naturally milder, and the unfortunate severity of his colleague made him all the more inclined to follow the bent of his gentle disposition. The Aequi did not venture to meet an army where such harmony prevailed between the general and his men, and they allowed their enemy to ravage their territory in all directions. In no previous war had plunder been gathered from a wider area. The whole of it was given to the soldiers, and with it those words of praise which, no less than material rewards, delight the soldier's heart. The army returned home on better terms with their general, and through him with the patricians; they said that whilst the senate had given them a father it had given the other army a tyrant. The year, which had been passed in varying fortunes of war and furious dissensions both at home and abroad, was chiefly memorable for the Assembly of Tribes, which were important rather for the victory won in a prolonged contest than for any real advantage gained. For through the withdrawal of the patricians from their council the Assembly lost more in dignity than either the plebs gained, or the patricians lost, in strength.
[2.61]L. Valerius and T. Aemilius were consuls for the next year, which was a still stormier one, owing, in the first place to the struggle between the two orders over the Agrarian Law, and secondly to the prosecution of Appius Claudius. He was impeached by the tribunes, M. Duellius and Cn. Siccius, on the ground of his determined opposition to the Law, and also because he defended the cause of the occupiers of the public land, as if he were a third consul. Never before had any one been brought to trial before the people whom the plebs so thoroughly detested, both on his own and his father's account. For hardly any one had the patricians exerted themselves more than for him whom they regarded as the champion of the senate and the vindicator of its authority, the stout bulwark against disturbances of tribunes or plebs, and now saw exposed to the rage of the plebeians simply for having gone too far in the struggle. Appius Claudius himself, alone of all the patricians, looked upon the tribunes, the plebs, and his own trial as of no account. Neither the threats of the plebeians nor the entreaties of the senate could induce him - I will not say to change his attire and accost men as a suppliant, but - even to soften and subdue to some extent his wonted asperity of language when he had to make his defence before the people. There was the same expression, the same defiant look, the same proud tones of speech, so that a large number of the plebeians were no less afraid of Appius on his trial than they had been when he was consul. He only spoke in his defence once, but in the same aggressive tone that he always adopted, and his firmness so dumbfounded the tribunes and the plebs, that they adjourned the case of their own accord, and then allowed it to drag on. There was not a very long interval, however. Before the date of the adjourned trial arrived he was carried off by illness. The tribunes tried to prevent any funeral oration being pronounced over him, but the plebeians would not allow the obsequies of so great a man to be robbed of the customary honours. They listened to the panegyric of the dead as attentively as they had listened to the indictment of the living, and vast crowds followed him to the tomb.
[2.62]In the same year the consul Valerius advanced with an army against the Aequi, but failing to draw the enemy into an engagement he commenced an attack on their camp. A terrible storm, sent down from heaven, of thunder and hail prevented him from continuing the attack. The surprise was heightened when, after the retreat had been sounded, calm and bright weather returned. He felt that it would be an act of impiety to attack a second time a camp defended by some divine power. His warlike energies were turned to the devastation of the country. The other consul, Aemilius, conducted a campaign amongst the Sabines. There, too, as the enemy kept behind their walls, their fields were laid waste. The burning not only of scattered homesteads but also of villages with numerous populations roused the Sabines to action. They met the depredators, an indecisive action was fought, after which they moved their camp into a safer locality. The consul thought this a sufficient reason for leaving the enemy as though defeated, and coming away without finishing the war.
[2.63]T. Numicius Priscus and A. Verginius were the new consuls. The domestic disturbance continued through these wars, and the plebeians were evidently not going to tolerate any further delay with regard to the Agrarian Law, and were preparing for extreme measures, when the smoke of burning farms and the flight of the country folk announced the approach of the Volscians. This checked the revolution which was now ripe and on the point of breaking out. The senate was hastily summoned, and the consuls led the men liable for active service out to the war, thereby making the rest of the plebs more peaceably disposed. The enemy retired precipitately, having effected nothing beyond filling the Romans with groundless fears. Numicius advanced against the Volscians to Antium, Verginius against the Aequi. Here he was ambushed and narrowly escaped a serious defeat; the valour of the soldiers restored the fortunes of the day, which the consul's negligence had imperilled. More skilful generalship was shown against the Volscians; the enemy were routed in the first engagement and driven in flight to Antium, which was, for those days, a very wealthy city. The consul did not venture to attack it, but he took Caeno from the Antiates, not by any means so wealthy a place. Whilst the Aequi and Volscians were keeping the Roman armies engaged, the Sabines extended their ravages up to the gates of the City. In a few days the consuls invaded their territory, and, attacked fiercely by both armies, they suffered heavier losses than they had inflicted.
[2.64]Towards the close of the year there was a short interval of peace, but, as usual, it was marred by the struggle between the patricians and the plebeians. The plebs, in their exasperation, refused to take any part in the election of consuls; T. Quinctius and Q. Servilius were elected consuls by the patricians and their clients. They had a year similar to the previous one: agitation during the first part, then the calming of this by foreign war. The Sabines hurriedly traversed the plains of Crustumerium, and carried fire and sword into the district watered by the Anio, but were repulsed when almost close to the Colline gate and the walls of the City. They succeeded, however, in carrying off immense spoil both in men and cattle. The consul Servilius followed them up with an army bent on revenge, and though unable to come up with their main body in the open country, he carried on his ravages on such an extensive scale that he left no part unmolested by war, and returned with spoil many times greater than that of the enemy. Amongst the Volscians also the cause of Rome was splendidly upheld by the exertions of general and soldiers alike. To begin with, they met on level ground and a pitched battle was fought with immense losses on both sides in killed and wounded. The Romans, whose paucity of numbers made them more sensible of their loss, would have retreated had not the consul called out that the enemy on the other wing were in flight, and by this well-timed falsehood roused the army to fresh effort. They made a charge and converted a supposed victory into a real one. The consul, fearing lest by pressing the attack too far he might force a renewal of the combat, gave the signal for retiring. For the next few days both sides kept quiet, as though there were a tacit understanding. During this interval, an immense body of men from all the Volscian and Aequian cities came into camp, fully expecting that when the Romans heard of their arrival they would make a nocturnal retreat. Accordingly, about the third watch they moved out to attack the camp. After allaying the confusion caused by the sudden alarm, Quinctius ordered the soldiers to remain quietly in their quarters, marched out a cohort of Hernicans to the outposts, mounted the buglers and trumpeters on horseback, and ordered them to sound their calls and keep the enemy on the alert till dawn. For the remainder of the night all was so quiet in the camp that the Romans even enjoyed ample sleep. The sight of the armed infantry whom the Volscians took to be Romans and more numerous than they really were, the noise and neighing of the horses, restless under their inexperienced riders and excited by the sound of the trumpets, kept the enemy in constant apprehension of an attack.
[2.65]At daybreak the Romans, fresh from their undisturbed sleep, were led into action, and at the first charge broke the Volscians, worn out as they were with standing and want of sleep. It was, however, a retreat rather than a rout, for in their rear there were hills to which all behind the front ranks safely retired. When they reached the rising ground, the consul halted his army. The soldiers were with difficulty restrained, they clamoured to be allowed to follow up the beaten foe. The cavalry were much more insistent, they crowded round the general and loudly declared that they would go on in advance of the infantry. While the consul, sure of the courage of his men, but not reassured as to the nature of the ground, was still hesitating, they shouted that they would go on, and followed up their shouts by making an advance. Fixing their spears in the ground that they might be more lightly equipped for the ascent, they went up at a run. The Volscians hurled their javelins at the first onset, and then flung the stones lying at their feet upon the enemy as they came up. Many were hit, and through the disorder thus created they were forced back from the higher ground. In this way the Roman left wing was nearly overwhelmed, but through the reproaches which the consul cast upon his retreating men for their rashness as well as their cowardice, he made their fear give way to the sense of shame. At first they stood and offered a firm resistance, then when by holding their ground they had recovered their energies they ventured upon an advance. With a renewed shout the whole line went forward, and pressing on in a second charge they surmounted the difficulties of the ascent, and were just on the point of reaching the summit when the enemy turned and fled. With a wild rush, pursuers and fugitives almost in one mass dashed into the camp, which was taken. Those of the Volscians who succeeded in escaping made for Antium; thither the Roman army was led. After a few days' investment the place was surrendered, not owing to any unusual efforts on the part of the besiegers, but simply because after the unsuccessful battle and the loss of their camp the enemy had lost heart.
End of Book 2
Copyright (c) 1996 by Bruce J. Butterfield.
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